A recent study led by researchers from the University of Zurich and Yale University has shown that LSD changes the patterns of communication between various regions of the brain.1 This research may provide insights into how mental health conditions develop as well as how psychedelic medicines may provide treatment for these disorders.
LSD was originally developed as a blood stimulant
Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, is probably most well known as a recreational hallucinogenic drug. However, the drug was originally developed as a blood stimulant, and has a long history in psychological research. Recent interest in the potential therapeutic use of psychedelics in conditions such as depression and PTSD have rekindled an interest in the clinical use of LSD.
Researchers looked at brain scans to assess the effects of LSD on healthy brains of study participants
During this recent study, researchers looked at brain scans to assess the effects of LSD on healthy brains of study participants. Data suggests that LSD may reduce communication between regions of the brain responsible for planning as well as decision making. Simultaneously, LSD was seen to increase connectivity between neural networks associated with movement and movement.
Changes in the brain caused by LSD are linked to the serotonin-2A receptor
During the study, it was found that changes in the brain caused by LSD are linked to the serotonin-2A receptor. “When we blocked this receptor using ketanserin, LSD stopped having an effect,” explains Katrin Preller, lead author of the study, who is currently also a visiting professor at Yale University. These receptors are targets for current depression treatments, and support the continued research of LSD for these conditions.
Findings may impact treatment of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic patients
The changes in sensory perception and movement caused by LSD correlates well with the types of changes seen in psychotic conditions, such as schizophrenia. “The new findings may therefore also have an immediate impact on the treatment of psychotic symptoms as they occur in schizophrenia, for example,” says Franz Vollenweider, professor at the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich.
Schizophrenia is typically treated with antipsychotic medications that block some of the serotonin receptors assessed by this study. However, many patients don’t respond to these treatments. “By looking for similar patterns of brain activity identified in the study, clinicians may be able to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from these drugs,” explains Katrin Preller.
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- Preller KH, Burt JB, Ji JL, et al. Changes in global and thalamic brain connectivity in LSD-induced altered states of consciousness are attributable to the 5-HT2A receptor. eLife. Doi: 10.7554/eLife.35082
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.