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#1 SkunkyAroma

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 04:37 PM

Magic Mushroom Drug Psilocybin Helps Cancer Patients Chill Out

 

by Maggie Fox and Felix Gussone, MD

 
 
 
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Ingredient in 'Magic Mushrooms' May Help Cancer Patients, Studies Suggest
 

The "magic mushroom" drug psilocybin can help cancer patients relax and feel less distressed about their disease, two teams of doctors reported Thursday.

The drug eased anxiety and depression in 80 percent of the patients who took it in the studies, and many described their one-time sessions as ranking among the most meaningful experiences of their lives.

While the drug is clearly not for everyone, it's worth testing under carefully controlled conditions in more patients, the researchers concluded.

"We found that a single dose of psilocybin immediately reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients that had advanced cancer and life-threatening forms of cancer," Dr. Stephen Ross, director of addiction psychiatry at New York University's Langone Medical Center, told NBC News.

Gale Cowan was one of them. The 73-year-old New York adult literacy teacher has been dealing with breast cancer on and off since 2003. She knows it's likely to kill her.

"It was sort of like this deep sense of dread, that this cancer was stalking me," she told NBC News. "And every time I think I beat it back, it would catch up with me again," Cowan added. "It was coming back every two or three years."

It's a common feeling, Ross said.

 

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Hallucinogenic mushrooms are cultivated at a farm in the Netherlands in 2007
 

"Forty to 50 percent of patients with cancer will have some diagnosable anxiety or depressive disorder," he said.

Cowan had tried LSD in her 20s and so didn't feel many doubts about joining a clinical trial of psilocybin.

The researchers delivered the drug - a synthetic version of the active ingredient of the mushrooms - in a carefully controlled setting, with therapists on hand, soothing music and plenty of objects for the volunteers to look at and touch.

"It starts off more like the things that I was seeing were heightened," Cowan said. "Even like that lamp --all of a sudden you know the texture of the shade."

I felt this connection with everything.”

She noticed the upholstery on the couch and the leaves on the trees outside the window. "And they had some lovely art objects -- statues and pottery things and books. They had flowers -- very nice."

Cowan said the experience - it lasted a few hours - made her feel like she was part of something bigger.

"I felt this connection with everything," she said. "There's something that I go into and become a part of and that's pretty cool. My experience tells me that it's not a big nothing after I'm gone."

Another patient, Rob Sweeney, described a similar feeling. "I was floating on this immense expansive infinite sea of strength and beauty," he said. "There was no difference between that infinite sea and me."

The calm feeling stayed with her, Cowan said.

"Every night when I get in bed, and the lights (go) out, I find that I have a smile on my face even if I've had a really stressful day," she said.

"I am lying there with a smile on my face," she added.

The team at NYU tested 29 patients. Another team, at Johns Hopkins University, tested 51. Both had similar results, reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

I would be worried that cancer patients would look at this and think ‘I’m going to go out, get magic mushrooms and do it at home’. No, that’s not the safe way to do it.”

"The most interesting and remarkable finding is that a single dose of psilocybin, which lasts four to six hours, produced enduring decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms, and this may represent a fascinating new model for treating some psychiatric conditions," says Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

 

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The drug psilocybin in pill form
 
 

"Before beginning the study, it wasn't clear to me that this treatment would be helpful, since cancer patients may experience profound hopelessness in response to their diagnosis, which is often followed by multiple surgeries and prolonged chemotherapy," Griffiths added in a statement.

"I could imagine that cancer patients would receive psilocybin, look into the existential void and come out even more fearful."

None did in the trials, although the good effects did not always happen immediately.

"Initially it was absolutely terrifying. I was just terrified," said Dinah Bazer, one of the NYU volunteers. But then the drug allowed her to visualize her anxiety about a grim cancer diagnosis.

"I saw my fear. The fear was gone," she said.

"They markedly looked different and better," Ross added.

The studies are part of a growing movement to examine illegal recreational drugs to see if they can help specific medical conditions. Marijuana and cannabis are the most commonly tested. The Food and Drug Administration just okayed a large trial of Ecstasy, known chemically as methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA, to treat veterans with post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

There's actually nothing new about trying mind-altering drugs to treat psychiatric conditions.

"When Albert Hoffman discovered the remarkable mind-altering properties of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1943, he didn't have much trouble persuading his bosses at the pharmaceutical company Sandoz (now part of Novartis) that this drug would play a very important role in understanding the nature of mental illness and potentially providing a very novel approach to their treatment," David Nutt of Imperial College London and editor of the Journal of Psychopharmacology, wrote in an editorial accompanying Thursday's studies.

