Psilocybin acts as the hallucinogenic component of mushrooms and can be found in several different species.
In published findings from the “first modern, rigorous, controlled trial” by Jama Psychiatry — alcoholics who consumed the component also reportedly cut back on drinking or even quit entirely.
They had two of these sessions, one month apart, and also received 12 sessions of talking therapy.
Patients using psilocybin performed better than the control group in the eight months following their initial dose, engaging in heavy drinking on roughly one out of ten days on average as opposed to one out of four days for the group taking fake pills.
Comparatively to 24% of the control group, nearly half of those who took psilocybin completely ceased drinking.
Dr Michael Bogenschutz, director of the NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine, who led the research, said: “More parts of the brain are talking to more parts of the brain. There’s a possibility of really shifting in a relatively permanent way the functional organization of the brain.”
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Some indigenous peoples and communities have been using psilocybin as medicine for centuries, and even millennia, such as pre-Mayan cultures using psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms in 1500 BCE.
In recent years, psychedelic drugs are being used in more innovative trials across the “Western” world. A clinical trial for psychedelic therapy using music is set to open in London, and a first-of-its-kind research centre for psychedelic drug therapy opened in Melbourne last year.
Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter