BALTIMORE — Forget meditation or standard medicine. A new study finds that a psychedelic found in toad venom may help people struggling with depression or anxiety.
Research conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows the fast-acting psychedelic, 5-MeO-DMT (it currently lacks a marketable household name), helped relieve symptoms in about 80 percent of the 362 study participants who tried it in a group setting. The authors believe the short duration of psychedelic effects make it a more favorable therapy for patients.
“Research has shown that psychedelics given alongside psychotherapy help people with depression and anxiety. However, psychedelic sessions usually require 7 – 8 hours per session because psychedelics typically have a long duration of action,” says co-author Alan K. Davis, a postdoctoral research fellow with the university’s Behavioral Research Unit, in a release. “Because 5-MeO-DMT is short-acting and lasts approximately 30-90 minutes, it could be much easier to use as an adjunct to therapy because current therapies usually involve a 60 – 90 minute session.”
Patients reported greater feelings of life satisfaction and well-being, and also reported a more spiritual experience during the treatment.
5-MeO-DMT is found in the venom of the Bufo Alvarius toad (also known as The Colorado River toad), as well as in some plants, but scientists have been able to produce it synthetically. Prior research by Davis has shown the substance has a low risk for health and legal consequences.
“It is important to examine the short- and long-term effects of 5-MeO-DMT, which may enhance mood in general or may be particularly mood enhancing for those individuals experiencing clinically significant negative mood,” says Davis. “Regardless, this research is in its infancy and further investigation is warranted in healthy volunteers.”
The study was published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.