Psychedelic Renaissance is Bringing an Era of Incredible Natural Medicine

Every few years, there is a surge in scientific interest followed by breathless proclamations of the long-awaited psychedelic renaissance. The story always follows the same arc: “Psychedelic therapy showed huge promise in the 1950s, was crushed by the establishment in the late 1960s, and is now being revived by a group of fearless visionaries. In five years, 10 at the most, doctors will be routinely prescribing LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and other psychedelic drugs for a range of conditions.”

This cycle is now entering a new stage, with a series of startling insights gracing the pages of leading journals and new clinical trials making progress. More researchers are accepting the power of psychedelics and their unprecedented potential to treat disease and psychological trauma, but most of all, to reorganize the brain and shift thought patterns.

Psychedelics” are psychoactive substances with the ability to expand human awareness beyond our normal modes of perception. On the back of encouraging results from clinical trials and brain scans, scientists are again confidently asserting that psychedelics are on the verge of medical approval for conditions like depression and PTSD.

So is it really different this time?

We cannot know the future, but there are a number of reasons to believe that psychedelic medicine really can break out of its ghetto and into the mainstream.

One is that the grey-suited establishment is more receptive than it was a decade ago. Back then, psychedelic research operated under a cloud, always scratching around for money and constantly butting up against onerous drug laws. But the times they are a-changin’, with money flowing from mainstream sources and noises emanating from the US Food and Drug Administration and others about loosening the regulatory straitjacket. Can it be a coincidence that the people now occupying positions of power lived through the acid, ecstasy and shroom-fuelled youth culture of the late 80s and early 90s?

More still needs to be done. The law remains excessively tight: psychedelics are still schedule 1 drugs, which means they have no acknowledged uses in medicine. The onus is on scientists to show conclusively that they do.

Some of the scientists also need to embrace the system rather than pushing against it. Talk to many a psychedelics researcher and it doesn’t take long to hear complaints of risk-averse funders and regulators. Enough. The outlaw-maverick pose was once an asset in this field; it is increasingly becoming a liability.

It may transpire that, as with so many drugs, the early promise melts away under the glare of full-scale clinical trials. Such is life in pharma research. What must not be allowed to continue happening is for these promising and much-needed medicines to fail for anything other than the purest of scientific reasons. (See: Science in Crisis: It’s Worse Than You Think.)

While the psychedelic state has been previously compared with dreaming, the opposite effect has been observed in the brain network from which we get our sense of “self” (called the default-mode network or ego-system). Put simply, while activity became “louder” in the emotion system, it became more disjointed and so “quieter” in the ego system. One study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, revealed decreases in ego-brain activity after injection of psilocybin that were localized to the default-mode network.

Brain-imaging studies have also shown that psilocybin targets areas of the brain overactive in depression, while other recent studies have also assessed the therapeutic potential of psilocybin for various conditions, including end-of-life anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and smoking and alcohol dependence, with promising preliminary results.

In one psilocybin study reported in The Lancet Psychiatry, participants with treatment-resistant depression underwent two psychotherapy sessions, both conducted after doses of psilocybin. A week after the second session, all of them had reduced symptoms. After three months, five no longer met the clinical criteria for depression.

It’s hard to argue. Mental illness has reached crisis proportions, yet we still have no clear links between psychiatric diagnoses and what’s going on in the brain — and no effective new classes of drugs. There is one group of compounds that shows promise. They seem to be capable of alleviating symptoms for long periods, in some cases with just a single dose. The catch is that these substances, known as psychedelics, have been outlawed for decades.

A psychedelic renaissance has been feted many times, without ever delivering on the high hopes. But this time feels different. Now there is a growing band of respected scientists whose rigorous work is finally bearing fruit — not only in terms of benefits for patients, but also unprecedented scientific insights into how psychedelics reset the brain. If the latest results stand up to closer scrutiny, they will transform the way we understand and treat mental illnesses.

In the meantime, treatment for depression, the most common mental illness, is still dominated by drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which boost levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in synapses by blocking its reabsorption by neurons. Their success in early trials fuelled the idea that depression is caused by a deficiency in serotonin. But recently, this idea has been called into question, as more and more studies suggest SSRIs aren’t as effective as we thought. (See: SSRI Antidepressants Put Patients at Clear Risk of Suicide.)

That comes as no surprise to many psychiatrists. Despite their ubiquity — 8.5 percent of people in the US take them! — SSRIs work for just 1 in 5 people. Even when they do work, there are problems, not least that coming off the drugs brings severe side effects. The picture is no less grim for other mental illnesses: there is a chronic shortage of new treatments and precious few ideas in conventional scientific circles about where fresh options might come from.

