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Category Archives: Psychedelics

Using psychedelics to treat mental illness – The University News

Posted: April 12, 2017 at 8:51 am

Depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, Alzheimers, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder: these diseases are among the most debilitating maladies known to man. You may think that everything that could be done to curb the effects of these diseases has been tried, but not quite. The most radical treatments are the ones that the federal government have deemed too harmful and without any justified medical use. What if the feds got it wrong?

Thats what many outspoken researchers in psychiatry ask. In fact, there are whole organizations dedicated to the radical new studies of psychedelics in therapy. Te Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, is perhaps the largest. MAPS conducts research in MDMA and LSD-assisted psychotherapies. They also conduct research using two psychedelics you have likely never heard of before: Ibogaine and Ayahuasca. Studies like these can only serve to help us better understand the effects of these drugs.

Arguably the most dangerous part of psychedelics is our lack of understanding. Most of what we can publicly access are stories of Erowid (a popular online illicit drug forum) users. Right now, there is no clinically accepted procedure in treating patients experiencing a badtrip. As a whole, the medical community lacks knowledge about how the effects of psychedelics manifest. There currently exists no indicators relating demographics to effects of psychedelics. And this is problematic, especially for psychotherapists who cant gauge a patients likely reaction to a psychedelic substance. Pharmacological knowledgethat is, how drugs work chemicallyis also lacking in comparison to mainstream prescription drugs and most illicit substances.

Ingesting psilocybin is said to be a transformative and religious experience. Many describe the experience as creating more connections in their mind, and this description mirrors the activity that is actually occurring in the brain. In brain scans conducted while individuals are tripping, there is a significantly higher desegregation of brain activity than normal.

In research conducted at Johns Hopkins University, psilocybin exposure resulting in mystical experiences was correlated with a reduction in addiction to tobacco. The results are similar for alcoholism, depression and anxiety as well. Of 51 cancer patients suffering from end-of-life depression, 80 percent reported feeling less afraid of death after exposure to psilocybin. There have also been significant results in early testing of other psychedelics as novel antidepressants, cures for obsessive-compulsive disorder, cures for post-traumatic stress disorder and even as a cure for cocaine dependency. Even crazier is the research that suggests people feel they have more meaning and spiritual purpose in their life after only a single moderatedose of psilocybin. This pairs well with the research that found psychedelic use to be associated with lower rates of suicidality. For all of these reasons, parts of the medical community are calling psychedelic drugs a paradigm shift in the way we treat mental illness.

I talked to a few students on campus about their experience with magic mushrooms. The individuals will remain anonymous. One described the experience as giving him a clear head, but with a confused sense of reality. He experienced warmth, euphoria and mild visual hallucination. Another had a much worse experience; she remembers trying to claw the skin off of her face. And lastly, one gave me advice if I ever tried psilocybin: When you peak, you gotta smoke weed man. It makes it so much better, trust me. You gotta plan the whole thing out. He also admitted to trying LSD multiple times.

Clearly, more research is needed to understand the effects and possible medicinal uses of psychedelics. Unfortunately, their Schedule I ranking makes their use in research much less accessible. The research that does exist comes only from private donors or the government. Because of the age of the drugs, they cant be patented and therefore draw no interest from pharmaceutical companies.

Schedule I drugs allegedly have no medicinal use, but there is now strong evidence to refute that. Mental illness is a public health crisis. Veteran suicide rates are immense. Homelessness is being linked to mental health at an alarming rate. At what point do we start trying the cutting edge?

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Meditation and the psychedelic drug ayahuasca seem to change the brain in surprisingly similar ways – Businessinsider India

Posted: April 10, 2017 at 2:57 am

At the end of a dark earthen trail in the Peruvian Amazon stands a round structure with a thatched roof that appears to glow from within. In the Temple of the Way of Light, as it is known, indigenous healers called Onanya teach visitors about the therapeutic uses of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew that’s been used by locals for thousands of years.

Across the Atlantic, researchers in an ornate blue-tiled hospital in Barcelona, Spain are studying ayahuasca’s physical effects on the brain.

The teams in those two disparate locations approach the study of the psychedelic drug very differently, but researchers at each one are coming to similar conclusions about the way ayahuasca affects the mind.

Among volunteers who take ayahuasca for studies, scientists have documented a rise in certain key traits that mirror those of experienced meditators . These changes include increases in openness, optimism, and a particularly powerful ability known as decentering.

Amanda Feilding, the founder and director of the UK-based nonprofit Beckley Foundation , collaborates with scientists around the world to understand how psychedelic drugs affect the brain. Feilding describes decentering as “the ability to objectively observe one’s thoughts and feelings without associating them with identity.”

Decentering might sound esoteric, but it’s one of the key aims of mindful meditation and is also a goal of successful depression treatments in some cases. In volunteers who’ve taken ayahuasca as part of Beckley’s research, decentering has been linked with higher scores on questionnaires designed to measure well-being and happiness and lower scores on measurements of depressive or anxious thoughts and symptoms of grief.

“It’s interesting because even though our research out of Peru is based on surveys, while in Barcelona it’s based on more traditional scientific research , our results out of both places are showing an increase in these traits,” Feilding says, adding, “It seems patients are finally able to liberate themselves from the emotional pain they’ve long been suffering from. To calmly observe one’s thoughts and feelings in an objective way in order to become less judgmental and more self-accepting.”

Since the findings out of Peru are based on surveys, they can’t prove that ayahuasca caused the reduction in symptoms of depression and grief – only that there’s a connection between the two. But in Spain, as part of a collaboration between Beckley and Sant Pau hospital, neurologist Jordi Riba is looking at the brain activity in depressed volunteers who are given ayahuasca. His findings indicate that in addition to people simply reporting that they feel more decentered and less depressed after taking ayahuasca, there is a corresponding neurological change in their brain activity.

One small study of 17 depressed volunteers who took ayahuasca saw a decrease in activity in areas of the brain that tend to be overactive in conditions like depression and anxiety. And a new study of regular ayahuasca users suggests a physical shrinking in these parts of the brain, though that work has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

These findings are bolstered by other research on the potential therapeautic effects of psychedelics. Studies out of New York University and Johns Hopkins suggest that the psychedelic drug psilocybin – the ingredient in magic mushrooms – elicits similar effects among depressed people.

“With the psilocybin, you get an appreciation – it’s out of time – of well-being, of simply being alive and a witness to life and to everything and to the mystery itself,” Clark Martin, a patient who participated in one of the Johns Hopkins trials, previously told Business Insider of his experience.

David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London, has been working with Feilding, and says the brains of people with depression or addiction get locked into patterns of thinking driven by the brain’s control center.

