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Medicine Science

Magic Mushrooms 'Reboot' Brain In Depressed People, Study Suggests (theguardian.com) 133

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Magic mushrooms may effectively "reset" the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression, the latest study to highlight the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics suggests. Psychedelics have shown promising results in the treatment of depression and addictions in a number of clinical trials over the last decade. Imperial College London researchers used psilocybin -- the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms -- to treat a small number of patients with depression, monitoring their brain function, before and after. Images of patients' brains revealed changes in brain activity that were associated with marked and lasting reductions in depressive symptoms and participants in the trial reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, who led the study, said: "We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments. Several of our patients described feeling 'reset' after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been 'defragged' like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt 'rebooted.' Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary 'kick start' they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a 'reset' analogy. Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy." The study has been published in Scientific Reports.

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Magic Mushrooms 'Reboot' Brain In Depressed People, Study Suggests

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  • Honest lol (Score:5, Funny)

    by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Friday October 13, 2017 @11:37PM (#55366705)
    That is exactly what I was trying to do 45 years ago ;) lol
  • Bring it on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Friday October 13, 2017 @11:40PM (#55366713)

    Maybe it could help put the brakes on the recent suicide epidemic [nytimes.com].

    • Re:Bring it on (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday October 13, 2017 @11:57PM (#55366767) Journal

      Maybe it could help put the brakes on the recent suicide epidemic

      I sure hope so. It's a damn shame that research with entheogens was limited (or outright banned) for all these decades. A lot of people might have been helped.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        On one hand, that's true, lives could have been saved if we weren't insistent on imprisoning people for various substances (with the bonus of less social destruction in heavily targeted minority communities). But on the other hand, think of the financial and political gains made by a small elite handful!

        Next you'll be saying that the money spent on the military industrial complex's 'War on Terror' would have been better used developing cures for diseases far more likely to kill you than terrorism or someth

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        Drugs are bad, mmmkay.

        • by Whibla ( 210729 )

          Better tell that to the parents of the Adderall generation Mr Mackey.

          What, they're too whacked on Oxy to care?

          Just what is it that you want to do?
          Well, we wanna be free, we wanna be free to do what we wanna do
          And we wanna get loaded and we wanna have a good time

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Maybe it could help put the brakes on the recent suicide epidemic

        I sure hope so. It's a damn shame that research with entheogens was limited (or outright banned) for all these decades. A lot of people might have been helped.

        Because someone let ASSHOLES be in charge, and to an asshole, anyone seeming to ENJOY anything... must be doing something wrong, and needs to be stopped.

        Thank God that things like aspirin and immunizations don't make you make that "I'm coming!" face... or they'd have been banned and stupidly criminalized too.

        I'm serious. If taking aspirin had a side-effect of feeling ecstasy, like all is right with the world, like you've just orgasmed, and did nothing else besides what aspirin currently does, it would be i

    • by Evtim ( 1022085 )

      There is no epidemic as such (in my mind this word implies illness), just the results of our way of life.

      If you throw the heavy math on the data you come up with wide variety of dependencies, some of which are startling. For instance, rapid social change always increases suicide rate irrespective of the nature of the change - even if society firmly marches towards utopia or becomes very rich and prosperous, there will be more corpses along the way...
      Another positive correlation is with easiness of life - th

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Careful with the analysis though. For example, during war does the suicide rate drop or does it just get re-directed to people dying from acts of heroism? Similar for other dangerous times.

        • It rises.
          The amount of people committing suicide 'in the field' by shooting intentionally their own head of or blow up themselves with a grenade is very high.

          • by plopez ( 54068 )

            And then there are those who take on the most dangerous missions. They want to die and it is socially acceptable manner to do so. If they they are heres, if they live they are hers. You can't lose.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            Sure, but many won't be recorded that way. They'll just be KIA. That's why I caution about the stats.

      • I for one await the day (alas, won't live that long) when all of us will have to voluntarily leave life since technology will make us physiologically immortal. For me there is no greater achievement than conquering death - not ultimately, mind you (that is not only impossible but highly undesirable - imagine being immortal and cannot stop it by your free will!), just temporarily - having a very long and healthy life and quick and painless death at the time of your choosing. Any takers?

        Since we've carved up this planet into "yours" and "mine", drawing lines between countries, every government has the burden of resource management. Manufacturing death is part of that job, and our policies support this fact. Our largest man-made killers are legal products today. Perpetual treatments with predictable death is the goal of medicine now, not cures and immortality. Even if we reached an average lifespan of 100 years for every human, it would likely be too much as the population growth would

    • The study notes the rise in suicides of women. ... Looks like the equality thing is panning out. Also observed in higher heart attack rates with women.

