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Study finds psychedelic DMT may be a powerful nootropic

Researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid have found that DMT, the psychedelic compound found in an Amazonian tea called ayahuasca, promotes the formation of new neurons in the brain, a process called neurogenesis. This is just one of the potential benefits identified by the new study, suggesting “great therapeutic potential”, according to one of the researchers.

Dimethyltryptamine, more commonly called DMT, remains illegal in many countries, but has grown in popularity among spiritual and brain-enhancing communities for its alleged ability to boost cognition and promote mental well-being – at least based on some anecdotal claims.

Research on the compound is still small, relatively speaking, but it has expanded with the new study from Spain. The researchers spent four years studying the compound in vivo and in vitro, finding that the mice treated with the psychedelic experience “increased cognitive ability”.

The researchers explain in their study:

Our results demonstrate that DMT administration activates the main adult neurogenic niche, the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, promoting newly generated neurons in the granular zone. Moreover, these mice performed better, compared to control non-treated animals, in memory tests, which suggest a functional relevance for the DMT-induced new production of neurons in the hippocampus

The researchers note that it is difficult to form new neurons when some die of disease or as we age. DMT is called a promising future approach to solving this problem, which may not even include the profound – or sometimes terrifying – hallucinations reported by users.

According to the study, the researchers altered the receptor to which DMT binds, reducing the hallucinogenic effect as a result. This can make the compound more tolerable for future patients suffering from neurodegenerative and psychiatric illnesses.

The study states:

One of the main limitations that arise when designing a possible drug from the results obtained is to achieve the desired neurogenic effect without causing the patient hallucinogenic effects secondary to treatment with DMT, through the activation of 5-HT2A receptors. The results here obtained indicate that the observed effects of DMT are mediated by the activation of the S1R. In this regard, it has been shown that the stimulation of the S1R by different agonists enhances neurogenesis in the hippocampus.

Obviously, further research on this psychedelic and similar ones is needed to obtain a complete picture of the drug and its potential benefits and risks in humans.

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