Can Psilocybin Mushrooms Treat CTE Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?


Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the US government, which puts it in the same category as heroin and other psychedelics as a substance having no currently recognized medicinal value and a high potential for misuse. However, views and practices around the mushroom are shifting as a result of a movement to legalize it across the country, with the goal of using it to treat traumatic brain ailments such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

A few scientific studies might be the bridge to a new sort of treatment, one that offers a viable answer to the long-term issue of brain health, as present and former wrestlers and pro sportsmen begin to collect their own data.

We’ll go through what we know about psilocybin’s potential as a therapy for brain ailments like CTE in this article.

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What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?

CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is a neurodegenerative illness that appears to be linked to repeated head trauma. CTE can only be confirmed after death through a brain autopsy, which makes diagnosing and treating it difficult.

CTE has received interest in the sports world for its probable link to concussion and recurrent head blows, despite the fact that much is still unclear about its specific causation, treatment, and prevention. CTE appears to be linked to traumatic brain injuries received in contact sports, domestic abuse, and other settings. CTE cases are particularly common in sports, including as professional wrestling and American football.

The exact association between head traumas and CTE is yet unknown to researchers. Individuals who acquire CTE have been subjected to many head traumas, although the specific link is uncertain. CTE appears to be connected to repeated damage rather than a single incidence, but researchers aren’t sure how many head traumas raise the risk of CTE or if it affects how close together or over how long they happen.

Concussions, whether confirmed or self-reported, are not the only kind of head injuries. Subconcussive hits—repetitive head blows that may not cause diagnosable symptoms—may also lead to CTE. It’s also unknown if hereditary risk factors play a part.

Certain neurological symptoms may be noted by doctors as possible indicators of CTE. Problems thinking, short and long-term memory loss, sadness and anxiety, emotional instability, poor judgment, impulsive or unpredictable conduct such as violence, paranoia, headaches, suicidal thoughts or actions, and finally progressive dementia are all symptoms of the illness.

Doctors are unable to diagnose living patients since this brain disease can only be properly identified through a brain autopsy. The purpose of a brain autopsy is to search for clumping or buildup of a protein called tau in the brain.


Current Treatments for CTE

CTE symptoms can go undiscovered for years, even decades, following a head injury. Although the disease’s symptoms can be treated, there is no cure. Many doctors are hesitant to provide specific guidelines for CTE prevention since there is no scientifically recognized etiology. Because of the apparent link between CTE and repetitive head trauma, it is thought that avoiding that sort of hit and lowering the risk of concussion might assist to prevent CTE. Proper playing technique and greater neck strength may assist prevent head impact and movement in sports like football, protecting the brain. Monitoring, treating, and recovering head injuries require the use of sideline and return-to-play guidelines.

We will discover more about this condition, including its etiology, new risk factors, and strategies to detect and treat it, when further study is conducted. The good news is that recent headlines in sports and the news media have raised awareness of the condition and prompted further study.

It’s clear that there isn’t much in the way of treatment for CTE. So how does psilocybin come into play as a new potential treatment?

Psilocybin Is Like Penicillin for the Brain

How Psychedelic Mushroom Spores Can Be Used to Treat This Serious Condition

So what do Magic Mushroom spores have to do with treating this traumatic brain condition? Multiple causes have sparked interest in psilocybin as a medication. Notably, decades of psilocybin research conducted by renowned universities shows that it may have therapeutic effects for people suffering from traumatic brain damage, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other illnesses.

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, for example, created the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research in Baltimore in 2019. It is researching psilocybin as a therapy for Alzheimer’s illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, smoking, anorexia, and depression.

So, how can psilocybin help people with CTE and brain injuries?

By getting official authority to perform psychedelics research in 2000, the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Study ended a decades-long halt in magic mushroom research. Since then, over 60 peer-reviewed studies have been published, many of which focus on the effects of psilocybin on addiction, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Matthew Johnson, a co-founder of the Center, there is evidence from animals that psilocybin increases neuroplasticity, or the ability of neural networks in the brain to change via growth and rearrangement. If the same holds true in people, psilocybin might be used to treat a wide range of illnesses caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Many of the signs of brain damage are similar to what the organization has previously discovered via study.

