Mescaline might help with anxiety, depression: study

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With an upswing in studies focusing on psychedelic drugs, dissociative anesthetics, and phenethylamines, it seems that psycho-pharmacological researchers have been increasingly exploring alternative therapies to treat mental illnesses, both in lieu of and in addition to more traditional medications such as SSRIs.

But unlike treatments involving drugs such as ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin, which have been subject to increasing amounts of research and attention of late, studies involving mescaline and mental illness have been few and far between.

Mescaline is a naturally occurring alkaloid derived from the Peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) that produces psychedelic effects when consumed such as euphoria, visual hallucinations, and uncontrollable bouts of laughter. It can also produce less-entertaining symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

And according to a recent study in the journal ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science, consuming mescaline may facilitate improvements in some psychiatric illnesses as well as “enduring positive life changes.”

The study notes that “despite promising early preliminary research and favorable anecdotal reports,” there is still limited research exploring the potential therapeutic value of the drug.

Researchers assessed subjects’ improvements in anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and drug and/or alcohol use disorder (DUD/AUD). Improvements were self-reported.

The vast majority of respondents – between 68 and 86 per cent – reported “subjective improvement” after their “most memorable mescaline experience.”

The respondents who reported improvements in their conditions also reported “significantly higher” levels of acute psychological factors, such as psychological insight and ego dissolution effects, than those who reported that their conditions did not improve.

Those who reported “acute experiences of psychological insight” as a result of their mescaline experience also reported improvements in some psychiatric conditions, primarily anxiety, depression, and DUD/AUD.

Another 35 to 50 per cent responded that their mescaline experience was “the single or top five most spiritually significant or meaningful experience(s) of their lives.”

That said, those coping with conditions such as depression and anxiety shouldn’t invoke Hunter S. Thompson by trading in their Zoloft prescriptions for mescaline just yet.

“Additional research is needed to corroborate these preliminary findings and to rigorously examine the efficacy of mescaline for psychiatric treatment in controlled, longitudinal clinical trials,” researchers caution.

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