How Psilocybin Can Rewire Our Brain, Its Therapeutic Benefits & Its Risks | Huberman Lab Podcast
This episode sheds light on psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound, and its potential therapeutic benefits in mental health disorders.
It delves into the chemical composition of psilocybin, how it triggers neuroplasticity in our brain, and the clinical evidence supporting its use in the treatment of depression, addiction, and other psychiatric challenges.
Legal and Safety Concerns
Although psilocybin shows promising therapeutic potential, it remains a Schedule I drug in the United States, except for specific therapeutic settings in Oregon.
Safety issues relate to its use in young people, whose brains are still undergoing neuroplasticity, and individuals at risk for psychotic episodes.
Impact of Psilocybin on Creativity
Psilocybin enhances creativity and enriches the experience of life in beneficial ways.
It rewires the connections between emotion centers in the brain and auditory perception networks, leading to a lasting positive impact on the perception of music.
Role of Music in Psilocybin Therapy
Music plays a significant role in shaping the cognitive and emotional experience during a psilocybin journey.
The music used during psilocybin treatment matches and contributes to the subjective experience, transitioning from low-volume classical music to intense percussion during the peak and then to softer music with female voices and nature sounds.
Empirical Evidence of Therapeutic Outcomes
Clinical trials have shown promising results in the treatment of depression, addictions, and other psychiatric challenges using psilocybin.
The therapeutic outcomes may be attributed to the expanded functional connectivity and increased communication between brain regions.
Psilocybin’s Impact on Brain Connectivity
Psilocybin triggers neuroplasticity, leading to long-lasting shifts in emotional, cognitive, and behavioral patterns.
It predominantly activates serotonin 2A receptors on pyramidal neurons, leading to increased lateral communication across brain areas and expanded functional connectivity.
Psilocybin and Learning Patterns
Psilocybin can lead to new patterns of learning and break negative habitual thinking and emotional states associated with depression.
It may rewire emotion centers in the brain and create new connectivity, leading to a more positive outlook on life.
Importance of Navigating Anxiety
During the psilocybin journey, individuals go through phases, including a build-up, a peak, and a gradual exit.
It is during the peak that people often experience ego dissolution, anxiety, and a need to ‘let go.’ Moving through the peak phase, allowing anxiety to peak and dissipate, is crucial for an effective therapeutic session.
Role of Neuroplasticity in Psilocybin Therapy
Psilocybin induces neuroplasticity, leading to long-lasting shifts in emotional, cognitive, and behavioral patterns.
By inducing the growth of dendrites and dendritic spines, psilocybin strengthens new neural connections or weakens existing ones, which persists after the effects wear off.
‘Psilocybin and the journey, while important, are not really what all of this is about. It’s really about neuroplasticity.’ – Andrew Huberman
Psilocybin in Treating Major Depression
Psilocybin has shown promising therapeutic potential in the treatment of major depression, with clinical trial evidence supporting its use.
It induces rapid and persistent growth of dendritic spines in the frontal cortex, leading to the formation of new excitatory connections and increased network connectivity.