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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.

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Psychedelics and Eating Disorders

Among all psychiatric illnesses, anorexia claims the most number of lives. Food is the trigger for many who suffer from eating disorders, and you cannot simply “stop” eating. Finding effective therapies is crucial because eating disorders affect approximately 5% of the population.

Psychedelic treatment has been demonstrated to be effective in treating a variety of mental diseases, according to the evidence. The antidepressant and antianxiety benefits of psychedelic therapy may benefit eating disorder patients who also have depressive and anxious symptoms. Eating disorders frequently co-occur with depression and anxiety. Before delving into the use of psychedelics, let us explore a little bit more about eating disorders.

A little bit about eating disorders

Eating disorders are a collection of conditions that are characterized by extreme and distributed habits regarding eating. Some of the main symptoms of eating disorders include over-eating or not eating at all and having distressing thoughts about food.

There are mainly four different categories of eating disorders:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Characterized by not eating food or severely under-eating, over-exercising, or both.
  • Binge-eating: Binge-eating comprises over-eating regularly.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Some symptoms of bulimia nervosa include eating a huge amount of food followed by making up for the over-eating by forced purging or taking laxatives.
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): In this condition, the patient tends to avoid certain foods or restrict eating food, or both.
  • Other Specified Eating or Feeding Disorder (OSFED): Any eating disorder with symptoms that don’t fit into any of the above-mentioned categories, can be classified as OSFED.

Current treatments of eating disorders

The causes of eating disorders are largely unknown. Eating disorders are likely to be the result of a spectrum of environmental, physical, and biological factors. Typically, eating disorders are treated with CBT or “cognitive behavioral therapy”. CBT aims to help people change their negative perceptions and attitude around food. Along with a therapist, the guidance of a dietician to ensure a proper healthy diet is necessary for the treatment of eating disorders. Usually, there are no specific drugs that can be prescribed for the treatment of eating disorders alone. When coupled with other mental illnesses such as depression, existential disorders, or anxiety, drugs may be prescribed.

How psychedelics can treat eating disorders?

Research shows that psychedelic therapy can have promising effects in the treatment of certain mental illnesses like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, existential crisis, and the like. The antidepressant or anti-anxiety effects of psychedelic treatment can help in the treatment of eating disorders. It helps people who suffer from eating disorders change their perceptions and attitude toward food. Psychedelics have the power to induce changes in brain activity. Therefore, it can alter some changes in brain activity that lead to eating disorders.

Following are some of the most commonly used psychedelics for the treatment of eating disorders.

MDMA

Sometimes, eating disorders develop as a response to past traumas. MDMA therapy could assist people with eating disorders establish trauma coping mechanisms that don’t entail restricting their diet and weight by enabling them to comprehend and process their traumas better.

Psilocybin

Psilocybin, also commonly referred to as magic mushrooms, has shown promising results in the treatment of mental illnesses like obsessive-compulsive disorder, abbreviated as OCD, depression, and anxiety. Obsessive thoughts and compulsive attitudes are two traits that OCD and eating disorders have in common. Psilocybin therapy’s success in treating OCD serves as a testament to how successful it might be in treating eating disorders.

Ayahuasca

A study of patients with eating disorders showed that ayahuasca led to a rapid decrease in attitudes and symptoms associated with eating disorders. It helped patients process painful memories or thoughts and improved self-acceptance.

Ketamine

One of the major symptoms of eating disorders is compulsive behavior. For example, throwing up after a meal. Research has shown that when ketamine infusions were given to patients with eating disorders, it helped reduce compulsive behavior. It shows how ketamine therapy could be an effective treatment for eating disorders.

The approaches used to treat eating disorders today frequently fall short. Therefore, it is understandable why researchers are looking into psychedelics as a different kind of therapy to treat this fatal psychiatric condition.

There is sufficient evidence to support the theory that therapy utilizing various psychedelics may be helpful in treating patients who suffer from various eating disorders. It is critical that this field of study continues since the high incidence and death rate attributed to eating disorders make it imperative to identify novel treatments.

