For neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, there are no lasting treatment options. In recent years, research into psychedelic drugs indicates that they might have a therapeutic role to play. Studies have been done on psilocybin as well as lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. From micro-dosing, people have also learned that there are cognitive benefits to using psychedelic drugs.
Since psychedelics can stimulate neurogenesis, they can help people suffering from various neurological as well as psychiatric disorders. Psychedelics can also provoke changes that are neuroplastic, and can also help in reducing neuroinflammation. This makes using psychedelics useful for people living with neurodegenerative diseases.
Psychedelics And Helping Treat Neurodegenerative Disorders
Across the world, over fifty million people have dementia. Of these, more than half suffer from Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that has no cure.
In recent years, more and more researchers are getting interested in psychedelics. They want to know how psychedelics can affect people with neurological or psychiatric disorders. It was seen, that the 5HT2A-R was in higher concentrations than normal, in those parts of the brain, that are more likely to be affected by dementia.
These regions include the hippocampus, as well as the prefrontal cortex. With the help of psychedelics, brain plasticity can be induced. It also helps in modifying connections between parts of the brain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that micro-dosing with psychedelics can have cognitive benefits. Micro-dosing is a dose where there’s no perceptual change, and functioning isn’t impaired.
What Are The Cognitive Effects Of Using Psychedelics?
When people micro-dose on psychedelics, such as psilocybin, they experience an increase in their cognitive fluency. In a study that the Dutch Psychedelic Society conducted, thirty-three participants were asked to micro-dose on psilocybin. Then, any changes in their cognitive functioning were noted down. Participants reported feeling more cognitively flexible.
What Are The Longer-Term Effects Of Using Psychedelics?
Experiments were done on rats where their 5HT2A-R was activated, and they were provided with mid-doses of psilocybin. It was seen that their prospective learning as well as their retrospective learning was enhanced. If consecutive daily doses were provided, then the effects of the psychedelics started to go down.
An observational study was done on around eighty-nine recreational psychedelics users. They were asked about their experience after using psychedelics. They revealed that they witnessed improvements in several areas, such as creativity as well as attention.
Improvements continued to be seen for the next six weeks. So far, no real research has been done on micro-dosing people who are cognitively impaired. Studies done on taking high doses of psilocybin and LSD showed that users experienced benefits over the long term, on their moods. In ten patients who suffer from diseases that are life-threatening, LSD was used alongside assisted psychotherapy, on the patients. This led to a reduction in anxiety.
Even after therapy, the patients reported feeling less anxious for at least a year. Two-thirds of those who participated in this study also reported that using psychedelics helped in improving their quality of life.
People with depression that is treatment-resistant were also provided with psilocybin. Around 10mg and then 25mg of the psychedelic drug was given one week apart. This led to a remission of the depression. This remission continued for up to at least six months following the treatment.
Instances like this have led to researchers looking into high doses of psilocybin, and how it can treat depression. It can also be used in treating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, in the early stages.
Should You Take Psychedelics If You Suffer From A Neurodegenerative Disorder?
There is a greater need than ever before, to develop treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. Psychedelic compounds have the ability to influence as well as enhance neuronal connectivity that is functional. It can stimulate neurogenesis, as well as restore plasticity of the brain.
Inflammation can be reduced, and cognitive performance can be enhanced. Further research needs to be done on how psychedelic drugs affect people with neurodegenerative diseases. However, studies done on recreational users as well as other control groups, have showcased that cognition improves post-psychedelic use. This effect, in some people, could persist for a long period of time.
A number of people have reported feeling more creative, as well as cognitively flexible, following the use of psychedelic substances. People with neurodegenerative diseases can benefit from using psychedelic substances as well. Psychedelics can help in reducing anxiety and depression and can also have long-term mental health benefits for a number of people.