    • Shrooms can help treat depression after it has already manifested, but to get to the root of the "suicide epidemic" you need to look no further than how our society treats people. Japan has had a perpetual suicide epidemic throughout their history. Our society has become more like theirs in a few ways - cutthroat competition from cradle to grave, very little tolerance for mistakes, sexual repression, overwork to the point of death being seen as virtuous, etc. Then we've got all our own unique problems on t
    • Maybe it could help put the brakes on the recent suicide epidemic [nytimes.com].

      Maybe actually treating depression would help.

      Instead it's been trendy to complain about "over-medicating" people, to be anti-ECT, etc.

      • You might want to double-check the success rates of treatment and compare them to the rates of spontaneous improvement before simply declaring that increased treatment is more useful than a reduction in over-medicating.

        It may be that only certain types of treatment present both an increased chance of recovery, and no dangerous side effects. Research is needed, including the research in the story; improved treatment strategies will increase the likelihood that treatment is effective.

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      I think better jobs, reduction in racial tensions, and affordable health care would work wonders

  • My experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @12:04AM (#55366789) Homepage

    I've never done shrooms till about a year ago, done them about 15-20 times. Started off with 1 gram chocolates and took 1/2 of one. When I felt like something after 45+ min I took the other 1/2. There were no hallucinations but you get an almost weed high but really special feeling where feel your surroundings more. If I take them at say at 8pm and don't take anymore after 10pm then I can fall asleep around 2am. Next morning though I feel great and clear brained and no mood swings for a couple of days. Bonus is you can (or at least if worked for me) fuck like a champ and get really horny on them. Now that's with the lower doses. Higher doses right under loosing your ego is still ok not not as enjoyable as your mind wonders too much and at times some darker places and then full trips are meh too taxing on the brain, maybe if I was younger.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Try 3 grams. You'll get wicked closed eye visuals and distorted/melting/halo open-eye visuals IME.

      The closed-eye stuff always resembles ancient South American tile work, like old Aztec or Mayan artwork.

      • I did 2 of really strong ones, lol my buddy called me after I got them and warned me that the batch was strong. I though he was BS as I took a whole chocolate (1gram) and nothing happened after an hour. Was like WTF? so I took another 1/2 and then I started to feel a bit. About 1.5 hours later I took the other 1/2. Was feeling ok and smoked some weed with the wife. About 15 min later sitting on the couch got the oh oh something is different this time as I saw my arm melt into the couch arm rest. Anyways sh

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Aztecs and Mayans aren't South American.

  • True Scotsmen use lyseric acid diethylamide instead.
  • "Several of our patients described feeling 'reset' after the treatment and often used computer analogies"

    I just know there must be a formal logical fallacy related to expanding anecdotal evidence to cover the entire range. I'll leave it to the logic experts to point out which one.

    • Fallacies are another name for heuristics. A heuristic such as "anecdata" is what you need when you're trying to prove to regulators that a particular claim is likely enough to warrant further study.

  • A Perfect Moment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vasheron ( 1750022 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @02:05AM (#55366995)
    I a had a "perfect moment" on mushrooms. Out on a camping trip with friends, I dropped mushrooms and I looked out over the water and into the sun. All of a sudden everything just seemed to "fit" and I felt a sensation of warmth and wholeness envelope my body. Anxiety, fear, and doubt dropped away and briefly, for the first time in my life I felt completely at peace. I imagine some people search their entire lives for such a moment. It didn't last and, for various reasons, I haven't attempted to duplicate the experience, but I will always remember it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've had experiences that I would describe very similarly to how you describe yours, but without taking mushrooms. What happened in both our cases was probably a flood of serotonin. Many of the experiences that people who have done LSD or mushrooms describe as religious, mystical, spiritual etc can also easily be triggered by other drugs that affect the levels of the same neurotransmitters.

      I don't mean to burst anyone's bubble, though; that feeling of peace and well-being can very well lead to positive pers

      • Just because you have an experience that you used the same words to describe doesn't mean you understand the experience or had the same experience. It just means the words to describe it are as muddy as your understanding.

        Scots wah hae, hae. Scots wah nay hae, nay hae.

        Go and have the experience discussed, then claim to know how it compares to your other experiences. Don't be smug dumb-ass in an ivory tower claiming to be worldly.

    • by nadaou ( 535365 )

      I had a similar experience many years ago playing Rogue. I quaffed a potion with a funny name because I couldn't carry any more and it made me feel warm all over. It probably was not as spiritual as yours, but I seem to remember that it was fun and tasted great.

    • I remember a neurosurgeon who had a similar experience, of all places, in a London underground train station.

      From what I recall, he was intensely thinking about a particular surgical technique, and trying to exactly remember and reconstruct different parts of the brain. At some point he suddenly felt himself "expand" and fill the entire station and all people and everything in it and found himself at some extrodinary level of peacefulness and calmness. It vanished pretty quickly.

