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Psychedelics ease depression after just one session

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Psychedelics can ease depression and anxiety and improve cognitive function—and they can have a big impact on PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after just one session.

A group of 86 Army vets with PTSD reported major improvements in their symptoms after they were given a mix of two psychedelic substances at a Mexico clinic.  

The psychedelics were ibogaine hydrochloride, derived from iboga, a West African shrub, and 5-MeO-DMT, secreted by the Colorado River toad.  Both substances are classified as Schedule 1 drugs in the US, which means they have no medicinal value but are highly addictive—yet researchers from Ohio State University found the concoction had major antidepressant qualities.

But perhaps the most impressive impact of the psychedelics was on mental health problems that are related to brain injury.  “The vets were exposed to repeated traumatic events. . .which causes traumatic brain injury, which we know in and of itself predisposes people to mental health problems,” said Alan Davis, one of the researchers.  

Around 86 percent of the vets had head injuries, which led to memory problems, irritability, poor sleep, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  The vets also reported a general dissatisfaction with life, anger problems and thoughts of suicide.

A month after treatment, nearly half said the treatment had been the ‘most spiritually significant’ event of their life, and  a similar number described it as being “psychologically insightful”.

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American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 2023; doi: 10.1080/00952990.2023.2220874
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