Ecstasy and hallucinogenic mushrooms – also known as magic mushrooms – have had a reputation as dangerous party drugs for decades. Certainly not without reason, but in recent years it has become increasingly apparent that the substances can also be used sensibly for medical purposes.
Australia was therefore the first country in the world to announce that it would release the active ingredients MDMA and psilocybin contained in the drugs for use in psychiatric treatment. Psychiatrists with special authorization should be able to prescribe them from July this year. This was announced by the national regulatory authority for therapeutic agents. There is sufficient scientific evidence for possible positive effects in certain patients, the authority justified the decision.
MDMA should therefore be prescribed as a remedy for post-traumatic stress disorders, while psilocybin should be used for treatment-resistant depression. The use of both substances should only be permitted to a very limited extent. Physicians such as emergency medicine lecturer David Caldicott welcome the change: According to the Guardian, he sees it as a "very welcome step after years of demonization".
In Caldicott's view, it is "absolutely clear" that the controlled use of MDMA and psilocybin could have "dramatic effects on conditions not considered amenable to current treatment." "In addition to a clear and evolving therapeutic benefit, it also offers a chance to make up for decades of missed opportunities to delve into the inner workings of the human mind, so long abandoned as part of an ill-conceived, ideological 'war on drugs'" , according to the doctor. However, critics of the decision call for further research on the topic.
Psilocybin occurs naturally in more than 200 species of mushrooms and has been used medicinally since ancient times. MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by the German pharmaceutical company Merck and gained worldwide fame in pill form as the party drug ecstasy.
Sources: Therapeutic Goods Administration / "Guardian" / Deutsche Welle