MDMA, better known as the party drug ecstasy, is the furthest along. Although not a classic psychedelic in that it doesn’t induce hallucinations, MDMA works by flooding the brain with serotonin, which makes users feel euphoric. These mood-altering effects are the reason researchers became interested in using it as a tool to assist psychotherapy for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD will affect roughly 7 percent of people in the US at some point in their lives. The most effective treatment involves memory reconsolidation. People are asked to recall traumatic events so that their memories of them can be stripped of fearful associations by processing them in a new way. The problem is that recall can sometimes be so terrifying that they have to stop receiving this form of therapy. MDMA appears to help, not only because it extinguishes anxiety and stress, but also because it triggers the release of oxytocin, a pro-social hormone that strengthens feelings of trust towards therapists.

Last year, at the Psychedelic Science 2017 conference in Oakland, California, a group led by Michael Mithoefer at the Medical University of South Carolina presented results from trials in which 107 people with PTSD underwent a psychotherapy while under the influence of MDMA. A year or so after having the therapy, roughly 67 percent of them no longer had PTSD, according to a measure based on symptoms such as anxiety levels and frequency of nightmares. About 23 percent of the control group, which had psychotherapy and a placebo drug, got the same benefit.

Healing Trip

Meanwhile, Robin Carhart-Harris, a neuroscientist at Imperial College London, has been working with people with depression that has resisted all available treatments. In a trial involving 20 people, participants had two sessions — one on a single low dose of psilocybin(10 milligrams), one on a single high dose (25 mg) — during which they each separately lay listening to specially chosen music, accompanied by therapists.

The findings, also reported last year, were impressive. Those two doses, combined with the psychological support, were sufficient to lift depression in all 20 participants for three weeks, and to keep it at bay for five of them for three months.

That is in stark contrast to the best available antidepressants. “What’s weird and so different about these [psychedelics] is that we’re talking about a single dose having long-term effects,” says Insel, now at a start-up called Mindstrong. “That’s a remarkably different approach to what we’ve been doing, with drugs that people take chronically.”

Hints as to why psychedelics work so quickly and so enduringly have come from brain scans. Since 2010, Carhart-Harris has used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of people without mental illness while they are experiencing the effects of different psychedelic drugs. He has found that LSD and psilocybin both cause activity in parts of the brain that normally work separately to become more synchronous, meaning the neurons fire at the same time. In addition, connectivity across a collection of brain regions called the “default mode network”, which is linked to our sense of self, or ego, is drastically reduced. The more this network disintegrates, the more volunteers report a dissolving of the boundaries between themselves and the world around them.

Carhart-Harris thinks psilocybin therapy interrupts the spirals of rumination and negative thoughts that depressed people get caught up in. In that sense, it seemed telling that people in his psilocybin-for-depression trial who experienced aspects of a spiritual or mystical experience saw a bigger decrease in their depression scores than those who didn’t.

The biggest danger now might be that history repeats itself. The first wave of psychedelics research was to a great extent doomed by excessive enthusiasm. Today, as the revival has gathered steam, some doctors have likewise grown impatient and gone rogue, offering their patients underground psychedelic treatments. Hence the current crop of researchers are at pains to preach patience and rigour.

LSD vs Psilocybin Mushrooms

LSD and Psilocybin Mushrooms (also called ‘shrooms’ – primary ingredient is psilocybin) are the two most common psychedelics.

Most psychedelic users have, at some point, tried both. I tried magic mushrooms first, consuming them in the basement of my fraternity house when I was 19. My first time with LSD was about five months later.

Nowadays, I prefer LSD. It is easier to obtain and more manageable when intoxicated.

Many people wonder, however, about the difference between LSD and Psilocybin mushrooms.

Common questions include:

  • Do psilocybin mushrooms feel more ‘natural’ than LSD?
  • Are there different visuals?
  • Are psilocybin mushrooms ‘safer’ than LSD (or vice-versa)?

LSD and Psilocybin Mushrooms are the two best-known psychedelics to man. Although LSD was popularized by mainstream use in the 1960s, psilocybin mushrooms have been used in shamanistic traditions for centuries.

Like all psychedelics, psilocybin mushrooms and LSD share commonalities in how they affect human consciousness. Common symptoms include visuals, feelings of unity or oneness, and ego-elimination.

But, as anyone who has consumed both LSD and psilocybin mushrooms will tell you, there are also significant differences.

Before I delve into the differences, I want to explain the basic facts of each drug.



  • Psychoactive in micrograms (millionths of a gram)
  • Invented in 1938, first used in 1943
  • Derived from ergot, a fungus which grows on rye
  • Typical dose is between 100 and 250 micrograms
  • Trip lasts between 8-12 hours
  • No potential for physical addiction

Psilocybin Mushrooms

  • Used by traditional societies since 1000 BC
  • Typical dose of psilocybin is between 10-40 mg – this equates to roughly 1-4 g of dried mushrooms
  • Dozens of different types of mushrooms containing psilocybin
  • Trip lasts between 6-8 hours
  • No potential for physical addiction

I assume most readers are here to read about the differences in effects between LSD and psilocybin mushrooms.