"Through the 1950s and 1960s, Sandoz supplied medical LSD in the form of Delysid that was studied in hundreds of trials in thousands of patients. The U.S. government via the National Institutes of Health funded more than 130 grants in this field."

That stopped in 1970, after so many people started taking drugs such as LSD recreationally and had "bad trips" that worsened psychosis and schizophrenia. The Drug Enforcement Administration strictly limits the use of psilocybin.

"They really were misused by many Americans and these are not drugs that should be used recreationally," NYU's Ross said.

"To many people brought up in the Reagan drug war era with the 'drugs fry your brain' message, psilocybin may seem a strange and possibly even a dangerous drug treatment of serious mental illness," Nutt added.

The thing that I would be most upset about from this research would be if people in the public thought ‘this is great. This is a cure. This is going to help everyone’.”

But he said it has few physical side effects.

Ross said he's been inspired to try to help advanced cancer patients since he saw a stark contrast between what doctors often do and what good end-of-life care can look like.

"When I was a medical student and an intern, I really saw bad death. I saw people getting chemotherapy on their deathbed and doctors really not trained to help patients in the final part of their lives," Ross said.

"I realized that doctors are just poorly trained in how to help a dying patient."

Ross stresses that the patients are treated in a controlled environment, with therapists on hand. Volunteers were screened for any family history of mental illness such as psychosis, and tested for use of other drugs such as cocaine.

"The thing that I would be most upset about from this research would be if people in the public thought 'this is great. This is a cure. This is going to help everyone'," Ross said.

"I would be worried that cancer patients would look at this and think 'I'm going to go out, get magic mushrooms and do it at home'. No, that's not the safe way to do it."



#2 SkunkyAroma

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 04:44 PM

Headache sufferers flout new drug law

Calls for clinical trials and rethink of legislation as patients claim that magic mushrooms can relieve excruciating condition

Mark Honigsbaum
Tuesday August 2, 2005
The Guardian

Patients who suffer from cluster headaches - a debilitating medical condition for which there is no cure - are flouting the government's ban on magic mushrooms because they say the psychedelic fungi are the only thing to relieve the pain of their attacks.

In the past two years scores of British cluster headache sufferers have turned to magic mushrooms, prompted by reports from the US that suggest that LSD and psilocybin - the active ingredient of magic mushrooms - may be able to control the intensity and duration of their headaches.

Although some have experimented with psychedelics before, the majority have no history of drug taking. But many say they would rather risk jail than forgo a substance that lets them lead a normal life.

Richard Ayliffe, 39, a chronic sufferer from Dudley in the West Midlands, says he has tried conventional treatments but the only thing to have brought him relief is magic mushrooms. Without them he says he would not be able to hold down a job.

"People are quite sympathetic at first but once you've let them down for the third time sympathy turns to exasperation," he says. "Magic mushrooms have enabled me to lead a normal life."

Like other members of ClusterBusters - an online forum where cluster headache sufferers swap notes and discuss alternative treatments - Ayliffe claims that taking magic mushrooms not only interrupts his cycle of headaches, but buys him longer remission periods between attacks. Some sufferers claim that since taking mushrooms they have been pain-free for up to two years.

And, because an attack can come at any time many members stockpiled mushrooms ahead of the government's ban this month.

Last week one member of the group, a 41-year-old father of two who asked to be identified only as Lee, admitted he had already taken one dose in contravention of the ban.

Under the Drugs Act 2005 possession of magic mushrooms is a class A offence punishable by a seven-year prison sentence. Previously, only psilocybin and other preparations of mushrooms, but not the fresh product itself, were controlled.

"The way I see it, either I break the law or forgo the most effective treatment I have found in nearly six years," says Lee.

Since he began taking mushrooms a year ago, he says the intensity of his headaches has shrunk by a third and the remissions between attacks have lengthened to 40 days.

"It's absolutely incredible," he says. "I can't tell you how much magic mushrooms have changed my life."

Spurred by the cases, researchers at Harvard Medical School are hoping for permission from the US food and drug administration to conduct a controlled trial.

John Halpern and his colleague Andrew Sewell have collected 60 case studies from members of ClusterBusters. With the support of the Boston-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (Maps), they plan to publish the cases in a leading journal with a view to getting FDA approval for a clinical trial next year.

Maps is already sponsoring an FDA trial of psilocybin for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder.

"At this stage we are not advocating anything - we're just trying to gather information and see if we can get a sense of the appropriate dosage," says Rick Doblin, the president of Maps. "Having said that, I find the anecdotal reports pretty convincing."

