Magic mushrooms could help ex-soldiers to overcome trauma

Writing in The Guardian, Jamie Doward reports:

“A growing number of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are turning to ‘magic mushrooms’ and LSD to treat their condition. But drug laws make it almost impossible to establish whether they work.

Now a new body, the Medical Psychedelics Working Group, a consortium of experts, academics, researchers, policy specialists and industry partners, is to begin lobbying for a change in the law so that scientists can conduct clinical trials.

‘This is something that’s been developed by veterans,’ said Professor David Nutt from Drug Science, an independent scientific body which calls for an evidence-based approach to the legislation and is part of the group.

‘Three years ago if I was asked the question would psilocybin [the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms] work for veterans, I would have said it would be quite dangerous to relive the trauma when tripping. But so many vets are doing it now that I’m convinced it can work.’

It is estimated that 17% of people who have seen active military service report symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, grief and anger.

Earlier this year a team at the Medical University of South Carolina reported on clinical trials which found that PTSD sufferers who used magic mushrooms as part of their therapy showed greater levels of improvement compared with patients who did not receive the drug.

But such clinical trials are difficult in the UK because LSD and magic mushrooms, which were legal until 2005, are classed as Schedule 1 drugs.

The classification means it costs around £3,500 for a licence from the Home Office to conduct tests using the drugs, and the application process can take a year. Scientists face prison sentences if the drugs fall into the wrong hands …”

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