From July, licensed psychiatrists in Australia will be allowed to prescribe psilocybin to patients with treatment-resistant depression. This is no coincidence: the drug is a key ingredient in what has been called the psychedelic renaissance – a resurgence of public interest in, and research into, substances that became known in the 50s for their medicinal properties.
However, due to irrational legislation, they were off limits for many years. For the patients in Australia who are allowed to undergo the treatment, there will be few other therapeutic options to alleviate their desperate suffering.
Antidepressants vs. Psychedelics
Traditional antidepressants, even when they work, are slow onset, can have significant negative side effects, and may need to be taken daily for many years. Several clinical trials have now shown that two doses of psilocybin in the right setting, with appropriate supportive talk therapy, appears to provide an effective and acceptable low-risk treatment for depression. The effect also lasts much longer with few drawbacks or side effects. The studies so far may be too small and imperfect – larger trials are in the pipeline – but the results are encouraging.
Becoming like cannabis psychedelics used by humans for centuries. Magic mushrooms have long been used all over the world for the medicinal and hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin. Rock art in Kimberley, Western Australia, depicting creatures with mushrooms, suggests humans used them to achieve trance-like states 10.000 years ago. Strikingly similar depictions have been found in the Sandawe paintings of eastern Tanzania and in the Algerian Sahara. Now, after these hallucinogenic fungi have been banned for a long time, humans seem to be rediscovering their benefits.
Interest in the therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin has mushroomed over the past 15 years. By 2021, investments in the psychedelic sector will reach nearly $2 billion. There are hundreds of registered clinical studies on the effects of psychedelics on a range of conditions. But to use them as safely as possible, we still have a lot to learn about these powerful psychoactive drugs, such as how they interact with other drugs. Much work remains to be done, but researchers and clinicians are hampered by the archaic and misleading legal classification of psychedelics.
Source: theguardian.com (EN)