The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO, has announced the first modern-era psilocybin clinical trial for depression. The UC researchers will test whether psilocybin — the chemical compound that produces psychedelic effects in “magic mushrooms” — can help with treatment-resistant depression.
This may seem a little out of sync as Colorado voters last November already voted to make “magic mushrooms” legal for human consumption.
UC said the research on psilocybin is not related to Proposition 122, the ballot measure that Colorado voters approved this past fall that allows people ages 21 and older to grow and share psychedelic mushrooms. That new law doesn’t go into effect until next year.
There’s a great need for new treatments for people with depression since so many people are suffering, according to UC researchers. They say it’s been decades since new medications have emerged to help people with depression.
But the groundbreaking Colorado psilocybin clinical trial comes amid increased focus and research across the U.S. on an array of psychedelics from psilocybin to ayahuasca and MDMA (also known as ecstasy).
Oregon was the first state to make “magic mushrooms” legal.
“Magic mushroom” compounds remain illegal under federal law, but with permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a growing number of researchers across the United States are being permitted to study whether psychedelics can help people with a variety of mental and behavioral health challenges from depression to post-traumatic stress to substance use disorders.
UC researchers want to discover changes that occur in the brains of people with psychiatric disorders and to identify better therapies to treat them.
The UC researchers are making final arrangements for the clinical trials and expect to officially start sometime in the fall.
To participate in the clinical trial, patients need to have been diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression. For this reason, study managers are requiring volunteers to already have been in the care of a provider in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
There are restrictions as psychedelics can be dangerous for people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Also, anyone with a brain tumor of any kind or a history of strokes is excluded from the study. As are those with dementia or a history of aneurysm
UC acknowledges that psychedelics can trigger bad reactions or psychosis in some people. Anyone participating in UC research or taking mushrooms recreationally, should be cautious.
At this point, science doesn’t know exactly why and how psychedelics may trigger latent psychosis in some people, and a definite cause-and-effect relationship is hard to prove.
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