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Category Archives: Psychedelics
Andy Frasco Talks Finding Emotional Balance With Psychedelics On ‘Psychedelics Today’ Podcast [Listen] – Live for Live Music
Posted: November 30, 2019 at 9:56 am
Andy Frasco loves to have a fun time. Anyone who has ever experienced one of his performances in person can attest to that. What many fail to rememberlikely from overconsumption of booze during one of his showsis that Frascos job means he has to be the life of the party every night, inevery city when he and his band The U.N. are on tour. While that kind of lifestyle does offer what many see as a fun time, for folks like Frasco who are on stage every night in front of fans who have paid to ensure hes the highlight of their week, its a job just like any other occupation. One in an industry which has racked up its fair share of body counts over the years.
Frascos job, unlike most, doesnt come with an HR representative in the corner whos there to remind employees that doing some fat lines of cocaine in the dressing room right before a big show probably isnt the best idea. So Frasco, always the energizing party monster, has had to self-regulate his own hard-partying ways in hopes of maintaining a career in the fast-paced world of the music industryespecially in a scene where drug use for substances like cocaine and alcohol is encouraged and utilized to the max.
Related: Andy Frasco: The Lover, The Fighter, The Ringleader Of This F*ckin Circus [Interview]
Frasco was the latest guest onPsychedelics Today, a weekly podcast that focuses on psychedelic drugs and the lifestyle that comes with the use of sacred, old-world medications like mushrooms and other substances containing Psilocybin to help ease the stresses and burdens of todays machine-like society.
Throughout the 90-minute episode, Frasco talked openly on how mushrooms have presented a healthier, more beneficial alternative to more harmful drugs while on tour. Frasco discussed how he gets more anxiety when hes not occasionally consuming mushrooms versus when he is, and even mentioned how the use of herbal remedies like cannabis even brings him anxiety as hes gotten older.
Frasco also spoke about how severe panic attacks, and even sex addiction has led him on a journey to finding inner truth with the use of psychedelics.
When youre in a band youre the party for one day of the year in that city, Frasco points out about his job as an entertainer. His job was the same reason he began using cocaine regularly for the sole purpose of being able to find enough energy to perform every night.
Listen to the latest episode ofPsychedelics Today featuring Andy Frasco via the Spotify player below.
Psychedelics Today Andy Frasco
Frasco will take that new, healthier lifestyle of his back on the road this winter for a co-headlining run of shows alongsideBIG Something beginning with a performance in Athens, GA on January 30th. Head to Andy Frasco & The U.N.s website for tickets and tour info.
Posted: at 9:56 am
Although it took almost two decades to manifest the fame of Alexander Fleming as the father of penicillin, the discovery profoundly influenced humanity. Its remarkable that every single dose comes from a single cantaloupe originated in Peoria. Within a year of scraping mold, 100 million units are produced every month by American pharmaceutical companies.The timing was chance, as medicine was in high demand during World War II. Since that time antibiotics have played a major role in medicine. That might change soon. Big Pharma has churned out three new strains per year, as Bill Bryson writes in his new book The Body: a Guide for Occupants, from 50 to 80s. Now it releases one every year and continues to decline.
Why? We are antibiotic-resistant. The money is getting dry. Big Pharma would instead concentrate on life-long medications including statins and selective serotonin reduction inhibitors (SSRIs).This profit-driven approach to medicine could be our undoing even beyond the dire question of the loss of antibiotics. No person should take a pill for life except in cases of medical need. For all the obviously beneficial qualities of SSRIs, they prove very ineffective (and sometimes really deadly) in the long run. Better solutions are available.
