From Iceland — Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Hold Promise For Depression Treatment

Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Hold Promise For Depression Treatment

Published September 12, 2022

Photo by
Dorothea Oldani/Unsplash

New research into the use of the active substance in hallucinogenic mushrooms for the treatment of depression is very promising, reports Vísir.

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However, it will take a while before the treatment can be recommended, since psilocybin is completely different from all other drugs that have been used for depression to date. An Icelandic MP wants Iceland to be a leader in research on the topic.

Everyday manifestations of hallucinogenic mushrooms can be found in many parts of Reykjavík; they grow on traffic islands, and in fields near structures everyone knows. These mushrooms are foraged and then sold or ingested directly. This is a known issue and has been for a long time.

Recently the number of studies on psilocybin, an active ingredient in mushrooms, has greatly increased. New research shows that when used with care and precision, psilocybin is believed to help people with persistent depression.

“The research that has been done recently is coming out well. These are promising results,” says Árný Jóhannesdóttir, a special education physician at the psychiatric department who, together with Dr. Engilberti Sigurðsson, is the author of an article that appeared in the latest issue of Læknablaðir. It reviews the state of research on psilocybin.

“The pharmaceutical company that has come the farthest, COMPASS Pathways, is showing a treatment response with one-third recovering. It total, 233 people took part in the study, by far the largest study ever conducted on psilocybin,” says Árný. The results of the second phase of the study indicated that psilocybin significantly reduces depressive symptoms and is generally well tolerated.

The treatment has to be undergone with special care since, in rare cases, it can trigger serious side effects such as psychosis or panic attacks. According to the doctor, such side effects are much less likely when the use is medical than when it comes to eating mushrooms for self-healing purposes, as is now customary within certain groups.

There is a long and rigorous research process ahead before we can see the country in this matter, but politicians are interested. Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason praises the research on his Facebook page and announces a parliamentary resolution proposal, where the goal is for Iceland to become a leader in research into these new treatments.

Vilhjálmur writes: “It is a fact that a number of people have already started using these substances to help themselves in this country, and some have even started offering services with them. In light of that, and if the first results of the research are giving the right indications, I believe it is right to immediately establish a formal framework for the correct use of the substance in this country. I therefore intend to propose a parliamentary resolution that this framework be established in Iceland. I hope that representatives of all parties in Althingi will join me on that parliamentary issue.”

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