Magic Mushrooms: A Mental Health Cure?
What do you think of when you hear the words “magic mushrooms”? It’s likely that you may be picturing long-haired hippies, experimental rock bands or cross-legged gurus preaching about peace and love. Our view of psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms is still largely shaped by events of the 1960s. In these ten years, they went from defining the art, music and politics of a generation to being outlawed amid terrifying headlines about “bad trips” and damaged minds.
It could all have been very different. Years before the summer of love, doctors had been testing these drugs in trials of “psychedelic therapy” which showed remarkable promise in the treatment of mental health conditions like alcoholism, anxiety and depression. They appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough that would revolutionise the field of psychiatry.
But that all came to an abrupt halt when psychedelic drugs were criminalised at the end of the 1960s.
Half a century later, modern neuroscience and psychology are now picking up where these earlier trials left off.
While we still have a lot to learn about the safest way to harness the power of mind-altering drugs, could this fresh look at psychedelics in medicine finally lead us to a cure for mental illness?