Researchers are studying hallucinogens and other illicit drugs as possible treatments for conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, addiction and depression, the Los Angeles Times reports.
At Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, researchers are studying whether psilocybin (the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”) is effective in treating depression or anxiety after a patient receives a grim diagnosis. Other drugs being investigated at institutions around the country include LSD, Ecstasy and ketamine. “Scientifically, these compounds are way too important not to study,” Johns Hopkins researcher Roland Griffiths, who is conducting the psilocybin trial, told the newspaper.
Griffiths is also studying whether psilocybin combined with cognitive behavioral therapy can help smokers quit.
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry last January by UCLA researchers found psilocybin improved the mood of patients with anxiety related to a diagnosis of advanced-stage cancer for at least three months.
Dr. Michael P. Bogenschutz at the University of Arizona in Tucson is hoping to study whether psilocybin can treat alcohol dependence. He has applied to the National Institutes of Health for funding.
Other studies underway include:
• Ketamine, or “Special K,” is being studied as a potential treatment for depression.
• A nonhallucinogenic version of LSD is under investigation as a possible treatment for cluster headaches.
• Researchers are studying whether Ecstasy, or MDMA, may help veterans with PTSD.