Studies show that psychedelic mushrooms may alleviate symptoms of addiction

In The News:  Hallucinogen Therapy Is Coming – Nautilus, 03/21/2019


Research:  Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry, McLean Hospital  The association of psychedelic use and opioid use disorders among illicit users in the United States – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 02/14/2017

Takeaway:  Experience with psychedelic drugs is associated with decreased risk of opioid abuse and dependence. Conversely, other illicit drug use history is largely associated with increased risk of opioid abuse and dependence. These findings suggest that psychedelics are associated with positive psychological characteristics and are consistent with prior reports suggesting efficacy in treatment of substance use disorders.


Research:  University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-concept study – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 01/13/2015

Takeaway:  “These preliminary findings provide a strong rationale for controlled trials with larger samples to investigate efficacy and mechanisms.”  Also of note, “There were no significant treatment-related adverse events.”


In The News:  Hallucinogen in ‘magic mushrooms’ helps longtime smokers quit in Hopkins trial – HUB, Johns Hopkins University, 09/11/2014


Research:  Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Pilot study of the 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 09/11/2014

Takeaway:  “Biomarkers assessing smoking status, and self-report measures of smoking behavior demonstrated that 12 of 15 participants (80%) showed seven-day point prevalence abstinence at 6-month follow-up. The observed smoking cessation rate substantially exceeds rates commonly reported for other behavioral and/or pharmacological therapies (typically <35%).”

Cluster Headaches

Research:  Karlstad University, Sweden, Psychoactive substances as a last resort—a qualitative study of self-treatment of migraine and cluster headaches – Harm Reduction Journal, 09/05/2017

Takeaway: “Primarily, psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide, and related psychedelic tryptamines were reportedly effective for both prophylactic and acute treatment of cluster headache and migraines.”


Research:  Yale University School of Medicine, Indoleamine Hallucinogens in Cluster Headache: Results of the Clusterbusters Medication Use Survey – Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 11/01/2015

Takeaway:  “The indoleamine hallucinogens, psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide, and lysergic acid amide, were comparable to or more efficacious than most conventional medications.”


Research:  McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Response of cluster headache to psilocybin and LSD, Neurology – 06/27/2006

Takeaway:  The authors interviewed 53 cluster headache patients who had used psilocybin or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to treat their condition. Twenty-two of 26 psilocybin users reported that psilocybin aborted attacks; 25 of 48 psilocybin users and 7 of 8 LSD users reported cluster period termination; 18 of 19 psilocybin users and 4 of 5 LSD users reported remission period extension.

Creativity and Empathy

In The News:  A single dose of psilocybin enhances creative thinking and empathy up to seven days after use, study finds – PsyPost, 03/07/2019


Research:  Maastricht University, The Netherlands, Sub-Acute Effects of Psilocybin on Empathy, Creative Thinking, and Subjective Well-Being – Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 02/26/2019

Takeaway:  The study demonstrates that a single administration of psilocybin in a social setting may be associated with sub-acute enhancement of creative thinking, empathy, and subjective well-being.


In The News:  Can ‘Microdosing’ ‘Shrooms Expand Your Creativity? Scientists Are Trying to Find Out. – Live Science, 11/02/2018


Research:  Leiden University, The Netherlands, Exploring the effect of microdosing psychedelics on creativity in an open-label natural setting – Psychopharmacology, 10/25/2018

Takeaway:  “this study provides quantitative support for the cognitive-enhancing properties of microdosing psychedelics” “Based on these preliminary results, we speculate that psychedelics might affect cognitive metacontrol policies by optimizing the balance between cognitive persistence and flexibility.”


In The News:  Can Psychedelics Make You More Creative? – The Third Wave, 01/10/2017


Research:  Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 07/01/2008

Takeaway:  “At the 14-month follow-up, 58% and 67%, respectively, of volunteers rated the psilocybin-occasioned experience as being among the five most personally meaningful and among the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives; 64% indicated that the experience increased well-being or life satisfaction; 58% met criteria for having had a ‘complete’ mystical experience.”


Research:  University of Arizona, Safety, Tolerability, and Efficacy of Psilocybin in 9 Patients With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 11/11/2006

Takeaway:  “psilocybin was safely used in subjects with OCD and was associated with acute reductions in core OCD symptoms in several subjects.”


Research:  Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance – Psychopharmacology, 01/20/2006

Takeaway:  “At 2 months, the volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes and behavior consistent with changes rated by community observers.”


In The News:  Psychedelics may make people less likely to commit violent crimes Quartz, 10/19/17 


Research:  University of Alabama at Birmingham, The relationships of classic psychedelic use with criminal behavior in the United States adult population – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 10/17/2017

Takeaway:  “having ever used psilocybin per se is associated with a decreased likelihood of larceny/theft and other property crimes as well as a decreased likelihood of assault and other violent crimes.”

