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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
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
- Treatment-resistant depression (TRD)
- Complex trauma
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD)
- Autistic adults
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide was considered therapeutic psychedelics and was subjected to exhaustive experimentation in the 1960s since it was believed to have the potential to be a useful drug. But since it was banned shortly after all the research, advertising and marketing relating to LSD as a drug also had stopped. In recent times, research and experiments on LSD have commenced again. Doctors are hopeful that LSD will result as a potential drug in the medical world with beneficial therapeutic results. It is being perceived that consuming a specific amount can help people eliminate their fears and anxieties.
Can LSD be used in treatment?
It cannot be denied that the consumption of LSD can distort one’s experiences of space and time. It can also make the person hallucinate. But that happens only when consumed in excessive amounts. If LSD is consumed in prescribed amounts, it can be helpful for the individual. Various positive effects are being discovered about LSD. LSD can affect the structure as well as the function of the brain, and in this way, it promotes neuron growth. With the help of advanced technology, LSD is known to react with multiple chemicals and receptors of the brain. It is being noticed that when taken in the correct amount, it makes the consumer experience creative and out-of-the-box thoughts. Doctors believe that LSD will have positive effects if used in the treatment of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, dependency on drugs, and anxiety.
When talking about treatment, LSD has to be administered under the proper guidance of a medical professional, like a psychologist, so that the patient gets the maximum benefit and remains safe. It has been noticed that after consuming LSD, the patient might lose consciousness, but they perfectly remember their experience.
Results of trials for LSD Therapy
There have been successful trials for LSD with improved technology, and in every trial, LSD proved its potential therapeutic psychedelics. Doctors had given single doses of LSD to certain participants who had no medical history of any mental illness. They witnessed that the participants were seen to be more optimistic and open-minded for about two weeks. They were feeling happy and motivated.
So, the doctors could figure out that controlled doses of LSD on people without mental ailments could help improve their mood. In addition, doctors had conducted an LSD experiment on people with alcohol dependency. To their pleasant surprise, the people reported that after receiving the dose of LSD, they experienced a lot of positivity and optimism in themselves.
They could face their hardships more smoothly. Then came the most promising trail that bought a revolution in LSD therapy. The doctors gave specific doses of LSD to patients with life-threatening diseases. Such patients’ added anxiety, in general, leads to the reduction of their life span. The doctors were pleased with the results as the patients reported that they were experiencing improvement in their mental strength and could feel a stronger self-assurance.
These patients experienced a relaxed state of mind for about a year, and the doctors were very impressed with the results. This called for marketing LSD as a potential drug for treatment.
Benefits of LSD Therapy
Doctors are advertising and using LSD in the treatment of patients since LSD provides promising results. Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety would usually take a lot of time to cure, but with the help of LSD, these illnesses are getting cured at a much faster rate. Since the doctors are continuing with the LSD research, they are confident about the medical potential of this drug. Doctors are encouraging business/industry personnel to start with the production of LSD as a drug. The influencers on social media are also talking about the benefits of LSD and encouraging people with mental illnesses to try at least one dose of LSD.
Doctors are promoting the use of LSD via various sources. However, it should be noted that the consumption of LSD poses a few threats. First, though LSD does not impart addiction, the patients are sometimes seen to experience confusion and anxiety after receiving their doses. Second, the patients may show rebellion, and in worst cases, they might get violent. Lastly, it is still not determined how much is the perfect dose of LSD for various illnesses. Also, at what interval should the drug doses be given to the patients.
We can conclude by accepting that LSD is very beneficial to fight mental illnesses and also acts as a mood lifter. But when using LSD, one needs to be ultra-careful since incorrect dosages of this drug can result in undesirable results.