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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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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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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.

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Use of Psychedelics in the Treatment of Alzheimer’s

There is no denying the positive impact psychedelic drugs like DMT, psilocybin, and LSD have on mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Several studies have proven the same. However, apart from psychological benefits, psychedelics have been known to have positive effects on neuroplasticity and neuroinflammation as well. The reason behind this is their physiological mechanisms of action, which have inspired new research. Studies are now being conducted on whether psychedelic therapies can help neurodegenerative conductions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Read on to learn how psychedelics are used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that destroys thinking and memory skills, leaving people unable to carry out simple tasks. In most cases, the late-onset type symptoms usually appear around their mid-60s. In the case of early-onset Alzheimer’s, symptoms usually occur between the 30s and mid-60s. However, this is extremely rare. Alzheimer’s disease is known to be a common cause of dementia.

This condition has been linked to proteins aggregating pathologically that results in the formation of clumps into plaques between Aß protein or amyloid-ß, the nerve cells. These proteins might also twist into “neurofibrillary tangles” or fibers within the cell or tau protein. The protein’s abnormal deposition is pronounced in one of the main memory centers of the brain, known as the hippocampus, along with the basal forebrain and the cortex. However, how these molecules lead to the neurodegenerative process isn’t determined yet. So far, all we know is that excessive tangles and plaques can disrupt basic cell functioning and drive cell death, leading the person unable to have nutrient transport or stress response function.

According to the cholinergic hypothesis, Alzheimer’s is caused by neuronal dysfunction via the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). In fact, ACh has been the main paradigm in creating a treatment for this condition. It has been observed in patients with Alzheimer’s that their brain cells produce less ACh, which causes the death of cholinergic neurons. Most of the drugs that have been clinically approved for Alzheimer’s work by slowing down or stopping the ACh degradation. Even though they can’t stop the decline completely, they are effective in improving cognitive function.

The role of psychedelics in treating Alzheimer’s

The way psychedelic treatment affects the brain and the root causes of Alzheimer’s disease are connected. Therefore, it is possible that a structured regimen of psychedelics can improve the quality of life for people suffering from this condition. Psychedelics contribute to increased communication among the different regions of the brain and cognitive flexibility.

Many mental health disorders are characterized by persistent inflexible patterns of thought, behavior, and feeling. So, psychedelics can disrupt the neural system responsible for encoding and overdetermining such patterns. This gives people an opportunity to rewire their brains in a way that helps them get long-term relief.

However, research has suggested that usage of the drug alone won’t have that much impact. What the patients need is the supportive presence of a counselor who can help patients integrate the “high” induced by the psychedelics and develop new mental habits. One can consider psychedelic treatment as a therapeutic window that gives you a view of greater openness.

Antipsychotics, on the other hand, have been proven to be ineffective at treating Alzheimer’s. In fact, in some cases, they have had dangerous results. But, microdoses of psychedelics can disrupt the ego, allowing you to unbind from acute mental suffering temporarily. Theoretically, it can help the patient experience greater calmness. Now that we have a better understanding of why antipsychotics have deleterious consequences, it has become more important than ever to search for a valuable direction to treat Alzheimer’s through psychedelics. Research is required on how psychedelics, non-addictive, non-hallucinatory, and well-tolerated at low dosages, can benefit patients with Alzheimer’s.

In Conclusion

Researchers are working on the potential of psychedelics in enhancing and influencing functional neuronal connectivity, restoring brain plasticity, enhancing cognition, stimulating neurogenesis, and reducing inflammation. If this can be proven, it will provide a compelling argument for researching psychedelics as a treatment for conditions where such functioning doesn’t exist.