Join Paul Stamets, one of the worlds leading fungi experts. The mycologist has been attending the Joe Rogan Experience recently, where he discussed the benefits of mycelia. Stamets pointed out that early research evidence shows that the neurogenic benefits from micro-dosing are greater than the neurogenic benefit of macrodosing. In a discussion of psilocybin, psychedelic strains of the mushrooms that gained a great deal of attention lately for their therapeutic applications.This is a large claim, but if it is true, it is important. The use of psilocybin and LSD protocols for productivit benefits has been increasingly relieved (in the hands of popular media) by technology staff.The potential for psychedelics to treat depression and other mental health conditions is more important to the larger population. Contrary to current medicines, serotonergic psychedelics seem to boot some brain areas, leading to better mental health perspectives.
Researchers studied the effects of psychedelic truffles in the Netherlands (masses of mycelia containing psilocybin) for the microdosing test has been shown that psilocybin binds to serotonin 2A receptors, resulting in enhanced cognitive mobility, increased associated learning and hippocampal neurogenesis.For this study, researchers didnt use a control group, so that more research is needed as with the range of psychedelic research. We need it, however. The FDA aims to improve treatments for problems with chronic mental health.In the meantime, the US Defense Departments DARPA plan to reduce MDMA and Psilocybin hallucinating effects in the military for treating PTSD or anxiety. Maybe the agency should consult with Stemets to see how psychedelics and niacin (vitamin B3) have a beneficial effect.
Switzerland is commonly discovered as a version of effectiveness, solidness and intent, specifically through expats edgy to leave the political sickness of their nations of beginning. From numerous factors of view, the version nonetheless remains steady, yet the Swiss healthcare
Man-made intelligence can improve social insurance by cultivating a deterrent prescription and new medication disclosure. Two instances of how AI is affecting human services incorporate 's capacity to pinpoint medications for disease patients, and Google Cloud's Healthcare application that makes
Posted: at 9:56 am
In response to The Return Trip: Psychedelics may come back from the abyss of illegality, published November 21-27, 2019.
Design by Jennifer Levesque
Serene, I bet we beat your state to this.
Billy Tower, Facebook comment
Billy Tower, lol youre probably right! But glad to know its all on its way.
Serene Leona, Facebook comment
Ugh! Heaven help us all.
Lorre Smith, Facebook comment
Yea, heaven help us all open our minds and discover a better way to live in this godforsaken society.
Kyle Kelley, Facebook comment
Wonderful article! This is probably one of the best that Ive read having to do with the recent psychedelic revolution.
Dan Conner, website comment
In response to Monte Belmonte Wines: Trying to love Italian wine, published November 21-27, 2019.
Having read this article, it didnt take long to figure out it was really about the U.S. immigration policy and not really about wine. My paternal grandparents came from an Eastern European country in the late 1890s and arrived as legal immigrants at Ellis Island and, who knows, probably were deloused as well a small price to pay in order to enter the country. When you enter a country illegally, theres a price to pay. The only people I feel sorry for are the innocent children, who are brought here by adults who are breaking the law. You dont get to pick and choose which laws youre going to follow and then be surprised when youre detained.
Welcoming immigrants who enter legally is an honorable endeavor, and we should be helping those who enter our country honorably, not the ones who currently sneak in and hide out.
Judy Curtis, email
In response to Between the Lines: Use your billions on something other than running for president, published November 21-27, 2019.
I got my daily Tom Steyer flyer today. More dependable than the local paper.
Steve William Lindsey, Facebook comment
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Posted: at 9:56 am
Taking DMT is a bit like putting your brain through a jet engine and getting your consciousness blown out the other side. Theres no you anymore. Youre just kind of everywhere, surrounded by colours and fractals and aliens that look a bit like elves. It feels a lot like being dead, or what you imagine being dead feels like, and then youre sucked back into your body feeling somewhere between terrified and peaceful. But whats weird is that for such a chaotic ride, there seems to be a pattern to the experience. The trip tends to follow a similar trajectory each time, and everyone seems to experience some variation of the same thing.
For scientists this uniformity presents some interesting questions. Namely: whats the neurology behind DMT? And why do so many people report seeing elves? These questions have instigated a few studies, including one at Johns Hopkins in the United States, but the latest findings have just come from the Imperial College London.