Cluster headaches come in cycles and are caused by a swelling of the blood vessels in the brain. Sufferers say the pain exceeds that of passing a kidney stone or of childbirth without anaesthetic.

Some have found the pain, which typically extends over one side of the head and face, so unbearable that they have committed suicide.

For episodic sufferers, the headaches typically last several weeks then disappear. But in chronic sufferers - of whom there are an estimated 6,000 in Britain - attacks occur daily, with no more than two weeks' remission in any 12-month period. They can continue for years.

Conventional treatments include oxygen and Imitex (sumatriptan), an anti-migraine medication that constricts the flow of blood in the brain. Since only two injections can be taken in a 24-hour period, however, this is of little use for chronic sufferers.

Verapamil, a calcium channel blocker, can also be used as a prophylactic against attacks, - but to be effective it has to be taken in high doses, increasing the risk of such side effects as cardiac arrest.

Peter Goadsby, professor of neurology at the Institute of Neurology, University College London, and the world's leading expert on cluster headaches, is sceptical about the mushroom therapy.

He argues that the relief reported by some patients may be a placebo effect or owing to natural remission. But he does believe the cases warrant a proper clinical study, particularly as ergotomine - which contains lysergic acid, a precursor of LSD - has been used to treat migraines for years.

"It's possible that mushrooms have some useful effect but it's far from proven," Dr Goadsby says. "Cluster headaches are such a devastating problem that people will turn to anything that seems to work."

But one sufferer, John Hobson, 36, from Barnsley in Yorkshire, says since experimenting with mushrooms last year his night-time attacks have ceased and he no longer gets headaches early in the morning. But because of the change in the law Mr Hobson says he has decided to discontinue the therapy.

"If I could have mushrooms growing in my garden for medical use and I knew I wasn't going to get lifted by the vice squad I would most definitely do it," he says.

"I think the government should introduce an exemption for people in need."


#3 SkunkyAroma

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 04:47 PM

Psilocybin and End-of-Life Anxiety: Reducing Stress for Terminal Cancer Patients P-cubensis-gills-e1463181013470-1024x648

Psilocybin cubensis.

“Mystical or peak consciousness states in cancer patients have been associated with a number of benefits including improved psychological, spiritual, and existential well-being,” – Dr. Anthony P. Bossis.

Unless we ourselves have faced death, it’s impossible to know what a terminally ill cancer patient must go through physically and emotionally as they face the possibility of the end. Knowing that your time on Earth is limited, it’s no wonder that many people in this situation come down with anxiety, depression, and untold emotional turmoil. Yet somehow, some people who have faced certain death have shown immense courage, peace, and acceptance in the face of battling cancer, and it seems like this reservoir of bravery almost always comes down to a deep spiritual feeling that’s not just intellectual in nature, but experiential.

For those who work with the psychological health of cancer patients, an unlikely new ally is emerging that promises to bestow such a pivotal mystical experience psilocybin cubensis, otherwise known as psychedelic “magic mushrooms.” While such an idea might’ve sounded wacky even a few years ago due to the stigma surrounding decades of psychedelic propaganda, doctors and researchers are conducting new research constantly and the science is there. Research has shown that psilocybin mushrooms, when taken in a safe setting and at the right dosage, reliably catalyzes a mystical experience in patients, and the benefits are immediate, long lasting, and perfectly suited to those who are trying to make sense of their terminal illness and find more peace in their final days.

The Science of the Mystical Experience

In the US, multiple universities and nonprofit institutions are pushing psilocybin research forward, and their results are resoundingly positive. Rather than trying to make sense of the nature of the mystical experiences that psilocybin bestows (which gets into murky and loaded territory), scientists are looking at the end results of these curated psychedelic therapy sessions and the measurable benefits that they provide.

A new book called Psychological Aspects of Cancer: A Guide to Emotional and Psychological Consequences of Cancer, Their Causes, and Their Management contains a chapter on psilocybin for treating existential distress in cancer patients. Co-writer (along with Dr. Charles Grob and Dr. Roland Griffiths) Dr. Anthony P. Bossis is a professor of psychiatry and medicine at NYU and Langone Medical Center, and in the book, he describes the lack in modern cancer treatment that psilocybin is rising to fill:

“The emotional, spiritual and existential distress that can often accompany a diagnosis of cancer often goes unidentified and untreated in cancer patients. Patients who have benefited from psilocybin clinical research have reported less anxiety, improved quality of life, enhanced psychological and spiritual well-being, and a greater acceptance of the life-changes brought on by cancer. It is a welcome development that this promising and novel clinical research model utilizing psilocybin has begun to gain clinical and academic attention.”

