(Representative Image) Photograph:( AFP )
A psychedelic drug, commonly known as DMT (dimethyltryptamine) recently helped create new nerve cells in mice
A group of scientists have discovered the unthinkable. A psychedelic drug, commonly known as DMT (dimethyltryptamine) recently helped create new nerve cells in mice.
The ingredient is found in ayahuasca, a kind of tea famous in South America. It is used in rituals intended to “heal”.
Besides triggering the creation of new nerve cells, DMT also helped improve spatial learning and improvement in memory tasks, as first reported by Medical News Today.
Based on the response among mice, scientists speculate that this could help treat neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In a neurodegenerative disease, nerve cells are lost over time in different parts of the nervous system, mostly the brain.
This could be reversed by restoring the capacity to produce new nerve cells, a technique known as “neurogenesis”.
If successful, it could end many woes for humans. Most nerve cells are produced in the human body before birth. The psychedelic tea contains antidepressant properties, which may explain its ability ro recreate nerve cells.
The tea - Ayahuasca is made from leaves originating from the shrub Psychotria viridis, which contains DMT. The tea also has Banisteriopsis caapi, a vine boasting chemicals called “beta-carbolises”. According to Medical News Today, this ensure the DMT is not broken down in the gut.
The investigation was undertaken by researchers at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas and the Network Center for Biomedical Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, both situated in Madrid.