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How Psychedelics are Changing the Mainstream Pharmaceutical Industry

Psychedelic compounds like ecstasy and psilocybin have emerged as life-changing treatments for mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder. Earlier, governments have disregarded and demonized psychedelics as psychosis-inducing scourges. However, over the past decade, serious scientific studies have shown that psychedelic compounds have the capacity to enter mainstream medicine for the treatment of mental illnesses. It is being considered the next breakthrough in the treatment of mental illnesses.

What Are Psychedelics?

Commonly referred to as hallucinogens, psychedelics are a class of psychoactive substances that are capable of producing changes in mood, perception, and cognitive functions. Psychedelics have the power to affect all senses in the body, including a person’s thought process and emotions. Some of the most common psychedelics are LSD, Psilocybin, DMT, NBOMe, and Ayahuasca.

Psychedelics for the Treatment of Mental Illnesses

According to Kripa Krishnan, a senior analytical consultant at Informa Pharma Intelligence, “there is definitely an unmet need for a lot of psychiatric illnesses”. It can be said that there is a huge demand for drugs that are impactful for treating various mental illnesses. Research by various psychiatrists is hailing psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, and 3-4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), along with ketamine, as the next breakthrough in the treatment of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists have discovered that such psychedelics are effective in the treatment of mental illnesses like PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, existential distress, and the like when other therapies have proved to be ineffective.

The emergence of Psychedelics as an effective treatment

The recent popularity of psychedelics in treating mental illnesses finds its roots in the 2010s. Different research groups at Los Angeles, Johns Hopkins University, University of California, Imperial College London, University of Zurich, and New York University discovered the quick and lasting effects of psychedelics. Psilocybin was used to treat a small group of people suffering from treatment-resistant depression and existential disorders. The results were a breakthrough for the typical drug therapies for these disorders. After just one or two psychedelic treatments administered under strict supervision and in conjunction with rigorous psychotherapy, patients could experience long-lasting effects.

Recognizing the Potential of Psychedelics

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which in 2019 received US Food and Medicine Administration approval for Spravato for treatment-resistant depression, became the first US business to benefit from efforts to legitimate a mind-altering drug. Not only psychiatric professionals are intrigued by psychedelics’ potential. The pharmaceutical industry is paying attention as well- more than 80 businesses are focused on creating or using psychedelic substances. Investors anticipate a boom in demand for psychedelic therapy in the upcoming years.

Due to encouraging scientific and clinical findings and an increase in the number of publicly traded firms active in the psychedelic industry, investment in psychedelics has increased significantly. The use of psychedelics to treat mental illness has enormous commercial potential, which has spurred significant investment in the field during the past four years.

Companies have been attracted by larger and more robust clinical trials for psychedelics. Efforts are being made for the establishment of a legal framework for the use of psychedelics in the treatment of mental illnesses. The establishment of the infrastructure to administer psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies and the growing public support for a significant change in mental healthcare are further factors luring investors.

Challenges facing the Psychedelic Sector

Even if corporations are successful in turning psychedelics into therapeutic medications, these substances will still have to deal with the stigma that is frequently attached to them in society. Breaking the cultural stigma associated with the use of psychedelics is not an easy task. Moreover, some scientists are skeptical about whether it is possible to decouple the hallucinatory effects of psychedelics from their therapeutic effects.

Despite the increase in funding, there haven’t been many published studies of investments made in the psychedelic industry. Currently, the delivery and commercialization of psychedelics present a significant barrier to their widespread use.

A total of $60 million was invested in businesses with a focus on psychedelics in both 2018 and 2019. As psychedelic-focused enterprises and new scientific trials proliferated, the volume of investment reached roughly 10 times this amount in 2020. It won’t be long until major pharmaceutical corporations start including psychedelics in their product line.

For these excellent therapies to be adopted more quickly and to generate value for the corporations that will profit from them, legislative and regulatory changes will be essential. Finally, there is a positive public perception of psychedelic medical treatments, and as the advantages become more widely recognized, there will be a rise in demand for these therapies.

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Why are Drug Companies Investing Big Time in Therapeutic Psychedelics?

