Are Magic Shrooms A Cure For Gloom?
Women's Health Australia|February 2020
The race to bring the next generation of anti-depressants to the market is on, and shrooms are leading the pack. As a trial gets underway to test the effectiveness of psilocybin – the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms – in treating depression, WH reports from the lab on the front line of the psychedelic renaissance
Charlotte Haigh

The curtains are closed against the afternoon sun and pink salt lamps bathe the room in a warm glow. Pictures of trees cover every wall, as if to emulate a forest. In the middle of the room there’s a bed covered in crisp, white sheets, with an eye mask atop the pillow. It has the ambience of a luxe wellness retreat, but beneath the sheets is a standard-issue hospital bed belonging to the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research in London. It’s in this space that researchers are trying to prove the efficacy of a treatment that could revolutionize psychiatry.

They’re exploring the potential of magic mushrooms’ psychoactive component – psilocybin – as an aid for depression. Back in 2017, the same team showed that psilocybin could ‘reset’ the brains of those with treatment-resistant depression. In this trial, they’re comparing the effects of psilocybin with those of a conventional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. “Psychedelics work completely differently to SSRIs,” says psychologist Dr Rosalind Watts, the team’s clinical lead. “Where SSRIs are designed to flatten emotions to help you cope, psychedelics heighten emotional responses so that you can look into the source of your issues and find new ways of dealing with them. You don’t avoid anything – rather, you embrace it, and that can be transformative.”

Watts and her team aren’t alone in their research into taboo substances as treatments for mental health. The US Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) supports research into various psychedelics, and Australia’s first clinical trial of psilocybin for mental illness began last year at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. Previous studies have shown psychedelics’ efficacy in treating addiction and PTSD, but it’s the focus on depression that feels most pertinent. Antidepressant use is on the rise around the world – in Australia, the rate has doubled since 2000. And while SSRIs, and their related serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), are lifesavers for some, they’re far from perfect. Side effects can include anxiety, a flattened libido and withdrawal symptoms if they are stopped abruptly. Then there are those for whom SSRIs simply don’t work. With no breakthroughs in psychiatric medicine since the late ’80s, could psilocybin be that magic bullet?

Global trip

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM WOMEN'S HEALTH AUSTRALIAView All

Clean Up Your Digital Act

The realistic way to make over your relationship with tech

3 mins read
Women's Health Australia
June 2020

9 Biggest Lies In Wellness

Whether activating your glutes or your almonds, the struggle to decipher #fitspo fact from fiction is real. Between social media influencers, Reddit zealots and that pushy guy at the supplement store, some seriously ridiculous – and potentially dangerous – ideas have moved from fringe theory to health gospel. It doesn’t help that the booming wellness industry, worth an estimated $4.5 trillion, is difficult to regulate. So to help you navigate these heavily filtered waters, here are the new health virtues that shouldn’t be – and a few simple tactics you can use to actually improve your life.

5 mins read
Women's Health Australia
June 2020

Kate The Fighter

Actress Kate Beckinsale is stronger than ever thanks to a no B.S diet, near-daily workouts and a refreshingly optimistic outlook. (oh, and she’ll date whoever she wants, thank you very much)

6 mins read
Women's Health Australia
June 2020

Welcome to the land of Oat Milk & Manuka Honey

Nestled in the rural outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, lies the town of Serenbe: a revolutionary wellness utopia designed to keep its residents fit, thriving and happy – for life. Could it hold the cure for the maladies of urban living? Or should its promises be taken with a healthy pinch of Himalayan salt? Before the world went into lockdown, one zen-seeking writer made the journey to find out

9 mins read
Women's Health Australia
June 2020

Ride Big

Laura Enever walked away from her pro surfing career to conquer the big waves as a freesurfer. Here, she reveals why she followed her heart

3 mins read
Women's Health Australia
June 2020

OUR KINDA GIRL... Elle Ferguson

Take a scroll through Elle Ferguson’s Instagram and you’d be forgiven for thinking the mogul had it easy: an impressive following, a successful tanning product range, and better locks than a haircare commercial. What you won’t find on there are the sleepless nights, countless rejections and the time she spent relabelling bottles on her living room floor. Here, the 32-year-old talks backing yourself and the secret behind her beauty brand, Elle Effect.

