The healing power of psychedelics

Science is one step closer to reverse the damage of chronic stress


Learning from animal studies

First, to understand and measure chronic stress, scientists introduced an animal model of social defeat stress. The protocol is simple, and it takes 3–4 weeks and a couple of mice to complete. You need at least two mice — one is repeatedly subjected to bouts of social defeat by a larger aggressive mouse. After a while, the first mouse tries to avoid the second one. And if the test is repeated, the stressed mouse will develop a depression-like phenotype marked by anhedonia, anxiety, and social-avoidance behaviors.

Structural shifts in animal’s brain

They observed that the plasma level of psilocybin was undetectable one day after injection, meaning the psilocybin doesn't have lingering toxicity. However, certain brain areas responsible for emotional processing were significantly different in the psilocybin receiving pigs than pigs receiving a saline injection.

These intriguing and encouraging results are just the beginning of our understanding of how psilocybin, the active ingredient of certain fungus (mushrooms), could facilitate new brain synapses in humans and reverse the physical changes in brain areas caused by chronic stress.

Anna Deveaux, M.Sc. is a learner, writer, biotech investor who is interested in research translation, drug development, genetics.

learner, writer, biotech investor, research translation, drug development, genetics

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