WA authorizes UW study of ‘magic mushrooms’ as PTSD treatment
May 17, 2023, 1:06 PM | Updated: May 18, 2023, 11:32 am
(Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
A new Washington state law requires an official study on the effects of psilocybin, also called ‘magic mushrooms,’ before it can be offered as a widespread treatment for patients.
Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5263 into law, which mandated a study into psilocybin as well as the creation of a regulatory body for the possible recreational and medical use of the drug.
Psychedelics could be ‘mental health fix we’ve been looking for,’ says state lawmaker
Leading the upcoming study will be Dr. Nathan Sackett, with the University of Washington’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
“The big benchmark in the bill says that we need to start [treating] people Jan. 1, 2025. We have about a year and a half to get all the infrastructure developed,” Sackett said.
Sackett says they’re looking for specific people to try the treatment, as the study is specifically looking into the effect of psilocybin on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Seattle-based trial is looking to include 30 to 40 military veterans and first responders who have documented problems with PTSD and alcohol use disorders, which Sackett says are often linked.
“Our hope is that in targeting this specific population with these two co-morbidities, we could better understand if this could be a viable treatment moving forward,” said Sackett.
Sackett said the trial would be conducted in a controlled environment, with psychotherapy sessions before and after. Participants will undergo their psychedelic experiences with two therapists present
For three decades now, naturopathic physician and research biochemist Dr. Lisa Price has investigated the healing potential of psilocybin. Dr. Price helped to lobby Washington state lawmakers to legalize the medicinal mushroom compound and authorize SB 5263.
“As a researcher, that’s what I’m all about — safety, effectiveness, and doing it legally as well,” Dr. Price said.
Before the use of psilocybin is allowed widely, though, we have to better understand how it works in mental health treatments. Sackett hypothesizes that the compound allows us to get out of our heads for a bit.
“For a lot of people, we have a story in our mind that kind of loops around, that’s informed from our childhood and our history and our experiences,” Sackett said. “That story is often reinforced kind of day in and day out. And if your story is that you’re depressed or that you have trauma or that you need to use alcohol or substances, it gets very difficult to step out of that story.”
The goal is to have the study completed and the system in place by the start of 2025.