magic mushroom
Psilocybe Cubensis ThaiDr. Brainfish/Flickr

An active compound in magic mushrooms may hold promise for people who wish to stop smoking, a new research shows.

In the study, long-time smokers completely stopped smoking after they were put on a psilocybin medication. Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic agent found in magic mushrooms. Twelve out of the 15 smokers (80%) who participated in the study could successfully kick their smoking habit within six months of starting the medication.

The findings bring hope, as at present, varenicline, one of the widely used prescription medications for nicotine addiction, offers only 35% success rates, while nicotine replacement and behavioural therapies often provide below 30% success.

During the study, researchers administered moderate (20 mg/70 kg) and high doses (30 mg/70 kg) of psilocybin to 15 smokers, attending a comprehensive cognitive behaviour therapy smoking cessation program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US.

At the time of the study, 10 men and five women, aged around 51 had been smoking about 19 cigarettes a day for 31 years and had six unsuccessful smoking cessation attempts.

Though the compound yields positive results, the researchers have cautioned against self-medicating the compound.

"Quitting smoking isn't a simple biological reaction to psilocybin, as with other medications that directly affect nicotine receptors," Matthew W. Johnson, corresponding author of the study and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

"When administered after careful preparation and in a therapeutic context, psilocybin can lead to deep reflection about one's life and spark motivation to change."

The study has been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Cigarettes contain about 4,000 toxic chemicals and long-term smoking has been linked to a wide range of deadly diseases, including heart diseases, lung cancer and stroke. Many people get hooked on smoking to cope with stress. Contradicting this popular belief, previous research has shown that kicking the habit provides better mental peace than continuing the habit.

A team of British researchers have reported that positivity and psychological quality of life gets improved after one stopped smoking. Similarly, many psychologists have highlighted smoking as a psychological addiction that does not help relieve stress.

Why Some People Struggle to Quit Smoking- Some Reasons

Putting down cigarettes is not as easy as it sounds to be. The main reason is the nicotine in cigarettes. Nicotine has similar effects as heroin or cocaine- delivers pleasant feelings to the user and also helps him/her to get distracted from the unpleasant ones, according to experts from the American Cancer Society

Additionally, it also works as a depressant, making a person physically and mentally depended up on the drug.

Some Effective Smoking Cessation Methods Proven by Research

  • Combined therapy with two smoking cessation drugs - varenicline and bupropion: A study in JAMA found that the combination therapy was promising for heavy smokers.
  • Yoga: A Delhi-based study reported that a simple breathing yoga exercise was highly effective in helping people quit smoking