Magic Mushrooms can help smokers kick the habit, a new study states.
Researchers of this small study of 15 people found that psilocybin, an active compound in the magic mushrooms, might help long time smokers quit the habit.
One in every five deaths in the Unites States is due to cigarette smoking. According to the statistics released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 18.1 percent of American adults smoke cigarettes and it is more prevalent in men (20.5 percent) than in women (15.8 percent).
The report also stated that smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. At least 16 million Americans suffer from a smoking-related disease.
The findings of the new research stated that 12 out of the 15 long time smokers successfully quit smoking within six months of starting the psilocybin medication. Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic agent found in magic mushrooms.
Quitting smoking is a difficult task for many thanks to nicotine that has similar effects as heroin or cocaine, explain the researchers at the American Cancer Society. Depressed people tend to take up smoking because of these effects.
For the study, the researchers gave the subjects moderate (20 mg/70 kg) and high doses (30 mg/70 kg) of psilocybin. All the participants were a part of a comprehensive cognitive behaviour therapy smoking cessation program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Researchers noted that the prior to the study, 10 men and five women, aged around 51, smoked at least 19 cigarettes per day for 31 years and had six unsuccessful smoking cessation attempts.
According to the researchers, the results are important because varenicline, one of the widely used prescription medications for nicotine addiction, gives just 35 percent success rates, while nicotine replacement and behavioral therapies often provide below 30 percent success.
Despite the positive results of psilocybin, researchers warned people against self-medication.
"Quitting smoking isn't a simple biological reaction to psilocybin, as with other medications that directly affect nicotine receptors," Matthew W. Johnson, corresponding author of the study and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a press release.
"When administered after careful preparation and in a therapeutic context, psilocybin can lead to deep reflection about one's life and spark motivation to change."
The study has been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.