In other words, “What will I experience when taking LSD vs psilocybin mushrooms?”

Although each personal experience varies, I will do my best to summarize the various anecdotal reports from users.

The following reports may help you to plan for your own experience. Keep in mind, these effects resulted from consuming a moderate dose (LSD: 100-250 micrograms – psilocybin mushrooms: 2-4 grams). Microdosing with these substances (about 1/10th of a moderate dose) will produce different results.



What Are The Effects of LSD?

  • More functional within reality. Easier to interact with sober individuals, if necessary. Often leads to a more ‘extro-spective’ experience.
  • More likely to remain positive. Fills users with bubbling, positive energy.
  • Users report an LSD experience as smoother with less body load than shrooms.
  • Pay special attention to set and setting. By controlling for these two variables, you are much more likely to have a great trip.

What Are The Effects of Psilocybin Mushrooms?

  • Leads to ego-drop and complete unity of self and the universe.
  • Many users feel more of a connection to nature and the earth when on psilocybin mushrooms.
  • Constantly on the fence between a good and bad trip – emotions are more volatile and inconsistent.
  • Come up is more intense
  • Psilocybin mushrooms are more of a ‘mind-fuck’. Users report shroom use as a more introspective experience, completely losing touch with sober reality
  • Although it is still important to control for Set and Setting, psilocybin mushrooms have a higher likelihood of leading to a bad place, even if all 6 S’s are controlled for.

I assume most readers are here to read about the differences in effects between LSD and Shrooms.

I also want to include a few quotes I found while perusing various forums.

These quotes provide a metaphorical reference point for LSD vs Shrooms:

  • “With acid you feel like your driving the car, with psilocybin mushrooms you feel like you’re in the back seat along for the ride.”
  • “Acid feels like you are plugged into the universe while shrooms you feel like an old tree walking through the forest.”
  • “Mushrooms are for setting your roots, LSD is for spreading your branches.”
  • “Psilocybin Mushrooms are prone to inducing more mentally challenging trips, in my opinion. They are a completely different ballpark in many respects. Mushrooms lack the clarity, the ‘perfectness’ of LSD, but they have a certain quality which often leads to profound introspection… ‘Golden teacher’ didn’t earn its name by chance.”


Many psychedelic users try both at some point.

However, many say LSD is easier to manage in the beginning. As I mentioned in this article, and in many previous articles, LSD is easier to control and manage than psilocybin mushrooms. It also, on the whole, lends itself to a more positive experience.

Because of the variable and intimidating nature of psychedelics, it is always best to have a positive experience the first time around. I’ve talked to many users who had a poor first-time experience, and thus, refuse to try psychedelics a second time.

So whatever you do, be prepared, do your research, and have a great time.

Psychedelic Drugs Really Do Lead to a Higher State of Consciousness.

Study participants bravely took LSD and ketamine in the name of science.

Scientists have found the first evidence of a higher state of consciousness and, unsurprisingly, it was in the brains of people who were tripping.

For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at the University of Sussex reanalyzed brain scans of healthy volunteers who took one of three psychedelic drugsketamineLSD, or psilocybin, the active compound in shrooms, or a placebo. (A team from Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff collected the initial data.)

The scans looked for tiny magnetic fields produced in subjects’ brains to measure neural signal diversity, or the complexity of brain activity. The diversity of brain signals is a mathematical index for the level of consciousness; people who are awake have more diverse brain signal activity than people who are asleep, under anesthesia, or in a vegetative state, for example.

 The researchers found that all three drugs produced higher levels of brain signal diversity than the baseline “awake” state observed in people in the placebo group. They found similar changes in signal diversity even though the drugs are very different, pharmacologically, and noted that people who reported more intense experiences had more brain signal changes.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that people who got the drugs were thinking more philosophically, or that this is a “better” brain state; just that their brains operated at a different, higher level than normal.

“During the psychedelic state, the electrical activity of the brain is less predictable and less ‘integrated’ than during normal conscious wakefulness—as measured by ‘global signal diversity,'” Anil Seth, co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex, said in a release. “Since this measure has already shown its value as a measure of ‘conscious level,’ we can say that the psychedelic state appears as a higher ‘level’ of consciousness than normal—but only with respect to this specific mathematical measure.”

The team wants to confirm its results with more sophisticated methods but they’re cautiously excited, especially because this study could help inform discussions about medically supervised use of the drugs.

 Robin Cahart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial College London, one of the schools that conducted the original experiment, saidthat “the present study’s findings help us understand what happens in people’s brains when they experience an expansion of their consciousness under psychedelics. People often say they experience insight under these drugs—and when this occurs in a therapeutic context, it can predict positive outcomes. The present findings may help us understand how this can happen.”

