What are psychedelics? What does science say?

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What are psychedelics? What does science say?

Introduction to psychedelics

Psychedelics are powerful psychoactive ("mind altering") substances that change our perception and the world around us. People have profound insights while attending psychedelic sessions that have a profound effect on their wellbeing. They have improved the lives of many people for thousands of years until they were banned and stigmatized in our modern society since the 1960s.

However, recent developments are promising. Scientists and the medical world are rapidly catching up with promising results for mental health problem healing and personal development.

The word itself is a Greek neologism that combines the words psychē (ψυψ, ‘)soul’) And dēloun (δηλοῦν,’to reveal’). Revealing the soul relating to the deep insights people have about our personal existence and the nature of reality. Sounds crazy? Read on to learn more about the benefits and history of psychedelics.

Psychedelic medicine

Psychedelic Therapy

A promising mental health cure

Psychedelics and psychedelic assisted psychotherapy (i.e., assisting the psychotherapeutic process through the use of psychedelic substances) show promise in treating a range of mental health problems, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, addiction, and eating disorders.

Psychedelics could also be used in hospice and palliative care as it has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and end-of-life suffering in people with life-threatening diseases.

Numerous clinical studies are currently underway and the results are encouraging. This increased scientific interest is due in part to the tremendous demand, but also the numerous scientists who have decided to devote themselves to research into psychedelics after experiencing firsthand their therapeutic and life-changing effects.

Breakthrough Therapy Designated Drugs

The potential is so great that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given various non-profit organizations and start-ups permission to conduct clinical trials. Several substances, including MDMA and psilocybin (magic mushrooms), have been called breakthrough therapy.

In order for a drug to receive breakthrough therapy awards, it must treat a serious or life-threatening condition, and preliminary clinical evidence must indicate that the substance may show a significant improvement over available therapies and drugs (source).

Psychedelically assisted personal development and growth

In addition to their medicinal uses, psychedelics also offer tremendous additional benefits and can greatly improve overall well-being and emotional stability. Many people count their psychedelic experience among the five most important life events (source).

In 2005, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and one of the most influential figures in Silicon Valley, emphasized that LSD had played a crucial and transformative role in his life (source).

This is no surprise to anyone who has tried them, as a psychedelic journey is usually a powerful, transformative experience that offers profound insights and revelations. This in turn creates a new self-image and can lead to a clearer view of yourself and the world.

Since psychedelics tend to create an increased feeling of closeness due to their intimacy and empathy-promoting properties, they are also used more often in couples therapy.

This feeling of social connectedness also usually leads to permanent increases in altruism and generosity, which in turn can catalyze tremendous spiritual and personal growth.

The mystical experience

A frequently reported phenomenon is that of mystical experience. By and large, a mystical experience is anything that is difficult to understand or describe using rational or simple language. It is a state of consciousness that enables acquaintance with realities that are inaccessible through mere sensory perception, somatosensory modalities, or standard self-observation. (Source)

The mystical experience is usually defined by a sense of oneness with the universe and is a central aspect of transpersonal psychology, the so-called "fourth force" in the field of psychology, the first three being Freudian theory, behaviorism and humanism psychology.

While the first two forces (Freudian theory and behaviorism) have a strong focus on psychopathology and mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, the third force (humanistic psychology) aims to investigate what is right with people and has "self-actualization" (development) own abilities) as a key concept.

Transpersonal psychology, on the other hand, can be defined as development beyond conventional and individual levels. It goes further than the previous three forces and explores optimal wellbeing, human potential, and "self-transcendence" (complete spiritual awakening).

The booming field of psychedelic startups

The newborn psychedelic industry represents a paradigm shift in the approach to mental health. Promising clinical trials, growing public interest, and positive media coverage are just some of the many factors driving the current boom.

Numerous studies have been conducted over the past decade, and the results obtained support the belief that alternative psychedelic medicine and psychedelic-assisted therapy are not only effective but also superior remedies.

As more and more people are dissatisfied with the currently available legal and often only palliative instruments, there is also a growing demand for more holistic psychiatric treatments that are not only effective, but can also achieve positive results over the long term. Given that mental health remains a major concern, it is not surprising that the psychedelics market is slowly becoming a thriving new sector that is attracting serious investor interest. Some analysts even estimate the industry will gross in a whopping $ 6.85 billion by 2027 (source).

You could compare it to the cannabis boom of the past decade. However, psychedelic stocks offer investors numerous advantages over the troubled legal marijuana industry, as psychedelics have gained tremendous credibility through rigorous, peer-reviewed research and sustained financial support, for example. Compared to the cannabis industry, there is also much less competition due to the strict regulatory and scientific barriers.

In the past few years, many startups have already gone public, and several others have managed to go public.

