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Psychedelic Drugs Could Tackle Depression in a Way That Antidepressants Can’t

If you thought “tripping out” ended with the hippie generation, think again: Business Insider reports that new research with psychedelic mushrooms shows that the mushrooms’ active ingredient, psilocybin, may help reduce depression and anxiety in cancer patients. Researchers said that psychedelic drugs work on brain circuitry responsible for causing addiction and obsessions; eventually, researchers hope that utilizing these drugs to treat mental illness may be helpful.

While we wait to see if the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stops this promising treatment in the same way it did cannabidiol (CBD) with its Schedule 1 controlled substance laws, it might be a good time to reiterate why alternative treatments like these are so important. For example, we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, which might very well be solved by simply approving medical marijuana for pain relief.

Besides pain, medical marijuana has shown positive effects in treating mood disorders, degenerative neurological disorders, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and seizures. Cannabis works because there are cannabinoid receptors in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more. Both the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor.

Research is still ongoing on just how extensive their impact is on our health, but to date it's known that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulation and immune function. Most importantly, medical marijuana has far fewer side effects that prescription drugs. This is newsworthy in itself, as hurdles to studying marijuana are immense.
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