Rising investments in an uncharted avenue

Ancient civilizations believed that psychedelic compounds could alter human consciousness, thereby dubbing them “spiritual guides”. Now, drug companies are investing big-time in the therapeutic psychedelic industry after scientific studies highlighting their beneficial effects in treating psychiatric illnesses started emerging.

However, the in-depth scientific study of psychedelic compounds has been disregarded for many decades. Much of it is because of them being too politically charged and the perspective around these substances as psychosis-inducing bane that’s created in mainstream society by governments. The 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances placed psychedelics in its most restrictive category. However, times are now changing as their benefits are hailed by many psychiatrists and drug companies.

Major drug companies are now showing keen interest in psychedelic substances like Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), in addition to mind-altering, non-psychedelic drugs like ketamine. That’s because studies have shown these compounds can be the next breakthrough in the treatment of mental illnesses. People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, substance disorder, and existential distress can find great healing potential in psychedelic compounds when other therapies have failed to deliver results.

So far, more than 80 drug companies have devoted themselves to creating or administering certain psychedelic compounds. Investors in the therapeutic psychedelic industry reckon that the demand for safe and effective psychedelic therapies will hike significantly in the years to come. Moreover, some of the companies are focused on first­-gen psychedelic compounds like MDM, also known as ecstasy, and psilocybin.

There are firms that wonder if they can use information derived from scientific studies conducted on the receptors in the brain that bind to these molecules to boost them by bringing down certain negative properties of the drug. This can be cardiac side effects and risk of heavy drug use. Some drug companies are even expecting to create molecules of psychedelic compounds that do away with the hallucinogenic effects completely while retaining their therapeutic features. However, many scientists believe that the psychedelic “high” changes the perspective—something that’s considered crucial for treating people with mental illness.

A quick peek into history

The present surge in the popularity of psychedelic compounds started with studies that were conducted during the mid-2010s. Research groups at the New York University, University of California, Imperial College London, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Zurich unraveled the fast and durable effects of psychedelics, especially psilocybin, to treat those with treatment-resistant mental illnesses like depression, PTSD, and existential distress.

The results of the studies dismantled the paradigm for typical drug therapies for mental health problems, according to Fred Barrett, a cognitive neuroscientist, and researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Patients suffering from intractable mental health issues saw lasting effects after just one or two administrations under controlled conditions and coupled with psychotherapy.

The first company in the United States to be rewarded for attempting to endorse a mind-altering compound was Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals. In 2019, the company got US Food and Drug Administration approval to launch Spravato for treatment-resistant depressive disorder. Essentially, Spravato is a nasal spray containing an anesthetic S enantiomer of ketamine and a party drug, called Special K. Patients self-administer Spravato in a doctor’s clinic or medical setting and then remain under supervision for a few hours. People typically are given two treatments a week for four weeks along with an antidepressant.

Technically speaking, ketamine is not a psychedelic compound. However, its approval laid the foundation for the idea of treating difficult mental health conditions using a substance that’s widely considered illicit. The use of ketamine treatment was foreseen as a breakthrough in a field that has been stagnant in terms of innovation after the SSRIs, which happened in the 1980s. It was only last year that researchers from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and many other institutions published the results they got from a Phase 3 clinical trial. As a part of the trial, people suffering from PTSD were given three doses of MDMA at an interval of four weeks, coupled with psychotherapy. Such people showed sustained improvement just two months after the treatment, contrary to those who consumed a placebo.

Conclusion

The surge in investment in therapeutic psychedelics shows no sign of slowing down. The rate is likely to continue increasing as several larger companies are inching closer to launch. Surely, that’s going to propel the industry, which is poised to offer hope and relief to people who desperately require alternative therapies.

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How Psychedelics Can Help Patients Have Substantial Breakthroughs

Just a few years ago, therapy was considered taboo. Something that only a “certain kind of person” would seek.

But research shows that younger cohorts today are more likely to take up therapy than in the past. During the Covid19 pandemic, 30% of adult Americans sought in-person therapy with a professional, while 36% of millennials and Gen Z’ers turned to social media to get more resources on mental health. In fact, millennials have been found to seek therapy at a 10% faster rate than their Baby Boomer generation counterparts.

