Studies show that the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms could wipe frightening memories caused by post-traumatic stress disorder and improve new brain cell growth
A study published in the journal of Experimental Brain Research shows that the active ingredients in magic mushrooms can overcome fear and stress and repair the brain damage caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Researchers at University of South Florida discovered that the active compound in magic mushrooms known as psilocybin can enhance the growth of brain cells and formation of short term memories linked to fear responses in PTSD patients.
In fact, researchers discovered that the mice treated with psilocybin (compound found in magic mushrooms) would develop short term memories associated with fear response faster than mice that were not treated with the hallucinogenic compound.
The researchers also discovered that mice treated with even low dose of psilocybin had higher growth of new brain cells and could develop fear conditioning and the "freeze response" much faster than the mice that were not treated with the substance. Freeze response, refers to lying completely still by seeming to be lifeless as the reptilian part of the brain suppresses heart rate and respiration which allows us to move forward after trauma without any stress effects.
According to Real Clear Science, the leader of the study, Dr. Briony Catlow said that “Memory, learning, and the ability to relearn (once threatening stimuli is no longer a danger) absolutely depends on the ability of the brain to alter its connections. We believe that neuroplasticity plays a critical role in psilocybin accelerating fear extinction." She also mentioned that "It is highly possible that in the future we will continue these studies since many interesting questions have come up from these experiments. The hope is that we can extend the findings to humans in clinical trials."
According to Live Science, Franz Vollenweider, director of the Heffter Research Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, who has conducted related studies on psilocybin, said that "The study in mice indicates that psilocybin (possibly also at moderate doses) may help to extinct fear memory in PTSD or other groups of anxiety patients... it might well be that psilocybin may shift emotion processing towards the positive in depressed patients."
Post-traumatic stress disorder is more common than you think and it’s not psychological
The underlying reasons behind PTSD are usually unpleasant events and experinces during past. One of the main reasons behind PTSD is childhood sexual abuse and statistics shows that about 40 million American women have been sexually molested and 50% of women in US military have been sexually abused. There are about 12 million car accidents in U.S. each year with about 35,000 fatalities. Currently, more than 1,600 U.S. soldiars commit suicide each month since returning home from Iraq and Afganistan wars.
PSTD can cause extreme stress on the brain and result in significant changes in various brain regions like hippocampus (a part of brain responsible for memory and learning) and medial prefrontal cortex (responsible for regulating emotional response to fear and stress).
Previous studies have shown that the right dosage of psilocybin is assumed to be safe and therefore magic mushrooms could be beneficial for millions of people with post traumatic disorder. This discovery could help millions of veterans since more US soldiers die in suicide than combat operations.