“Psychedelics disrupt that process so people can escape,” he says.

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Meditation and the psychedelic drug ayahuasca seem to change the brain in surprisingly similar ways – Businessinsider India

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Tripping out: the highs and lows of psychedelic therapy – Marie Claire UK

Posted: April 7, 2017 at 9:07 pm

A growing number of women are swapping the therapists sofa for hallucinogenic medicine. But does science back up the benefits? And whats it really like to get high for therapeutic purposes? Health journalist Charlotte Haigh experiences the highly controversial world of psychedelic psychiatry first-hand to find out

Im sitting in the humid blackness of a wooden hall in the depths of the Peruvian Amazon. The only sound is the clicking of a shamans beads as he pours out shot glasses of a murky brown liquid. The substance is ayahuasca, a traditional hallucinogenic medicine made of up of two plants: chacruna, which contains a substance called DMT generating visions, and the ayahuasca vine itself, which allows DMT to work in the brain. Its a Monday night and it suddenly strikes me how far away I am away from my regular Monday evening routine scanning the latest news on my phone in my flat in the London suburbs after a long day meeting deadlines as a freelance health journalist.

I look around at the 20 other people in the room, mostly European professional men and women in their late twenties to mid-forties. Were all here on an organised retreat, to participate in four ayahuasca ceremonies in an attempt to sort out deep-rooted emotional or psychological problems, or simply work out our next steps in life. Were hoping this strange brew, used by Peruvian shamans for centuries, might just give us the answers were struggling to find at home. In fact, studies are now suggesting psychedelics may help a range of mental health conditions, which is why Im here.

The strongest evidence is currently for addiction, then depression and anxiety, followed by moderate evidence for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), says Professor David Nutt, a psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist I speak to for advice, and who has pioneered the research. In a study we published in The Lancet, one dose of psilocybin, found in magic mushrooms, produced lasting changes in people with chronic depression who hadnt responded to medicines or to therapy. Half of the participants were still well after six months. Its not a magic bullet, but its very promising.

Psychedelics are considered relatively safe in comparison to alcohol, but experts strongly advise against trying them in a recreational or non-clinical setting, as you may have a disturbing experience. As psychedelics loosen your brains usual patterns, defences start to dissolve, says Dr Rucker, a psychiatrist who researches the effects of psychedelics. That can be hard, because its the things you dont want to deal with that you keep locked away. Thats why you need a safe, supportive environment and someone you trust like a therapist to help you work through difficult things. Anyone with a family history of mental-health conditions such as schizophrenia, and anyone taking drugs, including SSRI antidepressants, should avoid them completely.

As I gulp down the thick, sickly drink and lie down on my assigned mattress, I wonder what will come next. As a health journalist, Ive done my research and spoken to many people whove taken it. I know its considered safe, but Im nervous about what my subconscious mind might show me under the influence. Im not a natural risk-taker so its certainly a step outside my comfort zone, but it may help me work through some relationship issues Ive been struggling to process this past year. Thankfully, this is not like taking drugs in a nightclub. It feels like a safe environment and there are experienced assistants and shamans on hand to offer support. We are sitting in a large, circular wooden building and mattresses are arranged around the outside of the room. For a few days before, I follow the special cleansing diet no alcohol, sugar, caffeine, pork or fatty foods and as requested by the organisers, I have set an intention in my mind of what I want to gain from the journey.

After half an hour of drinking the liquid, a wave of nausea surges through me. The medicine is infamous for causing vomiting. I grab the plastic bowl next to the mattress but the feeling passes and then Im plunged into a vision, like a hyper-vivid dream. Im on a rain-whipped beach, trailed by three shivering, sad-eyed children. I recognise at once that theyre the babies I lost in successive miscarriages while trying for a longed-for child with my then-husband, who Im now in the process of divorcing. I cuddle them but theyre still cold, so I put them all into a sack and search for a sanctuary. When I open the sack again, theres just a pile of ashes. Im distraught. And then a huge sun bursts the clouds open and I see a woman in the sky, smiling and cradling the children. Im crying, but then Im overwhelmed with a sudden sense of peace.

Later, when I come to process my journey, as ayahuasca trips are termed, I know Ive finally reached a point Ive been struggling to get to for months: Ive accepted my losses. In my trip, I came to a forest, where I saw a vibrant woman with a group of people, laughing and watering plants. It was me. It seemed to suggest that I still have a role in society even if Im never a mother which is something Id been grappling with.

Following my four-hour trip, I feel newly calm and positive about my future; a sense that something deep has shifted. Six months on, that feeling hasnt left me. Your brain is like a snow globe capable of being shaken up. Psychedelics may help get you out of an entrenched perspective, Dr Rucker tells me later. Biologically, all psychedelics, including ayahuasca, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and LSD, stimulate the 2a serotonin receptors, found most commonly in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, the area that processes and coordinates complex information to help you think and get perspectives on different situations. This area also helps you define your sense of self and the world, so that can become distorted when something goes wrong here.

Brain scans show that in depression, the prefrontal cortex is overactive, as people become trapped by repetitive negative thinking. By triggering the type 2A serotonin receptor, the psychedelic encourages the brain to broaden its scope and come up with other ways of seeing things. Under the influence of a psychedelic, the overactive bit of the prefrontal cortex quietens down, and parts of the brain that werent talking to each other start communicating, adds Dr Rucker.

This cross wiring may be one of the reasons why synaesthesia where your senses get mixed up is a common experience with psychedelics (on my first ayahuasca journey, I associated yellow colours with an intense raspberry flavour).

But while the brains biological response to the drug is key, the trip itself also plays an important role. The more spiritual or personal the experience, the more likely people are to have long-term benefits, says Dr Rucker. Theres no guarantee youll get a big breakthrough and not everyone has powerful visions, but for some it can be profound. Sarah, a 32-year-old solicitor, spent two weeks in Peru at an ayahuasca retreat, drinking the medicine every other night to help her overcome grief following her sisters death. Id become scared of losing people I cared about and was avoiding relationships, she says. On my journey, I saw a coffin and the lid started to open. I was terrified, but when I looked inside I saw galaxies of moons and stars. Ive never been religious, however I had a new understanding that nothing is truly final, and that life can be beautiful again. Somehow, it moved me on.