Last week a study published in Scientific Reports looked at the brains response to DMT, courtesy of the colleges Psychedelic Research Group. There, researchers administered intravenous DMT to 13 subjects, while measuring their brains electrical activity via a web of electrodes loaded into head capsdevices that are known as "EEG caps".
If were serious about understanding human beings and their consciousness, we need to understand psychedelic experiences, Christopher Timmins, a PhD student at Imperial College London and author of the study, told VICE over the phone. DMT [is] particularly relevant because, at normal doses, it generates this very strong sense of immersiveness.
We asked Christopher what else he and his team discovered about DMTs bewildering effects on the brain.
Christopher Timmermann. Credit: Imperial College London, photo by Thomas Angus
VICE: HI Chris. Can you start by explaining our current understanding of how DMT works on a neurological level?Christopher Timmermann: We know DMT works with the serotonin system in the brain. Serotonin is one of the major chemicals that we have in the brain thats responsible for a series of functions related to consciousnesswakefulness, attention. DMT is very closely related to the serotonin molecule. We also know that if you block a specific serotonin receptor in the brain, the psychological effects of DMT are inhibited. So we know that the specific receptor, the serotonin 2A receptor, is crucial for psychedelic effects. And this receptor is expressed all over the cerebral cortexits very prominent in sensory areas, and its distributed all around.
What neurological effects did you see in your subjects after theyd taken DMT? The brainwave patterns seen are particularly notorious in certain states of consciousness. For example, you have an Alpha wave pattern thats very prominent when you close your eyes and disengage from the environment. When we open our eyes after that, this Alpha wave pattern goes down a very significant way. In the DMT study, we found the same thinga very strong reduction of these Alpha waves. The only difference is that people kept their eyes closed. It's almost as if people were seeing with their eyes closed, engaging with a world. And we found this reduction in Alpha waves was very strongly associated [with] the intensity of the experience.
Another way we try to understand brain activity is to see how chaotically, or entropically, the brain behaves after we administer these drugs. With DMT, we found that there was a huge increase in this chaotic activity. This is interesting because its the opposite of what happens in the brain when there is a loss of consciousness, such as when youre in a coma, or youre sleeping or dreaming.
Were there any other brainwave patterns you noticed?Yeah we also saw an increase in Theta and Delta waves. Its interesting because these increases were particularly noticeable when people were in the peak of this experience, so the moment in which people felt completely immersed in this alternate reality of sorts. This Theta wave, specifically, is tightly related to dreaming, so therefore we have some initial evidence that theres a similar mechanism behind dreaming and this very immersive DMT experience.
Treatment room setup. Credit: Imperial College London and photo by Thomas Angus
Im interested in how the people in your study reacted to the DMT. You write that they were all exposed to psychedelics, but did anyone report seeing anything interesting during their trip?There were challenging moments for sure; moments where people in the interview after reported that it was too much. One participant said she reached a point in which she couldnt go further. She described encountering some beings or entities that were pushing against her, not allowing her to trespass into their realm, and I think this was particularly challenging. But after that, she said she was falling through pink clouds of comfort, and other entities were healing her once she was going through this space.
Now, the whole idea is DMT allows people to break through different realities. But it's fairly well established that while some can, others cant. Is there any neurological reason as to why this is?There are many factors that can influence this. Id say a very important one is that people usually smoke DMT, and smoking is a very ineffective way to ingest a drug because a lot of the product can be burned before its absorbed. Theres variability in the lung capacity people have, how much time theyre holding the smoke in, and basically, your history with smoking other substances.
Okay, but are there any explanations neurologically? You mentioned serotonin earlier, so could anything be altering those receptors, like antidepressant drugs for example? We dont know how well antidepressants interact, at least at the experiential level. The usual saying of psychedelics is that when people are taking antidepressants, psychedelics dont work as well. Theres also some evidence that this serotonin 2A receptor is mediated by a gene some people apparently have or dont have. But again, these things are speculative. Theres nothing mechanistically proven about why people may not break through. But I would say that dose is a very big explanation.