And in what the release notes is “a striking coincidence,” this study was released exactly 74 years after Albert Hoffman, who synthesized LSD in 1938, conducted his first self-experiment with the drug. April 19, 1943, is known as “bicycle day” for Hoffman’s bike ride home after that fateful acid trip.


The Dose Will See You Now: The Astonishing Life-Saving Potential of Psychedelic Therapy in Modern Medicine

What is your impression after reading the results of this recent study on the potential of a promising new treatment for depression?

‘The main takeaway is that the effects are well-tolerated in this population, and not just that—the antidepressant potential of the treatment seems to be pretty considerable,’ […] ‘All 12 of the patients reported a reduction in the severity of their depression for one week after the psilocybin experience, and for most this was true after three months. At week one, eight patients met standard criteria for remission, with five remaining in remission at three months.’

Encouraging results, no? On the surface, it seems like more people could benefit from a treatment like this.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, they can’t. They’d be considered criminals, for the chosen treatment in this study is currently illegal. In fact, it’s a Schedule 1 substance as classified by the DEA, with “no accepted medical value,” “a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision,” and “a high potential for abuse”.

The study was conducted using psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, when given to patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression.

Despite seeing encouraging results such as the above study more frequently, psychedelic therapy remains a taboo topic in both general society and the medical community at large, partially due to the many myths still surrounding the psychedelic experience.

Why is this the case? Let’s dig deeper.

What Is Psychedelic Therapy?

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy offers us an unparalleled medical opportunity. Currently, it is typically reserved for ‘treatment-resistant’ illnesses (when standard methods of therapy or medical treatment have previously proven unsuccessful).

The term ‘psychedelic’ comes from a Greek term, essentially translating to ‘mind-revealing’. For anyone suffering from unfamiliar mental illness or trauma, the definition is seemingly self-explanatory.

However, for the uninitiated, it’s helpful to refer to N. Crowley’s definition of ‘psychedelics’ as noted in The British Journal of Psychiatry (“A role for psychedelics in psychiatry?”):

The difference between psychedelics (entheogens) and other psychotropic drugs is that entheogens work as ‘non-specific amplifiers of the psyche,’ inducing an altered or non-ordinary state of consciousness (Grof, 2000). The content and nature of the experiences are not thought to be artificial products of their pharmacological interaction with the brain (‘toxic psychoses’) but authentic expressions of the psyche revealing its functioning on levels not ordinarily available for observation and study.

Psychedelic therapy combines traditional psychotherapy sessions with a trained practitioner, and injects selected sessions with a measured, monitored dose of a psychoactive substance. A placebo is used for some sessions if necessary, and not all sessions are paired with a psychedelic experience.

As with all entheogenic experiences, preparation and post-experience integration are just as, if not more important, than the experience itself.

A typical treatment may look like:

  1. 2-3 regular therapeutic sessions with the doctor.
  2. Preparation (discussion or low-dose introduction) for the experience.
  3. 1 session with a measured dose, under medical supervision/guidance with therapeutic discussion using points derived from preparation stage.
  4. Post-experience discussion and integration.
  5. The cycle of psychedelic session > integration session, can continue as necessary based on the therapist’s recommendation. This is also called psycholytic therapy.
  6. Post-treatment follow-up and monitoring of habits/insights integrated into daily life afterward.

The value of psychedelic therapy is that it can induce in patients a state of being where they can make genuine progress with their struggles. That might mean being able to discuss deep-rooted trauma without judgment or fear, feeling self-compassion for the first time, or removing the general anxieties associated with mental illness.

Remember that at this point in time, these treatments are being used only on patients who have already resisted all other forms of treatments, such as medication, therapy, or some combination thereof.

Psychedelic therapy is proving itself to provide effective treatment for patients who have already been deemed untreatable.

Many patients of these experiences have rated them “the most important [of their lives], or if not, in the top 5 most important experiences of their lives.”

The Unorthodox State of Psychedelic Therapy In Modern Medicine

The state of psychedelic therapy in modern medicine can best be summarized in one word: Taboo.

Taboo as defined as ‘a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.’

In many countries around the world, particularly North America, entheogens are classified as a ‘Schedule 1’ substance. This means that they are considered “highly dangerous to user/society” and have “no applicable medical value”.

As we’ll continue to see, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, studies have shown that psychedelics are not linked to the development of mental health issues or suicidal behavior.

As a result, it’s deceptively difficult to begin studies into any potentially applicable values. Scientists, doctors, and therapists, excitedly exploring these treatments, can be ostracized, shunned, disbanded, or fired.

Without valid study opportunities, psychedelic therapy cannot move away from its current taboo state into a more socially and medically viable option to increase a patient’s overall quality of life.

As a result, previous work has happened in the shadows—in therapists’ homes for private, under-the-table sessions.

