You may have heard of psilocybin before, but you may not know what it is or why researchers are exploring its benefits for mental health. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in certain mushrooms.
This compound has been used in religious and spiritual ceremonies for centuries. Psilocybin and other entheogens are now being studied for their potential therapeutic benefits. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what the research says about the benefits of psilocybin for mental health when combined with psychotherapy.
Psilocybin and Mental Health
Research suggests that psilocybin could have therapeutic benefits for mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and addiction. Many prominent universities have already established research centers focused on studying psychedelics like psilocybin for mental health.
Research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that psilocybin-assisted therapy reduces anxiety and depression, and “increases quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety. At 6-month follow-up, these changes were sustained, with about 80% of participants continuing to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety.”
Findings like these are sparking great interest from researchers and mental health professionals in search of safe and effective treatments for mental illness.
Psychedelic Research Centers for Mental Health
Dr. Michael P. Bogenschutz, a psychiatrist and the director of the NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine, recently shared some of his thoughts with Fortune Well.
“[The research] came to a crashing halt, mostly due to the counterculture associations of psychedelics and widespread misuse. With the passage of time … research resumed and we’ve started to take a look at what the clinical potential of these drugs might be.”
“The drugs make it possible for the brain to change more than it ordinarily would,” Bogenschutz tells Fortune, and, “In the context of therapy, enhanced neuroplasticity may lead to enhanced capacity for learning and changes in thought patterns, emotional responses and, ultimately, changes in behavior.”
The research on psilocybin is still in its early stages, but the results so far are promising. If larger studies replicate these findings, psilocybin could become a valuable tool in the treatment of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and addiction. However, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of psilocybin and to develop effective dosing strategies.
The Future of Psilocybin for Mental Health
The need for future research on psilocybin and other psychedelics for mental health is why federal legislation, like the Right to Try Clarification Act, is continuing to move forward. Utah is one state taking a proactive approach to alternative mental-health care solutions, with the passing of HB 167, and the establishment of the Utah Mental Illness Psychotherapy Drug Task Force.
When it comes to caring for the people we care about, we can certainly all agree that every potential solution should be explored, especially if proven to be safe and effective.