S.Drugs To Treat Depression? It’s been a hot topic for many years; However, a medical establishment uncomfortable with psychedelics and subsequent government interference have hampered progress. But it looks like the grip is loosening. Treating Depression With Psilocybin: An Introduction …
These mushrooms contain psilocybin, a hallucinogenic chemical compound. Psilocybin has fueled many spiritual and relaxing journeys. But now it’s getting renewed attention as a potential treatment for emotional and mental disorders.
Coincidentally on a fascinating new article in Nature magazine. In his contribution “Will Psychedelics Be a ‘Revolution in Psychiatry”? “, Science journalist Asher Mullard interviews neuropsychopharmacologist Dr. David Nutt. Dr. Nutt is a professor at Imperial College London and chairman of Drug Science, a nonprofit that he founded to provide independent, evidence-based information about drugs. Nutt has been a controversial figure over the years, whose views sometimes ruffled professional and political feathers. Is that a bad thing?
Mr. Mullard opens his article by stating that study design considerations, regulatory hurdles, and economics continue to be barriers to psychedelic-assisted therapies. He goes on to say that it was in the 1970s, at the beginning of Dr. Nutt’s career, provided evidence that psychedelics could work wonders for mental health. However, the medical establishment has been overly concerned about the perceived dangers of mind altering agents. As a result, governments made the compounds illegal and research into possible therapeutic uses ceased.
According to Mullard, Nutt and others continue to advocate open-mindedness as evidence supports the view that psychedelics could give psychiatry a much-needed boost.
For example, the results of the Phase III study for MDMA (ecstasy) in the treatment of PTSD show that the drug has better results when used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Although the Phase II study by Dr. Nutts’ psilocybin treatment for depression missed its primary endpoint, progress has been made on several fronts and research continues. In fact, if you go to ClinicalTrials.gov and type psilocybin in “Other Terms” you will get details on 66 studies showing a variety of emotional / mental situations.
By the way, if you are interested in participating in a psilocybin clinical trail, visit the ClinicalTrials site, select a study that suits you, and get in touch with the contact person.
Okay, what you’re about to read is from Dr. Nutt in answer to Mullard’s questions. There was no way I could include content from the entire interview. I just want to bring you a high quality psilocybin introduction to depression. And you can do some digging if you want to learn more.
Psilocybin and depression
When Dr. Talking about his dosage of psilocybin patients in the 2000s, Nutt said his work with psychedelics was an attempt to understand the psychedelic state. Nutt observed that the brain’s cerebral cortex is full of 5-HT (serotonin) receptors, so understanding what they are doing is important. Why are they here? How will psilocybin affect them?
Through the work, Nutt and his team learned that parts of the brain associated with depression can actually be turned off. And it was at this point that they began to seriously consider the therapeutic uses of psilocybin.
Dr. Nutt continues to believe that psychedelics will revolutionize psychiatry. But listen to me, psychotherapy is going to be an important part of any psychedelic therapy, it has to be.
Psilocybin versus antidepressants
According to Dr. Nutt’s opinion psilocybin works faster, better with most measures and has a different and slightly better side effect profile than current antidepressants. And that’s because there are fundamental differences in how the drugs work.
For comparison purposes, Nutt used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants. He explained that SSRIs act on 5-HT1A receptors in the limbic system (below the cerebral cortex). The action allows the brain to recover from the effects of chronic stress. He described it as putting a cast on a broken leg to support the bone until it heals.
He went on to say that the psychedelics, which include psilocybin, work through 5-HT2A receptors in the cerebral cortex. The action breaks the repetitive negative thinking that is so troubling about depression. Nutt referred to this as resetting the brain’s thought process. He also mentioned that influencing the 5-HT2A receptor appears to be very strong in terms of neuroplasticity, a miraculous natural healing dynamic.
In summary, Dr. Nutt states that psilocybin’s mechanism of action is at the network level. The mechanism of action of the SSRIs takes place at the synapse level.
Let’s wrap it up
In case you didn’t know, there isn’t much to write home about on the drug development pipeline for mood and anxiety disorders. And so research into psychedelics, including psilocybin, needs to continue. There is far too much at stake.
But as much promising evidence as there has been regarding psychedelics over the years, questions remain. Dr. Nutt from the article …
“How do you maintain well-being after a psychedelic? Okay, people are getting better. But do you stay healthy? And how do you maximize staying healthy? Do you continue to give psychedelics or do you put people on an SSRI or in psychotherapy? “
Let’s find out.
Be sure to read the entire interview with Dr. Nutt in Nature: Will Psychedelics Be “A Revolution In Psychiatry”?
Brain picture: Chegg Prep
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