Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psilocybin: A Systematic Review

Cureus. 2022 Oct 12;14(10):e30214. doi: 10.7759/cureus.30214. eCollection 2022 Oct.


Psilocybin is a plant alkaloid that is derived from precursors of tryptamine and is present in many different types of mushrooms. It has been utilized by indigenous peoples of Central and South America for centuries in a ceremonial setting to promote spiritual experiences. Indigenous societies have long employed psilocybin and other 5-HT 2A agonist classic psychedelics in their rites. They were a focus in psychiatry in the middle of the 20th century as both experimental medicines and tools for studying brain function. Due to the fact that traditional psychedelics were being used for purposes other than medical research and in connection with the burgeoning counterculture by the late 1960s and early 1970s, these scientific investigations fell out of favor. However, thanks to a number of encouraging studies that validated the earlier research, interest in traditional psychedelics has surged among scientists in the 21st century. In this review, we examine therapeutic studies on psilocybin, the traditional psychedelic that has received the lion's share of recent attention. According to three controlled studies, psilocybin may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in the context of cancer-related psychological discomfort for at least six months after a single acute treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. Three months after two acute doses, individuals in a small, open-label study with treatment-resistant depression reported fewer depressive and anxiety symptoms. Small, open-label pilot studies on addiction have demonstrated encouraging success rates for alcohol and cigarette addiction. The review also briefly discusses the synthesis, mechanism of action, effects, molecular pharmacology, adverse effects, and contraindications of psilocybin.

Keywords: addiction; anxiety; cancer; depression; psilocybin; psychedelic.

Publication types

  • Review