Last year, I posted about the medical uses of psychedelic drugs, including a University of Arizona study on psilocybin (magic mushrooms) as a possible treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder. This week, the BBC News reports on that same study, apparently the first published results in thirty years examining psilocybin's possible therapeutic benefits. Critics are questioning the methodology of the small clinical study, which lacked a control group. On the other hand, Dr. Francis Moreno, the psychiatry professor who led the research, claims that the findings were interesting enough to "support the need for a proper controlled study." According to the BBC News article, the nine OCD patients who were given the drug, all who had taken psychedelics before, enjoyed a reduction of symptoms for up to 24 hours. They had previously not responded to other treatments. One individual's OCD symptoms vanished for more than six months. From the BBC News:
In this study, the people taking the drug rated the hallucinogenic experience as "stressful" at some times but "psychologically and spiritually uplifting" – describing encounters with past lives, faraway planets, and communing with deities…
However Dr Paul Blenkiron, a consultant in adult psychiatry at Bootham Park Hospital, York, said: "I'm concerned that the study only measured effects up to 24 hours and OCD is a chronic condition, not measurable in hours and days, but months and years.
"About 12% of people can suffer flashbacks after less than 10 exposures [to psychedelics] many years later, beyond the six months of this study, so long term effects should be carefully assessed."
However, he added: "If this substance was effective and had fewer side effects in severe treatment-resistant case, it would be an option."