Shrooms: A Medical Treatment to Depression?
If you haven’t already heard of them, shrooms or magic mushrooms are natural growing mushrooms and an extremely popular endogen and recreational drug that has been eaten by humans throughout history. Now its active ingredient, psilocybin, is being investigated by medical teams worldwide for their ability to treat severe depression.
Chemists and doctors researching the effects suspect that psilocybin, in addition to binding with serotonin receptors, react with portions of the brain often overactive in depression sufferers, inhibiting them to a safe extent and allowing patients to combat “sticky” negative thoughts and excessive self-judgment.
A medical team led by Dr. David Nutt, a professor at Imperial College London, has produced conclusive evidence showing that psilocybin does in fact inhibit the anterior cingulate cortex, one of these portions of the brain, and in a series of clinical tests on average, physically healthy, emotionally troubled people, found that it consistently made these people feel better. Nutt described positive results in as little as weeks. He and his team’s research also found that the default mode network, another one of these overactive portions, reacted with magic mushrooms’ active ingredient. Nutt describes the symptoms of an overactive default mode network as extreme self judgement, lack of self-esteem, repetitive negative thoughts, and feelings of total self-failure.
The uplifting evidence was met by a disheartening obstacle, however. “Red tape,” as Nutt calls it, or the strict enforcement surrounding Class A substances in the UK, require manufacturers to obtain a specific and extremely expensive license. His team’s study, according to Nutt, would only need a few hundred pounds worth of the chemical for all control and experimental trials. But since the license required is so hard to get, pharmalogical companies asked for nearly 100,000 pounds instead. Paying that sum is completely out of their budget, so Nutt and his team have decided to continue fighting for the right to its use in medical study.
Nutt talked about this at the recent UK Festival of Neuroscience conference, describing the ridiculousness of the “red tape,” “loopholes,” and political difficulty surrounding the illogical placement of Class A drugs, and the even more harmful enforcement of their laws. He comments that the laws were passed with little regard to legitimate medical benefit, sealing off potential discoveries for the sake of financial and political support.
Depression, Nutt quoted, was the number one leading cause of disability in Europe, and its current treatments are on a whole effective less than one third of the time. Citing his evidence regarding the anterior cingulate cortex and the default mode network at the conference, he believes that he and his team have potential for greatly beneficial advancements, but the current “red tape” of the UK drug laws is plaguing his research and that of the medical society.