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Magic mushroom ingredient could help treat anorexia

Posted on the 24th August 2023

Magic Mushrooms Anorexia

New research suggests that psilocybin, the active component in magic mushrooms, could hold promise as a potential treatment for anorexia.

A recent phase one clinical trial, published in the journal Nature Medicine, reveals that a single dose of psilocybin, when combined with psychological support, might be a safe and viable approach for individuals with this condition.

The study's findings provide a preliminary basis for further investigations into psilocybin therapy as a potential avenue for treatment.

Anorexia is a severe mental health disorder characterized by individuals striving to maintain an extremely low weight by restricting food intake or excessive exercise. Often, those affected have a distorted perception of their body, seeing themselves as overweight even when underweight. While it primarily impacts young women and typically emerges in adolescence, anorexia can affect anyone of any age.

Currently, there are no established treatments or approved medications to reverse the core symptoms of adult anorexia.

Psilocybin therapy, which has demonstrated promise in addressing other mental health conditions, has been associated with improvements in anxiety, cognitive flexibility, and self-acceptance.

In a study led by Stephanie Knatz Peck from the University of California, a synthetic form of psilocybin developed by COMPASS Pathways, called COMP360 psilocybin, was investigated.

The study involved 10 female adults aged 18 to 40 with anorexia, who received a single 25 mg dose of the investigational substance alongside psychological support. The researchers observed that the treatment was well tolerated, with no serious adverse events reported.

Patient feedback revealed that 90 per cent viewed the psilocybin treatment as meaningful and positive, expressing openness to further treatment options.

Moreover, four participants showed significant reductions in eating disorder scores three months after the treatment, indicating a potential remission from eating disorder psychopathology.

It's important to note that the study's results are preliminary and cautious interpretation is advised, as it was small and lacked a placebo group.

While the findings suggest a potential avenue for future research, they do not conclusively prove the efficacy of psilocybin-assisted therapy for anorexia.

Dr. Michael Bloomfield, a professor of psychiatric neuroscience at University College London, emphasized that the experimental treatment's safety was demonstrated in this study, warranting further research.

However, he cautioned against the unsupervised use of psilocybin as a self-medication approach for anorexia, highlighting the importance of specialized psychiatric care for those with eating disorders.

Related: Sharp rise in teenage eating disorders during Covid

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