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Magic mushrooms may help depression

24th January 2012

Scientists have said that magic mushrooms could be used to develop medication which would allow a depressed person to remember a time in their life when they felt happier.

depression

Two studies have been exploring the effect of magic mushrooms on the brain.

The former government adviser David Nutt, who was dismissed when he said cigarettes and alcohol caused more harm than ecstasy, LSD and cannabis, said suspicion and fears about drugs had prevented important research being carried out.

However, he mentioned that drugs had been taken for thousands of years, as magic mushrooms grew in the fields of Ancient Greece.

He said: "Everybody who has taken psychedelics makes the point that these can produce the most profound changes in the state of awareness and being that any of them have experienced."

Both studies were led by Robin Carhart-Harris at Imperial College in London. The first study involved 10 men and five women and revealed that after taking the mushrooms, the volunteers' MRI scans showed blood flow was lower to areas of the brain linked with personality and ego.

"This loss of connectivity might mean consciousness is less constrained by inputs from the outside world via the senses, which could explain why people can imagine things very vividly," said Nutt.

A second study, released this week in the British Journal of Psychiatry, told the participants to think back to happy times in their lives, such as when they got married or performed on stage.

Carhart-Harris said: "It was almost as if rather than imagining the memories, they were actually seeing them. This could be very useful in psychotherapy, for instance in people with depression who find it very difficult to remember good times and are stuck in the negative." 

 

 

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