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Psychedelic drugs and mental health vs. the biological clock

Researchers at Hong Kong start-up – Deep Longevity, from Stanford University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, have created a digital model of human ageing, proving the importance of mental health to the biological age of the body. According to the authors of the study, feeling unhappy, depressed or lonely can accelerate the ageing process more than smoking and certain diseases. Their ‘ageing clock’ was created in 2015 using data collected from 4846 adults and includes 16 blood biomarkers, including cholesterol and glucose levels, as well as gender, blood pressure, body mass index, and lung volume and capacity measurements.

There is not yet much clinical evidence of the effectiveness of drugs known for their hallucinogenic properties, such as psilocybin, in relieving chronic pain, for which medicine does not know the answer. However, thanks to a number of pilot trials in which psychedelics combat chronic pain, the medical community is beginning to be won over to the idea. Studies in mice show that, due to activation of 5-HT2A receptors, classical hallucinogens suppress, among other conditions, inflammation, which is a key driver of chronic pain.

As part of an ongoing study on consciousness, volunteers were given psychedelic drugs, and their brains were observed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Scientists wanted to better understand consciousness and find out what the brain actually does when it experiences it. Studying the effects of psychedelics could be the key not only to understanding consciousness, but also to trying to treat depression, anxiety and addiction with them.

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