The benefits of psychedelic mushrooms are everywhere

“Let’s be adults about it. These are no longer ‘wine’. These are no longer party drugs for young people,” Stamets told CNN.

“The data are strong, from depression to PTSD to cluster headache, which is one of the most serious conditions I know of,” said neurologist Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at the University of Florida Atlantic Center’s Brain Health Center.

“I’m excited about the future of psychiatrists because they have a relatively good safety profile and these agents can now be studied in two rigorous clinical trials,” Isaacson said. “Then we can go from anecdotal reports to ‘I got sick of it and I feel good,’ to ‘Try it, you’ll get a lot better statistically.’

Your brain is in mushrooms

Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD enter the brain through receptors such as serotonin, the body’s “feeling good” hormone. Serotonin helps manage psychological states such as sleep, sexual desire and satisfaction, happiness and optimism.

Serotonin levels in people with depression or anxiety are more common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder, cluster headaches, anorexia, smoking, and drug abuse. Treatment usually involves serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs that increase the levels of serotonin available to brain cells. Experts say that if the medication is not effective at all, it may take several weeks to improve.

With the help of psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD, scientists can see changes in brain neuron connections in the lab “in 30 minutes,” said pharmacologist Brian Roth, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Matthew Johnson, a professor of psychoedical and cognitive medicine at Johns Hopkins, said, “One of the most interesting things we’ve learned about classical psychodellies is that they have a great influence on the synchronization of brain systems, or movement and carving together.” .

“When someone is in a psychologist, we see an overall increase in communication between areas of the brain that are not usually well connected,” Johnson said. “You also see the opposite – the local networks in the brain, which usually interact a little with each other, are suddenly less connected.”

It creates a “very, very disorganized brain” that eventually breaks the normal boundaries between the auditory, visual, executive, and self-perceptual units of the mind, creating a state of “altered consciousness,” says director David Nutt. Employee of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London.

According to Nutt, this disorder is ultimately therapeutic: “People who are depressed are always self-critical and they keep thinking and coming back with the same negative, anxious or dangerous thoughts.

“Psychiatrists break it down so people can see a way out of depression suddenly during the trip,” he added. “Critical thinking is easy to manage, but thinking is flexible. Therefore, this drug is an effective tool in the treatment of depression.”

Growth of brain cells

There is more. Researchers say that psychiatric drugs help neurons in the brain to grow new dendrites that look like tree branches to strengthen the connections between cells.

“These drugs can increase the growth of neurons, they branch these neurons, they can increase synapses. It’s called neuroplasticity,” Nutt said.

This is in contrast to neurogenesis, which is the development of new brain cells, usually stem cells in the body. The growth of dendrites helps to create and then strengthen new patterns in the brain, which allows us to create more positive ways to exercise, for example, with gratitude.

“Now we think that this neuronal growth may not contribute to increased communication in the brain, but it will help people who are depressed while taking psilocybin to maintain those perceptions,” Nutt said.

“You shake your brain, you see things better, and then you create positive patterns with neuroplasty,” he added. “That’s a double whammy.

Interestingly, SSRIs further enhance neuroplasticity, a fact that has long been known to science. However, in a 2022 double-blind randomized phase 2 controlled trial, comparing psilocybin to escitalopram, which is a traditional SSRI, Natt found that the latter did not produce the same spell.

“SSRI didn’t increase brain connectivity and it didn’t really improve well-being like psilocybin,” Nutt said. “Now for the first time you have brain science consistent with what patients say after a trip:“ I’m more connected to myself. are they.’ “

Accepting psychiatry is not for everyone, Johnson stressed, “but when it works really well,“ Oh my God, it cures PTSD or depression. If people really changed the automatic equipment of the brain to respond to triggers for anxiety, depression, smoking – that’s the real thing. “

How long will the results last? In a study that gave patients a single dose of psychedelics, “two people were better after eight years, but for most people with chronic depression, it recovers after four or five months,” Nutt said.

“It’s not clear what we did with those people,” he added. “One of the possibilities is to give another dose of this psychedelic drug – we don’t know if it will help or not, but it can be. Or we can observe SSRIs immediately when their mood improves. It can prevent depression.”

