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article imageUsing 'magic mushrooms' to treat anxiety and depression

By Tim Sandle     Jul 5, 2014 in Science
Psilocybin, the psychedelic component of certain mushroom species, is being investigated for its use in treating anxiety and depression. Scientists have found out that the compound triggers brain activity characteristic of dream states.
In a recent study, 15 participants received injections of psilocybin (derived from certain mushroom species) and allowed their brain activity to be observed under an a special brain scanner. Under the influence of the compound, the volunteers exhibited increased brain activity in regions involved in emotion and memory, and the different areas of this network showed coordinated activity. Scientists concluded that this is the exact same pattern observed during dreaming.
In addition, the Washington Post reports, mushroom compound stimulated brain regions involved in high-level thinking, including our sense of self. The researchers conclude that psychedelic drugs are powerful tools for exploring what happens in the brain when consciousness is profoundly altered. The main application of the research is with helping people to overcome anxiety and depression.
Commenting on the research, Robin Carhart-Harris, a neuropsychopharmacology postdoc at Imperial College London, said in a briefing note: "People often describe taking psilocybin as producing a dreamlike state and our findings have, for the first time, provided a physical representation for the experience in the brain."
The research has been published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, in a paper titled "Enhanced repertoire of brain dynamical states during the psychedelic experience."
More about Mushrooms, Magic mushrooms, Psilocybin, Anxiety, Depression
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