Magic mushrooms - Psilocybe cyanofriscosa
Psilocybe cyanofriscosa are one 200 types of 'magic mushrooms': fungi which can cause hallucinations when eaten. Alan Rockefeller/Mushroom Observer

Psychedelic fungi known as 'magic mushrooms' could help smokers who are struggling to give up kick the habit.

A new report by Bloomberg cites, a new study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology which "found that smokers who had long had trouble quitting their habit managed to remain smoke-free for six months using a highly unorthodox method: Consuming the active ingredient in magic mushrooms".

The volunteers consumed pills containing psilocybin – the compound in magic mushrooms which can induce euphoria, hallucinations, perception changes, a distorted sense of time, spiritual experiences, as well as nausea and panic attacks – as part of a cognitive behaviour therapy program at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, US.

Six months later 12 of the 15 participants remained non-smokers, according to the study results.

This new method appears to have a far higher success rate than existing medicines, such as Pfizer's Chantix, which has a success rate of about 35 per cent. Other methods include, nicotine patches and gums, all of which are less successful according to Matthew Johnson, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at John Hopkins.

"The rates of quitting were so high: twice as high as what you typically see with the gold standard medication," he said in a telephone interview. "It is a very small study, but it's an indication that something very strong is going on here. It answers the question of whether this is worth pursuing."