Researchers Look into Use of Psychedelics in Treating Autism

Various studies have found that psychedelics may provide the potential to treat a range of mental health conditions. Anecdotal evidence from individuals such as Aaron Orsini has also shown that drugs such as MDMA, psilocybin and LSD may be useful in managing autism.

Orsini, who has in the last eight years or so consumed the aforementioned substances to help manage his autism symptoms, recently wrote a book detailing his experiences with psychedelics. Despite this, researchers are hesitant about the use of psychedelics by individuals with autism.

Scientists know that psychedelic drugs primarily act on the serotonin system, which is already compromised in autism. This is based on studies carried out between the late ‘50s and ‘70s, which tested the use of LSD and psilocybin in autistic adolescents and children. However, they don’t know how the biological differences that underlie the condition may intersect with the effects of these drugs.

Currently, pharmaceutical firms and scientists are looking into this in an effort to learn more about the possible risks and benefits of using psychedelics, including psilocybin, LSD and MDMA, in autism treatment.

Mercer University associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Clinton Canal, stated that more studies were needed to learn more about this. The only study conducted since the ‘70s that monitored autistic individuals who used a psychedelic substance was carried out by clinical psychologist Alicia Danforth of the Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation.

For their study, Danforth and other researchers recruited autistic adults and administered MDMA to each of them. Each of the participants also underwent psychotherapy sessions, both while they were under the influence of the MDMA as well as when they were sober.

The researchers found that some participants recorded decreases in their social anxiety, noting that the drug didn’t work for everybody but produced profound effects when it did.

Danforth’s research was funded by MAPS, which conducted a study last year that showed positive results in the use of MDMA in treating PTSD.

The increase in studies on psychedelic treatments for neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression, chronic pain and PTSD is being led by different companies and organizations that are looking into the use of a range of psychedelic compounds in the treatment of such conditions.

Some firms, including MindMed, are also looking into the use of a molecule that has similar properties with MDMA in treating social anxiety in individuals with autism. Additionally, other companies are exploring the use of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of conditions, such as depression, that usually co-occur in autistic individuals.

With companies such as Delic Holdings Corp. (CSE: DELC) (OTCQB: DELCF) engaged in developing vaporization technology specifically for psychedelics as others work on the drug formulation aspects, this industry looks set for massive growth in the years to come.

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