University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) researchers have shown that the psychoactive chemical in magic mushrooms is called psilocybin. It still works as antidepressant-like actions conducted in mice when they are blocking the psychedelic experience.
New studies have been recently published in PNAS, proposing that psychedelic medicines work in many ways in the brain. It seems most likely it can deliver a fast-acting antidepressant therapeutic benefit without the requirement of a daylong guided therapy session(s).
A variety of the entheogen without the psychedelic effects could release restrictions on who could obtain the treatment and at reduced pricing, making the advantages of psilocybin more obtainable to those in need.
In all studies done so far, the person being treated with psilocybin stays under the care of a chaperon, which helps the person remain calm and encourages them throughout their all-day-long experience. This may include an altered view of time and space, hallucinations, and intense spiritual and emotional encounters.
Scientists in this field have long credited psilocybin’s helpfulness to the whole psychedelic experience.
They were led by UMSOM MD/Ph.D. student Natalie Hesselgrave, for their study, the scientists used a mouse archetypal of depression in which mice were anxious from different stressors for numerous hours a day for about 2-3 weeks. Although researchers have no way of measuring mouse moods, they measure their capability to work for incentives, like selecting to drink sugar water rather than plain water.
People experiencing depression lose the mood for rewarding events. Likewise, anxious mice no longer favoured sugar water over plain water. Though, 24 hours after a dosage of psilocybin, the frazzled mice recovered their fondness for the sugar water, proving that the psychedelic reestablished the mice’s response for pleasure.
Psilocybin employs its special effects in people by joining too and turning on receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin. The serotonin 2A receptor is recognized to be accountable for the psychedelic effects.
To understand if the psychedelic properties of psilocybin were required for the anti-depressive advantages, the scientists treated the anxious mice with psilocybin and the drug ketanserin, which combines with the serotonin 2A receptor and prevents it from being spun on.
The scientists found that the anxious mice recovered their fondness for the sugar water in reply to psilocybin, even without the psychedelic receptor’s stimulation.
“These findings show that activation of the receptor causing the psychedelic effect isn’t required for the antidepressant benefits, at least in mice,” says Dr. Thompson, “but the same experiment needs to be performed in depressed human subjects.” He claims his scientists plan to research which of the thirteen other serotonin receptors are accountable for the antidepressant effects.
“This new study has interesting implications and shows that more basic research is needed in animals to reveal the mechanisms for how these drugs work so that treatments for these devastating disorders can be developed,” says Albert E. Reece, MD, Ph.D., MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Not sanctioned yet, Dr. Thompson and the University of Maryland Baltimore have filed a patent using psilocybin with drugs that block serotonin 2A receptors to treat depression.