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Recently, there is a growing awareness and that psychedelic drugs can be used in treatment of illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, and depression. New initiatives include the in the United States on psychedelics, in 2019 at Johns Hopkins University.
Now, a claims that by tinkering with the psychedelics, we may be able to retain the clinical benefits of psychedelic drugs without hallucinations and other side effects. In the work, researchers analyzed the chemical makeup of a psychedelic called ibogaine and altered it to reduce symptoms related to hallucinations.
Ibogaine comes from flowering plants, such as Tabernanthe iboga native to West Africa. While it is naturally psychoactive and offered in clinics around the world, including Mexico and Canada, high doses are reported to affect heart function. The altered version developed in this work also reduced effects on heart function and developmental processes. (These studies were in mice and fish, so the scientists inferred hallucinogenic properties from the decrease in behaviors seen after giving other psychedelics.)
Their re-engineered drug, called tabernanthalog, was able to reduce addiction in mouse models of heroin and alcohol addiction and to alleviate depression-related symptoms.
Though future studies will be needed in humans, the study set an example of how to identify the most important structures on a psychedelic chemical molecule and create safer versions with the same clinical benefits.