Psilocybin is the primary active compound found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. This compound usually turns into psilocin upon consumption. Recent research has provided evidence showing that psilocybin-assisted therapy may be effective in treating addiction, which has led others to wonder whether the psychedelic could also help individuals to control food cravings.
A 2021 study also found that individuals who had ingested a classic psychedelic at least once in their lives had a considerably lower chance of being obese or overweight.
These findings prompted a group of investigators to begin conducting research on whether psilocybin could help treat eating disorders and obesity. Obesity, the researchers found, was a treatment-resistant illness that shared neuropathological similarities to a range of mental health conditions, including addiction.
The team, led by associate professor Christoffer Clemmensen of the University of Copenhagen, used mice models to find out whether psilocybin could reduce food intake or body weight. The researchers used mouse models of diet-induced obesity, genetic obesity and binge-eating disorder in their study. Mice models enable researchers to study various conditions in a highly controlled setting. These models have helped investigators understand complex biological and genetic processes that underlie a range of indications.
The researchers found no evidence that psilocybin microdosing or a single high dose of the drug could produce any metabolic or behavioral changes in the diet-induced and genetic models of overeating and obesity.
Clemmensen stated that dysfunctions in reward and homeostatic circuitry could cause a relapse in individuals suffering from obesity, which would make it hard for them to adhere to lifestyle and drug interventions. He further explained that given that psychedelics could improve neural circuits plasticity, they could help reset compulsive behaviors when combined with behavioral therapy. He added that classic psychedelics acted on an individual’s serotonergic system, which could directly affect intake of food by activating serotonin receptors, highlighting the potential benefit they held for individuals with obesity.
In the report, the researchers stated that their findings should not discourage additional research assessing the potential of psilocybin in people. They added that while mice models had allowed research to advance the understanding of conditions such as addiction, they weren’t ideal substitutes for humans, especially when testing the health benefits of psychedelic substances.
Other researchers involved in the study include Bue Klein, Gitte Moos Knudsen, Isabella Beck Larsen, Cecilie Vad Mathiesen, Alberte Wollesen Breum, Jens Lund and Nicole Fadahunsi. The study’s findings were reported in the “Translational Psychiatry” journal.
The therapeutic potential of psychedelics is yet to be fully documented, and this could explain why different entities such as Silo Pharma Inc. (OTC: SILO) could be focusing on a different use of a substance, including psilocybin, while other companies studying the same substance focus on another possible medicinal end use.
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