MAGIC mushrooms could help ‘cure’ depression in just one treatment, scientists have said.
Psilocybin, the active ingredient, taken alongside therapy can ease symptoms almost instantly – and the effect lasts for up to three months.
Lead researcher, Professor Guy Goodwin, of Oxford University said: “The highest dose of psilocybin had the greatest impact on people’s depression.
“This suggests that psilocybin has a true pharmacological effect, a finding that is critical for it to be recognised as a new treatment option in the future.”
The novel treatment could be available to Brits with severe depression in as little as three years, scientists predict.
The psilocybin given to volunteers in the study did not come from magic mushrooms, instead it was created in the lab.
The study of 233 people found that three weeks after people were given a single 25mg dose of the psychedelic drug, they reported fewer depressive symptoms than those treated with lower doses (1mg or 10mg).
A single dose helped “cure” treatment-resistant depression in 40 per cent of cases, the findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found.
Psychological therapist, Liam Modlin, said the drug puts people in a “dreamlike” state for six to eight hours, which gives therapists and patients the opportunity to make “emotional breakthroughs”.
Professor Anthony Cleare of King’s College London, said given the effects started to wear off after three months, it begs the question: “How best to prevent depression from returning?”.
“This might involve adding in other treatments, such as psychological therapies, or repeating the psilocybin treatment periodically,” Prof Cleare said.
The team at Oxford University has now been given the green light to start phase 3 clinical trials – the final step before a new treatment is considered for approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
If deemed safe, and approved for use on the NHS it could offer a ray of hope for some 2.7million Brits suffering treatment-resistant depression – meaning they have not responded to at least two antidepressant drugs.
The MHRA has previously approved a radical ketamine-like drug, esketamine, for use to treat the condition, but the nasal spray is currently deemed too expensive for use on the NHS.
Professor Andrew MacInstosh, head of psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said: “It is the strongest evidence so far to suggest that psilocybin may (one day) provide a potential alternative to antidepressants that have been prescribed for decades.”
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