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New research shows properties in magic mushrooms could have long-lasting benefits to treat depression

New research shows potential benefits of properties in magic mushrooms as depression treatment 02:07

BALTIMORE -- There's new research on a treatment for depression that revolves around an ingredient considered illegal for years.

CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez says the properties in magic mushrooms could have long-lasting benefits.

Em Hancheck suffers from treatment-resistant depression. Even after years of therapy and medications, he still suffered symptoms.

"I was in a rut and no matter what I tried, things did not really improve beyond a certain point," he said.

Then in 2019, he joined a study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, testing a psychedelic drug called psilocybin to treat depression. It's the same compound found in so-called magic mushrooms.

"One of the curious features about these drugs, I would say it's just the signature feature, is they produce experiences that have huge embedded personal meaning," Dr. Roland Griffiths said.

Psilocybin's medical potential was studied in the '60s, until concerns about abuse stopped research. Griffiths helped restart experiments and found that just two doses of psilocybin in a controlled environment, combined with therapy, reduced or even eliminated depression for most patients for up to a year after treatment.

"You are able to access thoughts and feelings," Hancheck said.

Griffiths believes psilocybin could be an important alternative when anti-depressants that have to be taken every day are not effective enough and have side effects.

"Many people end up failing or relapsing with those compounds," Griffiths said.

Hancheck is still in therapy but no longer takes medication.

"The texture has kind of returned to the world, and that is just an incredible experience," he said.

Other institutions around the country, including New York University and Mount Sinai here in New York, are also testing psilocybin for depression, anxiety and PTSD. The mushrooms may be called magic, but it's real science that's helping heal troubled minds.

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