“There are different ways to address this issue,” Nutt said, “but we don’t know the answer yet.”

What about microdosing?

Stamets, who has discovered four new species of psychic fungi in the last 40 years and authored seven books on the subject, believes microdosing is a solution. It is the practice of taking small amounts of psilocybin mushrooms several times a week to maintain brain health and a creative outlook on life.

Normal microdoses range from 0.01 grams to 03 grams compared to 25 milligram tablets of dried psilocybin mushrooms.

Stamets practiced microdosing and drew attention to a process called “stacking” in which microdoses of mushrooms are taken with additives that are believed to increase the benefits of the fungus. Its famous “Stamets Stack” contains niacin or vitamin B3 and an unusual mushroom-like structure called mycelium, or lion’s flame.

Microdoser surveys on its website have shown significant positive benefits from low-dose practices.

“These are self-reported projects by citizen scientists and now we have about 14,000 people in our app, so you can register and report your microdose,” Stamets told an audience at the 2022 Life Itself conference in partnership with CNN. .

“I want to say something provocative, but I believe it deeply: Psilocybin makes people better,” Stamets told the audience. “Psilocybin makes us smart and good citizens.”

Scientific research has so far failed to find any benefit from microdosing, which has left many skeptical researchers. “People love it, but that doesn’t confirm the microdosing claims,” Johnson said. “People also like to drink a little cocaine.”

Harriet de Witt, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Chicago and an experimental psychologist, was thrilled to study microscopy because it solves a major problem in scientific research in this field – it’s hard to blind people to what they’re getting. begins to travel. Microdosage solves this problem because people are not affected by small doses.

De Witt specializes in determining whether the drug’s effects are drug-related or what scientists call the “placebo effect.”

He published a study in early 2022 that mimicked the real microdose of LSD, but neither the participants nor the researchers were aware of what was in the pills taken by the subjects.

“We measured different behavioral and psychological responses, and the only thing we saw was that LSD at very low doses initially produced some stimulant effects and then went off,” de Witt said.

The placebo effect is strong, he added, which may explain why even a few additional studies on it have failed to produce positive results.

“I think microdosage can affect mood, and over time it can increase resilience or improve well-being,” Nutt said. “But I don’t think it separates depression as quickly as macro-dosing and traveling.”

Care must be taken

Of course, not all hallucinogenic events are positive, so almost every psychiatric study includes therapists trained to mediate if travel is bad and to maximize results if travel is good.

“It’s about giving people a deeper understanding of their mental processes, I hope, a deeper understanding. Others may not agree, but it’s clear that therapy is needed to maximize the benefits,” Johnson said.

There are also negative effects of psychedelics, in addition to the bad journey. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, DST, an active ingredient in LSD, mescaline and ayahuasca tea, raises blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Ayahuasca tea can also cause vomiting. LSD causes tremors, insomnia, and weakness, and the use of mescaline can lead to uncoordinated movements. People who hunt psychedelic fungi are easily mistaken for the poisonous species psilocybin, which “leads to deliberate, fatal poisoning.”

Another problem is that not everyone is a candidate for psychodic treatment. This does not work in people who use SSRIs – the receptors in their brains are already full of serotonin. According to Frederick Barrett, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychiatric and Cognitive Research, people diagnosed with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or have a family history of psychosis are routinely screened outside of clinical trials.

“If you have a weakness for psychosis, then exposing you to a mental illness can reveal that psychosis or lead to a psychotic event,” Barnes said.

Then there are thousands of people with mental health problems who never agree to go on a mental journey. Scientists like Roth are trying to find an alternative method for those people. Recently, he and his team have identified the mechanisms by which psychodelins interact with serotonin receptors in the brain and use knowledge to identify new compounds.

“We hope that using this information, we will eventually be able to create drugs that mimic the benefits of psychedelic drugs without mental experience,” Roth said.

“If we give medicine to people who are depressed or suffering from PTSD or anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, what if they wake up the next day and get better without any side effects? It would be variable.”

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