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Non-hallucinogenic ibogaine tested for depression

Posted by Hugh on December 10, 2020, at 12:32:26

A chemically tweaked version of the psychedelic drug ibogaine appears to relieve depression and addiction symptoms without producing hallucinations or other dangerous side effects.

The results of a study in rodents suggest it may be possible to make psychedelic drugs safe enough to become mainstream treatments for psychiatric disorders, the authors report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"What we need is a medicine that is so safe that you can take it home and put it in your medicine cabinet just like you would aspirin," says David Olson, the paper's senior author and an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis. "And that's really what we were trying to achieve."

For decades, psychedelic drugs, including ketamine and psilocybin, have shown promise in treating people with mental health problems including addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. But doctors and researchers have been wary of using the drugs because of their side effects.

[I]bogaine, which comes from the roots of a West African shrub, also has great potential, Olson says. Small studies have suggested it can dramatically reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

The team started by giving the ibogaine molecule some nips and tucks.

"We lopped off the parts of the structure that gave rise to a lot of the deleterious effects," he says, "and we left the part of the structure intact that still was able to have anti-addictive and antidepressant properties."

These changes resulted in a substance that was not only safer, but easier to manufacture. The scientists named their creation tabernanthalog, or TBG.

The team began testing TBG in rodents, including some mice raised to binge on alcohol. "Every single animal in the experiment reduced their consumption of alcohol, which was really, really surprising," Olson says.

TBG also helped rats that had been addicted to heroin. Usually, these rats relapse in response to light or sound cues they've been taught to associate with the drug. But rats given TBG were much less likely to relapse.

Finally, the team tested TBG on mice with behaviors associated with depression. Those symptoms improved.

None of the animals given TBG experienced heart problems or behaviors associated with hallucination.

Olson, who has a financial stake in TBG, says drugs based on psychedelic substances have great potential because they work in a different way than most conventional drug treatments.

"They don't mask disease symptoms," he says. "They're really designed to try to rewire the brain."

Complete article and radio report:




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