Can the psychedelic in magic mushrooms treat depression? Ohio State professor weighs in (2024)

Buckeyes may be synonymous with Ohio State University, but it's magic mushrooms being studied by researchers there that could unlock new treatments for mental illnesses within the next few years.

Psilocybin, the naturally occuring psychedelic component of magic mushrooms, and a synthetic version of it coupled with intensive therapy is in clinical trials at Ohio State, said Dr. Alan Davis, an associate professor and director of the Center for Psychedelic Drug Research and Education at the university.

The trials, Davis said, have the potential to revolutionize the way doctors treat things like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Davis is set to give a free public lecture on the use of psychedelics to treat depression at 4 p.m. on Feb. 26 at Gravity Events Center, 480 W Broad St., in Columbus' Franklinton neighborhood.

But before the talk, Davis spoke with The Dispatch about where the research trials stand and the potential for treatment to become available in the near future. The following interview with Davis has been edited for length and clarity.

Can the psychedelic in magic mushrooms treat depression? Ohio State professor weighs in (1)

Q: How does psychedelic therapy work and what does it do?

A: These are very high doses that we are giving with two trained professionals in medically observed circ*mstances. We have 13 hours of therapy that's associated with these treatments. ...

You have this high dose of a psychedelic, and then we have therapy in the days and weeks after each of the dosing sessions in order to help people integrate these experiences that they've had under the psychedelic effect into their daily life. ...

We know from some studies that have been completed that there are different parts of the brain that psilocybin affects.

Some people describe it as like a reset. When you introduce psilocybin into the brain, what you see is that different parts of the brain might start communicating in new ways.

Q: When will Ohioans be able to get psychedelic therapy?

A: We're actually in the final stages of this process.

It is currently under Phase 3 trials. From an FDA standpoint, you have to go through Phase 1, 2 and 3 trials before you can apply for FDA approval. This is currently in the last stage of Phase 3 trials.

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If (those trials are) successful and if the FDA agrees with the success of those studies, then the FDA could be making a determination about psilocybin therapy being available to the public within the next two to three years. ...

We believe that there's already enough writing on the wall about the data around this topic, and it's a very strong likelihood that it's going to be approved by the FDA.

Q: Is there a lot of interest in this type of treatment?

A: This is an emerging area because there's a huge unmet need by our current treatment system and people with depression.

Often — even if they have access to treatment — those who do often cycle through a variety of medications, sometimes with little to no effect.

Even if medications work, they often come with side effects that are unacceptable and intolerable to people. ... Some treatments don't work for people, even if they've tried multiple things. People need more options and psychedelic therapy might be one of those options. ...

Once it's approved, we need to start training not only clinicians and providers to be able to conduct these treatments, but we also need to start training and helping to educate communities and people and families who might have loved ones get these treatments. ...

Those folks are going to need to have a better understanding about what psychedelics are and accurate science and data that's not been misreported by government. and policy.

Q: How do you respond to someone who might criticize this kind of treatment as 'just getting high?'

A: This is something that people get one to two doses of this substance under very controlled psychological and medical infrastructure, and it's done in the context of really deep thoughtful psychotherapy.

So, yes, people have a drug experience, but I would think of that question as more of a question that comes from the system that we currently live in that stigmatizes substance use and getting high as somehow negative.

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Actually, substances have been used for thousands of years ... Psychoactive drugs have been used to guide spiritual exploration and psycho spiritual and personal development and rites of passage.

It's only been the last 100 years, and really the last 50 of which in particular, where we have changed the cultural significance of psychoactive substance experiences and started pathologizing it.

Q: Has there been any political pushback to psychedelic therapy trials?

A: The good news is that (in order to) be able to launch clinical trials here, we've already had those conversations.

I actually had to go all the way through having meetings with Gov. Mike DeWine to educate him on the topic of psychedelic therapy.

OSU wasn't going to jeopardize their standing as a university here in Ohio for this controversial work unless we had that buy in. So the good news is we have buy in from a lot of different levels of government here in Ohio.

Surprisingly as well, it seems to have less of a political divide than you might think because folks on both sides of the political aisle view this as something that has a potential to positively affect people that they care about.

We're definitely going to deal with the stigma of drug policy and how that's unfortunately led to a lot of misinformation about psychedelic substances. But hopefully, once we start getting approval of things in the next couple of years, that will slowly start to change that narrative.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State professor: Psychedelic therapy likely to get FDA approval

Can the psychedelic in magic mushrooms treat depression? Ohio State professor weighs in (2024)


What kind of mushrooms are good for depression? ›

Recent studies have established that they produce rapid and enduring effects of up to 12 months. However, psilocybin mushrooms are not only effective in treating depression. They're also being used to treat alcoholism, PTSD, and anxiety—with promising results.

