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Another Study Shows Efficacy of Psilocybin Against Depression

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Depression is a leading cause of disability that affects roughly 300 million individuals around the globe. Now, new research has determined that psilocybin is an effective treatment for symptoms of depression. This is in comparison to niacin, which was administered as the placebo, and microdoses.

Psilocybin is the primary active compound in more than 200 species of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

The research findings, carried out by investigators in the United Kingdom, was published in the BMJ. In a statement, the researchers explained that psilocybin had shown promise in alleviating depression symptoms following the administration of one or two doses with few side effects. They also highlighted that no current evidence showed that the psychedelic compound caused addiction.

In addition to this, the scientists noted that research published to date hadn’t looked into factors that could moderate the effects of psilocybin, including type of depression, dosage and prior use of the drugs.

For their study, the researchers examined randomized controlled trials that compared psilocybin as a treatment for depression to other drugs. They also explored studies where psychotherapy was utilized under both control and experimental conditions to distinguish the effects of psilocybin from those induced by psychotherapy.

They settled on seven trials that analyzed more than 400 individuals with depression. Once this was done, they measured changes in scores of depression using Hedges’s g score. In their report, the researchers explained that the change in these scores was considerably greater after psilocybin was administered.

Further analysis also revealed significant improvements with secondary depression as compared to primary depression. Prior use of psychedelics and older age were also linked to greater improvements in depression scores.

It should be noted that high variation levels between trials led to low evidence certainty to support psilocybin’s strong antidepressant effects. Additionally, a lack of diversity in study participants limited the generalizability of findings.

In their conclusion, the researchers explained that while their findings were encouraging for psilocybin as a potentially effective antidepressant, issues such as the lack of regulatory guidelines needed to be addressed before the drug could be used in clinical practice.

Investigators in an accompanying editorial who weren’t involved in the study noted that the research didn’t answer queries such as the effectiveness of psilocybin in real-world conditions. In their statement, the investigators observed the need for more data on possible effect modifiers and concluded that more and better evidence was required before any clinical recommendations could be made about psilocybin’s therapeutic use.

As companies such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) make progress in their psychedelic drug-development efforts, more reliable data will become available about the therapeutic effects of psilocybin and other hallucinogens.

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