This coercion to the outer edges paints psychedelic therapy as a dark art, akin to voodoo from witch doctors, instead of the valid and tangible treatment it should be recognized as.

Recently, however, psychedelic therapy has begun to move out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Recognition from notable figures and interest from major institutions like John Hopkins Universityhave started to emerge. One organization at the forefront of these efforts is MAPS (The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies), which is spearheading fundraising and medically-valid studies into the value and treatment of entheogens as a whole. The New York Times, Vice, The Guardian, and many others have begun to openly analyze the practice, and a more general discussion is emerging.

Early-stage results have come to fruition from initial studies, with outstanding results. Treatments are being shown as successful, and patients are retaining the benefits long-term.

Patients are getting their lives back.

No accepted medical value?

The successful treatment of ‘treatment-resistant’ patients should be considered outstanding medical value.

Of course, the psychedelic community at large has been saying this for years. Impressive anecdotal reports can be found by the hundreds from psychonauts online and in-person. Users who have effectively combatted depression, OCD, and persistent negative thought patterns.

So what exactly are these entheogens patients are using? How are they administered, and what do they address? The following are some of the substances being studied or advocated for in the psychedelic community currently.

Psychedelic Therapy

The Psychedelic Family and Their Therapeutic Applications

There are a plethora of entheogens with promising practical applications. The entheogens in point include psilocybin, ibogaine, LSD, and ayahuasca.

There are other, less prominent, psychedelics also being looked into on a smaller scale. These include DMT, mescaline, and 2C-B.

As each substance is unique in its biochemical composition, it fits that they each have their own neuropsychological effects. We can take a closer look at the proposed or proven benefits of each psychedelic in its therapeutic context.


Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. It is quickly claiming its stake as one of the most important substances to pair with traditional therapeutic techniques, due to its proven success at tackling treatment-resistant cases.

 Promising scientific and anecdotal evidence is emerging promoting the ability of psilocybin to alleviate or lessen the symptoms of depression, general anxiety, end-of-life anxiety, and trauma.

Coincidentally, psilocybin can also be effective in the context of couples therapy. It may be possible to save a marriage, or provide a deeper connection to your loved one if this was re-scheduled and introduced to society properly.

Who knew, magic mushrooms might just save your marriage!

Psilocybin is the focus of many emerging studies, and the results are beyond promising (see image below). The quote shared at the beginning of this article was in reference to terminal patients who had undergone their first treatment sessions with psilocybin.

Many ranked it as their most important life experience to date, with some putting on the same level or above the birth of their own child.

Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy has helped to reduce symptoms and onset of chronic depression, with the effects for most patients lasting between 6-12 months after the experience. This can be extended with effective post-experience integration techniques and follow-up sessions.


Ibogaine hasn’t had it’s big break yet. It remains on the outer edges to this day, even in the psychedelic community. However, ibogaine is shaping up to be one of the most promising treatments available for patients suffering from opiate addiction or withdrawals.

A single treatment of ibogaine can eradicate the addiction completely, with little to no withdrawal symptoms.

This is something no medical treatment or pharmacological approach has been able to replicate to date.

Ibogaine outperforms any approach to intense addiction currently known to modern science.

And yet it remains a Schedule 1 drug.

Let that sink in.

Despite its unparalleled efficacy, the persistent unpopularity of ibogaine may be due to the fact that the experience is intense. A visceral, multi-day exploration that surfaces key decisions and moments of an addict’s life can be profoundly jarring; it is not something to be taken lightly.

This isn’t your average club drug or even a casual full-day trip in the forest with your friends.

Specifics of the trip aside, the profound efficacy of ibogaine should not be passed up, and fortunately, there are a few organizations (here and here) around the world working to surface these incredible results. Ibogaine is not illegal around the world and is, in fact, a right of passage for some youth in select African countries.

With effective post-experience integration and therapy, addicts who just a few weeks ago had succumbed to the sensual allure of serious drugs are now able to move forward successfully and reclaim the life they may have lost.

Ibogaine can help a user take their lives back from the deathly, devilish clutches of addiction.


LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), more commonly referred to as acid, has been in the spotlight for some time. Known to most people as a substance that brings beautiful visual benefits and a deep sense of interconnectedness, when applied in a therapeutic setting, LSD can overhaul cemented opinion structures, altering the individual’s outlook on life and the potential they have in the future.

Due to the incredible introspection, openness, and lucidity LSD provides, there are a plethora of illnesses or vindications that LSD-assisted psychotherapy can effectively combat.

Among these illnesses are: alcoholism, quitting smoking, depression, and general/end-of-life anxiety.

As with the aforementioned substances, LSD is proving both in scientific studies and anecdotal reports to offer profound, life-altering benefits to the user.

Follow the white rabbit, reclaim your life.

A pretty good trade-off if you ask me.

