A British study enrolling 43 people with severe depression found that the magic mushroom compound psilocybin bested the antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram).
The blinded study published in Nature tracked patients’ symptoms and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the brain’s metabolic function.
Those who received psilocybin showed significant and sustained reductions in depressive symptoms, while fMRI scans showed prominent neural activity throughout the brain that lasted three weeks. In addition, the brain activity of psilocybin recipients was similar to that of a healthy brain.
Conversely, those who received Lexapro had a slight improvement in symptoms and neural activity that continued to be limited to defined brain regions.
Last year, a small Phase 2 study published in NEJM found that psilocybin appeared to be slightly more effective than Lexapro.
Both that study and the one recently published in Nature offered participants psychotherapy in conjunction with drug therapy.
More research will be required to verify psilocybin’s potential as an antidepressant therapy.
Earlier research suggests that psychedelics, including psilocybin, may promote neuroplasticity.
Filed Under: Psychiatric/psychotropic drugs