Most recently, a new study coming out of the University of South Florida has shown that psilocybin (the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms) can both reduce fear and stimulate the growth of new brain cells. The study, published in the journal Experimental Brain Research, examined the reaction of mice undergoing cued fear conditioning, and found that application of psilocybin reduced fear the mice had been trained to exhibit: “All mice developed contextual and cued fear conditioning; however, mice treated with psilocybin extinguished the cued fear conditioning more rapidly than saline treated mice.” “They stopped freezing; they lost their fear,” said Dr. Juan Sanchez-Ramos, co-author of the study.
Simultaneously, the study found psilocybin stimulated immense growth of brain cells, particularly in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory and learning: “These data suggest repeated intermittent administration of high doses of PSOP, a 5HT2A agonist upregulated neurogenesis of brain cells in the DG of the HPC.”
These findings suggest that psilocybin could be used to effectively treat PTSD, as well as potentially having beneficial effects on memory and cognitive abilities. Dr. Sanchez-Ramos suggests, in regards to treating PTSD, veterans could take psilocybin to disassociate loud noises or crowded spaces with the trauma of a bombing.
Along with these promising results, research is currently being conducted by the New York University to examine how psilocybin can be used to treat depression and anxiety. Previous research has indicated the psychedelic substance can be incredibly helpful for cancer patients – not just in treating their anxiety, but improving their overall well-being.
Although research for this particular substance is heavily restricted, as psilocybin is labelled a schedule 1 controlled substance (designated as having “no medicinal value”), science is challenging that label and offering more and more medicinal uses for it. As the studies continue to come out in favor of its use, widespread pursuit of re-scheduling, or de-scheduling this beneficial substance seems imminent.