Everything you need to know about psilocybin.

What is psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound derived from psilocybe mushrooms. It produces an altered state of consciousness lasting approximately six hours. Its therapeutic effects have been explored in relation to:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Treatment-resistant depression
  • Anxiety associated with life-threatening illnesses
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • And substance use disorders—including alcohol and tobacco addiction.
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

Why psilocybin?

Safe

Research indicates that psilocybin has a low potential for abuse and dependence, making it a promising option for therapeutic use.

Effective

Patients who have undergone psilocybin therapy often report enhanced life satisfaction, including increased optimism and peace, contributing to overall well-being.

Rapid Relief

Clinical studies have shown that psilocybin therapy can provide rapid relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety, often after just a single session.

Long-Lasting Effects

The therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, such as improved mood and decreased anxiety, have been reported to last for several months following treatment.

Psilocybin for improved mental health outcomes

Psilocybin has been shown to increase the brain's neuroplasticity, which is the ability of neural networks to grow and reorganize. This effect can facilitate the unlearning of negative patterns and the formation of new, healthier pathways, which can be critical for depression and addiction treatments.

A brief history of psilocybin

Surprisingly, psilocybin has been used since ancient times for spiritual and religious purposes. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that psilocybin was further scientifically explored and examined for its beneficial therapeutic effects. Due to its increasing recreational use, psilocybin was classified as a Schedule I drug. It wasn’t until the 2000s that a resurgence in research for its uses for beneficial therapeutic outcomes emerged.

Current use of psilocybin for therapeutic purposes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression, accelerating the development and review process for drugs that show substantial improvement over existing treatments.

Canada has followed in the U.S.’s footsteps, introducing controlled programs that grant its use in severe treatment-resistant depression (usually patients who have tried at least two antidepressants or therapies without satisfactory results) or end-of-life cases.

Psilocybin may provide lasting relief

Psilocybin-assisted therapy may assist those with treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, OCD, and more. By increasing neuroplasticity in the brain, this treatment approach may lead to lasting mental health benefits.

Frequently asked questions.

Yes, psilocybin is a psychedelic and is known for its hallucinogenic effects.
  • As with any drug, psilocybin carries inherent risks. However, these risks are significantly reduced when psilocybin is administered in a controlled, clinical, and supervised environment. The occurrence of side effects can vary widely among individuals, but careful management in therapeutic settings helps minimize these risks.
  • When used infrequently and under professional supervision, psilocybin is not addictive.

The largest and most significant trial to date regarding psilocybin therapy is the Compass Pathways Phase 2b clinical trial, published in November 2022 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Many patients with treatment resistant depression showed a rapid and significant improvement over placebo in symptoms on day two and at the week three endpoint for the trial with many sustaining benefits over placebo at week 12.

For end-of-life cancer care, 2023 research shows that 70-100% of participants had positive life changes, and 60-80% of participants had reduced anxiety and depression with the same response six months after psilocybin administration.

A 2022 case report indicated significant symptom improvement for an individual with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), with improvements continuing and lasting a year later.

A phase I 2023 study explored the use of psilocybin in treating anorexia. It was deemed safe and tolerable with the intention of more research in the future.

A 2015 study demonstrated an 80% adherence to smoking cessation with the use of psilocybin.

Psilocybin is linked to feelings of introspection, euphoria, connectedness, and optimism. Many report:

  • Feeling tingly or light
  • Having spiritual experiences
  • Experiencing the dissolution of the ego
  • A sense of connectedness
  • Joy
  • Increased introspection
  • Mood improvements

The most common side effect is feeling nauseous after ingesting psilocybin. Negative experiences, or “bad trips,” characterized by anxiety, fear, or distress, are also possible but can often be mitigated by a supportive setting and professional guidance.