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Overcoming Obstacles to Wider Acceptance of Psychedelics in Therapy

Although the use of psychedelics has shown promising results in therapy, there is still a long way to go for its wider acceptance. In spite of their proven effectiveness in the treatment of psychological disorders, the use of psychedelics is limited by legal obstacles that can be overcome.

The need for wider acceptance of psychedelics

People all across the globe are suffering from mental health conditions. Owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are now faced with national mental health crises. For example, the USA saw an exponential growth of drug-overdose cases and suicide rates owing to mental health conditions. Over the years, there has been very little investment of resources and time into preventive mental healthcare. In turn, this has led to a lack of motivation and innovation in the world of psychiatry.

Psychologists are investigating the therapeutic use of psychedelic substances as a possible strategy for addressing mental health problems in their hunt for more efficient treatments.

Meaning of psychedelics and their use

Psychedelics are a group of naturally occurring or synthetic compounds that are known to produce perceptional and behavioral changes in human beings. Some natural psychedelics have been used by indigenous communities for centuries while synthetic psychedelics were manufactured in labs in the early 20th century.

In the 1970s, psychedelics were categorized as Schedule I controlled substances. It was believed that they had no acceptable medical use and had a high potential for misuse. This suspended the research on the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy for decades until the middle of the 20th century. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) authorized certain researchers to examine small doses of psychedelics in the late 1990s, which allowed researchers to pick up again. Leading academic institutions have now conducted clinical trials, and a growing body of research supports the use of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Psychologists and scientists became aware of the beneficial effects of psychedelics and how they could be along with psychotherapy for the treatment of mental health conditions.

Major obstacles to the acceptance of psychedelics

Following are some of the major hurdles on the road to wider acceptance of psychedelics in the treatment of psychological disorders.

Lack of proper funding and research

Due to the labeling of psychedelics as Schedule I controlled substances for a long time, there was little to no funding for studying the effects of psychedelics or their possible use in therapy. Owing to a federal appropriations rider, the US government could not dedicate funds for the legalization or research on the use of any drug included in Schedule I.

The rider arguably forbids the use of federal funds to promote psychedelic research as long as they are under schedule I. This is because such a study could increase scientific knowledge and offer proof in favor of rescheduling, which is a kind of legalization.

Two bills for the elimination of this rider have failed in 2019 and 2021 respectively. According to current regulations, well-capitalized private corporations pay for the majority of research, and they largely set the agenda and influence federal drug laws. The objective should be to create a psychedelics industry where patients and underrepresented groups have a voice. More inclusive clinical trials and an objective FDA regulatory examination of psychedelics are necessary to reach this objective.

Limited access due to Patents

Many parties are aiming to patent psychedelic substances and procedures for making and using them because of promising clinical study outcomes.

For around 20 years, patent holders have had the right to prevent anyone from producing, utilizing, or selling their ideas. This incentivization of the production and distribution of psychedelics has prompted severe criticism from researchers and patient advocates. It has limited the access of patients to prescribed psychedelics. To support psychedelics’ role in the genuine improvement of mental healthcare, limiting patents on them may be important.

Need for proper training

Training is required for many doctors who want to use psychedelics in their practices, and developing evidence-based clinical-practice guidelines will be crucial. Standards may lessen some healthcare practitioners’ concerns about being held liable for medical negligence if patients experience negative effects while receiving these therapies. To define the boundaries in this case, however, litigation may be required.

It is critical that governments allocate funds for psychedelics research given the escalating mental health problem and a lack of advancement in psychopharmacology. Without a proper infrastructural and legal framework, such research can bear no fruit.

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Ketamine and MDMA for Therapy

Psychedelics are taking over pharmaceutical drugs. We talked about psycobilin mushrooms, acid, and LSD for psychedelic therapy use in a previous blog, here. But, there are more options, as everyone reacts to shrooms and LSD differently. Some may prefer ketamine, or maybe even MDMA for therapy.

Ketamine and MDMA Therapy

Globally, scientists, doctors, and technicians are researching how psychedelics can help people with their mental health. From mild depression to severe PTSD, alternative medicines such as mushrooms, ketamine, and ecstasy can help people overcome their own minds. Psychedelic sessions address the problem(s) instead of sweeping it under the rug, like traditional meds do. A trained medical professional walks the patient through the session, guiding them on how to handle their emotions and what the patient needs to focus on. Here’s how ket and MDMA can help if other options aren’t suitable.

Ketamine

Ketamine is active in the medical world already as anesthesia for humans and animals. We know it helps with physical pain relief, and now we’re looking to see if it help with the mental pain. It can produce hallucinogenic effects, as well as calmness and relaxation. The most notable aspect is the supposed “out of body” experience. Those who’ve experienced ketamine report literally looking at themselves from a different perspective, literally and figuratively. So, we’re thinking maybe this can be helpful for overcoming depression. It can control epilepsy.

