Psychedelic Events Are Going Mainstream, Where The Much-Maligned Mushroom Industry Focuses On Mental Health – Forbes

Psychedelics have been a mainstay for a millennia and appreciated in the counter-culture for decades. In 2020, whether consuming, investing, or both, mushrooms are having a moment.

PsychedeliTech, a ground-breaking new conference, incubator and discovery platform for psychedelic medicine will host Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) as the keynote speaker at the first-ever PsyTech Summit, a forum for psychedelic science, innovation and investment conference, in Israel.

The inaugural PsyTech conference will take place March 29-30, 2020 at the Hilton Hotel, on the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv.

PsyTech is a division of iCAN: Israel-Cannabis, which together with CannaTech, its medical cannabis events platform, has been a global participant in education and innovation for cannabis therapeutics and products with conferences in London, Sydney, Hong Kong, Panama and Cape Town, to date.

Saul Kaye, iCAN founder and CEO, said, Rick Doblin is an early pioneer and extremely effective advocate for the potential of psychedelics in the treatment of mental health disease and symptoms, including depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. We are thrilled he will join us at our first PsyTech Summit in Tel Aviv to share his enlightened vision and vast knowledge of the fast-developing therapeutic ecosystem that is about to explode as a wave of new information, research and consumer interest about psychedelics floods the market.

For the first 30 years of MAPS dedicated research, there were virtually no for-profit psychedelic business opportunities, apart from a few ibogaine and ayahuasca clinics and mushroom sales in countries where the substances are legal.

Psychedelics have the potential to impact and improve mental health.

For-profit entities emerging in the field of psychedelics, such as Cybin with microdosed psilocybin products and Mind Med with synthetic ibogaine, are directly due to the success of non-profit psychedelic therapy research, including the lifelong work of MAPS and other advocates.

"The new psychedelic industry will need to focus on public benefit as well as profit in order to avoid a cultural backlash against these historically misunderstood substances," cautions Doblin."I am looking forward to discussing these important issues at PsyTech, Israels first summit focusing on psychedelic innovation," he continued.

The global market for mental health medications was worth $88.3 billion in 2015, according to BCC Research.

Similar to the cannabis industry, psychedelics and medicinal mushrooms will require an ecosystem to effectively drive education, regulation, safety, investment, research and development.

These key issues, as well as personal stories of treatment, will be explored at PsyTech.

The topic of psychedelics is sparking worldwide mainstream interest. People who want to learn more about the companies developing the science of mushrooms can attend a conference in New York, prior to the upcoming one in Tel Aviv.

"This is an exciting new industry and it's just starting to grow, which is whyGMRis hosting a mini-conference on Psychedelics in New York," says Debra Borchardt, Editor-In-Chief of Green Market Report.

TheEconomics of Psychedelic Investing takes place onJanuary 24, 2020 in NYC.

For those who merely want to experience the effects of psychedelic mushrooms in a safe and welcoming environment, Irie Selkirk offers her guests a transformative psilocybin experience complete with farm-to-table meals and a psychotherapist on staff, at her immersion retreat in Jamaica.

With conferences, nascent investment opportunities and infused staycations available, magic mushrooms are going mainstream.

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Psychedelic Events Are Going Mainstream, Where The Much-Maligned Mushroom Industry Focuses On Mental Health - Forbes

NYC To Host Economics Of Psychedelics Investing Summit – Benzinga

The Green Market Summit, an event series by the cannabis financial news publication Green Market Report, is hosting a half-day event on the emerging trend of psychedelics, focusing on current and future investment opportunities: The Economics of Psychedelics Investing.

The event will offer a program on the opportunities in alternative plant investments, the quickly emerging industry of psychedelic medicines, and the companies looking to capitalize on it.

Research has shown psilocybin can help relieve symptoms of people who experience cluster headaches, treat addiction, and could even be an alternative to typical depression treatments.

This event will educate curious investors as to the opportunities in this industry in its earliest stages. It will take place Jan. 24 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., at 54 West 40th St., New York, NY.

Check out Benzinga Cannabis Psychedelics portal.

This emergence of new companies focusing on the promise of mushrooms to treat certain mental health issues is really exciting. Not only from a patient perspective, but also from an investor perspective. It feels similar to the early days of the cannabis industry and I believe that is why we are seeing a lot of parallels between the two, said Debra Borchardt, co-founder and CEO of Green Market Media. Green Market Report has always had its strength in spotting trends which is why we recognized the importance of this new industry.

Attendees will hear from companies like Atai Life Sciences, MindMed, Field Trip Ventures and KCSA Strategic Communications. Topics will cover the parallels between the cannabis industry and psychedelics, micro-dosing and building a strategy around this promising new science.

After the event, attendees and key industry leaders will be welcomed to enjoy a Cocktail hour sponsored by Mattio Communications.

See Also:

Bruce Linton Talks Psychedelics Investments, Microdosing And LSD: 'The Therapeutic Potential Of Psychedelics Is Greater Than Cannabinoids'

The Keys To Understanding Psilocybin's Medical Value, Market Potential

2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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NYC To Host Economics Of Psychedelics Investing Summit - Benzinga

Can you have a bad trip from taking acid in the woods? – WHYY

The Pine Barrens of New Jersey is home to just about as many myths as it is trees. From ghost towns to interdimensional portals, if its a thing that scares people on the internet, chances are that thing is rumored to be lurking somewhere among the conifers.

Thats why when a couple of my friends asked me if I wanted to take LSD with them during our annual camping trip a few summers ago, I declined. We were deep inside Jersey Devil country, and although my sober brain didnt much believe in that kind of stuff, who knows what might emerge from my subconscious while on acid in the woods. And I didnt want to find out.

Id heard that psychedelics could change a persons outlook on life forever; that conditions had to be just right for a good trip, and something about the possibility of a hircine winged demon eyeing me through the brush didnt seem like a promising vibe.

My friend, lets call him Kevin, wasnt as worried. Kevin didnt want to use his real name for this story because, well, its about LSD.

I did it on a previous camping trip with a different group of people and had a really good time, he said.

Up to that point, Kevin had had nothing but positive experiences with psychedelics.

I would sit down, listen to [a] song just deep in my head with my eyes closed, and it just all kind of made a lot more sense to me, he said.

But this time, Kevin and another friend upped their dose.

Were sitting there by the fire for a little bit, and then it finally starts kicking in. Im kind of looking around the leaves are kind of starting to blur around a little bit and the colors are starting to pop, said Kevin. Then all of a sudden, were really not feeling the rest of the group vibe, so we decided were just going to go this way.

Before the rest of us knew it, the two were gone out wandering around the Pinelands alone and tripping, with neither direction nor drinking water.

If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, its because it could have been.

What were seeing is that so much of what is traditionally considered a bad trip is so often around set and setting, said Ryan Beauregard.

Beauregard has a degree in psychology and now manages the Zendo Project, a group of professionals and volunteers that set up facilities at concerts and festivals to help those having bad experiences on psychedelics.

Though in the past bad trips were frequently attributed to bad acid, Beauregard said, his team finds that nascent, low-level anxiety and trauma are typically to blame for the negative experiences with psychedelics that the Zendo Project helps manage.

Have you cleaned your room and have you done your homework before you go down the rabbit hole? Because these are some big and powerful substances that are going to bring up a lot, Beauregard said. If you havent taken the time to just simply declutter your space, it can take up a lot of headspace in these psychedelic realms.

How cluttered were my two friends psychedelic realms out there alone? Had they done their homework? Would that be enough keep the devils inside their heads at bay?

Just as all of us back at the campsite were going to go look for them to find out, they returned.

At the edge of our seats we inquired: How was it? What did you guys do out there?

Kevin told us about their journey.

We both just sat underneath a tree just kind of looking up, kind of moving around the tree side, kind of making this kaleidoscope thing happen. And that was cool. So we called that Kaleidoscope tree. he said.

And then there were a couple of smaller trees also on that same path that were dead on the grounds. We called them our fallen brothers.

Then finally, the big one.

We get to the end of the path and we see, boom, out in the middle of the woods up on the right, just this one very tall tree a good 20 feet away from all the other trees. We just look at it for a couple of minutes and then we finally look at each other. And were like, this is the God Tree.

They showed us how they transferred energy from the God Tree to a smaller one named Baby Energy Tree. They made us kneel before it and pray. We didnt know exactly what we were praying to or for, but whatever it was, it was good.

From an outsiders perspective, this spiritual transcendence looked remarkably like it was made of the type of stuff that could change someone forever: a one-way ticket to Zen, courtesy of two tabs of LSD and a forest filled with otherworldly projections.

But for Kevin, that sort of lasting impact wouldnt come until he dropped acid again a few months later, on a different camping trip with another group of friends.

I wanted to listen to music. So I go into my car, I grabbed my headphones, then I just laid back down on the grass. And then the next three hours were just crazy visual, he said. Some of them were pretty terrifying.

Every time the bass dropped, Kevin felt the earth violently rotate 90 degrees.

I was just kind of getting lost. And then all of a sudden they hear an airplane or helicopter or something kind of go overhead. And then for whatever reason, I just envisioned, like the military coming. I just imagined missiles striking down on this one point in the ground, he said.

Then Kevin said he saw one of his friends set a section of grass on fire.

I could just feel the heat. I just felt like everyone was burning. I would just see plastic cups kind of just melting and then like people on fire, he said, and then I thought, Oh no, what have we gotten ourselves into?

Kevin had gotten himself into a bad trip. It took him hours to return to a normal state, but once he did, he was different in a good way.

I just feel like it kind of put the world in a different perspective, he said.

Beauregard, from the Zendo Project, said that while complex reactions to psychedelics and bad trips like Kevins arent uncommon, theyre not for everyone and not always without consequence.

In 2008, Beauregard traveled to Peru to take part in a psychedelic ritual. There, he suffered what he described as a psychotic break that lasted for three weeks.

I had, you know, created an internal reality, that at some point, it was like I dove through a wormhole. Man, it just felt really scary, Beauregard said. I think theres so much about this idea that psychedelics are the magic pill, but the reality is, I think they make more work for us. Like once youve pulled those veils away, you cant unsee those things.

Kevin is still doing that work.

I feel like I learned to appreciate life and just not really worried about things. I did kind of burn alive for a couple of minutes, so I feel like Ive already experienced some bad things, so nothing probably would come close to that, he said.

He even returned to the God Tree.

Ive gone back there a couple other times, Ive also done other acid or other things and then just kind of went on the same path. But it really wasnt the same thing. he said.

And thats OK with him. That dead tree may live in our imaginations forever, alongside the other legends out there in the Pinelands, but at the very least Kevin avoided becoming one himself that day.

As for what this all means for the next camping trip, I dont know.

If one of my friends decides to explore their inner wilderness God Trees, Devils and all in the actual wilderness, thats their choice.

All I can do is make sure they dont stray too far from camp.

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Can you have a bad trip from taking acid in the woods? - WHYY

How researchers and advocates of color are forging their own paths in psychedelic-assisted therapy – WHYY

Were seeing an explosion of medical research into psychedelics. Psilocybin, or shrooms, to treat major depressive disorder. Ayahuasca, a psychotropic plant medicine from the Amazon, and ibogaine, a potent hallucinogen from Africa, to treat addiction. LSD for anxiety.

MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly, is currently in Phase III clinical trials the last phase before Food and Drug Administration approval. If results hold up, it could be used in therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder by early 2022.

But some researchers are pushing for MDMA and other psychedelics research to be more inclusive. A study from 2018 found that 82% of participants in psychedelic studies were white.

That means theres a greater likelihood these treatments will be developed in ways that dont work for people of color.

Furthermore, practitioners may be overlooking a huge opportunity with psychedelic-assisted therapy using it to treat racial and intergenerational trauma within communities of color.

When Ifetayo Harvey was 4 years old, her dad was sentenced to 15 years in prison. She says an undercover cop had propositioned him to sell cocaine, and as a new immigrant, working to support his family, he accepted. He served eight years, before being deported back to Jamaica.

This shaped my childhood experience in a way thats hard to explain, Harvey said. Because things like this arent supposed to happen, right?

Through her childhood, Harvey often felt sad or angry toward herself. She had trouble trusting people.

I was really confused about what happened with my dad, and who he was as a person, Harvey said. As a kid, I dealt with depression and anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

In college, Harvey learned about psychedelics as a therapeutic substance. She was a senior, feeling depressed and struggling to graduate.

She decided to give it a try. She took some shrooms, then went on a walk with a friend through the woods of western Massachusetts. It was fall in New England, the woods wearing their most stunning colors. At first, she says, the sensations were overwhelming.

But once that passed, she felt an authentic sense of happiness, for the first time in a year.

I felt like I was alive again, Harvey said. Before, I just felt really dull and lifeless and numb, and not really motivated to live.

During her walk, she saw life all around her.

I saw plants breathing, I saw things move and sparkle in ways that I hadnt seen before. I also felt just spiritually connected to the earth in a way that I havent had, she said. I got a reset, and I needed that to be able to graduate.

Shrooms have helped Harvey heal and process a lot of the trauma she and her family went through.

Ive been able to look at myself with more compassion, look at my family with more compassion, she said. When youre in a sober state of mind, its harder to process heavy things sometimes because we want to run away from it or we want to bury our feelings. And with mushrooms, you cant really do that. Mushrooms kind of makes you face whatever youre running away from.

That year, Harvey started learning more about psychedelics and psychedelic research. After she graduated in 2014, she was excited to get a job with one of the biggest psychedelic research organizations around the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS.

When she got there, she was the only Black employee, and she felt like she didnt belong. Her feelings came to a head during a classic psychedelic experience, in Chicago.

My first time taking LSD was at a Grateful Dead show with MAPS, Harvey said. Im there, I know one Grateful Dead song, but I was offered LSD by one of my colleagues and I partook in it. And I was having a great time.

When she and her colleagues walked out of the concert, they saw Deadheads everywhere, she says, being wild up and down Michigan Avenue. As they approached Grant Park, they noticed police putting a Black man in handcuffs.

Mind you, theres all these white folks running around probably on drugs, selling drugs, have drugs on them, doing God knows what, Harvey said. The one Black guy you see at the concert is, of course, getting arrested.

