psilocybin

created 2 years ago

Dr. X is a dad. Appropriately – boringly – at 4:37 p.m. on a national holiday, he is lighting a charcoal grill, about to grab a pair of tongs with one hand and a beer with the other
Somewhat less conventionally, two hours ago, he was escorting a woman around his yard, helping her walk off a large dose of MDMA.
This would be psychedelic-assisted therapy, the not-new but increasingly popular practice of administering psychotropic substances to treat a wide range of physical, psychological and psycho-spiritual concerns.
She'd been skeptical going in, but after it was over, Dr. X says, "She was so angry that it was illegal."
"I'm seeing that consciousness correlates to disease," he says. "Every disease." Narcolepsy. Cataplexy. Crohn's. Diabetes – one patient's psychedelic therapy preceded a 30 percent reduction in fasting blood-sugar levels.
www.rollingstone.com
That study — led by psychiatrist Katrin Preller of the University Hospital Zurich and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — found that the brains of people who had ingested small doses of psilocybin were less likely to show signs of social pain after experiencing rejection.
That experiment identified two brain regions that “were silenced or disconnected from each other” after study volunteers took the drug, as science writer Maia Szalavitz reported for Time: the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. The former is associated with obsessive thinking, Szalavitz notes; the latter, on the other hand, is linked to one’s sense of self-identity.
Perhaps, then, something about the psychedelic compound decreases a tendency toward excessive self-reflection, something people with social anxiety often struggle with. Preller told the Post that she believes her research, and other projects like it, may pave the way for new treatments for people suffering from social anxiety, and experiments in social psychology seem to back this notion up.
nymag.com
Psilocybin is a chemical found in magic mushrooms that causes the user to experience a sensory overload of saturated colors and patterns. Recent research has found that this effect happens because the brain becomes “hyperconnected” and allows for increased communication between different regions. It is hoped that this ability can be manipulated in order to manufacture drugs to treat neurological conditions.
The chemical works by binding the same receptors in the brain as the neurotransmitter serotonin. This allows the drug to alter mood. While many people have a happy, meaningful experience, some can have a “bad trip” and experience extreme paranoia  Prior studies have found that that getting high on psilocybin doesn’t just create a colorful, psychedelic experience for a couple of hours; it can cause neurological changes that last over a year. These changes resulted in a personality that was more open to the creative arts and became happier, even 14 months after receiving the psilocybin.
Though previous research surmised that psilocybin decreased brain activity, the current study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see what was really going on. The study used 15 participants with prior positive experiences with hallucinogens to avoid a bad trip inside the enclosed machine. Some of the participants received psilocybin, while the other half received a saline placebo.
Surprisingly, the researchers saw that upon receiving psilocybin, the brain actually re-organized connections and linked previously unconnected regions of the brain. These connections were not random, but appeared very organized and stable. Once the drug wore off, the connections returned to normal.
Synesthesia is a subconscious pairing of two things, like colors and numbers. Someone experiencing this phenomenon might always view the number 2 as green or read 6 and think of the color purple. Because of these strange associations, individuals taking psilocybin likely have poor color perception, despite being inundated with the hallucinogenic colors.
The mechanism of how psilocybin is creating these changes is not yet known and will require further study. The researchers believe that in understanding the drug’s mechanism for temporarily re-wiring the brain and altering mood, it could potentially be manipulated into making a functional treatment for depression or other disorders. However, there is much more to be learned before it can be used in that manner.
iflscience.com

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