Psilocybin Assisted Therapy

Authored by Hugh Soames

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Philippa Gold

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Psilocybin Assisted Therapy


It is impossible to deny that both rehabilitation treatment and pharmaceuticals are both increasingly fast developing industries. As drug treatments and therapies continue to develop and are expanded across the world, there has been a greater focus on how some natural, or previously considered dangerous plants or medicines can be used positively in a treatment setting when handled carefully by a medical professional.


One of the most interesting of these treatments is the use of psilocybin in many different types of mental health treatment. Psilocybin is a chemical naturally found in many types of mushrooms, and most known as the cause of psychedelic experiences, often more commonly referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’ or ‘shrooms’.


While psychedelic inducing chemicals and drugs like psilocybin have been considered dangerous and irresponsible for many years, new scientific studies are proving that they actually (as previously thought for millenia) have benefits as a medical treatment for more complex conditions such as treatment-resistant depression, OCD, anxiety,  substance abuse, anorexia, or PTSD.

Psilocybin Psychotherapy


Psilocybin Assisted Therapy as is currently being developed combines the therapeutic effects often found from ingestion of psilocybin with detailed psychotherapy. This allows the patient to break self-destructive patterns while in the heightened state induced by psilocybin as it can cause shifts in consciousness as well as auditory and visual hallucinations, which can help separate the patient from their thoughts and patterns.


Psilocybin works because, like more traditional medicines for mood disorders such as SSRIs, interacts with the serotonin receptors located deep within the brain’s claustrum region1Davis, Alan K., et al. “Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder.” Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial | Depressive Disorders | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network, 1 May 2021, The claustrum is the area of the brain that regulates mood, and so altering the serotonin receptors can help to regulate anxiety, aggression, attention, learning memory, self-awareness, cognition, and appetite, amongst other neurological, neuropsychiatric and biological processes.


Brain scans taken of patients who have taken psilocybin show that their claustrum is less active than prior to treatment, which in outward terms means that these patients are more relaxed, less self-conscious and less neurologically likely to end up getting stuck in negative thought spirals or destructive behavior patterns. Treatment is best undergone outdoors, where patients are better able to connect with nature and fully experience and draw from the world around them, benefiting from the natural environment that psilocybin-containing mushrooms grow in.

Does Psilocybin Assisted Therapy Work?


The combination of psilocybin with psychotherapy means that patients are able to be freed from the constraints placed on the conscious mind through the psychedelic experience, while the psychotherapy allows them to discuss and discover the deep emotional issues that arise when freed from social inhibition, internalised bias and the internal and external mental health condition symptoms, while being fully supported as they work through these issues. The chemical effect on the brain also means that this more free, relaxed state can continue even after any initial ‘trip’ has worn off, helping to better balance the brain’s serotonin uptake.


Unlike SSRIs, however, drugs containing psilocybin do not need to be taken every day, which can be helpful for those who have difficulty remembering to take medicine or find it difficult to establish a regular routine.


In fact, patients in a study who had taken psilocybin as an aid to treatment-resistant depression reported still feeling the resulting increased positivity up to 14 months after taking their last dose. Doses of psilocybin are also much easier to adjust than SSRIs, which can typically only increase in specific tablet amounts.


Microdosing Psilocybin


Microdosing psilocybin makes it more accessible as a treatment method, especially for those who can’t afford regular prescriptions, as it is more cost effective. Microdosing is also beneficial when patients are not able to emotionally handle the effects of a larger dose and the resulting increased intensity of any psychedelic ‘trip’.

Psilocybin Assisted Therapy Side Effects


Like all medication, however, taking psilocybin as part of Psilocybin Assisted Therapy can cause side effects. Mild side effects found in several trials include nausea, fatigue, insomnia, headaches and mild gastrointestinal symptoms, the last of which resolve long before the chemical effect on the brain wears off.


Patients with hypertension, heart issues or high blood pressure are advised not to take psilocybin as it can raise blood pressure, and any form of the chemical is not suitable for schizophrenics, as it is thought to make patients unpredictable and further worsen their condition.


However, despite these side effects and the general public mistrust of psychedelics, LSD and similar drugs are thought to cause approximately 0.005% of emergency hospital admissions every year in the USA. Psilocybin Assisted Therapy and the taking of psilocybin to aid treatment of other conditions should always be done with the care and supervision of a trained medical professional due to the risk of self harm and suicide ideation, but the rise of its use as a treatment method for substance abuse means that many private clinics have begun to offer it as part of their plans, and as a result always have a tailored aftercare plan in place specially for psychedelic medications.


One such clinic is the aptly named Tripnotherapy™, describes Psilocybin Assisted Therapy as the “nexus of surrender and ascension, with the active psychedelic ingredients acting as a proxy for the internal self, reflecting your desires, needs and goals and the pursuit of a life compounded by your individual values, with full acceptance of whatever those values may be”.


Tripnotherapy™ is a luxury Psychedileic Recovery Retreat center treating a range of mental health concerns in Portugal, with retreats planned in Costa Rica, the Bahamas and Thailand. For more information visit


In a recent John Hopkins University study, over 50% of participants noted a reduction of depression symptoms after 1 week of regular psilocybin assisted treatment,74% of participants said they experienced fewer symptoms after 4 weeks, and 54% of trial participants said they had no depression symptoms at all after 4 weeks of regular psilocybin assisted therapy.

Psilocybin Assisted Therapy is a promising and effective form of treatment


Ultimately, despite the widespread public mistrust of psychedelic drugs and mushrooms containing  psilocybin, Psilocybin Assisted Therapy is a promising and effective form of treatment for mental health conditions that do not respond well to traditional treatment methods such as treatment-resistant depression and alcohol or other substance dependency.


Although there is still much more research to be done into the best ways of using psilocybin in treatment plans, it is effective when used under medical supervision, in natural surroundings, and in conjunction with psychotherapy.


The long lasting positive effects of short courses of treatment means that it could become a more viable and widely used option for medicating mental health conditions in the future, particularly with an ever increasing number of people who are being diagnosed with depression.


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    Davis, Alan K., et al. “Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder.” Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial | Depressive Disorders | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network, 1 May 2021,
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