Can Magic Mushrooms Help Regrow a Damaged Brain?

As more and more people turn to psychedelic healing, what’s actually going on deep inside?

Alexander M. Combstrong
5 min readJun 6, 2022


A very close look at the brain (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

What is it that causes magic mushrooms to help with depression and bring other wellbeing improvements? Why is it that users so often experience such life-changing new outlooks?

The big picture is that they show valuable teachings and give us profound experiences that push us to change for the better. They show us what we need to see, and we can respond with genuine, positive life changes. That’s the macro, experience-based explanation.

At brain-scan level, a recent study found that in the human brain, there’s much more connectivity in new ways during a mushroom journey, and less neural pathway rigidity that follows. Our lives get better because our brains leave the ruts that keep our thinking unhelpful.

But what if we look at the even more micro end of things, right down to the level of neurons and brain cells? For this, we can turn to animal studies while we await findings of similar studies on humans. What happens in the brains of stressed mice and alcoholic rats on mushrooms? And will that translate to humans? Can brains actually physically regrow under the mushrooms’ influence?

Stressed mice on magic mushrooms

When mammals get stressed, their brains physically change at a micro level. The dendrites (see image) that send signals from brain cell to brain cell get affected and decrease in number. People with depression and chronic stress have fewer in their brains than others.

So how did researchers replicate this in mice? With electric shocks, which affected the number of dendrites in their brains and caused maladaptive behaviours due to the stress of the painful, uncontrollable shocks.

“Maladaptive behavior is defined as behavior that interferes with an individual’s activities of daily living or ability to adjust to and participate in particular settings.” — Springer

So these poor mice, after being given electric shocks, became stressed and suffered behaviourally. Their brains became lower in dendrite density. But that was just the start of the experiment.



Alexander M. Combstrong

Research-backed ways to change your life for the better. Out now: The Confident Introvert’s Handbook. Actor/screenwriter. Forge, Better Humans, Mind Cafe.