Ayahuasca can be challenging, though. It made me look at things Id been avoiding in real life, says Susannah, 26, a social-media manager from London. I went to a retreat in the Netherlands because I was having relationship problems and wanted to work through them. Id never taken drugs in my life. A friend had found ayahuasca helpful with body image issues and I thought it might be what I needed. In one journey, I saw myself on a battlefield trying to help someone who was badly injured, but they bled to death. Afterwards, I realised the person who died represented my relationship Id been trying to fix it but the medicine showed me I couldnt. Although it was upsetting at the time, it gave me the confidence to leave. Dr Rucker believes millennials may be more willing to look to psychedelics for answers because theyre more educated about the risks and benefits. This generation has always been exposed to the internet and many different sources of information theyre more curious about the psychedelic experience and dont believe the demonisation of drugs. Magic mushrooms and ayahuasca are both natural substances and ayahuasca has been used in a sacred way for thousands of years, which might be part of its appeal.

In the UK, psychedelics are illegal, so its not possible to take them in a clinical setting. This may be a reason why retreats in Peru like the one I attended are soaring in popularity. Ayahuasca is taken in a group ceremony led by highly experienced shamans and assistants to keep an eye on everyone, so you feel safe, says Skie Hummingbird, a UK-based shaman who takes groups out to Peru (sungate.org.uk). But you need to choose the right place, as some centres are run by unscrupulous people who arent properly trained. Personal recommendation is the best way. And shes seen radical transformations. Some people undergo dramatic changes on a ten-day retreat, overcoming lifelong problems, she says. But its not for everyone: some people do report having highly distressing journeys.

Some of the latest research suggests ayahuasca could generate the birth of new brain cells, potentially treating neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimers, as well as psychiatric illnesses, while LSD and psilocybin show promise in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, Professor Nutt advises caution. We need more studies, and such studies are limited by the law. Psychedelics are currently schedule 1 substances, which means theyre considered dangerous, making further research almost impossible. Nevertheless, the growing wave of interest in psychedelic psychiatry (a recent public talk at University College London sold out in 20 minutes) may address that. As Professor Nutt observes, Its groundbreaking science. These substances could potentially change peoples lives, providing we can do more thorough testing.

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Tripping out: the highs and lows of psychedelic therapy – Marie Claire UK

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Meditation and the psychedelic drug ayahuasca seem to change the brain in surprisingly similar ways – ScienceAlert

Posted: at 9:07 pm

At the end of a dark earthen trail in the Peruvian Amazon stands a round structure with a thatched roof that appears to glow from within.

In the Temple of the Way of Light, as it is known, indigenous healers called Onanya teach visitors about the therapeutic uses of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew that’s been used by locals for thousands of years.

Across the Atlantic, researchers in an ornate blue-tiled hospital in Barcelona, Spain are studying ayahuasca’s physical effects on the brain.

The teams in those two disparate locations approach the study of the psychedelic drug very differently, but researchers at each one are coming to similar conclusions about the way ayahuasca affects the mind.

Among volunteers who take ayahuasca for studies, scientists have documented a rise in certain key traits that mirror those of experienced meditators. These changes include increases in openness, optimism, and a particularly powerful ability known as decentering.

Amanda Feilding, the founder and director of the UK-based nonprofit Beckley Foundation, collaborates with scientists around the world to understand how psychedelic drugs affect the brain.

Feilding describes decentering as “the ability to objectively observe one’s thoughts and feelings without associating them with identity”.

Decentering might sound esoteric, but it’s one of the key aims of mindful meditation and is also a goal of successful depression treatments in some cases.

In volunteers who’ve taken ayahuasca as part of Beckley’s research, decentering has been linked with higher scores on questionnaires designed to measure well-being and happiness and lower scores on measurements of depressive or anxious thoughts and symptoms of grief.

“It’s interesting because even though our research out of Peru is based on surveys, while in Barcelona it’s based on more traditional scientific research, our results out of both places are showing an increase in these traits,” Feilding says.

“It seems patients are finally able to liberate themselves from the emotional pain they have long been suffering from. To calmly observe one’s thoughts and feelings in an objective way in order to become less judgemental and more self-accepting.”

Since the findings out of Peru are based on surveys, they can’t prove that ayahuasca caused the reduction in symptoms of depression and grief – only that there’s a connection between the two.

But in Spain, as part of a collaboration between Beckley and Sant Pau hospital, neurologist Jordi Riba is looking at the brain activity in depressed volunteers who are given ayahuasca.

His findings indicate that in addition to people simply reporting that they feel more decentered and less depressed after taking ayahuasca, there is a corresponding neurological change in their brain activity.

One small study of 17 depressed volunteers who took ayahuasca saw a decrease in activity in areas of the brain that tend to be overactive in conditions like depression and anxiety.

And a new study of regular ayahuasca users suggests a physical shrinking in these parts of the brain, though that work has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

These findings are bolstered by other research on the potential therapeutic effects of psychedelics. Studies out of New York University and Johns Hopkins suggest that the psychedelic drug psilocybin – the ingredient in magic mushrooms -elicits similar effects among depressed people.

“With the psilocybin, you get an appreciation – it’s out of time – of well-being, of simply being alive and a witness to life and to everything and to the mystery itself,” Clark Martin, a patient who participated in one of the Johns Hopkins trials, previously told Business Insider of his experience.

David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London, has been working with Feilding, and says the brains of people with depression or addiction get locked into patterns of thinking driven by the brain’s control centre.

“Psychedelics disrupt that process so people can escape,” he says.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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MAPS – Participate

Posted: April 2, 2017 at 8:12 am

Psychedelic Science 2017

Join us from April 19-24, 2017, in Oakland, California, for a six-day global gathering featuring three days of Conference programming, three full days of Workshops, a Sunset Cruise on the San Francisco Bay, a Psychedelic Comedy Banquet, a free Marketplace of goods and ideas, and much more.

Gather your community, start a conversation, and raise funds to make psychedelic therapy a legal treatment.

An overview of MAPS events.

See our Event Calendar for upcoming events produced by MAPS and our allies.

Volunteer with MAPS online, at events, or in our office.

Earn valuable work experience while contributing to the advancement of psychedelics and marijuana.

Do you want to work with MAPS? Check out our current openings.

MAPS is recruiting subjects for clinical trials. Please check back periodically to see if we are in need of new subjects for other studies.

The MDMA Therapy Training Program seeks to train approximately 300 therapists before 2021, when we anticipate completing Phase 3 clinical trials investigating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Co-therapist teams are now being selected and trained for Phase 3 trials to begin in 2017.

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MAPS – Participate

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Reducing anxiety, stress, depression, more with shrooms – Baltimore … – Baltimore City Paper

Posted: March 31, 2017 at 7:22 am

Nearly four decades after research into psychedelics was suppressed by the government, a new wave of scientists is restoring legitimacy to a misunderstood and promising area of research. Baltimore is home to arguably the most prestigious psychedelic research program in the world. The studies conducted by Roland Griffiths and his team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine did not just commence this new era of legally sanctioned research; they are also the most rigorous scientific studies to date on psilocybin.

