Cleveland Clinic to test 'magic mushrooms' as treatment for depression

Posted on March 08, 2024

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Source: FOX8

One year after the Cleveland Clinic announced a clinical trial of the psychedelic drug LSD in treatment of anxiety disorders, it’s preparing for a new study on treating depression with psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in so-called “magic” mushrooms.

More than 50 sites have joined in the trial to research the drug’s impact on patients diagnosed with depression that hasn’t been resolved by other treatments, according to a news release from the clinic.

Patients are expected to receive capsules containing either psilocybin or a placebo, then be monitored for at least six hours by a therapist, according to the release. Researchers will follow up with participants over the following year.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring compound created by more than 200 species of fungi. It can affect serotonin in the brain, affecting mood, cognition and perception, according to the release.

“We do know that people develop powerful insights under [psychedelics], and they might see a connection to something that happened in their life and their psychiatric condition or their substance use disorder and that can be pivotal for them to change the direction of how their going to deal with it,” Dr. Brian Barnett, of the Cleveland Clinic’s Treatment Resistant Depression Clinic, told FOX 8 News in September.

Less than half of the psychiatrists surveyed in 2016 by the clinic and Case Western Reserve University said they thought psychedelics could help treat psychiatric disorders. But in a new survey in 2023, about 4 in 5 agreed they could be beneficial, FOX 8 News reported that month.

The clinic’s previous LSD trial at Lutheran Hospital concluded in November, according to information from the trial’s sponsor Mind Medicine Inc., but the results have not yet been released.

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recently began similar research on psychedelics.

Though psilocybin is illegal most everywhere in the country, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2018 acknowledged its therapeutic potential and last summer published preliminary guidance for clinical trials using psychedelic drugs, The Associated Press reported.

Last year, voters in Colorado approved the recreational use of psychedelic mushrooms, starting in 2024, AP reported. They’re also legal in Oregon and several other cities. This year, California lawmakers are also considering making them legal, according to the AP.