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Each patient was given either a pure dose of psilocybin or a placebo, and asked to report their levels of depression and anxiety several times over the next few months. Those who’d been dosed with psilocybin had lower anxiety levels at one and three months, and reduced levels of depression starting two weeks after treatment and continuing for a full six months, the entire period covered by the study. Additionally, carefully administering low doses and controlling the environment prevented any participants from having a negative experience while under the influence (colloquially, a “bad trip.”)
A research group from Johns Hopkins has conducted the longest-running controlled study of the effects of psilocybin, and their findings might be the most promising of all. In 2006, they gave 36 healthy volunteers (who’d never before tried hallucinogens) a dose of the drug, and 60 percent reported having a “full mystical experience.” 14 months later, the majority reported higher levels of overall well-being than before and ranked taking psilocybin as one of the five most personally significant experiences of their lives. In 2011, the team conducted a study with a separate group, and when members of that group were questioned a full year later, the researchers found that according to personality tests, the participants’ openness to new ideas and feelings had increased significantly—a change seldom seen in adults had increased.