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Medical or Therapeutic Psychedelics Industry in 2023

When psychedelic drugs were first introduced by the scientific community as an alternative treatment for several mental illnesses, the general populace around the world viewed them apprehensively. In fact, many doctors within the scientific community were skeptical about the efficacy and ethical issues that surrounded the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. But times are changing now. The use of psychedelic drugs as a vital therapeutic medicine to manage mental health disorders is gradually gaining public acceptance. Once vilified and scorned, people are now becoming more open to treatments that use these drugs. Psychedelics like ketamine, LSD, and psilocybin are now being used to treat anxiety, depression, and PTSD in patients who have failed to respond to standard therapies.

Recent developments in the therapeutic psychedelic industry

COMPASS Pathways, a mental health care company, released a report in 2021 about the largest-ever clinical study on the effects of psilocybin. The study involved 233 people, and it was discovered that one dose of the drug, when combined with psychological help, significantly lowered the symptoms of depressive disorders. This study was a Phase 2 clinical trial, and there are more than 80 Phase 2 psychedelic drug trials now underway worldwide. The study on MDMA for the treatment of PTSD has reached Phase 3.

COMPASS Pathways anticipates receiving regulatory approval by 2023 in America and by 2024 in Europe. This will significantly improve the conditions of research and yield more positive results in the field of psychedelic medicine.

An increasing number of investors are also attempting to build enterprises with promising scientific and financial prospects in the psychedelic drug industry. This has placed the current market value of developers at around 10 billion USD. Experts believe that the value of the psychedelic healthcare sector will cross 2.4 billion USD by 2026. Studies also indicate that by 2027, the psychedelic drug industry will see a growth of 16.3%. These forecasts were centered on the efficacy of ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin-assisted therapies, where the drugs are either currently being used in therapy or are almost ready for approval.

Growth of medical psychedelics

Many US cities and states are becoming interested in decriminalizing or legalizing psychedelic drugs like LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin. Oregon became the first state to take steps toward the legalization of the medical use of such drugs when it passed Oregon Ballot Measure 109 in 2020. Now the FDA is also expressing its interest in giving approval to several psychedelic medications. The FDA recognized psilocybin’s potential as a mental health support and safety record in 2019, naming it a “breakthrough therapy.” All this has become possible due to the mounting clinical evidence showing significant improvements in the mental health of people upon using psychedelic drugs compared to other conventional forms of therapy.

A lot of interest from the side of investors is due to the cost factor associated with the conventional treatment methods for the two most common mental health issues, namely depression and anxiety. According to the United Nations Secretary-General, the treatment of these two diseases costs around 1 trillion USD, which is borne by the world economy. But the increased efficiency of psychedelic drugs is expected to decrease this amount significantly, reducing the economic burden on economies worldwide.

Elliot Marseille, Director of GIPSE, gave a presentation at a psychedelic conference in New York. In his presentation, he discussed studies that indicated that over the next 10 years, treatments using psychedelic drugs may save insurers between $39.5 million and $46.7 million USD for every 1,000 patients.

All these monetary benefits will attract more investors into the psychedelic drug sector, which will further aid the exponential growth of the industry in the coming few years.

MDMA, psylobycin, and ketamine

Since the FDA recognized MDMA-assisted therapies as “breakthrough therapies,” the drug is now available for the treatment of patients. Revenue increases from therapist training and therapy have been predicted to be around $7 billion USD between 2023 and 2029. Similarly, ketamine-assisted treatment is predicted to rule the psychedelic healthcare industry until 2025.

David Wood, the general counsel at Psygen Industries Inc., a psychedelic pharmaceutical manufacturer in Calgary, Canada, is optimistic about the bright future of the psychedelic drug industry. He believes that when it becomes legal in North America to prescribe MDMA for medical purposes, the healthcare industry, especially mental health care, will be revolutionized. He believes that this is all set to happen by 2023 or 2024. Furthermore, he also expressed his optimism that the acceptance of such therapies will also skyrocket. This will lead to a new era in the history of medical science.

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Colorado Legalizes “Magic Mushrooms” a.k.a. Psilocybin and Psilocin

After Oregon, Colorado is the second state to legalize the medicinal use of psilocybin and psilocin – the psychedelic compounds found in magic mushrooms. Medicinal consumption of magic mushrooms is now legal in Colorado for adults aged 21 and above. Therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms will be provided in state-regulated centers under the guidance of licensed facilitators. Personal consumption of magic mushrooms is also legal under the new legislation, but it’s banned in schools, public spaces, and while driving. Retail sales are also banned as of now.

