According to a new study on “How Psilocybin Can Rewire Brain” by UC San Francisco and Imperial College London scientists, Psilocybin rewires the brain by changing and improving the connection and communication between different parts of the brain. This change stops people from thinking the same depressing thoughts.
In that study, scientists found that, after taking Psilocybin, the brains of people suffering from depression showed a reduction in connections between the areas that were connected with the depression. Scientists also noticed the increase in connections between new areas that allowed people to think flexibly and feel better.
In this article, we will discuss what Psilocybin is, how psilocybin therapy works, how Psilocybin rewires the brain neuron connectivity, best practices, the lasting effects of Psilocybin on the brain, and the Therapeutic Benefits & Its Risks of Psilocybin. So, let’s dive in.
What is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a chemical, C12H17N2O4P, found in specific mushroom types known as “magic mushrooms.” When people consume psilocybin by eating these magic mushrooms, they can experience euphoria, hallucinations, etc.
According to medicalnewstoday.com, Psilocybin affects the prefrontal cortex region of the brain. The Prefrontal cortex is responsible for our mood, cognition, and perception. Psilocybin activates the serotonin receptors in this region, which further affects our mood and how we see and perceive things. This effect usually starts about 30 min after the consumption of psilocybin and can last for up to 6 hours. The type and quantity of the mushroom affect how strong the effects are.
How does Psilocybin therapy work?
Psilocybin therapy works by combining both psychological support and the use of psilocybin, according to Compasspathways.com, a leading mental care company. In this therapy, you are advised to consume psilocybin under the guidance of a trained therapist. Psilocybin helps in experiencing a change of mood and thoughts, whereas the therapist makes sense of those experiences to generate ideas to change unhelpful emotional and behavioral patterns.
According to Compasspathways.com, psilocybin therapy or psychedelic-assisted therapy contains 3 types of sessions. The first type is preparation sessions, where the therapist and the patient get to know each other. The second type of therapy session involves patients consuming psilocybin and lying down while listening to a music playlist. It usually lasts for 6-8 hours.
The third session is where the therapist encourages the patient to discuss the experience from the 2nd session. While the patient is sharing the experience, the therapist works with him to generate ideas and insights from the experience to create positive changes.
How psilocybin can rewire our brain
Psilocybin rewire the brain in people suffering from depression by freeing them from repeating patterns of behavior, according to the psychedelic research done at ucsf weill institute on “How Psychedelics Change the Brain”. Psilocybin activates serotonin 2A receptors on brain cells and briefly disrupts the regular connections, further giving an opportunity to reform these brain cells’ connections.
According to another study published by David J. Nutt, Robin L. Carhart-Harris, and others on Nature.com, psilocybin activates serotonin 2A receptors of brain cells and reduces the energy needed by the brain to transition between different states. This reduction in the energy need makes the brain more flexible for forming new connections between different regions.
This flexibility of the brain, under the influence of psilocybin, increases the connection between areas that usually don’t connect and reduces the connection between areas that usually connect. This effect further promotes psilocybin as an alternative approach for therapy.
Clinical Trials on Psilocybin Therapy
In a clinical trial done by compasspathways.com, 3 groups were designed based on the quantity of the Psilocybin, i.e., 25-mg, 10-mg, and 1-mg group. There were 79 participants in the 25-mg group, 75 in the 10-mg group, and 79 in the 1-mg group. Each participant was given synthetic Psilocybin along with psychological support. At the end of the trial, it was found that a single dose of 25 mg reduced depression significantly over 3 weeks.
According to another clinical trial performed by David Nutt and team, Psilocybin produced the antidepressant effect faster and sustained for a longer duration in comparison with conventional antidepressants.
Psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin have shown significantly positive benefits by rapidly increasing serotonin levels and causing significant changes in brain activity within 30 minutes of administration.
This contrasts with traditional treatments like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which can take weeks to show any improvement, if they work at all. Psychedelic and consciousness research for mental health conditions is growing, offering hope for more effective and faster treatments in this field.
Does psilocybin connect neurons
Yes, psilocybin connects neurons. According to a study published by Ling-Xiao Shao of Yale University, a single dose of psilocybin showed a 10% increase in spine size and density. This effect occurred within 24 hours and remained for more than a month.
Do psychedelics promote neuroplasticity
Yes, psychedelics promote neuroplasticity. According to a review article on “Psychedelics and Neuroplasticity” published on frontiersin.org, clinical trials indicate that psychedelics promote neuroplasticity in vitro (in the lab) and in vivo (in living organisms).
Best practices for an effective guided psilocybin journeys
The best practices for an effective guided psilocybin journey include preparatory steps like eating the right food, meditation, the right dosage, and practices to do while in the psilocybin journey and after the journey. Each of the practices is discussed in detail below:
- Know the reason for doing psilocybin and what benefits you are looking for. Be clear about your intentions and aims of going on the psilocybin journey.
- Choose a safe place and setting for the journey. Prepare the lighting and surroundings in a way that feels safe and comfortable.
- Eat the right kind of food. However, avoid heavy meals or empty stomach conditions. Do not consume alcohol or other drugs.
- Meditate before you embark on the psilocybin journey.
