5 Positive News Stories to Lift Your Spirits This Week

psilocybin depression study

Positive News is an ongoing series from The Latch turning the spotlight on all the good in the world that you may have missed.

Life is tough and the news cycle ain’t helping anything right now. Disaster, drama, and death sell papers and get eyeballs on the page but they don’t do much for our mental health.

If you’ve felt like simply switching off from the constant barrage of updates charting the world’s lurch from one crisis to the next, we’re here to provide you with a much-needed antidote.

Good stuff happens all the time. It just doesn’t get quite the same coverage as bad stuff. That means we end up thinking that everything that’s going on in the world is terrible when it really isn’t.

Here are five of the best news stories we’ve seen this week to put a spring in your step and make the world feel just that little bit brighter.

EU Aims to Curb Deforestation With Beef and Coffee Import Ban

Following on from the moderate success of COP26 and the international agreement to end deforestation by 2030, the EU has doubled down on its environmental pledges by stating that it will soon start banning the import of products that are linked to deforestation.

The EU has outlined draft laws that will require companies importing products destined for its 450 million consumers are not linked to deforestation. The draft laws cover products like beef, wood, palm oil, soy, coffee, and cocoa.

Nico Muzi, the Europe director of the Mighty Earth campaign group, said the law was “a major leap forward” in the fight to protect the world’s endangered forests.

“The EU is sending a clear message to major supermarkets and retailers: one of the largest economies in the world simply won’t accept agricultural products linked to deforestation,” he said.

World’s Largest Psilocybin Trial Finds the Psychedelic is Effective in Treating Serious Depression

In recent years, psilocybin, the active chemical found in ‘magic’ mushrooms, has drawn international attention from the scientific community for its apparent breakthrough properties in treating difficult and common mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

However, a lack of research and clear data has stopped cautious governments from fully embracing the suspected wonder drug.

Now, the world’s largest-ever study of the chemical has revealed that, yes, psilocybin is “highly effective” as a therapy for alleviating the symptoms of treatment resistant depression.

The study enrolled 233 patients across Europe and America, giving some of them 25 mg of psilocybin in a randomized, controlled, double-blind study. It found that those given the drug shows a “significant decrease” in depressive symptoms compared with those given 1mg, an effective placebo.

This news could spark renewed government interest in the drug and potentially open further doors on the pathway to consumer access and treatment for some of the most debilitating and difficult conditions on the planet.

Pfizer Will Allow Its Covid Pill to Be Made and Sold Cheaply in Poor Countries

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, one of the leading manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines, has said that they will allow their promising COVID pill treatment to be made and sold cheaply in 95 different developing nations, home to more than half of the world’s population.

The deal could vastly expand global access to simple antiviral pills that could alter the course of the pandemic for much of the world. While many Western nations have high vaccination rates and supplies, a lot of the developing world is struggling to vaccinate even a fraction of their population. Although there have been deals to send excess vaccines to developing nations, these have not materialised as expected.

This is why this deal is so significant as, before now, COVID treatments have been highly limited. Pfizer is granting a royalty-free license to the Medicines Patent Pool, a non-profit backed by the UN, allowing the drug to be manufactured and sold in developing nations across Africa and Asia for much cheaper.

In other COVID news, a new study has found that booster shots not only top up immunity to the virus but that they actually increase it too. New data from the UK Health and Security Agency has shown that two weeks after getting either an AstraZeneca or a Pfizer jab, immunity climbed above the rate of two vaccines alone, hitting a high of 93.1% and 94% respectively. Even more reason to book your booster shots as soon as you’re eligible!

Researchers Say There’s a Link Between Being Kind to Others and Happiness

In the endless search for happiness, we often focus on ourselves and things that we can do to make ourselves feel good. However, new research has shown that this approach may not be the best way to go about it.

Instead, researchers from the University of British Columbia have said that there is a “causal link” between being kind and generous to others and how happy you then feel.

Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor and happiness researcher at UBC, has said that during a study in which they gave people money to spend, either on themselves or on someone else, people who bought things for others felt happier than those who bought things for themselves.

“Frankly, I find it very reassuring that humans have this sort of baked-in tendency to experience joy from helping others,” she said.

So, next time you’re eyeing up that new shiny thing online, maybe think about how that money could be better spent if creating a sense of general overall happiness is your ultimate goal.

Alzheimer’s Vaccine One Step Closer as New Treatment Reverses Memory Loss

One of the most crippling and heartbreaking diseases on the planet is one step closer to being vanquished by human ingenuity as researchers in the US and Germany conduct successful trials on animals showing that they can reverse memory loss.

This new vaccine being developed by a broad team of international researchers is able to train the body’s immune system to fight a certain kind of sticky amyloid beta protein in the brain that accumulates in people with dementia.

Professor Mark Carr from the Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology at the University of Leicester has said that this kind of vaccine could be a serious game-changer in our fight against this disease.

“While the science is currently still at an early stage, if these results were to be replicated in human clinical trials, then it could be transformative”, he said.

“It opens up the possibility to not only treat Alzheimer’s once symptoms are detected but also to potentially vaccinate against the disease before symptoms appear.”

The researchers are looking to find a commercial partner to take the therapeutic antibody and the vaccine through clinical trials but will likely be a few years yet before the vaccine is available commercially.

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