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Use Of Psilocybin For Mental Health Treatment ‘Not Associated’ With Risk Of Paranoia, American Medical Association Study Finds



Single-dose psilocybin use is “not associated with risk of paranoia,” while other adverse effects such as headaches are generally “tolerable and resolved within 48 hours”—according to a new scientific review published by the American Medical Association (AMA).

With increased public interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, researchers at the University of Georgia, Larkin University and Palm Beach Atlantic University set out to better understand possible negative effects of receiving psilocybin treatment.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday, involved a meta-analysis of double-blind clinical trials where psilocybin was used to treat anxiety and depression from 1966 to last year.

While psychedelics are sometimes portrayed in media as causing intense paranoia, particularly in a recreational setting, the study authors said psilocybin “was not associated with risk of paranoia and transient thought disorder.”

The researchers identified five other reported adverse effects among certain patients in the clinical trials: headache, nausea, anxiety, dizziness and elevated blood pressure. But they said the acute adverse effect profile of therapeutic single-dose psilocybin appeared to be “tolerable and resolved within 48 hours.”

“However, future studies need to more actively evaluate the appropriate management of adverse effects,” the study says.

While serious adverse effects like paranoia and prolonged visual perceptual effects were “infrequent,” the team stressed that those rare cases “warrant attention” and should be “monitored over the long term.”

“The effectiveness of medications and alternative treatments in managing these symptoms requires further investigation,” the study says. “Additionally, the role of licensed therapists in managing adverse effects presents an avenue for future research.”

Meanwhile, AMA published a separate study last month that similarly contradicted commonly held beliefs about the potential risks of psychedelics use, finding the substances “may be associated with lower rates of psychotic symptoms among adolescents.”

Also, result of a clinical trial published by AMA in December “suggest efficacy and safety” of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of bipolar II disorder, a mental health condition often associated with debilitating and difficult-to-treat depressive episodes.

The association also published research last August that found people with major depression experienced “clinically significant sustained reduction” in their symptoms after just one dose of psilocybin.

Another recent study suggests that the use of full-spectrum psychedelic mushroom extract has a more powerful effect than chemically synthesized psilocybin alone, which could have implications for psychedelic-assisted therapy. The findings imply that the experience of entheogenic mushrooms may involve a so-called “entourage effect” similar to what’s observed with cannabis and its many components.

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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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