Scientists identify a powerful anti-inflammatory compound in psychedelic drugs

The compound, called 2 C-H, reduces inflammation without mind-altering effects

People have long believed that using psychedelic drugs such as LSD, DMT, and psilocybin (from ″magic mushrooms”) can help the body fight inflammation. Scientific support for this idea has emerged in the past couple decades, and newly published research goes further to show exactly which structural parts of these molecules are responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect.

Psychedelic drugs exert their profound effects on the mind by interacting with a serotonin receptor in the brain called 5HT-2A. This receptor can also be found in almost all other parts of the body, including immune-related structures like the spleen and white blood cells. The effects of serotonin made in immune cells are mainly pro-inflammatory, and its secretion can influence the progression of disorders like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Like serotonin, psychedelic drugs can also activate the 5HT-2A receptor and reduce inflammation. This new study, which was published in ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science, shows what molecular structure is responsible for this effect. The researchers looked at rats with asthmatic symptoms to test 21 different compounds that activate the 5HT-2A receptor, and found that many of them were able to prevent and reverse inflammation in the lungs. They also discovered that the compound called 2C-H has the molecular structure that yields the fullest anti-inflammatory effects of the compounds they tested.

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