This could not have come at a better time. America is not well, and psychedelics possess a therapeutic power uniquely suited for critical transitionsmost notably the one from life to death. But psychedelics also offer insight into navigating the critical cultural and historical shifts currently at play in America. These transitions and the conflicts they create are manifestations of deep psychological problems intertwined with identity and mythology.

The mushroom could play a role in this endeavor as an organic remedy uniquely effective at breaking entrenched belief systems around identity. As the latest scholarly articles reveal, the psychedelic experience is fundamentally about restructuring one’s own perspectives on life and challenging one’s own core assumptions. That psychedelics might also be the genesis of the religious mindset may offer hope that this work is less daunting than it may seem. Huey P. Newton liked to point out that contradiction was the ruling principle of the universe.

Mystical Death

The latest investigations into psilocybin at Johns Hopkinspublished in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in November 2016suggest that it is a medicine, many times safer and more effective than any human drug technology now available, for treating crippling depression and other sicknesses of the soul.

In a commentary authored with colleague Daniel Shalev on the remarkable findings, Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University and director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, compared the effects of psilocybin to other “near-miraculous drugs such as aspirin and clozapine” whose therapeutic mechanisms also “remain mysterious.”

Lieberman argued that the alarming volume of psychiatric conditions in our society alone constitutes an ethical imperative to seriously pursue larger investigations into psilocybin: “We do our patients a disservice by not understanding and appropriately investigating compounds with potential therapeutic value because of their prior controversial associations and on their capacity for misuse.”

I personally investigated psilocybin and its effects by volunteering for one of Johns Hopkins’ studies in 2014, and one of my own findings might seem counter-intuitive: The psychedelic experience was a sobering experience. I realized that my own identity was nothing but a deeply interwoven set of stories or assumptions. Some of those stories were self-defense mechanisms that had outlasted their use. When those stories were stripped away, it felt like being naked or exposed in front of the entire world. It was humiliating to see myself in this way, but ultimately freeing. The experience freed me from deadening positions in order to think about my identity in new ways. The greatest impediments to my own freedom I found within my own assumptions about myself and the world. I felt I had been given a unique opportunity to lead a more fulfilling life outside of a socially programmed role.

Hopkins’ main finding has been that the lasting positive benefits of psilocybin are positively correlated with the intensity of the mystical experience it generates. Mysticism is a kind of transcendence produced by deep inner reflectiona state of cognitive liberty brought about by using the tools you have developed to analyze the outside world to analyze yourself. In this state, information is revealed via intuition.

My “trip” started with what felt like an oncoming spell of madness, as I broke away from what another journal commentator described as the “reassuring banality of everyday experiences.” Wearing eyeshades and headphones, the normal lines of defensethe eye and ear sensorsare disabled, concentrating the experience inward. Music plays a key role in the Hopkins study. The six-and-a-half-hour playlist guided me through a recurring series of birth and death simulations, essentially ringing out a brimming well of repressed emotions clinging to my insides. Imagine Mozart conducting “Ave verum corpus” with your central nervous system as the instruments and you will get an idea of what I am talking about.

“Are there any other kind of songs?” I once asked between waves, seeking relief from being sucked back into another death trance.

The fear of death is featured heavily in the commentary. If there is a consensus, it is that experiencing death, sometimes called “mystical death,” significantly reduces fear and anxiety. The Hopkins study (Griffiths et al.) used 51 cancer patients. These volunteers are often terrifieddeeply fearful of facing the unknown, full of anxiety, and extremely depressed. Six and a half months after the study ended, 52 percent and 70 percent of volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as the singular or top five most spiritually significant experience, and the singular or top five most personally meaningful experience of their lives, respectively. Eighty-seven percent attributed increased life-satisfaction or well-being to the experience. Another study from Dec. 2016, titled “The role of psychedelics in palliative care reconsidered: A case for psilocybin” by Benjamin Kelmendi et. al argued that these studies demonstrated “that a single-dose of psilocybin can produce both an acute and enduring reduction in depression symptoms, anxiety, and existential distress in patients with life-threatening cancer.”

Another volunteer I spoke to in 2016a musician in their mid-20stold me that the experience with psilocybin led to a profound life reevaluation. “It’s been over a year since I finished the study and in a lot of ways it has totally changed my life in a really positive way,” they explained. “I wouldn’t call it a religious experience, but I would say it was definitely a spiritual experience. I would say that I’m continually very interested in life, in the context of death and these kinds of experiencesreligious, spiritual, or transcendenthowever you want to describe them, as being ways of coming to terms with or exploring what is beyond our existence in the material world.”

They continue on: “It’s also made me want to live more with less and to try to really genuinely live by my values better. To live more actively and with purpose. In that way, it was really inspiring, and in that way I really think it’s a really good tool to inspire mundane level change. I think it just makes people better and going and healing yourself from the inside will emanate into what you do in the world and it’s really important. I was able to continue to basically quit smoking, to cut down to drinking very little. I was just in Europe on tour and I wasn’t getting wasted even though those around me were.”

Programs like Hopkins might eventually be commonplace throughout the country, with the therapy facilitated in clinics by psychologists like Bill Richards, who has been legally studying psychedelics since the 1960s at Spring Grove Hospital in Catonsville, where he gained a wealth of knowledge and experience designing research studies.

“What makes the responsible use of psychedelic substances so important, however, is that it provides reliability and potency,” Richards writes in his book “Sacred Knowledge.” “For the first time in the history of science, these two factors allow these revelatory states of consciousness and any changes in physical or mental health, or in attitudes or behavior, that may follow them to be studied carefully and systematically within the context of academic research. No longer is the study of mysticism limited to the scholarly scrutiny of historical documents, such as the beautifully expressive writings of St. Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, or Shankara.”

In the book, Richards relates the story of a drug addict from Baltimore living in a halfway house. After being released from prison, the man was sent to Spring Grove for treatment and received a high dose of LSD. Afterward, he explained that it was difficult to express the beauty of what was clearly a powerful religious experience. “My mind left my body and my body was dead,” the man said. He described a glowing Divine Being approaching him with his hand out. “I had touched that Divine Being and became part of God. At that moment, I shouted: ‘Good God Almighty, what a beautiful day! Good God Almighty, I am a man at last!’. . . I have been cleansed of all my sins. I thought before this moment that I could see but I have been a blind man all my life.”

Richards’ book is filled with these kinds of stories, which I, coming from a Baptist background, interpreted as clear examples of the “born again” experience, a phrase I’d often heard but never believed.

“You cannot see the kingdom of God,” Jesus said in the Book of John, “unless you are born again.”

