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Australian Researchers are Studying Magic Mushrooms for Anxiety Treatment

Monash University, in collaboration with Incannex Healthcare, has obtained the ethics approval to conduct the world's first such trial. (Representational photo)

Monash University, in collaboration with Incannex Healthcare, has obtained the ethics approval to conduct the world's first such trial. (Representational photo)

Psychotherapy assisted by psilocybin has been studied on paper, and evidence of it providing significant benefits across a range of mental health issues is accumulating.

A team of researchers at Monash University, Australia, is gearing up to commence clinical trials to treat General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) using psilocybin. Psilocybin is the chemical substance that adds the ‘magic’ in ‘Magic Mushrooms'. It is a psychedelic substance that is potent enough to induce hallucinations. The varsity, in collaboration with Incannex Healthcare, has obtained the ethics approval to conduct the world’s first trial involving the psychedelic substance. The trial, which will be a randomised triple-blinded active-placebo-controlled trial, will be performed on 72 participants and will include sessions of psilocybin and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy assisted by psilocybin has been studied on paper, and evidence of it providing significant benefits across a range of mental health issues is accumulating. However, no trials have been conducted to concretize the evidence until now.

“Previous findings show that psychedelic therapist training can be substantial if therapists can experience well-supported psychedelic effects, becoming more proficient in accompanying clinical participants through profoundly unfamiliar terrain. This is why we will offer the option to our research therapists to undergo supported psilocybin sessions as part of their training. It is likely to improve outcomes for our clinical participants,” said Dr. Paul Liknaitzky, Lead Researcher, Clinical Psychedelic Research, Monash University, in a press release.

Professor Suresh Sundram, Medical Lead for the research, said, “This is a critical hurdle to pass in our efforts to test a novel, potentially game-changing treatment for people suffering an illness which is often under-recognized, poorly treated, and disabling.”

General Anxiety Disorder is a condition that induces acute and exaggerated anxiety and worries about general life events without any specific trigger point. A lot of people are suffering from GAD, yet, not many are versed with it. The disorder is more common in women than men.

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The lead psychedelic trainer, Sean O’Carroll, believes that psychedelics, when used in conjunction with intensive and novel psychotherapeutic interventions, can have incredible healing potential for the psychological suffering inflicted by GAD.

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first published:November 02, 2021, 15:58 IST