Scientists have found that psychedelic drugs are able to change brain cells in rats and flies. Researchers gave DOI, DMT, and LSD to flies and rats for the experiment.
This new research may support the theory that psychedelics could be used to help people with depression, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Psychedelics Could Help Heal Brain Cells
Researchers from the University of California, Davis published a new study in the journal Cell Reports. They gave LSD, DMT, and DOI to flies and rats and found that the psychedelic drugs resulted in neurons forming more synapse connections in their brains. Researchers said that LSD was particularly effective in forming these connections in the brain. This could show psychedelic drugs may be used to treat people with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
Recent studies have shown that there is evidence that depression may form as changes to the circuits of the brain or in wasted parts of the brain. Neurons don't die as a result of depression but instead of neurites, the parts of a neuron that connects two neurons to help with communications, are retracting.
During the depression, neurites will shrivel up in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for regulating emotion, mood, and anxiety. Changes to the prefrontal cortex also appear during anxiety and PTSD.
Researchers have used ketamine to help patients with depression and addiction. The problem is that it is also addictive. Psychedelics have a lower potential for addiction but may be able to fight depression and other disorders the same way. Scientists used previous studies that focused on ketamine to compare the two substances.
Researchers gave DMT, psilocin, MDMA, and LSD to the flies and rats. They found that all of the drugs promoted neurite growth. One substance that didn't have any effects was psychedelic ibogaine which has been used as an addiction treatment.
These procedures haven't been tried on human subjects. Effects on the human brain are still hypothetical. The researchers on the study believe that the effect that it had on the animals by promoting neurite growth shows that the psychedelics are acting through an evolutionarily conserved mechanism.
Senior author of the study David E. Olson believes that the psychedelics drugs themselves are not going to be used to treat humans. Olson says that the strong hallucinations may deter people from buying them. He believes that a compound inspired by the drugs could end up treating people. Olson says that a better understanding of these drugs could lead scientists to target certain nodes in the brain.