Wednesday September 19, 2018

Psychedelic drug helpful in curbing addiction to smoking: Study

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Irrespective of the substance a person is addicted to, curbing an addiction is tough. Many people around the world are addicted to smoking and it is known to be a difficult habit to get rid of.

Many remedies such as Nicotine patches, cold turkey and chewing gum are tried by people globally with hardly any luck. Matthew Johnson, a behavioral pharmacologist at Johns Hopkins’ Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Baltimore, suggests a different alternative – psilocybin – a drug that has been illegal for years, in most parts of Europe and North America.

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Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic and is the active ingredient of ‘magic mushrooms’. Illegal, but if psilocybin is given to smokers a few times, in a carefully controlled way, Johnson says that it can be remarkably effective in helping smokers kick the butt.

The use of psilocybin spread from the labs (for research) to drug counter culture which is why it was completely banned and even research was prohibited. Johnson believes that the drug has been off limits for the wrong reasons.

Now, the research by the team at John Hopkins under Matthew Johnson, has shown promising results. More than 460 psilocybin sessions have now been conducted at Johns Hopkins alone, ranging from investigating its use by cancer patients, to its effects on meditation. The Smoking Cessation programme, which has just finished its pilot stage, has attracted a lot of attention.

The volunteers are first prepared during the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and are asked to create their own mantra, which is like something they would like to remember later in life because it could be used as a motto, which would provide them with the necessary push towards achieving their goal and quitting the habit.

After CBT, they are given the drug in tablet form, and are allowed to self-administer. Post taking the pill, they are asked to lie down, plug in earphones and relax. They are not allowed to talk, but are asked to “go inward” into their thoughts and analyse.

[Research shows there’s a] 71% success rate for people who quit smoking just after they had a heart attack,” he explains. A heart attack would certainly qualify as a profound experience, but it’s not something you can go around triggering in people in order to stop them from smoking. Instead the aim is to use a powerful psychedelic trip to trigger a similar effect… an intense, abstract experience that changes the patient’s perspective. It’s this that the team refer to as a ‘mystical experience’,” Johnson was quoted.

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Asthma Ups The Chance Of Obesity: Study

The increase in the risk of obesity was even greater in people whose asthma began in adulthood.

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Obesity, Asthma
Asthma may up obesity risk. Pixabay

While obesity is already known as a risk factor for developing asthma, a new research led by one of an Indian-origin has showed that people with the airway disease are also more likely to become obese.

The study indicates that those who develop asthma as adults and those who have non-allergic asthma are at the greatest risk of obesity.

The relationship between asthma and obesity is more complex than previously thought and more research is needed to better understand and tackle these two growing health challenges, the researchers said.

Obesity, Asthma
They found that 10.2 per cent of people with asthma at the start of the study had become obese ten years on Flickr Commons

“We already know that obesity can be a trigger for asthma, perhaps via a physiological, metabolic or inflammatory change,” said Subhabrata Moitra, research student at the ISGlobal – the Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain.

However, the researchers do not know the reason why having asthma increases the risk of developing obesity or whether different asthma treatments have any effect on this risk.

The team included 8,618 people from 12 countries who were followed for 20 years.

Obesity, Pregnancy
The relationship between asthma and obesity is more complex than previously thought. Pixabay

They found that 10.2 per cent of people with asthma at the start of the study had become obese ten years on. Among people who did not have asthma, 7.7 per cent were obese ten years later.

Also Read: Exposure to Pollen During Pregnancy May up The risk of Asthma in Kids

The increase in the risk of obesity was even greater in people whose asthma began in adulthood. It was also greater in people who had asthma but did not suffer with allergies, the findings showed.

The results were presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Paris. (IANS)