Study Suggests DMT Boosts Structural Neural Plasticity

August 30, 2023 14:11:58

A recent study published in the “Neuropsychopharmacology” journal has found that 5-MeO-DMT or DMT (5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine) may boost structural neural elasticity. The article reported that, after giving mouse models 5-MeO-DMT, researchers found that the psychedelic caused an enduring increase in dendritic spine density in the brain’s medial frontal cortex.

Researchers posit that the neural changes could be a counter to the changes caused by depression, adding to the growing body of studies pointing to psychedelics as potential mental-health treatments.

DMT is a naturally occurring psychedelic found in certain species of seeds, toads and plants with a rich history of use in indigenous cultures for spiritual and shamanic practices. It is relatively short-acting and induces profound but short-lived psychedelic experiences characterized by altered sensory perception, ego dissolution and feelings of connectedness.

Lead study author Sarah. J. Jefferson and her team ran a series of experiments with mice by running them through specific situations and noting behavioral changes caused by psychedelics. They found that both higher and lower DMT doses caused brief head-twitch responses with higher doses causing more head-twitch responses. These responses remained at their peak for around four to five minutes compared to an average of 14 minutes in mice dosed with psilocybin.

Researchers also found that DMT stopped ultrasonic vocalization by 99% compared to psilocybin, which stopped the vocalization by only 30%, and ketamine, which showed 62% stopping of vocalization. The scientists discovered a 10–15% increase in dendritic spine density in mice that received a single DMT dose; the increase endured more than a month afterward.

The researchers concluded that DMT could modify innate behaviors by raising the number of head-twitch responses and limiting social ultrasonic vocalizations.  Additionally, they said that the psychedelic induced structural plasticity in the medial frontal cortex by increasing dendritic spine density.

Recent advances in psychedelic research have revealed that psychedelics such as DMT, psilocybin and LSD have the potential to treat several mental-health conditions at minimal doses and with barely any adverse side effects. Psychedelics have been especially effective against mental-health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and treatment-resistant depression when paired with psychotherapy.

However, these substances remain illegal in most countries, including the United States, and regular users have to access them through the illicit market.

Some psychedelics can also cause side effects such as nausea and intense psychological effects, including panic and confusion, when taken recreationally. Research has found that limiting psychedelic use to strict and controlled medical settings improves their therapeutic potential while reducing their risk of side effects.

DMT kicks in faster, but its effects last for a shorter time, typically less than 20 minutes compared to other psychedelics, which can induce hallucinogenic experiences that last for several hours.  This makes DMT more suitable for medical applications compared to psychedelics such as psilocybin, whose effects last for hours and require the need of a trained therapist to guide patients.

That said, entities such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) are studying different psychedelic compounds with a view to leveraging their various therapeutic potential in order to find effective treatments to the mental ailments plaguing the world today.

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