She recalled that someone asked, Should we stop and watch to make sure they dont mistreat him? To which her other coworkers responded, He probably did something or you dont know what he did, lets just keep it moving.

That, to me, was kinda just representative of how Black folks are seen, Harvey said.

This was one of many times Harvey felt alienated by her white coworkers. Though they knew about her familys history with drugs and incarceration, people didnt check if she felt safe when everyone used substances. They didnt seem aware that her risk, and connection to drugs, was different from theirs.

It actually kind of, it feels like youre in a twilight zone, she said. Its very frustrating because I believe that psychedelics can be powerful and can be healing and can do amazing things for our world. But I think that we have to be very intentional and thoughtful about how we do that.

Eventually, Harvey got a new job with a nonprofit called the Drug Policy Alliance. And she also co-founded a group called the People of Color Psychedelic Collective.

I really wanted to create a space that is truly open and also safe for folks of color, she said.

Right now, psychedelics are gaining traction in mainstream medicine. But the big names behind psychedelics, the leaders of research organizations, and the therapists doing psychedelic-assisted therapy are all mostly white.

There are reasons why the mainstream psychedelic movement is not very diverse. Elijah Watson is a journalist whos written about what he calls the whitewashing of psychedelics.

Psychedelics originated in communities of color, he said. Indigenous groups have used them as medicine and sacrament for thousands of years. In some cases, those traditions are alive. In other cases, they were banned or destroyed through colonization.

Then in the 1950s, a white bank executive from the United States went to Mexico and participated in a Mazatec mushroom ritual.

His name was Robert Gordon Wasson, Watson said. He went to Mexico, and he found a medicine woman named Mara Sabina. And he took the mushrooms himself.

Sabina let Wasson take her picture on the condition that he keep it private. But when he got back to the U.S., he published the picture, and the name of her community, in a Life magazine article called Seeking the Magic Mushroom.

That article is credited with sparking an interest in psychedelics that caught fire across the U.S., especially within the hippie movement. Countercultural figures like author Ken Kesey and Harvard professor Timothy Leary took on the mantle of psychedelics.

And you have it emerging within countercultural music during the 60s, where youre having sub-genres like psychedelic rock, Watson said.

After the article came out, Sabinas community was bombarded by hippies who wanted to hallucinate on shrooms. Local police blamed her, and people ended up ostracizing her and burning her house down.

During this time, researchers and psychiatrists were also digging into the use of psychedelics.

Not all of this research was aboveboard or, for that matter, ethical. MK-Ultra, Project BLUEBIRD and Project ARTICHOKE are the names of top-secret CIA programs, in which the government used LSD, mescaline and other psychedelics to manipulate peoples mental states.

The CIA also backed open research, such as the work of Harris Isbell in Lexington, Kentucky, in the 1950s and 60s. Isbell did experiments on incarcerated Black men, often with a history of drug addiction. He wanted to test how much LSD someone would tolerate, and for how long. Hed give people LSD doses for 77 days in a row.

Though it was coercive and abusive, the work was published in respectable journals. Isbell had people sign simple consent forms and paid them off with drugs. Experiments like this led to public distrust in psychedelic research, especially in Black communities.

By the 1970s, the antiwar and Black Power movements were gaining strength. Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs. Research into psychedelics shuttered, practically overnight. And drugs became a reason to search peoples homes and cars, and put them in prison.

Black and Brown people are more disproportionately being arrested and targeted during this still very ongoing war, Watson said.

While white people have continued to use psychedelics, he added, Black people have many reasons to stay away from them.

My livelihood is already in jeopardy even by just smoking some weed, Watson said. We also see how police officers tend to treat people of color with mental illness. Its, Were going to shoot first and ask questions later. If Im going to partake [in] this substance that may make someone think I have this mental illness, and I see how cops already treat them, whats to say that theyre gonna treat me any differently?

Because theres so much mistrust, MAPS, the organization that studies psychedelics, has had trouble convincing people of color to join their clinical trials.

Once the Phase II [MDMA] trials were completed, we saw that we didnt have the diversity that ideally we would have wanted, said Brad Burge, the director of communications for MAPS.

If you look at the history of the stigma and prohibition of these substances, it seems like a miracle that we were able to get the approval that we needed, he said. And so we were just hoping that we could enroll enough people in those Phase II trials and get approval.

With Phase III, which will have 200 to 300 participants, MAPS wants to include more people of color. So a few years ago, the organization reached out to a psychologist named Monnica Williams.

Williams is a Black woman herself, and shes spent her career addressing mental health disparities. Shes worked with many people who are traumatized from experiences of racism, stigma and discrimination.

We know that people in communities of color may have a lot of additional trauma beyond the usual suspects, Williams said. So beyond assault and combat, things like cultural traumas due to genocide, slavery, immigration trauma and refugee trauma.

When someone has experienced trauma, it shatters their trust in the world and their feelings of safety. It causes them to be perpetually on the lookout for danger.

If you look at experiences of racism and discrimination, you really see the same thing happening, because people are continually assaulted, Williams said. Could be large things, major discriminatory experiences, or it could be a lot of small things, but theyre coming unpredictably. And eventually you start to fear for your own safety. And then when you try to talk about it, oftentimes its dismissed. So youre still just holding onto it and carrying it around.

People of color also often hold intergenerational trauma. Black folks whove been in the U.S. for generations have a whole family legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws and hate, Williams said. Researchers have found that trauma can get passed down biologically, she said, through changes in how genes are expressed.

There is a lack of therapists of color, or even white therapists who are trained to think about these things, Williams said.

Often, its just not on clinicians radar, she said. Theyre not thinking about the fact that maybe being strip-searched by a law enforcement person felt like a sexual assault. Being threatened at work, maybe that landed on someone like a death threat.

Williams has trained in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy with MAPS, and she believes it has a lot of potential to treat PTSD.

The treatments we have now for PTSD are not that great, she said. The medications are ineffective. They just sort of numb peoples emotions. And the therapies can be effective, but theyre very difficult. Often, patients just dont feel able to deep dive into their past traumas.

Right now, the therapies that are most effective, like prolonged exposure, require people to recount their traumas in harrowing detail. With MDMA and other psychedelics, Monnica sees something completely different.

People are able to move through their traumas with a lot less pain and fear, she said. People are making new connections in their brains, and changing how theyre thinking about their trauma. I dont know, I think its a beautiful process really. In a way that I wouldnt say is necessarily true of traditional therapy.

Scientists dont fully understand how MDMA works in the brain. They know it reduces activity in brain regions that process fear, and stimulates the release of feel-good neurotransmitters, like oxytocin, which enhances feelings of trust and bonding.

But then theres also things that we dont necessarily understand, Williams said. A lot of people have very spiritual experiences. Sometimes, people may feel like theyre talking to deities, they may see ancestors, they may feel like theyre getting wisdom from spiritual guides.

Its also common for people to feel a sort of ego-death, which puts things in perspective. Or to find compassion.

Theyre able to forgive themselves a lot of times. What keeps people stuck in PTSD is they blame themselves for the traumas that have happened to them, Williams said. So you do see big shifts in the way people think. And a lot of it does seem to be, you know, connected to love. And that just sort of helps to melt away the trauma.

Williams said she has to practice therapy a bit differently when shes treating patients with psychedelics. With prolonged exposure therapy, shes always directing people to the hardest parts of their story.

I dont do that with MDMA therapy, she said. People in a lot of ways are healing themselves. Its a nondirective type of therapy. For example, if they say, I see a door, we might encourage them to go through it. Its mostly what we call inner-directed. Theyre sort of listening to their hearts and going in that direction.

For all its potential, there are still concerns that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy will be hard to get once its approved. Its a 12-week course, and requires two therapists for ethical reasons, so it will be expensive. And there still arent enough therapists of color.

MAPS said it is working on convincing insurance companies that this approach is cheaper than traditional PTSD therapies, which can take a longer amount of time to work. And in August, Monnica helped MAPS put on a Cultural Trauma & Psychedelic Medicine workshopspecifically for therapists who work with communities of color.

Aisha Mohammed, a Philadelphia-based therapist who attended that training, has spent much of her career working with sex workers, drug users, and people who dont have housing.

Its been difficult for some of the clients I see to make regular appointments, or to even come into sessions. And the trauma has been so disruptive to their lives that conventional therapy isnt a good fit for them, Mohammed said. So this idea that you could address longstanding, deep traumas in a three- to five-month window is really life-changing and transformative.

Mohammed is part of a team thats opening an MDMA-assisted psychotherapy clinic in Philadelphia, called the SoundMind Center. The nonprofit clinic will offer sliding-scale treatment, and will have a community organizer on staff whose job is to raise awareness and build trust with communities that have been affected by the war on drugs.

She hopes to also see Philadelphias community health agencies, which offer free or low-cost therapy to people with Medicaid, hire practitioners trained in psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Mellody Hayes is another practitioner of color who attended the MAPS training in Kentucky. Shes a San Francisco-based anesthesiologist who focuses on palliative care, and plans to open an inclusive psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy center called Ceremony Health.

Psychedelics are the first medicine we have that is a way to experience liberation, Hayes said. The medicine is in how we live in community and connection with one another.

With psychedelics, you can experience more peace, she said. And what are you going to build with that peace? They say that we create from what we know if what you know is pain and trauma, you will pass forward pain and trauma. And if what you know is peace and joy, you will create peace and joy.

For Elijah Watson, the journalist whos covered the history of psychedelics, whats important about this moment is that people of color are speaking up and people are listening.

If you dont have somebody who does look like you advocating for the thing that could possibly help you, yeah, youre probably not going to do it, Watson said.

The erasure of history has led Black and Brown people to think psychedelic healing was never a part of us, he said. But it always has been, and we deserve access to it, just like anybody else. The main goal of therapy is to get better. And thats something we should all be able to strive for.

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How researchers and advocates of color are forging their own paths in psychedelic-assisted therapy - WHYY

A CIA chemist, mind control and the return of psychedelic drugs – The Boston Globe

As LSD raced through the American counterculture during the 1960s, it became an ultimate symbol of protest. Guardians of mainstream culture panicked. In 1968 Congress made mind-altering drugs illegal. President Nixon called LSD guru Timothy Leary the most dangerous man in America. LSD was listed as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. For decades, serious research into its potential was impossible. That taboo is now dissolving.

The apocalyptic stereotype of LSD, which during the 1960s was said to cause everything from birth defects to insanity, was bound to fade. Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who accidentally discovered it in 1943, hoped it could be used to treat mental illness, and for a time it was taken seriously as a therapeutic tool. The LSD-themed musical that is scheduled to open in March focuses on three celebrities who used it during the 1950s: Cary Grant, Aldous Huxley, and Clare Booth Luce. Entitled Flying Over Sunset and written by James Lapine, who shared a Pulitzer for Sunday in the Park With George and has won three Tony Awards, it is likely to fuel burgeoning interest in psychoactive drugs.

Perhaps the most striking evidence of that interest was the announcement in September that Johns Hopkins Medicine has received $17 million in private and foundation grants to open a Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Among its first projects will be experiments to see if LSD and related drugs can be used to treat anorexia, early-onset Alzheimers, or opioid-use disorders or even to help people quit smoking. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have endorsed calls that psilocybin be reclassified as acceptable for medical use. LSD could be next. Sidney Gottlieb, who introduced Americans to LSD nearly 70 years ago, is returning for a curtain call.

Gottlieb was the most powerful unknown American of the 20th century unless there was someone else who worked in total secrecy, conducted grotesque experiments on human subjects across three continents, and had what amounted to a government-issued license to kill. He ran historys most systematic search for techniques of mind control, a project that CIA director Allen Dulles named MK-ULTRA. Dulles believed that if a way could be found to seize control of human minds, the prize would be nothing less than global mastery. In 1951 he hired Gottlieb to direct the search. Although Gottlieb had a doctorate in biochemistry from Cal Tech and had worked in several government laboratories, he was an unlikely choice. Dulles and most of the men who ran the early CIA were silver-spoon products of the American aristocracy. Gottlieb was the 32-year-old son of Orthodox Jewish immigrants, grew up in the Bronx, attended City College of New York, stuttered, and limped. He was also a compassionate humanist who meditated, lived in a cabin without running water, grew his own vegetables, and rose before dawn to milk his goats. He was his generations most prolific but also most gentle-hearted torturer.

Gottlieb was fascinated with the mind-control potential of LSD. He and his fellow seekers dared to hope that it might hold, as one of them put it, the secret that was going to unlock the universe. By his own account he used it himself at least 200 times. Years later he recalled his first trip: I happened to experience an out-of-bodyness, a feeling as though I am in a kind of transparent sausage skin that covers my whole body and it is shimmering, and I have a sense of well-being and euphoria for most of the next hour or two hours, and then gradually it subsides.

In 1953, Gottlieb persuaded the CIA to spend $240,000 to buy the worlds entire supply of LSD from its sole producer, the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Sandoz. Over the next decade, he used his unique stash for two purposes. Some of it went to prisons in the United States and to CIA safe houses in Europe and East Asia, where it was used in heinous experiments on unwitting or unwilling human subjects. In one of them, seven African American inmates at a prison in Kentucky were given what the prison doctor called double, triple and quadruple doses of LSD every day for 77 days. Experiments abroad, in which LSD was used in concert with other drugs and with torments like electroshock, were even harsher, and caused an unknown number of deaths. These were the most extreme experiments on human subjects that have ever been conducted by an officer or agency of the US government. Gottlieb had concluded that before he could insert a new mind into someones brain, he had to blast away the existing mind. Some of his most gruesome experiments at black sites in Europe and East Asia were aimed at finding out if overdoses of LSD and other drugs could do that. His victims, called expendables, were prisoners of war, suspected enemy agents, and refugees who would not be missed if they disappeared.

The other side of Gottliebs LSD research was quite different voluntary and non-coercive. He wanted to know how ordinary people would react to LSD in a clinical setting. Since the CIA could not conduct these experiments itself, Gottlieb set up bogus medical foundations that served as conduits for MK-ULTRA funds. Through them, he contracted with hospitals and clinics across the United States that agreed to carry out tests on volunteers. Among the first to sign up was a graduate student named Ken Kesey, who was given doses of Gottliebs LSD and psilocybin at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park, California. He liked it so much that he not only urged his friends to volunteer, but took a job at the hospital. That gave him material for his counterculture masterpiece One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and also allowed him to pilfer vials of LSD for use at his soon-to-be-famous acid test parties.

