Depression is a vampire. It takes its toll on a person’s health, relationships and even their finances, with no remorse whatsoever. Did you know how Big Pharma made billions from the mental health crisis? By prescribing costly antidepressants at a premium, which often do not suit the individual. Not to mention risky side effects such as tiredness, nausea, and loss of creativity. Who wants that?
But, here’s psychedelics to the rescue! The rise of psychedelics has opened up the possibility of more effective ways to treat mental conditions… Whether you take ‘em full on, or simply microdose, psychedelics help you process the pain — without masking the cause.
Take psilocybin, for example: the active compound in magic mushrooms and truffles. Most people know shrooms for their mind-expanding trips. Yet its rewards go a whole lot further! From bursts of creative inspiration, to full-blown mystical experiences. And for years, scientists have studied psilocybin as a potential cure for depression. But they could never pin down exactly what makes it so darn effective…
Up until now.
Lost and Found: Neural Connections
In a new study from Yale, scientists have found that a single dose of psilocybin can grow new neural connections in the brain. It’s a physical change on mice, not just emotional — hinting at a long-term cure for mental conditions such as depression. Even senior author Alex Kwan, Yale associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, was shocked by the results:
“It was a real surprise to see such enduring changes from just one dose of psilocybin. These new connections may be the structural changes the brain uses to store new experiences.
“We not only saw a 10% increase in the number of neuronal connections, but also they were on average about 10% larger, so the connections were stronger as well.”
The paper was published on July 5 in the journal Neuron.
Real Recovery from Depression
The researchers were curious about the effects of psilocybin in the prefrontal cortex. Here’s why. When you’re depressed or under a lot of stress, your brain loses a ton of neuronal connections in this area. This loss, called synaptic atrophy, is what antidepressants try to fix or “glue back together” — which doesn’t always last for long.
“It is well established that structural neuroplasticity in the [brain] is the key to the action of antidepressants.”
Most psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms and truffles, are serotonergic. They can alter your perception, thinking, and mood, and raise your consciousness to a whole ‘nother level. But what makes psilocybin-based therapy so special is its sustained effect on the brain — lasting for weeks, months, or even longer:
“Among serotonergic psychedelics, psilocybin is recently shown to relieve depression symptoms rapidly…with sustained benefits for several months.”
It’s not just depression, either. Shrooms and truffles can help treat other neuropsychiatric disorders, such as addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). And when combined with talk therapy, the results can last even longer. This is why the FDA granted “breakthrough therapy” status to psilocybin back in 2019. The potential for mental health is just too dang powerful to ignore!
A Cure That Lasts Longer
Today, more and more trials are being done for psilocybin — at least in treating major depressive disorder. Scientists had proven in the past that magic mushrooms (and ketamine) can reduce symptoms of depression. The new paper from Yale goes even further: that psilocybin can literally grow new dendritic spines, which look like “branches”. These spines link brain cells to one another. Stress and depression can zap these connections away… which makes creative thinking (or let’s face it, even basic tasks) a massive pain in the butt.
So how exactly did they prove that psilocybin can give long-lasting results?
Why, this is how!
First, Kwan and his team took photos of dendritic spines — in the brains of living mice! — using a laser-scanning microscope. The images were in HD, and captured over a number of days.
Next, they compared the photos before and after they gave the mice psilocybin. What they found after 24 hours was incredible: a dramatic increase in new dendritic spines. Not just more, but bigger, too! Here’s the kicker. The new “branches” were still there a month later. The mice became calmer and friendlier to each other. Their brains also showed a rise in thinking habits after being given psilocybin.
“Psilocybin-induced neural plasticity could prime the brain for [adding] new psychological experiences.”
Not Just For Mystics
Magic mushrooms and truffles are beloved for their trip-inducing properties. Indigenous shamans have prized psilocybin for thousands of years. Even to this day, shrooms (along with ayahuasca) are a staple of many religious ceremonies. Not quite ready to dive in? That’s okay! Maybe microdosing is for you.
Take a potent enough dose, however, and you may even get a profound mystical experience. Not just out-of-body switcheroos, either. We’re talking soul-shaking, life-altering visions of your past, present, and future… all at once. And with this latest discovery in mind, there’s even more reason to love these fantastic fungi. (A potential long-term cure for depression? Heck yeah!)
Psilocybin Saves Lives
Science has gone a looong way in treating serious mental conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. From soul-searching sessions in talk therapy, to prescription drugs that often have negative effects. “Of course you don’t feel sad anymore, or any other emotion for that matter. You’re numb!” Sure, antidepressants can relieve your mental pain if only for a short while. A Band-Aid solution for a soul drowning in darkness. Or a chemical “rubber duckie” of sorts, when what you really need is a boat…
So lets make that boat a shroom ship — of fresh magic mushrooms and truffles! Psilocybin is a natural lifesaver that does more than simply keep you afloat. It helps you move forward.