Researchers: ‘Magic Mushrooms’ Help Treat Depression

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some doctors believe  “magic mushrooms” can reset the brain. The latest research in the UK shows they helped treat depression in patients who didn’t respond to traditional therapies.

Kirk Rutter, 47, suffered years of chronic depression after the loss of his mother.

“For me, I just felt heartbroken, kind of, a lot of the time,” Rutter said. “I got stuck in it.”

Counseling and medication didn’t help, so Rutter joined a small clinical trial in London for the drug Psilocybin.

It’s formed from a compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms. Scientists believe the mind-altering drug can “reboot” brain activity known to play a role in depression.

“People can be changed,” Robin Carhart-Harris, a Psilocybin researcher, explained. “Their outlooks can change, their perspective, their personalities. But then, crucially, their brain reforms and that’s what a reset is.”

Rutter says he felt better almost immediately.

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“There’s a lot of stuff coming up from your subconscious that you’re not, kind of, looking at. For me, a big part of it was letting go of the grief,” he said.

Magic mushrooms became popular with ’60s hippie, counter-culture but these researchers say Psyilocybin is more than just a party drug.

“People are kind of wising up to this and realizing what they’ve been told about psychedelics in many cases are kind of lies,” Dr. Carhart-Harris said.

Rutter says it’s changed his life.  He’s more focused and happier than he’s been in years.

Psilocybin has been illegal in the United States for more than 40 years but with the study in London, several clinical trials are also underway in the United States, using it to treat not just depression but also alcoholism.

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