Magic mushrooms: The psychedelic drug making a clinical comeback

As New Zealand’s winter draws to an end, so too does another dank, cold mushie season. Hidden beneath the canopy of native scrub stand the last darkening stems and withered caps of active mycelial growth, for this year at least. 

For many, the mention of these sorts of psychedelic drugs conjures up stories of people jumping from third storey windows, or the trip that our friend's flatmate's cousin never came back from.

But, for a growing community of scientists at some of the world's most well-respected universities and research facilities, these drugs are the focus of new research and examination into how they could help treat mental health issues such as PTSD, addiction and clinical depression.

Interestingly, the old hand-me-down horror stories of our parents' generations are often difficult to substantiate. And, despite Drug Harm Index research continually showing that the classic psychedelics, namely LSD and psilocybin, rate among the lowest risks when compared to other recreational drugs including alcohol, cannabis and tobacco, these urban legends of brain damage and destroyed lives persist, so deeply ingrained in our culture.

Psilocybin and LSD are still schedule 1 drugs in New Zealand, meaning users are subject to penalties similar to that of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin - which are highly addictive substances and have very little benefit in a clinical setting.

By contrast, drugs such as LSD and psilocybin have an exceptionally low level of re-use and, in fact, hold promise in the treatment of severe addiction and drug abuse.

In the New Zealand news media, momentum is gathering around Kiwi neuropsychopharmacologist Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy who will be running historic LSD microdosing trials through the University of Auckland, which are about to get underway.

In an exclusive Newshub video, we interview Dr Muthukumaraswamy about his research and explore the resurgence of psychedelics - the potential clinical benefits, as well as the harm they may cause.

Watch the video.

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