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Research Indicates Natural Mushroom Extract May Offer Superior Therapeutic Benefits Over Lab-Made Psilocybin

Updated: Mar 31

Recent findings reveal that extracts from natural mushrooms could possess enhanced therapeutic qualities compared to lab-synthesized psilocybin, offering hope for more effective treatments of severe mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, and schizophrenia.

This groundbreaking study, led by a cross-disciplinary team from the Hadassah Medical Center's BrainLabs Center for Psychedelic Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, delves into the distinct effects of natural versus synthetic psilocybin, the key psychoactive ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms.

Bernard Lerer, professor of psychiatry and director at the Hadassah BrainLabs Center, expressed his team's dedication to unlocking the therapeutic potentials of psychedelics for stubborn psychiatric conditions. Their research stems from existing anecdotal, clinical, and preclinical evidence hinting at the unique benefits of mushroom extract over its chemical counterpart, aiming to provide empirical evidence through laboratory investigation.

The study highlights the concept of the "entourage effect," where the therapeutic impact of psilocybin may be amplified by other psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds found in mushrooms. This contrasts with most clinical research focused on pure psilocybin, which lacks these additional compounds.

Historically, Western medicine has favored the use of isolated compounds for their ease of dosage control and predictable effects. However, the holistic approach of using natural extracts, acknowledged for its "entourage effect," is gaining attention for potentially offering a more comprehensive treatment method.

In their research, the team compared the impact of natural mushroom extract and synthesized psilocybin on laboratory mice, evaluating their behavioral responses and the potential for inducing neuroplasticity. The findings indicated a more pronounced and sustained influence on synaptic plasticity from the mushroom extract, hinting at unique therapeutic advantages.

Moreover, metabolic analysis revealed distinct profiles between the synthetic and natural versions, suggesting the mushroom extract's unique effects on oxidative stress and energy pathways. Despite similar acute behavioral effects, the study uncovered significant differences in long-term impacts on synaptic proteins and metabolism.

Lerer expressed surprise over the absence of acute behavioral differences but noted the significance of the long-term disparities in synaptic and metabolic effects, underscoring the clinical potential of these findings.

The study acknowledges the challenges of producing consistent formulations from natural extracts, a hurdle not as prevalent with synthesized compounds. However, with meticulous cultivation and processing, consistent extracts can be achieved, particularly with mushrooms, whose properties are heavily influenced by their environment.

The researchers advocate for further studies, particularly in humans, to confirm the therapeutic benefits of natural mushroom extracts. They posit that these natural extracts, when consistently formulated, could offer significant advantages over synthesized psilocybin for therapeutic use.


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