Researchers Test Microdosing Psilocybin on Rats to Create Treatment for Mental Disorders

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The use of psilocybin, repeated at a low dose, could offer a new form of treatment for individuals with differing forms of mental disorders.

Psilocybin is defined as an active compound that can be found in mushrooms when using psychedelics. Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark conducted a study that provided new data on microdosing a small amount of psilocybin and its potential as a promising therapeutic treatment.

Scientist examining magic mushrooms with a loupe and tweezers in a petri dish at laboratory - Image credit: 24K-Production | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: 24K-Production | stock.adobe.com

The press release noted that psilocybin has been included in previous studies that assessed its use in depression and addiction using higher doses of therapy. Importantly, within these studies, participants undergo preparation before taking the dose. Prior to ingesting the psilocybin in a supportive and comfortable environment, the individual is monitored by a trained therapist as they enter the psychedelic experience.

However, researchers Mikael Palner, PhD, associate professor, and Kat Kiilerich, a PhD student from the University of Southern Denmark, have taken a different approach by using microdosing in rats. The pair observed the effects on rats when consuming a small dose of psilocybin—an even smaller dose than was administered in previous studies that also used microdosing.

“Microdosing is a phenomenon popularized within performance culture, notably in areas like Silicon Valley, California, and has subsequently spread through stories and anecdotes on the internet as a form of self-medication for various challenges,” Palner said in a press release.

The results proved that the low dose of repeated psilocybin was well tolerated in the rats and resulted in an increase in acceptability to stress and a decrease in compulsive behavior.

The researchers also found an increase of connection throughout of the thalamus section of the brain, which can filter decisions and concerns. The press release noted that this connection supported the positive effects of well-being individuals have reported when taking a small dose of mushrooms.

“The increased anxiety and stress in society currently have placed a strong focus on microdosing, leading to a surge in the trade of mushrooms. Countries such as the Netherlands, Australia, the USA, and Canada have either legalized or are in the process of legalizing psilocybin for therapeutic treatment,” Palner said in the press release. “It is, therefore, crucial that we understand the effects and side effects of these substances, which are already widely used by people around the world.”

The press release noted that with the current success of the repeated small dose in rats, researchers will soon be able to assess the effects on society.

The findings suggest that the use of psilocybin, repeated at a low dose, could offer a new form of treatment for individuals with differing forms of mental disorders.

Reference:

Small doses of mushrooms can have a beneficial effect on mental disorders. EurekAlert!. News release. October 3, 2023. Accessed October 4, 2023. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1003528.

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