Banned Substance Eases Depression Symptoms for Some

July 5, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. species /ˈspi ʃiz / (n.) – a specific group of organisms
Example: Scientists discovered a new species of plant on the Malaysian coast.

2. psychedelic /ˌsaɪ kɪˈdɛl ɪk/ (adj.) – describing a sensation wherein a person sees and experiences things that are not present
Example: The doctor told him that he could have psychedelic experiences after taking the drug.

3. impose /ɪmˈpoʊz/ (v.) – to require or oblige
Example: Higher taxes were suddenly imposed on the workers.

4. acquire /əˈkwaɪər/ (v.) – to get or earn something
Example: Scientists working on the project acquired more funds to continue it on a larger scale.

5. academe /ˈæk əˌdim/ (n.) – the academic life or world
Example: Researchers from the academe typically work with students.


Read the text below.
A banned substance found in a species of mushroom can possibly eliminate symptoms of depression, study says.

Due to the known psychedelic effects of psilocybin [sil-uh-SAHY-bin], a chemical found in magic mushrooms, the UK government illegalized its use in 2005. Despite this, a study conducted by the Imperial College London and the Beckley Foundation suggests that the prohibited substance can help fight depression.

The study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal, took many years to be completed because of legal limitations imposed on the substance. After years of collecting funds and acquiring special licenses, the scientists finally conducted the study that involved 12 volunteers. The subjects, who had already been suffering from depression prior to the study, took high doses of the chemical. One of the participants reportedly had the mental condition for 30 years before the study was conducted, while the majority had been depressed for about 18 years.

Based on the results, all volunteers stopped showing symptoms of depression one week after the experiment. This depression-free period continued for three months in five of the participants.

The team still does not know what really caused the positive results in the trial—the chemical changes in the brain or the psychedelic experiences caused by the drug. Nevertheless, the researchers believe that psilocybin can somehow help people who have been fighting the illness for most of their lives.

Professor David Nutt, the study’s senior author, said that the academe should be actively involved in developing possible new treatments for depression. One of the reasons for this is that the pharmaceutical industry is now limiting their involvement in this field, he added.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think researchers should be allowed to use banned substances in their studies? Why or why not?
·         What do you think would happen if researchers mishandled banned substances in their studies?

Discussion B

·         Do you think pharmaceutical companies should participate in studies like these? Why or why not?
·         What support can the government give scientists?

July 5, 2016