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Magical Effects of Psychedelics Can Transform Psychiatry

Magical Effects of Psychedelics Can Transform Psychiatry

Tuesday, 9 November, 2021 - 07:15
Illustrative Ecstasy pills. (AP)

Imagine a medicine that could help people process disturbing memories, sparking behavioral changes rather than merely burying and suppressing symptoms and trauma. For the millions suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, such remedies for their daily struggles could be on the horizon. Psychiatry is rapidly heading towards a new frontier – and it's all thanks to psychedelics, The Guardian reported.

In an advanced phase trial published in Nature in May, patients in the US, Israel and Canada who received doses of the psychedelic stimulant Ecstasy (MDMA), alongside care from a therapist, were more than twice as likely as the placebo group to no longer have PTSD - for which there is currently no effective treatment - months later.

The researchers concluded that the findings, which reflected those of six earlier-stage trials, cemented the treatment as a startlingly successful potential breakthrough therapy. There are now hopes that MDMA therapy could receive approval for certain treatments from US regulators by 2023, or perhaps even earlier – with psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, not far behind in the process. A small study at Johns Hopkins University, published last year, suggested it could be four times more effective than traditional antidepressants.

You could say interest in psychedelics is mushrooming. Last month, in a first for psychedelics since the war on drugs was launched in the 1970s, US federal funding was granted for a psilocybin study to treat tobacco addiction following pressure by lawmakers, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This marks a jaw-dropping turnaround for hallucinogenic drugs. Even 10 years ago, they were effectively taboo in many academic fields and halls of power. But as the intellectual rationale behind the war on drugs has become increasingly untenable, hundreds of millions of dollars have been pumped into psychedelic pharmaceutical research.

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