“Magic mushrooms” may help treat depression, study finds

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In a new study from Yale, researchers found that the psychedelic drug psilocybin, a naturally occurring compound found in some mushrooms, may be as a potential treatment for depression.

They found that a single dose of psilocybin prompted an immediate and long-lasting increase in connections between neurons in the brain.

For some people, psilocybin, an active compound in “magic mushrooms,” can produce a profound mystical experience.

The psychedelic was a staple of religious ceremonies among indigenous populations of the New World and is also a popular recreational drug.

Previous laboratory experiments had shown promise that psilocybin, as well as the anesthetic ketamine, can decrease depression.

In the study, the team found that these compounds increase the density of dendritic spines, small protrusions found on nerve cells which aid in the transmission of information between neurons.

Chronic stress and depression are known to reduce the number of these neuronal connections.

The team imaged dendritic spines in high resolution and tracked them for multiple days in living mice.

They found increases in the number of dendritic spines and in their size within 24 hours of administration of psilocybin.

These changes were still present a month later. Also, mice subjected to stress showed behavioral improvements and increased neurotransmitter activity after being given the drug psilocybin.

The team says 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.

It may be the novel psychological effects of psilocybin itself that spurs the growth of neuronal connections.

If you care about depression, please read studies about this mood function is low or even absent in people with depression and findings of using depression drugs for a long time may cause addiction.

For more information about depression and your health, please see recent studies about depression, anxiety and PTSD may not be mental diseases at all and results showing a new treatment for depression, anxiety.

The study is published in the journal Neuron. One author of the study is  Alex Kwan.

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