Anti-Inflammatory Compound Found in Psychedelics

Anti-Inflammatory Compound Found In Psychedelics

While it may not have occurred to the casual user, for a while now, scientists have been studying the potential anti-inflammatory qualities of psychedelic drugs. Now, their research has made it clear— psychedelics can help fight inflammation in the body. 

Powerful psychedelic compounds such as psilocybin (from magic mushrooms), DMT and LSD have gained support from science in recent years. There has been much published research showing exactly how psychedelics can work as anti-inflammatory agents.

Now, researchers from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center have discovered a compound called 2C-H. This was found to produce the best anti-inflammatory results in tests. It turns out, 2C-H is very similar on a molecular level to the psychedelic drug 2C-B.

There’s Always Space For Serotonin

Psychedelic drugs spark their desired effect on the brain by attaching to a serotonin receptor in the brain called 5HT-2A.

Serotonin, a.k.a. “The Happy Hormone”, reduces inflammation in the body’s immune cells. Therefore, the more serotonin is secreted, the better for patients with conditions such as asthma and arthritis.

Now, Think Of Psychedelics as a Substitute For Serotonin 

Like serotonin, psychedelic drugs also spark the 5HT-2A receptor. Thus, substances like psilocybin may help reduce inflammation as well. But here’s the strange part. 2C-H— though present in psychedelics —has absolutely no psychoactive effects in itself…

2C-H: A Psychedelic Compound Without the High

Researchers have confirmed the efficacy of 2-CH in a rat model of asthma. Note that 2-CH’s anti-inflammatory aspect works separately from the “trippy” effect. This opens the possibility of a “no-trip” experience for asthma patients who take psilocybin for relief at present. Photo courtesy: ACS Pharmacol.

The researchers tested 21 different compounds on rats with symptoms for asthma. 

(This was done to check for any link between “canonical signaling pathways” which handles the “trippy” part, and the desired anti-inflammatory effect.)

Since all of the psychedelic compounds activated the 5HT-2A receptor, many of them were able to prevent (and even reverse) inflammation in the lungs. And guess what? Anti-inflammatory effects from 2-CH do not correlate with “behavioral activity” or tripping out… at all.

“Psychedelic drugs can make [a] strong anti-inflammatory effect. However, anti-inflammatory effects do not appear to correlate with behavioral activity, suggesting different underlying mechanisms.”

– from ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science (2020)

Testing 2C-H for Inflammation in Allergic Asthma

The 21 agonists (or drugs that bind to and activate a receptor) were taken from the 3 primary chemotypes, based on their ability to prevent symptoms of asthma.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Wheezing when exhaling (common in asthmatic children)
  • Trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
Inhaled 2C-H can help prevent inflammation and mucus overproduction. Pictured above are the actual airways of “asthmatic” rats (treated with 2C-H). Photo courtesy: ACS Pharmacol.

Researchers found that 2-CH is the the “most active” part of a molecular structure for anti-inflammatory activity.

The spotlight on 2-CH could shorten the race for drug companies now scrambling to ride the wave of psychedelics in the mainstream. Now they know which chemical they could zero in on. 

What This Could Mean for Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in the Future

Nowadays, many people are cash-strapped due to the COVID19 pandemic. Aside from loss of income from being off-work, many also find themselves cut off from health insurance.

Maintenance medicine for chronic conditions like asthma don’t come cheap— with prescribed inhalers costing at least $496 each. Luckily, doctors are now gradually considering psychedelic-based options for their patients.

The recent discovery of 2-CH could mean a host of new designs for anti-inflammatory medicine in the near future. 

Watch this space!

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