It is important to note that even though there is anecdotal evidence on the recreational use of psychedelics for enhancing cognitive function, there hasn’t been robust research on studying the cognitive effect of microdosing psychedelics. So far, the results have only shown acute changes in cognitive function and no evidence of persistent changes—positive or negative. There is an urgent need for studies that take a look at microdosing psychedelics for the long term. Also, we must understand the impact it has on cognitively impaired individuals, such as the ones suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

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The Increased Usage of Psychedelics for Anxiety Disorders

Psychedelics have been known to have a promising future in the treatment of anxiety disorders. However, this hasn’t always been the case. In the early 1970s, psychedelics were criminalized which led to a halt in the research. The resurgence of research into the multitude of benefits offered by psychedelics in the treatment of psychiatric disorders in the past 20 years has resulted in a paradigm shift. There are still a lot of challenges faced by the field of psychedelic medicine, such as barriers on the regulatory level, the stigma around mental health, lack of education, cost, and shortage of specialized professionals.

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy

Initially, the use of psychedelics and subsequent research was based on the perceived ability of psychedelic substances to reduce ego defenses and the psychoanalytic understanding of mental illness. In psychotherapy, depending on the severity of your anxiety disorder, you will be given low to moderate doses of these substances. Through this drug experience, usually LSD, the specialist will be able to get an enhanced psychodynamic experience of your symptoms.

It was in the 1960s that a radical model started to take base in the medical community. It had a vastly different approach, structure, and conceptualization. The psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy at this time took inspiration from transpersonal psychology. In some cases, it also was inspired by spiritual or quasi-religious traditions.

To treat anxiety disorders, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy requires a high degree of preparation combined with an extensive therapy session. You will be subjected to a high-dose drug session, followed by therapy sessions where you will be required to interpret what happened during your psychedelic experience. A therapist will be present at all times. To augment your internal experience, they will ensure that you are experiencing the “high” in a calm environment. The decor of the room might be accompanied by music to accentuate your experience.

In this case, the set is the expectations or mindset with which you came to the session and the setting refers to the comfortable environment where you experience the psychedelic experience and interpret what transpired at that time. It is important to pay attention to the set and setting.

This model has been in work since the 60s and almost all the clinical studies today follow the same. However, it is possible that some studies might combine psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions with the existing psychological programs, like motivational therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy. As long as drug-administering sessions are considered, they retain this non-directive model.

Psilocybin for treating anxiety

Recently, there has been a hype around psilocybin, commonly known as magic mushrooms, as a possible treatment for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. They are known to cause changes in perception and hallucinations. So, you might think that they increase anxiety instead of relieving it. And it is true to some extent. Some people experience paranoia and anxiety after taking mushrooms. However, research suggests that psilocybin offers long-lasting benefits by reducing anxiety and depression.

Psilocybin is the hallucinogenic compound present in mushrooms. It has some similarities with serotonin, a chemical that helps with mood regulation. Having imbalance or low serotonin levels can lead to depression and anxiety. However, controlled usage of mushrooms can have a positive effect on the serotoninergic system of your body so that it can balance the serotonin level.

It is important to note that all the clinical trials on the usage of psychedelic drugs for anxiety disorders have been performed under highly controlled and circumscribed conditions. Because of this, interpreting results can be difficult. It is possible that the treatment showed benefits because of the carefully-coordinated experience. Another challenge for these trials is the placebo control as these drugs are known to have powerful effects.

And, let’s not forget the risks. In rare instances, LSD and psilocybin have been known to cause a lasting psychotic reaction. It is more common in people that have a family history of psychosis. This is why people with schizophrenia have been excluded from these trials. Other drugs like MDMA have a risk of abuse.

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for treating other mental conditions

Apart from anxiety disorders, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can also provide relief for other debilitating mental health conditions, such as major depressive disorder, PTSD, anorexia nervosa, and alcohol-use disorder. These conditions kill thousands of people every year in the US. Furthermore, these conditions have been known to impact the productivity of millions of people all over the world.

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is still considered unexplored grounds by researchers, especially for the treatment of anxiety disorder. The most popular drugs that are used for treating anxiety and depression today can be bought at a local pharmacy store. However, for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, you will have to use a powerful substance under the close eye of a trained specialist. This is done to ensure that it is safely implemented.

