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Mind & Mood

Magic mushrooms and toad venom

June 1, 2022

Could psychedelic drugs help with stubborn cases of depression?

illustration of a head in profile with two puzzle pieces superimposed on it, in a variety of colors ranging from green to orange, blue to red

Once linked solely to 1960s counter­culture and "bad trips," psychedelic drugs are making a comeback — but not in the way you might expect. Science has wrestled these previously illicit compounds into the lab, finding promise in their ability to beat back depression in people who haven’t found relief with standard treatments.

"Magic" mushrooms, toad venom, and other hallucinogenics are now the focus of leading-edge research, including at Harvard, that could shift the treatment approach from taking daily antidepressants to undergoing a few supervised psychedelic sessions to change how the brain works.

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