Older Psychedelics Users Reveal Fascinating Brain Function, Study Says

Scientific interest in psychedelics has increased greatly over the past few years as more and more trials determine that these substances possess the therapeutic potential to treat disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or anxiety.

Substances with the most promising results include LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine. Now, results from a recently conducted survey show that psychedelic drugs such as LSD, MDMA and psilocybin may help protect the brain from some features of aging.

The survey was carried out in the United States and involved 3,294 adults, all aged between 42 and 92 years of age. The results showed that individuals who admitted to using any psychedelic in the last year demonstrated more agreeable changes in their higher-order brain functions and fewer symptoms of depression.

In comparison to individuals who didn’t use psychedelics, those who used the substances scored higher on tests carried out over the phone that evaluated verbal fluency, inductive reasoning, processing speed, working memory, inhibitory control and attention switching. However, those who used psychedelics didn’t score higher on episodic memory, which retrieves and stores daily events. Episodic memory is often affected by dementia.

Despite this, the researchers — Kaeleigh Fearn from the University of South Florida and Utah State University’s Kallol Kumar Bhattacharyya — believe there’s a need to delve deeper. They note that while the number of clinical trials investigating the health benefits of these substances has grown, very few include older individuals.

In fact, psychedelics’ potential in restoring processes in the aging brain has hardly been explored. Fearn and Bhattacharyya argue that this is a huge oversight, particularly since old age has been linked to a decline in executive function.

The few studies that have included older patients have determined that psychedelic substances can enhance executive brain function and improve creativity, even when administered in small doses.

In their conclusion, the researchers recommend that state and federal governments decriminalize these substances to allow research to progress in a manner that ensured validity and reliability.

Other researchers agree that psychedelic-assisted treatments should be considered for use by older individuals but highlight the importance of conducting trials that test the effectiveness and safety of this approach. This is mainly because some psychedelics pose risks for individuals with personality disorders and can negatively affect the cardiovascular system.

It should be noted that these findings are observational and cannot be used to determine cause and effect. This is primarily because they rely on personal accounts of individuals who may have indulged on uncontrolled drug doses.

Additionally, this survey did not differentiate between the type of hallucinogens that were ingested. The researchers’ findings were reported in “Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine.”

As more entities such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) also conduct their own clinical studies geared at commercializing psychedelic drugs, more data could become available about the different ways in which these substances impact the human body and mind.

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