A proven industry pioneer is Toronto-based Mind Medicine (MindMed), the first psychedelics company to go public after raising $ 24 million in a pre-IPO financing round.

Another example of a company that has joined the tiny and exclusive club of publicly traded psychedelic companies is Vancouver-based Numinus Wellness (NUMI.V), which was the first Health Canada company to receive a license change to include more than just psilocybin -To conduct research but also standardize its production and extraction.

History of Psychedelics: From Sacred Entheogenic Plants to Psychotherapy

Psychedelics have played an important role in the development of human society because of their mind-expanding properties. Understanding their broader historical context helps to fully appreciate and appreciate their enormous potential and healing properties.

Ancient use of psychedelics

While psychedelics are finally gaining momentum in the western world, they actually existed long before their current widespread medical use and popularity.

Archaeologists have provided fossil evidence showing that naturally occurring entheogens have been used in sacred contexts by non-Western cultures for several thousand years.

The oldest examples found are the rock paintings of psilocybin mushroom images in the Sahara from 7000 BC. Ancient indigenous tribes also built temples to worship mushroom deities, and Aztec shamans refer to psilocybin-containing mushrooms as teonanácatl, or “flesh of God”.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to know for sure when exactly people were taking advantage of the therapeutic and medicinal benefits when Roman Catholic missionaries destroyed records in Mexico.

There is also evidence that peyote, the cactus that contains the hallucinogen mescaline, has been around since 1000 BC. Used solemnly in America. The psychoactive cactus is also mentioned in Catholic texts in the 16th century.

Ancient cultures used these psychedelic substances primarily as sacramental tools, but it is also likely that they were occasionally used as intoxicants in magical rites.

Modern usage and psychedelic revitalization

Although human research into psychedelics can be traced back over 10,000 years, its systematic scientific investigation began much later, in the late 19th century.

Over the years, as interest grew and research methods improved, scientists saw psychedelics evolve from scientific curiosities to groundbreaking psychiatric tools and treatments.

The 1960s: The First Wave of Psychedelic Research

In the 1950s and 1960s, the popularity of psychedelics increased massively. This was partly because the huge impact on personal development was immediately demonstrated.

Scientists' interest was piqued and research quickly turned into a controlled medical use.

During these years six international conferences on psychedelic therapy have been held and more than a thousand clinical articles and several dozen books on the subject have been published.

Psychiatrists found that these mind-altering substances "could serve as new tools to shorten psychotherapy". And psychedelics, especially LSD, have been widely used by psychologists and psychiatrists in research and clinical practice.

The results were promising and early research showed that psychedelics are able to treat addiction and cure various mental health problems when used as an adjunct to psychotherapy in medically controlled settings.

However, due to irresponsible use and political reasons, they were banned from the public eye in the mid-1960s.

The United Nations categorized all substances with a known recreational property under an Annex I ban, reserved for the most addictive and harmful substances. Opium, heroin, LSD, psilocybin, and even marijuana were all put on this seemingly comprehensive list.

Strict and punitive laws were enacted to control and prohibit their manufacture and use, which in turn prevented further clinical research and testing, and a two-decade long psychedelic research hiatus began.

This was a slap in the face for all scientists who had devoted many years of their lives to studying the therapeutic and medical uses of psychedelics. Especially since they have already shown that they can effectively reduce anxiety and curb alcoholism.

Of course, although western research has ceased, psychedelics have continued to be used by indigenous and non-indigenous peoples around the world for various reasons.

The Psychedelic Renaissance: The Second Wave of Psychedelic Research

A steady revival in human psychedelic research began in the 1990s, and the term "psychedelic renaissance" refers to this resurgence.

After a 25-year hiatus, the researchers started where their predecessors left off. Over the years, most of the safety concerns that led to the end of psychedelic research in the late 1960s proved unfounded or delusional. And several psychedelics have been popularized as cures for a number of conditions including alcoholism, substance abuse, and certain psychiatric disorders.

Although psychedelic research still faces a stigma, many researchers are so convinced of its potential that they are ready not only to navigate through the myriad layers of bureaucracy and jump through time-consuming bureaucratic problems, but their careers too take risk.

However, public funding is scarce and research is still on a small scale. In addition, to obtain support and funding, researchers had to focus solely on therapeutic studies and medical research, rather than the added benefits of psychedelics, such as their ability to significantly boost creativity.

The future is bright, however, as prestigious institutions around the world do their best to help psychedelic medicine achieve its long-awaited legal status in the scientific world. Some prestigious universities have even set up professional psychedelic research and treatment centers, including Imperial College London, the University of Toronto, and John Hopkins University.

Psychedelic retreats

Psychedelic retreats are a powerful remedy and are currently spread all over the world.

They come in different flavors. From retreats that cover only the essentials to truly luxurious resorts and from traditional shamanic centers to science-oriented ones.

