Previously magic mushrooms have been illegally used to instigate an altered consciousness, hallucinations and other sensory experiences. However two new scientific studies conducted by Imperial College London have reported that Psilocybin, an active element found in magic mushrooms could actually help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression .
The first study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal gave 30 healthy participants an injection of psilocybin while examining brain activity using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It was found that there was significantly reduced brain functioning in particular areas of the brain known to be involved in high level reasoning and regions that are regarded as overactive in people diagnosed with depression. It was reported that the decreased regional brain activity was also why people experience the world as strange and hallucinate after consuming magic mushrooms.
The second study published last week in the British Journal of Psychiatry, had 10 participants half of whom were given psilocybin and the other half a placebo. Upon being asked to recall happy memories, they found that those who had been given psilocybin were able to remember the particular event much more vividly. Two weeks later the same participants were asked to rate their emotional state and over all well being; those who had psilocybin reported feeling emotionally content and reported a greater sense of well-being in comparison to placebo participants. The results suggested that vividly remembering happy memories instigated by psilocybin could boost mental health .
The long term effects of psilocybin is unknown, additionally it is yet to be investigated whether or not a reduction of brain activity causes particular problems. Therefore there are many more hurdles to jump before it is known whether the medicinal properties of magic mushrooms out way side effects enough to treat depression .