Beyond notes from the Center’s founder, there have been numerous studies conducted on the subject of psilocybin and brain healing.


Psychedelics for Brain Injury: A Mini-Review

One recent research review from doctors around the United States compiled evidence from numerous past studies and historical data that support the notion of the effectiveness of psilocybin as a treatment for brain injuries. The results were quite direct.

“Recent in vitro, in vivo, and case report studies suggest psychedelic pharmacotherapies may influence the future of brain injury treatment through modulation of neuroinflammation, hippocampal neurogenesis, neuroplasticity, and brain complexity,” the abstract of the study reads.

According to the study’s objective, stroke and traumatic brain injuries ( also known as TBI) are some of the primary causes of neurological disability. Even after undergoing therapy, about half of people who have had a serious TBI that necessitates hospitalization remain disabled. Despite decades of research, pharmaceutical therapy of brain damage remains a young area. Clinical trials for the use of psychedelic medicines in the treatment of brain damage have recently begun. The goal of this review was to outline the present status of knowledge and its relevance to neurorehabilitation.

The study also specifically looked into the relationship between psilocybin and Hippocampal Neurogenesis. Hippocampal neurogenesis is affected by traumatic brain injury and stroke. Despite the fact that hippocampal neurogenesis is a critical component of cognitive recovery following a TBI or stroke, there is no clear link between enhanced neurogenesis and recovery. The form of the damage, the time of intervention, how the cells integrate into the hippocampus circuits, and whether the intervention’s goal is greater neuronal proliferation or increased survival are all complicating issues. Hippocampal neurogenesis after a TBI has been linked to enhanced cognition, mood alleviation, and episodic memory encoding. Though several variables are linked to hippocampus neurogenesis, 5HTR stimulation is one of the most essential. Psilocybin treatment to mice has been shown to influence hippocampus neurogenesis in a non-linear manner in a number of experiments. Low dosages promote neurogenesis, but excessive levels hinder it. However, when high dosage psilocybin was given once a week, enhanced neurogenesis was seen, avoiding the issue of fast tolerance accumulation due to 5HTR downregulation. Targeting hippocampal neurogenesis for the treatment of brain damage and other psychiatric and neurologic illnesses is still a new field of study, but the preliminary findings are encouraging.

To put it simply, historical data and past studies of psilocybin and psychedelics in general could serve as the basis for current studies into the treatment of traumatic brain injuries.


Repairing Alcohol-Induced Brain Damage

Another recent study has found that psilocybin could potentially heal and reverse brain damage accrued by alcohol abuse. While this doesn’t directly relate to the treatment of CTE, their findings bring us one step closer to understanding how magic mushrooms are capable of healing the brain from injuries that can cause CTE.

The basis of the study was quite simple. Executive function deficiencies are frequent in alcoholics, which enhance seeking and can lead to relapse. The biochemical processes underlying executive failure in alcoholism, on the other hand, are little known, and novel effective pharmaceutical therapies are desperately needed. Researchers show a causal relationship between lower prefrontal function and both poor executive control and alcohol appetite in this work, which uses a bidirectional neuromodulation technique.

Neuron-specific prefrontal mGluR2 knockdown in rats resulted in a phenotype of impaired cognitive flexibility and increased alcohol craving during laboratory testing. In alcohol-dependent mice, however, virally restoring prefrontal mGluR2 levels reversed these pathological behaviors. Psilocybin was shown to be capable of restoring mGluR2 expression and lowering relapse behavior in the hunt for a pharmaceutical intervention with high translational potential. Researchers presented an FDG-PET biomarker method for identifying people who respond to mGluR2 therapy.

The outcomes were intriguing. Researchers discovered a shared molecular pathological mechanism that underpins both executive dysfunction and alcohol desire, as well as a tailored mGluR2 mechanism-based therapeutic method for alcoholism drug development.