End of Life Distress

In The News:  NYU Langone Medical Center, Single Dose of Hallucinogenic Drug Psilocybin Relieves Anxiety and Depression in Patients with Advanced Cancer – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 12/01/2016


Research: NYU Langone Medical Center, Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 12/01/2016

Takeaway:  “In conjunction with psychotherapy, single moderate-dose psilocybin produced rapid, robust and enduring anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects in patients with cancer-related psychological distress.”


In The News:  Hallucinogenic Drug Psilocybin Eases Existential Anxiety in People With Life-Threatening Cancer – Johns Hopkins Medicine, 12/01/2016


Research:  Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 11/20/2016

Takeaway:  “The data show that psilocybin produced large and significant decreases in clinician-rated and self-rated measures of depression, anxiety or mood disturbance, and increases in measures of quality of life, life meaning, death acceptance, and optimism. These effects were sustained at 6 months. For the clinician-rated measures of depression and anxiety, respectively, the overall rate of clinical response at 6 months was 78% and 83% and the overall rate of symptom remission was 65% and 57%. Participants attributed to the high-dose experience positive changes in attitudes about life, self, mood, relationships and spirituality, with over 80% endorsing moderately or higher increased well-being or life satisfaction. These positive effects were reflected in significant corresponding changes in ratings by community observers (friends, family, work colleagues) of participant attitudes and behavior.”


Research:  Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Pilot Study of Psilocybin Treatment for Anxiety in Patients With Advanced-Stage Cancer – Archives of General Psychiatry, 01/03/2011

Takeaway:  “Safe physiological and psychological responses were documented during treatment sessions. There were no clinically significant adverse events with psilocybin. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory trait anxiety subscale demonstrated a significant reduction in anxiety at 1 and 3 months after treatment. The Beck Depression Inventory revealed an improvement of mood that reached significance at 6 months”

Mental Illness

Research into the effects of psilocybin has shown it may have positive benefits in treating a host of mental illnesses, including PTSD, depression, suicidality, anxiety, and OCD, as well as by increasing general wellness. Notably, preliminary clinical evidence from using psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression has shown that it offers such a substantial improvement over available therapy that the FDA granted it “Breakthrough Status” in the fall of 2018. This will speed up its progress through the rest of the approval process.

Research:  Maastricht University, The Netherlands, Sub-Acute Effects of Psilocybin on Empathy, Creative Thinking, and Subjective Well-Being – 02/26/2019

Takeaway:  “the present study demonstrates that psilocybin, taken in a naturalistic setting, promotes constructs of creativity and empathy, and enhances subjective well-being. These findings highlight the possible underlying role of enhanced creativity and empathy in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. Importantly, the effects outlast the acute state, potentially opening up a “window of opportunity” where therapeutic interventions could prove more effective.”

In The News:  Magic Mushrooms Show Promising Results for Treating PTSD and Depression – San Diego Entertainment Magazine, 02/10/2019

Research: Lieber Institute for Brain Development, Effects of psilocybin on hippocampal neurogenesis and extinction of trace fear conditioning – Experimental Brain Research, 08/01/2013

Takeaway:  “[Psilocybin] facilitates extinction of the classically conditioned fear response, and this, and similar agents, should be explored as potential treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions.”

In The News: COMPASS Pathways Receives FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Psilocybin Therapy for Treatment-resistant Depression – PR Newswire, 10/23/2018

Research:  Imperial College London, More Realistic Forecasting of Future Life Events After Psilocybin for Treatment-Resistant Depression – Frontiers in Psychology, 10/12/2018

Takeaway:  “In summary, after treatment with psilocybin, consistent with what was actually reported to have happened during the ensuing 30-day period, TRD patients (rightly) expected more desirable than undesirable life events to occur – and thus began to make more accurate predictions of future life events – in line with the behavior of healthy control subjects.”

In The News:  FDA Approves Psychedelic Magic Mushrooms Ingredient Psilocybin for Depression Trial – Newsweek, 08/23/2013

In The News: Magic Mushrooms Do The Opposite of Anti-Depressants, But That May Be Why They Work – Science Alert, 01/08/2018

Research:  Imperial College London, Increased amygdala responses to emotional faces after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression – Neuropharmacology, 12/22/2017

Takeaway: “One day after psilocybin, 15 of 19 TRD patients (79%) showed a clinically meaningful response (in-scanner rating; reduction from baseline ≥ 50%) and treatment-response was significantly related to increased amygdala responses to fearful > neutral faces, with greater activations relating to better outcomes”

Research: Imperial College London, Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: six-month follow-up – Psychopharmacology, 11/08/2017

