The science of psychedelic party drugs has been evolving in recent years. Governments worldwide have previously criticized drugs like LSD and MDMA. These kinds of drugs became extremely popular in America during the 1960’s countercultural movement. For years, scientists have been trying to determine whether microdoses of psychedelic drugs can help cure mental health disorders like anxiety, chronic depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and addiction.
On Tuesday, Cell Reports published a study on these drugs showing evidence that psychedelics may alleviate mental disorders.
The study tested humans, rats and other animals with microdoses of the amphetamine MDMA, the ergoline LSD and the tryptamine psilocin (a psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms). Neuron mappings were observed in the test subject’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for the development of certain mental illnesses. The subjects consumed micro doses because the researchers did not want them to start tripping (feeling high).
David Olson, an assistant professor at UC Davis and lead author of the study, issued the following statement:
“People have long assumed that psychedelics are capable of altering neuronal structure, but this is the first study that clearly and unambiguously supports that hypothesis. What is really exciting is that psychedelics seem to mirror the effects produced by ketamine.”
Ketamine is a chemical compound that is often used during depression treatment.
The overall result of this study is quite remarkable. Evidence shows that the micro-dosing techniques improved brain plasticity. Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to repair itself from damage caused by things like stress and trauma. Most of the tested drugs also showed an increase in synapse growth. These means that the brain became more active.
“Ketamine is no longer our only option” Olsen added to the study’s conclusion. “Our work demonstrates that there are a number of distinct chemical scaffolds capable of promoting plasticity like ketamine, providing additional opportunities for medicinal chemists to develop safer and more effective alternatives.”
Olson and his research team at UC Davis continue to conduct these kinds of brain studies. They’re currently focusing on ketamine and brain plasticity.
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