The quest for new clinical treatments for mental illness continues with the trial of MDMA and magic mushrooms | The Examiner

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New research on the effects of MDMA and magic mushrooms on the brain should take place as part of an ongoing effort to make psychedelic drugs a mainstream treatment for depression and other mental health disorders. As part of the research, the brain activity of 200 participants will be studied after being given MDMA or psilocybin, which is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. One of the overall goals of this trial is to scientifically identify what happens in the brain when these drugs are ingested. In December of last year, the Therapeutic Goods Administration decided that it would not reduce the scheduling of MDMA and psilocybin for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, treatment-resistant depression or other mental health problems. But Mind Medicine Australia, an advocacy research group that supports rescheduling and partly funds research, said the drugs should be downgraded from substances banned under Schedule 9 of the Poisons Act to controlled drugs in under Schedule 8. MMA President Peter Hunt said the new research will expand knowledge about MDMA and psilocybin and how it can be used in a controlled environment for clinical treatment. Executive Director Tania de Jong said there was a desperate need for innovation in the mental health sector, where according to the latest data, 1 in 5 Australians had a mental illness before the current COVID pandemic, and 1 Australians in 8 were taking antidepressants. She said that in the wake of the pandemic, those numbers should now be much worse and that there is an urgent need to reduce suffering. “These treatments have achieved outstanding results in overseas trials after only two to three sessions in combination with a short course of psychotherapy,” she said. “We now have the potential to help people with broad classes of mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and potentially anorexia and other eating disorders, OCD, dementia and a range of dependencies.” The 200 participants will be selected and will have successfully completed training in the administration of assisted psychedelic therapies, and will take the medications in small groups, which will be supported by therapists and a doctor. The aim of the course is to see if there are changes in brain activity, measured by electroencephalography (EEG), and changes in mood, personality, beliefs and social engagement.


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