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BMI Doesn’t Impact Intensity of Psychedelic Experiences

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New research has found that the intensity of a psilocybin trip doesn’t depend on an individual’s body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adults. Psilocybin is the primary psychoactive compound found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. When ingested, this compound acts as a receptor agonist of 5-HT2A to activate serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex in the brain. This decreases the energy required by the brain to alternate between different activity states.

A Center for Psychedelic Research research associate, Meg J. Spriggs, the author of the study, stated that the objective of the research was to find out if an adjustment based on body weight was necessary in the administration of psilocybin during therapy. For their study, the researchers at Imperial College London tested whether the outcome of an individual’s psychedelic experience was impacted by their BMI when a 25 mg dose was administered.

The group conducted an analysis of data from three separate studies involving 77 participants in total, with the average participant age being 43. One of the studies examined long-term brain and psychological changes in individuals who had never consumed a psychedelic while the remaining two studies focused  on the possible use of psilocybin in the treatment of depression.

The investigators measured the BMI of every participant to find out whether they were normal weight, underweight or overweight. Each participant was also required to complete an evaluation of the altered states of consciousness associated with the state they experienced after psilocybin was administered.

The researchers determined that body weight adjusted dosing was not needed, as a fixed dose for all individuals was adequate in inducing an acute experience. They also found that while emotional breakthroughs and otherworldly experiences were powerful predictors of improvements in a participant’s well-being, their body mass index was not. Overall, the results demonstrated that the intensity of the experience was uninfluenced by differences in the BMI of the participants.

In the report, Spriggs highlighted that body weight adjusted vs. fixed dosing had implications for clinical applications in studies where the body mass index was part of the diagnostic criteria, such as in anorexia.

The researchers’ findings were reported in the “Journal of Psychopharmacology.” Other researchers involved include Bruna Giribaldi, Laura S. Kärtner, Fernando E. Rosas, Taylor Lyons, David J. Nutt, Hannah M. Douglass, Tobias Buchborn, Leor Roseman, David Erritzoe, Christopher Timmermann and Robin L. Carhart-Harris.

It should be noted that psilocybin is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which makes it illegal in the United States.

Plenty of research on psychedelics is currently being undertaken by several startups, such as atai Life Sciences N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI). The findings are sure to expand the scientific data available on the medical potential of several of these substances.

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