A new study has highlighted the potential therapeutic effects of microdosing psilocybin on mental health.
The study, published in Nature – Molecular Psychiatry, found an increased resilience to stress and a reduction in compulsive behaviours among the rodent subjects that were given regular low doses of psilocybin, the main active compound in magic mushrooms.
Unlocking the potential of psilocybin microdosing
Traditionally, high-dose psilocybin therapy has gained attention for its potential in psychiatric treatment.
The results were pretty remarkable. Rats exposed to these repeated low doses of psilocybin not only tolerated the psychedelic substance well but also exhibited increased resilience to stress and a reduction in compulsive behaviours.
What's even more intriguing is the observed surge in connections to the brain's thalamus, a region of the brain vital for decision-making and filtering concerns.
The promise of microdosing psilocybin
This new research adds more evidence of microdosing’s therapeutic potential, which has previously been suggested was simply down to the placebo effect.
Long recognised as a classic psychedelic substance, psilocybin has recently been explored for its potential in treating psychiatric disorders, particularly depression and addiction, through high-dose therapy.
However, this study suggests that even small doses of psilocybin can have a significant impact.
In a world where anxiety and stress levels are on the rise, microdosing is becoming more well popular by the day.
Several countries, including the Netherlands, Australia, the USA, and Canada, are either legalising or in the process of legalising psilocybin for therapeutic treatment.
Understanding the effects and side effects of these substances, which are already widely used by people around the world, is now more crucial than ever.
A researcher's psychedelic journey
The driving force behind this recent study is Associate Professor Mikael Palner and PhD student Kat Kiilerich from the Research Unit for Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark.
Mikael Palner's interest in researching psychedelic substances and psilocybin was ignited during his time in Silicon Valley, California, eleven years ago, where he witnessed the surge of self-improvement practices and the media attention they garnered, prompting more people to experiment with microdosing.
Palner's dedication over the past six years has led to the development of a well-validated method to investigate the effects of repeated low doses of psilocybin.
This not only advances our understanding of the brain but also offers new possibilities for addressing mental challenges, benefiting both the field of science and society at large.
Psilocybin in the UK
Psilocybin is currently listed under Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, alongside other substances including MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD.
This means it cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed and can only be used for the purposes of research with a Home Office licence.
However, the cost of obtaining and complying with a licence is prohibitive for many researchers.
A Labour MP, Charlotte Nichols, recently shared her personal experience with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and called on the UK government to loosen restrictions on psilocybin to enable further research into its medicinal uses.
A number of ‘magic’ mushroom species containing psilocybin grow wild in the UK, and you can reliably expect to find liberty caps, or libs (the UK’s most common psychedelic mushroom), from late August to November.
In conclusion, this eye-opening research showcases the potential of microdosing psilocybin as a promising avenue for mental health treatment.
With the increasing prevalence of stress and mental health issues, the exploration of alternative therapies like this is more critical than ever.
The doors to understanding and harnessing the power of psychedelics have been opened. Research over the coming years will hopefully lead to improved psychedelic-assisted mental health treatment.
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