Therapeutic benefits of magic mushrooms

There has been considerable research on the medicinal benefits of magic mushrooms over the past few years. Dr. Michael Bogenschutz of the NYU Langone Center carried out the largest controlled trial of magic mushroom use to reduce alcohol use disorder. The experiment revealed that the combined effect of psychotherapy and psilocybin pills helped people suffering from alcoholism reduce drinking for up to 8 months. This was the largest controlled, randomized study of its kind, and supplemented the findings of previous research.

Magic mushrooms have become more popular in recent years, for both medicinal and recreational use. While it is generally regarded as a safe psychedelic, experts still warn against the unsupervised use of psilocybin and psilocin.

A large number of voters show up to cast their opinion

More than 2.2 million people voted in the ballot measure, where 52% voted in favor of legalizing magic mushrooms. Around 93% of the total expected voters turned out to vote, and magic mushrooms won by a narrow margin.

Veronica Lightning Horse Perez, a leading supporter of magic mushroom legalization, said “I’m in awe of what we were able to accomplish”. It is indeed surprising that such a large number of voters turned out for the event, and more than 50% voted in favor of making psilocybin legal. The legislation will come into effect in 2024, and other plant-based psychedelics will be considered for legalization by 2026.

Psilocybin is still illegal in most states and at the federal level. Washington DC has decriminalized the use of magic mushrooms, and Oregon is the only other state where it’s legal. Colorado is set to be the 2nd state where psilocybin is legal and 3rd state where it’s decriminalized.

Supporters and opposers of psilocybin

Proponents of magic mushrooms argue that naturally occurring psychedelics have been used for ages with positive benefits, both from a spiritual and mental health perspective. New research shows that it also has physiological benefits. Moreover, the risks associated with magic mushrooms are negligible and very rare.

However, not everyone is happy with the new legislation. According to critics, this move shows how the United States is moving away from science towards populism even with medicinal ingredients. They also argue that this will send a wrong message to youngsters who will regard psilocybin as a completely harmless drug with no potential side effects.

As the voting figures show us, there isn’t an overwhelming consensus on the legalization of magic mushrooms. Far from it, many people are still against the legalization, and some pushback is likely over the next year before the legislation is enforced in 2024.

Protect Colorado’s Kids is the largest organization lobbying against the legislation. According to its head Luke Niforatos, this move “circumvent(s) science and the FDA”. Protect Colorado’s Kids will also reach out to the Drug Enforcement Administration, FDA, and U.S. Attorney for Colorado to intervene in the legislation.

Supporters of magic mushroom, on the other hand, regard this vote as a big victory for their cause. Natural Medicine Colorado, the leading lobby in favor of magic mushroom legalization, said the vote was “a truly historic moment”. According to Natural Medicine Colorado, residents of the state have already experienced the medicinal benefits of psilocybin, and that has motivated them to take a stand in its favor.

Is a psychedelic drug revolution on its way?

The United States of America is undoubtedly going through a drug revolution. With recreational marijuana being legalized in Maryland and Missouri, marijuana is now legal in 21 states. Even conservative states are showing growing support for psychedelics, particularly naturally occurring psychedelics that have proven medicinal benefits.

The ballot initiative now makes growing, possessing, and consuming magic mushrooms legal. However, it’s still illegal to sell magic mushrooms. State-regulated healing centers cannot sell magic mushrooms, but only provide them to clients for medicinal use under their supervision.

There are mixed opinions on the legalization of psilocybin, but mental health proponents are by and large optimistic about the legislation. According to doctors, researchers, and even the FDA, regulated and supervised use of psilocybin has the potential to cure mental health issues like depression, addictive personality disorder, anxiety, and PTSD.

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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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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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Can Therapeutic Psychedelics Be Used to Address Eating Disorders?

Therapeutic psychedelics have come into vogue these days because of their medicinal properties. But, a new area of study that has emerged is the role medicinal psychedelics play in the management of eating disorders. In this article, we discuss whether therapeutic psychedelics can actually have a positive impact on people suffering from eating conditions.

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders refer to a variety of conditions that result in the formation of unhealthy relationships with food. People with eating disorders often exhibit either a severe aversion to or excessive dependence on food, combined with distressing thoughts about their self-worth. Some people may even experience intense feelings of anxiety and bouts of depression as a result of the eating disorder.