As a consequence of therapy becoming more normalized today, another development has taken place. More counselors and psychiatrists today are confident in recommending therapeutic psychedelics to supplement therapy sessions for patients.

But why?

Psychedelics – medicine for mental peace or medium for mystic experiences?

In the 1950s when Humphrey Osmond proposed LSD to address the problem of alcoholism and its mental health concerns surrounding addiction, not many doctors were keen to follow his advice. It was, after all, one of the first times a psychedelic was used for treating mental health conditions. But things have changed considerably today.

It’s true that Osmond’s belief that LSD could scare patients into desisting addictive behaviors was not completely accurate. But, as research shows, it did turn out to be something far more profound for patients.

Many studies, including one published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, showed how participants consuming psilocybin experienced mystical and spiritual-type experiences during the study. These studies show that consuming psychedelics can lead to a transformative experience, which leads to intense epiphanies and a sense of awakening. For example, a 2021 study titled, “Psychedelics alter metaphysical beliefs” discussed how effective psychedelics were in generating fresh ways of looking at metaphysical and religious beliefs in a large number of participants.

Another study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy showed how the brains of people on psychedelic trips revert to storytelling as a tool to extract understandable narratives from the hallucinogenic experiences they have. Even if the trips they have were bad, many people using LSD and psilocybin reported how the psychedelics allowed them to confront and acknowledge their repressed emotions, memories, and trauma. During the study, many patients reported feeling grateful for the bad trip, because of the insights they received from it.

Another study, “Making “bad trips” good: How users of psychedelics narratively transform challenging trips into valuable experiences”, seconds these findings. According to this paper, storytelling becomes a form of coping mechanism that enables people to come to terms with what they experienced or are undergoing now, and find ways to express their feelings.

It is this finding – which is echoed in other studies of a similar nature – that has led many researchers around the world to study how therapeutic psychedelics can be used during therapy sessions to help patients gain better insights and experience psychological breakthroughs.

What’s happening in the brain?

While it isn’t perfectly clear how psychedelics are helping people experience these epiphanies, scientists believe it might have something to do with how these drugs affect brain activity.

Psychedelics have been found to reduce the activity that occurs in the amygdala, which controls our response to fear and threats.

Simultaneously, psychedelics increase the activity in our prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for all cognitive functions, including memory, impulse, and inhibition.

While this is happening, parallelly, psychedelics reduce activity in the default mode network (DMN). This is a region of the brain which is very active when you’re restful and engaging in activities like daydreaming. But the DMN has low activity when you’re consciously thinking or concentrating on something. By lowering DMN activity, psychedelics stimulate critical self-reflection during the trip.

In this way, therapeutic psychedelics, when used during counseling sessions and therapy, can bring the mind to a state of lowered inhibition. This allows the individual to – depending on whether it’s an easy or a hard trip – experience their fears and repressed memories at different degrees of intensity. During this time, the person engages in reflection and consideration of these thoughts, feelings, and memories semi-consciously. This allows them to unlock new perspectives and sometimes, make significant breakthroughs about their issues.

Won’t a hard or bad trip do more harm than good for patients?

Scientists say this is possible but unlikely. The trick to preventing regression during therapy is to ensure patients have the right support system during therapeutic psychedelic treatments. This is why doctors who prescribe therapeutic psychedelics for therapy patients, first consult the patient’s family and friends to identify if they have a strong support structure to lean on. It is only after the entire group is briefed about what the patient may experience and how long it takes them to recover from the hallucinogenic experience, that the treatment is administered. Other coping and grounding mechanisms are also shared with patients to help them return to reality after the trip.

Patients are also monitored for signs of addiction and abuse – although psychedelics like LSD have been found to have very limited addictive features.

Wrapping up

Overall, there is a bright prospect for the role of therapeutic psychedelics in therapy. Researchers and doctors have started doing significant research on how psychedelics like MDMA can help patients cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and how psilocybin can play a role in managing depression symptoms.

When done alongside cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of mental health therapy, psychedelics like MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin can truly have a therapeutic and empowering impact on patients.