Gottlieb was also sponsoring experiments at nearby Stanford University which, like most MK-ULTRA contractors, did not realize that it was working for the CIA. Among the first volunteers at Stanford was the poet Allen Ginsberg, who listened to Tristan und Isolde on headphones during his first experience and went on to promote the healthy personal adventure of LSD use. Another was the Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, who later wrote some of his most celebrated songs while tripping. Together, these unwitting MK-ULTRA subjects helped turn on a generation.

It took decades for LSD evangelists to grasp the bizarre truth that their formative and ultimately culture-shattering LSD experiences were part of a CIA project aimed at finding a tool for mind control. The United States government was in a way responsible for creating the acid tests and the Grateful Dead, and thereby the whole psychedelic counterculture, Robert Hunter concluded. When an interviewer asked John Lennon about LSD, he replied: We must always remember to thank the CIA. Those answers were correct as far as they went, but early psychic voyagers had never heard of Sidney Gottlieb. If they had, they would have realized that they had him to thank for LSD, not simply the United States government or the CIA.

Timothy Leary, the most prominent LSD promoter of that era, was also introduced to psychedelics thanks to Sidney Gottlieb. He learned of their existence from a 1957 article in Life magazine about an expedition to find magic mushrooms in Mexico. Fascinated with the prospect of a mind-altering substance, he traveled to Mexico, found and tried the magic mushroom, pronounced it above all and without question the deepest religious experience of my life, and set off on the path that made him the Pied Piper of LSD. Neither he nor anyone else could have known it at the time, but Gottlieb had used MK-ULTRA funds, disguised as a foundation grant, to subsidize the expedition that had produced the Life article. The LSD movement was started by the CIA, Leary recognized years later. When he mused, I wouldnt be here now without the foresight of CIA scientists, what he meant was: I wouldnt be here without Sidney Gottlieb.

Gottliebs decade of MK-UTRA experiments led him to two conclusions. He had proven conclusively that with the application of enough drug overdoses and other extreme techniques over extended periods, it is possible to destroy a human mind; the trail of ruined lives he left in his wake is horrific testimony to his success. Yet he was also forced to admit that he had failed to find a way to insert a new mind into the resulting void. As MK-ULTRA ended in the early 1960s, Gottlieb concluded that psychoactive drugs are too unpredictable in their effect on individual human beings, under specific circumstances, to be operationally useful.

Once MK-ULTRA was behind him, Gottlieb went on to other glories at the CIA. Because he knew more about toxins than anyone in the US government probably more than anyone in the world it was logical that his CIA superiors would call on him when they needed ways to kill. He made the poisons used in failed attempts to kill Fidel Castro, and at one point mused about creating aerosolized LSD that could be sprayed into a radio studio from which Castro was about to speak. In 1960 he carried poison to the Congo to be used in killing Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. The poison was not used, and several months later a Belgian-Congolese squad captured and executed Lumumba. For the last seven years of his career he ran the Technical Services Staff, which makes tools and devices for spies. In later life, perhaps troubled by what he had done, he volunteered at a hospital for leprosy patients, taught students with speech defects, and counseled dying patients at a hospice. Yet LSD is his most mind-boggling legacy. He saw it not as a tool for psychic exploration, as did his unwitting hippie disciples, or for clinical use, but as a potential key to abolishing consciousness so minds could be opened to outside control.

Before retiring from the CIA in 1973, Gottlieb destroyed most records of MK-ULTRA. Nonetheless enough have remained to make it possible to reconstruct his astonishing career. Without Gottlieb, LSD might not have become a driving force in American culture during the 1960s or an object of renewed fascination today. His perturbed spirit hovers above as a new era of interest in psychoactive drugs finally begins to unfold.

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, and author of Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control. Follow him on Twitter @stephenkinzer.

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

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A CIA chemist, mind control and the return of psychedelic drugs - The Boston Globe

Gwyneth Paltrow’s New Netflix Docuseries Is Full of Psychedelics and Orgasms – Vogue

So what happens in a workshop? Gwyneth Paltrow asks Betty Dodson with a grin. Everyone gets off! the sex educator replies. Cut to a woman, fully clothed, lying on a table, writhing around mid-orgasm. This exchange is just a taste of what to expect from Paltrows new six-episode docuseries The Goop Lab, debuting on Netflix later this month.

From energy healing to psychic medium sessions, the serieshosted by Paltrow and Goop chief content officer Elise Loehnenseeks to explore new frontiers in wellness. The crazier and more out there, the better. We took the open-minded approach that weve cultivated at Goop and applied a different, visual lens with Netflix, Paltrow explains in a statement. In the process, we found new ways to answer this: How do we make the most of our lives?

Despite prompting more than occasional eye rolls, and that $145,000 lawsuit concerning Goops claims about hormone-balancing jade eggs, the platform continues to expand on its investigation of all things alternative in the female wellness space. Paltrow shows no signs of giving up her reign as Hollywoods unofficial shamanand if The Goop Lab trailer is any indication, whether youre a keen believer, steadfast skeptic, or just plain curious about her unorthodox health practices, her latest venture is bound to draw you in.

The Goop Lab premieres on Netflix on January 24.

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Gwyneth Paltrow's New Netflix Docuseries Is Full of Psychedelics and Orgasms - Vogue

Syd Barrett: How LSD Created and Destroyed His Career With Pink Floyd – Biography

By the spring of 1967, Pink Floyd was at the forefront of the psychedelic rock movement that was pushing its way into mainstream popular culture.

Fronted by lead guitarist and songwriter Syd Barrett, and including bassist Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and organist Richard Wright, the band cracked the Top 20 in the United Kingdom with their catchy debut single, "Arnold Layne." In May 1967, they made an indelible impression with the Games for May concert at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, featuring a quadraphonic sound system, dazzling light show and bubble-generating machine.

As described in Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett and the Dawn of Pink Floyd, the band was fueled by the creativity of its frontman, known for his cryptic lyrics that mixed mysticism and wordplay, and an experimental guitar style that made use of echo machines and other distortions.

Sadly, the same forces that drove Barrett to artistic breakthroughs also led him down the path of self-destruction, leaving him exiled from the group shortly after they arrived on the charts and rendering him a cautionary tale as Pink Floyd became one of the biggest bands in the world.

Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd perform in 1966

Photo: Adam Ritchie/Redferns

In 1965, as the foursome that became Pink Floyd were finding their musical footing between classes at London's Regent Street Polytechnic and Camberwell College of Arts, Barrett had discovered the mind-altering effects of LSD.

The turn to psychedelics had a massive impact on the group's direction. Taking their cues from their frontman, Pink Floyd began doing away with the R&B covers that were being imitated by countless other bands from the era and embracing original sounds. And the highly intelligent Barrett, already known for marching to his own peculiar beat, began heavilyingesting LSDand producing song lyrics that were seemingly pulled from unknown realms of the cosmos.

It was that combination of original music, stage presentation and lyrical prowess that captured the attention of record companies in the first place, but by the time Pink Floyd was being presented as the next big thing in British rock, Barrett was already losing his tenuous grasp on reality through his incessant drug use.

His old friend and eventual replacement David Gilmour noticed as much when he dropped by the Chelsea Studios in May 1967 for the recording of the band's second single, "See Emily Play."

"Syd didn't seem to recognize me and just stared back," Gilmour recalled in Crazy Diamond. "I got to know that look pretty well and I'll go on record as saying that was when he changed. It was a shock. He was a different person."

Despite the mounting worries about their friend's mental health, Pink Floyd was thriving. "See Emily Play" became a bigger hit than "Arnold Layne," reaching No. 6 on the British charts.

Furthermore, Barrett had delivered a string of brilliant songs for the group's debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. "Chapter 24" was inspired byI Ching, the ancient Chinese text, "Astronomy Domine" and "Interstellar Overdrive" became emblematic of the group's atmospheric sound and "Bike" showcased its writer's willingness to embrace the absurd.

However, it wasn't long after Piper landed in record stores in early August 1967 that Barrett's deteriorating state began causing headaches for his bandmates. Later that month, it was reported that the drug-addled frontman was suffering from "nervous exhaustion," forcing the group to cancel its planned appearance at the National Jazz and Blues Festival.

By the time the band departed for a U.S. tour in the fall, it was clear that Barrett's public presence was becoming a major problem. He stood on stage, detuning his guitar, during a gig at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, and stared catatonically at the hosts during appearances on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and The Pat Boone Show. Alarmed, the band's managers aborted the tour to avoid additional embarrassing incidents.

Syd Barrett

Photo: Andrew Whittuck/Redferns

Meanwhile, Barrett was under pressure to produce a successful follow-up single to "See Emily Play." "Scream Thy Last Scream" and "Vegetable Man" were deemed too dark for release, and while "Apples and Oranges" finally got the go-ahead in mid-November, it lacked the catchiness of its predecessors and flopped.

The group headed out for a U.K. tour around this time, with Barrett causing more tension by either refusing to exit the tour bus at gigs or walking off before the start of a show. Following a disastrous appearance at a Christmas concert, the band reached out to Gilmour, then fronting another struggling group called Jokers Wild.

Entering 1968 with intentions of continuing as a five-piece band, Pink Floyd tried an arrangement in which Barrett would remain on board as a behind-the-scenes songwriter, before abandoning the idea of dealing with him altogether. By March 1968, Barrett was no longer with the band he co-founded and pushed to prominence.

Within a few years, the remaining members of Pink Floyd were being celebrated as arena rock gods while Barrett's own musical career was finished, and he spent the rest of his life away from the public eye. His presence on the group's quirky early records serving as a reminder for what could have been a long and successful career for a unique, gifted artist.

Even though he was no longer a member, Barrett still had an impact on Pink Floyd, and the bands ninth studio album, Wish You Were Here, was recorded as a tribute to their co-founder.

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Syd Barrett: How LSD Created and Destroyed His Career With Pink Floyd - Biography

Psychadelic Events Are Going Mainstream, Where The Much-Maligned Mushroom Industry Focuses On Mental Health – Forbes

Psychedelics have been a mainstay for a millennia and appreciated in the counter-culture for decades. In 2020, whether consuming, investing, or both, mushrooms are having a moment.

PsychedeliTech, a ground-breaking new conference, incubator and discovery platform for psychedelic medicine will host Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) as the keynote speaker at the first-ever PsyTech Summit, a forum for psychedelic science, innovation and investment conference, in Israel.

The inaugural PsyTech conference will take place March 29-30, 2020 at the Hilton Hotel, on the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv.

PsyTech is a division of iCAN: Israel-Cannabis, which together with CannaTech, its medical cannabis events platform, has been a global participant in education and innovation for cannabis therapeutics and products with conferences in London, Sydney, Hong Kong, Panama and Cape Town, to date.

Saul Kaye, iCAN founder and CEO, said, Rick Doblin is an early pioneer and extremely effective advocate for the potential of psychedelics in the treatment of mental health disease and symptoms, including depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. We are thrilled he will join us at our first PsyTech Summit in Tel Aviv to share his enlightened vision and vast knowledge of the fast-developing therapeutic ecosystem that is about to explode as a wave of new information, research and consumer interest about psychedelics floods the market.

For the first 30 years of MAPS dedicated research, there were virtually no for-profit psychedelic business opportunities, apart from a few ibogaine and ayahuasca clinics and mushroom sales in countries where the substances are legal.

Psychedelics have the potential to impact and improve mental health.

For-profit entities emerging in the field of psychedelics, such as Cybin with microdosed psilocybin products and Mind Med with ibogaine, are directly due to the success of non-profit psychedelic therapy research, including the lifelong work of MAPS and other advocates.

"The new psychedelic industry will need to focus on public benefit as well as profit in order to avoid a cultural backlash against these historically misunderstood substances," cautions Doblin."I am looking forward to discussing these important issues at PsyTech, Israels first summit focusing on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics," he continued.

The global market for mental health medications was worth $88.3 billion in 2015, according to BCC Research.

Similar to the cannabis industry, psychedelics and medicinal mushrooms will require an ecosystem to effectively drive education, regulation, safety, investment, research and development.

These key issues, as well as personal stories of treatment, will be explored at PsyTech.

The topic of psychedelics is sparking worldwide mainstream interest. People who want to learn more about the companies developing the science of mushrooms can attend a conference in New York, prior to the upcoming one in Tel Aviv.

"This is an exciting new industry and it's just starting to grow, which is whyGMRis hosting a mini-conference on Psychedelics in New York," says Debra Borchardt, Editor-In-Chief of Green Market Report.

TheEconomics of Psychedelic Investing takes place onJanuary 24, 2020 in NYC.

For those who merely want to experience the effects of psychedelic mushrooms in a safe and welcoming environment, Irie Selkirk offers her guests a transformative psilocybin experience complete with farm-to-table meals and a psychotherapist on staff, at her immersion retreat in Jamaica.

With conferences, nascent investment opportunities and infused staycations available, magic mushrooms are going mainstream.

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Psychadelic Events Are Going Mainstream, Where The Much-Maligned Mushroom Industry Focuses On Mental Health - Forbes

Editorial: Psychonaut of the week – Echonetdaily

Hans Lovejoy, editor

Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third storey window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.

This is just one quote from psychonaut Terence McKenna (19462000).

His views are not popular with those who administrate authority, which is precisely why his message is so important and valuable in the modern era of mindless tyranny.

Feeling disempowered? McKenna said this is because youre giving your time and power away to icons. Vacuous celebrities and politicians are indeed exhausting.

The reason we feel alienated is because the society is infantile, trivial, and stupid. So the cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation.

Its 2020 people! Time to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron.

Heres to a decade where well-honed corporate marketing in the fields of distraction, data mining, manipulation and mass hypnosis start to falter and dissolve.

And heres to a new decade where all those reporting for mainstream media finally get a spine and pressure politicians and bureaucrats on their integrity and record, or lack of it.

Its truly the most effective mechanism for change, apart from inspiring younger generations to learn for themselves and think critically.

Its 2020 time to break free from the shackles of the herd mentality and question the fuck out of authority!

