How 'magic mushroom' chemical could free the mind of depression, addictions

Scientists are researching medical benefits of psilocybin, which is found in "magic mushrooms."

Story highlights

  • The chemical "psilocybin"' found in magic mushrooms could be used to treat depression
  • Psilocybin causes the introspective region of our brain to become less active
  • Experiencing a "mystical mental state" could free people from addictions
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(CNN)Think of psychedelics and you'll likely think of bright colors, hallucinations, spirituality, and an overall "mystical" experience. For centuries these drugs have been used in social, religious and medicinal contexts by cultures across the globe. But today, the ability of these drugs to alter our brain function is being tapped into as a potential therapeutic for a range of mental health conditions from anxiety and depression to addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

"Only by losing the self, can you find the self," explains Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, from Imperial College London. These may not be the usual words of a scientist but there is biology behind them. "People try and run away from things and to forget, but with psychedelic drugs they're forced to confront and really look at themselves," he says. </