Is there any scientific way to explain DMT breakthroughs? Like, are we closer to understanding why, or how, people meet entities like machine elves?At the moment we dont know. What were doing now is were conducting other experiments in which we use DMT, and we give it inside fMRI scanners, because fMRI scanners allow you to look at things happening [inside] the brain with much more precision. And that is important because we know that certain areas of the brain are used for recognising faces, when were engaging in social activities, and so on.
So youre saying DMT might affect the parts of our brain that recognise faces, which could be why were seeing the faces of elves when were on DMT? Look, DMT might be acting on specific areas of the brain responsible for face recognition, or understanding the mind of others, or recognising intentions, but these are speculations only.
So, to you, whats been the point of the study? How has this research helped us to understand DMT or even this notion of consciousness? An important part of this study has been exploring how DMT trips are part of the human experience repertoire. These are states that human beings can have. As a scientist, theres a natural curiosity in understanding not only why, but understanding the experiences themselves. One of the important things about this study has been examining what kind of experiences human beings can have, and how we can make sense of them.
Interview by Sam Nichols. He's on Twitter
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.
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Hes a fungi: U.S. health agency asks researcher to give it the lowdown on psilocybin mushrooms – The GrowthOp
Posted: at 9:56 am
The National Institute of Mental Health has mushrooms on its mind.
The federal health agency has invited Roland Griffiths a prominent psychedelics researcher to lead a discussion on Tuesday as part of its speaker series.
In this presentation, Dr. Griffiths will review the history, epidemiology, risks, and neuropharmacology of classic psychedelic drugs, the NIMH said. The presentation will highlight research into the effects of psilocybin in healthy volunteers, in beginning and long-term meditators, and in religious leaders.
While the invitation was not meant to be seen as an endorsement of the use of psilocybin, the agency said it is hoping to encourage broad thinking as opposed to incremental advancements in knowledge.
Innovation speakers are encouraged to describe their work from the perspective of breaking through existing boundaries and developing successful new ideas, as well as working outside their initial area of expertise in ways that have pushed their fields forward, the agency said. We encourage discussions of the meaning of innovation, creativity, breakthroughs, and paradigm-shifting.
With the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis making news and opening up new avenues of research around the world, the paradigm is already shifting on psilocybin mushrooms.
The NIMH made a fine choice in Griffiths, a researcher who has spent much of his career exploring the potential of psychedelics in the treatment of mental health issues. In September, he was chosen to head up a new facility devoted to the study of psychedelics at John Hopkins University.
Currently, psilocybin mushrooms are classified as a Schedule I drug by the FDA, the same category as heroin and cannabis. To be a Schedule I drug means the substance in question holds no medicinal value. As researchers find mushrooms have a positive effect onanxiety,treatment-resistant depression, andSeasonal Affective Disorder, that could change.
Like cannabis, psilocybin has a long track record of relative safety among recreational users, and it is not toxic. Unlike some drugs that treat anxiety and other mental conditions, psilocybin is not prone to dependence. But given its hallucinogenic effect, lawmakers may be reticent to allow distribution of the psychedelic drug without more restrictions.
And mushrooms may prove to be a growth opportunity for Big Marijuana as well. As legislators consider the decriminalization of the substance for medicinal use, theyll look to industries that already have a similar market with regulations that will likely mirror those for mushrooms.
Want to keep up to date on whats happening in the world of cannabis?Subscribeto the Cannabis Post newsletter for weekly insights into the industry, what insiders will be talking about and content from across the Postmedia Network.
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Posted: at 9:56 am
After years of debilitating depression, Kevin Matthews credits a transformative mushroom trip in 2011 as his turnaround. It allowed the clouds to clear and kind of gave me the perspective to see my life in a whole new context, he says.
