NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Psychedelic drugs are making a comeback but this time it’s in laboratories. Researchers at Yale are harnessing their powers to try and treat conditions like depression and mental illness.
The active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms” is called psilocybin. Researchers use psilocybin in a synthesized form on mice (they don’t use actual mushrooms).
They’re trying to connect neurons in the brain to help treat depression.
“We find that with a single dose of psilocybin a mouse actually has more neuro nerve connections so this increase was quite immediate,” says Alex Kwan, PhD, Yale School of Medicine Researcher and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience.
Kwan says the effects were long-lasting.
“So it seems like the drug itself can actually alter the architecture…within the mouse brain at least.”
Kwan first was involved in the research of ketamine, which now has FDA approval to treat depression with a nasal spray.
And while the compound from psychedelic mushrooms may work on the mouse brain, he points out
They are not tiny humans. This is not approved for human use yet.
The discoveries could open even more doors.
“One of the fascinating things about psychedelic is that there are ways to modify it so you can have literally hundreds of thousands of analogs that are slightly different chemically that might also have distinctive behavioral effects in humans.
Kwan points out the large toll mental illness takes on society and says that some people do not respond to SSRI’s drugs like Prozac. This could be the answer. Possibly.
“The early hints are promising but I think more work needs to be done.”