Magic mushrooms can 'reboot' brain to treat depression

The chemical structure of Psilocybin a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms

Researchers gathered 19 people with depression and gave them two doses of magic mushrooms in a highly controlled environment.

These benefits lasted up to five weeks after treatment, the researchers said.

The researchers monitored brain activity in the patients, and images taken before and after treatment showed changes that were associated with lasting reductions in symptoms.

Dr. Harris also stated that patients ' feelings were "cleaned and restarted" after treatment.

In the study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports, patients with treatment-resistant depression were given a 10mg and 25mg doses of psilocybin seven days apart.

After the treatment when the participants were interviewed, Dr Carhart-Harris said: "Without being prompted or asked, several of them described the feeling of having their brains "rebooted". However, this remains a small study and had no "control" group of healthy people with whom to compare the brain scans.

'For example, one said he felt like his brain had been "defragged" like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt "rebooted"'.

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Carhart-Harris further explained, "Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary "kick start" they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a "reset" analogy".

The structure of psilocybin is very similar to serotonin, which has very important effects for brain function and is known as "happiness hormone".

They measured changes in the blood flow to the brain, cerebral blood-flow (CBF) for the day before, and one-day post-treatment. The scientists were looking to study brain response before and after ingestion, and during the "after-glow" of tripping that is characterized by mood improvement and stress relief. As per BBC News, the amygdala is the section of the brain that is responsible for processing emotions like anxiety and fear, while the DMN is an interconnected group of brain structures that is the most active when humans are under stress or during introspection.

Psilocybin also induced increased stability in another brain network previously linked to depression.

The authors believe the findings provide a new window into what happens in the brains of people after they have "come down" from a psychedelic, with an initial disintegration of brain networks during the drug "trip" followed by a re-integration afterwards.

The researchers who conducted the study found the difference in the brain scans of the people, and the findings has raised hopes for a future treatment.

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