You are a divine being, McKenna said. You matter, you count. You come from realms of unimaginable power and light, and you will return to those realms.

You are an explorer, McKenna also said. And you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.

All the best for 2020, everyone. Now is the time to hurl yourself into the abyss and discover its a feather bed.

Some of The Echos editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and AslanShand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.

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Editorial: Psychonaut of the week - Echonetdaily

Psychedelic Drugs: Researchers experimenting with active agent in magic mushrooms to treat addiction, depression and anxiety – 60 Minutes – CBS News

For most, psychedelic drugs conjure up images of the 1960's, hippies tripping out on LSD or magic mushrooms. But, as Anderson Cooper reported earlier this year, these powerful, mind-altering substances are now being studied seriously by scientists inside some of the country's foremost medical research centers. They're being used to treat depression, anxiety and addiction.

The early results are impressive, as are the experiences of the studies' volunteers who go on a six-hour, sometimes terrifying, but often life-changing psychedelic journey deep into their own minds.

Carine McLaughlin: (LAUGH) People ask me, "Do you wanna do it again?" I say, "Hell no. I don't wanna go do that again."

Anderson Cooper: It was really that bad?

Carine McLaughlin: Oh, it was awful. The entire time, other than the very end and the very beginning, I was crying.

Carine McLaughlin is talking about the hallucinogenic experience she had here at Johns Hopkins University, after being given a large dose of psilocybin, the psychedelic agent in magic mushrooms, as part of an ongoing clinical trial.

Roland Griffiths: We tell people that their experiences may vary from very positive to transcendent and lovely to literally hell realm experiences.

Anderson Cooper: Hell realm?

Roland Griffiths: As frightening an experience as you have ever had in your life.

That's scientist Roland Griffiths. For nearly two decades now, he and his colleague Matthew Johnson have been giving what they call "heroic doses" of psilocybin to more than 350 volunteers, many struggling with addiction, depression and anxiety.

Anderson Cooper: Can you tell who is going to have a bad experience, who's gonna have a transcendent experience?

Roland Griffiths: Our ability to predict that is almost none at all.

Anderson Cooper: Really?

Matthew Johnson: About a third will-- at our-- at a high dose say that they have something like that, what folks would call a bad trip. But most of those folks will actually say that that was key to the experience.

Carine McLaughlin was a smoker for 46 years and said she tried everything to quit before being given psilocybin at Johns Hopkins last year. Psilocybin itself is non-addictive.

Anderson Cooper: Do you remember what, like, specifically what you were seeing or?

Carine McLaughlin: Yes. The ceiling of this room were clouds, like, heavy rain clouds. And gradually they were lowering. And I thought I was gonna suffocate from the clouds.

That was more than a year ago; she says she hasn't smoked since. The study she took part in is still ongoing, but in an earlier, small study of just 15 long-term smokers, 80% had quit six months after taking psilocybin. That's double the rate of any over-the-counter smoking cessation product.

Roland Griffiths: They come to a profound shift of world view. And essentially, a shift in sense of self that I think--

Anderson Cooper: They-- they see their life in a different way?

Roland Griffiths: Their world view changes and-- and they are less identified with that self-narrative. People might use the term "ego." And that creates this sense of freedom.

And not just with smokers.

Jon Kostakopoulos: Beer usually, cocktails, usually vodka sodas, tequila sodas, scotch and sodas.

Jon Kostakopoulos was drinking a staggering 20 cocktails a night and had been warned he was slowly killing himself when he decided to enroll in another psilocybin trial at New York University. During one psilocybin session, he was flooded with powerful feelings and images from his past.

Jon Kostakopoulos: Stuff would come up that I haven't thought of since they happened.

Anderson Cooper: So old memories that you hadn't even remembered came back to you?

Jon Kostakopoulos: I felt, you know, a lot of shame and embarrassment throughout one of the sessions about my drinking and how bad I felt for my parents to put up with all this.

He took psilocybin in 2016. He says he hasn't had a drink since.

Anderson Cooper: Do you ever have a day where you wake up and you're like, man, I wish I could have a vodka right now or beer?

Jon Kostakopoulos: Never.

Anderson Cooper: Not at all?

Jon Kostakopoulos: Not at all, which is the craziest thing because that was my favorite thing to do.

Using psychedelic drugs in therapy is not new. There were hundreds of scientific studies done on a similar compound - LSD - in the 1950's and 60's. It was tested on more than 40,000 people, some in controlled therapeutic settings like this one. But there were also abuses. The U.S. military and CIA experimented with LSD sometimes without patients knowledge.

Fear over rampant drug use and the spread of the counterculture movement, not to mention Harvard professor Timothy Leary urging people to turn on, tune in and drop out, led to a clamp down.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the controlled substances act and nearly all scientific research in the U.S. Into the effects of psychedelics on people stopped. It wasn't until 2000 that scientist Roland Griffiths won FDA approval to study psilocybin.

Roland Griffiths: This whole area of research has been in the deep freeze for 25 or 30 years. And so as a scientist, sometimes I feel like Rip Van Winkle.

Anderson Cooper: And once you saw the results

Roland Griffiths: Yeah. The red light started flashing. This is extraordinarily interesting. It's unprecedented and the capacity of the human organism to change. It just was astounding.

Anderson Cooper: It sounds like you are endorsing this for everybody.

Roland Griffiths: Yeah, let's be really clear on that. We are very aware of the risks, and would not recommend that people simply go out and do this.

Griffiths and Johnson screen out people with psychotic disorders or with close relatives who have had schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Study volunteers at Johns Hopkins are given weeks of intensive counseling before and after the six-hour psilocybin experience; the psilocybin is given in a carefully controlled setting one to three times. To date, they say there's not been a single serious adverse outcome.

We were told we couldn't record anyone participating in the study while they were on psilocybin because it might impact their experience, but we were shown how it begins without the psilocybin.You lay on a couch, with a blindfold to shut out distractions and headphones playing a mix of choral and classical music a psychedelic soundtrack with a trained guide, mary cosimano, watching over you.

Everything is done the same way it was for the LSD experiments scientists conducted in the 1950s and 60s. Some of the most dramatic results have been with terminal cancer patients struggling with anxiety and paralyzing depression.

Kerry Pappas: I start seeing the colors and the geometric designs and it's like 'oh this is so cool, and how lovely' and, and then, boom. Visions began.

Kerry Pappas was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer in 2013. During her psilocybin session, she found herself trapped in a nightmare her mind created.

Kerry Pappas: An ancient, prehistoric, barren land. And there's these men with pickaxes, just slamming on the rocks. So

Anderson Cooper: And this felt absolutely real to you?

Kerry Pappas: Absolutely real. I was being shown the truth of reality. Life is meaningless, we have no purpose. And then I look and I'm still like a witness, a beautiful, shimmering, bright jewel. And then it was sound, and it was booming, booming, booming. Right here right now.

Anderson Cooper: That was being said?

Kerry Pappas: Yes. "You are alive. Right here right now, because that's all you have." And that is my mantra to this day.

Michael Pollan: It seemed so implausible to me that a single experience caused by a molecule, right, ingested in your body could transform your outlook on something as profound as death. That's-- that's kind of amazing.

Author Michael Pollan wrote about the psilocybin studies in a bestselling book called "How to Change Your Mind." As part of his research, he tried psilocybin himself with the help of an underground guide.

Anderson Cooper: The kind of things that cancer patients were saying, like, "I touched the face of God." You were skeptical about when you hear phrases like that?

Michael Pollan: Yeah. Or, "Love is the most important thing in the universe." When someone tells me that I'm just like, "yeah, okay."

Anderson Cooper: So you don't go for some of the phrases that are used?

Michael Pollan: No. It gives me the willies as a writer. And I really struggled with that cause during one of my experiences I came to the earth-shattering conclusion that love is the most important thing in the universe. But it's, that's Hallmark card stuff, right? And um, so

Anderson Cooper: And yet while you were on it and afterward

Michael Pollan: It was profoundly true. And it is profoundly true. Guess what? Um

Anderson Cooper: There's a reason it's on a Hallmark card.

Michael Pollan: There is a reason. And one of the things psychedelics do is they peel away all those essentially protective levels of irony and, and cynicism that we, that we acquire as we get older and you're back to those kind of "Oh, my God. I forgot all about love." (Laugh)

Pollan said he also experienced what the researchers describe as ego loss, or identity loss - the quieting of the constant voice we all have in our heads.

Michael Pollan: I did have this experience of seeing my ego-- burst into-- a little cloud of Post-It notes. I know it sounds crazy.

Anderson Cooper: And what are you are without an ego?

Michael Pollan: You're, uh (Laugh) You had to be there.

Researchers believe that sensation of identity loss occurs because psilocybin quiets these two areas of the brain that normally communicate with each other. They're part of a region called the default mode network and it's especially active when we're thinking about ourselves and our lives.

Michael Pollan: And it's where you connect what happens in your life to the story of who you are.

Anderson Cooper: We all develop a story over time about what our past was like and who we are.

Michael Pollan: Right. Yeah, what kind of person we are. How we react. And the fact is that interesting things happen when the self goes quiet in the brain, including this rewiring that happens.

To see that rewiring, Johns Hopkins scientist Matthew Johnson showed us this representational chart of brain activity. The circle on the left shows normal communication between parts of the brain, on the right, what happens on psilocybin. There's an explosion of connections or crosstalk between areas of the brain that don't normally communicate.

Anderson Cooper: The difference is just startling.

Matthew Johnson: Right.

Anderson Cooper: Is that why people are having experiences of-- seeing you know, repressed memories, or past memories, or people who have died or?

Matthew Johnson: That's what we think. And even the perceptual effect, sometimes the synesthesia, like, the-- the seeing sound.

Anderson Cooper: People see sound?

Matthew Johnson: Yeah, sometimes.

Anderson Cooper: I-- I don't even know what that means.

Matthew Johnson: Right, yeah. (LAUGH) It's-- it's--

Michael Pollan: Maybe the ego is one character among many in your mind. And you don't necessarily have to listen to that voice that's chattering at you and criticizing you and telling you what to do. And that's very freeing.

It was certainly freeing for Kerry Pappas. Though her cancer has now spread to her brain, her crippling anxiety about death is gone.

Kerry Pappas: Yeah, it's amazing. I mean, I feel like death doesn't frighten me. Living doesn't frighten me. I don't frighten me. This frightens me.

Anderson Cooper: This interview frightens you, but death doesn't?

Kerry Pappas: No.

It turns out most of the 51 cancer patients in the Johns Hopkins study experienced "significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety" after trying psilocybin. Two-thirds of them rated their psilocybin sessions as among the most meaningful experiences of their lives. For some, it was on par with the birth of their children.

Kerry Pappas: To this day, it evolves in me.

Anderson Cooper: It's still alive in you--

Kerry Pappas: It's still absolutely alive in me.

Anderson Cooper: Does it make you happier?

Kerry Pappas: Yeah. And-- and I don't necessarily use the word happy.

Kerry Pappas: Comfortable. Like, comfortable. I mean, I've suffered from anxiety my whole life. I'm comfortable. That, to me, okay. I can die. I'm comfortable. (LAUGH) I mean, it's huge. It's huge.

Produced by Sarah Koch. Associate producer, Chrissy Jones

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Psychedelic Drugs: Researchers experimenting with active agent in magic mushrooms to treat addiction, depression and anxiety - 60 Minutes - CBS News

Rats on DMT hint at the benefits of psychedelic microdosing – Inverse

Devotees of microdosing dont view the practice as simply doing drugs. Instead, they claim that taking a very small dose of a psychedelic drug can [hold unexpected health benefits]((https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0955395919301161?via%3Dihub). Microdosing may reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, or boosting ones creativity. But the problem with all of these purported benefits is that theres not enough research to back them up.

In March 2019, scientists took a step closer to unraveling the science behind the anecdotes, when a team led by University of California, Davis assistant professor David Olson tested how psychedelic microdosing affects behavior in animals. They gave male and female rats very small doses of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the principal psychoactive component in the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca. Their results suggest DMT microdosing can promote neural plasticity in key brain circuits related to anxiety and depression. But they also hint at potential downsides that are worth investigating further.

This is #2 on Inverses list of the 25 biggest science stories of human potential of 2019.

I think the most pressing question to answer right now is the issue of safety, Olson told Inverse at the time. Its very possible that while microdosing might have beneficial effects for healthy adults, it could come with severe side effects in other populations.

The study was published in March in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

The team used DMT because they wanted to experiment with a drug thats the most applicable to the broadest range of psychedelic compounds. Olson explained that when other psychedelics like magic mushrooms or LSD are broken down to the molecular level, they are essentially the same as DMT. Because of this shared pharmacology, tests on DMT may be translated to other psychedelic drugs.

Because theres no well-established definition of how big a dose a microdose actually is, the team gave the rats the equivalent of what humans typically use: one-tenth of a hallucinogenic dose. The rats were dosed at an age equivalent to a young adult, since young adults seem most likely to microdose.

The rats received the dose every three days for two months, and, after two weeks, the team evaluated their behavior on the days the rats were not given drugs. When they tested the rats to see if any aspects of their sociability or cognitive functioning had altered, they didnt observe any changes. But they did find that microdosing appeared to alter the rats anxiety and fear responses.

When rats are put into water, the ones who are most anxious and afraid are expected to resort to floating over swimming the earliest. In this study, the rats on DMT had the same reaction as rats on antidepressants who undergo this test they kept on swimming. This suggests microdosing made them less anxious when they encountered a challenge.

In a fear extinction test, microdosing appeared to help the rats overcome fear triggers at a quicker rate than normal, without also impacting their working memory.

But the researchers also noticed two strange, ill effects. Male rats treated with DMT gained a significant amount of body weight, while neurons in the female rats appeared to be breaking down. These results are a little concerning, Olsen said and the team dont know why they happened.

The study highlights just how much scientists dont know about microdosing and the potential hazards it could hold.

As 2019 draws to a close, Inverse is revisiting 25 striking lessons for humans to help maximize our potential. This is #2. Some are awe-inspiring, some offer practical tips, and some give a glimpse of the future. Read the original article here.