Additionally, the pioneering psychedelic organization Heffter Research Institute has sponsored three different Phase 2 clinical studies on psilocybin treatment at Johns Hopkins University, NYU, and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, treating over 90 patients and showing significant improvements in patients who underwent psilocybin-assisted therapy across all three studies. The collection of video testimonials from the Heffter study participants only goes to show the huge power of this therapy.

Addressing the Roots of End-of-Life Anxiety

It’s important to remember that this discussion is ultimately not so much about psychedelics as it is about finding medicines and treatments that make a huge difference in people’s lives as they face the extreme stress of battling cancer. As we as a culture shift our understanding of psychedelics from insidious drugs to powerful medicines, we will begin to include them in our arsenal of treatment options and open the door for thousands of suffering people to find peace, hope, and healing that was previously unavailable to them.



#4 SkunkyAroma

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 12:15 AM

 
Psilocybin-mushrooms-got-rid-of-my-anxie
Psilocybin mushrooms got rid of my anxiety and depression
August 14, 2017
 

Since I was 16 years old I have struggled with depression and anxiety. It ended up escalating to the point where I was either sobbing beneath my desk out of loneliness or snorting Ritalin to escape pain through highs. In second and third year of university I developed premature ventricular contractions – heart palpitations – that would occur constantly throughout the day. Imagine if a giant poked you right in the chest whether you’re asleep or with friends or eating – but at random, every one to five seconds or so. You don’t see it coming. And it’s your goddamn heart. Beating randomly. RANDOMLY.

My cardiologist was baffled and prescribed magnesium tablets which didn’t help – because these palpitations were driven by anxiety, which is just as mental as depression. When you deal with all this intense personal internal pain for years and years, you have to develop self-defense mechanisms to survive the day. You got to. And these self-defense mechanisms can often devolve into vicious circles: I’m too anxious and depressed to spend time with people -> Why are none of my friends inviting me out anymore?

Psychedelic mushrooms break down these self-defense mechanisms instantly. If you’ve never tried them it’s impossible to describe the experience better than “freeing.” Suddenly I was just happy. I didn’t need to do A, B or C to feel better. I didn’t need to escape via my self-built mental mechanisms or mantras. I didn’t need booze or weed or people or Netflix. I could just sit still and be content. I didn’t need fucking anything.

Suddenly my relationships got better, from this one solitary experience. Months later I find myself in my first long-term relationship, because my relationships are no longer predicated on my neediness or drive to escape my pain. Psychedelics changed my life for the better by freeing my mind. Now I can, in every moment, be at ease and at peace.

Eric, Canada.



#5 SkunkyAroma

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 12:19 AM

Prison for Man Foraging Wild Medicinal Mushrooms
 
 
Washington-Man-Facing-Prison.jpg
Washington Man Facing Prison After Foraging for Wild Mushrooms
 
 
August 15, 2017
 

 

Paul Lee Corbett of Washington, 63, is a man of great adventure with a deep love for nature. Between 1968 and 1976, he lived, studied, and traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, and Alaskan regions. He has spent most of his life in Alaska, where he supported himself and his family by utilizing the environment around them. He set gill nets and long lines for fish, dug clams, hunted his meat, grew vegetables, and foraged. His adventures include traveling in 16-foot skiffs on the open waters of the Pacific Ocean and trekking 1,600-mile round-trips between Alaska and British Columbia. “I loved nature and the secure peace of being in it,” he says.

While mastering his external terrains, Corbett simultaneously built a strong relationship with his internal landscape with the use of entheogenic drugs, such as cannabis, LSD, and psilocybin-containing mushrooms. Corbett knows quite a bit, in fact, about psilocybin mushrooms—and not just from eating them. He’s a skilled forager with knowledge of the many different species of psychedelic mushrooms—of which there are hundreds, belonging to about a dozen different genera.

He credits LSD in particular with having “changed [his] mind in every direction” and relieved him of his heroin addiction. But the lasting effects were even more profound. “I no longer felt comfortable in this society, the United States, or really any society,” he says. After his experiences with drugs, he left the U.S., traveling northward before arriving in Alaska, beginning his life in remote destinations.

 

 

 
 

 

Currently, Corbett is facing a potential prison sentence of five years for possession of psilocybin mushrooms. In November 2016, he was arrested for picking wild mushrooms at Cape Disappointment Park in Washington state. He glimpsed what he believed to be a yet unidentified species of psilocybin mushroom, picking specimens of it for later analysis. Corbett maintains his innocence, arguing he committed no crime and injured no one. He was only exercising his natural curiosity, he says.

