Music, in combination with the consumption of Magic mushrooms, a substance present in magic mushrooms, could be key to future treatments for depression
Humans have been taking magic mushrooms for more than 6,000 years. Magic mushrooms are a substance present in these mushrooms that are being studied for their potential use to treat depression. Now, a group of scientists at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark has discovered that Magic mushrooms could change people’s emotional state when listening to music.
It is a hallucinogenic substance – present in some fungi that grow in regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States – that was first isolated and synthesized in 1958 by the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman, the same one who first synthesized LSD.
The use of psychedelics as a treatment for depression and other mental pathologies is an increasingly present topic in studies and debates. Magic mushrooms are one of the most suitable substances for clinical use, in part because the “journey” – or the duration of the effects of the drug – usually does not last more than eight hours, so it is possible to monitor them for the duration of a working day.
It is a drug that can cause changes in the perception of time (it can pass faster or slower), synesthesia (feeling of hearing colors or seeing sounds), and hallucinations of all kinds, from visual to auditory and even tactile. These can begin to be noticed between 15 minutes and half an hour after consuming the drug.
This group of Danish scientists has shown that Magic mushrooms affect the way music provokes emotions.
Clinical trials on Magic mushrooms used selected song playlists to support the drug-induced psychedelic experience. Thus, this work reveals that improved emotional processing could be a positive effect of combining this substance with music. The results suggest, therefore, that music should be an active component of Magic mushrooms therapy. The results of this work have been presented at the ECNP Congress in Lisbon.
As an antidepressant, Magic mushrooms are usually given in conjunction with psychotherapy and music, as previous studies have shown that other drugs such as LSD interact with melodies. It is not surprising, then, that in the 1960s and at the height of the drug boom, psychedelics were closely related to this art.
Now and for the first time, this group of Danish scientists has shown that Magic mushrooms affect the way music provokes emotions. In a study involving 20 healthy people, the emotional response to music before and after consuming magic mushrooms was analyzed. Of the 20 participants, 14 were also studied after taking ketanserin, an anti-hypertension drug often used to contract results in psychedelic experiments.
After the intake of both substances, the emotional response to music was rated according to the Geneva Emotional Music Scale. Participants listened to a playlist of around ten minutes that included Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations Nos. 8 and 9 and Mozart’s Laudate Dominum.
The main author of the study, Dea Siggard Stenbaek, points out that it is “curious” that precisely Elgar’s songs were written after a friend of the musician, Augustus Jaeger, encouraged Elgar to compose to alleviate his depression. “We’re glad this music is being used again to learn more about mental health,” he says.
The next step for the researchers is to “observe the effect of music on the brain while under the influence of Magic mushrooms, using an MRI.”
“We have found that Magic mushrooms significantly improve the emotional response to music, compared to the effect of it before taking the drug. On the measurement scale we used, mushrooms increased emotional response to music by about 60%.” This is a greater response than ketanserin, the study says.
So much so, that the researchers found that the combination of Magic mushrooms and music has a strong emotional effect: “We believe that this will be important for the therapeutic application of psychedelics if they were approved for clinical use,” stresses the expert. Thus, since Magic mushrooms are being studied for the development of drugs against depression, “this work reveals that music should be considered as a therapeutic part of the treatment.”
Professor David J Nutt, a professor at Imperial College London, explains after observing the results and without having participated in the work, that “this is more evidence of the potential of using music for more effective treatments with psychedelics.” “What we need now is to optimize this approach probably through individualized and personalized songs during therapy,” adds the professor.
The next step for researchers? “Observe the effect of music on the brain while under the influence of Magic mushrooms, using an MRI,” concludes the professor from the University of Copenhagen.