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Are magic mushrooms mixed with therapy the answer to treating PTSD?

Study author said: "Newer psychedelic drugs seem to be the stand-out candidates in this treatment."

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Trials using psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and MDMA or "Molly" showed promise when combined with psychotherapy.
(Wikimedia Commons)

By Lilli Humphrey via SWNS

Magic mushrooms and the party drug MDMA combined with psychotherapy could be the answer to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to new research.

Millions of people are at an increased risk of developing PTSD after recent events including the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

The research indicates that the treatment is particularly hopeful in cases of mass trauma where there are currently limited resources.

PTSD is a persistent, distressing neuropsychological condition, triggered by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.

Symptoms include intrusive memories, recurrent nightmares, avoidance, mood swings, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

The common treatment is psychotherapy but researchers from Semmelweis University, Budapest, found that combining it with drugs had a more beneficial effect.

Lead author Dr. Xenia Gonda, assistant professor at the University said: “Psychotherapy is still the first choice for PTSD treatment.

"There is no effective established pharmacological treatment specifically for PTSD, however, psychotherapies may have limited availability and are very lengthy and expensive.

"In addition, there are several different psychotherapeutic methods and only very few evidence-based interventions."

He added: "We are beginning to see new approaches to PTSD treatment, which combines psychotherapy and medication.

"Both the psychotherapy and the drug treatment have an effect independently, but they often work together synergistically.

"There are several such drugs in development, but our review shows that newer psychedelic drugs seem to be the stand-out candidates in this treatment.

"It’s important to say that it’s not the psychedelic nature of the drugs that seem to have the beneficial effect in PTSD, these drugs seem to work, at least in part, by enhancing the actions of psychotherapy at a neurological level."

"The review found that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy showed the greatest promise so far, with four trials showing significantly superior outcomes to those experienced by patients receiving only psychotherapy."

Other trials using psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, also show promise, however, they say additional data is needed to validate the benefits.

Dr. Santiago Madero from the Hospital Clinic, Barcelona who did not take part in the study commented: “This review article has come at a time where President Biden’s administration has said they anticipate regulators approving MDMA within the next two years for designated breakthrough therapies for PTSD, surely to be followed by the European regulatory agencies.

“MDMA may revolutionize the treatment of PTSD providing therapeutic benefits beyond all current and existing pharmacotherapies."

The study was published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

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