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Rats on DMT hint at the benefits of psychedelic microdosing - Inverse

Psychedelics – Mushrooms, LSD, Salvia

Psychedelics, while they can cause pleasurable side effects, are mostly Schedule I classified drugs that are not only illegal but dangerous. While psychedelics can cause a person to feel a sense of oneness with the universe and experience spiritual or enjoyable hallucinations and distorted perceptions, they can also cause intense fear, paranoia, and panic.

Whether or not a person has a good trip or a bad tripall depends on many variables, and there is no assurance that even the same individual will experience a positive reaction twice. This is only one of the dangers of psychedelics which, while they have been used in spiritual rituals for centuries, can cause many harmful effects.

We can help you quit using psychedelic drugs. Call 800-895-1695 today.

The effects of psychedelics are extremely hard to predict. As stated by CESAR, psilocybin or psychedelic mushrooms are one of the most popularly abused psychedelics to this day, and the effects produced by psilocybin are highly variable and depend on several factors including the age, type, and dosage amount of the mushroom used, the setting the mushroom is used in, the users expectations, past drug experiences, and personality.

This is what makes psychedelic drugs so different from other commonly abused substances; it is very difficult to pinpoint how a person will react to these drugs or what they should even expect. While some effects like hallucinations, nausea, and an altered perception of space and time can all be expected to be experienced by the user, psychedelics may cause a different type of high in every user (each and every time) and their effects could last anywhere from an hour to six or more.

Psychedelic drugs can cause severe psychological distress and other harmful side effects.

While there isnt a strong amount of research on the issue of psychedelic drug addiction, it is possible in some instances. Especially with a drug like MDMA, some users report symptoms of dependence, including continued use despite knowledge of physical or psychological harm, tolerance (or diminished response), and withdrawal effects (NIDA).

Some other drugs (like LSDand peyote) only cause tolerance while the effects of salvia divinorum have not yet been researched enough to provide any conclusive results. The question of whether or not addiction to certain psychedelic drugs exists can be puzzling. In many cases, though, treatment may still be necessary to help with the effects abusing psychedelic drugs can cause.We can help you find the treatment you need. Call 800-895-1695 toll free today.

If you are concerned about your psychedelic drug abuse or that of another individual, here are some steps to follow in order to better the situation.

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Psychedelics - Mushrooms, LSD, Salvia

Psychedelics Were Already Having a Good Year. Then Andrew Yang Tweeted – VICE

Andrew Yang was somewhere around Davenport when the drugs began to take hold.

He had visited that city, as he had much of the rest of Iowa, repeating his most well-known campaign promise: that U.S. citizens 18 years or older would be given a monthly $1,000 "freedom dividend." Still, amid what might have been just another campaign swing, the entrepreneur (or perhaps someone in his orbit) managed to find some time to fire off a series of tweets. One suggested that a lone veteran in Davenport might have given him a fresh perspective on psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in "magic mushrooms": Yang went so far as to say, in what appeared to be the most explicit stance of any Democratic presidential contenders, that the country should begin looking into legalizing the drug for medical and therapeutic benefits. (Later, he tweeted a link to a British study about the benefits of using psilocybin for depression.)

Yang may be a second- or even third-tier 2020 candidate, but advocates for legalizing psychedelics have had a good 2019and seeing someone with his platform make noise about their signature issue was gratifying, to say the least. Researchers have been studying how psilocybin (and other psychedelics) could be used to treatamong other national nightmaresdepression, drug addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has galvanized a contingent of passionate war veterans, as well as other constituencies.

"It's no coincidence that a veteran turned Andrew Yang on the miracle of mushrooms," said Matthew Kahl, the executive director of advocacy group Veterans for Natural Rights. "We are at the forefront of the fight to end the war on drugs."

Drug policy has certainly shifted in recent years, and with the exception of vaping nicotine, the trend has been toward legalization and regulation, with several states and localities opting into recreational cannabis and supporting safe-injection sites and needle-exchange programs. Psychedelics, however, tend to fade into the background of the conversation, in large part due to the fact that possessing themespecially magic mushroomsis less wrapped up in social-justice lapses (like the racial disparity that "Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana," according to the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU) and does not often lead to mass incarceration. (Being arrested for possession of psilocybin, at least in cities like Denver where liberalization is afoot, is rare.) Nonetheless, psilocybin is currently a Schedule I drug, meaning that, officially speaking, the government deems it to have no medical benefit and a high likelihood of abuse. (Academics and advocates have been demanding a reclassification.)

News about magic mushrooms and other psychedelics usually comes in waves, as when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently hinted at introducing legislation to open the door to do more research, for example. That popular (OK, Yang is not a professional politician by trade and is polling at 3.4 percent, but still) Democrats are increasingly willing to wade into this dialogue helps set the stage for the following chapter: actual policy change.

It's been a slow yet steady journey up until this point. Progressive opinions about psychedelics really gained more traction after the publication and subsequent popularity of Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind in 2018. The book propelled the subject into the mainstream months before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave psilocybin a "breakthrough therapy" designation and a new sheen of legitimacy.

Do you know something about drugs, legalization, or the vaping industry that we should? Using a non-work device, you can contact Alex Norcia securely via Signal at 201-429-7024 or email at alex.norcia@protonmail.com.

It was yet another veteran, though, who kicked off the decriminalization trend that has been taking off across the United States this year. Kevin Matthews, who led the Denver Psilocybin Initiative in Colorado, built a coalition of grassroots volunteers who advocated around their city: They were trying to make possessing psilocybin the lowest law enforcement priority. In a nailbiter finish, the measure narrowly passedthe first in a string of similar, successful reform. Oakland did not follow far behind, and Oregon is currently considering two separate proposals.

As Marijuana Moment first reported in late November, Decriminalize Nature, a group that formed in California and has been spearheading local initiatives elsewhere, has said that around 100 cities were seeing signs of campaignsmovements that aim to significantly reduce the penalties for possessing substances like psilocybin, ibogaine, and others. Meanwhile, in the beginning of September, Johns Hopkins University launched a research center exclusively focused on psychedelics, touting it as perhaps the first of its kind in the country and potentially the largest such institution in the world.

A series of institution-building moments are coalescing into something real. The only question is how long it takes to go from someone like Yangwho also has proposed decriminalizing opioids and legalizing recreational weedto an influential, plausible next president.

"Veterans and other victims of trauma are starting to speak up, and were finally getting through," Kahl said. "We are the poster boys for PTSD, but as poster boys, it is our duty to call attention to all the other people living (and dying) with trauma in our nation, and we're doing just that. Trauma isn't a veteran issue; it's not an American issue; it is a human issue."

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Psychedelics Were Already Having a Good Year. Then Andrew Yang Tweeted - VICE

Psychedelics and Wellness: What’s the Connection? – Psych Congress Network

A conversation between Andrew Penn, MS, PMHNP and Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC

Many people know Drs. Saundra and Rakesh Jain from their work around wellness in psychiatry, not only at Psych Congress, but around the world. They have published a workbook and have a forthcoming text on the science behind wellness and the implementation of wellness-enhancing practices (called WILD 5 Wellness - Wellness Interventions for Lifes Demands) into clinical practice.

What many people are surprised to learn is that their interests in wellness have intersected with my interests in psychedelic-assisted therapy. Theyve been collecting data about experiences and wellness from people who have used psychedelics. I sat down with Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC to better understand the connection. A transcript of our conversation is below.

Tell me about the survey you and Rakesh Jain, MD, MPH are conducting.

Id be happy to, Andrew. Wellness is certainly a topic of interest for most of us and our patients. As many of your readers know, we have been conducting research in the area of wellness for many years. To date, weve completed 11 studiesall with positive findings. We are committed to continuing this research, but an interesting thing happened several years ago. Data coming from the world of psychedelics caught our attention and we began wondering about the intersection of psychedelics and wellness.

What got you interested in asking people about their psychedelic experiences?

We are so convinced of the power of wellness as an augmentation strategy in mental health that we couldnt stop wondering if wellness has a role to play in the world of psychedelics. We believed the best way to answer that question was to go straight to those in the psychedelic community and ask them about their experiences via an anonymous, online survey on psychedelic use and the impact on mental health and wellness. So, thats exactly what we did. Were grateful to those who have completed the survey, and to those who will, for guiding us and informing us about the interrelationship between psychedelics and wellness.

What are people telling you about the results of their experiences?

There were many interesting findings from the pilot study. Let me tell you about a few that I think your readers will find of interest.

Pre/post measures of anxiety and depression showed improvements of 56% and 54% respectively.

Using a validated measure of wellness called The HERO Wellness Scale, which looks at self-reported levels of happiness, enthusiasm, resilience, and optimism, we found an overall improvement of 44% in happiness, 36% in enthusiasm, 27% in resilience, and 39% in optimism.

We queried feelings of gratitude, inner peace, connection to nature, sense of awe, and feelings of love, compassion, joy, and empathy. Of the 83 participants, 2% reported some degree of worsening, but the remainder reported improvements ranging from minimally improved to much improved.

98% believe psychedelics should be used to treat certain psychiatric disorders; 99% said they should be legalized for medical use.

We hope these findings pique your readers interest. We were excited to see the improvements specific to depression and anxiety, but finding additional improvements related to wellness was a definite bonus. Based on our wellness research outside of psychedelics and our clinical work, we know that wellness is an effective nonpharmacological augmentation strategy. It only makes sense that an interrelationship between psychedelics and wellness would exist.

So, it sounds like the vast majority of the people surveyed expressed some benefit from their psychedelic experiences. Of course, all medicines have side effects and risks. Did you note any adverse effects from the use of psychedelics in your study?

It was very exciting to see that the benefits outweighed the side-effects/risks associated with their psychedelic experiences. As mentioned earlier, the results showed that 2% of 83 participants reported some degree of worsening, ranging from minimally worse to very much worse.

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Psychedelics and Wellness: What's the Connection? - Psych Congress Network

Bruce Linton Talks Psychedelics Investments, Microdosing And LSD: ‘The Therapeutic Potential Of Psychedelics Is Greater Than Cannabinoids’ – Benzinga

Earlier this year, Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC) co-founder and former CEO Bruce Linton invested in a neuropharmaceutical company, Mind Medicine Inc.

MindMed is a psychedelicresearch company thats developing non-hallucinogenic medicine from psychedelic sources. The company has also welcomed Linton to its board of directors.

The 53-year-old entrepreneur told Benzinga heplans to spend 2020 searching for new business ideas andwill start a new business in 2021.

Linton has long found the psychedelics sector to be compelling, Linton said.

Prohibition or poor regulatory frameworks globallydon't mean that the underlying regulated substances are in fact terrible. The therapeutic potential of psychedelics is greater than cannabinoids, for sure.

Supporting a company developing psychedelic substances for medicinal purposes is the best way to rediscover the therapeutic potential of certain plants and mushrooms that have long been banned by the FDA, he said.

"The whole point of this exercise is to build a large platform company that welcomes many, many research projects ... and turns them into finished outcomes that create therapeutic benefit," Linton said in reference to his involvement with Mind Medicine.

Once the therapeutic properties of psychedelics in treating conditions like ADHD, opioid addiction and severe depression are acknowledged, their histories of prohibition will be irrelevant, the cannabis exec said.

In that sense, the process for legalizing these substances is similar tocannabis, he said: achange in public perception is the main tool in fighting prohibition.

"At the end of the day, we're having the same conversation, with the same cohort."

See Also: The Keys To Understanding Psilocybin's Medical Value, Market Potential

Mind Medicine is researching the psychiatric potential of LSD and 18-MC, a synthesized version of ibogaine that is showing promising results in the treatment of opioid addiction.

The company recently raised $6.2 million to conduct Phase 2 clinical trials of18-MC.

Kevin OLeary, co-host of ABCs "Shark Tank," is among the companys investors.

Benzinga spoke with Mind Medicine co-founder and director JR Rahn.

Rahn, who has a tech background, decided to focus his entrepreneurial efforts on psychedelics after seeing many of his Silicon Valley colleagues microdosing LSD and other psychedelic compounds to increase focus and performance.

After researching the environment, Rahn said he decided to focus on the 18-MC molecule because of its promisein treating opioid addiction.

In 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded a $6.7-million research grant to a pharmaceutical research company, Savant, to subsidize preclinical development of 18-MC for the treatment of obesity and substance use disorders.

Mind Medicine sprouted from Savant, Rahn said.

I co-founded the company with the Savant CEO. Savant sold the 18-MC program to MindMed in a share deal. Savants entire team has joined MindMed and is 100% focused on MindMed now. We used that money to do all this preclinical work and conduct a Phase 1 trial in humans to demonstrate that it was safe.

Rahn said his company aims to go public on Canadas NEO exchange in the first quarter of 2020, although the details are definitive.

The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is heading to Miami Feb. 24-25 for its sixth installment.Click hereto learn more.

In recent years, psilocybinthe psychedelic molecule derived from magic mushroomshas been shaping up to be thestar compound in the psychedelic revolution of psychiatric treatment.

Psilocybin research is paving the way to psychedelic treatment in general and the development of psychedelics as an industry, Rahn said.

Yet hes placing his trust in the possibilities offered by 18-MC as a non-hallucinogenic psychedelic taken in microdoses.

Linton also commented on psilocybins commercial value.

The path to commercialization for the compound is financially unclear and difficult, he said. In Linton's view, commercial success relies on the possibility of modifying the original compounds.

"It's a very difficult molecule to alter. But there are a variety of other psychedelics that can be amended structurally to reduce their hallucinogenic effect, or they can actually have dose metering technologies that allow for well-structured delivery," he said.

"That to me gets to be very interesting commercially."

The definition of microdosing has yet to be standardized.

One approach would be to consider a "micro" dose of psychedelics to be one that's so low a hallucinogenic effect cannot be perceived, yet a therapuetic effect is achieved.

Yet as multiple scholars stated in a review paper on the subject, "there is no agreed scientific consensus on what microdosing is."

Linton is well aware of this fact.

"Whats micro?" he asks rhetorically. "How are you actually managing the dose? What's the frequency on micro? What are the primary indications that you're using it against? And what's the baseline of efficacy compared to other medicines? All that work is undone."

For Linton, the lack of knowledge on the subjectis more of an opportunity than a drawback.

