Psychedelic Mushrooms & Depression

Alex Kwan, Dept of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine.  Image courtesy of Yale School of Medicine.

In this How on Earth episode, we learn about the latest research on psychedelic mushrooms (psilocybin) and their potential for treating depression.   Jill Sjong speaks with Alex Kwan, a neuroscientist and Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Yale University’s School of Medicine, who studies dendritic plasticity in mice using advanced optical methods.   Dr. Kwan explains how psilocybin changes the brain, how these changes last long after the psychedelic effects have worn off, and how these results may lead to future treatments for depression.

Host:   Jill Sjong
Executive Producer:   Beth Bennett

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Our Microbes, Ourselves: Soil Bacteria Treat Stress Disorders

Photo credit: Susan Moran
Photo credit: Susan Moran

Microbes and Stress Resilience (starts 5:13) If you’re worried that some dirt still clings to your skin under your fingernails after planting or weeding in the garden, fear not. In fact, the more you feel and even breathe its fumes, the better, research suggests. As part of our series called “Our Microbes, Ourselves,” we explore today a newly published study that adds to a growing body of research into the benefits of certain soil and gut microbes on our mental and physical health. Dr. Christopher Lowry, an associate professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, discusses with host Susan Moran the study, which he led. It shows that a common soil bacterium called M. vaccae can boost the immune system to help fight stress and inflammation. The research, published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted on mice, but the health implications for humans are far-reaching.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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