Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, have received $17 million in private donations to launch the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, a facility dedicated to studying the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat a variety of diseases.
According to a press release by Johns Hopkins, the research team hopes to study the efficacy of using psilocybin, aka magic mushrooms, to treat “opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression.”
Psychedelics are a type of hallucinogenic drug that create “unique and profound changes of consciousness over the course of several hours,” the press release notes.
Paul B. Rothman, dean of the medical faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that Johns Hopkins researchers “have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential.”
In 2016, researchers at Johns Hopkins conducted a double-blind study of the effects of magic mushrooms on cancer patients with existential anxiety and depression.
According to HUB, a research blog managed by Johns Hopkins, the study showed that “six months after the final session of treatment, about 80% of participants continued to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety, with about 60% showing symptom remission into the normal range.”
In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, patients given MDMA, a type of psychedelic drug, to use for treatment-resistant PTSD experienced significantly decreased symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about 15 percent of veterans who served in the Vietnam War experience PTSD in any given year, and between 11 and 20 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq war experience PTSD in any given year.
A Lancet Psychiatry study, which focused specifically on PTSD in military veterans, police officers and firefighters, found that MDMA “dramatically reduced” symptoms of post-traumatic stress, according to Military Times.
Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a lead researcher of the study, believes that such research is important to help military veterans and others who struggle with post-traumatic stress, because nearly “one in two PTSD patients cannot tolerate or do not respond adequately to existing treatments.”