Attending a psychedelic retreat is not the same as attending psychedelic psychotherapy, which is currently only available to a small number of patients participating in clinical trials. However, it has enormous therapeutic effects and immense transformative potential.

Synthesis, rhythm and the temple of the light path are some examples of world-famous centers in which a large number of people live at the same time.

Sharing such an in-depth experience has its advantages, but of course attending a more private one-on-one session can have tremendous healing powers as it allows you to delve deeper into the whole experience.

If you are interested in a professional, personal, legal, and rational psychedelic experience that will help you change yourself and your life, then my truffle transformation experience might be perfect for you.

How are they used?

Depending on the desired result, different psychedelics are used in different doses. Below are the various dosage strategies and the most common substances and their benefits.

Dosing Strategies

Microdosing

Microdosing is the act of consuming sub-perceptible (imperceptible) amounts of a psychedelic, usually on a regular basis. This can be done with any psychedelic, but LSD and psilocybin are the most popular options.

A microdose is about a tenth of a regular dose and therefore too little to trigger the typical psychedelic effects. However, users report other noticeable benefits such as: B. a creative boost, a sharper focus and less stress.

For this reason, the practice has become very popular with young professionals as this non-psychedelic dose range allows them to reap the benefits without affecting their "normal" function or significantly altering their perception.

More research is needed to investigate the potential negative short- and long-term side effects of taking psychedelics regularly. However, users report a number of benefits such as:

  • Increased physical energy
  • Increased awareness
  • Improved relationship skills
  • Increased emotional and mental well-being
  • Improved cognitive skills
  • Reduced anxiety

Medium dose

A medium dose, also known as a “museum dose”, refers to a dose that is light enough to be taken safely and / or discreetly in public, and at the same time large enough to produce effects that are easily noticeable to the user . This usually results in a manageable experience and is usually the preferred dosage size for social use.

Macro can

A high dose tends to lead to altered states of consciousness and leads to drastic changes in perception and cognitive function. The ability to observe oneself is usually much improved and regressions into primitive and infantile thinking are often reported.

Macro dosing requires extreme caution and should preferably always be done under professional supervision, as people sometimes experience strong feelings of fear and paranoia. It is also not uncommon to relive traumatic memories and events, even those that one may have forgotten. This can lead to enormous stress and, under the wrong circumstances, can have harmful consequences. For more information on what a high dose of psilocybin looks like, see The Truffle Transformation Experience.

A brief overview of the classic psychedelics

While there are many different types, the classic psychedelic compounds are known as serotonergic hallucinogens / psychedelics. They can be either completely natural or man-made (synthetic) and their effects are strongly related to the naturally occurring neurotransmitter and chemical serotonin (5-HT or 5-).HydroxytRyptamine), best known for its role in regulating mood, happiness, and anxiety, but also has a significant impact on other important functions such as sleep, memory, appetite and digestion, and sexual desire and function. In other words, a major player in our overall wellbeing.

Psilocybin

Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is a psychedelic compound found in certain types of mushrooms collectively known as psilocybin mushrooms or magic mushrooms.

Thanks to groundbreaking research and a number of clinical trials, psilocybin is moving closer to an approved treatment for a variety of conditions, including treatment-resistant major depression (MDD), cancer-related anxiety and depression, as well as substance abuse and nicotine addiction and alcohol.

So high is the potential that the FDA is calling it a breakthrough therapy for both treatment-resistant depression and MDD, suggesting that psilocybin therapy could offer a significant clinical improvement over existing therapies (source).

LSD

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a semi-synthetic psychedelic made by combing a synthetic chemical called diethylamide and a natural compound called lysergic acid, which is extracted from ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

It was developed in 1938 by Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist, who immediately saw the potential of its psychotherapeutic application. In the years that followed, LSD was seen as a promising psychiatric tool and was used to treat multiple conditions such as anxiety, depression, and addiction.

LSD-assisted therapy is now making a comeback, and in 2007 the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) conducted the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the therapeutic use of LSD since the early 1970s, showing it to significantly reduce anxiety extended period of time when administered in a supervised psychotherapeutic setting (source). Since then, numerous strictly regulated studies have been carried out.

DMT

DMT (N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is a serotonergic hallucinogen that occurs naturally in both plants and animals, including humans.

It can be made synthetically, but mainly comes from the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis Caapi), a plant native to the jungles of South America. The terms "ayahuasca" and "DMT" are often used interchangeably, but this is incorrect. DMT itself is usually smoked, and although it is the main active hallucinogenic compound in ayahuasca brew, it is inactive when simply swallowed and must be mixed with one or more admixture plants when drinking – as is the case with ayahuasca (more on this below) .)
Indigenous peoples have used DMT to effect healing for centuries, and science is finally catching up. After studying rodents, the John Hopkins researchers found that microdosing DMT can lead to positive improvements in anxiety and depression (source). Although more research is needed, it is believed that the controlled use of DMT may also be a useful tool in the treatment of rodent treatment of psychosis.

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is an ancient and powerful herbal preparation that has been used by indigenous and mestizo groups throughout the Amazon basin for thousands of years.

It's a bitter-tasting brew made by combining the crushed bark of the DMT-containing ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) with one or more other plants, including the leaves of the DMT-containing chacruna shrub (Psychotria viridis).

Although it was originally only found in the jungles of the Amazon, currently millions of people around the world use this potent drug for a variety of reasons, from fighting addiction and psychosomatic illnesses to raising awareness. In fact, Ayahuasca has such tremendous healing and purifying properties that its use is completely legal in the northern part of South America, and countries like Peru, Colombia and Brazil offer a large number of Ayahuasca retreat centers.
Science is growing too, of course. For example, a study of people with treatment-resistant depression found that 64% of participants reported significantly reduced symptoms after a single dose (source).

5-MeO-DMT

5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is a strong psychedelic compound that shares a name with DMT and also looks the same on a molecular level, except that it contains a few extra atoms (which is the extra "5 – MeO ”).

However, this “tiny” change makes all the difference and is, in fact, big enough to produce a completely different result. For example, 5-MeO-DMT is considered to be about five times stronger, and while DMT is very visual, 5-MeO-DMT offers a complete change of perspective and users often report a near-death experience.
Scientists are very interested in the healing properties of 5-MeO-DMT. And when John Hopkins researchers examined the antidepressant properties of 5-MeO-DMT in 2019, they found that its use resulted in improved wellbeing, with 80% of respondents reporting extraordinarily positive improvements in self-reported depression and anxiety (source). Another study showed that a single dose increased life satisfaction over the long term and relieved anxiety, depression and PTSD (source).

2C-B

2C-B (4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine) is a fairly new synthetic psychedelic that was first synthesized in 1974 by the biochemist and psychopharmacologist Alexander Shulgin. It was developed as a therapeutic aid and was considered one of the best substances for this purpose due to its short duration, relative absence of side effects and its comparatively mild and manageable nature (source).

2C-B is the most popular member of the 2C-x family, a group of psychedelics closely related to the classic psychedelic mescaline found in the peyote cactus.
It has been proposed to classify 2C-B as an entactogen with psychedelic properties (source). Entactogens (or empathogens), of which MDMA is a famous example, are a class of psychotropic drugs that promote feelings of empathy, sympathy, and attachment, making them a useful tool in therapeutic situations.

mescaline

Mescaline or peyote (2- (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl) ethanamine) is a natural alkaloid that is found in several North and South American cacti, especially peyote and San Pedro, but can also be made by chemical synthesis. It is widely used as a remedy and religious intoxicant by indigenous tribes.

While mescaline is very similar to the neurotransmitter dopamine, it also selectively binds to and activates the serotonin 2A receptor. This explains why it produces effects that are similar to the other serotonergic hallucinogens like psilocybin, LSD, and DMT.

MDMA

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic drug that changes mood and perception. For many, MDMA is synonymous with the recreational drug "ecstasy", but while ecstasy may contain pure MDMA, it is often mixed with unknown adulterants and there should be a clear distinction between the two.

MDMA is an entactogen, which means that it significantly increases feelings of empathy, sympathy, and attachment. And while it's technically not a psychedelic because it has an amphetamine base and a different mechanism of action, the psychoactive effects of MDMA can induce states of consciousness similar to those of psychedelics.

In addition to its empathetic properties, MDMA also enables users to access and process traumatic memories. Combined with its ability to increase closeness, this has led to an increase in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, particularly for treating trauma and in couples therapy.

The FDA has even named it "breakthrough therapy" for PTSD, suggesting that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy could offer a significant clinical improvement over existing therapies (source).

Ketamine

Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride) is a fast-acting anesthetic with powerful dissociative and psychedelic effects.

Although technically not a psychedelic but rather a dissociative agent, the psychoactive effects of ketamine can induce states of consciousness similar to those of psychedelics.

Because of its rapid antidepressant effects, it is often touted as a potential breakthrough drug for the treatment of a wide variety of psychiatric disorders, including substance abuse, MDD, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.
In addition, ketamine has been shown to improve symptoms of depression in people who are unresponsive to other treatments, as well as in people who have antidepressant-resistant depression (source). Additionally, several studies have shown that ketamine can treat patients in days or even hours instead of the usual weeks or months (source). And in 2019, the FDA approved Spravato, a ketamine-derived drug for treatment-resistant depression (source).

Conclusion

I hope you now have a better understanding of what psychedelics are and how we can benefit from using psychedelics responsibly. If you'd like to learn more, please take a look at my experience with truffle transformation, microdosing coaching, and psychedelic integration coaching.

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