"That means this is a bad idea currently because we have to do the work to show thats a great idea. If it was already a great idea, that means everybody did all the work. Im a big fan of investing in bad ideas."

Microdosing psychedelics offers vast potential not only in substance addiction, but also in the treatment of anxietyand adult ADHD.

The theory that this type of treatment can be dangerous to the heart especially using substances like LSD and 18-MC is unproven, Rahntold Benzinga.

"One of the things that well be doing is rigorous science and a Phase 2 clinical trial to demonstrate if there are issues relating to the heart or not. Because there aretheories that it might but there's been very little rigorous science on the microdosing subject."

See Also: Bruce Linton On His Next Steps, Says 'I'm Cheering For Entrepreneurs'

The pharmaceutical industry will be especially interested in psychedelics, Linton said.

Pharmaceutical companies need a pipeline of drugs that address mental health conditions and addiction, he said.

Rahn said there's a lack of investment in addiction medicine.

"On the opioid market, theres Suboxone. There are studies that demonstrate that it has a 90% failure rate. That's not good. We're not going to solve the opioid crisis that way."

For Linton, the debate around whether psychedelics have an effective impact on humans is no longer relevant.

"Humans have been using [psychedelics] for 3,000 or 4,000 years. Listen, if you don't think it does have an effect, then please go have an acid trip and tell me how it didn't affect you, he said. What I want to know is what amount, in what way, to get what outcome?"

Featured photo by Robina Weermeijer viaUnsplash.

2019 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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Bruce Linton Talks Psychedelics Investments, Microdosing And LSD: 'The Therapeutic Potential Of Psychedelics Is Greater Than Cannabinoids' - Benzinga

Why Doctors Are Turning to Psychedelics to Treat Depression & Addiction – Men’s Journal

FOR DECADES, mental health experts have amassed anecdotal evidence that psychedelics could help people with intractable diseases like addiction, depression, and PTSD. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research in Baltimore, which opened in the fall, plan to test these drugs rigorously so that one day they could be prescribed. We talked with two of the centers founding members, Alan Davis and Albert Garcia-Romeu, who are seeking out mental health and addiction treatments, to find out more about their research and how they plan to change our lives.

DAVIS: There are a couple of ways we believe it works. First is the experience itself. People who take psilocybin report having a deeply positive, mystical experience that seems to help them alter their perspective on their situation. More specifically, people with depression tend to feel isolated and disconnected from their daily lives. The experience of taking psilocybin makes them feel an intense interconnection that stays with them after the experience is over. People also report gaining insight on their depression, like they suddenly have an awareness of what they want to change in their life to help them move forward. That awareness, coupled with this mystical-like experience, serves as the catalyst for change.

ALBERT GARCIA-ROMEU: It helps people change their perspective, which is really useful for someone who is depressed or dealing with addiction. On the physical side, psilocybin disrupts patterns in the brainpatterns of negative thinking that become entrenched over time.

GARCIA-ROMEU: In a nutshell, psilocybin and other psychedelics like LSD bind to serotonin 2A receptors, creating mood-altering effects and changes in brain function. We know psilocybin decreases amygdala blood flow in people with depression, which is associated with better antidepressant effects. This is important because depressive symptoms seem to be associated with over-reactivity in the amygdala. Keep in mind that the data for psilocybin brain mechanisms in depression is very limited, from fewer than 20 people total. We are only starting to scratch the surface of how this works.

GARCIA-ROMEU: Honestly, its closer to a dorm room than a science lab. Our study setting looks like a therapists office: sofa, chairs, soft lighting. The most clinical item is a blood pressure monitor, which we use to keep track of physiological measures at 30- to 60-minute intervals throughout the sessions. One of the strongest predictors of a challenging experience or bad trip can be an overly cold and clinical setting, so we do our best to make it a place that feels warm and safe. Volunteers usually spend around eight hours here before any drug is administered, with the two people who monitor them after theyve taken the drug.

One misconception around this work: This is not a take-two-and-call-me-in-the-morning type of treatment.

DAVIS: The psilocybin is made for us by an academic chemist and put into a capsule thats taken orally. This isnt microdosing. A dose is moderate to highmore than recreational doses in a festival environment, for example.

DAVIS: We just wrapped up the main portion of the depression study, and now were doing follow-ups and preparing the data for publication. We had 24 participantsall studies here are done on people, not animals. Preliminary findings show approximately half of the participants had complete remission of depression at one month after the intervention of psilocybin plus psychotherapy, which is very promising.

DAVIS: We expect the full study to be published this coming year. After that, it can take several years before the treatments are approved by the FDA and made available to the public.

DAVIS: Funding. The government hasnt been backing this kind of work. So to get $17 million in private money [donors include entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation]that goes a long way to getting the quality of studies we need to move the therapeutic research forward.

DAVIS: A couple of days after use, the person experiences a halo effect. Their mood improves, and they may be more open to suggestion. We use that time to help them make lifestyle changes to alter their outlook. Its not like the person just takes psilocybin, and thats it. We still use a full therapy approach, and were optimistic this may lead to greatly improved outcomes in people who have not found success in traditional treatment in the past.

GARCIA-ROMEU: That is probably one of the greatest misconceptions around this work. This is not a take-two-and-call-me-in-the-morning type of treatment. Nor is this like cannabis dispensaries where patients pick up the medication and take it at home, unsupervised. Psychedelics have the potential for much more intense and unpredictable psychoactive effects, so its best to administer them under carefully controlled conditions, in conjunction with intensive psychological support. Probably the best parallel in current medical care would be getting general anesthesia before surgerythis only happens at a medical facility under the careful supervision of a specially trained doctor and support staff.

DAVIS: Absolutely. We see a future where we can actually heal these problems instead of simply trying to reduce symptoms. Our results point to a potential neurological and psychological basis from which we can understand this healing potential, and that could revolutionize our understanding of what treatment actually means. No longer would we be trying to help people get by, but they might actually heal and then thrive.

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Why Doctors Are Turning to Psychedelics to Treat Depression & Addiction - Men's Journal

Anxiety, depression and the new science of psychedelics part two – ABC News

Norman Swan: Hello, and welcome to the Health Report with me, Norman Swan. Today, part two, a really special conversation with American writer and journalist Michael Pollan on his journey with psychedelics and the promise they might hold for treating addiction, depression, the distress of terminal illness and maybe even creative block.

Last week we covered a part of the brain called the default mode network. Effectively the traffic manager in our brain, our narrative self, our ego, which goes quiet when you take psychedelic drugs. And that's key to understanding the entire psychedelic experience and how it is that some people can report having mystical, life changing experiences with drugs like LSD or magic mushrooms.

But there are risks in taking psychedelics as well, especially when they are done recreationally and without a guide. These include precipitating the onset of psychosis and maybe even schizophrenia. Now Michael Pollan shares his own experiences with these drugs and the changes they wrought in his life, plus future directions for psychedelic medical research.

And a few warnings, this program does have some frank discussion of drug use and some explicit language. The drugs we are discussing are illegal in Australia and in many other countries.

The conversation was recorded in front of a live audience at the Sydney Opera House in July.

Michael Pollan: Most of my experiences were really good, better than I expected them to be. I just didn't know what was going to come up. I was really afraid of discovering, I don't know, childhood trauma or something. I needed to do this to understand and write about it. It's the journalism I do, I like to do participatory journalism. When I wrote about the cattle industry I bought a cow. When I wrote about architecture I built a house. So my readers expect it, so I did it for them. But I also did it because I had started interviewing these volunteers. And the first group I interviewed were these people who had cancer, many of them terminal, who were being given the drug, not to treat their cancer obviously, it doesn't do anything for your cancer, but to help them deal with their anxiety, depression, fear. And their stories were so amazing, the kinds of spiritual breakthroughs they were having, the kind of reset of their minds made me incredibly interested to try it. I had never had a spiritual experience, I don't think I had ever had one, and I was kind of jealous of these people.

Norman Swan: And with the people with terminal cancer, it apparently only worked if you did get some ego dissolution and a mystical experience and you needed that.

Michael Pollan: Yes. There was a real one-to-one correspondence. So they were measuring something called mystical experience. The psychologists have a survey for everything and a score for everything, so they've actually quantified the mystical experience, and it has thesethere are eight characteristics, one is ego transcendence, another is unitive consciousness, that you are joining with something else, another is transcendence of space and time, you know, they have this list. And the people who had had what's called a complete mystical experience were the ones that had substantial reductions in their fear and depression around death.

I'll give one example of a woman who had a remarkable story. She had ovarian cancer, she was about 60, she was a figure skating instructor in Manhattan named DinaBazer. Her cancer had been treated, it was in remission, but she was paralysed by the fear it was going to recur at any time, that the other shoe was going to drop, and she couldn't do very much. And she entered this trial, had the careful preparation session with the two guides, and then the guides were with her during the whole journey, which lasted about five or six hours.

And like a lot of the cancer patients, her experience took her inside her body. She had this experience of travelling inside her body. Many of the cancer patients had a confrontation with their cancer. In her case though she sees a black mass under her rib cage. So she knows it's not her cancer, it's in the wrong place, but she recognises it immediately and she knows it's her fear. And she's spontaneously screams at it. Now, imagine these two guides, they don't know what's going on in her head, and suddenly she says, 'Get the fuck out of my body!' And with that, it vanished, the fear vanished.

And I wrote this in a piece I wrote for the New Yorker about this particular trial, and in the measly way of journalists trying to thread the gauntlet of fact checkers I said her fear was substantially diminished. And they called her and they read it to her and she said, 'No, he got it wrong, it's totally wrong, my fear was extinguished, completely eliminated,' which is the most remarkable thing.

Norman Swan: Is this the woman who was an atheist?

Michael Pollan: Yes. She also had told me before that she was an atheist. I said, 'What happened after you got rid of your fear during the trip?' She said, oh, it was the most amazing thing and this happened and this happened, and I kissed the face of God. And I said, 'But you told me you were an atheist. Are you no longer an atheist?' And she said 'No, I'm still an atheist.' And I said, 'Well, how can you kiss the face of God?' And she said, 'We don't have a word big enough for what happened. God is the biggest word we have for this kind of experience, so I have to use it, but I'm still an atheist.'

Norman Swan: So brieflyI mean, we haven't got time to go through everything, but where did you rate on the mystical scale and did it change according to setting and drug?

Michael Pollan: You know, for me I did fill out the mystical experience questionnaire because I wanted to see if I scored

Norman Swan: 'How well did I do?'

Michael Pollan: And on two of my trips I did I had complete mystical experiences. Interestingly enough, one was incredibly positive and one was incredibly negative, but in both cases I had transcendence of space and time and unit of consciousness, all this kind of stuff. And the bad one was really horrifying.

Norman Swan: So that was DMT, the toad.

Michael Pollan: Yes, so this was a pretty obscure psychedelic that wasn't on my agenda, and it's not being researched in a serious way, and it's called 5-MeO-DMTnobody is clapping for it, okaythis is the smoked venom of the Sonora Desert toad. A species that figures that out has got something going for it. So I had this opportunity, one of my sources said that this person who was coming up from Mexico who collects the venomand by the way, no toads are harmed in the making of this psychedelic, you just gently squeeze these glands and it shoots this liquid onto a piece of glass

Norman Swan: We're taking notes and now, are we

Michael Pollan: Well, you've got to find the toads, you're not going to find them in Australia. And then it crystallises and then you smoke that crystal. So I had the opportunity to do this and I really was afraid of it. I had interviewed somebody who had used it, an acquaintance of mine, and we were having lunch together and she reaches across and she puts her hand on my forearm like this and she said, 'It's the Everest of psychedelics.' And I was really scared about using it. All my experiences I had a sleepless night before as my ego essentially tried to convince me not to assault it with a chemical, and this one I did too, but I did it. And if you'd like I can read a passage about it, about this trip, which illustrates how bad things can get but also some of the challenges of writing about this.

So you take one long puff from this pipe andwell, I'll begin with this:

I have no memory of ever having exhaled, or of being lowered onto the mattress and covered with a blanket. All at once I felt a tremendous rush of energy fill my head accompanied by a punishing roar. I managed, barely, to squeeze out the words I had prepared, 'trust' and 'surrender'. These words became my mantra, but they seemed utterly pathetic, wishful scraps of paper in the face of this category 5 mental storm.

Terror seized meand then, like one of those flimsy wooden houses erected on Bikini Atoll to be blown up in the nuclear tests, 'I' was no more, blasted to a confetti cloud by an explosive force I could no longer locate in my head, because it had exploded that too, expanding to become all that there was. Whatever this was, it was not a hallucination. A hallucination implies a reality and a point of reference and an entity to have it. None of those things remained.

Unfortunately, the terror didn't disappear with the extinction of my 'I'. Whatever allowed me to register this experience, the post-egoic awareness I'd first experienced on mushrooms, was now consumed in the flames of terror too. In fact every touchstone that tells us 'I exist' was annihilated, and yet I remained conscious. 'Is this what death feels like? Could this be it?' That was the thought, though there was no longer a thinker to have it.

Here words fail. In truth, there were no flames, no blast, no thermonuclear storm; I'm grasping at metaphor in the hope of forming some stable and shareable concept of what was unfolding in my mind. In the event, there was no coherent thought, just pure and terrible sensation. Only afterward did I wonder if this was what the mystics call the mysterium tremendum, the blinding unendurable mystery (whether of God or some other Ultimate or Absolute) before which humans tremble in awe. Aldous Huxley described it as the fear 'of being overwhelmed, of disintegrating under a pressure of reality greater than a mind, accustomed to living most of the time in a cosy world of symbols, could possibly bear.' Oh, to be back in the cosy world of symbols!

After the fact I kept returning to one of two metaphors, and while they inevitably deform the experience, as any words or metaphors or symbols must, they at least allow me to grasp hold of a shadow of it and, perhaps, share it. The first is the image of being on the outside of a rocket after launch. I'm holding on with both hands, legs clenched around it, while the rapidly mounting g-forces clutch at my flesh, pulling my face down into a taut grimace, as the great cylinder rises through successive layers of clouds, exponentially gaining speed and altitude, the fuselage shuddering on the brink of self-destruction as it strains to break free from Earth's grip, while the friction it generates as it crashes through the thinning air issues in a deafening roar.