A common report of LSD is its ability to offer a ‘third-person’ perspective on yourself. To sit outside of yourself as a spectator, rather than exist as the voice inside your head. Viewing life from this perspective can pull you away from self-destructive patterns, open your eyes to new ways of living, and bring about a level of acceptance you may not have experienced before.

To dismiss psychedelic experiences as childish, or without practical medical applications, is to say that reclaiming a firm hold on your life has no value.

All life has value. We should enable everyone to take hold of it again.


Ayahuasca is finding its footing now in modern culture. This ‘jungle juice’ has been growing in popularity amongst psychonauts, consciousness explorers, or even just the ever-explorative startup employee on their vacation to South America.

The active ingredient in Ayahuasca is DMT, commonly referred to as the ‘God molecule.’ In a similar fashion to the ibogaine experience we discussed earlier, Ayahuasca teleports users back to critical moments in their lives, often in their formative years of childhood, to come to terms with and face highly traumatic or unresolved issues in their lives.

In being able to approach highly traumatic experiences with love, sensibility, and receptiveness, patients can quite literally change their past.

What does this mean?

Jason Silva does a great job at explaining this. Your past, your personality, your life story, are made up of two things: the memories you have, and the language you use to describe them.

Ayahuasca, and the psychedelic experience in general, allows you to revisit experiences of your past and change the internal dialogue of these moments. In re-framing trauma as a catalyst for growth, or being able to view abuse as misdirected love, patients can heal deep-seated wounds that they could not tackle through traditional therapy.

Why are users able to do this in psychedelic therapy, but not in traditional sessions? Because the experiences are often blocked off, regressed, or the individual is hesitant to reopen these wounds through discussion. They are unable to arrive at an appropriate emotional state to effectively re-frame the problem and re-direct these misplaced emotions. Through no fault of the individual or the therapy structure, this is just a limitation we as a society face.

Psychedelics offer us a solution.

By inducing a state of profound love and tolerance, incredibly damaging experiences can be reframed and addressed at a level significant enough to allow for true therapeutic breakthroughs to occur.

This is the value of Ayahuasca, and this is why it is quickly becoming so popular in Western psychonautic culture. As a result, Ayahuasca is being studied in the treatment of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), persistent negative thought patterns, and chronic depression/suicidal tendencies.

Being able to re-frame personal problems and come to a place of unconditional self-acceptance is a goal of most therapy. Why then, are entheogens that are being proven to allow this, still so taboo in modern and medical culture?

Everyday Improvement: The Magic of Micro-dosing

Closely related to the value of psychedelic therapy are the potential upsides presented by micro-dosing.

 Micro-dosing is the act of taking sub-perceptual doses of a psychedelic substance on a recurring schedule to promote overall vitality and quality of life. You can read more on micro-dosing here.

Just as important, if not more important than the experience itself, is being able to integrate the learning and progress made on the psychedelic journey into everyday life.

One of the incredible potential upsides to psychedelic therapy is that unlike modern pharmacological approaches, the user need not take a daily pill or participate in the experience on a recurring schedule.

One or two single experiences can provide enough revelatory insight to fundamentally change the habits and performance of the patient.

There is, however, a way to derive the profound benefits of the psychedelic experience on a smaller scale in everyday life: micro-dosing.

Simply, micro-dosing is taking a sub-perceptual dose and going about your day as normal. Sub-perceptual means the experience does not cross the threshold of conscious perception. Though you experience the benefits of the substance, you do not ‘feel’ different than your default state.

The benefits of micro-dosing are endless; you can read some of the effects on users here.

Reports from users who have been micro-dosing on a set schedule indicate elevated mood, increased strength, a deeper connection to others, increased endurance, lessened anxiety/fear, and improved communication, just to name a few benefits. Although the direct experience is sub-perceptual, its benefits find their way into everyday life when applied correctly.

Micro-dosing is incredibly important because it can help maintain euthymia or what is known as ‘normal mood’ in the medical community.

In addition to micro-dosing, meditation and mindfulness training can help you maintain a regular, consistent mood. For patients suffering from mental illness, reaching a normal, functional state is the end goal of therapy and treatment, as depression and anxiety are negative deviations from this norm.

Once again, post-experience integration and maintenance are just as important as the experience itself, micro-dosing can be a valuable tool for self-regulation and sustaining the benefits derived from psychedelic therapy.

MDMA: A Notable, Non-Psychedelic Opportunity

As we know, “psychedelic” refers to the altered state of consciousness reached by ingesting or imbibing these different entheogens. MDMA does not fall into the psychedelic category, as it only amplifies existing characteristics, behaviors, and biochemical levels. It is often included by many publications as a psychedelic, but renowned psychedelic explorer James Fadiman, when speaking with Tim Ferriss, offers a succinct differentiation here:

It’s not exactly a psychedelic because you don’t leave your identity behind, but it is the single best way to overcome intractable post-traumatic stress disorder.