Simply put, researchers discovered that psilocybin effectively repairs the portion of the brain responsible for alcohol cravings, implying a potential new treatment for the illness and neuropathway restoration in general. The researchers pinpointed a particular glutamate receptor in brain cells impacted by alcohol consumption to figure out why psilocybin works at the neurobiological level. Damage to this receptor has a negative impact on brain function. Mice designed to simulate alcohol use disorder demonstrated restored glutamate receptor function when given psilocybin. Furthermore, the researchers discover a biomarker in the study that might eventually aid physicians in determining who would gain the most from psilocybin treatment in people.


Brain Complexity

According to another study, psilocybin can have a positive effect on brain complexity, which can be hindered due to TBI and CTE. The researchers’ hypothesis is based on the discovery that psilocybin boosts brain complexity. It’s possible that certain specific complexity metrics, such as the perturbational complexity index and the closely related Lempel-Ziv complexity (LZC), can accurately predict conscious level. According to the researchers, psychedelic-related increases in LZC represent a greater richness of conscious experience, and boosting consciousness rather than arousal, as stimulants do, might be the key to increasing conscious awareness in brain-injured patients.

With the administration of psychedelic dosages of psilocybin to human participants, elevations in LZC were detected that were greater than those reported in normal wakefulness. Other tests, like electroencephalogram and functional magnetic resonance imaging, have also shown an increase in complexity.

Psilocybin shows a lot of potential to be able to rewire the brain and generate new neurological pathways
CTE Awareness Day

January 30th is CTE Awareness Day. This day is to spread awareness that our brains are very fragile and need protection.

Recently, the publication Pharmacy Times conducted an interview with Derrick Welsh, the chief operating officer of Psilocin Pharma, a medical company that specializes in psilocybin treatments for traumatic brain injuries and similar conditions.

In the interview, Welsh noted the advancements their own researchers have made in terms of psilocybin as a brain injury treatment, as well as the research that has been conducted over the last several decades around the world.

“Psilocybin shows a lot of potential to be able to rewire the brain and generate new neurological pathways,” said Derrick Welsh, “It’s presented this opportunity in not only concussion therapy but stroke and TBI [traumatic brain injuries] as well as addictions and mental health. We’ve seen a lot of significant gains in this space as a direct result of the research that was done by [John Hopkins University]. They showed a lot of promise for psilocybin and MDMA specifically for medication-resistant depression in cancer patients. Very much like how penicillin can treat a multitude of infectious diseases, we’re seeing that now psilocybin portrays very similar qualities for the treatment of mental health, addictions, and things of that nature.”


Examples of Psychadelic Mushroom Treatment for Brain Injuries in the Sports World

There are many former professional athletes out there who have use magic mushrooms (and psychedelics in general) to treat and even heal brain injuries.


Dean Lister and Ian McCall

Psilocybin tests done at Imperial College in London were once utilized to aid some UFC athletes with neurological problems such as depression, according to a “Real Sports” program from 2020. Neuroscientists revealed that after being treated with psilocybin, several patients’ problems improved dramatically. Professional UFC fighters Dean Lister and Ian McCall have taken the substance to assist them in overcoming addiction concerns. Lister said that he had never taken drugs before, but that he had been drinking twenty beers per day and using Xanax at night to support his increasing addiction. Following the encounter, 44-year-old ex-fighter Lister said that in the four weeks following his treatment with magic mushrooms, he had not consumed a drop of alcohol or taken a single medication.


Daniel Carcillo

Ex-NHL player Daniel Carcillo has also used psilocybin for the treatment of mental and neurological problems, specifically when it came to the outlying symptoms of his traumatic brain injury.

When questioned about his symptoms after undergoing a guided and supervised psilocybin trip, the NHL enforcer said his anxiety and despair were less intense every day. Carcillo reported that on the third day, he was able to leave his house without his glasses, which was unusual given his TBI-induced acute light sensitivity.

“I just felt more connected,” said Carcillo, “I felt like my brain fog was lifting and just really remarkable, remarkable things in a very short amount of time.”

As Carcillo adhered to a strict program of loading doses (maximum 5 mg) and maintenance doses of psilocybin and other adaptogens, his symptoms began to fade. He had a qEEG (brain mapping) and re-did bloodwork, as he had done with every new therapy he tried over the years to check whether it was genuinely effective. Carcillo maintains that examinations revealed no anomalies and that his bloodwork was normal after ingesting psilocybin.


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