It was a little like that.

The other metaphor was the Big Bang, but the Big Bang run in reverse, from our familiar world all the way back to a point before there was anything, no time or space or matter, only the pure unbounded energy that was all there was then, before an imperfection, a ripple in its waveform, caused the universe of energy to fall into time, space, and matter. Rushing backward through 14 billion years, I watched the dimensions of reality collapse one by one until there was nothing left, not even being. Only the all-consuming roar.

It was just horrible.

But there's sort of a happy ending

Norman Swan: Sort of? Well, you're here.

Michael Pollan: The best thing about 5-MeO-DMT is it only lasts about eight minutes

Norman Swan: But the longest eight minutes of your life.

Michael Pollan: It was the longest eight minutes of my life, but suddenly and very quickly the world starts reconstituting. I suddenly can feel I have a body and there's a floor, there's matter and I can tell time is passing. And so all the coordinates of reality came back, and I had this incredible rush of gratitude. But it was a new kind of gratitude. It wasn't the gratitude most of us have felt, the gratitude of being alive, it was the gratitude that there is anything, because there could just as easily be nothing. We could be before the Big Bang. So that kind of fundamental gratitude was a new experience for me. So I won't say it made it worth it, but close.

Norman Swan: How did people around you respond, your wife, your son, the people who know you, how did they respond? Did they see anything new, were you nicer to live with?

Michael Pollan: My wife Judith was nervous about the whole thing, for a couple of reasons. I think the big one was we've been together a very long time, we met in college, and all the big experiences of our adult lives we've shared, you know, having a kid, moving here or there, work experiences. And here I was going to have a big experience potentially and she wasn't part of it. And so she felt like it was going to put a certain distance between us. And she also confessed to being worried that I'd change in some way. It didn't occur to her I may change for the better.

Norman Swan: And if I were to interview her today here?

Michael Pollan: Well, if you were she would tell you a few things because I have asked her, you know, so do you think this changed me and in what ways? And she felt that it did. She felt it made me more open and more patient than I was and somewhat less defensive, which has to do with the kind of getting a little perspective on your ego. I think the value of having temporary ego dissolution is that you realise you're not as identical to your ego as you previously thought and that it is a character in the drama of your inner life, but it's not the only one and you don't always have to listen to it, and it has these moves and tricks that you can see for what they are.

Norman Swan: But you did take psilocybin with her before you started all this.

Michael Pollan: Yes, we did, so she ended up taking part in one of my experiences, and then subsequently a couple of others. So she found it interesting and useful, only her mother kept appearing in all these trips and

Norman Swan: The Jewish mother gets everywhere, I can tell you.

Michael Pollan: The Jewish motherwell, it didn't happen to me but it happened to her and it wasn't always happy.

Norman Swan: It's one of the reasons I had stay off it I think.

Michael Pollan: But the other thing she said that I thought was really interesting and telling was she thought that Imy father died a year ago in January, and she thought that I handled that very differently than I would have before these experiences. And what she meant was that I was very present for the last 10 days of his life, I kind of moved into the apartment. He was 88 and he died of lung cancer. And I was just with him, like hours and hours and hours and wanted to be there and lying with him in the bed and talking to him and saying what needed to be said. I'm a busy person who could have concocted excuses not to be there all the time, but I wanted to be, and that presence, that openness to his death I think had to do with the fact that I'd been interviewing all these cancer patients and had gotten very comfortable talking about death with them. Although he never talked about dying at all, he processed it to the extent he did very internally. And so I think there have been changes. It's not a night and day thing but I do think there has been some changes.

Norman Swan: There's one thing I noticed in the book, you talk about having interviewed 15 guides to end up with five you say in the book, but you only describe four experiences. What's the one you didn't put in the book?

Michael Pollan: Let's see, well, I'm not sure your maths is right.

Norman Swan: I'm a doctor, I can only add up to four or five.

Michael Pollan: I had a guided LSD trip, I had a guided psylocibin than trip, I had two ayahuasca and fiveyes, there were two ayahuasca trips.

Norman Swan: Any difference between the drugs or are they all pretty much the same?

Michael Pollan: I think it they are more unlike than not. I mean, leaving aside 5-MeO-DMT, I think psilocybin and LSD in my experience, the main difference is LSD lasts longer.

Norman Swan: Why are the researchers focusing on psilocybin rather than LSD?

Michael Pollan: It's a good question. Two reasons, one political and one practical. The practical reason is an LSD trip can last 10 hours, and the researchers want to get home for dinner. It's very hard to fit in to the work day. You'd have two pay a lot of overtime and it would make the research very expensive. And the other is that it's so notorious

Norman Swan: So it's the one the moral panic was over.

Michael Pollan: The moral panic was around LSD, not psilocybin. And frankly, politicians don't know what psilocybin is, most of them, and so you're not going to have some know-nothing politician screaming about the government funding psilocybin research, although they're not. So I think it's safer politically.

Norman Swan: You're listening to RN's Health Report with me Norman Swan, and a special conversation with writer and journalist Michael Pollan on the new science of psychedelics.

So you had the '50s where you had people like Cary Grant taking this, you had a lot of research, 40,000 subjects. And then it starts to go south, and Timothy Leary is often blamed for this. Fairly?

Michael Pollan: Yes and no. He definitelyso he begins as a very serious researcher, he's hired by Harvard, he has a psychedelic experience on psilocybin the summer before he goes to start at Harvard. He said he learned more about the human mind in four hours by the pool in the Cuernavaca then he had in 15 years of being a psychologist. And so he starts this project, but he very quickly gets bored with science and he starts turning on poets and musicians. His idea of research was to have a lot of people over to his house and give them all psilocybin. And the papers were like 'Psilocybin in a Naturalistic Setting'. He transcended science instead of his ego.

And so he began, when he got firedhe got fired from Harvard for his partner, Richard Alpert, who became Ram Dass, was giving the drugs to undergraduates. They were only allowed to give it to graduate students, so they had violated their relationship with Harvard. And after he is fired he becomes an evangelist. This is an occupational hazard. I mean, people get involved with LSD and they think it really can solve the world's problems. And I get that kind of thinking. There is a certain logic to it. But we don't have a model for administering a drug to a whole culture except for fluoride, and it's not like fluoride. So he starts proselytising. And the researchers think he's screwing it up for everybody and they try to stop him.

Norman Swan: Because it's still legal at this point.

Michael Pollan: It's still legal at this point, it's legal up until '66 and it's not really nationally illegal until 1970. But it becomesit's taken up by the counterculture. President Nixon thinks it's fuelling the reluctance of American boys to go to Vietnam, which may have been true. It did helpit wasn't the only factor creating the counterculture but it certainly gave it a lot of its character. It was an unprecedented moment, if you think about it, where since this was a new drug, the young were having a rite of passage, the acid trip, that their elders did not understand and found really frightening and scary. Normally rites of passage in a culture are designed to knit the culture together. So you have the vision quest and the Native Americans or the bar mitzvah for Jews, it's a trial set up by the adults and the adolescents do certain things and cross the river and join the adult community. Here you had this weird rite of passage that the kids had organised themselves essentially

Norman Swan: The acid test.

Michael Pollan: Acid tests. And it was landing them in a country of the mind that adults didn't understand, and it was frightening to the government. So there was a backlash. The media turned against it, the government turned against it, and pretty soon the researchers were out of business.

Norman Swan: So we're into the second wave, you've been asked this question before, could another Leary come along and spoil it now?

Michael Pollan: That's a good question. I think everybody is so mindful of that example, every researcher I talk to alludes to the example of Leary and they are being very careful not to over-hype what they've got.

Norman Swan: They've got a whole group of people who believe this is for the betterment of the well, to use the words that you use

Michael Pollan: Yes, and there are researchers who will say that off the record. It's very hard to get them to say that on the record, that this is not only useful for people who are sick, the kinds of people who are being treated for addiction and depression, but that it has potential to treat all of us. I wouldn't say they are all off the record, some of them are on the record but very careful about saying that. And they are right.

Norman Swan: These drugs rely on the testimonies of individuals. There's no randomised placebo-controlled trial here. We've tried but essentially it reliesit's like studying pain, you've just got to believe somebody when they say I am scoring 10 of pain.

Michael Pollan: Right, the phenomenologywhat else are you going to go on? You're talking about mental experience, yes.

Norman Swan: Will there ever be the scientific methodology to allow the regulators to say, 'yes, we will allow psilocybin on the market'?

Michael Pollan: Oh yes, and we are not very far from that, believe it or not. So there have been placebo-controlled randomised trials. It's very hard to do a placebo for a psychedelic. You can imagine. And they tried different things. They give people niacin, which gives you a tingling sensation, or methylphenidate, Ritalin, but peopleyou can fool them sometimes if you have a naivesomeone who has never used psychedelics, but basically it's a problem. Nevertheless, they see dramatic differences in the two groups. And on the cancer anxiety studies they got a very strong signal, stronger than we have seen in any other psychiatric intervention, by the way.

Norman Swan: And where do you sit on the decriminalisation, legalisation?

Michael Pollan: So let me just go a little further with this though about satisfying the FDA. The FDA is the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, or the EMA in Europe. They've set out the benchmarks they need to see, and if they can see essentially if it performs better than placebo or better than a current SSRI in depression, they will approve it. We don't know the brain mechanisms of lots of psychiatric drugs. We still don't know how SSRIs work. So they are not waiting for that kind of information, although it would be very interesting to get it, and there are people working on it.

Norman Swan: Getting to the end of it, you quote William James a lot, the Harvard physician and psychologist who wrote about the religious experience, and he talked about mind cures, interestingly. Is the religious experience just a physiological phenomenon?

Michael Pollan: Well, it's a very good question. We are learning the neural correlates of spiritual experience. The fact that you can use a chemical to induce or occasion a mystical experience is quite a remarkable finding. What does that tell us? I mean, it may be that there is a physiological basis for religious experience. And some people think that diminishes it, to have a spiritual experience caused by a molecule, but that's an assumption worth examining. It seems to me it's kind of more mystical and wonderful that a mushroom that grows in the world that you take into your body can give you a religious experience. That doesn't diminish this at all.

We tend to assumethere's a whole lot of interesting assumptions about human nature that happen, that it's cheating to use a chemical, for example, to have a spiritual experience, that's a very common belief. And maybeI mean, I'm kind of agnostic on it, you know, it's that idea that if you climb to the top of the mountain, you have earned it in a way that if you take a helicopter, you haven't, yet you have the same view. And is it just our puritan nature that says, no, you've got to work for it for it to mean anything? I mean, all mental experiences are mediated by chemicals, so why the fact that it comes from outside you is cheating rather than it coming from inside? I mean, I just think we need to have an open mind about all this. I don't know the answer.

Norman Swan: And your advice is to take a guide and put on the eye mask and put on the headphones and listen to music?

Michael Pollan: Well, I don't want to advise anybody to do this unless they really feel motivated to do it, but if they are going to do it I think you mitigate a lot of the risk by having a guide. You have the potential of having a much deeper and thorough experience because of the environment that an experienced guide creates. A guide can be just someone who has a lot more experience than you do who is not going to be taking the drug with you. But I think there are enormous advantages, I found, to working with a guide. I also had a very good experience without one, but at a high dose, don't travel solo, I really think that's risky.

Norman Swan: Please join me in thanking the fabulous Michael Pollan.

Michael Pollan: Thank you.

Norman Swan: Michael Pollan. And his book is called How to Change your Mind: The new science of psychedelics. That conversation was recorded at the Sydney Opera House in July.

But before you go I want to recommend another show from the ABC science unit which many of you would be already familiar with, All in the Mind with Lynne Malcolm has done a series of programs looking at this second wave of psychedelic research for mental health issues. Here's a snippet:

David Erritzoe: The experience is so odd and strange and sort of mystical, so it's more about actually encouraging and supporting them in going into that experience and let the drug experience guide them through it. Our role and interaction during the actual trip is for some of the participants quite minimal. If people found it really challenging and really felt like sharing some of it we let that happen as well, but we encourage people to go inside.

Lynne Malcolm: Is the idea that you are hoping that they get some sort of personal insight that they didn't have before that might help them with their depression?

David Erritzoe: Yes, and that goes hand in hand with what we have been seeing during the acute state with the psychedelic in healthy people, what happens in the brain, that the networks of the brain, the functional networks that we can measure with MRI, they seem to fuse into each other. So, suddenly a lot of functional connections of brain areas and brain networks, they are broken down, so suddenly other perspectives are possible, and that is some of what people are experiencing, that they get a new angle, a new insight, new meanings and new understandings and a sense of coming to terms with some things. People often feel some sort of reconnection, that people can have felt estranged in their depression from their own emotions, from other people around them, from the world in general, even from nature, and those connections seem to be re-strengthened by the experience.

Lynne Malcolm: The results from this pilot study were quite positive.

David Erritzoe: We saw that people's depression scores significantly dropped, in particular after one week, that was the first proper measure. And then the depression score stayed low overall, almost half, I think nine out of the 20, they were in remission after five weeks, and six of these had not relapsed, even after six months of follow-up. In that sense quite impressive results, it really had a significantly positive impact on most of the participants, even some people found it really, really challenging, it helped their depression, it helped their suicidality, their anhedonia, this sense of not being able to feel anything, which is classic for depression, anxiety dropped in parallel. So very promising results. I would probably use the word 'promising' because remember it's a small trial, it's an open-label trial.

Norman Swan: And we've posted links to these All in the Mind episodes on our website. I'm Norman Swan, this has been the Health Report, I'll see you next week.

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Anxiety, depression and the new science of psychedelics part two - ABC News

Keeno Ahmed-Jones: Getting out of the psychedelic closet – Straight.com

By Keeno Ahmed-Jones

It was an early Sunday afternoon, and a scrum of more than 100 people had squeezed into the second-floor lounge of the Cannabis Culture head shop in Vancouver, B.C. This was not your prototypical stoner crowd: mostly women, they cut a wide demographic swath: college students, hipsters with bespoke tattoos, and a large contingent of grey-haired retirees wearing artfully tied scarves. The kind of folks you might see at a Green Party meeting, or a downtown Starbucks.

