Could Psychedelic Drugs Hold the Key to Erasing PTSD?

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psilocybinA new clinical application of some psychedelic drugs may provide a surprising new method for treating PTSD and related disorders.

Found naturally in some mushrooms, psilocybin is a compound that stimulates certain serotonin receptors inside the human brain. Used for years in religious ceremonies by non-western cultures and people, psilocybin is best known for its psychedelic and hallucinatory properties. But an unexpected recent study by the University of San Francisco found that low doses of psilocybin aided in erasing conditioned fear responses in mice.

In lower and moderate doses, psilocybin has been shown to elevate mood and alter thoughts, without the visual and audio hallucinations that come from higher amounts. Carefully monitored research on mice that have been conditioned to have a fear response to certain stimuli – including loud noises – shows that these thought and mood altering properties helped the rodents get over their fear much quicker.

Scientists are now investigating whether this drug, along with MDMA and some other psychedelic drugs, could be an effective and safe addition to the treatments currently in use for certain neurologic and psychiatric conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

The discovery came as somewhat of a surprise to researchers, who were initially studying the effects of psilocybin’s role in the formation of short term memories. But after realizing that the drugs were drastically shortening the amount of time it took the mice to get over their fear response to loud noises, the researchers switched gears.

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