Matthews, 34, doesnt look the part of a drug activist. Neatly dressed in a pale blue button-down, the young dad talks over the noise of clattering plates at a trendy Denver coffee shop about what fun it was to wander between parks that night. When he laughs, his brown eyes crinkle behind no-nonsense rectangular glasses that look like they belong on a teacher rather than an impassioned organizer trying to make magic mushrooms mainstream.
Yet as Decriminalize Denvers campaign manager, Matthews drove his citys push to decriminalize psilocybin, the active ingredient in mushrooms that causes hallucinations. Initiative 301 secured 50.5 percent of the vote in May, making Denver the first U.S. city to decriminalize the drug for those over 21 years old. Arrests for possession or use of psilocybin are now Denvers lowest law enforcement priority, though the drug still cant be sold or used for medical treatment.
After the narrow victory, Matthews and others from the campaign launched the nonprofit Society for Psychedelic Outreach, Reform and Education (yes, thats SPORE). Matthews, who will be the groups executive director, supports city officials who provide extra training to law enforcement focused on harm reduction. He hopes SPORE will evolve into an information and strategy hub for other grassroots campaigns as psychedelics gain political attention nationwide. Oakland, California, decriminalized psychoactive plants and fungi in June, while medical legalization of psilocybin could be on Oregons ballot next year and petitions are circling California for a 2020 decriminalization ballot measure.
Unlike the legalization of cannabis, this mushroom push isnt expected to create a booming industry or begin correcting decades of criminal inequities (psilocybin is identified in less than 0.5 percent of drug lab reports). Instead, supporters point to a small but growing body of research suggesting that psilocybin can be an effective tool to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and addiction. Growing acceptance of marijuana helped pave the way. This shouldnt be considered alternative anymore, says Matthews. We have a national emergency right now with our mental health and addiction crisis.
This shouldnt be considered alternative anymore.
While this was Matthews first brush with organizing, hes been oriented by a sense of duty for decades. Since age 9, the Denver native dreamed of joining the Army and following in the footsteps of his adoptive father and grandfather. In 2005, he headed to West Point, where he was treated for depression. Suicidal ideation led to a medical discharge in 2008.
The discharge crushed him. The military doesnt really have the cultural infrastructure to work with people who are suffering from major depression, Matthews says, steady and soft-spoken, as sunlight pours into the caf. He moved home with his father and bounced among odd jobs. Today, he speaks openly about the sense of abandonment he traces to being adopted and without a mother figure. It took a cocktail of therapy, yoga, meditation and alternative spirituality for him to reach a place of clarity.
Self-medicating with mushrooms was part of that soul-searching. In 2011, Matthews moved in with Sheva, who would become his wife. (They met at a poker game: I got my ass kicked, he says with a laugh.) The couple worked at an outdoor rehabilitation center for at-risk youth until 2013, when the company shut down, after which they packed up their Subaru and moved to Mendocino, California. They lived off the grid in the redwood forest until Shevah became pregnant; in 2014, they returned to Denver back into the real world, Matthews says.
By 2017 he was working as a social media consultant and became captivated by the idea that psilocybin could alleviate others suffering as well as his own. Matthews helped to craft the ballot initiative, found the 10-person committee, canvas for signatures and coordinate more than 100 volunteers, with a boost of $48,000 in campaign donations.
An expanding body of research has been exploring psilocybins therapeutic potential to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, cigarette and alcohol dependence, and treatment-resistant depression. Some research also indicates low abuse and dependence rates. A University of California, San Francisco pilot study suggests it is feasible to combine medically supervised psilocybin use with regular group therapy, says Brian Anderson, a UCSF psychiatrist with a background in substance use (the study has not yet been published).
Still, Anderson urges caution, saying psilocybin use can go wrong for example, triggering psychotic episodes in people with schizophrenia and must take place in highly controlled settings. Neither Denvers nor Oaklands initiatives authorize doctors to recommend psilocybin as treatment, though Oregons ballot measure would allow medical use. Decriminalization at a local level is not legalization, and its not regulation, Anderson says.
