Tripping on magic mushrooms while on an antidepressant treatment won’t remove the positive effects of psilocybin, and can even reduce adverse reactions that can come from taking psychedelics.
That’s according to a recent study funded by biotech company Mind Medicine Inc. (Nasdaq: MNMD), (NEO: MMED), (DE: MMQ) that found the popular antidepressant escitalopram — sold under brand names Lexapro and Cipralex — didn’t change the positive effects when taking 25 milligrams of psilocybin, but improved the experience by reducing anxiety and unwanted cardiovascular symptoms.
On Wednesday, the New York-based biotech company released the results of the study, published in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, by researchers at the Lietchti Lab of the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland.
The study is the first to look at the interaction among selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants and the classic psychedelic psilocybin.
Principal investigator of the study Matthias Liechti says two questions arise around the use of psilocybin in patients undergoing antidepressant treatment.
“First, for safety reasons, should a patient stop using antidepressants before receiving psilocybin? Second, if there is no safety risk, will the antidepressant reduce the patient’s response to psilocybin?” he said in a statement.
“These results indicate that psilocybin may be dosed during escitalopram treatment without apparent impact on the effect of psilocybin. Thus, the study answers the first question and provides a positive indication for the second.”
For the study, researchers recruited 27 participants and randomly put them in different treatment groups, where some received a placebo and others received escitalopram.
Participants in the escitalopram group were given the substance for 14 days with 10 milligrams daily for one week, and 20 milligrams for the rest. This was meant to create a similar concentration of the antidepressant as found in regular treatment.
A 25-milligram dose of psilocybin was given at the end of the two-week period, followed by a second round of the psychedelic 14 days after crossing and randomizing participants in both groups.
Participants’ blood and cardiovascular health was analyzed, and they were asked to report on their states of consciousness.
People in the escitalopram group reported less negative effects, which include impaired cognition and anxiety, compared to the placebo group.
“If the results are confirmed in subsequent studies, with other substances and in patients rather than healthy individuals, antidepressants may no longer need to be stopped for psilocybin treatment,” explains Halperin Wernli, executive president at MindMed.
“Further studies are needed with a longer antidepressant pre-treatment time and patients with psychiatric disorders to further define interactions between antidepressants and psilocybin or other psychedelics.”
The study is the first to give insight into the substance-intake requirements related to the recent rise in clinical trials that test the effectiveness of psilocybin in the treatment of depression.
Normally, psychedelic trials ask for participants to stop taking their medications when participating, but this study suggests that further research could change that requirement.