Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is one of the leading natural components of ayahuasca tea. According to a new study by the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), dimethyltryptamine (DMT) promotes neurogenesis —the formation of new neurons.
Not only neurons, but the component also induces the formation of other neural cells such as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.
José Ángel Morales, a researcher in the UCM and CIBERNED Department of Cellular Biology, said, “This capacity to modulate brain plasticity suggests that it has great therapeutic potential for a wide range of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases.”
José Antonio López, a researcher in the Faculty of Psychology at the UCM and co-author of the study, said, “The study, reports the results of four years of in vitro and in vivo experimentation on mice, demonstrating that these exhibit a greater cognitive capacity when treated with this substance.”
The DMT in ayahuasca tea binds to a type-2A serotonergic brain receptor, which enhances its hallucinogenic effect. In this study, the receptor was changed to a sigma type receptor that does not have this effect, thus “greatly facilitating its future administration to patients.”
Morales said, “In neurodegenerative diseases, it is the death of certain types of neurons that causes the symptoms of pathologies such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Although humans can generate new neuronal cells, this depends on several factors and is not always possible.”
“The challenge is to activate our dormant capacity to form neurons and thus replace the neurons that die as a result of the disease. This study shows that DMT is capable of activating neural stem cells and forming new neurons.”
- Jose A. Morales-Garcia et al, N,N-dimethyltryptamine compound found in the hallucinogenic tea ayahuasca, regulates adult neurogenesis in vitro and in vivo, Translational Psychiatry (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41398-020-01011-0