“LSD and DMT have long been substances of choice in the psychonaut community, and with good reason. Both of these substances are known to profoundly alter a user’s mental state and and result in vivid hallucinations. Yet due to a decades-long moratorium on psychedelic research in the United States, researchers still don’t have a very good picture of how these mind-altering drugs are actually affecting the brain at a physical level.
In a new study published today in Cell Reports, researchers at the University of California, Davis, administered LSD, DMT, and other psychedelic drugs to flies and rats and found that many of these substances—particularly LSD—resulted in neurons forming more synapse connections in the animals’ brains. These results are particularly encouraging because they suggest that psychedelics, or substances like them, may be quite effective in treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We specifically designed these experiments to mimic previous studies of ketamine so that we might directly compare these two compounds,” the UC Davis researchers wrote. “To a first approximation, they appear to be remarkably similar.”
The research team administered DMT, psilocin (one of the psychoactive compounds in magic mushrooms), MDMA, and LSD to flies and rats, and found that they all promoted neurite growth. According to the researchers, however, LSD was especially effective compared to the other substances. Surprisingly, the psychedelic ibogaine, which is gaining currency as an addiction treatment, was the only psychedelic tested that had absolutely no effect.”