He first picked wild psilocybin mushrooms outside Seattle in 1972. “That kinda opened my eyes to the early information about season and location, so I became curious about that,” he tells me. “Eventually I found other types of psilocybe. Once you find the mushroom, you learn about the other mushrooms that grow with it, what kind of trees there are, what kind of medium they grow in, whether it’s grass or bark. The mushrooms educate you about the rest of the forest and the environment, too.”

Corbett was hiking in Cape Disappointment Park when he spotted large red mushrooms in a wood chip pile, which were to his knowledge, unidentified. A sign posted nearby read: NO MUSHROOM PICKING: VIOLATORS SUBJECT TO CRIMINAL CITATION. Corbett ignored it, elated by his discovery. “Everyone that goes there thinks those mushrooms are Psilocybe azurescens, but they’re not. They’re more clean feeling like the ‘liberty cap’ [Psilocybe semilanceata], and a very, very beautiful mushroom.” Close by, in the grass, he spotted true azurescens. More of the mystery mushrooms grew by the spot where Corbett had parked his truck.

The odd mushrooms, Corbett believes, were a sub-species—if not an entirely different species—of azurescens. He picked 10 specimens from the woodchip pile, and put them in a plastic bag along with 10 of the classic azurescens. “I put them together because they were clearly different, with no mistake whatsoever. They don’t look anything alike.” After storing the bag in his truck, Corbett put ten more mushrooms in his pocket before he heard a cry: “Police! Hold it right there!” A park ranger darted out of the brush with a gun pointed at Corbett’s face.

The ranger felt in Corbett’s pocket for the mushrooms, then handcuffed him. Another park ranger soon arrived. Corbett calmly revealed where his other mushrooms were stored, and the officials searched his truck. He was arrested and taken to the local jail. After the police called a judge, they were advised to release Corbett on his own recognizance. He hitchhiked back to the Washington coast to find his partner, Joyce, whom he has never left alone for more than two hours due to her physical ailments.

 

Washington-Man-Facing-Prison2-1024x576.jPaul’s partner, Joyce.

 

After his arraignment, Corbett was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, punishable in Washington by up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines. He was offered a plea deal of one year of felony probation with 15 days in jail, but he immediately turned it down. “Joyce uses [medical] cannabis to cut down a quarter of her narcotic pain medication,” he explains, “but on probation she couldn’t even be in the same place I’m in.”

“Plus,” he adds (with a hint of annoyance), “I didn’t commit a crime. There’s no injured party involved in any of this, only Joyce and myself. In fact, over my time of picking mushrooms, I’ve probably saved a couple hundred people who were really stupid.” Not all mushroom species are equally safe for consumption, he states. Through the knowledge he has gained and shared over a lifetime of foraging, he has prevented his pupils from suffering potentially fatal side effects.

Corbett has been to court several times since the incident, but the case has not yet been settled. Twenty-four hours before one of his court dates, he was ordered to leave his wife in the hospital on risk of contempt of court—despite her doctor’s pleas to the contrary—to drive six hours from Fort Townshend, his residency, to attend his hearing.

Corbett has been frustrated by what he considers insufficient or even counterproductive advice by his lawyers, who have urged him to plead guilty. They have refused to discuss anything relating to mushrooms or entheogens, and hope Corbett will settle for the plea deal and probation. But Corbett is determined to challenge the law and prove his innocence.

He has since fired his attorneys and he hopes to hire one who will best represent him and his unique situation. He has opened crowdfunding campaign to pay for his legal expenses and his partner’s medical expenses.

Since his arrest, Corbett and Joyce have been traveling around Washington, following a recent hospitalization and surgery that Joyce underwent. He states that the worst likely consequence of his conviction would be leaving behind his frail partner. “We’re living in a camper now—which is a nice one—but she’s not capable of doing that on her own.” They are both counting on disability insurance, with no money to pay rent.

 

 

Corbett heaves a heavy sigh as he recounts his tale to me. “This has got to end. People need to be educated. My hope is to educate the whole courtroom. It’s a mystery to all of us why these things are illegal. And it’s a mystery to me why the word ‘liberty’ doesn’t apply to my curiosity and my entheogenic use.”

Corbett is uncertain about his own fate, but he hasn’t lost faith for his younger peers. “I’m hoping that education with these entheogenic substances will help us change the world, because I’m worried about it. I’m hoping this new movement now can change things. So we look at everything—each other and this whole earth—in a way that is a little more caring and a little more on the side of being a good steward.

