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.
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This is featured on Psychedelic Frontier. The following report is from the September 18, 1914 issue of Science magazine, generously contributed to Erowid by archivist Michael Horowitz, as a silvered, heavily-aged copy from old microfiche. This stands out as one of the earliest known experience reports for psilocybin-containing mushrooms. Although the author identifies the mushrooms as Panaeolus papilionaceus, Paul Stamets suggests that Verrill’s identification may have been wrong and the mushrooms might have instead been Panaeolus subbalteatus.
The faces appeared in all sorts of bright and even intense colors–so intense that I could only liken them to flames of fire, in red, purple, green and yellow colors, like fireworks.
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.
Anecdotal reports suggest that psychedelic agents may relieve symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This modified double-blind study investigated the safety, tolerability, and clinical effects of psilocybin, a potent 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(2A/2C) agonist, in patients with OCD.
Nine subjects with DSM-IV-defined OCD and no other current major psychiatric disorder participated in up to 4 single-dose exposures to psilocybin in doses ranging from sub-hallucinogenic to frankly hallucinogenic. Low (100 microg/kg), medium (200 microg/kg), and high (300 microg/kg) doses were assigned in that order, and a very low dose (25 microg/kg) was inserted randomly and in double-blind fashion at any time after the first dose. Testing days were separated by at least 1 week. Each session was conducted over an 8-hour period in a controlled environment in an outpatient clinic; subjects were then transferred to a psychiatric inpatient unit for overnight observation. The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) and a visual analog scale measuring overall obsessive-compulsive symptom severity were administered at 0, 4, 8, and 24 hours post-ingestion. The Hallucinogen Rating Scale was administered at 8 hours, and vital signs were recorded at 0, 1, 4, 8, and 24 hours after ingestion. The study was conducted from November 2001 to November 2004.
RESULTSNine subjects were administered a total of 29 psilocybin doses. One subject experienced transient hypertension without relation to anxiety or somatic symptoms, but no other significant adverse effects were observed. Marked decreases in OCD symptoms of variable degrees were observed in all subjects during 1 or more of the testing sessions (23%-100% decrease in YBOCS score). Repeated-measures analysis of variance for all YBOCS values revealed a significant main effect of time on Wilks lambda (F = 9.86, df = 3,3; p = .046), but no significant effect of dose (F = 2.25, df = 3,3; p = .261) or interaction of time and dose (F = 0.923, df = 9,45; p = .515). Improvement generally lasted past the 24-hour timepoint.
CONCLUSIONSIn a controlled clinical environment, psilocybin was safely used in subjects with OCD and was associated with acute reductions in core OCD symptoms in several subjects.