Psychedelic Mushrooms : A Cure for PTSD

The Psilocybin in Magic Mushrooms Could be a Promising Treatment for PTSD

PTSD is one of the worst afflictions for members of our military. It is so damaging, an average of 22 veterans commits suicide every day due to PTSD.

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, can come from all sorts of traumatic situations. It’s extremely common in people returning from the battlefield, but also impacts anyone who has to make a major transition from a life in uniform back to civilian life. The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that up to 20 percent of Iraq War veterans suffer from PTSD.

Psychedelics as a Solution

Research suggests that psychedelics, particularly psilocybin (which is present in “magic” mushrooms), is a promising treatment for PTSD.

For many years, people thought that the drug was only “useful” for the “trip” – the ability it has to cause someone to see something completely different and go on a journey in their mind, leading to major introspection and a new view of the world around them. While this is certainly a major reason for the popularity of mushrooms as a recreational drug, this new research indicates that the mushroom’s qualities might restructure the brain in ways that could have a significant healing impact.

Brain Growth from Mushrooms

One study from the University of South Florida found that psilocybin actually stimulates the growth of brain cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus, researchers believe, is the center of emotion and memory in the brain. By rejuvenating and replacing those cells in mice, researchers were able to help them overcome fear far more quickly and easily than mice who had not received the drug. That means that psilocybin might be able to treat a number of mental conditions, including addiction, OCD, and PTSD, by restructuring the parts of the brain that are the centers of addiction, fear, and painful memories.

The mouse study referenced involved mice being taught to fear a certain sound. Researchers played the sound and then shocked the mice immediately after, causing them to eventually fear the sound even when there was no shock afterwards. This experiment essentially triggered PTSD in the mice. The normal mice were incapable of overcoming the fear and became paralyzed by the sound.

However, some of the mice were dosed with psilocybins – one a low dose and one a high dose, while a third group received a saline solution. The study found that the low dose group was the most effective in overcoming their fear. That indicates that the drug may have helped the mice regrow the cells in their hippocampus that store fear and anxiety.

The Potential of Mushrooms

If psilocybin is successful in treating PTSD, it might be successful in treating other neurological disorders. While research on psychedelics continues to be illegal in the United States without special permission, if scientists continue to find these encouraging results, it’s certainly possible that the drug could eventually be used for treating these disorders regularly.

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