Microdsoing LSD Proves Safe For For Alzheimer’s Disease So Far After Phase 1 Clinical Trial
- The Facts:There have been many therapeutic benefits of psychedelic substances discovered over the past decade for using them potentially as a medicinal tool.
- Reflect On:Considering
how promising a lot of this research is, should the laws be lifted in
order to make
it easier for scientists to study the potential of these psychedelic substances?
Over the course of the past decade or so, the study of psychedelic substances such as psilocybin (the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’), MDMA, and LSD for treatment of various mental disorders has gained a lot of traction. As the stigma lifts and the laws slowly shift it leaves the door open for further studies into the potential of some of these substances. Recently, new results have been published in one of the first placebo-controlled clinical trials examining the therapeutic benefits of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and whether or not it could be used as a treatment for those struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is no known cure.
The research is still in its infancy stage, but the Phase 1 trial discussed in this article is the first step towards testing whether psychedelic microdose methods are safe enough to garner a larger study down the road with direct treatment of Alzheimer’s using microdoses of LSD.
The trial involved 48 healthy older adults with an average age of 63. They were randomly and blindly assigned to one of four different dosage groups which included 5, 10, and 20μg of LSD or a placebo. Over the course of three weeks subjects received a total of 6 doses. The doses were given every four days.
The results suggest a safe and promising path towards future research as no adverse effects were reported in any of the four groups, during the three-week trial and the follow up examinations one month later. They measured blood pressure, heart rate and ECG – no abnormalities were detected.
“The study provides reassuring safety data and opens the door for larger scale clinical trials to evaluate the potential therapeutic effects of LSD,” says Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.
There have already been numerous studies on the positive effects of psilocybin for the treatment of depression, the FDA even recently granted it a Breakthrough Therapy status twice this past year. Psilocybin and LSD work similarly in the brain, which is why some scientists are testing the therapeutic benefits of LSD as well.
These substances work by stimulating the serotonin 5-HT2A receptors in the brain. These brain receptors are responsible for mediating cognitive function and disruption of these neural processes have been implicated in early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. They have also been linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
“Our research with serotonin 5-HT2A receptor agonists, such as LSD, suggest that they may represent a new strategy to treat diseases associated with chronic inflammation,” explains Charles Nichols, co-author of the new study. “LSD’s unique polypharmacology may serve to enhance its capacity to simultaneously modulate multiple key pathological processes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, including neuroinflammation, that are implicated in its progression from mild cognitive impairment.”
The question that is still unanswered in the field of psychedelic research is whether or not consistent microdoses of drugs such as LSD can actually improve mood and cognition. There are numerous anecdotal reports that support the broad evidence of psychedelic microdosing, but until now there hasn’t been any placebo-controlled clinical trials on the subject.
The new study reports findings from a trial which was conducted in the UK. The goals of this Phase 1 clinical trial were simply to determine the safety and tolerability of intermittent microdoses of LSD in healthy older adults. This trial was meant to be a precursor to a larger Phase 2 trial on the efficacy of treatment for Alzheimer’s using microdoses of LSD, so we will see what happens.
The results are certainly premature in discovering whether or not LSD can be a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, but at least there is some headway. The potential benefits of these psychedelic substances are largely unknown, but have provided some very promising results for multiple different ailments specifically involving the brain. The future is friendly for psychedelic substances as the stigma continues to be lifted and many scientists working in the field of treatment for mental health issues are starting to see how beneficial these drugs can be for medicinal use.
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