MDMA

MDMA is more known by its street names, ecstasy and molly. Often used at raves and parties because it brings such euphoria, and the hallucinogenic effect of a “glowing atmosphere” alters reality to be dreamy and heavenly. Some say Nirvana-like. Therefore, MDMA can help those with severe mental issues, such as extreme depression, anxiety, and PTSD. MAPS is actively trying to legalize MDMA and incorporate it into energy medicine sessions.

In related news, opium may be the next plant-based medicine for mental health. Take your and your loved ones’ mental health seriously. So, consider alternative medicine, and end the stigma on using alcohol to “drink problems away”. Thank you guys so much, we appreciate you! And lastly, don’t forget to take care of yourself!

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A Guide to Psychedelics and Neuroplasticity

Psychedelics are a group of potent hallucinogenic substances that can alter mood, perception, and several cognitive functions. Psychedelic drugs include substances like LSD and plants like magic mushrooms and peyote.

Psychedelic drugs are now being extensively used for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction. These drugs have cognitive, anxiolytic, antiaddictive, and antidepressant effects on people without the habit-forming effect seen in conventional psychiatric drugs. This is making psychedelics an attractive treatment option in the field of psychiatry.

Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity, also called brain plasticity, is defined as the brain’s capability to change and adjust through development and rearrangement. It indicates the ability of the brain to reconfigure itself to function in a way different from how it did previously. These adaptations can be subtle, like new connections made along individual neural pathways, or more systematic, such as cortical remapping.

Neuroplasticity commonly occurs during certain situations, like when an individual learns a new skill or undergoes severe psychological stress. The brain learns new things when such events occur and rewires itself to accommodate these new learnings. Neuroplasticity can be developed using numerous methods like exercising, meditating, eating healthily, and sleeping adequately.

Neuroplasticity can be either functional or structural. The brain’s capacity to transfer functions from one injured area to another unharmed area is known as functional plasticity. The brain’s capacity to actually alter its physical makeup as an outcome of an experience is known as structural plasticity.

Psychedelics and neuroplasticity

A lot of studies are now being conducted by scientists to understand the effects of psychedelics on neuroplasticity. These studies are conducted by giving either a single dose of a psychedelic substance or multiple doses to a healthy test subject. Then the subacute, acute, and long-term effects the subjects suffer are studied. Preclinical research has demonstrated that following a single dose, psychedelic drugs acutely accelerate structural neuroplasticity mechanisms at the molecular and cellular levels. Studies on the long-term effects of reduced neurogenesis weeks following a single dosage of psychedelics have also been shown to induce molecular plasticity subacutely and neurogenesis acutely.

Additionally, a few preclinical investigations that looked into the connection between behavioral and biological adaptations have shown that greater learning capacity accompanied neuronal and molecular stimulation. Studies were also conducted on rodents to understand the relationship between psychedelics and neuroplasticity under stressful environments.

The sex of the test subject has also played an important role in the effects of psychedelics in preclinical studies. Research conducted on rodents has shown that male rats are more susceptible to increased anxiety levels after continuous administration of psychedelic drugs. Scientists consider that the female hormone estrogen is responsible for this difference.

The mechanism by which psychedelics stimulate neuroplasticity

The neuronal pathways that psychedelics trigger are thought to be the cause of the alterations in neuroplasticity that they cause. Traditional psychedelics influence the serotonergic receptor known as “2A.” Specific pathways are triggered when psychedelic drugs stimulate this receptor.

Two neurotransmitter systems, namely the excitatory glutamatergic system and the inhibitory serotonergic system, are activated as a result of these pathways. When they activate, two chemicals, glutamate and serotonin, are released. Another chemical called BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a clear indication of neuroplasticity, is also released.

Psychedelics and memory and learning

Numerous studies are now being done to understand the effects of psychedelics on memory and learning. To understand the effects of psychedelic drugs on a cellular level, brain organoids were created by scientists. Studies on these organoids have demonstrated that psychedelics enhance memory and learning to a great extent. Initial studies were conducted on rats. The rats showed a marked increase in novelty-seeking after continuous administration of the psychedelic drug LSD.

In studies conducted on healthy subjects, scientists discovered an increase in performance in memory tests after the consumption of psychedelic drugs. Scientists have concluded from this study that a single dosage of psychedelic drugs can increase neuroplasticity and improve cognition in healthy individuals for many days following the administration.

Stimulating neuroplasticity is a very controversial topic among scientists. This is because enough studies have not been conducted to understand how much neuroplasticity is good. Scientists are now trying to be cautious and find a balance.

In Conclusion

Psychedelics can truly revolutionize the fields of psychiatry and neurology. Psychedelics have already shown promise in the treatment of serious psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using psychedelic drugs in the field of neural medicine can help with several memory and cognitive disorders. This makes psychedelics the future of modern medicine.