It is effective as an anti-depressant

Neuroscience News

Summary: Psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, is notably more effective at alleviating depression symptoms than conventional controls.
Key Facts: The study reviewed seven randomized controlled trials comparing psilocybin to standard controls, involving a total of 436 participants.
Psilocybin showed a significantly greater improvement in depression scores, with a large effect size (Hedges’ g of 1.64).
Source: BMJ Psilocybin – the active ingredient in “magic” mushrooms – is a more effective treatment for symptoms of depression than controls, providing further support for its potential as an antidepressant, suggests a study published by The BMJ today.
The change in depression scores was significantly greater after treatment with psilocybin than with a comparator treatment, with an overall Hedge’s g of 1.64 indicating a large effect size favouring psilocybin.
As such, the authors conclude that, although this review’s findings are encouraging for psilocybin’s potential as an effective antidepressant, issues such as cost, lack of regulatory guidelines and legal safeguards associated with psilocybin treatment need to be dealt with before it can be established in clinical practice.
BMJ Abstract Efficacy of psilocybin for treating symptoms of depression: systematic review and meta-analysis Objective To determine the efficacy of psilocybin as an antidepressant compared with placebo or non-psychoactive drugs.
Further research is thus required to delineate the influence of expectancy effects, moderating factors, and treatment delivery on the efficacy of psilocybin as an antidepressant.


In summary, psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, significantly reduces depressive symptoms compared to standard controls. Examining seven trials involving 436 participants, researchers discovered a significant improvement in depression scores after psilocybin treatment when contrasted with placebos or other small amounts of psychedelics, demonstrating a large effect size.

Even with the encouraging outcomes, the study emphasizes the need for more investigation into factors like patient demographics, treatment environments, and depression type. The results point to psilocybin’s potential as a potent antidepressant, but caution should be exercised in its clinical application because of the current gaps in comprehensive impact assessment and diverse participant representation.

Important Information:.

The study examined seven RCTs with a total of 436 participants that compared psilocybin to standard controls.

With a large effect size (Hedges’ g of 1.64), psilocybin demonstrated a significantly greater improvement in depression scores.

Although encouraging, the study’s high trial heterogeneity and limited generalizability—given the mostly white, 52% female participant base—call for more thorough investigation.

BMJ, the source.

An additional study that supports psilocybin’s potential as an antidepressant has been published in The BMJ today. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic” mushrooms, is more effective than controls at treating feelings of depression.

According to the researchers, although the results are positive, “more research is needed to clarify the factors that maximize psilocybin’s treatment potential for symptoms of depression.”. “.

An estimated 300 million people globally suffer from depression, which is the main cause of disability.

With few side effects and no proof that it can lead to addiction, psilocybin has demonstrated promise in easing the symptoms of depression after one or two doses. Nevertheless, factors like type of depression, history of psychedelic use, dosage, and publication biases that may mitigate the effects of psilocybin have not been examined in studies published to date.

In order to address this, a group of UK researchers searched databases for randomized controlled trials that contrasted the use of psilocybin with other treatments for depression symptoms, such as microdosages of psychedelics, niacin (vitamin B), or placebo.

In order to separate the effects of psilocybin from those of psychotherapy, they included studies in which psychotherapy was present in both the experimental and control conditions.

A total of 436 depressed participants (52 percent female and 90 percent white) were included in seven pertinent trials for analysis. Hedges’ g, a statistical technique, was used to measure changes in depression scores. A Hedges’ g of 0 points denotes a minor effect, 0 points a moderate effect, and 0 points or higher a major effect.

With an overall Hedge’s g of 1 point64 indicating a large effect size favoring psilocybin, the change in depression scores following psilocybin treatment was significantly greater than following a comparator treatment.

In order to adjust for trial variations, additional analyses revealed that higher improvements were associated with older age, prior psychedelic use, self-reported rather than clinician-assessed depression, secondary depression (caused by an underlying illness), and these factors.

The authors of the study acknowledge that the lack of participant diversity limited the generalizability of the findings and that high levels of variation (heterogeneity) between trials resulted in a low certainty of evidence to support a strong antidepressant effect of psilocybin.

Additionally not measured were the participants’ pre-treatment expectations and their level of awareness regarding the nature of their treatment—psilocybin or placebo.

