Magic mushrooms may transform the lives of people with bipolar

Psilocybin bipolar disorder

The potential of psychedelics, specifically psilocybin, has been top of mind for many research teams. Not only have the fruiting bodies been decriminalized in states and territories throughout North America, researchers continue unlocking new understanding about how they work. The latest update in psilocybin research shows that a single dose may evoke remission in people with bipolar II disorder who’ve had no luck with prescriptions.

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“The results we saw from this trial are encouraging and further support the clinical study of psychedelics in patients with treatment-resistant bipolar II,” said study author Dr. Scott T. Aaronson in a press release. “One participant compared the transformation she experienced to taking a deep breath after breathing through a straw for years. These are the types of stories we are hearing from people who struggled with this disorder for years, many of whom had lost hope that their bipolar II could ever be treated.”

This study was funded by COMPASS Pathways, in partnership with the Institute for Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics at Sheppard Pratt. In the recently published article, three researchers disclosed personal fees and salaries paid by various psychedelic research and tech firms, COMPASS being first and foremost.

A total of 15 patients who had experienced a bipolar episode lasting at least three months with at least two documented pharmaceutical treatments were accepted. Patients stopped taking all pharmaceuticals for two weeks before the trial; during this time, therapists met with patients three times to set a baseline.

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Once these preliminary protocols were complete, each patient was administered 25 mg of COMPASS Pathways COMP360 psilocybin in a controlled setting. Therapists held another session during the dosing day, which lasted eight hours. There were also three integration sessions after the trip, where a facilitator holds space for the psychonaut to make sense of their experience.

By three weeks post-treatment, 73 percent of the participants met the criteria for remission. No patients developed psychosis as a result of the psychedelics. By twelve weeks, 80 percent of the patients were in remission.

While this isn’t a proclamation that psilocybin treats bipolar II, it is an exhilarating addition to the list of possibilities. This study will continue as researchers check in with patients up to two years following the dose day. Perhaps by then, other studies will be underway. Until then, this serves as a substantial call to action for more inquiry into how magic mushrooms might change the lives of bipolar patients.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.