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Psychedelic Therapy for Autistic Kids

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex condition associated with the development of the brain. This disorder affects how an individual interacts with other people, causing issues with communication and social interactions. Autism is also characterized by a restricted and repetitive sequence of behaviors.

ASD now includes numerous other disorders that were previously recognized as separate diseases. These conditions include autism, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and a form of pervasive developmental disorder.

ASD usually starts during early childhood and starts causing problems in situations demanding social interaction like school or work. The symptoms of autism can be observed often during the first year of a child’s development. There are also some cases where the child shows symptoms later on, between 18 and 24 months of age.

There is no cure for AUD. But with early detection and proper medical care, it is possible to make a huge difference in the child’s life.

Psychedelics – definition

Psychedelics, also called hallucinogens, are a group of psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs that produce changes in mood, perception, and cognition. They influence all the human senses and alter a person’s judgment, emotions, and perception of time. These drugs can also cause people to hallucinate, making them hear or see nonexistent things.

Psychedelics and the treatment of autism

There are numerous controversies surrounding the use of psychedelics like LSD for medicinal or therapeutic purposes. Psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin are Schedule I medicines. This means they are not approved by the US government to be used for medicinal purposes.

Numerous research studies are being done to study the potential benefits of psychedelic drugs when used to treat disorders like autism.

In recent years, psychedelic drugs have started to attract the attention of several investors due to their potential to treat autism. Several pharmaceutical companies are now focusing on creating psychedelic-based treatments.

LSD and autism treatment

The effects of LSD on people with autism have been studied as early as the 1960s. Even though the studies were not conducted in a controlled environment, they yielded positive results. But the major flaw associated with this study was the flawed assumption that autism had no other treatment options.

But recently, studies have been resumed to understand the potential benefits of LSD in managing autism.

The use of LSD in autistic patients has resulted in several positive effects, including:

  • Improved speech
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased positive moods
  • Improved emotional responsiveness
  • Less dissociation
  • Improved relaxation
  • Reduced obsessive behaviors
  • Improved social interactions

The mechanism of LSD’s action in autistic people is not yet fully studied. Studies have shown that people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome have low serotonin levels in the brain. LSD works by influencing the serotonin receptors. This will help in improving the social interactions of the person. It also helps autistic people process their emotions better.

The thought processes of autistic people are markedly different from those of non-autistic people. Using LSD can aid them in sorting out their thoughts in a coherent fashion.

Psilocybin and autism treatment

Psilocybin, also called magic mushrooms, is a potent psychedelic drug that affects perception, mood, and behavior. Research conducted on psilocybin has shown that it can influence the way in which different sections of the brain communicate with one another. Psilocybin has a proven effect on reducing depression, anxiety, OCD symptoms, and nicotine addiction.

Extensive studies are being done to develop a treatment for autism using psilocybin with a focus given on fragile X syndrome. This syndrome is responsible for developmental issues like cognitive impairment and learning disabilities connected with autism. Experiments conducted on rats have shown a considerable reduction in anxiety and improvement in cognitive functions.

Psilocybin, similar to LSD, improves mood and social interactions by influencing the serotonin receptors in the brain.

MDMA and autism treatment

MDMA – scientific name 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine – is a psychotropic drug commonly called ecstasy. MDMA is famous for its potent ability to foster empathy and enhance sensory perception.

Numerous studies conducted on MDMA have revealed the prosocial components present in the drug. It has the capability to improve people’s ability to love others. This can help autistic people by improving their social and emotional interactions. MDMA also hinders a person’s ability to perceive negative emotions like fear or anxiety.

MDMA-assisted therapies are also a good method to help manage autism. This therapeutic strategy can help manage anxiety, especially in autistic individuals who are high-functioning.

Psychedelic drugs have the immense capability to improve the lives of autistic people. With proper research and application, psychedelic drugs can be made into mainstream therapeutic drugs to revolutionize the treatment of such complicated disorders.

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Psychedelics: A Cure for Alcoholism?

Millions of people around the world are struggling with the menace of alcoholism. Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is an unhealthy addiction to alcohol. It involves a sequence of alcohol consumption that involves issues restraining your drinking, always being obsessed with alcohol, and drinking even when it leads to issues. This condition also involves the need to progressively increase your alcohol use to attain the previous effect. People may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop drinking or rapidly reduce their consumption.

