The trippy compound found in magic mushrooms could be part of future weight-loss plans. At least, that's what a preliminary study indicates.
Psilocybin-assisted therapy is quickly becoming recognized as one of the most effective new treatments for anxiety, depression, addiction, and other serious mental health issues. And as the field of psychedelic research expands, scientists are discovering that the healing powers of shrooms have an even broader reach. Researchers are now studying whether psilocybin can potentially help people lose weight or overcome lifetime struggles with eating disorders.
NeonMind Biosciences, a Canadian drug development and wellness company focusing on psychedelic medicine, recently announced the results of a preclinical trial investigating the efficacy of psilocybin in reducing weight gain. The company conducted two separate trials on rodents using two unique psilocybin-based compounds designed to target specific serotonin receptors in the brain.
The researchers found that the animals that received the psilocybin treatments showed significant signs of weight reduction compared to the control group. The animals who received psilocybin reduced their overall food consumption just days after receiving the treatment without suffering any negative side effects. Uniquely, the researchers found that psilocybin targeted visceral fat, which has been linked to poor cardiometabolic health.
"These latest findings show psilocybin's ability to modulate weight gain, which is absolutely critical for any drug candidate targeting obesity and weight loss," said Robert Tessarolo, President & CEO of NeonMind, in a statement. "In two separate rodent studies, we have shown that psilocybin has efficacy in modulating weight in both obese and normal subjects. This is important given visceral fat is associated with increased comorbidities and poorer health outcomes.”
Of course, it's impossible to conclude from these limited animal studies that psilocybin could have the same weight-reducing effects on humans. The results of the study are positive enough that researchers are working to prepare Phase I clinical trials in humans, though.
“These findings show promise for the future development of psilocybin-based treatments for obesity, which may also lead to improved cardiovascular and metabolic health,” Tessarolo explained.
While NeonMind is gearing up to conduct its first human studies, researchers from Florida-based Tryp Therapeutics are kicking off a Phase II trial to investigate if psilocybin-assisted therapy can help stop binge eating. This new research, which is the first study on psychedelics and binge eating to be approved by the FDA and DEA, has just begun recruiting patients for its research.
"Psilocybin-based drugs... have the potential to be life-changing treatments for binge eating adults,” said Dr. Jennifer Miller, a Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Florida and principal investigator on the new study, in a press release. “As the number of Americans suffering from eating disorders increases and current treatment paradigms fail to provide the necessary relief, a new, fast-acting, effective solution is imperative.”
“Enrollment of the first patient into our S.T.O.P (Study of the Treatment of Overeating utilizing Psilocybin) trial for binge eating disorder further reflects our commitment to go beyond the current standard of care and meet the needs of those suffering from eating disorders," Miller added. "We hope this treatment paradigm will allow patients to live a normal, fulfilling life."
And on the opposite end of the spectrum, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research are investigating whether psilocybin therapy can help treat anorexia or other eating disorders that lead to extreme weight loss. Researchers from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) have also discovered that MDMA-assisted therapy could also effectively treat eating disorders.