Photo: Image by Michael M on Pixabay / Pixabay
At this point, we are all interested in solving physical, mental and emotional health problems in the most natural way possible. While the focus of medicine and science will always be the most important, it is undeniable to say that the side effects of drugs can be devastating in the long run. Recently researchers from the prestigious Yale University found that a single dose of psilocybin, a substance found in “magic mushrooms” can cause an increase in the number of neuronal connections and thus position itself as one of the better treatments for major depression.
Psychedelic drugs, such as LSD and psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) are substances that induce an altered state of consciousness. The truth is that the study of these powerful substances has years of experience and there are important scientific references that have recognized their therapeutic potential in neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and substance abuse. In recent years, numerous studies on psychedelics have come to light, among the most popular are those related to the effects of pscillocybin and which have been carried out with greater intensity since 2016. All references agree that psilocybin, a alkaloid found in some hallucinogenic mushrooms, relieves symptoms of depression quickly and best of all, it is related to lasting benefits for several months.
As a result of these findings, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 2019 took an important step and granted psilocybin the status of “Innovative therapy” for the treatment of depressive illness. And they also decided to start more clinical studies on it. Recently, a study led by Yale, published in the journal Cell-Neuron, has come to light, in which they demonstrated that a single dose of psilocybin administered to mice caused an immediate and sustained increase in the connections between neurons in the spinal column and the middle frontal cortex.
There are previous references of value, which are added in a forceful and positive way. Such is the case of previous studies in which it was found that patients suffering from depression or chronic stress suffer a condition called synaptic atrophy in the prefrontal cortex, in simpler words: a reduction in the number of neural connections. In fact, it has been proven that this is a significant loss that actively contributes to the development of cognitive, emotional and memory disorders. Knowing this, the study focused on psilocybin’s ability to increase the density of dendritic spines, small bumps found on nerve cells that facilitate the transfer of information between neurons.
What did the study consist of? The researchers used two-photon microscopy and observed the famous dendritic spines in live mice for several days. They found an increase in the number of dendritic spines and their size within 24 hours of psilocybin administration. According to statements by lead study author Alex Kwan, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Yale: “Not only did we see a 10% increase in the number of neural connections, but on average they were 10% larger, so the connections were stronger as well.” Among the most relevant findings, the researchers point out that these changes were still present a month later.
It is worth mentioning that there is still a lot of research work to be done, especially it is important to focus these discoveries on humans. Therefore caution and caution is advised. However, these kinds of discoveries come as a breath of fresh air, to give a twist to conventional drug treatments that are often associated with serious long-term side effects. Finally, there is nothing more powerful than nature and this type of methodologies prove it.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.