8th December 2021
By Roland Sebestyén

A study that will examine how psychedelics, combined with psychotherapy, could affect the mental health of frontline workers, starts soon, making it one of the first studies of its kind.

According to a report in MedPage Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has given the green light for the randomised trial. The study will assess how psilocybin – the main psychedelic substance in “magic mushrooms” – and psychotherapy could help frontline healthcare workers to handle stress induced by the Covid-pandemic.

It is reported that participants will be given 25 mg doses of synthesised psilocybin alongside an initial therapy session and three more follow-up therapy sessions.

A total of30 participants will be separated into two groups – psilocybin and placebo. It is reported t and will receive counselling.

The researchers are interested in measuring levels of a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and ‘burnout’ – a form of exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress.

Lead researcher Anthony Back, MD, of the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, said: “The current situation for healthcare workers is pretty serious, and it’s not clear that we have a documented therapy that really works.

“So, I think it’s important for us to be evaluating and assessing new treatments.”

The study is not expected to be published in the next year but is hopeed that the results will move us closer to understanding the impact psychedelics have on our mental health.

What is psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a psychedelic substance that is found in a small number of fungi, often referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’.

These mushrooms have become well-known, however for the past half-decade, they have largely been associated with recreational drug use, hippy culture and anti-establishment groups.

There is comparatively little awareness of the health and therapeutic potential of the substance.

What happens when using “magic mushrooms?”

The effects of psilocybin can differ from person to person. Many have reported experiencing feelings of euphoria and gaining new insights. In some cases, these insights have been claimed to be life-changing.

On the other hand, however, other people may experience a ‘bad trip’

The likelihood of experiencing these different experiences can depend on a lot of factors. The amount you digest; your age, the species of the mushroom, and your overall health can all influence how psilocybin will be tolerated – and on how long it will stay in the system.

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