      His theory was that the b

  • by Anonymous Coward

    May feel like their brain has been fsck'd or init 6'd. Some describe it like going from init to system d.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have read about research being done to use psychedelics to treat PTSD. Sorry I don't have a citation for that. The reasoning for PTSD treatment sounded much like what this article says about depression. There was or is a controversy about research to test whether such a treatment is effective. The research was approved in Europe and denied in the US. This was a few years ago so I do not know the current status.

    • I have read about research being done to use psychedelics to treat PTSD. Sorry I don't have a citation for that. The reasoning for PTSD treatment sounded much like what this article says about depression. There was or is a controversy about research to test whether such a treatment is effective. The research was approved in Europe and denied in the US. This was a few years ago so I do not know the current status.

      Mushrooms (or psilocybin and psilocin) have been reported by more than a few people to alleviate or cure cluster headaches, too. MDMA, especially, has been used to treat PTSD. These treatments are only administered a few times, at most, and carry little risk. There is some scientific data to back up these uses of psychedelics, so more research should absolutely be conducted.

  • Fuck, Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey have a lot to answer for. If not for their disgusting antics, we would have had this medicine decades ago. But no, they had to dance around like frightening spectres, "I'm going to dose your kids with hallucinogens, and then they'll never come home to you again! They'll hate everything about you! Muhahahaha!" All so they could try to tear down society, because they deemed it unjust. Fuck those fucking pricks. Their persuasion worked! These drugs were made hugely ille
    • Wow, you literally have no idea what you are talking about. The government outlawed alcohol before Kesey was born, and weed as well. Blaming Kesey and Leary, suggesting that the government wouldn't ban masturbation if they could get away with that power grab, suggests a 500 microgram LSD permanent trip level of delusion on your part.
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @07:32AM (#55367473) Homepage Journal
      Sure, sure, because Nixon wasn't looking for any excuse he could find to crack down on the blacks and the hippies. And there was no shortage of twatwaffle cronies who were happy to make up whatever bad science the administration wanted to make that happen. And the pharmaceutical companies had absolutely no reason not to do everything in their power to suppress the natural drugs that worked so much better than the shit they were peddling. And not satisfied just to have the USA stick its head up its ass about the subject for the last 50 years, they went out of their way to export their hairbrained policies to the rest of the world. I hope history judges them harshly for the damage they've done, to generations of African Americans and the public well-being as a whole.
    • Fuck, Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey have a lot to answer for. If not for their disgusting antics, we would have had this medicine decades ago.... They're worse than Harvey Weinstein in my book.

      Leary and Kesey were definitely over the top, and kind of sound like dicks, but without them psychedelics might not have received any mainstream attention at all. To call them worse than a(n alleged) rapist is going a bit far. They got carried away and went off the deep end, but you have to give them credit for making so many people aware of the power of psychedelics. Hell, they've been pretty much irrelevant for several decades and we're still talking about them.

  • Does the Home Office / the government know of this post? Isn't there a danger they will try to close Imperial down to show how tough they are on drugs? Who is funding it anyway? Was the job advertised? (I could go on... )
  • by valinor89 ( 1564455 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @09:14AM (#55367747)
    User: My brain seems to be slow and moody as of late.
    Support: Have you tried turning it on and off, sir?
    User: Mmmm
    • "my whole brain was out of tune
      my whole brain was out of tune
      I don't know how to tune a brain, do you?

      went in to a brain shop
      they said they'd have to rebuild the whole head
      I said well, do what you gotta do

      when i got my brain back, it didn't work right
      didn't have as many good ideas
      haven't really have a good idea since i got it fixed"

      -My Brain, by Morphine
  • "Reboot" the brain?

    So, basically electro-convulsive therapy, but for cool people.

  • Tripping while depressed can get real shit. real fast.
  • In the same way it sort of validates shock treatment and lobotomies. It actually suggests that the problem is actually damaged neuron "circuits". The synopsis only mentions short term treatment and so hints that a treatment might be something like Chemothapy where you have a treatment and wait for the body to heal and then repeat. Probably over a period of a year or two. I would speculate it's probably just as effective as shock treatment but without the memory loss.

  • If depression is characterized by a 'spiral', then maybe it's analogous to a feedback loop producing the same neuroactive chemicals (?). If mushrooms alter the feedback 'coefficient' and/or 'decay constant', maybe that's what could keep it from producing the spiraling effect. Or maybe the 'reset' flushes those chemicals from the brain, after which the spiral is forced to start again from the beginning.

  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @06:24PM (#55370133)
    As someone whom suffers from depression and has to take these god-awful medicines produced by Big Pharma, I would love to be able to try this. I am sick of managing depression. If this offers a cure for it, than I would rather a cure. Too bad that Big Pharma is all about profit and they know that there is no profit in curing disease: they'd much rather manage it.
  • That has to be the most awesome professional title I've yet heard. I want to be that.

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