Whether or not psychedelics are responsible for the bizarre stories depicted in the Bible, the document could disappear and it would shortly be rewritten, as stories of mystical experiences are a worldwide phenomenon today. However, if future research confirms that psychedelics did play a role in the genesis of religion, a shift in the church’s focus toward a more private practiceperhaps one utilizing eyeshades and a pair of headphoneswould be wise.

Infinite Wonder

After the study, I began to see hope and humor where I once saw only dead ends, outdated ideologies, and empty slogans. All of a sudden, forgiveness seemed of the utmost importance. “It is useless to try to adjudicate a long standing animosity by asking who started it, or who is the most wrong,” Wendell Berry once pointed out. “The only sufficient answer is to give up the animosity, and try forgiveness.” Christianity wasn’t so bad, I thought, hell, I might even be a follower. Abraham Joshua Heschel pointed out in his book “The Prophets,” that the prophets of the Old Testament have been described since antiquity as “hysterics . . . who experimented with altered states of consciousness.” Former contradictions didn’t seem like contradictions anymore. Some kind of third path had been revealed. New angles, meanings, and perspectives were abundant and exciting. No wonder they were hysterical, I thought, the problems that plague humanity are easily solvable in theory.

I would need a grant from the health department, I thought, and somewhere to conduct a sociology study on mental illness. The 100-plus year relationship between Kentucky and King Coal has left a deep psychological wound on my people. My uncle, Colonel Oren Coin, was sent by the governor to intervene in the battles of Bloody Harlan County in 1935. On the front page of the New York Times on Sept. 30, Uncle Oren described the police and coal operators’ actions as a “reign of terror.” The terrorists have by now mostly abandoned the state, ending the rocky relationship with only environmental and public health disasters left behind as thank-you notes. “You could have called, and told me goodbye,” Larry Sparks moaned in his bluegrass classic of the same name.

There are plenty of troubled pastors in Kentucky (Marvin Gaye Sr. was born in Lexington) and it boasts some of the finest amateur chemists in the countryinside and outside of jail. Furthermore, we played a central role in the history of psychedelics in America. The two most prominent distributors of LSD were from the bluegrass state: Owsley “Bear” Stanley, whose acid fueled the entire counterculture of the 1960s, and Al Hubbard, a one-time CIA agent who provided LSD to the team from Stanford University that invented the personal computer. Hubbard is also the mysterious figure who facilitated the trip that Aldous Huxley recounted in his 1956 essay ‘Heaven and Hell.’

I imagined one of those Amazon drones navigating through the mountains with a box of mushrooms in its craw (“may cause fits, visions and trances”). An eye mask and compact disc were included to ensure a quality mystical experience. An on-the-job-training program would unleash the potential of the state’s demoralized spiritual entrepreneurs, now reduced to profits of positive-thinking. The pastorship would be dispatched with their conversion kits via the “Shaman” app to the homes of the unwell, and to our existing centers of healing, which already have chapels installed. Churches preaching the prosperity gospel were offered free samplesan opportunity for a meet and greet with Jesus! Then again, you should never meet your heroes, they say. I found God to be absolutely ruthless and highly indifferent in judgment.

Psychiatrist David Spiegel of Stanford University argues that psilocybin is essentially about reducing fear by facing “the ultimate loss of control.” Fear, says Spiegel, is a “limiting state of mind” that numbs us from living “fully and authentically.” He views healing as a kind of personal trial or day of judgment aided by the unique mindset facilitated by psilocybin, which switches the mind into a kind of diagnostic or safe mode. “[T]hese drugs seem to ‘reboot’ the brain, leaving it changed long after the drug is gone.” Unfaced fears lead to anxiety, Bilderman pointed out, and eventually crippling phobias develop, many times stored in the subconscious, beneath the level of awareness. “Good psychotherapy involves learning to restructure one’s perspectives on one’s problems in life” by challenging “routine assumptions and think[ing] about problems in new ways.”

At the time of the study, I had been thinking a lot about country music for a column I wrote for this paper. Hank Williams’ most popular song is actually an ode to cognitive liberty. Visited upon him like a “stranger in the night,” a brush with the ineffable leads to a life-altering change in the singer’s perspective, freeing him from paralyzing worry and fear. The clear white light restored the singer’s “vision,” an allusion to the conversion of St. Paul, and a common mystical experience. “I saw the light, I saw the light, no more darkness, no more night. Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight, praise the Lord I saw the light.”

My experience at Hopkins transformed country gospel favorites from stale but fun sing-alongs into meaningful symbols of the psychedelic experience. I imagined this story sparking a revival of old-time country music, and running the clock backwards to a pre-industrial front-porch paradise. In my mind, I was country music’s Martin Luther, restoring a wilder, more authentic form of worship. I saw a large stained-glass bird sitting on top of a tree like a totem pole; it could see everything crystal clear from there, I thought. I saw a network of doors and empty rooms inside of an invisible castle. I felt a presence, and observed the face of a feminine plant-being wearing an eye mask wrapped with vines. It was moving around, performing some kind of possessed ritual and carefully whipping those wild vines. I was mildly alarmed, but also flabbergasted at the performance.

“Travis,” a voice called out.

Was this a guardian angel, I wondered? Maybe a nymph! Or perhaps the Starmaker, guiding me to the Western Lands. I felt a hand resting gently on my shoulder. It was time to check my blood pressure, my session guide said.

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Reducing anxiety, stress, depression, more with shrooms – Baltimore … – Baltimore City Paper

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I Saw The Light: Reducing anxiety, stress, depression, more with … – Baltimore City Paper

Posted: March 29, 2017 at 11:34 am

Nearly four decades after research into psychedelics was suppressed by the government, a new wave of scientists is restoring legitimacy to a misunderstood and promising area of research. Baltimore is home to arguably the most prestigious psychedelic research program in the world. The studies conducted by Roland Griffiths and his team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine did not just commence this new era of legally sanctioned research; they are also the most rigorous scientific studies to date on psilocybin.

This could not have come at a better time. America is not well, and psychedelics possess a therapeutic power uniquely suited for critical transitionsmost notably the one from life to death. But psychedelics also offer insight into navigating the critical cultural and historical shifts currently at play in America. These transitions and the conflicts they create are manifestations of deep psychological problems intertwined with identity and mythology.

The mushroom could play a role in this endeavor as an organic remedy uniquely effective at breaking entrenched belief systems around identity. As the latest scholarly articles reveal, the psychedelic experience is fundamentally about restructuring one’s own perspectives on life and challenging one’s own core assumptions. That psychedelics might also be the genesis of the religious mindset may offer hope that this work is less daunting than it may seem. Huey P. Newton liked to point out that contradiction was the ruling principle of the universe.

