Psychedelics have been gaining popularity and this has encouraged scientists to research how they work, and especially how the brain functions especially when on a psychedelic trip.
One of the recent studies focused on determining how psychedelics affect the brain and the mechanisms that are involved when a psychedelic trip is taking place. The study whose findings were published in September 2020 revealed that LSD affects the brain at the molecular level. The researchers found that it binds to a protein that has a specific type of amino acid. The protein then interacts with serotonin receptors and the psychedelic trip commences.
Understanding the mechanism involved when one consumes LSD
The scientists used cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography to form a 3D image of the protein compound and the binding process. The approach allowed them to observe the psychedelic event at the micro-level, which means they observed how the molecules behaved during the binding process. The study was special because it was the first time that researchers observed how the LSD-protein binding process, allowing them to understand what takes place in the brain during a trip.
Bryan Roth, a psychiatrist and pharmacologist from the University of North Carolina was the lead researcher in the stud. He expressed excitement about the research findings and believes that the research findings will pave way for therapies that are more effective against psychiatric illnesses. Psychedelics have been categorized as illegal for decades and this means their potential remained locked. However, the recent advances in medical science are encouraging research into psychedelics to uncover their hidden potential.
Some psychedelics such as psilocybin provide intense trips that may last for hours. Previous research also demonstrated psilocybin’s ability to combat depression but the intense trips make it less viable for treatment. Scientists have been experimenting with different psychedelics to determine which one is ideal for medicinal use. The goal is to find a psychedelic whose trips are mild.
The scientific research on LSD and other psychedelics also allows researchers to understand whether there are any dangerous effects on the brain. This type of research is important because it provides useful data for regulatory review especially when lawmakers determine whether to declassify a drug from the list of illegal substances.