Alcoholism also includes a disorder called binge drinking. In binge drinking, a man takes five or more alcoholic drinks in two hours. For a female, it is four drinks or more in two hours.

Alcoholism is a serious issue as it poses a great threat to your health. It can cause significant distress, hampering your day-to-day life. The symptoms can be mild or severe. Even a mild case of alcoholism should not be ignored, as it can easily escalate, leading to life-threatening medical problems.

Psychedelics – definition

Psychedelics, also called hallucinogens, are a group of psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs that produce changes in mood, perception, and cognition. They influence all the human senses and alter a person’s judgment, emotions, and perception of time. These drugs can also cause people to hallucinate, making them hear or see nonexistent things.

There are numerous kinds of psychedelics. Some of them are naturally occurring, like those taken from fungi, leaves, seeds, and trees. Some of them are synthetic or made in laboratories. Some of the most frequently used psychedelics are LSD, DMT, and psilocybin.

Psychedelics can be classified into two major groups:

  • Dissociative psychedelics like PCP
  • Classic psychedelics like LSD

For several decades, LSD was the most widely used psychedelic. Even though it was synthesized in 1938, its psychedelic properties were not known till 1943. LSD largely has cerebral effects, and one trip can even go on for 10 hours.

Psilocybin, too, is a preferred drug being extensively studied for its psychedelic properties. It is believed that these magic mushrooms date back to 9000BC. They create a “whole-body” effect for the user, and one trip can last you for about six hours.

Efficacy of psychedelics in AUD treatment

Scientists and researchers have been conducting detailed studies on the effects of psychedelics on alcoholism for several years. Research, including both human and animal studies, has yielded a large body of evidence.

Psychedelics have also been previously used to treat alcoholism. The earliest such case was in 1953 when LSD was used in Canada for treating AUD.

Humphry Osmond and Abram Hoffer recommended the use of LSD to treat AUD since LSD was known to mimic the symptoms of delirium tremens (DT) without physical effects. Using this theory, they successfully treated a male and a female patient with a high dose of LSD. Numerous other psychiatrists also followed in the footsteps of Hoffer and Osmond. Studies were conducted on larger groups of patients to arrive at a hypothetical conclusion on the effect of psychedelics on alcoholism. Some of the findings are as follows:

  • LSD had remarkable benefits during three-month and six-month follow-ups. The study subjects showed no notable changes during longer follow-ups.
  • At short-term follow-ups, LSD seemed to have a remarkable effect on abstinence, with people reporting a reduction in cravings.

The effects of psilocybin were also studied by several researchers. The studies showed that abstinence increased impressively after taking psilocybin. The cravings were also reduced, and the study subjects experienced no side effects. The participants experienced several positive effects during psilocybin-based treatment, such as:

  • Changes in perception of space and time
  • Positive mood
  • Consistent dedication to change
  • Motivational enhancement
  • Changes in relationship with alcohol

Studies were also conducted in a non-clinical setting to assess the use of alcohol after psychedelic treatment. It was observed that about 83% of the participants were positively influenced by the use of psychedelics, and they could considerably decrease their dependence on alcohol.

Mechanisms of AUD treatment using psychedelics

Even though the efficacy of psychedelic treatment has been scientifically proven, more study is needed to understand the actual process happening. The studies being conducted now are largely focused on the positive effects it creates in the lives of patients. Many of the study subjects reported a reduction in alcohol consumption and, in some cases, even complete abstinence. Patients became self-accepting and started to have a positive outlook.

Using psychedelics is a good approach to treating AUD. Under the strict guidance of a medical practitioner, you can solve the debilitating problem of alcoholism once and for all.

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Key Facts About Using MDMA For PTSD Psychotherapy

Did you know that in an FDA-approved test on using MDMA for PTSD psychotherapy, almost 70% of patients found their symptoms had reduced considerably within just 12 months? Such was the reduction in symptom severity that these patients found that they no longer qualified for the PTSD diagnosis within a year’s time.