Theres also the broad cadre of public health and safety concerns about recreational use. Trips, which can last up to six hours, cause hallucinations that impair judgment. People on psilocybin have died jumping from buildings or walking into traffic. Matthews understands these concerns: SPOREs focus has shifted to educating people about how to use mushrooms safely (e.g., knowing strains and appropriate dosage) through TV public service announcements, radio spots and billboards, possibly in conjunction with city government. After seeing his success in Denver, I expect that he will be aggressive in his efforts to educate the population and decriminalize its use, says Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, who brought in Matthews for a psilocybin primer after the initiative passed.
While advocates note that hallucinogenic plants have been used in community settings since the shamans and medicine men of antiquity, modern psychedelic politics remains in its infancy. Organizing efforts have bubbled up in cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., Phoenix and Dallas, while medical research on the drug continues. Matthews is fully aware that national curiosity, scrutiny and criticism will focus on Denver as the petri dish of this experiment. In many ways, he says, we kind of catalyzed this movement for the rest of the country.
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Posted: November 2, 2019 at 9:45 am
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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Posted: at 9:45 am
The University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) is financing a study into the psychedelic psilocybin with the help of decentralized fundraising platform Molecule Catalyst, in the first attempt to fund a clinical trial into psychedelics using decentralized finance.
According to a recent post on the Molecule blog, the effort will be a joint collaboration between Molecule Catalyst, Rotem Petranker and Thomas Anderson, directors at the University of Toronto Mississauga Psychedelic Studies Research Program (PSRP).
Through its partnership with Molecule Catalyst, UTM hope to raise an undisclosed sum to fund its planned psilocybin clinical trials.
Molecule uses blockchain technology to provide an incentive-based market for scientific research. Through Molecule Catalyst, research groups will be able to raise funds for the study of rare diseases, ageing & longevity and psychedelics, among other fields.
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To provide an incentive to investors, Molecule uses smart contracts to make the chemical intellectual property resulting from successful products easily tradeable on the Ethereum blockchain. In this way, funders receive a stake in the projects they supportallowing investors of all sizes to help fund potentially pioneering research and benefit from its success. Molecule uses the dollar-backed stablecoin DAI to overcome market instability.
UTM's psilocybin study is the first fund-raising project to be hosted by Molecule Catalyst, which ultimately aims to create a Web 3.0 marketplace and exchange for chemical IP.
The UTM study will investigate the effects of microdosing a psychedelic compound known as psilocybin on a variety of cognitive indicators.
Besides examining psilocybin's effect on creativity, mood and focus, the study will also measure its influence on social connection, self-efficacy and mindfulness.
Overall, UTM hopes that the data produced will help to guide global psychedelics research, by setting a new precedent that can be used to direct impactful psychedelics research.
Previously, psilocybin has been shown to effective in treating a wide variety of mental disorders, ranging from anxiety and depression, to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).However, due to its potential to be abused as a psychedelic drug, the psychoactive substance has been shelved as a potential therapeutic by most pharmaceutical research groups.
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Posted: at 9:45 am
MICHAEL POLLAN: So this was an enormously challenging book to write. First of all, I knew very little about neuroscience. I knew very little about psychology, psychotherapy. And I had very limited experience of psychedelics. I had these mushrooms a couple of times in my 20s, but it was what people call a museum dose enough to make the world sparkle, but not to lead to any kind of profound insights. So I was faced with the challenge of mastering a new subject, and I was faced with the challenge of trying these psychedelics because I realized I could not describe the experience strictly based on interviews with other people.
And that's how I work as a writer. One of the very important parts of my work is to find a way to have an experience that will illuminate the story. So when I wrote about food, I bought a cow and followed it through the food system, through the meat industry. And I apprenticed myself to a great baker to learn how to bake. And I feel that these kind of experiences, especially when you're doing it for the first time, gives you an ability to see things very freshly. And you have that sense of wonder that comes with first sight, and you also get the common possibilities of a fish out of water, doing something that he or she is not very good at and the learning that comes from that.