“I don’t think people really get to know [the mushrooms] and where they live. They live in beautiful places, amazing places. And then again they also follow us around everywhere we go. They want to be with us, and they want to teach us.”

Corbett will return to trial in November 2017, after two more hearings scheduled in the fall.

 

 

If you care to donate to this great cause   https://www.gofundme.com/PaulJoyce



#6 SkunkyAroma

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 01:18 AM

 
The-latest-psychedelic-science-piece-in-

The latest piece on psychedelic science in the New York Times is dead wrong

 

August 8, 2017
 
By Adam Strauss

 

 

 

There’s a new article in The New York Times, entitled Can Psychedelics Be Therapy? Allow Research to Find Out.

While I’m a strong supporter of psychedelic research, and have donated a large portion of all proceeds from my show The Mushroom Cure to the cause, this article is just dead wrong on every significant point.

First, the entire premise—that Schedule I status is the primary obstacle to research—is flat-out wrong. I know because I also once assumed this. Then, in writing my own opinion piece for the Huffington Post, I corresponded extensively with the folks at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies (MAPS), who clarified that schedule status is no longer a significant barrier—the FDA is now approving all legitimate psychedelic research.

The obstacle now is simply getting funding for research. That the author so completely misses the fundamental issue at hand demonstrates a lack of both basic understanding and even the most cursory research.

Second, the article states psychedelics “are illegal in the United States because they carry a high risk of abuse.”

Two huge inaccuracies in this one statement.

First, there is virtually no risk of abuse, at least not in the classic sense of daily use, physical dependency, selling worldly possessions to get a fix, associated spikes in crime, etc. (As anyone who’s done psychedelics too frequently will attest, these drugs will tell you pretty unambiguously if you’re pushing it too far too fast.)

Second, their alleged abuse potential has nothing to do with why they’re illegal. A full historical accounting is beyond my scope here, but suffice to say the prime motivating force behind the state and federal bans of 1969/70 was criminalizing a social movement that opposed Vietnam and the status quo in general. It was about power and politics, not public health (which some courageous politicians, most notably Senator Bobby Kennedy, recognized and tried to counteract).

 

 

 

 

 



#7 SkunkyAroma

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 03:09 AM

 
3403553948.jpg
Study: Psilocybin Reduces Pain From Social Rejection
 
 
by Dale Richardson, Ph.D.

 October 26, 2016

 

 

How we interact with others and understand their emotions, intentions, and actions in a social setting is a fundamental characteristic of our human existence. The ability to integrate and understand these social experiences in a healthy manner is known as “social cognition” and “allows us to sustain interactions, develop relations with others, understand each other, and act together.”

However, a central theme underlying many psychiatric disorders is that of dysfunctional social cognition, which critically impacts the evolution and treatment of these disorders (e.g. schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, depression, and social anxiety disorder). Despite the importance of understanding the neurobiological basis of social cognition to develop new psychiatric treatment approaches, few studies have been carried out to this end.

1608644389.jpg

Via: Alan Rockefeller

To remedy this paucity of research, a team of Swiss neurobiologists have conducted a study (published in the journal PNAS, in April 2016) on how psilocybin intake and consequent stimulation of serotonin receptors affected the emotional processing of study participants to negative social interactions. The authors note: “Impairments in social cognition are leading causes of disability and compromise real-world functioning, including independent living and productivity at work.” They go on to state: “[A] better understanding of the neurobiological foundations of social cognition is urgently required for the development of novel and targeted therapies.”

The researchers opted to use psilocybin, the primary hallucinogenic component found in magic mushrooms, because it binds with high affinity to several serotonin receptors in the brain. Research on the system of serotonin receptors has revealed that these receptors play a key role in the regulation of mood, emotions, learning, and memory, and are implicated in social cognition. Furthermore, psilocybin has been shown to modulate neural activity in brain areas associated with social cognition.

The Swiss research team studied the effect of psilocybin versus placebo on the processing of feelings of social exclusion/rejection by using a combination of brain imaging technologies on a set of 21 healthy volunteers who played an online ball-tossing game called Cyberball while receiving MRI scans. Cyberball was developed specifically to study in a controlled manner the effects of interpersonal ostracism and acceptance, whereby participants think they are playing with two or three other players, except that the number of times a person receives the ball and other variables are controlled by the programmer and not the participants. The game allows for the assessment of how participants react to being left out.

