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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How Therapeutic Psychedelics can Drive Well-Being

Psychedelic-assisted therapy refers to the use of psychedelic substances as part of psychotherapy.

Therapeutic psychedelics are drugs that induce a heightened state of self-awareness in patients.

Used in combination with other therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and talking therapy, psychedelic therapy can create mind-altering effects in patients.

The consciousness-altering effects of psychedelic substances are believed to be a result of the impact of the drugs on neural pathways involving serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that allows nerve cells to communicate with target cells. These target cells can be present in glands, nerves, or muscles.

Serotonin is an important chemical messenger that carries messages from the brain to other parts of the body. This hormone is responsible for many major body functions, including maintaining heart rate, digestion, eating and sleeping. Serotonin is also responsible for a stable mood, and feelings of happiness and positivity.

Impact of Psychedelics on Health and Well-Being

The effects of therapeutic psychedelic substances are being studied more elaborately. There have been many pilot studies since 2006 to study the use of psychedelics in treating psychiatric disorders.

These studies have been encouraging in their results, which can be taken as being indicative of the safety and efficacy of psychedelics. Currently, psychedelics in use are either derived from plants or are chemical substances.

For example, the most popular psychedelic is perhaps psilocybin or magic mushrooms. This is a plant-derived psychedelic. Other such plant-derived psychedelics include ibogaine, peyote and DMT. Psychedelics such as LSD, MDMA and ketamine are chemical compounds.

Psychedelics can promote wellbeing by contributing to the safe and efficient treatment of a range of mental health conditions.

To learn more about ketamine, specifically, check out the informative article What Is Ketamine? How It Can Help with Severe Depression by Greenbrook TMS.

Mood Improvement

Recent scientific investigations show that use of psychedelic substances can lead to a positive mood. People were able to witness a change in mood as there was an increase in feelings of social connectedness and an experience of personal change.

The said study used field experiments to assess the effects of psychedelic substances such as LSD and psilocybin. The study involved 1,200 participants at mass gatherings in the UK and the US. The study authors tested the effects of psychedelic substances on positive mood, social connectedness and transformative experiences.

Participants that consumed psychedelics reported a significant change in mood, leading to a positive mood. The study authors found that the positive effect was more pronounced in people that consumed psychedelics in the immediately preceding 24 hours. The effect was comparably lesser in people that consumed the week before.

The researchers concluded that this field study gave concrete evidence of the positive effect of psychedelics on mood, in natural settings.

Decrease in Anxiety

Use of medicinal psilocybin in controlled clinical settings has been shown to have a positive effect in psychedelic-assisted treatment of anxiety.

Use of LSD too has shown positive results in people suffering from life-threatening illness. A study was conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of LSD in 12 patients. A significant reduction in anxiety was recorded at the follow-up session after 2 months.

Successful Treatment of Alcohol Addiction and Substance Dependence

In psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, medicinal psilocybin was found to treat addition, including alcohol addiction, with increased efficacy.

In randomized controlled trials, it was found that LSD can effectively treat alcoholism. A single LSD dose was shown to decrease alcohol misuse in alcoholism treatment settings.

Another recent research involved a clinical study of 10 participants that were diagnosed with alcohol dependence. Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy was used to treat these patients. At the end of the study, participants reported a significant reduction in heavy drinking and number of drinking days. The reduction was over half of the count reported at the start of the study.

Another recent research involved a pilot study of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of tobacco misuse. The study involved 15 participants that smoked 10 cigarettes a day, at the minimum. Study participants were also unsuccessful at cessation attempts.

These patients received cognitive behavioral therapy in addition to psilocybin treatment. At a follow-up after 6 months, 12 members exhibited abstinence.

Safe and Effective for PTSD Treatment

Use of medicinal MDMA has been shown to be significantly safe and effective for the treatment of PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – in clinically controlled studies.

A large study sample of adults was used for this research. The therapy was well-tolerated by the participants and was found to be efficacious.

A phase 3 trial was also conducted as part of the study. This phase 3 trial was the first to be conducted in the field of psychedelic-assisted therapy. A phase 3 trial is conducted to assess if a treatment is more effective than existing treatments.

The trial showed significant results. Of the 90 participants that were part of the study, 67% were diagnosed to be non-PTSD, meaning they were no longer suffering from PTSD. This result was achieved after 3 treatments. 88% of patients showed a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms.

In Conclusion

Mental health conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse, can reduce an individual’s quality of life. Therapy using psychedelic substances for treating these mental health conditions is promising.

There are currently over 100 psychedelic-assisted therapy trials happening around the world. These trials are researching the safety and efficacy of psychedelics for a range of conditions. These conditions include dementia, alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and anorexia.

The efficacy and safety of other psychedelic substances such as ibogaine are also being researched.

Further research is awaited to derive conclusive evidence. Existing and emerging promising evidence serves as a ray of hope for patients and caretakers.

Originally published by Redwood Creative