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Psychedelic toxins from toads could treat depression and anxiety

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Psychedelic toxins from toads could treat depression and anxiety

This desert-roaming toad releases a compound with potential benefits similar to those from **** and psilocybin

Milan Zygmunt/Shutterstock

A psychedelic compound secreted by a poisonous toad could help treat depression and anxiety, according to a study in mice.

When frightened, Colorado river toads (Incilius alvarius) release a hallucinogenic compound related to the ***** DMT from glands in their skin. DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, is similar in structure and effects to psilocybin, a hallucinogen found in “magic mushrooms”. Colorado river toads live in and around the Sonoran desert spanning parts of Arizona, California and Mexico, and people seeking out the groovy effects of the substance may either lick the toads directly, or extract the venom, dry it and smoke it.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York investigated the potential health benefits of the toad secretions. We know that psychedelics like psilocybin can treat depression in some people, but it isn’t fully clear why this compound helps. However, it appears to interact with serotonin receptors and reset the activity of neural circuits in the brain.

Most psychedelics research has explored the *****’s effects on a particular kind of serotonin receptor called 5-HT2A. But the team behind the new study focused on a more obscure serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A, which past studies suggest interacts with the toad toxin.

The researchers chemically tweaked the toad-derived compound to solely signal the 5-HT1A receptors – which eliminated its hallucinogenic effects – and gave it to mice with signs of stress and depression. They found that mice who received the compound drank more tasty sugar water and spent more time with peers – both signs of lowered anxiety and depression. Similar effects have been seen in people receiving **** or psilocybin treatments.

“Frankly, that’s what we hope to see,” says

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at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Because humans share similar receptors in their brains, the compound may offer therapeutic promise in people. “It’s our hope that down the line, someone could use the findings of our study to help design novel antidepressants for humans, but that’s certainly a long way out,” says Warren.

Until then, she cautions against licking Colorado river toads or smoking the poison. Along with intense hallucinations, it can lead to anxiety, vomiting, seizures and ******.


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#Psychedelic #toxins #toads #treat #depression #anxiety

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