For 40 years, Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss and March, has believed psychedelics are an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Now a growing number of scientists agree.
A recent large population study of 130,000 adults in the United States failed to find evidence for a link between psychedelic use (lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin or mescaline) and mental health problems. Using a new data set consisting of 135,095 randomly selected United States adults, including 19,299 psychedelic users, we examine the associations between psychedelic use and mental health. After adjusting for sociodemographics, other drug use and childhood depression, we found no significant associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and increased likelihood of past year serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans and suicide attempt, depression and anxiety. We failed to find evidence that psychedelic use is an independent risk factor for mental health problems. Psychedelics are not known to harm the brain or other body organs or to cause addiction or compulsive use; serious adverse events involving psychedelics are extremely rare.
Overall, it is difficult to see how prohibition of psychedelics can be justified as a public health measure.
Read the study here
Psychedelics have been the subject of experiments by scientists for decades but went out of favor with the law in the 1960s and 1970s when they “escaped the lab” and were picked up by proselytizers who helped give them a bad name, conference presenters said. This led to a backlash that slammed the lid on research for the next several decades.
The DEA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintain that there is insufficient research to justify recategorization from Schedule I. This stance creates a catch-22 by basing the decision on the need for more research while limiting the ability of scientists to conduct that research. The June report recommends transferring responsibility for drug scheduling from the DEA to another agency or nongovernmental organization without a history of anti-drug bias, such as the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. No matter how it happens, until the drugs are reclassified, bringing psychedelics from research into clinical practice will be an uphill battle.
Under the influence of mushrooms, overall brain activity drops, particularly in certain regions that are densely connected to sensory areas of the brain. When functioning normally, these connective “hubs” appear to help constrain the way we see, hear and experience the world, grounding us in reality. It seems that a lot of brain activity is used to keep the world very ordinary and very familiar. They are also the key nodes of a brain network linked to self-consciousness and depression. Psilocybin cuts activity in these nodes and severs their connection to other brain areas, allowing the senses to run free.