ODENSE, Denmark — Psychedelics are making a comeback. Although governments once banned and criminalized the use of these substances, the world is now taking a renewed interest in hallucinogens as potential treatments for various mental health conditions. To better understand how hallucinogens like psilocybin (magic) mushrooms can help, scientists say we first need to know how they work.
With psilocybin being a popular and legal area of study, researchers at the University of Southern Denmark broke down the mushroom’s molecular effects when psilocybin interacts with a brain cell. Psilocybin has been shown to treat severe depression and substance addiction. Ongoing work is looking to see if these mind-bending effects extend to other conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, and addiction.
“My interest was piqued when I heard a podcast about treating smoking addiction with psilocybin. And since psilocybin mushrooms grow everywhere in Denmark – I picked some in Svanninge Bakker – it wasn’t difficult to start our research,” says Himanshu Khandelia, an associate professor and head of research at Physical Life Sciences at the University of Southern Denmark, in a media release.
Psilocybin binds to serotonin receptors in the brain, but some of these connections are stronger than others. The current study found stronger bonds between the chemicals in magic mushrooms and the serotonin 2AR receptor. The binding between the two was stronger than serotonin and its own receptor.
“This knowledge can be used if you want to design a drug that acts like psilocybin,” explains Ali Asghar Hakami Zanjani, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southern Denmark.
While there are no plans to conduct clinical trials or design new psychedelic-based drugs, the authors encourage other scientists to use their work as a launching point to create a molecule that could one day treat a wide array of conditions.
Since the 1960s, multiple countries have passed strict bans on hallucinogenic substances such as psilocybin and LSD. Fast forward to the present and these same countries — including the U.S., United Kingdom, and Denmark — are actively testing the drugs on people who have had little success using traditional medicines for their conditions.
Hallucinogens and the hallucinations they cause let users temporarily disconnect from the outside world. This effect remains even if you transform the hallucinogenic into a medically prescribed tablet. For this reason, the authors warn there is a danger in taking magic mushrooms unsupervised.
“The characteristic is that patients may get a whole new perspective on their situation: for example, a terminally ill cancer patient may lose their fear of dying soon and instead experience acceptance of their life situation,” explains Zanjani. “Such sessions should take place in safe and guiding settings led by trained therapists. Today, no one would recommend just eating some mushrooms at home in their own living room.”
The study is published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Proteins and Proteomics.
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“Today, no one would recommend just eating some mushrooms at home in their own living room.”
” Although governments once banned and criminalized the use of these substances, ….” and still do in 99% of the world.
“This knowledge can be used if you want to design a drug that acts like psilocybin,”
BOOOM and there lies the issue!
It is not about curing depression or addiction or improving lives but about making money for those swine in the pharmaceutical companies.
Right on target.