There are various types of eating disorders, such as –

  • Anorexia nervosa – A condition characterized by self-induced starvation to lose weight, leading ultimately to severe emaciation.
  • Bulimia nervosa – A condition where the individual deliberately vomits or otherwise expels any food eaten with the desire to lose weight.
  • Binge eating disorder – A condition where a person eats more than their bodily capacity in a very short period of time, to the point of severe discomfort.
  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder – A condition characterized by extreme pickiness in what is eaten and how much, often resulting in under-nourishment.
  • Pica – A condition where a person may compulsively eat things that are not considered food (such as pins, dirt, dolls, paper, etc.)
  • Rumination disorder – A condition characterized by compulsively regurgitating and re-swallowing food multiple times.
  • Other specified feeding disorders and eating disorders

Role of therapeutic psychedelics in managing eating disorders

Psychedelics are essentially items that have a natural chemical composition that can alter an individual’s mood, thought processes, and emotions. Doctors and researchers are now engaged in studying whether consuming such psychedelics can help alter the state of cognition and emotions that lead to anxious thoughts, unhealthy body image, and ultimately – eating disorders.

The idea behind researchers’ faith in therapeutic psychedelics is their ability to reduce the severity of anxious and depressive symptoms. These are often closely associated with low body image and may manifest as eating disorders.

Numerous studies have already shown how medicinal psychedelics can reduce activity in the default mode network (DMN) in the brain. This is the neural pathway that is active when we don’t consciously focus on the outside world and are instead focused on our internal mental state. This DMN is incredibly active in patients diagnosed with anxiety, OCD, and depression.

Additionally, other research has also shown that people with eating disorders like anorexia, nervosa for instance, have cognitive deficits, which manifest in –

  • Their inability to successfully handle any disruption/change in the way they think or act. (For example, a change in the menu can lead to immense physical and psychological distress).
  • Their tendency to be preoccupied with the smaller details and not see the bigger picture. (For example, thinking that starving oneself today will help them lose weight; while not realizing the long-term health implications).

Therapeutic psychedelics have been found to help patients with eating disorders reduce the severity of these cognitive deficits by reducing the activity in the DMN.

Some findings on therapeutic psychedelics for eating disorders

Of the many psychedelics available in the market, the four being studied for their potential use in managing eating disorders are –

  • MDMA
  • Ayahuasca
  • Psilocybin
  • Ketamine

Of these, Ayahuasca definitely has a more comprehensive role in eating disorder management than the others. A study conducted by Adelee Lafrance and colleagues, titled “Nourishing the Spirit: Exploratory Research on Ayahuasca Experiences along the Continuum of Recovery from Eating Disorders,” has explored the role of Ayahuasca as a potential treatment for eating conditions. Participants of the study – which involved taking part in the ceremonial ayahuasca drinking – stated that they noticed a positive shift in their perception of their own body image. Participants also recorded experiencing fewer anxious, OCD, and depressive thoughts and experiencing an improved relationship with food.

MethylenodioxyMetamphetamine (MDMA) is another psychedelic that has been observed to have therapeutic effects on people with eating disorders. Already MDMA is being used for PTSD psychotherapy, where it has found incredible success. In open-label, multi-site Phase 2 studies, MDMA is being tested specifically as a psychotherapy drug for managing binge-eating disorder and anorexia nervosa (restricting subtype).

Psilocybin is another therapeutic psychedelic that is being tested specifically for the management of anorexia nervosa. The brain’s executive control network (ECN) is a neural pathway that becomes active when memory, decision making, goal-directed behavior, and active focus on the outside world are involved. This ECN works inversely proportional to the DMN – rising when DMN activity falls and vice versa. This brain activity between the ECN and DMN is regulated by a part of the brain called the insular cortex. Research shows that patients with anorexia nervosa have disrupted insular cortex connectivity, which can lead to their cognitive deficits. Psilocybin is being explored to check if it has the ability to restore proper functioning and the relationship between the ENC and DMN. This can help reduce the cognitive inflexibility that people with anorexia nervosa often have.

Wrapping up

Therapeutic psychedelics have shown great promise in the management of eating disorders. More study and trials may one day help provide long-term treatments for these challenging conditions.