Mystical Death

The latest investigations into psilocybin at Johns Hopkinspublished in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in November 2016suggest that it is a medicine, many times safer and more effective than any human drug technology now available, for treating crippling depression and other sicknesses of the soul.

In a commentary authored with colleague Daniel Shalev on the remarkable findings, Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University and director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, compared the effects of psilocybin to other “near-miraculous drugs such as aspirin and clozapine” whose therapeutic mechanisms also “remain mysterious.”

Lieberman argued that the alarming volume of psychiatric conditions in our society alone constitutes an ethical imperative to seriously pursue larger investigations into psilocybin: “We do our patients a disservice by not understanding and appropriately investigating compounds with potential therapeutic value because of their prior controversial associations and on their capacity for misuse.”

I personally investigated psilocybin and its effects by volunteering for one of Johns Hopkins’ studies in 2014, and one of my own findings might seem counter-intuitive: The psychedelic experience was a sobering experience. I realized that my own identity was nothing but a deeply interwoven set of stories or assumptions. Some of those stories were self-defense mechanisms that had outlasted their use. When those stories were stripped away, it felt like being naked or exposed in front of the entire world. It was humiliating to see myself in this way, but ultimately freeing. The experience freed me from deadening positions in order to think about my identity in new ways. The greatest impediments to my own freedom I found within my own assumptions about myself and the world. I felt I had been given a unique opportunity to lead a more fulfilling life outside of a socially programmed role.

Hopkins’ main finding has been that the lasting positive benefits of psilocybin are positively correlated with the intensity of the mystical experience it generates. Mysticism is a kind of transcendence produced by deep inner reflectiona state of cognitive liberty brought about by using the tools you have developed to analyze the outside world to analyze yourself. In this state, information is revealed via intuition.

My “trip” started with what felt like an oncoming spell of madness, as I broke away from what another journal commentator described as the “reassuring banality of everyday experiences.” Wearing eyeshades and headphones, the normal lines of defensethe eye and ear sensorsare disabled, concentrating the experience inward. Music plays a key role in the Hopkins study. The six-and-a-half-hour playlist guided me through a recurring series of birth and death simulations, essentially ringing out a brimming well of repressed emotions clinging to my insides. Imagine Mozart conducting “Ave verum corpus” with your central nervous system as the instruments and you will get an idea of what I am talking about.

“Are there any other kind of songs?” I once asked between waves, seeking relief from being sucked back into another death trance.

The fear of death is featured heavily in the commentary. If there is a consensus, it is that experiencing death, sometimes called “mystical death,” significantly reduces fear and anxiety. The Hopkins study (Griffiths et al.) used 51 cancer patients. These volunteers are often terrifieddeeply fearful of facing the unknown, full of anxiety, and extremely depressed. Six and a half months after the study ended, 52 percent and 70 percent of volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as the singular or top five most spiritually significant experience, and the singular or top five most personally meaningful experience of their lives, respectively. Eighty-seven percent attributed increased life-satisfaction or well-being to the experience. Another study from Dec. 2016, titled “The role of psychedelics in palliative care reconsidered: A case for psilocybin” by Benjamin Kelmendi et. al argued that these studies demonstrated “that a single-dose of psilocybin can produce both an acute and enduring reduction in depression symptoms, anxiety, and existential distress in patients with life-threatening cancer.”

Another volunteer I spoke to in 2016a musician in their mid-20stold me that the experience with psilocybin led to a profound life reevaluation. “It’s been over a year since I finished the study and in a lot of ways it has totally changed my life in a really positive way,” they explained. “I wouldn’t call it a religious experience, but I would say it was definitely a spiritual experience. I would say that I’m continually very interested in life, in the context of death and these kinds of experiencesreligious, spiritual, or transcendenthowever you want to describe them, as being ways of coming to terms with or exploring what is beyond our existence in the material world.”

They continue on: “It’s also made me want to live more with less and to try to really genuinely live by my values better. To live more actively and with purpose. In that way, it was really inspiring, and in that way I really think it’s a really good tool to inspire mundane level change. I think it just makes people better and going and healing yourself from the inside will emanate into what you do in the world and it’s really important. I was able to continue to basically quit smoking, to cut down to drinking very little. I was just in Europe on tour and I wasn’t getting wasted even though those around me were.”

Programs like Hopkins might eventually be commonplace throughout the country, with the therapy facilitated in clinics by psychologists like Bill Richards, who has been legally studying psychedelics since the 1960s at Spring Grove Hospital in Catonsville, where he gained a wealth of knowledge and experience designing research studies.

“What makes the responsible use of psychedelic substances so important, however, is that it provides reliability and potency,” Richards writes in his book “Sacred Knowledge.” “For the first time in the history of science, these two factors allow these revelatory states of consciousness and any changes in physical or mental health, or in attitudes or behavior, that may follow them to be studied carefully and systematically within the context of academic research. No longer is the study of mysticism limited to the scholarly scrutiny of historical documents, such as the beautifully expressive writings of St. Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, or Shankara.”

In the book, Richards relates the story of a drug addict from Baltimore living in a halfway house. After being released from prison, the man was sent to Spring Grove for treatment and received a high dose of LSD. Afterward, he explained that it was difficult to express the beauty of what was clearly a powerful religious experience. “My mind left my body and my body was dead,” the man said. He described a glowing Divine Being approaching him with his hand out. “I had touched that Divine Being and became part of God. At that moment, I shouted: ‘Good God Almighty, what a beautiful day! Good God Almighty, I am a man at last!’. . . I have been cleansed of all my sins. I thought before this moment that I could see but I have been a blind man all my life.”

Richards’ book is filled with these kinds of stories, which I, coming from a Baptist background, interpreted as clear examples of the “born again” experience, a phrase I’d often heard but never believed.

“You cannot see the kingdom of God,” Jesus said in the Book of John, “unless you are born again.”

Whether or not psychedelics are responsible for the bizarre stories depicted in the Bible, the document could disappear and it would shortly be rewritten, as stories of mystical experiences are a worldwide phenomenon today. However, if future research confirms that psychedelics did play a role in the genesis of religion, a shift in the church’s focus toward a more private practiceperhaps one utilizing eyeshades and a pair of headphoneswould be wise.