So one of the things I always think about when I'm starting a project like this is, what are the different perspectives that I need to bring to bear on this subject? I don't believe any one perspective can unlock a subject as complex as psychedelics. So you need to look at it and this was true when I was writing about food and plants. Nonfiction gets interesting when you multiply the perspectives or layer the different lenses that you bring to. So you can look at this through the lens of neuroscience, say. A very interesting lens illuminates a lot.
But that doesn't tell you anything about the lived experience. Because neuroscience cannot reach consciousness. It has no tools for penetrating or measuring consciousness, except the absence of it. And so phenomenology the accounts of lived experience are very important. And I could get those from the volunteers I interviewed and from my own experience. So I needed a memoiristic element, as well as the neuroscientific element. And then there's the historical lens. History always illuminates things. How did we get here? Why did it take so long to get here? What have we learned along the way?
So I realized, O.K., I'm going to need to do a chapter of history, or two. I'm going to need to do a chapter of neuroscience, a chapter of my own trips, and it gradually comes together. Each chapter is going to represent a different lens on this subject, and I'm going to circle it from these different points of view. And that, to me, is how you make nonfiction rich. Otherwise, you might as well write an article. And what necessitates a book is the fact that no one perspective will give you the picture you need, the full dimensional picture.
Within that frame, the most challenging part was describing the psychedelic trips. And William James famously said that the mystical experience is ineffable beyond the reach of language. Well, I had an effort. I couldn't just let that lie and just say you had to be there. But it's very hard to describe because these are kind of pre-linguistic experiences.
One of the researchers I interviewed said I said why are these experiences so hard to describe? And he said, well, imagine a cave man coming to New York in 2019, and he sees subways going by, and planes overhead, and people talking on phones, and the noise of traffic. And then he goes back to his friends in the cave, and what does he say? He says it's loud and fast, and he doesn't have the words for cell phone or the bustle of urban life. The language doesn't exist.
But I had to find the language, and so I approach those chapters with a great deal of trepidation and as much trepidation as I had about the trips themselves. And it took me a while to figure out how to write about it. Because I was trying to write for a general audience. I'm not writing for psycho nuts. I'm writing for people who've never had this experience, but might be curious. And I want to tell them what it's like. And it took me a while, but I gradually found a voice in which I could do it. And this comes through trial and error of writing an account and reading it and going, that sounds crazy. Or that sounds really banal. "Gee, you've had an insight that love is the most important thing in the universe. That's a Hallmark card."
The solution I found to that was to be very candid with my reader and essentially tell the narratives. And then break the fourth wall at various points, step out of the narrative, and say, "Look, I know how banal this sounds, but let's talk about banality for a little while. There's a very thin line between the profound and the banal. What is a platitude? Well, it's a truth that's lost its emotional force from sheer repetition. So how do we recover that?" Or, in another moment, where if something crazy happens, I would break the wall and say, "I know how crazy this sounds."
So I kind of move in and out of the experience, sort of the way a memoir writer would juxtapose the point of view of the 10-year-old with the adult and go back and forth. Because if you just stayed in the head of the 10-year-old, it would have no perspective. It might have vividness, but no perspective. And if you stayed in the head of the adult, it wouldn't be evocative. So memoirs, I realized and I realized this teaching them because I teach writing get their savor or their edge from that going back and forth in perspective. And I kind of did the same thing, not in a temporal dimension, but on this inside outside of the experience.
So I found my voice to write about it, and once I did, it was great fun to write about the trips. I've never had more fun as a writer. I loved describing them. And I and I would license the absolute madness of parts of the experience by saying, "Yeah, I know, it's crazy, but this is what happened." So this book was great fun to write. I was learning new things. I loved being at the beginning of the learning curve on this subject, rather than at the end. One of the reasons I moved from writing about food to this was I realized I had become an expert after three or four books on food.
