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Selected Research Articles


Medicinal psychedelics for mental health and addiction: Advancing research of an emerging paradigm

The medical use of psychedelic substances (e.g. psilocybin, ayahuasca, lysergic acid diethylamide and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is attracting renewed interest, driven by a pressing need for research and development of novel therapies for psychiatric disorders, as well as promising results of contemporary studies. In this Viewpoint, we reflect upon the ‘Clinical Memorandum on Psychedelics’ recently released by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and note subsequent developments including the application for downscheduling of psilocybin and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine presently being considered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and approvals for access via the Special Access Scheme.

Psilocybin induces rapid and persistent growth of dendritic spines in frontal cortex in vivo

In this study, we used chronic two-photon microscopy to image longitudinally
the apical dendritic spines of layer 5 pyramidal neurons in the mouse medial frontal cortex. We found that a single dose of psilocybin led to ~10% increases in spine size and density, driven by an elevated spine formation rate. The structural remodeling occurred quickly within 24 hours and was persistent 1 month later.
Psilocybin also ameliorated stress-related behavioral deficit and elevated excitatory neurotransmission.
Overall, the results demonstrate that psilocybin-evoked synaptic rewiring in the cortex is fast and enduring,
potentially providing a structural trace for long-term integration of experiences and lasting beneficial actions. 

Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy for Addiction: Results from a Preliminary Observational Study in Canada

This paper reports results from a preliminary observational study of ayahuasca-assisted treatment for problematic substance use and stress delivered in a rural First Nations community in British Columbia, Canada... 

This form of ayahuasca-assisted therapy appears to be associated with statistically significant improvements in several factors related to problematic substance use among a rural aboriginal population. These findings suggest participants may have experienced positive psychological and behavioral changes in response to this therapeutic approach, and that more rigorous research of ayahuasca-assisted therapy for problematic substance use is warranted.

Psychedelics and Neuroplasticity: A Systematic Review Unraveling the Biological Underpinnings of Psychedelics

Clinical studies suggest the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, including ayahuasca, DMT, psilocybin, and LSD, in stress-related disorders. These substances induce cognitive, antidepressant, anxiolytic, and antiaddictive effects.. The proposed route is by inducing brain neuroplasticity.. Findings from the current review demonstrate that psychedelics induce molecular and cellular adaptations related to neuroplasticity and suggest those run parallel to the clinical effects of psychedelics, potentially underlying them. Future (pre)clinical research might focus on deciphering the specific cellular mechanism activated by different psychedelics and related to long-term clinical and biological effects to increase our understanding of the therapeutic potential of these compounds.

Rapid antidepressant effects of the psychedelic ayahuasca in treatment-resistant depression: a randomized placebo-controlled trial

Recent open-label trials show that psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, hold promise as fast-onset antidepressants in treatment-resistant depression.  To test the antidepressant effects of ayahuasca, we conducted a parallel-arm, double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in 29 patients with treatment-resistant depression. Patients received a single dose of either ayahuasca or placebo. We assessed changes in depression severity with the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Hamilton Depression Rating scale at baseline, and at 1 (D1), 2 (D2), and 7 (D7) days after dosing. We observed significant antidepressant effects of ayahuasca when compared with placebo at all-time points…

Psychedelic medicines for mood disorders current evidence and clinical considerations

Serotonergic psychedelics have been found to modulate brain networks underlying various psychiatric disorders, as well promoting neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Randomized placebo-controlled trials have found psilocybin with psychological support effective at treating depression, including treatment-resistant depression; with emergent research also signalling N,N-dimethyltryptamine/ayahuasca also as a potential option for the treatment of depression. Lysergic acid diethylamide has been found to have anxiolytic effects, whereas 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) has been used effectively to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with Phase III clinical trial evidence. Microdosing of psychedelics is a growing phenomenon that has shown benefits in some preclinical data; however, a recent self-directed controlled trial reported no evidence of improved mood.

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