Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a devastating illness that hijacks the mind, causing relentless obsessions over. The grips of AN severely limit one’s ability to enjoy life and often have fatal consequences. Current treatments fail many, leading to a desperate search for new solutions. Could psilocybin therapy be a light in the darkness? New research published in Nature Medicine offers preliminary hope that this innovative approach may open doors to healing for those suffering.
A pioneering pilot study from the University of California San Diego explored psilocybin therapy for ten women with active or partially remitted AN (“Psilocybin therapy for females with anorexia nervosa: a phase 1, open-label feasibility study“). Psilocybin is the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms that can induce temporary changes in consciousness and perception. Participants underwent thorough medical screenings to ensure safety before receiving a 25 mg dose of pure synthesized psilocybin alongside psychological support. 25 mg of psilocybin is equivalent to approximately 2.5 grams of dried mushrooms.
Researchers closely monitored side effects, vital signs, and mental health through questionnaires and interviews. Remarkably, psilocybin caused no severe side effects—some experienced minor, temporary headaches or nausea, which is common. Therapists purposefully created an environment of “trust, empathy, and openness” to invite profound self-reflection and insight.
The news gets even better. For most women, obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and body image unease significantly improved one month after psilocybin therapy. These core AN symptoms can relentlessly torment sufferers, perpetuating restrictive and compulsive behaviors. Although not everyone improved, the therapy deeply resonated with the majority. 90% felt the experience positively transformed their life and relationships.
Digging deeper, 4 of the ten women achieved complete remission of their eating disorder three months later. This drastic turnaround is unheard of from standard interventions alone. Interview responses indicate the therapy may have unlocked self-acceptance, emotional awareness, and freedom from ingrained habits.
However, physical recovery remains complex. Despite reduced disordered thinking for some, “weight normalization did not consistently follow” even in the four responders. Nutritional support and skill building may still be needed alongside psilocybin’s psychological shift. With a larger sample and further research, scientists can optimize protocols and identify who responds best.
The Future of Psilocybin Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa:
Current treatments leave much to be desired; up to half of all people with severe AN fail to achieve remission or relapse after agonizing efforts. Psilocybin therapy represents an innovative option for kindling hope. By rapidly relaxing rigid perspectives about food, weight, and body image, it may allow authentic healing to blossom. Combining psilocybin’s impact with personalized therapy and nutritional support may catalyze complete recovery in people otherwise unable to achieve full remission of symptoms.
While not a quick fix, these early findings suggest psilocybin therapy for anorexia nervosa could be a beneficial piece of the puzzle. The compound resonates on many levels – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – opening doors to wholeness. If research continues demonstrating safety and efficacy, psilocybin therapy may soon provide a guiding light for those battling AN’s darkness. With compassion and determination, a new dawn awaits.