Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy combines the principles of talk therapy with the effects of psychedelics. Many people seeking help for depression, PTSD, anxiety, or other mental health conditions have likely tried one of these methods.
Some notable studies include exploring the use of psilocybin, one of the psychoactive components in magic mushrooms, to treat anxiety experienced by patients with metastatic cancer. Other research has focused on the use of psychedelic therapy to help patients receiving hospice care cope with depression and feelings of hopelessness.
Such studies suggest that people, especially those with terminal illnesses such as cancer, experience deep psychological changes with a six-hour session with psilocybin when combined with psychotherapy. This dual approach will greatly improve your mood and help you accept your situation.
And now neuroscientists are understanding more about how and why these positive outcomes occur. Research shows that the formation of new neural connections facilitates the absorption of new skills, memories, and attitudes. PsyPost Report. This process, known as arborization, resembles the branching of a tree, hence its name. This happens when neurons create new pathways. This neural growth is critical in promoting changes in cognition and emotional responses.
Scientists use a method known as two-photon microscopy to study this phenomenon in living cells. This technique makes it possible to monitor the development and contraction of spines on neurons. Readers, get ready for some science. These neuron spines form part of synapses, which are essential for facilitating communication between neurons.
Scientists widely believed that persistent and repeated mental effort was required to sustainably form vertebrae in the brain. but, New research from Yale University This suggests that it can occur rapidly and even after a single dose. Scientists observed that after just one dose of psilocybin, vertebrae formed rapidly in the frontal cortex of mice. Clearly, the mice did not receive treatment and integration. However, this study showed that mice given psilocybin had an approximately 10% increase in vertebrae formation. These changes were not temporary. They were observed on the first day after treatment and persisted for more than 1 month thereafter.
Psychoactive compounds change brain activity primarily by interacting with receptors on nerve cells. Among these, the serotonin receptor 5HT, which is commonly targeted by conventional antidepressants, has multiple subtypes. Therefore, there are multiple ways to use them to encourage positive change. Psychedelics such as DMT (the main ingredient in ayahuasca) activate a specific receptor subtype known as 5-HT2A. Researchers believe that this receptor also plays an important role in promoting a hyperplastic state in which the brain undergoes rapid changes.
The 5-HT2A receptors that DMT activates are present not only on the surface of neuron cells, but also inside the neurons themselves. The well-known internal 5-HT2A receptors are key to triggering rapid changes in neuronal structure. Serotonin can’t cross cell membranes, which is why antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft don’t cause hallucinations (many readers dislike mood-elevating drugs). In contrast, psychedelics can affect internal 5-HT2A receptors across cell boundaries and promote increased dendritic growth and spine formation.
As our readers know, in addition to being the active ingredient in ayahuasca, DMT is also a molecule naturally produced in the brains of mammals, including humans.
The fact that our brains produce DMT suggests that human neurons are capable of producing their own “psychedelic” molecules (albeit in trace amounts). The brain appears to utilize its own endogenous DMT as a mechanism for adaptation, including the formation of dendritic spines on neurons to embed important mental states. Ideally, when patients seek help for their mental health conditions, treatment would be used in conjunction with these molecular changes for the best possible results.
You may have heard that the brain only produces small amounts of DMT, but when a person dies, it explodes in large amounts. This explains some of what people claim to have seen during near-death experiences. The hypothesis that the brain releases large amounts of DMT upon death is popular in the psychedelic community. However, it remains a hypothesis without solid scientific support. Research in this area challenges not only all drug laws, but also the ethical and practical difficulties of studying the brain at the moment of death.
But the psychedelic community needs to remember that bad trips are real, and it’s not something you want to happen to you or someone you love in the last days of your life. As PsyPost points out, in Ann Patchett’s essay collection These Precious Days, she talks about her experience eating mushrooms with her friend who is battling pancreatic cancer. Her friend had a spiritual and transformative experience that deepened her bond with her loved ones. But Ms Patchett described her experience differently, saying she spent eight hours in a dark nightmarish scenario, in a cauldron of lava in the Earth’s core, constantly in the presence of snakes. He compared it to feeling like he was fighting.
There’s evidence that psychedelic therapy can have miraculous effects, explained by even more miraculous science, but even Yale researchers and psychonauts around the world have discovered that the Earth’s core The danger of fighting a snake in a lava cauldron cannot be completely guaranteed.