Can psychedelics help treat mental illness? NZ researchers aim to find out

Could psychedelics, including LSD and magic mushrooms, help heal mental illness?

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It’s a serious question, one that University of Auckland researchers are hoping to help answer. Source: Seven Sharp

Promising new research on controlled psychedelic use conducted overseas is revealing just that.

The University of Auckland has recently gained government approval to study the effects of microdoses of LSD on people's health and well-being - 52 years after it was outlawed in New Zealand.

In the 1950s and '60s, scientists were testing the effects of psychedelic drugs on the brain and its therapeutic potential when it escaped the lab. The drug was then made illegal following overuse by some in non-scientific settings.

Now, some scientists believe there could be benefits to using mood-altering drugs like LSD to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, anxiety and depression.

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Auckland University associate professor Suresh Muthukumaraswamy spoke to Breakfast about the upcoming trial. Source: Breakfast

"What we've got is this underground phenomenon where thousands of people are doing this microdosing and there's no scientific data about what might be going on in the brain and the congition of these people," University of Auckland neuropsychopharmacologist Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, who will lead the study, told Seven Sharp.

"This will be one of the first studies to really investigate this social phenomenon that's developed, so I think it's pretty exciting, really, to get some scientific data about this."

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World-first LSD microdosing study set to be carried out in New Zealand

He said the scientific knowledge on the issue is "really 50 years behind what we could have been if we hadn't had this prohibition status".

"If the data turns out that they could have this kind of use - and it's looking somewhat promising at the moment - then yeah, we would have missed an opportunity." 

The recruiting process for participants for the study will begin in the next few months.