Known on the street as the ‘love drug’, MDMA can put users into an unconditional state of love and respect for themselves and for others. Legalization could be a pivotal moment. As we noted with Ayahuasca, this can be instrumental when working to address traumatic experiences, from depression, to rape, to PTSD.

MAPS is also funding research into MDMA, and it is currently moving into Stage 3 trials. Successful Stage 3 trials allow the drug to be administered by credentialed parties, a monumental leap for patients and therapists alike. This is incredibly promising, and users who have participated in the early trial studies came out with remarkable results.

Integrating Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy Into Current Psychiatric Care

We’ve shown that there are multiple entheogens available today that are proving, under scientific scrutiny, that they provide value and effective treatment to patients and situations that have already been deemed ‘treatment-resistant.’

According to the authoritative definition of “Schedule 1 drug,”, these experiences have “no applicable medical value.”


Do we, as a society, consider the effective treatment of treatment-resistant illnesses lacking any practical value?

At the very least, this should be up for discussion and intelligent debate in academia and modern psychiatric care.

Now, of course, we aren’t advocating to make these available at every corner store in each major city. No, not at all. We are discussing psychedelic therapy, and the use of psychedelics to augment therapeutic treatment when administered by an accredited, accomplished therapist or doctor.

In these environments, studies are showing that psychedelic therapy can be incredibly effective, and in the case of ibogaine, able to accomplish things previously unseen in the medical community.

If it is worth giving psychedelics their well-deserved shot in society, how do we go about doing this? MAPS can point you in the right direction here. What we need is for psychedelics to be re-scheduled away a Schedule 1 substance. This indicates that there are applicable medical values. This is similar to what is happening with marijuana across various states right now.

Additionally, we need entheogens to enter the rigorous scientific study and scrutiny that all other therapeutic treatments and drugs receive.


We need to validate and replicate the original studies that are happening now and move them along the stages of scientific and medical study to the point where they can be prescribed and administered by the appropriate parties. Just like you can be prescribed Lithium if you are diagnosed with depression, we should move entheogens to the point where you can be prescribed MDMA-assisted psychotherapy if you are diagnosed with PTSD.

To make a tangible impact in these initiatives, you can refer to the resources at MAPS, make a donation, and even consider hosting your own psychedelic dinner!

We must move quickly to bring the medical community up to speed, and to be able to provide patients with the care that could truly save their lives.

Being a superhero isn’t difficult. Sometimes it’s as simple as correcting a mistake that has been made in the past. Helping the past to catch up with the present.

Could Psychedelics Be The Future Of Children’s Medicine?

Since their discovery, MDMA, LSD and psilocybin (which makes certain mushrooms so magical) have collected tons of cultural baggage. Decades of recreational use obscure their pharmacological origin stories and potential medical applications. But today, many researchers are optimistic that the compounds could treat mental health issues ranging from depression to autistic spectrum disorder without the side effects or addictive nature of today’s prescription drugs.

magic mushrooms

While drug prohibition made research into psychedelics impossible for most of the 20thcentury, restrictions were lifted in the 1990s. Promising results already surfaced, including a pair of studies published in late 2016 showing that psilocybin use eased depression and anxiety for terminal cancer patients.

As the medical director of the Heffter Institute, George Greer explores medical possibilities for psilocybin and other psychedelics. He believes the future of psychedelic research holds vast potential. And while he cautioned extreme care with regards to dispensing it to the developing mind of a child, he predicted possible pediatric applications for psychedelics within the 21stcentury.

Solving The Mystery of Mushrooms

While there’s been increased research into psychedelics in recent years, researchers don’t know exactly how psilocybin works in the brain. The compound interacts with receptors for serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood and affects functions including sleep, appetite, memory and sexual desire. But, according to Greer, the details of that relationship are unknown. In fact, psilocybin may adjust or change the way serotonin receptors work in a lasting way. “How that leads to symptom reduction is a major question,” Greer says. “We don’t know for sure. But with most psychiatric drugs, the mechanism of action is not well known at all.”

Wikimedia Commons

The Psychedelic Shutdown

Thanks to brain regions that create what’s called the default mode network, your thought-organ is always busy. Repetitive thoughts cycle constantly in the background of our minds. It’s part of our identity, for good and bad — it can reinforce patterns of behavior our conscious mind knows are unhealthy. Psychedelics temporarily shut down that network, and the pause allows for a different perspective on your own behavior. “Those thoughts are silent, so new perspectives can come into the mind,” Greer said.

