Psychedelics and TBIs

The relationship between psychedelic drugs and modern medicine has been a bit more complex through the years than you may think. LSD was created by accident while a Swiss chemist was attempting to create a stimulant. MDMA was synthesized in the 20th century but it took decades before it would be ingested by a human and its psychedelic principles realized. Then there’s psilocybin, better known as magic mushrooms. Since it occurs in nature, there are examples throughout history of psilocybin and other plants naturally possessing psychedelic principles being used for various purposes. 

In the mid-20th century, research was underway to understand the principles of psilocybin and the effects it could have if used medically. However, psilocybin was banned and outlawed in 1970. That change in legality brought research and studies to a halt. Now, research is pushing forward to better understand the potential impact of using psilocybin and similar substances to treat the Invisible Wounds of War: TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries) & PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress). 

One substance currently being studied is ibogaine. Ibogaine is a substance extracted from the iboga shrub, which is native to West Africa. The shrub has been used in rituals and healing ceremonies in West African cultures for centuries, but only found its way to the United States in the 1860’s. It was classified as a Schedule I substance in 1970 alongside psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD. 

The study that’s currently underway explores the usefulness of ibogaine for treating TBIs. It’s believed that ibogaine can impact or even help reset the brain’s reward system. This refers to a circuit in the brain that creates positive feelings when a person engages with something they enjoy. That can range from a favorite food or experience to the feeling of being in love. The brain takes note of these experiences as a positive, and as something that’s important and worth re-experiencing. This creates that recurring feeling of satisfaction experienced when a favorite food, person, or thing is encountered. 

If the brain’s reward system is affected during a TBI though, it can throw things off. Things that used to make a person light up, suddenly have no effect. Imagine your favorite thing in the world and the feeling it gives you. Now imagine having no reaction to it anymore. This can be devastating for TBI survivors.

That’s where ibogaine may come into play. Though it may not be able to heal it, ibogaine may be able to act as a reset for the system. The study is being conducted by mental health and wellness company MINDCURE. And while it’s still in its infancy, it’s always exciting to witness these new explorations into the next era of addressing and treating TBI.

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Posted on April 26 2021 in Blog

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