Infinite Wonder

After the study, I began to see hope and humor where I once saw only dead ends, outdated ideologies, and empty slogans. All of a sudden, forgiveness seemed of the utmost importance. “It is useless to try to adjudicate a long standing animosity by asking who started it, or who is the most wrong,” Wendell Berry once pointed out. “The only sufficient answer is to give up the animosity, and try forgiveness.” Christianity wasn’t so bad, I thought, hell, I might even be a follower. Abraham Joshua Heschel pointed out in his book “The Prophets,” that the prophets of the Old Testament have been described since antiquity as “hysterics . . . who experimented with altered states of consciousness.” Former contradictions didn’t seem like contradictions anymore. Some kind of third path had been revealed. New angles, meanings, and perspectives were abundant and exciting. No wonder they were hysterical, I thought, the problems that plague humanity are easily solvable in theory.

I would need a grant from the health department, I thought, and somewhere to conduct a sociology study on mental illness. The 100-plus year relationship between Kentucky and King Coal has left a deep psychological wound on my people. My uncle, Colonel Oren Coin, was sent by the governor to intervene in the battles of Bloody Harlan County in 1935. On the front page of the New York Times on Sept. 30, Uncle Oren described the police and coal operators’ actions as a “reign of terror.” The terrorists have by now mostly abandoned the state, ending the rocky relationship with only environmental and public health disasters left behind as thank-you notes. “You could have called, and told me goodbye,” Larry Sparks moaned in his bluegrass classic of the same name.

There are plenty of troubled pastors in Kentucky (Marvin Gaye Sr. was born in Lexington) and it boasts some of the finest amateur chemists in the countryinside and outside of jail. Furthermore, we played a central role in the history of psychedelics in America. The two most prominent distributors of LSD were from the bluegrass state: Owsley “Bear” Stanley, whose acid fueled the entire counterculture of the 1960s, and Al Hubbard, a one-time CIA agent who provided LSD to the team from Stanford University that invented the personal computer. Hubbard is also the mysterious figure who facilitated the trip that Aldous Huxley recounted in his 1956 essay ‘Heaven and Hell.’

I imagined one of those Amazon drones navigating through the mountains with a box of mushrooms in its craw (“may cause fits, visions and trances”). An eye mask and compact disc were included to ensure a quality mystical experience. An on-the-job-training program would unleash the potential of the state’s demoralized spiritual entrepreneurs, now reduced to profits of positive-thinking. The pastorship would be dispatched with their conversion kits via the “Shaman” app to the homes of the unwell, and to our existing centers of healing, which already have chapels installed. Churches preaching the prosperity gospel were offered free samplesan opportunity for a meet and greet with Jesus! Then again, you should never meet your heroes, they say. I found God to be absolutely ruthless and highly indifferent in judgment.

Psychiatrist David Spiegel of Stanford University argues that psilocybin is essentially about reducing fear by facing “the ultimate loss of control.” Fear, says Spiegel, is a “limiting state of mind” that numbs us from living “fully and authentically.” He views healing as a kind of personal trial or day of judgment aided by the unique mindset facilitated by psilocybin, which switches the mind into a kind of diagnostic or safe mode. “[T]hese drugs seem to ‘reboot’ the brain, leaving it changed long after the drug is gone.” Unfaced fears lead to anxiety, Bilderman pointed out, and eventually crippling phobias develop, many times stored in the subconscious, beneath the level of awareness. “Good psychotherapy involves learning to restructure one’s perspectives on one’s problems in life” by challenging “routine assumptions and think[ing] about problems in new ways.”

At the time of the study, I had been thinking a lot about country music for a column I wrote for this paper. Hank Williams’ most popular song is actually an ode to cognitive liberty. Visited upon him like a “stranger in the night,” a brush with the ineffable leads to a life-altering change in the singer’s perspective, freeing him from paralyzing worry and fear. The clear white light restored the singer’s “vision,” an allusion to the conversion of St. Paul, and a common mystical experience. “I saw the light, I saw the light, no more darkness, no more night. Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight, praise the Lord I saw the light.”

My experience at Hopkins transformed country gospel favorites from stale but fun sing-alongs into meaningful symbols of the psychedelic experience. I imagined this story sparking a revival of old-time country music, and running the clock backwards to a pre-industrial front-porch paradise. In my mind, I was country music’s Martin Luther, restoring a wilder, more authentic form of worship. I saw a large stained-glass bird sitting on top of a tree like a totem pole; it could see everything crystal clear from there, I thought. I saw a network of doors and empty rooms inside of an invisible castle. I felt a presence, and observed the face of a feminine plant-being wearing an eye mask wrapped with vines. It was moving around, performing some kind of possessed ritual and carefully whipping those wild vines. I was mildly alarmed, but also flabbergasted at the performance.

“Travis,” a voice called out.

Was this a guardian angel, I wondered? Maybe a nymph! Or perhaps the Starmaker, guiding me to the Western Lands. I felt a hand resting gently on my shoulder. It was time to check my blood pressure, my session guide said.

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Virtual Reality and Psychedelics are Opening New Pathways to Treating Mental Health Disorders – Big Think

Posted: at 11:34 am

For much of history the discussion of mental health was considered taboo. People simply werent right, or, in a mystical-psychological take, they might be touched by spirit. Indeed, correlation between psychotic states and religious revelation is longstanding. Speculation of the eternal aside, one in four people are expected to suffer from mental health issues every year. An evolving discussion over what that entails and how to treat the range of issues implicated is unavoidable.

Two interventionsone just reaching the mainstream, the other quite oldshare a common bond in altering the way we experience reality. Both are showing potentially game-changing results in treatment, which should open the doors to more research.

Throughout the twentieth century mental health had two complementary treatments: talk therapy and pharmaceuticals. Both have had their victories and seen there share of disasters, especially when the latter is implemented to avoid the rigors of the former. Clinical psychology professor Daniel Freeman and his brother, the writer Jason Freeman, argue that talking does not match the experience of problem-solving in the real world:

Counselling can be effective to a degree, but the most powerful changes happen when individuals are presented with the situations that cause them distress and directly learn how to think, feel, and behave more constructively. That means getting out of the consulting room and into the real world, with the therapist acting much more like a personal trainer or leadership coach.

Enter virtual reality. One reason talk therapy is limited is time, while pharmaceutical intervention, while successful in treating certain disorders, also has numerous side effects, including sleep disruption, gastrointestinal distress, emotional seesawing, sexual dysfunction, among others. Strapping on a headset and opening an app that places the participant in a crowded mall (agoraphobia) or on top of a skyscraper (acrophobia) could help rewire their phobias.

Recently I strapped into virtual reality for the second timethe first was a cheap cardboard model that was not all-consumingand can attest to its overwhelming neurological presence. Even while sitting on the patio of a Santa Monica restaurant I was completely immersed in the robo-technic world of electronic dance music and Anonymous-style lingo of this particular app. In the panoramic virtual world your brain has no choice but to treat it as real regardless of its illusory naturemuch the same can be said of life itself in this regard. We all see through the lenses of our illusions.