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New Advances in Psychotherapy

This conferencynce will explore what clinicians need to know about the use of Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy (PAP) to treat a wide variety of conditions, including —

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • End-of-life distress
  • Addiction
  • Treatment-resistant depression (TRD)
  • Complex trauma
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Autistic adults
  • Suicidality
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Debunking Myths and Misconceptions of Psychedelics

With an increasing focus on more and more research on psychedelic substances across the globe, there has been a rise in people spreading myths about the same. A lot of states across the United States of America have legalized cannabis for psychedelic therapeutic and other medical purposes.

Yet, the myths and misconceptions never seem to go away. In fact, people with stronger beliefs in the wrong facts seem to be increasing day by day. This trend is especially true for people of younger age.

Not only for use, but the industry has also seen a heavy inflow of money, to get to the roots of the drug and find out the therapeutic benefits of the same. This burgeoning industry, to say the least, has attracted a lot of eyeballs. It becomes important at this stage to talk about the myths and misconceptions around the whole thing.

Myth buster: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions of Psychedelics

Myth #1

Making Psychedelic Drugs Are Harvested Using Harmful Pesticide

This is one of the most widely spread myths. In fact, this myth goes back to the 1960s. It was believed that LSD or Acid, as it is commonly called, is cut using Strychnine. For the unversed, Strychnine is a harmful pesticide.

But recent research has proven that LSD dose not contain even one bit of Strychnine. Still, naysayers continue to spread the rumor through the grapevine. Interestingly, various NGOs are using these psychedelic substances as a therapy against depression and anxiety.

Myth #2

Psychedelics Increase Signals to the Brain

Opposite to what is commonly believed by the users of psychedelic substances, these substances do not increase signals to your brain. The feelings of confusion and restlessness are often believed to be of hyper-brain activity.

But research has shown otherwise. The blood flow which is indicative of increased brain activity has in fact decreased on the use of psychedelic substances. This makes them a perfect therapy for issues like anxiety and ADHD. But sadly, they do not turn your brain into a super brain.

Myth #3

Psychedelics Fry your Brain

There is a widespread belief in people that psychedelic drugs ‘fry’ your brain. Especially drugs like LSD, rank first in the list of such substances. But as studies by North Carolina University has shown, there are no proofs of ‘frying’.

The research pointed out that these drugs stay in the brain for 6-7 hours. For ‘frying’ you would need it to stay there for much longer, if not permanently. For the ones facing a psychotic episode after the use of psychedelic drugs on them, it may be due to psychosomatic effects. It is not true that the ‘episode’ happens due to some permanent damage to the brain.

Myth #4

Therapeutic Psychedelics May Lead to Addiction

This myth is, perhaps, the most laughable. The whole point of using these drugs in therapy is to infuse such small amounts of them that they do not lead to addiction. In fact, research has also shown that it helps significantly in de-addiction.

According to research conducted in the 1960s, a psychedelic drug, psilocybin, was used as a trial on people who were dependent upon alcohol. The research showed a surprising and significant result. Given as therapy and under the guidance of a Doctor, the addiction of the people participating in the trial was reduced significantly.

Similar research around the addiction to tobacco has also shown similar results. The number of cigarettes smoked by the people reduced to almost zero in a few sessions of psychedelic therapy.

So, next time someone says that therapy using psychedelic substances may land you in trouble, tell them that it does the exact opposite.

Myth #5

Therapeutic Psychedelics do not Improve PTSD

Sure, if you want to dismiss research. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been one of the major mental ailments across the globe today. Especially in the older generation, who have seen World War 2. The problem is also widespread in Asian countries that have seen several wars post-WW2.

The use of psychedelic therapy has shown a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms. Findings have also been published in various journals and books. The reduction was even to the extent that some patients were even no longer identified as suffering from PTSD.

Therapeutic psychedelics are the tomorrow of medical science. It is time for us to shun the reluctance and look at it from a new perspective. Maybe, a big breakthrough is just around the corner?

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Cannabis & Psychedelics in one unprecedented event: business, lifestyle, science, careers & more.

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How do Psychedelics Treat Depression?

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

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

Psychedelics Treat Major Depression

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

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

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

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

Impact of Psychedelics on Depression Patients

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

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

Different Ways of Working of Psychedelics

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

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

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

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

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

Psychedelics Influence Neurotransmitters

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

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

Psychedelics Produce Mind-Altering Experiences

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

Psychedelics Impact Neuroplasticity

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

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

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

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

Psychedelics May Improve Patient Suggestibility

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Redwood Creative