And I don't like writing as an expert. I think readers don't like experts. I think they want someone to take them on a journey. And my education becomes the story that you follow. I always start out as an idiot in my writing. I'm naive. I don't know what's going on. I'm confused. I have questions in my head. I'm reluctant. I'm skeptical. And gradually, I build my knowledge. We learn things. Things happen. And by the end, we are experts, but we're not at the beginning. And I think that's a really important lesson for writing in general.
I think even though when you finish a research project, you have your conclusions, don't put them on page one. That's like starting the joke with the punchline. Storytelling is you start from knowing less, and you move toward knowing more. So that the novelty of this subject, the fact that I was very naive, was a virtue, or at least, made a virtue. So we shouldn't be afraid of our ignorance. We should use it in our storytelling.
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Posted: October 20, 2019 at 10:08 pm
From left to right, panelists Drs. Matthew Johnson, David Nichols, and Mendel Kaelen discussed the promise of psychedelics research.PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDRIJA DIMITRIJEVIC/MAPPING THE MIND
The promise of psychedelics research in a wide range of fields was explored at the Mapping the Mind: 2019 Psychedelic Science Conference at U of Ts Earth Sciences Centre in September.
Psychedelics are a class of mind-altering chemicals with therapeutic potential. The conference aimed to promote public education of psychedelic science and research in the field. It featured 10 speakers, including U of T professors, from a wide array of fields, such as psychiatry, pharmacology, and law.
Each speaker discussed their unique perspective on the future of psychedelic research.
Dr. David Nichols: psychedelic science researcher
The conference began with Dr. David Nichols, a respected pharmacologist and medicinal chemist from Purdue University, who has been widely known for his prolific work on psychedelic science since 1969.
Nichols has mainly worked with rats to study the effect of psychedelics on animal brains. Over his years of research, he has developed a strong faith in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.
Patients with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, often display dysfunctional brain connectivity. Psychedelics can be used for treatment in these cases because they lead to a global increase in brain cell communications.
When Nichols began psychedelics research he faced difficulties receiving funding, as well as controversy due to the subject of his research. However, Nichols has described the field in recent years as blossoming, as it begins to demonstrate some promising prospects.
In support of psychedelic science research, Nichols founded the Heffter Research Institute in 1993. The institute works closely with some of the top universities in the world such as Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Yale University, and the University of Zurich.
What we work on today, [I] never imagined wed have them in my lifetime, Nichols said. When asked about his hope for the future, he commented, [If] at least the trajectory is going in the right direction, I will be happy.
In the future, when patients find themselves in crisis, Nichols hopes that they can experience at least one psychedelic session with their psychiatrists. His vision for the future was met with lasting applause from the audience.
Dr. Srinivas Rao: psychedelics as antidepressants in pharmacology
After a short break, the conference introduced the audience to a different perspective from Dr. Srinivas Rao, Chief Scientific Officer at ATAI Life Sciences AG and former CEO of Kyalin Biosciences.
Raos companies mainly work on the development of rapid-acting antidepressant drugs based on psilocybin and ketamine. These chemicals may lead to more compelling effects in contrast to the numerous limitations of conventional antidepressants such as poor compliance, delayed efficacy, and negative side effects.
For example, patients who are treated with ketamine have demonstrated rapid relief of depression symptoms and fewer side effects than with other drugs. According to Rao, the US Food and Drug Administration recently approved an esketamine medicine targeted for treatment-resistant depression, sold under the name SPRAVATO.
The drug is a nasal spray that needs to be administered in a supervised setting. A patient who has had a treatment session with the psychedelic described their experience as giving them the ability to step back, which Rao further elaborated on as the ability to give you the distance that you need from all the negative thinking.
The success of SPRAVATO is a lucky case. As Rao emphasized, the development of such drugs can take almost a decade, yet still fail to succeed on the market despite FDA approval.
Currently, Raos companies are testing psilocybin in early clinical trials, and he remains hopeful for the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics in treating depression.
Tags: conference, psychedelics, Science