Are mushrooms good for anxiety? ›

To date, studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is beneficial in relieving symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other mental health disorders. Psilocybin has also shown effectiveness at easing fear and anxiety in people with terminal cancer.

Where is psychedelic research being done? ›

The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is leading the way in exploring innovative treatments using psilocybin.

How are psychedelic drugs used in psychotherapy? ›

Psycholytic therapy involves the use of low-to-medium doses of psychedelic drugs, repeatedly at intervals of 1–2 weeks. The therapist is present during the peak of the experience to assist the patient in processing material that arises and to offer support.

What is the best mushroom supplement for mental health? ›

With a vast array of over 2,000 edible and medicinal species, certain fungi such as Cordyceps, Chaga, and Maitake are among the best mushroom supplements for brain health that have captivated researchers and health enthusiasts alike.

What are the best mushrooms for mental clarity? ›

In conclusion, Lion's Mane, Cordyceps, Varnish Shelf and Reishi mushrooms are among the best mushrooms for focus. These mushrooms can enhance thinking, focus, and mental clarity. They can be taken as supplements or added to meals to naturally improve cognitive function and performance.

Are mushrooms good or bad for your brain? ›

Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B9, also known as folate. B vitamins are essential for cell growth and formation. This means that your hair, skin and nails could become more healthy, as well as your brain and heart.

Do mushrooms actually help your brain? ›

“Using super-resolution microscopy, we found the mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain.”

Are mushrooms good for your mental health? ›

We've learned psilocybin can have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects that last for several months. It also appears to be helpful in the treatment of depression and anxiety in people who are terminally ill. And, for nicotine and alcohol dependence.

What ended the psychedelic era? ›

By the end of the 1960s, the trend of exploring psychedelia in music was largely in retreat. LSD was declared illegal in the US and UK in 1966. The linking of the murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca by The Manson Family to Beatles songs such as "Helter Skelter" contributed to an anti-hippie backlash.

Who invented psychedelic? ›

Albert Hofmann (11 January 1906 – 29 April 2008) was a Swiss chemist known for being the first to synthesize, ingest, and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann's team also isolated, named and synthesized the principal psychedelic mushroom compounds psilocybin and psilocin.

Who came up with psychedelic? ›

Humphry Fortescue Osmond (1 July 1917 – 6 February 2004) was an English psychiatrist who moved to Canada and later the United States. He is known for inventing the word psychedelic and for his research into interesting and useful applications for psychedelic drugs.

What is the therapeutic potential of psychedelics? ›

Initially, the effect of psychedelics was thought to last only several hours during the time patients experience the drug, but data indicates the effects can last up to one year after a few therapeutic sessions—with smoking cessation and alcohol use disorders for example.

What are psychedelic drugs for trauma? ›

Psychedelics like MDMA have seen a resurgence of interest in recent years from researchers like Rothbaum. Clinical trials have shown that, under the right conditions, they can have a positive effect on mental health conditions like PTSD or depression for some people.

Why are psychedelics used for PTSD? ›

Psychedelic therapies have researchers excited because evidence suggests they might have lasting beneficial effects on factors that cause psychological distress beyond the treatment period. These include feeling disconnected from other people, fear of death, and rigid ways of thinking.

Is eating mushrooms good for depression? ›

Researchers state that magic mushrooms help depressed patients reconnect with their emotions. They contrast this effect with antidepressants, which relieve depression by dulling your emotions. Many patients who use antidepressants say they help reduce low mood, but they blunt positive mood as well.

What are the benefits of turkey tail mushrooms? ›

Researchers are exploring how turkey tail may help balance blood sugar levels, boost athletic performance, fight viral and bacterial infections, and reduce fatigue. Some proponents of turkey tail believe it can prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and protect against age-related cognitive decline.

What mushrooms help with serotonin? ›

Lion's Mane mushroom contains a compound called hericystin, which has been shown to increase the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain. NGF is a protein that promotes the growth and survival of nerve cells, including those that produce serotonin.

Is Reishi mushroom the same as Lion's Mane? ›

Two such mushrooms that have gained prominence in recent years for their potential therapeutic properties are Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). While both are fungi, they differ in appearance, taste, and, most importantly, their respective health benefits.

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