The event, a psychedelic symposium and fundraiser for Cosmic Sister, an ecofeminist collective, was running behind schedule. Celina Archambault, a petite blond with a distance runners spry build and the main organizer, was jockeying to find seats for people who had spilled over into the next roomone of the stores retail areas, anchored by a glass case brimming with a stoners delight of mass-market candy, rolling papers, and vape pens.

If you are wondering what a psychedelic symposium is, youre not alone. With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada and the decriminalization of psychedelic drugs gaining ground in the U.S. and Canada, so are the people curious about magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, MDMA, and other mind-altering compounds for enlightenment and healing. The event at Cannabis Culture was part community gathering and part educational forum, featuring women directly involved in the world of plant medicine.

While the psychedelic renaissance seems to be heading mainstreamthrough multiple TED Talks, HR-approved microdosing in Silicon Valley offices, and author Michael Pollan tripping his way to the New York Times bestseller listthe effort to get psychedelics recognized for their therapeutic benefits has been waged for decades. Canada sits at a critical nexus: the first major country to pass progressive drug policy (cannabis) and being at the forefront of groundbreaking hallucinogenic research.

But lets not forget history. In the 1950s, government-sanctioned psychedelic studies were being conducted around the world; LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA were found to have beneficial effects for people suffering from a variety of conditions, including anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. A decade later and a series of cascading eventsTimothy Learys fervent LSD crusade, the 60s counterculture, and President Nixons all-out antidrug offensiveresulted in overzealous drug regulation and an unceremonious end for grant-funding, effectively slamming the door on psychedelic research for half a century. And yet, all the while, a steady stream of scientists, therapists, and healers have been working with these substances underground to help people who are suffering.

I recently moved to Vancouver, B.C., after living in New York City for more than 20 years. Canadawith its socialized health care, pragmatic gun laws, and affordable college tuitionseemed a viable antidote to the Sisyphean labours of big-city life. A few months before leaving New York, I attended a private salon at a sprawling Soho loft, where Rodrigo Nio, an accomplished real-estate developer and economist, spoke about his Stage 3 melanoma diagnosis in 2011 at the age of 41. Suffering from a crippling fear of death, he flew to Peru and did ayahuasca under a shamans guidance. Nios experience was transformativehis dread evaporated, and the potential of life, however fragile, bloomed in its place. Nio eventually beat cancer and is healthy and thriving today.

Ever since that night, I found myself asking: could these substances help me with my anxiety, insomnia, and past trauma? I had spent the better part of my life in New York paying handsomely for the privilege to contribute toward the vacation-home slush funds of three psychotherapists. Despite their Ivy League credentials and thriving practices, and regardless of the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), eye-movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), and Big Pharma medications (which went mostly untouched), I never felt like Id been cured or harnessed a deeper understanding of my own psyche. If any viable mental health alternatives existed out there, any at all, didnt I owe it to myself to find out?

With everyone finally situated, Ms. Archambault stood at the microphone and welcomed everyone. She spoke about the corporatization of cannabis and the domination of plant medicine in the 21st century by white men, in spite of its Indigenous roots, how colonialism and the War on Drugs had demonized these powerful agents of healing and pushed them underground. It was time, she said, for women to shake off multiple generations of repression and educate and empower ourselves, to reclaim the spaces we had been pushed out of as healers, cultivators, and wisdom carriers.

A procession of women from diverse backgrounds took the microphone during the next two hours. There was an elderly midwife and medicine woman who talked about salvia divinorum, asacred hallucinogen of the Mazatec Indians that gained YouTube notoriety when legions of bored teens (including Miley Cyrus) posted their chaotic 10-minute trips to oblivion and back, eventually causing its reclassification as a controlled substance in the U.S. and Canada. She scoffed at the hyperbolic tabloid headlines and told the audience: If you take the plant to its highest elevation, you can actually meditate on it.

Eight more women spoke, including: the young owner of the only First Nations-run cannabis shop in Vancouver (cleverly named the 420 Stalk Market), a psychotherapist with the MDMA Phase III Research Study who provided tips on how to approach a psychedelic journey, an Indigenous activist and mother working to heal her reserve from intergenerational trauma, an organic cannabis farmer, and a chef specializing in the preparation of special meals eaten in the days leading up to a psychedelic journey.

But the most resonant speaker was Anne-Marie Armour, a social worker who has spent several years working in Vancouvers Downtown Eastside, ground zero of Canadas opioid epidemic. Without mincing words, she told the crowd that the high cost of psychedelic-assisted therapy meant it was simply out of reach for the poor and marginalized. That practitioners using plant medicine with their clients do so at the risk of losing their licences. And psychedelic researchers, advocates, policymakers, and the community at large need to acknowledge its Indigenous origins and ensure that Native healers are represented where policy and practice is concerned. Plant medicine, she said, firmly, needs to get out of the psychedelic closet.

After the speakers had finished and most of the attendees had filtered out, I found Armour and thanked her. I shared my struggle to find a local, affordable nontraditional therapist (the last one I had been referred to charged $450 for the initial consultation alone). I know how you feel, Armour said, nodding knowingly.

I stayed after and mingled for a bit. A woman suffering from epilepsy told me that microdosing with mushrooms had remade her from a shut-in fearing her next seizure to having a functional life where she could hold down a job. A mother said she was there for her son, a 20-something heroin addict who had overdosed half a dozen times and been in rehab twice. She had seen the new documentary Dosedwhere ibogaine therapy was used to end a heroin addicts opioid dependenceand wanted to learn more.

Walking out under the intransigent Vancouver sun, I tried to process everything Id heard in the past few hours. I felt exhilarated but also a bit angry that most people in the world were stillthrough no fault of their ownin the dark when it came to the truth about psychedelics.

But above all, I was heartened to know that there were people in Canada and beyond working in the shadows and the light of day to make sure that the door to the psychedelic closet was reopenedand that this time around, it would stay that way.

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Keeno Ahmed-Jones: Getting out of the psychedelic closet - Straight.com

Call for patients to take part in anorexia psilocybin treatment study – Health Europa

One condition that psilocybin has been shown to hold potential as therapy treatment for is eating disorders, and a psychedelic research centre is calling for patients to take part in an anorexia psilocybin treatment study.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in certain species of mushrooms and research into the chemical has been limited due to its scheduling as an illegal drug in many countries across the world.

Johns Hopkins University recently secured funding of $17m (~15.39m) to start the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine, making it the largest research centre of its kind in the world. The centre will be carrying out research in the hope of creating precision medicine treatments tailored to individual patients specific needs.

Psychedelics are a class of drugs that produce unique and profound changes of consciousness over the course of several hours. Much of the early work at Johns Hopkins has focussed on psilocybin, the chemical found in so-called magic mushrooms.

A study that will be carried out at the centre will be looking at the psychological effects of psilocybin, including whether or not it can help with anorexia.

Anorexia kills more people than any other mental health condition and there are many related medical and mental complications that come with it including thoughts of suicide.

Paul B. Rothman,dean of the medical faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said: Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients.

Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new centre will help us explore that potential.

The researchers at Johns Hopkins University are now seeking individuals ages 18 65 with anorexia nervosa to participate.

The centre reassures that confidentiality will be maintained for all applicants and participants.

Click here to apply to participate in the anorexia study.

Roland Griffiths, the centres director and professor of behavioural biology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences and the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: The centres establishment reflects a new era of research in therapeutics and the mind through studying this unique and remarkable class of pharmacological compounds.

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Call for patients to take part in anorexia psilocybin treatment study - Health Europa

The Two Black Women Helping To Reclaim & Encourage Natural Psychedelics Use In Oakland – Okayplayer

Photos courtesy of those interviewed.

One of Mac Dres most beloved lyrics is from a song titled Weekend.

The shrooms I consume are making me laugh/ Im high as the eye on a fucking giraffe, he raps on the track Weekend. The song appeared on 2006s 16 wit dre, a mix album that was released two-and-a-half years after Dres death on November 1, 2004.

The Oakland-born Dre was a fan of magic mushrooms and MDMA; he even devoted a song to the pair titled Shrooms and E-Pills.

So, its likely that he wouldve celebrated the news of Oakland decriminalizing psilocybin (the scientific name for magic or psychedelic mushrooms).In June 2019, Oakland City Council passed a local ordinance to decriminalize certain natural psychedelicslike mushrooms, ayahuasca, peyote and DMT. (Synthetic psychedelics like LSD and MDMA are still illegal, and psychedelic mushrooms and other natural hallucinogens are technically still illegal under California state law and federal law. The ordinance also doesnt legalize the sale or distribution of psychedelic mushrooms.) Approved a month prior to Denvers voter-led ballot initiative to decriminalize psilocybin, Oaklands resolution is a continuation of Californias progressive drug reform history. The state became the first in the country to legalize medical marijuana in 1996.

These are not drugs. These are healing plants We just think they should never have been made illegal to begin with, Carlos Plazola, founder of Decriminalize Nature Oakland (DNO), an advocacy group dedicated to making natural medicine accessible to Oakland, told the Guardian.

Inspired by his own experiences using psychedelic mushrooms to heal from childhood trauma, Plazola created the DNO.

This is getting the word out about the healing power, Plazola said. Many people in communities of color and communities of trauma are not getting access.

For generations, communities of color utilized natural psychedelics for medicinal purposes. Rooted in spiritual-based healing, the practices of plant-based medicine became whitewashed by Americas counterculture movement of the 1960s. Despite this, black people have continued to experiment with psychedelics. The creation of hyphy music a subgenre of rap music that came about in the Bay Area in the late 90s and rose to prominence in the mid-2000s was a byproduct of rappers using MDMA, with the late Mac Dre at the forefront of that experimentation. Countless Dre songs, like Weekend and Shrooms and E-Pills, found him referencing not only MDMA but psychedelic mushrooms. While he was alive, Dre had also coined a term not just for ecstasy but for the euphoric effects people felt from taking it thizz. Dres Thizzle Dance practically served as an explainer for the term as the rapper (alongside Chuck Beez) broke down what thizz is all about: letting your body move as fluidly and erratically as it wants. In 2012, eight years after Dres death, Thizz Entertainment his record label was implicated in a nationwide ecstasy ring. (Court records revealed that most of the people arrested in the operation had no connection to the label.)

Aware of the regions previously established relationship with usage of psychedelics and the fear of being criminalized, Plazola wants to transform the headquarters of the DNO into a consciousness community, a co-working space where people can also reflect on their psychedelic journeys and learn about natural psychedelics. Helping him with this aretwo Black women: co-founder Nicolle Greenheart and community outreach and education activist Amber Senter.

Okayplayer spoke with Greenheart and Senter about being involved with DNO, the importance of people of color reclaiming and experimenting with psychedelics and more.

Greenheart: Denver;s strategy was focused on psilocybin through a voter-centered route. DNO ensured the resolution included all plant medicine because individuals should have autonomy over what plants they use to heal. We wanted to make sure people had that choice, because there is a wealth of plants. Going the council route resulted in the consultation of professionals in the psychedelic space scientists, therapists, and input from community leaders before the resolution was presented to council.

Carlos Plazola previously worked for city council and knew how to navigate and lobby. So it was helpful to have an individual with expertise in Oakland politics. Despite the creation of our resolution being predominantly white in terms of contributions, we received support from the indigenous community, and crafted a diverse team of advocates to discuss legislation with city council members. When we presented at The Public Safety Community, we intentionality chose diverse speakers men, women, and people of color so city council witnessed the diversity of voices in the psychedelic movement.

Greenheart: Since childhood, Ive suffered from depression and underwent the traditional routes of treatment such as psycho-therapy and antidepressants, which negatively impacted my health. After that experience I asked myself, How am I going to heal myself naturally? I tried meditation, yoga, homeopathic treatments, crystals, but I was always looking for community.

I attended an all-day retreat and was intrigued by a ceremonial practice of microdosing huachuma (San Pedro cactus) to align with your higher self and open your heart chakra. Once I found out the healing plant was a psychedelic, I began a one-and-a-half year long research study on psychedelics and attended local community-centered events in the Bay Area. But I noticed I was the only Black person in the room. I questioned the lack of my community in these spaces, because we need this medicine just as much as anybody else. It gave me a new motivation to create space for establishing community for Black people in psychedelic spaces. The integration of plant-based medicine in Black communities is an offering of help and support because Ive experienced how powerful and life transforming it is.

Senter: Theres an insignificant lack of awareness and education on how medicinal plants can help Black communities. Black voices in psychedelics are obscured by those in positions of power, and I wanted to ensure my voice was heard in these political efforts to decriminalize ISA genetic plants in Oakland. From my own experience dealing with lupus (a chronic auto-immune disorder), psychedelic mushrooms have been helpful for me. Disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis and Scholar Derma are rampant in Black women and women of color communities. I reached out to Carlos and told him I wanted to be involved, because as an advocate of women of color in the cannabis spaces through Supernova Women, I know the benefits of plant-based medicine for our communities.

Greenheart: Im familiar with her work and the challenges of getting communities of color to engage with psychedelics in the clinical and/or therapeutic route. I previously held a stereotypical perception of psychedelics as a recreational hippie drug for white people. It wasnt until I started researching the medicinal purposes of psychedelics that I wanted to destigmatize psychedelics in the Black community and advocate its healing purposes. Specifically, to treat the trauma expressed by members within our community while promoting responsible usage. I want to model how to be a safe and responsible user without going the clinical route. There is a place for the therapeutic model and for individuals who want to participate within a community-based environment, while receiving support and being safe.

Senter: Im from Chicago, so theres a regional difference in reception of natural plant medicines compared to Oakland. Indigenous and Latinx communities have been very open and welcoming to the decriminalization of natural psychedelics. I expected resistance from the Black Church, but attendees have understood that God made these plants for healing purposes.

Greenheart: There needs to be collaboration between hip-hop and psychedelics. Whether the merger is a conference we need people to join in. Were a small team with limited capacity, so we need to hear from local artists to participate in this movement alongside us. Were in infancy, so everybody is waiting to see what happens.


Taylor Crumpton has written for Pitchfork, PAPER, Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, and more. You can follow her@taylorcrumpton

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The Two Black Women Helping To Reclaim & Encourage Natural Psychedelics Use In Oakland - Okayplayer