Summary: An early study suggests that a single dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms” may assist some individuals with anorexia in overcoming their fixation on body image.
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Anorexia Patients May Benefit from Psilocybin, Study Suggests
Preliminary research indicates that a single dose of psilocybin, the active component in “magic mushrooms,” may aid some anorexia patients in moving beyond their body image preoccupations. This study involved only 10 women with anorexia and aimed to assess the effects of a single psilocybin dose combined with psychological counseling sessions. The results showed that the treatment seemed safe, with the majority of patients describing the experience positively. Within three months, four out of the ten women exhibited significant improvements in their eating disorder behaviors, particularly concerning weight and body shape preoccupations.
However, the study had its limitations. It was a phase 1 trial, primarily designed to ensure the treatment’s safety and feasibility. Hence, no definitive conclusions about its effectiveness can be drawn. Yet, the initial findings suggest that psilocybin warrants further investigation. Anorexia is a challenging disorder to treat, with about 20% of patients developing a chronic condition. Therefore, there’s a pressing need for innovative treatment options.
Psilocybin, the primary ingredient in magic mushrooms, has been traditionally used as a recreational hallucinogen. However, recent years have witnessed a surge in interest in psilocybin as a potential therapeutic agent. Institutions like New York University, the University of California, and Johns Hopkins University are exploring psilocybin-assisted therapy for conditions like major depression and addiction. A 2021 study even found that psilocybin, combined with psychological counseling, was as effective as a standard antidepressant in alleviating depression symptoms over six weeks.
For this study, the participants received a dose of a pharmaceutical-grade synthetic psilocybin formulation under medical supervision, accompanied by psychological counseling sessions. Although the treatment was generally safe, two patients experienced low blood sugar episodes. Three months post-treatment, the participants typically reported feeling more optimistic and placing less emphasis on physical appearance. However, the study lacked a control group, making it challenging to determine if the observed changes were due to psilocybin or the novelty of participating in such a study.
The research was funded by Compass Pathways, which is developing the psilocybin product. The exact mechanism of how psilocybin works remains unclear, but its immediate effects are attributed to the stimulation of brain receptors for serotonin, a mood-regulating chemical. Whether psilocybin targets any biological mechanisms involved in anorexia remains to be seen, but further research in this area is essential.[Source: Montana Standard]
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