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Monday, Jan 17, 2022
Mugglehead Magazine
Cannabis & psychedelics industry news based in Vancouver, B.C.
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Medical and Pharmaceutical

Common antidepressant escitalopram and psilocybin can be taken together safely: study

Research funded by MindMed suggests some antidepressants can reduce the unwanted side effects of psychedelics

Special Access Program amendments do not go far enough, say psychedelic industry experts
Photo via TheraPsil

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.

Chart via ‘Acute Effects of Psilocybin After Escitalopram or Placebo Pretreatment in a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study in Healthy Subjects’

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.”

Antidepressants and psilocybin work well together in healthy volunteers, study

Chart via ‘Acute Effects of Psilocybin After Escitalopram or Placebo Pretreatment in a Randomized, Double- Blind, Placebo- Controlled, Crossover Study in Healthy Subjects’

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.

Read more: UK Prime Minister to consider reducing legal barriers to psilocybin research

Read more: Psilocybin treats depression as well as common antidepressant: study

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.

Popular antidepressant escitalopram and psilocybin can be taken together safely -- study

Sold in North America as Lexapro, escitalopram is a common SSRI-type antidepressant. Research suggests alcohol can increase negative side effects of the drug. Less is known about how escitalopram interacts with cannabis. Image via creative commons

“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.”

Read more: Psilocybin restores brain areas damaged by depression, study shows

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.

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