Psychedelic Mushrooms Are Closer to Medicinal Use (It’s Not Just Your Imagination) - The New York Times
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have recommended that psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, be reclassified for medical use, potentially paving the way for the psychedelic drug to one day treat depression and anxiety and help people stop smoking.
The suggestion to reclassify psilocybin from a Schedule I drug, with no known medical benefit, to a Schedule IV drug, which is akin to prescription sleeping pills, was part of a review to assess the safety and abuse of medically administered psilocybin.
Before the Food and Drug Administration can be petitioned to reclassify the drug, though, it has to clear extensive study and trials, which can take more than five years, the researchers wrote.
The analysis was published in the October print issue of Neuropharmacology, a medical journal focused on neuroscience.
For decades, though, researchers have shunned the study of psychedelics. “In the 1960s, they were on the cutting edge of neuroscience research and understanding how the brain worked,” Dr. Johnson said. “But then it got out of the lab.”
Research stopped, in part, because the use of mind-altering drugs like LSD and mushrooms became a hallmark of hippie counterculture.
The researchers who conducted the new study included Roland R. Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is one of the most prominent researchers on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs. The researchers reviewed data going back to the 1940s.
Dr. Johnson said that the F.D.A. had approved a number of trials of psilocybin. If its use is approved for patients, he said, “I see this as a new era in medicine.”
He added, “The data suggests that psychedelics are powerful behavioral agents.” In legal studies, he said, participants are given a capsule with synthetic psilocybin. (They are not given mushrooms to eat, which is how the drug is most often ingested.)
He warned, though, that psilocybin is not a panacea for everyone. In their analysis, the researchers called for strict controls on its use. There are areas of risk, too, for patients with psychotic disorders and anyone who takes high doses of the drug.