THE MAGIC IN THE MUSHROOM

Guru Magazine - - In The News -

The big­gest news to come out of the fes­ti­val was for­mer UK govern­ment ad­vi­sor David Nutt‘ s an­nounce­ment that “in­sane”

laws are de­lay­ing a trial he plans to con­duct to ex­plore the use of psilo­cy­bin – the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent of magic mush­rooms – to treat de­pres­sion. Pre­dictably, a furore erupted in the Bri­tish press about us­ing il­le­gal drugs for re­search. But con­sider this: psilo­cy­bin and cer­tain other il­le­gal drugs are heav­ily reg­u­lated ‘sched­ule 1’ sub­stances be­cause they are judged to have no ben­e­fi­cial uses. But how on earth are we to know whether they have any med­i­cal use when the nec­es­sary re­search is made al­most im­pos­si­ble by the ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions? Heroin, on the other hand, is ‘sched­ule 2’ be­cause it has known med­i­cal uses, and so re­search into its ef­fects is easy. It’s a funny old world. What’s gen­uinely in­ter­est­ing about this story though (pol­i­tics aside) is the science be­hind the pre­dic­tion that psilo­cy­bin might be ben­e­fi­cial in the treat­ment of de­pres­sion. There are good rea­sons for think­ing this: psilo­cy­bin – or rather the sub­stance the body breaks it down into, psilocin – acts on

the sero­tonin chem­i­cal sys­tems in the brain, just like an­tide­pres­sants do. A lack of sero­tonin can be a fac­tor in de­pres­sion – but psilocin tack­les this by ‘mim­ick­ing’ sero­tonin’s ef­fects when it binds to a type of sero­tonin re­cep­tor called 5-HT-2a.

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