Takeaway:  “tolerability was good, effect sizes large and symptom improvements appeared rapidly after just two psilocybin treatment sessions and remained significant 6 months post-treatment”

In The News:  Magic Mushrooms Found to Be “Resetting” Brain Circuits in Depressed People – Science Alert, 10/15/2017

Research:  Imperial College London, Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms –  Nature, 10/13/2017

Takeaway:  “Treatment with psilocybin produced rapid and sustained antidepressant effects.””Of the full 19 patients, all showed some decrease in depressive symptoms at 1 week, with 12 meeting criteria for response (change = −10.2 ± 5.3, t = −6.4, p < 0.001). All but one patient showed some decrease in QIDS-SR16 score at week 5 (with one showing no change) and 47% met criteria for response (change = −9.2 ± 5.6, t = −6.7, p < 0.001).”

In The News:  Research Shows Magic Mushrooms Can Offer Real Benefits in Depression Therapy – Science Alert, 07/08/2017

Research:  Touro University California, Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy: A Review of a Novel Treatment for Psychiatric Disorders – Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 01/09/2017

Takeaway:  “There were seven clinical trials that investigated psilocybin-assisted therapy as a treatment for psychiatric disorders related
to anxiety, depression, and substance use. All trials demonstrated reductions in psychiatric rating
scale scores or increased response and remission rates.”

In The News:  Magic Mushrooms Appear to Ease Long-Term Depression – Studies Find, Science Alert, 05/17/2016

Research:  Imperial College London, Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: an open-label feasibility study – Lancet Psychiatry, 05/17/2016

Takeaway:  “Treatment was generally well tolerated. Relative to baseline, marked reductions in depressive symptoms were observed for the first 5 weeks post-treatment; nine and four patients met the criteria for response and remission at week 5. Results remained positive at 3 and 6 months. No patients sought conventional antidepressant treatment within 5 weeks of psilocybin. Reductions in depressive symptoms at 5 weeks were predicted by the quality of the acute psychedelic experience.”

Research:  University of Alabama at Birmingham, Classic psychedelic use is associated with reduced psychological distress and suicidality in the United States adult population – Journal of Psychopharmacology, 01/13/2015

Takeaway:  “These findings indicate that classic psychedelics may hold promise in the prevention of suicide, supporting the view that classic psychedelics’ most highly restricted legal status should be reconsidered to facilitate scientific study, and suggesting that more extensive clinical research with classic psychedelics is warranted.”

Research:  Johns Hopkins University, Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: Immediate and persisting dose-related effects – Psychopharmacology, 06/15/2011

Takeaway:  “Under supportive conditions, 20 and 30 mg/70 kg psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences having persisting positive effects on attitudes, mood and behavior.”

Research:  University of Arizona, Tucson, Safety, tolerability, and efficacy of psilocybin in 9 patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder – The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 11/01/2006

Takeaway:  “Marked decreases in OCD symptoms of variable degrees were observed in all subjects during 1 or more of the testing” sessions 


Psilocybin has been shown to be physiologically non addictive, the safest drug to take in terms of needing to seek emergency medical treatment, and the least harmful drug both to the user and to others.

In The News:  Hopkins researchers recommend reclassifying psilocybin, the drug in ‘magic’ mushrooms, from schedule I to schedule IV – HUB, Johns Hopkins University, 09/26/2018


Research:  The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, The abuse potential of medical psilocybin according to the 8 factors of the Controlled Substances Act – Neuropharmacology, 11/01/2018

Takeaway:  “psilocybin can provide therapeutic benefits that may support the development of an approvable New Drug Application (NDA)”


Research: Global Drug Survey 2017 – London, Global Drug Survey 2017,, 2017-10-01

Takeaway:  “People who use psychedelics are generally very sensible and show some of the best preparation and adoption of harm reduction practices of any drug”


Research:  Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway, Psychedelics and Mental Health: A Population Study – PLOS ONE, 08/19/2013

Takeaway:  “Lifetime psychedelic use was not significantly associated with serious psychological distress in the worst month of the past year. Among the specific psychedelics, lifetime psilocybin use (aOR 0.8, p = 0.009), lifetime mescaline use (aOR 0.9, p = 0.04), and past year LSD use (aOR 0.7, p = 0.01) were associated with lower rates of serious psychological distress.”


Research:  Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis – The Lancet, 11/01/2010

Takeaway:  Out of 20 drugs (including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and steroids) that were assessed as to the harm they incur upon users and to others, mushrooms were the least harmful in both categories.


Research:  Heffter Research Center, Switzerland, Acute psychological and physiological effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled dose-effect study – Psychopharmacology, 11/13/2003

Takeaway:  “Psilocybin affects core dimensions of altered states of consciousness and physiological parameters in a dose-dependent manner. Our study provided no cause for concern that Psilocybin is hazardous with respect to somatic health.”