People who have consumed psychedelic mushrooms often report mind-expanding and transcendent experiences. Now there’s scientific evidence that seems to back up and help explain what so many have already experienced firsthand.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida found that psilocybin, the primary active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, may promote new brain cell growth in ways that could be used to treat various mental conditions like depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In the study, scientists trained mice to become afraid of certain sounds.
They then administered psilocybin to one group of mice, and found that the mice that had received the drug were able to unlearn their fear faster and more thoroughly than the mice that were not given psilocybin.
As they continued investigating this phenomenon, researchers discovered that the reason these mice were able to so effectively unlearn their fears was because their brains had demonstrated significant cell growth.
Scientists involved with the project now believe it might be possible to use psilocybin to help humans deal with various mental health conditions.
“Researchers think that the psilocybin is binding to brain receptors that stimulate growth and healing, acting on the hippocampus, a small part of the brain that is essential to learning and forming memories,” an article published by reset.me explains.
“Since PTSD is thought to result from a similar response in which patients cannot separate a stimulus from a traumatic event, psilocybin could perhaps help them heal their brains just like it did for the mice.”
Dr. Briony Catlow, a leader in the study, went on to explain that “memory, learning, and the ability to relearn that a once threatening stimuli is no longer a danger absolutely depends on the ability of the brain to alter its connections.”
“We believe that neuroplasticity plays a critical role in psilocybin accelerating fear extinction.”
Recognizing the therapeutic potential of psilocybin raises questions about the U.S.’s current legal prohibition of psychedelic mushrooms.
In the same way that many marijuana activists, enthusiasts, and scientists are working to call attention to the health benefits of cannabis, scientists like those involved with this project are doing the same for mushrooms.
” facilitates extinction of the classically conditioned fear response, and this, and similar agents, should be explored as potential treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions,” researchers concluded.