Learn | 09.12.2022

Can Psilocybin Help Treat Obesity & Binge Eating?

A new study looked at if psilocybin could have long-term benefits for obesity by reducing cravings and resetting addiction to food.

There have been exciting findings regarding psilocybin and its ability to treat mental and physical conditions.

Most notably, research has proved that psilocybin is an excellent treatment for those suffering from addiction. The substance often triggers a sort of “reset,” enabling the user to reset cravings and triggers of what they’re addicted to.

While research like this is widespread, scientists are now wondering if psilocybin could hit a reset button for overweight and obese individuals. They believe that psilocybin could help control food cravings and lessen one’s addiction to food.

The Study

One main issue with this is how researchers have yet to examine the effects of psilocybin and food cravings in humans.

The most recent study, dubbed “Acute and long-term effects of psilocybin on energy balance and feeding behavior in mice,” uses rodents to see if psilocybin could have long-term impacts on human obesity.

One author of the study and associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, Christoffer Clemmensen, explained how obesity “is a rather treatment-resistant disease that shares neuropathological similarities to mental disorders, such as addiction.”

He added that when our brain’s reward circuitry starts dysfunctioning, this often leads to relapsing and failing to restrain from using certain substances or, in this case, eating certain foods.

Clemmensen clarified that because “psychedelics are thought to enhance the plasticity of neural circuits, it may be that when combined with behavioral therapy, psychedelics might be powerful tools for ‘resetting’ long-held compulsive behaviors.”

More specifically, psychedelic substances interact with the serotonergic system, activating serotonin receptors, which could help relieve food addiction and cravings.

Back to the study, the researchers used mouse models to verify whether psilocybin could change one’s behavior toward food and overall food intake. The rodents selected for the study had:

  • Genetic obesity
  • Diet-induced obesity
  • Binge-eating disorders

The Findings

Oddly enough, the researchers didn’t find anything when administering a single high dose of psilocybin or even daily microdoses. There were no changes in behavior to food or physical changes like weight and metabolism.

Even though the study didn’t mention any significant findings about how psilocybin could benefit energy metabolism and behavior in mice, Clemmensen explained how “there are nuances of the mode of action of psychedelics that cannot be appropriately captured in rodent models.”

He concluded that he remains “excited about this topic [of] psychedelics for the treatment of obesity and eating disorders,” and he believes it’s time for researchers to begin considering which patients and individuals would most benefit from psilocybin.

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