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Scientists believe magic mushrooms might be able to fight off anorexia nervosa

magic mushroom anorexia

The world of psychedelics might become bigger than we could have ever held possible. Even though psychedelics like psilocybin and DMT have been used for many centuries to treat a wide range of physical and psychological problems, including stress, depression, anxiety and pain, the new influx of scientific studies and medicinal uses of these compounds is gaining them worldwide popularity. Here on Avalon Magic Plants we have already covered various uses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms and magic truffles, in the medical world. Now there might have been found even one more benefit: psilocybin might just be an answer to certain eating disorders. 

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Health benefits of psilocybin

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic hallucinogenic mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe, as well as sclerotia better known als magic truffles, has for some time now been in the crosshairs of neuroscientists for the unusual way in which it seems to relieve the symptoms of depression, some forms of addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. But now researchers claim the substance could also be useful in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, one of the most dangerous eating disorders around. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Research Unit (United States) are convinced that clinical trials of the compound on patients with chronic forms of the eating disorder are just around the corner - and they seem very positive. 

Last year the American Food and Drug Administration recognized the high potential of psilocybin use in controlled contexts, and in combination with psychotherapy, in the treatment of some forms of drug-resistant depression. The trial has obtained the status of FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy, a sort of ‘fast track’ reserved for promising treatments against serious disorders, which should lead the compound faster to clinical use. The new trial regarding anorexia nervosa is part of this. The new clinical trial will verify if psilocybin can be safely administered in a guided context to people with severe forms of anorexia nervosa, the most deadly and difficult to cure of eating disorders. The eating disorder has been the focus of scientists trying to find new therapeutic strategies to treat it. 

Killing the anorexia-symptoms

The idea of the trial is to understand if the compound has positive effects on mood, quality of life and cognitive and behavioral symptoms of the disease.As Natalie Gukasyan, a researcher working on the study, explained to New Atlas: "The pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa remains obscure, but some indications suggest that the 2A (5-HT2A) receptor system of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that acts on mood, ed) may be involved. The action of psilocin, the active metabolite of psilocybin (ie the substance that triggers the psychedelic effect in the human body) is mediated by the stimulation of these receptors” It can also be said that anorexia nervosa shares traits with anxiety, addictive and obsessive-compulsive disorders, already positively treated with psilocybin.

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It is not the first time that psychoactive compounds are tested against eating disorders. A 2017 study focused on the potential of ayahuasca, a traditional psychedelic Amazonian brew, while some anecdotal experiences also report alleged benefits of a controlled use of LSD and MDMA against food-related disorders. Other researchers are skeptical, especially about the second of these substances, because they could be used by some people with anorexia to ward off hunger even more. The John Hopkins team will focus on psilocybin alone, which has already been administered without side effects to hundreds of experimental subjects. If the first phase is successful, the following will involve a large number of patients and will take place under controlled conditions, together with a placebo group.