New research looking into the effects of MDMA and magic mushrooms on the brain is set to take place as part of a continuing push to make psychedelic drugs a mainstream treatment for depression and other mental health disorders.
As part of the research the brain activity of 200 participants will be studied after they have been given either MDMA or psilocybin, which is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.
An overall aim of this trial is to scientifically pinpoint what happens in the brain when these medicinal drugs are ingested.
In December last year the Therapeutic Goods Administration ruled that it would not down-schedule MDMA and psilocybin for use as treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, treatment resistant depression, or other mental health conditions.
But Mind Medicine Australia, an advocacy research group that supports the rescheduling and is part-funding the reserach, said the medicinal drugs should be down scheduled from prohibited substances under Schedule 9 of the Poisons Act to controlled drugs under Schedule 8.
MMA chairman Peter Hunt,said the new research would expand knowledge around MDMA and psilocybin and how it can be used in a controlled environment for clinical treatment.
Executive director Tania de Jong said there is a desperate need for innovation in the mental health sector, where according to latest data, 1 in 5 Australians had a mental illness before the current COVID pandemic, and 1 in 8 Australians were on antidepressants.
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She said as a result of the pandemic, these numbers are now expected to be significantly worse and there is an urgent need to reduce suffering.
"These treatments have achieved outstanding results in overseas trials after just two to three sessions in combination with a short course of psychotherapy," she said.
"We now have the potential to help people suffering from major classes of mental illness such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder and potentially anorexia and other eating disorders, OCD, dementia and a range of addictions."
The 200 participants will be screened and have successfully completed training in the administration of psychedelic assisted therapies, and will be taking the medicines in small groups, who will be supported by therapists and a medical practitioner.
The aim of the trail is to see whether there are any changes in brain activity, measured by electroencephalography (EEG), and changes in mood, personality, beliefs and social engagement.