In this article, we explore the role of MDMA in PTSD Psychotherapy in greater detail.

What is MDMA?

MDMA – methylenedioxymethamphetamine – is a psychoactive drug that is used for recreation purposes by people of diverse ages. It is also referred to as Molly or Ecstasy. While MDMA is normally illegal in many parts of the world, in the past few years, the therapeutic effects of this psychedelic drug have been discovered quite recently. This has made MDMA a potential treatment option for multiple psychiatric conditions. One area where MDMA has effected great positive change is PTSD.

Understanding PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that forms when individuals experience severe psychological trauma. This triggers strong negative feelings, memories, thoughts, and physical reactions. PTSD causes patients to become extremely vulnerable to triggers that resemble the traumatic experience in any way. PTSD can reduce the quality of life of individuals and needs therapy and medication to help.

Studies have found that MDMA is one of the most effective drugs for PTSD management. When combined with cognitive therapy and counseling, MDMA can help PTSD patients cope with their symptoms and regain their quality of life.

Five facts about MDMA’s role in PTSD Psychotherapy

1. MDMA releases happy hormones in the brain

MDMA, when consumed, increases the number of neurotransmitters in your brain. These neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that affect how the brain functions. Some of the neurotransmitters released include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are called “happy hormones” or “feel-good hormones” because they contribute to feelings of pleasure, calm, and satisfaction. In addition to these neurotransmitters, MDMA has also been found to stimulate the release of other hormones like cortisol, oxytocin, vasopressin, and prolactin, which together help to lower aggression, fear, stress, and anxiety.

Since these feelings are what exacerbate the symptoms of PTSD, MDMA helps reduce the severity of PTSD by changing brain activity to become calmer and happier.

2. MDMA has been found to increase empathy in patients

A surprising impact of MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy has been empathy. While scientists don’t know for certain how MDMA increases empathy in people diagnosed with PTSD, it does do so.

In a study by Molly Carlyle & et al. from the University of Exeter, titled “Greater empathy in MDMA users,” it was found that MDMA can reduce social distress and help diagnosed individuals have better cognitive and emotional relationships with others. In fact, the study found that participants had normal psychosocial functioning thanks to MDMA. This goes a long way in proving that MDMA need not be a debilitating drug all the time and can be a highly therapeutic psychedelic with immense social benefits for PTSD sufferers.

3. MDMA-assisted PTSD psychotherapy takes place over 12 weeks

People who take MDMA recreationally often do so whenever they prefer and without a specific quantity or frequency. This can cause more harm in patients with PTSD. Rather, for MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy to work, there must be a specific administration process that is followed.

Doctors recommend that PTSD diagnosed individuals undergo 2-3 sessions through a 12-weeks period, where they ingest 120 mg of MDMA per session. Depending on the severity of their symptoms and desired treatment outcomes, they may be advised to take another 40 mg of MDMA two hours after their first dose.

Complementing MDMA treatments must be cognitive therapy, counseling, and other treatment/coping techniques that can help the PTSD patient.

4. MDMA for PTSD psychotherapy can help reduce substance abuse problems

Past research has shown that many psychedelic drugs do have very addictive properties. However, there are no sufficient studies done to prove conclusively that MDMA causes physical dependency on users.

Instead, another surprising finding of the MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy studies has been MDMA’s ability to reduce substance abuse tendencies. Early reports indicate that individuals who received MDMA-induced psychotherapy are less-likely to develop a dependency on drugs and alcohol.

There are currently studies going on to find out if this is due to MDMA treating the addiction itself or addressing the symptoms of other psychiatric conditions that make PTSD patients vulnerable to substance abuse.

5. MDMA isn’t the right treatment for everyone who may want to undergo PTSD Psychotherapy

Despite all the amazing benefits offered by MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy, this is a treatment that isn’t ideal for every PTSD patient. Doctors need to conduct a slew of tests to qualify patients to participate in the trials. Currently, MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy is in Phase 3 clinical trial stage. Successful completion of Phase 3 will allow providers to officially apply for FDA approval for MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy.

