LEAVE THE TRIPS ALONE! A NEUROSCIENCE CASE FOR EXPERIENCE

THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF TRIP-FREE PSYCHEDELICS

Psychoplastogens [Greek psych– (mind), –plast (molded), and –gen (producing)]: small molecules that produce a measurable change in neuroplasticity (e.g., changes in neurite growth, dendritic spine density, synapse number, intrinsic excitability, etc.) within a short period of time (typically 24–72 hours) following a single administration, and that can lead to relatively long-lasting changes in behavior.

TABERNANTHALOG: BREAKTHROUGH TREATMENT, PATENTED MICRODOSE OR NEITHER?

While there is some consensus that a positive psychedelic experience can bring larger therapeutic benefits, scientists in the psychedelic industry are trying to engineer a compound that retains some of the therapeutic potential but is also scalable, marketable, and administrable to people who do not pass the screening process for a psychedelic experience. TBG seems to be a strong candidate for a widely administrable non-hallucinogenic psychoplastogen. But does it really live up to its hype?

NEUROPLASTICITY AND EXPERIENCE

Now that we explored the neurobiology of non-hallucinogenic psychoplastogens, let us get to the key point of neuroplasticity itself. Neuroplasticity has become a buzz word in psychedelic research recently, wherein many are reducing the therapeutic benefits of both novel (e.g. ketamine, psilocybin) and classical antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine) to it. But can an increase in plasticity alone do the job of changing one’s mind?

ROOTING FOR THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE

The point of this article is not to belittle the efforts of the many scientists searching for non-hallucinogenic psychoplastogens, but to give some depth to the argument favoring the importance of the psychedelic experience, from a neurobiological point of view. Why is this important? Neuroscientific discourse has become central in any discussion about mental health, even in situations in which we don’t know exactly what psychological processes we’re dealing with. There is a tendency in psychiatry to delineate illnesses with fuzzy borders and equate them to neurobiological markers which are subject to repair. This tendency, fueled by a pharmaceutical system in which drug development, prescriptions, and shareholder value are inextricably linked, leads to the proliferation of simplistic and marketable solutions to poorly understood problems.

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The MIND Foundation

The MIND Foundation

Building a healthier, more connected world through psychedelic research and education.