Navigation Links
'Magic Mushroom' Compound Triggered Positive Personality Change in Study

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- In new research that will almost certainly create controversy, scientists working with the hallucinogen psilocybin -- the active ingredient found in "magic mushrooms" -- have found that a single dose of the drug prompted an enduring but positive personality change in almost 60 percent of patients.

Specifically, tests involving a small group of patients in a strictly controlled and monitored clinical setting revealed that, more often than not, one round of psilocybin exposure successfully boosted an individual's sense of "openness." What's more, the apparent shift in what is deemed to be a key aspect of personality did not dissipate after exposure, lasting at least a year and sometimes longer.

"Now this finding is really quite fascinating," said study author Roland R. Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. "And that is because personality is considered a stable characteristic of the psychology of people. It's been thought to be relatively immutable, and stable across the lifespan.

"But, remarkably, this study shows that psilocybin actually changes one domain of personality that is strongly related to traits such as imagination, feeling, abstract ideas and aesthetics, and is considered a core construct underlying creativity in general," he added. "And the changes we see appear to be long-term."

Griffiths said it's possible psilocybin could have therapeutic uses. For example, he is currently studying whether the hallucinogen might be useful in helping cancer patients cope with the depression and anxiety that often accompany the disease, and whether it might help smokers quit the habit.

Griffiths and his colleagues discuss their findings, funded in part by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the new issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Working with 51 psychologically healthy volunteers, the study authors conducted baseline personality tests before engaging the participants in a total of two to five experiment sessions, each lasting about eight hours.

The researchers said that almost all of the study participants deemed themselves to be "spiritually active." Roughly half had completed a post-graduate education.

Not all the sessions involved psilocybin. In fact, the hallucinogen was administered to participants only once, at a dose described as "moderate to high," and the volunteers were never told which session actually entailed drug exposure.

A minimum break of three weeks was allotted between sessions.

During each session, participants were asked to lay down while wearing both eye masks and headphones (with music piped in) to screen out their external environment and focus on their interior experience.

The results: repeated personality and so-called "states of consciousness" testing revealed that some critical aspects of the participants' personalities remained unchanged. In the key domains of neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness, psilocybin appeared to register little to no impact.

The exception: "openness." Not only did openness increase significantly in response to high doses of the hallucinogen, it also remained at an elevated level throughout a 14-month follow-up period.

"Certainly we want to underscore do not try this at home," Griffiths cautioned. "Because clearly there are several kinds of potential downsides. One is that personality changes are personality changes. Now, we don't have any reason to think that the changes we see are toxic in any way. It appears to be a change that people value in a positive way. But certainly more research needs to be done.

"And the other note," he added, "is that we've conducted our research under conditions where we've screened out people who are potentially vulnerable to adverse effects. And we've given the drug in a hospital setting with two people at their side throughout, so there's virtually no opportunity for the patient to do something dangerous. But we know that, shockingly, all the time people who use mushrooms recreationally sometimes end up getting into accidents or engage in homicidal behavior or suicide.

"So we certainly don't want to imply that there's not risk associated with these compounds," stressed Griffiths. "And we wouldn't want to be a reason for an uptick for non-medical, uncontrolled use of this sort of thing."

Dr. Stephen Ross, clinical director of the NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction in New York City, said he viewed Griffiths' work as a "landmark" in the field of hallucinogen research.

"I say this because we think of personality as being cemented in your 20s, certainly by your 30s," he said. "So the fact that openness was increased, seemingly permanently, after a single experience of psilocybin is quite remarkable.

"But, of course, as interesting as the implications for future therapies from this might be, the message should be that people should not try this at home or in any kind of uncontrolled environment," Ross added. "This is preliminary research that needs to be replicated. And replicated in a carefully controlled treatment environment."

More information

For more on hallucinogens, visit the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

SOURCES: Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., professor, departments of psychiatry and neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; Stephen Ross, M.D., clinical director, NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction, New York City; Sept. 29, 2011, Journal of Psychopharmacology

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Magical thinking helps dieters cope with unrealistic expectations
2. Magic number 695 opens up new areas for Alzheimers research
3. Vitamin D No Magic Bullet for Osteoarthritis
4. Magic Mushroom Hallucinogen Might Help Cancer Patients
5. Nautilus Presents New Drivers' License Parsing Component, a Magic Tool for Software Developers
6. Guardian Preservation Services Responds to Receiving the "National Home Pro of the Year Award" by ServiceMagic
7. Arsa Offers High Quality Supplements, Cosmetics and Magic Scents from Mexico for Less Than $10
8. A magical way to move kids
9. Aerohive Positioned in the “Visionaries” Quadrant of the Magic Quadrant for Wireless LAN Infrastructure
10. Researchers study benefits of white button mushrooms
11. NYU researchers develop compound to block signaling of cancer-causing protein
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
'Magic Mushroom' Compound Triggered Positive Personality Change in Study
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Dr. Todd S. Afferica, a noted general ... of his patients. Dr. Afferica now uses the BIOLASE WaterLase iPlus 2.0™ in many ... the doctor uses other traditional cutting tools, such as the scalpel and high-speed drill, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... In an article published November 12th ... which patients are or are not eligible for bariatric surgery. The article explains that ... are more than 100 pounds overweight, or have a BMI of 35 and over ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... It takes only three to five seconds to make a ... first impression be positive and reflects business values. If a client starts with a ... to return. They will also share their thoughts about a business with others, which ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, family members and ... taping of the next CURE Connections® video series on Saturday, Dec. ... at Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center in Washington, D.C. , CURE Connections, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Danbury, CT (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... Network (WCHN) today announced an innovative study designed to yield insights into how to ... potential development of biomarkers for pancreatic cancer from small, non-coding RNA molecules (ncRNA), genetic ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nueva York , 24 de noviembre ... fabricante del Avery Breathing Pacemaker System, se complace ... MD; Ph.D. como consultor clínico. ... --> Foto -   ... doctor Jonzon es un fisiólogo y consultor en ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 Avery Biomedical Devices (ABD), manufacturer ... announce the appointment of Anders Jonzon , MD; ... Dr. Jonzon is a Physiologist ... Hospital, Uppsala University, Uppsala and Children,s Hospital, Karolinska, ... a fellow at the Cardiovascular Institute (UCSF). His research ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... November 24, 2015 F1000Workspace - ... - since it was launched just six months ago. ... and authoring platform for scientists - since it was launched ... have been loaded on to F1000Workspace - a ... since it was launched just six months ago. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: