How Therapeutic Psychedelics can Drive Well-Being

Psychedelic-assisted therapy refers to the use of psychedelic substances as part of psychotherapy.

Therapeutic psychedelics are drugs that induce a heightened state of self-awareness in patients.

Used in combination with other therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and talking therapy, psychedelic therapy can create mind-altering effects in patients.

The consciousness-altering effects of psychedelic substances are believed to be a result of the impact of the drugs on neural pathways involving serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that allows nerve cells to communicate with target cells. These target cells can be present in glands, nerves, or muscles.

Serotonin is an important chemical messenger that carries messages from the brain to other parts of the body. This hormone is responsible for many major body functions, including maintaining heart rate, digestion, eating and sleeping. Serotonin is also responsible for a stable mood, and feelings of happiness and positivity.

Impact of Psychedelics on Health and Well-Being

The effects of therapeutic psychedelic substances are being studied more elaborately. There have been many pilot studies since 2006 to study the use of psychedelics in treating psychiatric disorders.

These studies have been encouraging in their results, which can be taken as being indicative of the safety and efficacy of psychedelics. Currently, psychedelics in use are either derived from plants or are chemical substances.

For example, the most popular psychedelic is perhaps psilocybin or magic mushrooms. This is a plant-derived psychedelic. Other such plant-derived psychedelics include ibogaine, peyote and DMT. Psychedelics such as LSD, MDMA and ketamine are chemical compounds.

Psychedelics can promote wellbeing by contributing to the safe and efficient treatment of a range of mental health conditions.

To learn more about ketamine, specifically, check out the informative article What Is Ketamine? How It Can Help with Severe Depression by Greenbrook TMS.

Mood Improvement

Recent scientific investigations show that use of psychedelic substances can lead to a positive mood. People were able to witness a change in mood as there was an increase in feelings of social connectedness and an experience of personal change.

The said study used field experiments to assess the effects of psychedelic substances such as LSD and psilocybin. The study involved 1,200 participants at mass gatherings in the UK and the US. The study authors tested the effects of psychedelic substances on positive mood, social connectedness and transformative experiences.

Participants that consumed psychedelics reported a significant change in mood, leading to a positive mood. The study authors found that the positive effect was more pronounced in people that consumed psychedelics in the immediately preceding 24 hours. The effect was comparably lesser in people that consumed the week before.

The researchers concluded that this field study gave concrete evidence of the positive effect of psychedelics on mood, in natural settings.

Decrease in Anxiety

Use of medicinal psilocybin in controlled clinical settings has been shown to have a positive effect in psychedelic-assisted treatment of anxiety.

Use of LSD too has shown positive results in people suffering from life-threatening illness. A study was conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of LSD in 12 patients. A significant reduction in anxiety was recorded at the follow-up session after 2 months.

Successful Treatment of Alcohol Addiction and Substance Dependence

In psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, medicinal psilocybin was found to treat addition, including alcohol addiction, with increased efficacy.

In randomized controlled trials, it was found that LSD can effectively treat alcoholism. A single LSD dose was shown to decrease alcohol misuse in alcoholism treatment settings.

Another recent research involved a clinical study of 10 participants that were diagnosed with alcohol dependence. Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy was used to treat these patients. At the end of the study, participants reported a significant reduction in heavy drinking and number of drinking days. The reduction was over half of the count reported at the start of the study.

Another recent research involved a pilot study of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of tobacco misuse. The study involved 15 participants that smoked 10 cigarettes a day, at the minimum. Study participants were also unsuccessful at cessation attempts.

These patients received cognitive behavioral therapy in addition to psilocybin treatment. At a follow-up after 6 months, 12 members exhibited abstinence.

Safe and Effective for PTSD Treatment

Use of medicinal MDMA has been shown to be significantly safe and effective for the treatment of PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – in clinically controlled studies.

A large study sample of adults was used for this research. The therapy was well-tolerated by the participants and was found to be efficacious.

A phase 3 trial was also conducted as part of the study. This phase 3 trial was the first to be conducted in the field of psychedelic-assisted therapy. A phase 3 trial is conducted to assess if a treatment is more effective than existing treatments.

The trial showed significant results. Of the 90 participants that were part of the study, 67% were diagnosed to be non-PTSD, meaning they were no longer suffering from PTSD. This result was achieved after 3 treatments. 88% of patients showed a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms.

In Conclusion

Mental health conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse, can reduce an individual’s quality of life. Therapy using psychedelic substances for treating these mental health conditions is promising.

There are currently over 100 psychedelic-assisted therapy trials happening around the world. These trials are researching the safety and efficacy of psychedelics for a range of conditions. These conditions include dementia, alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and anorexia.

The efficacy and safety of other psychedelic substances such as ibogaine are also being researched.

Further research is awaited to derive conclusive evidence. Existing and emerging promising evidence serves as a ray of hope for patients and caretakers.

Originally published by Redwood Creative

How do Psychedelics Treat Depression?

Psychedelic treatment is used when depression fails to respond to traditional medication. Psychedelic therapy involves the use of plant ingredients that can induce psychedelic effects such as hallucinations. These plant compounds are commonly derived from a fungi group of plants called magic mushrooms.

Doctors may prescribe psychedelic treatment as a stand-alone treatment or combine it with other forms of available treatments to address depression. The purpose of psychedelic treatment is to complement the traditional treatment for depression and improve its success rate.

Psychedelics Treat Major Depression

A small study was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine to understand the impact of psychedelic substances on depression. The study participants were adults with major depression.

There were 24 patients. Researchers administered to patients 2 doses of psilocybin, a psychedelic substance. The treatment was supported by psychotherapy.

Patients showed rapid results after the treatment – a substantial and rapid decrease in depression symptoms was observed. Most of the patients showed improvement after the treatment.

Of the 24 patients, 67% showed over 50% reduction in symptoms of depression after a week of follow-up. 71% of patients showed improvement after a 4-week follow-up. After 4 weeks of treatment, 54% of participants were qualified to be in remission. This means these patients are no longer qualified to be in the category of patients suffering from depression.

Impact of Psychedelics on Depression Patients

According to the researchers of the above study, psilocybin produces hallucinations in visual and auditory forms in patients. The compound produces a deep alteration in the consciousness of patients within a few hours after intake.

A follow-up of the participants would be conducted for a year by the researchers. This follow-up would assess the duration of the impact of psilocybin on the patients. This study will give insights into the length of stay of the antidepressant effects of the compound.

Different Ways of Working of Psychedelics

Continuous research into the mechanism in which psychedelics work is underway. Researchers are still in search of answers that reveal how psychedelic compounds exactly work on the body.

Researchers are keen to know the reason behind the rapid effect that psychedelic compounds are able to produce in patients.

Traditional treatments for depression often require several weeks to take effect. They also work for only so long as the patients adhere to the medication.

But psychedelic substances are able to bring a change almost immediately, and that too, with as few as a single or couple of doses.

Though research is still underway, experts believe that psychedelics may be showing impact in the following ways:

Psychedelics Influence Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are the body’s chemical messengers that keep the communication between the brain and different parts of the body intact and effective. Drugs commonly prescribed for depression work by impacting these neurotransmitters. Patients experience a positive change in mood when depression drugs act on these neurotransmitters.

Psychedelics, too, work on the same lines. These substances may modify neurotransmitters, enabling them to transform signals, and in turn, the brain behavior and mood of patients.

Psychedelics Produce Mind-Altering Experiences

Patients administered with psychedelic doses undergo an intense and significant experience. These experiences can alter an individual’s cognitive responses. This change in thinking can bring about a positive change in the patient’s behavior.

Psychedelics Impact Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity refers to the capacity of the brain to re-form itself after exposure to new stimuli such as new information, sensory inputs, damage and development. Brain’s neural networks, including neurons, in particular, are capable of finding new connections and aligning with them.

Research shows that psychedelic drugs of the category serotonergic are associated with several positive effects at a psychological level. Serotonergic psychedelic compounds are a group of psychedelic drugs that operate on a mechanism that is associated with serotonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is produced naturally in the body. This neurotransmitter is responsible for maintaining a good mood, among other functions. Research is still on to understand the different functions of serotonin in the body.

The positive psychological effects that serotonergic psychedelic compounds are known to include an increased positive influence and decreased negative influence. They also enable individuals to feel a better connection to the self and other people.

Psychedelics May Improve Patient Suggestibility

Psychedelic substances may improve an individual’s response to suggestions. As a result, they may show an improved response to a physician’s suggestions, leading to positive behavior.

Another way that patients may show improvement in depression symptoms is by being responsive to their hallucinogenic experiences. They may be more willing to adapt to new ways of thinking and behavior as a result.

In Conclusion

The almost immediate impact of psychedelic drugs on patients with depression encourages more intense research into this form of treatment.

Promising results from research on depression-associated psychedelic treatment provide hope for people suffering from severe forms of depression.

Psychedelic treatments can be accessed only through clinical trials as they are considered only as experimental treatments. Psychedelic treatment may be prescribed on its own or in association with standard depression treatment.

Psychedelic treatment may also be offered as guided therapy. A qualified therapist may guide the patient through the changes or “high” that a psychedelic may induce as part of the treatment. The therapist offers therapeutic suggestions to the patient in this heightened or induced state.

With research on psychedelic treatment continuing, this treatment could soon be available as a mainstream therapy. If you are considering psychedelic treatment either for yourself or a loved one, then talk to your physician first for expert advice.

Originally published by Redwood Creative


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