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Types of Psychedelic Therapy

Psychedelic therapy, also known as Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy (PAP), is a psychiatric practice where you ingest a psychedelic substance for your psychotherapeutic treatment. In most cases, psychedelics are used in combination with talk therapy. Currently, there are a lot of psychedelic drugs, capable of altering your consciousness, that are used in clinical as well as non-clinical settings. There are also a lot of studies that are researching the therapeutic purposes of psychedelic drugs.

Some of these drugs come from plants, like ayahuasca, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), peyote, ibogaine, and DMT. There are some drugs that are chemical compounds, including LSD, MDMA, and ketamine. Let’s get into some of these substances and how they can help you:

  • Ayahuasca – Originated in South America, this brew can help you with anxiety, depression, and addiction. However, there might be certain side effects, including medication interactions and serotonin syndrome.
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) – Taking LSD can result in altered perception, consciousness, and mood. This is why it can be used for treating anxiety and addiction.
  • Psilocybin – Psilocybin works similarly to LSD in altering perception, consciousness, and mood. Currently, there are studies conducted to treat anxiety, depression, and addiction.
  • Ecstasy (MDMA) – Even though MDMA is not considered to be a classic psychedelic substance, it is known to create ‘psychedelic effects’, such as altered perceptions, feelings of euphoria, increased sociability, and increased arousal. In fact, research has shown that MDMA has therapeutic potential to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

For centuries, Indigenous people have used psychedelics for religious and therapeutic purposes. However, in the Western clinical setting, psychedelic therapy remains relatively new. And, now that certain psychedelic substances have been legalized, it has become even more popular. Psychopharmacological research hasn’t been as popular as one might expect. Combining this with the increase in mental health conditions makes psychedelic therapy an optimal treatment option.

However, it is important to note that psychedelic therapy is still an experimental treatment. So, if you want access to this treatment, you will have to undergo clinical trials. But, before you do that, you should know about the different forms of psychedelic therapies:

  • Psychedelics – In this, you will only be provided with a psychedelic drug. There won’t be any additional treatment.
  • Drug-assisted therapy – For this form of therapy, you will have to take psychedelics along with the traditional treatment.
  • Guided therapy – In this, you will be guided through the psychedelic “high”. The counselor will offer suggestions and help you stay calm.

If you have been considering psychedelic therapy for your treatment, you must know about one of the most popular variations of psychedelic therapy, microdosing. In this, you will be taking small doses of sub-hallucinogenic psychedelic substances. Studies have shown that even low doses of these substances can provide health benefits like decreased depression, increased energy, and enhanced performance. However, more research is required to understand the beneficial effects of microdosing.

How does psychedelic therapy work?

When it comes to mental health conditions, treatment can take weeks, especially if you are opting for only traditional medications. Also, most of these treatments work only as long as you take them. The research done on psychedelic therapy has shown promising improvements in the conditions of mental illness. However, the exact way how these psychedelics work is still unknown. Here are a few theories:

1. Psychedelic experience – Psychedelics have been known to provide intense, meaningful experiences which can cause your belief system and mindset to shift. You might start behaving and thinking differently.

2. Neurotransmitter changes – Mental health drugs work by acting on neurotransmitters directly to alter the mood. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers present in the brain. Some psychedelic drugs act on neurotransmitters to change the behavior of your brain and improve your mood.

Thanks to the excitement around psychedelic therapies, there are a lot of new clinics, therapists, international retreats, and gurus providing the service. If you want to try out psychedelic-assisted treatment, you need to find a professional. One way to do this is by checking the database of accredited therapies. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies maintains this database.

However, you should remember that taking psychedelic substances can make you vulnerable to suggestions and alter your consciousness. Because of this, you might end up getting involved in some unethical or criminal behavior. You also need to note that even though research has shown that psychedelic therapy can help treat a wide range of mental health conditions, the exact mechanisms of action are still being explored. Further research on the same will help scientists understand which drugs are helpful for specific conditions, when you should avoid such treatments, and what doses you should use.