Can psilocybin help treat OCD patients?

By Orchard

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That's why I set up Orchard. We are a new charity that seeks to accelerate the development of new and better treatments for OCD.

For this, our first project, we are raising funds to study whether psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – might help treat OCD.

Prof David Nutt and his team at Imperial College have already shown that psilocybin is a novel, fast-acting anti-depressant. Our aim is to raise £80,000 for Prof Nutt to study whether it might also be an anti-obsessive. We’ve already got £30,000 in the bank. Help us raise the remaining £50,000!

It is characterised by intrusive, recurrent and disturbing thoughts (known as obsessions) and accompanying rituals (called compulsions) that attempt – but fail – to reduce the anxiety and distress that the obsessions cause.

Paradoxically, the more people with OCD try to resist the obsessions, the worse they get.

But NOT all OCD is linked to contamination fears. OCD has many manifestations. For instance, some patients face an onslaught of distressing sexual or violent thoughts, while others have fears of harming others or of harm coming to someone close to them. This leads them to carry out endless (often mental) rituals in a desperate attempt at neutralising them

Existing OCD treatment includes anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and cognitive behavioural therapy. However, they do not work for everyone with OCD, can take months to have an effect, and it is rare for them to eradicate all symptoms.

Join us in our first research project which is in partnership with Imperial College London.

It aims to investigate whether psilocybin is effective in reducing the symptoms of OCD.

A previous, smaller study at the University of Arizona (published in 2006) showed that even a very small dose of psilocybin was effective in reducing OCD symptoms.

The current study will use a low dose (10 mg) and an inactive placebo to test the effect on thinking processes and symptoms of OCD patients. Psilocybin is a safe compound and will be provided under a license from the UK’s Home Office.

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Team Members

Nick Sireau