Moreover, in clinical trials, patients take psilocybin under the supervision of a psychotherapist in a quiet living room with calming music—a situation that is unlikely to occur in a medical setting.

Therefore, the authors draw the conclusion that, while the results of this review are promising for psilocybin’s potential to be a useful antidepressant, problems like cost, a lack of regulatory guidelines, and the absence of legal protections related to psilocybin treatment need to be resolved before it can be incorporated into clinical practice.

Although this study adds significantly to the body of evidence supporting the use of psilocybin in depression, some researchers have expressed concerns about its inability to address a number of issues in a linked editorial.

They contend, for example, that until more data about possible effect modifiers are gathered, pragmatic clinical trials and real-world data could help provide evidence for psilocybin’s effectiveness (performance under “real-world” conditions) in depression.

Whether psychedelics can express antidepressant activity independently of bolstering particular types of psychotherapy is another topic of ongoing discussion.

Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, the editorial writers state that, in line with all analyses based on aggregate data, we are unable to distinguish between people who are most likely to benefit from psilocybin and people who might instead have negative experiences.

These encouraging results, they conclude, “support a prudent approach in both scholarly and public settings, because more and better evidence is needed before any clinical recommendation can be made about therapeutic use of psilocybin.”. “.

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Original Study: A publicly accessible resource.

Athina-Marina Metaxa and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effectiveness of psilocybin in treating symptoms of depression. B.J.


Psilocybin’s effectiveness in treating depression symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review.


to evaluate psilocybin’s antidepressant effectiveness in comparison to non-psychoactive or placebo medications.


meta-analysis and systematic review.

Information sources.

In addition to handsearching reference lists, conference proceedings, and abstracts, there are four databases of unpublished and international literature (ClinicalTrials . gov, WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, and PsycEXTRA) and five electronic databases of published literature (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline, Embase, Science Citation Index and Conference Proceedings Citation Index, and PsycInfo).

Synthesis of data and quality of study.

Data on potential moderators of treatment effect were extracted, such as the type of depression (primary or secondary), the dosage of psilocybin, the use of psychedelics in the past, the type of outcome measure (self-reported or clinician rated), and individual characteristics (e.g., age, sex).

Subgroup analyses and metaregression were used to examine observed heterogeneity and the impact of covariates after data were synthesized using a random effects meta-analysis model.

Hedges’ g was employed as a treatment effect size metric in order to take into consideration small sample effects and notable variations in sample sizes among the included studies. The Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 tool was utilized to assess the quality of the studies, and the GRADE guidelines were employed to evaluate the aggregated evidence.

qualifying requirements.

Pilot studies wherein psilocybin was used as a stand-alone treatment for individuals with major depressive symptoms and the degree of symptom improvement was assessed using a validated clinician-rated or self-report measure. If the psychotherapeutic element was present in both the experimental and control conditions, studies involving directive psychotherapy were included. All participants with depression were welcome, regardless of co-occurring conditions (like cancer, for example).


An examination of seven of the nine included studies’ total of 436 participants—228 of whom were female—and their average age range of 36 to 60 years revealed that psilocybin significantly outperformed comparator treatment in terms of change in depression scores (Hedges’ g=1.64, 95 percent confidence interval (CI) 0.55 to 2.73, P<0.001). Metaregressions and subgroup analyses revealed that higher improvements in symptoms were associated with having secondary depression (Hedges' g=3.25, 95 percent CI 0.97 to 5.53), being assessed using self-report depression scales like the Beck depression inventory (3.25, 0.97 to 5.53), being older, and having previously used psychedelics (metaregression coefficient 0.16, 95 percent CI 0.08 to 0.24 and 4.2, 1.5 to 6.9, respectively). While the risk of bias was low for all the studies, the change from the baseline metric was linked to high heterogeneity and a statistically significant risk of small study bias, which led to a low rating for the certainty of the evidence. In summary. When self-report scales were used to measure depression symptoms and when participants had previously used psychedelics, the treatment effects of psilocybin were significantly greater in patients with secondary depression. To clarify the impact of moderating factors, treatment delivery, and expectancy effects on psilocybin's antidepressant efficacy, more research is thus needed. register for a systematic review. PERSONAL CRD42023388065.

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