A psychedelic drug found in mushrooms could work as an antidepressant, new research shows.
Psilocybin, a compound that naturally occurs in some mushrooms, may be able to increase the long-lasting connections between neurons in the brain by 10 percent.
A research team from Yale University believes these connections can reduce the effects of depression on a person.
The study, which will be published in the journal Neuron on Monday, also found that the strength of neuron connections increases as well.
Psilocybin is a drug often found in certain mushrooms. It has hallucinogenic properties and a study by Yale researchers finds that it could reduce the effects of depression
‘We not only saw a 10 percent increase in the number of neuronal connections, but also they were on average about 10 percent larger, so the connections were stronger as well,’ Alex Kwan, senior author of the study and associate professor of psychiatry and of neuroscience at Yale.
Researchers tested the drug in mice.
They found that within 24 hours of receiving the drug, mice were showing increased number of dendritic spines, the part of neurons that transmit information to one another.
Mice who had the drug administered on them also showed behavioral improvements.
The effects were still present in the mice one month later, meaning just one dose of the drug can have a lasting impact.
‘It was a real surprise to see such enduring changes from just one dose of psilocybin,’ Kwan said.
‘These new connections may be the structural changes the brain uses to store new experiences.’
The psychedelic drug can increase the amount of connections between brain neurons, and strengthen them as well. These connections are often weakened in people with depression
Depression is believed to weaken the neural connections that the psychedelic drug either increases the amount of or strengthens.
Researcher are hopeful that eventually psilocybin will be able to be used as a treatment to reduce the side effects felt by someone with depression.
Mushrooms with psilocybin is often referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’ due to their hallucinogenic properties.
The mushrooms were sometimes used in spiritual events held by indigenous Americans hundreds of years ago.
Past studies have been conducted on the drug’s ability to combat mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and alcoholism, with the drug showing promise.
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