After conducting their experiments, the researchers observed that psilocybin administration and its consequent effects on the serotonin receptor system led to significantly reduced activation of key brain areas involved in the processing of social exclusion. In other words, participants receiving the psilocybin treatment were less affected by feeling left out of the Cyberball game when the other “players” were essentially playing keep-away. This is in contrast to the participants receiving the placebo, who exhibited increased activation in those brain regions associated with social exclusion processing.

1815056291.jpg

Via: Alan Rockefeller

Furthermore, the researchers found a positive correlation between activity in a key area of the brain involved in social exclusion processing, called the midcingulate cortex, and the subjective experiences of the self in the participants who received the psilocybin. What this means is that as the midcingulate cortex was activated by psilocybin, participants felt an increased sense of being connected or at one with everything.

The authors explain: “[The] correlation between experience of unity and social pain processing may indicate that alterations in the sense of self after Psilocybin administration are import for changes in social interaction processing… which suggests that the sense of self can profoundly impact the experience of interpersonal relationships.”

They go onto to talk about how this feeling of being connected, brought on by psilocybin, “may also lead to an increased connection between oneself and other human beings, as well as stronger identification and empathic encounters with others,” which will consequently allow “negative experiences [to be] more bearable.” It follows that this increased connection and empathy could carry over favorably into therapeutic scenarios, supporting the relationship between client and therapist, allowing for the discussion of “painful experiences in a protective and secure environment.”

Interestingly, in a similar study conducted on MDMA and social exclusion, researchers discovered that MDMA also reduced the effect of social exclusion on mood and self-esteem. However, administration of MDMA affected perception of social exclusion because the participants tended to overestimate the number of times they received a throw. This is in stark contrast to psilocybin, where all participants retained an uncompromised awareness of how many times they received the ball; consequently, they were well aware of being socially excluded. The authors conclude: “Whereas MDMA seems to affect the perception of social exclusion, psilocybin may actually reduce the experience of social pain itself without significantly influencing the awareness of being excluded.”

Understanding the neurobiological basis of the processing of social pain and rejection experiences will ultimately lead to improved psychiatric treatment options for people who suffer from disorders influenced by social factors. The Swiss researchers have shown that psilocybin administration significantly lessened social pain processing by modulating neuronal activity in key areas of the brain linked to social cognition, but caution that their findings were based on a pool of healthy volunteers. Thus, they may not “translate directly” to actual psychiatric patients suffering from severe social exclusion experiences (e.g. schizophrenia patients).

Regardless, psilocybin is proving itself to be a remarkable asset to the human experience at multiple levels (social, emotional, and spiritual) and will be an instrumental tool in increasing our knowledge about social and emotional processes at the neurobiological level, especially those underlying psychiatric disorders.



#8 SkunkyAroma

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 12:02 AM

These 5 Indigenous Cultures Use Psychedelics As Medicine Instead of Popping Pills
  • 10 October, 2017
 

From ancient Greece to the Amazon rainforest the use of psychedelics for healing or spiritual practices is so tightly woven into history that we could consider experimentation a defining characteristic of humanity. For thousands of years, cultures that developed independently around the world have found comfort and enlightenment in plants that temporarily free them from mental and circumstantial barriers.

In the days of Achilles and Alexander, the Oracle at Delphi derived her entranced visions from the fumes which flowed from beneath the Temple of Apollo. Scandinavian warriors made use of psychoactive mushrooms to induce a crazed and emboldened battle readiness that instilled fear in their enemies. Though less well known, even the Bible contains ancient traditions borrowed from Egypt which combines psychoactive substances like frankincense.

While today psychedelics have largely been stigmatized, they have been an integral part of multiple civilizations.

Here are five Indigenous cultures that use psychedelics for ritual healing:

The Mazatec and Magic Mushrooms These-Indigenous-Cultures-Use-Psychedeli(Photo by Macduff Everton/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images)

As one of the more widely known recreational psychedelics, it seems there isn’t much left to say about psilocybin mushrooms. What we know today about magic mushrooms is largely the result of second-hand knowledge passed down by pop-scientists like Timothy Leary and the legendary creator of LSD Albert Hoffman, but their ubiquity is really the result of western over-indulgence. For the Mazatec people of Mexico, these special fungi are “tiny gods”.

The ceremony around psilocybin is one which involves extreme spiritual reverence. Foraging requires that the mushrooms are found in places where they could never have been seen by humans before they were picked. Its consumption, administered by tribal healers like the legendary Maria Sabina, is purely to diagnose and heal not for spiritual awakening. For the Mazatec, God has already been discovered within the mushroom and its healing power is its gift.