2 mins read
Women's Health Australia
June 2020

If it's not a Hell Yeah, it's a NO!

Sure thing! No probs! Of course! Happy to help! The word ‘yes’ easily rolls off the tongue in a million agreeable ways. But what if we told you that, contrary to everything the world has taught you so far, saying yes isn’t actually the key to winning at life? In fact, it might just be holding you back.

8 mins read
Women's Health Australia
June 2020

How to Live to...120

Jennifer Aniston, J.Lo and Jane Fonda have nailed the art of defying time, but us mere mortals don’t have their kind of dough (or specialists). Instead, take a lesson in longevity from the “blue zones”, hot spots that are home to the planet’s longest-living populations.

7 mins read
Women's Health Australia
June 2020

The AI Revolution Is Coming: Here's How To Future -Proof Your Career

Robots are coming for your job. Not only yours, but another 20 million jobs around the world over the next 10 years. That’s how media outlets reported on the results of a 2019 paper released by global forecaster Oxford Economics. If you think that sounds rather dystopian, wait until your anxiety-fuelled googling brings up news headlines claiming it’s actually 800 million jobs – not a meagre 20 mill – that will be eliminated by robots by the time 2030 hits.

5 mins read
Women's Health Australia
March 2020

Where Have All The Drinkers Gone?

Teetotalism has become a badge of honour, the alcohol-free market is booming and mindfulness has ousted getting messy. But while millennials are showing up for sober club nights, the next generation has opted out of drinking culture entirely. WH finds out why...

7 mins read
Women's Health Australia
March 2020
RELATED STORIES

DENZEL'S FACE IS COLLAPSING!

LEADING man Denzel Washington’s face is collapsing from backfired plastic surgery, top doctors told The National ENQUIRER.

1 min read
National Enquirer
January 03, 2022

The Big Burnout

Long hours, low pay and a lack of appreciation — among other things — can make for a stressful workplace and lead to burnout. It’s something we should all be concerned about, because over half of the workforce reports feeling it

10 mins read
BBC Science Focus
New Year 2022

PRINCE WILLIAM:MY WAR WITH DEPRESSION

Shocking confession sparks panic in palace

3 mins read
Globe
December 27, 2021

Out the Other Side

The burden of leading can be heavy even in the best of times. Coupled with the depression that afflicts so many founders, it can overwhelm their soul ... or forge it into something stronger.

10+ mins read
Inc.
Winter 2021/2022

HOW YOUR BODY BENEFITS FROM QUITTING BOOZE

Four weeks without a a drink will bring significant improvements, like weight loss and lower blood pressure

1 min read
Globe
November 29, 2021

Ayurvedic Loneliness Remedies

Everyone experiences loneliness on occasion. Unfortunately, many of us feel it most intensely during the holidays, regardless of whether we are surrounded by friends and family, in a relationship, or alone.

5 mins read
Yoga Journal
November - December 2021

Could “Magic” Mushrooms Be the Best Drug for Fighting My Depression?

May I be grounded. May I be curious. This was my daily mantra from last November through February. Every morning I’d step outside in my bare feet, feel the earth under my toes— even in the snow—and repeat those words internally.

6 mins read
Yoga Journal
November - December 2021

Much Ado About Maca

This South American sensation is making its presence known as a world-class tonic that does just about everything.

2 mins read
Better Nutrition
October 2021

10 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Immune System

Never as a nation have we been more focused on immunity. But in spite of our best efforts, some all-too-common daily habits may be undermining our resistance to infection. Here are 10 sneaky immune saboteurs, and ways to change them.

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
October 2021

Trippy Treatments

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” is undergoing clinical trials. It could be the biggest advance in treating depression since Prozac.

10+ mins read
Newsweek
October 01, 2021