Researchers Studying Psilocybin as Treatment for Obesity

Based on growing evidence that psilocybin may treat many serious mental health conditions, researchers are now studying the effects of the active ingredients in magic mushrooms on obesity.

Previous research on psilocybin and other psychedelics has repeatedly shown that the drug may be an effective treatment for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. increase. moreover, Correlation studies A study published last year determined that people who reported having tried a classic hallucinogen at least once in their lifetime were significantly less likely to be overweight or obese.

In a recent study, scientists from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, conducted experiments in mice to investigate the potential of psilocybin to reduce food cravings. To conduct the study, researchers investigated the effects of psilocybin on body weight and food intake using mouse models of genetic obesity, diet-induced obesity and hyperphagia.

Initial results showed that single high doses or daily microdosing of psilocybin did not lead to decreased body weight or reduced food intake in obese mice treated with the drug. Although he did not find any, he was encouraged by his research and prompted further research.

“We were surprised that psilocybin did not have at least a subtle direct effect on food intake and/or body weight in genetic and diet-induced models of obesity and binge eating,” said study author Christopher Clemmensen, associate professor at the University. Stated. copenhagen, told PsyPost“Although we were unable to discover a major effect of psilocybin on energy metabolism and feeding-related behaviors in mice, there are nuances in the mechanism of action of psychedelics that cannot be adequately captured in rodent models.” Importantly, psilocybin was safe and did not adversely affect physiological parameters tested in mice.”

Obesity is common and costly in the US

Obesity is one of the most pressing health problems in the United States, affecting nearly 42% of adults from 2017 to 2020. according to the data From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The prevalence of obesity was 39.8% in adults aged 20 to 39 years, 44.3% in adults aged 40 to 59 years, and 41.5% in adults aged 60 years or older.

Obesity-related health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, are among the leading causes of preventable premature death. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity reached about $173 billion in 2019, adding about $1,861 to the health care costs of each obese person.

“Perhaps surprisingly, obesity is a treatment-resistant disease that shares neuropathological similarities with psychiatric disorders such as addiction,” said Clemmensen.

“Dysfunction of homeostasis and reward circuitry can lead to ‘relapsing’ in obese people, making it difficult to adhere to lifestyle and even pharmacological interventions.” Psychedelics, when combined with behavioral therapy, can be a powerful tool for “resetting” long-standing compulsions. , and may directly influence food intake through broad activation of serotonin (5-HT) receptors, highlighting potential benefits against obesity. “

The researchers noted that, despite their value for scientific research, mouse models are not perfect substitutes for human subjects, and further studies on the potential of psilocybin to affect food intake and body weight are needed. encouraged research.

“The main caveat is translation,” says Clemmensen. “In general, animal models are invaluable for neuroscience and metabolic studies, but may be inappropriate for testing the health benefits of hallucinogens.”

“I continue to be excited by this topic of psychedelics for the treatment of obesity and eating disorders, and that we should begin to consider what subgroups of patients might benefit from this drug class. I think,” he added.

The study, “Acute and long-term effects of psilocybin on energy balance and feeding behavior in mice,” published last month by peer-reviewed journals translational psychiatry.

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