Magic mushrooms may ‘reset’ the brains of depressed patients

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Patients taking psilocybin to treat depression show reduced symptoms weeks after treatment following a ‘reset’ of their brain activity.

 

 

The findings come from a study in which researchers from Imperial College London used psilocybin – the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms – to treat a small number of patients with depression in whom conventional treatment had failed.

In a paper, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers describe patient-reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment, and believe the psychedelic compound may effectively reset the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression.

 

Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms’ by Carhart-Harris, R, et al. is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Main article image: Carhart-Harris, R, et al. Scientific Reports.
Image one: Magic mushrooms (Shutterstock)
Image two: Robin Carhart-Harris (Imperial College London / Thomas Angus)

Source: Magic mushrooms may ‘reset’ the brains of depressed patients

Decoding the Tripping Brain

© SEAN MCCABE

Lying in a room at Imperial College London, surrounded by low lighting and music, Kirk experienced a vivid recollection of visiting his sick mother before she passed away. “I used to go and see my mum in the hospital quite a lot,” recalls Kirk, a middle-aged computer technician who lives in London (he requested we use only his first name). “And a lot of the time she’d be asleep . . . [but] she’d always sense I was there, and after about five minutes she’d wake up, and we’d interact. I kind of went through that again—but it was a kind of letting go.”

Kirk choked up slightly while retelling his experience. “It’s still a little bit emotional,” he says. “The thing I realized [was that] I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to hold on to the grief, because that was the only connection I had with my mum.”

While this may sound like an ordinary therapy session, it was not what you would typically expect. Kirk was experiencing the effects of a 25-mg dose of psilocybin—the active ingredient in psychedelic “magic” mushrooms—which he had ingested as part of a 2015 clinical trial investigating the drug’s therapeutic potential.

Source: Decoding the Tripping Brain

Risky research could herald mindful revolution

 

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Pioneering research into psychedelic drugs could herald a revolution in our understanding of human consciousness and how we treat mental illness.

 

 

 

FlemmingWith its roots in the great age of Victorian invention, Imperial College London looks back on a rich heritage of breakthroughs in science, engineering and medicine – from the discovery of penicillin and development of radar technology in the early 20th century, through to ‘lab on a chip’ DNA sequencing in the 21st Century.

It’s perhaps not, at first glance, the sort of place you might expect to find controversial research involving members of the public taking ecstasy, magic mushrooms and LSD − as has been happening for a few years now at the College.

“I try very hard to not to romanticise psychedelics and present them as only wonderful things that could change to world for the better – even though I suspect that they have that capacity – because it would be wrong to think that these compounds have no limitations or any potential for harm. I have a responsibility to look at those aspects as well.

“These are powerful tools to engender change − done irresponsibly that change could be negative but handled in the right way it could be very positive.”

All images by Thomas Angus.

 

Source: Risky research could herald mindful revolution

Psychedelic expert: Shrooms will be approved for depression in 10 years


Ask a healthy person who’s tripped on psychedelics what it felt
like, and they’ll probably tell you they saw sounds or heard colors: The crash-bang of a dropped box took on an aggressive,dark shape. A bright green light seemed to emit a piercing, high-pitched screech.

In actuality, this “cross-wiring” — synaesthesia, as it’s known scientifically — may be one example of the drug “freeing” the brain from its typical connection patterns. And this fundamental change in how the brain sends and receives information also might be the reason the drugs are so promising
as a treatment for people with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or addiction.

“I’m absolutely sure that, within ten years, psilocybin will be an accepted treatment for depression,” David Nutt, the director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit in the division of brain sciences at Imperial College London told me last month.

To understand why he might believe this so strongly, it helps to take a look first at how a healthy brain works — and then at how a psychedelic trip appears to modify the way a depressed brain does.

Normally, information is exchanged in the brain across various circuits, or what Paul Expert, who coauthored one of the first studies to map the
activity in the human brain on psilocybin, described to me as “informational highways.” On some highways, there’s a steady stream of traffic. On others, however, there are rarely more than a few cars on the road. Psychedelics appear to  drive traffic to these underused highways, opening up dozens
of different routes and freeing up some space along the more heavily used ones.

Robin  Carhart-Harris, who leads the psychedelic research arm of the Center for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London,
captured these changes in one of the first neuroimaging studies of the brain on a psychedelic trip. He presented his findings last year in New York at a conference on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. With psilocybin, “there was a definite sense of lubrication, of freedom, of the cogs being loosened and firing in all sorts of unexpected directions,” Carhart-Harris said.

Here’s a visualization that Expert created to show the brain connections in a person on psilocybin (shrooms) — the chart on the right — compared to the connections in the brain of someone not on the drug (left):


shrooms brain networks
Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Source: Psychedelics expert: Shrooms will be approved for depression in 10 years – Business Insider

LSD enhances the emotional response to music

LSD enhances the emotional response to music

Rationale

There is renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide LSD). LSD was used extensively in the 1950s and 1960s as an adjunct in psychotherapy, reportedly enhancing emotionality. Music is an effective tool to evoke and study emotion and is considered an important element in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy; however, the hypothesis that psychedelics enhance the emotional response to music has yet to be investigated in a modern placebo-controlled study.

Objectives

The present study sought to test the hypothesis that music-evoked emotions are enhanced under LSD.

Methods

Ten healthy volunteers listened to five different tracks of instrumental music during each of two study days, a placebo day followed by an LSD day, separated by 5 – 7days. Subjective ratings were completed after each music track and included a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the nine-item Geneva Emotional Music Scale (GEMS-9). Results Results demonstrated that the emotional response to music is enhanced by LSD, especially the emotions wonder,transcendence,power and tenderness.

Conclusions

These findings reinforce the long-held assumption that psychedelics enhance music-evoked emotion, and provide tentative and indirect support for the notion that this effect can be harnessed in the context of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Further research is required to test this link directly.


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Document originally published at Researchgate LSD enhances the emotional response to music

Psychedelic drugs should be legally reclassified

Psychedelic drugs should be legally reclassified so that researchers can investigate their therapeutic potential

BMJ_2015_Rucker-thumbnailTrials of physiologically safe and non-addictive drugs such as LSD are almost impossible, writes James J H Rucker, calling on the authorities to downgrade their unnecessarily restrictive class A, schedule 1 classification

James J H Rucker specialist registrar in adult psychiatry and honorary clinical lecturer, MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College, London, SE5 8AF


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