Wrapping up

The future for MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy looks very bright. Reports indicate that patients can maintain their reduced symptoms for many days and sometimes weeks after a single session. In the next couple of years, the world can expect PTSD treatment to be revolutionized thanks to this therapeutic psychedelic.

Photo by Solen Feyissa

The Truth About Psychedelic-Induced Creativity

Over the past few decades, artists and musicians have been claiming that consuming psychedelics help enhance their creativity. Artists like Yoko Ono and Adrian Piper have been known to use some form of psilocybin mushrooms or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD). They claim that these psychedelics and the resulting experience have influenced their work. As scientists are digging into the potential health benefits of these substances, they are also focusing on the truth behind psychedelic-induced creativity. But, before we get into that, let’s get an understanding of what creativity actually is.

Some might define creativity through activities like music, painting, or arts. However, as per the scientific literature, creativity is made up of two constructs—divergent thinking and convergent thinking. For example, if you are trying to solve a problem and you brainstorm ideas, divergent thinking helps you come up with multiple solutions for that problem, and convergent thinking enables you to select the best possible solution from those.

History of using psychedelics for inducing creativity

Over the past decade, there have been many anecdotal reports suggesting that consuming serotonin 2A against psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin, can enhance one’s creativity. There have been some popular examples of creative breakthroughs that were affiliated with psychedelics. The most interesting aspect of this is that this creative breakthrough has not been limited to the field of art but has extended to science and technology as well. Some examples of this include the discovery of polymerase chain reaction by Kary Mullis, the California-based computer industry of the 1960s, and the literary works of authors like Ken Kesey and Aldous Huxley.

However, even though there have been historical examples of people using psychedelics to enhance their creative capacity, the scientific evidence is mostly lacking. The initial studies that tested the impact of psychedelics on creativity started in the 1950s. However, since these drugs were banned in the late 1960s, these findings are mostly inconclusive. The preliminary contemporary work indicates that psychedelics are capable of affecting your creativity-related constructs. There have been some phenomenological reports that suggest psychedelics are capable of inducing a hyper-associative state of cognition. Combining this with the pseudo-experimental studies that found subacute and acute increases in CT or DT after consuming psychedelics in a natural setting suggests that psychedelics have a certain impact on constructs of creativity. But, as mentioned before, there is no direct, experimental evidence proving the same.

Experimenting with psychedelics

Today, there are some artists who experiment with psychedelic experiences to create art. Self-dosing has become quite popular among these artists. It is the recreational medicine or fuel that they need to get started.

While considering the impact of psychedelics on creativity, it is also crucial to discuss its therapeutic side. If a person is suffering from a psychological disorder like anxiety or depression, their ability to think outside the box or their creativity has been found to be reduced. Such individuals get fixated on their problems and are not able to adapt to circumstances. Creativity can help curb the symptoms of these mental disorders. By enhancing creativity, they will have better coping skills. Now, this can be linked to psychedelic drugs as they are known to benefit people with disorders like anxiety and depression.

Now, there can be a few reasons behind this. First, under the influence of psychedelics, people might think that they are more creative while they are not. Psychedelics are known to increase feelings of profoundness, insight, and attribution of meaning. So, when you are “high”, you might think about an idea that might seem original and revolutionary to you, but in reality, it is a common plan.

Another reason behind this is the different way people look at creativity. Take the example of deliberate creativity, characterized by being more goal-directed and attention-demanding. Deliberate creativity is the one that is mostly tested during studies. The other type of creativity is spontaneous creativity, where the mental state is characterized by random, bizarre, unfiltered, and unrestrained thoughts. Deliberate creativity is like asking someone to be more creative, while spontaneous creativity is letting people’s thoughts flow to the creative spheres. When a person is under the influence of psychedelics, there is a decrease in deliberate creativity and an increase in spontaneous insight. They are more likely to have improved the letting-your-brain-go kind of creativity. Once the drug wears off, deliberate creativity increases.

One of the factors that have been hindering this research is the stigma attached to this topic. People still are wary of these researches. Some think that it is bad to give drugs to people, even if it’s for research, while others think of this research as just a free way to get drugs. It is important to work through this stigma and find participants who are serious about the research.