A second bonus, according to the Freeman brothers, is that, as in dreams, virtual reality is a safe space for us to engage in problem solving that wed normally be reluctant to attempt out there.

Understandably, the thought of facing a difficult situation even as part of a course of therapy can be off-putting for many people. But because VR is not real that reticence tends to disappear. Well do things in VR that wed be reluctant to try in normal life.

Lessons learned in the unreal world are transferrable, giving VR its therapeutic power. So far the 285 studies published on virtual reality and mental health are encouraging. Sufferers of social anxiety, PTSD, and phobias are finding success. The brothers speculate that other problems, such as depression, eating disorders, and alcoholism, might also be treated in the virtual world. They even foresee VR as being a diagnostic tool, cheaper and more accessible than fMRI machines and talk therapy sessions.

While enthusiastic, the brothers recognize that were at an early stage. We should always proceed with caution when considering any treatment to be a silver bullet. Yet the original virtual realitypsychedelicskeeps emerging in new research as a means for treating mental health. While this course of treatment has its own challengeslegality, dosages, individual neurochemistrythe results are favorable.

Phobias and disorders are one thing, but psychosis and schizophrenia fall into different categories. Many of us suffer the consequences of trauma and stress yet are still able to function in society. Beyond that an entire range of mental health issues ravage an under-discussed population.

Psychedelics were thrown into Nixons racist power grab in the early seventies, causing a wide range of substances to be taken off the market for research. Enthusiasts and scientists remained on-guard for decades, but the last few years have offered a renaissance in psychedelic research, with positive results in anxiety, nicotine addiction, and depression. As Taylor Beck reports, this has led to even more profound research:

By creating a brief bout of psychosis in a healthy brain, as indigenous healers have for millennia, scientists are seeking new ways to studyand perhaps treatmental illness.

Identifying the neurological basis of symptoms is necessary in treating the ailment. Since disorders like schizophrenia are comprised of a number of symptoms, targeting each one pharmacologically might yield better results than trying to treat the disorder as a whole.

Beck notes that a range of psychedelics, including psilocybin, mescaline, and LSD all act on serotonin, which is critical in mood regulation. Neuropharmacologist Mitul Mehta believes the exact reason one hallucinatesbe it schizophrenia, mania, or Parkinsonsmight not be pertinent if you can target the hallucinatory act itself, giving psychedelics a potentially broad range of disorders to work on.

Which is what a Swiss study Beck reports on discovered. Inducing temporary psychosis and hallucinations with psilocybin in thirty-six people, researchers attempted to block the deluge of serotonin activation that occurs in hallucinations. Participants were given the antipsychedelic drugs buspirone and ergotamine to accomplish just that. In this case psilocybin is not treating schizophrenia, but being used to mimic it to discover the efficacy of serotonin-blocking substances.

Buspirone restrained the hallucinations, though it didn’t prevent the anxious sense of ego dissolution or fear of going insane sometimes associated with psychedelics. In terms of this research, though, its a win, with psilocybin working to mimic psychosis in the brains of healthy participants. This itself is progress in understanding such disorders, considering so much of what weve learned in the last few centuries was only discovered through the brains of those already afflicted.

Mental health problems are chronic. Causes, triggers, and reasons are too long for any singular substance or virtual reality to address. But these new approaches should be welcomed by mental health specialists, empowering them with noninvasive (or controllably invasive) means of better understanding whats going on inside of their patients heads. We know its all chemistry, and no chemical should be denied its therapeutic potential.

Derek’s next book,Whole Motion: Training Your Brain and Body For Optimal Health, will be published on 7/4/17 by Carrel/Skyhorse Publishing. He is based in Los Angeles. Stay in touch onFacebookandTwitter.

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LAUGHING AND LEARNING ABOUT PSYCHEDELICS – Dope Magazine

Posted: March 27, 2017 at 5:02 am

Comedian Shane Mauss started writing jokes at age 15, around the same time he first experimented with psychedelic drugs. Today hes mined those experiences to create his most popular show yet, A Good Trip, using insights both comedic and scientific to discuss the myths and merits of psychedelics like LSD, DMT and psilocybin mushrooms.

Shane Mauss: I like doing themed shows. Ive been using psychedelics for 20 years, so I had the material to do a whole show, but I was nervous about outing myself as a psychedelic user. Then I performed at a show in Houston with no one there except other comics, so I started doing all the psychedelic jokes I could think of, and suddenly, an hour had gone by. So I started trying the show out.

A: At first it was focused on the jokes, so it was a little nerve-racking every time I would add more information. After a year-and-a-half of performing it live and getting feedback from people who like the thought-provoking information, it got easier. Sometimes fans will bring their parents because they want them to understand this stuff, and that usually works really well. I get awesome responses from people who brought their parents, and now their parents understand what their kids are intotheyre not doing crack, theyre actually trying to better themselves.

A: It gets a predominantly intellectual crowda lot of people like me that arent your typical stoners. The stoner crowd and psychedelic crowd overlap a lot, but there arent as many dreadlocks in the crowd as youd think. I wasnt sure what to expect when I started, but maybe because my science podcast [Here We Are], I get a fair amount of people who work in science. Theyre definitely the most intelligent audiences Ive ever performed for, by a long shot.

A: So many. Some people think of all drugs as an escape, but to me theyre more an exploration of the mind rather than an escape. I think they can actually help some peoples mental well-beingand I say some because theyre not right for everybody. And the majority of bad trips are usually people expecting a party drug, but then things can get real and that panics them.

A: I think they gave me a lot more empathy when I was a young Midwestern teenager, raised in a community with a lot of macho mentality and bigotry. When I started putting this show together a few years ago, I started doing psychedelics and writing about them more, and I realized a lot of the benefits came from processing the experience afterward rather than the experience itself.

Since the age of 10, Ive had chronic, almost daily depression, but last year I had an amazing experience taking mushrooms in a sensory deprivation tank. Then, for about two months, I was doing mushrooms once a week. Somehow my depression just went away, and it hasnt come back since. I dont want to encourage anyone with depression to take a whole bunch of mushrooms, but if mushrooms didnt play a part in my recovery, Im exceptionally confused.

Also published on Medium.

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Psychedelics: The Next Revolution In Psychiatry? – Wisconsin Public Radio News

Posted: March 23, 2017 at 2:09 pm


Wisconsin Public Radio News
Psychedelics: The Next Revolution In Psychiatry?
Wisconsin Public Radio News
Psychologist Bill Richards said the first time he had a psychedelic experience he was a graduate student at the University of Gottingen in west Germany. It was 1963 and, as a young theology student, he had volunteered for a psilocybin experiment at a

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