Magic Medicine follows the stories of four people who volunteer in a research program on psilocybin (i.e. the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms) to treat clinical depression.
Psilocybin is the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms and is believed to open pathways in the brain, that lay dormant or are blocked, by the effects of depression and trauma.
Each patient is given a small dose of psilocybin in a clinic in an intimate and highly supervised environment, with a psychologist and psychiatrist by their side to help them manage any effects.
Magic mushrooms are known for their psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects, but when administered as a medical-grade prescription may also help the patient recall feelings, memories or traumas. For some patients experiencing these effects is a revelation and helpful on their recovery from depression, others are re-traumatised, and for some, it does not affect.
Magic Medicine focuses on male research volunteers - there is no explanation as to why - perhaps other volunteers did not consent to filming. Some of these men are partnered, one has a wife and children, others are single and live alone. All have different life stories – some have been depressed since childhood, others have become depressed after a change in job, unemployment, a death or an accident.
The film shows how depression affects each person's everyday life, and the lengths each person has taken to manage their illness. It's absolutely heartbreaking to see that despite following a strict medical regime of tablets, normal activities like taking a walk outside are a great challenge for these men. The effect of depression on the carers, partners and children is also challenging. For many years, one partner states that she has been a 'single parent' whilst married to her partner who suffers from severe depression.
Transitions Film Festival
Magic Medicine provides some history about traditional Western treatments used to treat depression setting up the context for why our society needs new alternatives. However, the research presented shows that psilocybin can work for some people, but is not for everyone. These type of research trials can take years to discover new treatments, however, it is good to know that someone is exploring alternative treatments that occur naturally. It's definitely a very interesting documentary and one you should see at this year's Transitions Film Festival.
This film has been exempt from classification and is restricted to people over 15 years. People under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.