Today, studies conducted by researchers at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Sciences (MAPS) and the Beckley Foundation have found that there is scientific substance behind the thousand-year-old practices of the Mazatec. Namely that psilocybin carries the potential to treat mental illness, especially when administered by a therapist or as the Mazatec know them Curandero or healing mystics.

The Pacific Islands and Kava These-Indigenous-Cultures-Use-PsychedeliFIJI – JANUARY 01: Preparing traditional Kava drink at ceremony, Fiji, South Pacific. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

This energy inducing brew is among the less mind-blowing substances on this list, but medicinal none-the-less. It is consumed by cultures among the Pacific Islands and is revered in Vanuatu.

Its use is culturally ingrained and drinking Kava can be heavily ritualistic. Often served in a coconut shell and shared in a communal ceremony, some cultures only allow Kava to be served by women and only at specific times of day, while others take a more casual approach.

Kava is considered to have a coffee-like energizing effect but is also known to relax the drinker and treat muscle pain.

In Fiji, Kava is the national drink, where legend states that it was discovered by a broken-hearted princess. Today it is mostly consumed in a public setting, where it is prepared in front of everyone from a mixture of the Kava leaf and water in a coconut shell. The eldest is always given the first drink and the same cup is then shared down the line.

The Bwiti People of Gabon and the Mystical Iboga Root These-Indigenous-Cultures-Use-PsychedeliPhoto by Sonier Issembe

Mostly found in the Bwiti tribal culture of Gabon the Iboga root is at risk of being extinct due to deforestation. As a result, it is protected under the UN Convention on Biodiversity and in the country of Gabon, it is subject to cultural reserve laws.

Used as an initiation among hunter-gatherer tribes, the initiates are called Banzis. The Bwiti believe that the root allows those who consume it to travel to the afterlife through a shaman-led ceremony which is akin to a baptism and involves chanting and the playing of a Mongongo mouth harp for a potentially 48-hour trip. Not only is Iboga believed to send the Banzis to the afterlife, but it allows them to travel through time to experience or relive memories of previous generations meeting ancestors and integrating with the universe.

Still a largely misunderstood substance, Ibogaine – the primary psychoactive chemical of the root – is currently the subject of studies which suggest that it might be used to treat addiction and mental illness.

The Huichol and Their Pilgrimage for Peyote These-Indigenous-Cultures-Use-PsychedeliPhoto by Kila

Found in the deserts of northern Mexico and the southeastern United States, this healing cactus is commonly known as peyote. Ritually consumed by the Huichol people, this plant is also considered one of the culture’s four deities and grows where the tribe’s legend says life began.

This sacred place is known as Wirikúta in the mountains of northern Mexico. Once a year the Huichol embark on a pilgrimage to this place to retrace the steps of their ancestors. Dressed as their deities they go in search of peyote and its wonderous effects. To the Huichol, peyote is a window to their souls and allows the tribe’s shaman to communicate with the gods and ensure that their souls will be taken care of.

Today the substance is protected by the Mexican government – its consumption made illegal for anything other than religious practice – as peyote tourism not only threatens to pick the plant out of existence but also destroy a way of life for an entire people.

Amazonian Tribes and Ayahuasca These-Indigenous-Cultures-Use-Psychedelia healer starting a Yage ceremony in La Calera, Cundinamarca department, Colombia. Yage, a mixture of the Ayahuasca hallucinogenic liana and a psychoactive bush, attracts many people in Colombia, who seek to participate in a traditional indigenous ritual of spiritual and physical healing impossible to realize in many countries where these plants are considered drugs. AFP PHOTO/EITAN ABRAMOVICH (Photo credit should read EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images)

Native to the Amazon river basin, the number of tribes that use Ayahuasca in their healing practices are too many to list. Made from a combination of Banisteriopsis caapi and varying other plants which activate its psychoactive properties. The resulting brew contains the active chemical DMT.

Its curative qualities come from both a psychological and physical cleanse known as “la purga” in which the individual taking part in the ceremony is guided through by a shaman. Considered unpleasant to most the experience is an hour-long journey of personal reflection and occasional vomiting from which the individual emerges with a greater sense of self-awareness.

Though DMT is considered a Schedule 1 substance in the United States – despite the fact that it naturally occurs in the human body – certain religions are still allowed to consume it legally. Many Westerners now flock to Colombia and Peru to experience la purga, but the practice of Ayahuasca tourism is looked down upon by traditional shaman not only because it commoditizes their spiritual practice, but because some practitioners or brujos (sorcerers) fake their credentials to take advantage of tourists.






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