CAMH to study whether ‘magic mushrooms’ can treat depression without psychedelic effect

In this file photo, magic mushrooms are seen in a grow room at the Procare farm in Hazerswoude, central Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

TORONTO – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says it has been awarded Canada’s first federal grant to study the effects of a psychedelic chemical component in “magic mushrooms” on treatment-resistant depression.

The psychiatric institute says researchers will explore whether experiencing the effects of psilocybin — found in “magic mushrooms” — is necessary for it to have antidepressant effects.

The clinical trial will recruit 60 adults with treatment-resistant depression over three years and administer a full dose of psilocybin, plus a blocker to prevent the psychedelic effects, to a random third of participants.

Read more: First patient in Quebec gets approval from Health Canada for magic mushroom therapy

Dr. Ishrat Husain, head of CAMH’s clinical trials unit and principal investigator of the new study, says there’s a “growing interest and body of knowledge” on using psychedelic drugs for treating mental illness and addictions.

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He says earlier clinical trials involving the chemical component have shown vast and enduring antidepressant effects when combined with intensive psychotherapy.

Husain says if the study shows psilocybin can treat depression without inducing a psychedelic state, it could remove the need for psychological support during treatment, which is time-intensive and costly.

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