Science | July 4, 2020 3:47 pm

Can Psychedelic Drugs Help Treat PTSD?

New studies offer promising evidence

Magic mushrooms
Magic mushrooms.
Zergboy/Creative Commons

It was hard to imagine 5 or 10 years ago that psychedelics might find widespread acceptance. And yet that’s been happening across the United States, with some areas decriminalizing them and wealthy investors looking to get a piece of the industry. Among the reasons for their increased visibility is their potential to treat mental health. The efficacy of psychedelics against depression is of particular interest to many policymakers and medical experts.

Now, though, there’s a new area in which psychedelics might prove beneficial to a segment of the population. That segment? Veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. A new article by Jamie Doward at The Guardian explores the growing phenomenon of soldiers using magic mushrooms to treat their PTSD — and the scientists looking into how this could be translated into research.

Doward’s article notes that international research on magic mushrooms has been affected by how different countries classify psychedelic drugs:

Earlier this year a team at the Medical University of South Carolina reported on clinical trials which found that PTSD sufferers who used magic mushrooms as part of their therapy showed greater levels of improvement compared with patients who did not receive the drug.

But such clinical trials are difficult in the UK because LSD and magic mushrooms, which were legal until 2005, are classed as Schedule 1 drugs.

It’s something that’s led politicians and policymakers in the UK to call for a change in the country’s drug policy — especially when some veterans have spoken positively about their experiences using psychedelics to address their PTSD. It might have been unheard of a decade ago, but sometimes it’s the most unexpected things that work the best.

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