Psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, may be at least as effective as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the leading type of antidepressant medication, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The phase 2, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial compared psilocybin to the antidepressant medication escitalopram.
“Our previous research in treatment-resistant depression and as well as human brain scanning strongly suggested the therapeutic potential of psilocybin. Pitting psilocybin in a head to head versus a conventional antidepressant felt like a brave and interesting test to do,” said study author Robin Carhart-Harris, the head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London and founder of MyDelica.
The researchers recruited 59 men and women between the ages of 18 and 80 years who suffered from moderate-to-severe depression for their 6-week trial. Thirty patients were randomly assigned to the psilocybin group, while the remaining 29 patients were assigned to the escitalopram group.