Psychedelics, relics of the 1960s drug culture, could be beneficial to those suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to new study published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The conclusions were drawn from a handful of small-scale studies conducted in the United States, Canada, and countries in Europe, Health Day reported
. The research stated that the findings were preliminary and require follow-up data.
Psychedelic drugs like LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), psilocybin (found in "magic mushrooms"), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) are substances that have a strong effect on a person's "conscious experience," according to a statement from the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Matthew Johnson, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that the drugs used in moderation can be an effective treatment for anxiety or PTSD.
"In the right context, these drugs can help people a lot, especially people who have disorders that we generally treat poorly, such as end-of-life distress, PTSD, and addiction issues involving tobacco or alcohol," Johnson, the study's co-author, said, according to Health Day.
In one randomized controlled trial, LSD-assisted psychotherapy showed that the drug can reduce anxiety in the terminally ill. A second small study, which included the active molecule in "magic mushrooms" in therapy for alcohol addiction, showed a "significant reduction" in the days alcohol was used as well as in the amount.
Individuals suffering from chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD showed a reduction in those symptoms after taking MDMA, according to a small study in the United States.
"Although methodological and political challenges remain to some degree, recent clinical studies have shown that studies on psychedelics as therapeutic agents can conform to the rigorous scientific, ethical and safety standards expected of contemporary medical research," the study's authors wrote, according to the journal statement.
Johnson told the Los Angeles Times that researchers
may be more open to taking a new look at these drugs because so much time has passed since the 1960s.
"It's been a long road — this started back in the mid-late 1990s when the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] started to approve some of these very early studies," he said. "It's been a cautious road, but one that's data-driven."
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