14 October 2017

[SCIENCE] Magic Mushrooms Can RESET Brain to Depressed People

Depression (Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression) is common but is considered being a serious medical mood illness. Depression causes severe symptoms: a feeling of sadness, loss of energy, worthless, guilty, irritable, angry, trouble sleeping, and loss of interests in many activities. Indeed, Depression is a silent killer!

Just recently, a small study, a so-called Magic Mushrooms can REBOOT the brains of those people who are diagnosed with DEPRESSION (esp. untreatable depression).

According to a new study that uses a brain scanner to look at the lasting effects of psychedelics, a hallucinogen found in Magic Mushrooms might help depressed patients by helping them RESET their brains.

Scientists at Imperial College London, led by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research, gave 20 patients (who had depression that hadn’t been helped by other treatments) a single dose of the psychedelic ingredient psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

In that research, half of the patients had a mood improved — it ceased to be "depressed" and experienced changes in their brain activity that lasted about five weeks. 
"Patients were very ready to use this analogy. Without any priming, they would say, 'I've been reset, reborn, rebooted', and one patient said his brain had been defragged and cleaned up." ~ Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris said the depressed brain was being "clammed up" and the psychedelic experience "reset" it.
However, the team says people should not "self-medicate."

Additionally, the team performed fMRI brain scans before treatment with psilocybin and then the day after (when the patients were "sober" again). [BBC]

Professor David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit in the division of brain sciences, and senior author of the paper, Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms, said: “Larger studies are needed to see if this positive effect can be reproduced in more patients. But these initial findings are exciting and provide another treatment avenue to explore.” [TheGuardian]

What is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin is the prodrug of psilocin (4-OH-dimethyltryptamine), a non-selective serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) agonist and classic ‘psychedelic’ drug1. Both compounds occur naturally in the ‘psilocybe’ genus of mushrooms, and are structurally related to the endogenous neurotransmitter serotonin (5-OH-tryptamine, 5-HT). Psilocybin has an ancient and more recent history of medicinal-use. ~ Source: Nature.com
After the 1970s Controlled Substance Act criminalized all psychedelics, there was a long period of silence in US psychedelic research. That has changed in the last 20 years; since 2002, as many as 26 studies were approved, including landmark research on MDMA-assisted therapy for veterans suffering PTSD. ~ Source: TheVerge
A series of small studies suggesting psilocybin could have a role in depression by acting as a "lubricant for the mind" that allows people to escape a cycle of depressive symptoms.

In another study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed how psilocybin affected two key areas of the brain.
  • The amygdala - which is heavily involved in how we process emotions such as fear and anxiety - became less active. The greater the reduction, the greater the improvement in reported symptoms.
  • The default-mode network - a collaboration of different brain regions - became more stable after taking psilocybin.
The team at Imperial College London plan to do a study testing psilocybin against antidepressants next year.
Image: Pexels

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