Medical research is getting a little groovier. In a new report, scientists declared that the active ingredient in hallucinogenic “magic mushrooms” had beneficial effects on test subjects who took the substance under a doctor’s supervision. What’s more, the effects lingered; 14 months after the experiment, more than half the subjects reported still feeling an increase in well-being or life satisfaction, in terms of things like feeling more creative, self-confident, flexible and optimistic [AP].
The experiment was one of the few conducted in the four decades since the government cracked down on hallucinogens, banning most research and listing them as a dangerous drugs. Researchers say the study marks another shift in policy, which could yield research with dramatic insights. “These drugs are no longer being confined to rats in test tubes,” said David Nichols, a Purdue University pharmacologist who was not involved in the study. “What we’re looking at is a largely unexplored technology for brain science — it was discovered in the 1940s, set the psychiatry world ablaze in the 1950s, and was aborted by widespread recreational abuse, the reaction of the media and its confluence with the Vietnam war” [Wired News].