- Choose the right dosage of psilocybin to consume. The dosage options could range from a microdose of 100-200 mg to a heroic dose of 5 gm psilocybin. Choose microdose if you are doing it for the first time.
2. During the Psilocybin Journey
- Trust the process and let go of any doubt. Relax and go with the flow.
- Stay active while in the psychedelic trip. You can choose to close your eyes and listen to a music playlist, watch a movie, or walk in nature.
- Have a therapist or guide by your side for safety purposes.
3. After the Journey
- Journal your experiences of the psilocybin trip. It will allow you to generate ideas and insights for creating positive changes.
- Discuss your experience with the therapist to get more clarity on the experiences you had.
- Apply the insights and ideas in your real life to create sustainable, positive changes.
4. Safety Tips
- Consult a trained therapist or healthcare expert if you have any medical conditions that may not be conducive to this journey. You can also choose to avoid having the journey as well.
- Stay calm, and don’t panic if you are having a bad trip. Focus on your breaths and relax.
Lasting Effects Of Psilocybin On Brain Networks
The Lasting Effects Of Psilocybin On Brain Networks and functions include an increase in positive emotions, reduced neural activity in the amygdala when exposed to negative emotion, and an increase in brain activity enhancing the ability to control emotional processes.
According to a study published by Frederick S. Barrett and the team on nature.com, there was a reduction in negative affect and amygdala response to emotional stimuli and an increase in the positive affect and dorsal lateral prefrontal and medial orbitofrontal cortex responses to conflicting emotion stimuli after 1 week of taking 25mg psilocybin. After 1 month, the positive effect remained, and there was an increase brain connectivity.
According to a study published by Drummond E-Wen McCulloch and the team, there was a decrease in the Executive Control Network resting state functional connection that increased the long-term mindfulness after 1 week of taking psilocybin.
Therapeutic Benefits of Psilocybin Microdose
The Therapeutic Benefits of Psilocybin Microdose include the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. These benefits can range from a positive and happy mood to increased awareness. There are many benefits that microdosers have reported in studies and research. Many of them are discussed below:
According to a scientific report on nature.com, microdosers reported decreased depression, anxiety, and stress.
Psilocybin microdose could increase the connections between new brain areas and reduce the connection between areas that usually connect. Psychedelic Therapy will free the patient from the old negative thinking patterns and increase the chances of creating positive behavioral changes.
According to David J. Nutt, depressed people are constantly thinking critical and sad thoughts, thus repeating the negative behavior pattern. Psychedelics like psilocybin disrupts those behavior patterns and encourages new neural connection, making it easy for people to break free from depression.
Psilocybin can increase neuronal growth and further promote neuroplasticity, as suggested by David J. Nutt. This neuroplasticity can promote establishing new positive behavior in a Therapeutic session.
Psilocybin helps treat treatment-resistant depression, as suggested by the clinical trials. It was found that the antidepressant response to psilocybin was quick and long-lasting compared to SSRIs.
According to a clinical trial study published by Francisco A. Moreno, several subjects experienced a decrease in core OCD symptoms after taking psilocybin.
According to Johns Hopkins researchers, in a double-blind study, the majority of the participants experienced relief in cancer-related depression and anxiety after consuming psilocybin.
According to a review article by Michael Winkelman on PubMed, psilocybin could be helpful in short-term interruptions of addiction.
Risks of Psilocybin Therapy
The risks of psilocybin therapy include headache, nausea, and dizziness. According to a clinical trial by compasspathways.com, 77% of participants experience the above effects.
According to a Healthline article, there is a risk of psychosis if a person is predisposed to Psychotic Disorders (such as: obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder) either personally or through a relative.
A person can experience intense flashbacks or hallucinogenic experiences post psilocybin treatment. This condition is known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).
Some of the temporary physical risks include higher blood pressure and headaches.
Can Psilocybin be used as antidepressant treatment?
Yes, psilocybin can be used as antidepressant treatment. Some studies in this article suggested that psilocybin can be used in treating depression and treatment-resistant depression.
How does psilocybin work in the brain for depression?
Psilocybin interacts with serotonin 2A receptors in the brain and reduces the connections between regions that usually connect and are associated with depression.
Researchers have found some interesting things about how positive psychedelic journeys can help keep the brain healthy and treat mental health disorders. They show that psilocybin treatment reduced connections between of the brain in areas of the brain that are closely linked to depression, like the default mode, salience, and executive networks.
Does psilocybin affect cognition?
Yes, psilocybin can affect cognition. Studies suggest that it affects the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for perception.
Does psilocybin reduce the amygdala?
Yes, psilocybin reduces the amygdala response to emotional stimuli. According to the study in this article, there is a reduction in the amygdala after 1 week, but it gets back to normal after 1 month.
Are shrooms good for you?
Yes, shrooms are good for you in the therapeutic sessions to create positive behavioral patterns and break the old negative patterns.
Psilocybin can rewire our brains by changing the way different regions connect. In the studies, it was found that psilocybin promotes neuroplasticity and can be used in therapy sessions to create positive and sustained results in cases of depression, OCD, addiction, etc. However, having a trained therapist by your side is better and helpful.
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