Health and Medicine

Breakthrough study discovers that psychedelics breach our neurons

New research shows psychedelics activate receptors inside brain cells that other compounds, like serotonin, cannot.

The clinical evidence for using psychedelics to treat major depressive disorder, PTSD, addiction, and other mental health conditions is building.

But despite the growing pile of data, we do not know just how psychedelics might be helping. (This isn’t unusual, by the way — we still don’t really know why most antidepressants work, just that they do.)

One theory behind conditions like depression is that they’re caused by the breakdown of connections between brain cells.

Researchers have found, in multiple studies, that psychedelics can increase connections between cortical neurons — specifically, they spark growth of the tendril-y antennae on neurons, called dendrites, that catch signals from other brain cells. In theory, this may mean new connections being formed and strengthened, helping the brain to rewire itself.

Now, surprising new research out of UC Davis may have finally explained why psychedelics spark dendrite growth when other drugs, which activate the same targets in your neurons, do not — and it may be the key to their therapeutic value.


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