Tripping Away Addiction

Paradoxical though it may sound, psychedelic compounds may be a boon for parents of teens struggling with addiction. Before it was criminalized, researchers and addiction experts including Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson, believed psychedelics had great potential to combat addiction. “With addictions, they would ask why am I doing this? Why am I doing this self-destructive thing?” Greer says. “It’s an emotionally painful realization.”

mdma pills


Researchers haven’t explored whether psychedelics could help treat attention deficit disorders, but, per Greer, anecdotal evidence suggests it could. Because even though psychedelics travel a different neurochemical circuit than that associated with ADHD they still seem to calm some symptoms. “ADHD is linked to dopamine and norepinephrine receptors, which psilocybin has no effect on,” Greer says. “There are reports from people on their own that micro-dosing LSD, meaning a dose so small they don’t feel the effects of LSD directly, helps with attention and focus.”

The Autism And Psychedelic Connection

In the 1950s, LSD was given to autistic children and it showed benefits in their behavior. “Right now another study is in process of using MDMA for adults with autistic spectrum disorder,” Greer says. The research follows anecdotal reports of MDMA helping people on the autism spectrum relate more socially. MDMA appears to activate parts of the brain that help people read expressions and ease anxieties related to social communications.

psychedelic tunnel

Will Kids Be Tripping Anytime Soon?

Your pediatrician isn’t going to prescribe your kid LSD anytime soon. Greer says that while there are promising indicators, research is still in very early stages. Ethical rules governing testing drugs on children — and common sense — keep researchers with psychedelics away from kids. “Children’s brains are developing and you don’t want to risk disturbing that development in an unhealthy way,” says Greer. “So there has to be a very clear and good reason to believe it will help the children and not cause problems before doing the research.”

Study Shows How LSD Mimics Infant’s Mind as Ego Dissolves.

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A groundbreaking series of experiments show how LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) alters the operation of the brain.  Scientists gave LSD to 20 healthy volunteers in a specialist research center and used cutting-edge brain scanning techniques to understand what happens once the LSD is ingested.

One significant finding of the experiments was that when volunteers took LSD, many parts of their brain contributed to visual processing, not just the visual cortex.  They could essentially see things that weren’t there, experiencing dreamlike hallucinations.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the research, elaborated on this discovery:

“We observed brain changes under LSD that suggested our volunteers were ‘seeing with their eyes shut’ — albeit they were seeing things from their imagination rather than from the outside world. We saw that many more areas of the brain than normal were contributing to visual processing under LSD — even though the volunteers’ eyes were closed. Furthermore, the size of this effect correlated with volunteers’ ratings of complex, dreamlike visions. “

Dr. Carthart-Harris explained further that under LSD, people’s brain networks behave in a “unified” way, with specialized functions like vision, movement and hearing working without separation.

He said: ”Our results suggest that this effect underlies the profound altered state of consciousness that people often describe during an LSD experience. It is also related to what people sometimes call ‘ego-dissolution’, which means the normal sense of self is broken down and replaced by a sense of reconnection with themselves, others and the natural world. This experience is sometimes framed in a religious or spiritual way — and seems to be associated with improvements in well-being after the drug’s effects have subsided.”

lsd study

FIG. 1: Whole-brain cerebral blood flow maps for the placebo and LSD conditions, plus the difference map (cluster-corrected, P < 0.05; n = 15).

Interestingly, Dr. Carthart-Harris also said that the brain in the LSD state resembles the free and unconstrained brain of infancy, with its inherent hyper-emotionality and imaginative nature.  He added that “our brains become more constrained and compartmentalized as we develop from infancy into adulthood, and we may become more focused and rigid in our thinking as we mature.”

It’s noteworthy that the study was crowdfunded, raising almost $80,000 from individual donations. You can see their crowdfunding pitch which explains some of their approaches here:

Additional research from the same team showed for the first time that listening to music while on LSD trigged more information to be received from the parahippocampus, which is involved in mental imagery and personal memory.  The combination of music and LSD triggered complex visions in the subjects, such as evoking scenes from their lives.

The researchers hope that their findings will eventually lead to new therapies involving LSD, in particular directed at conditions with entrenched negative thought patterns such as depression or addiction.  The intention is to disrupt negative patterns by employing psychedelics.

“Scientists have waited 50 years for this moment — the revealing of how LSD alters our brain biology. For the first time we can really see what’s happening in the brain during the psychedelic state, and can better understand why LSD had such a profound impact on self-awareness in users and on music and art. This could have great implications for psychiatry, and helping patients overcome conditions such as depression,” said Professor David Nutt, the senior researcher on the study and Edmond J Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.

Source:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

How psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD actually change the way people see the world.

Psychedelic substances like LSD and psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – are powerful, able to transform the way that people who use them perceive the world.

Because of that, after years of prohibition, psychiatric researchers in the US are hoping to take advantage of that power to transform mental health treatment.

Psilocybin perception of the world

And as the new documentary ” A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin ” shows, the results we’ve seen so far are powerful. Perhaps most interestingly, the film shows how these substances transform the people who undergo this therapy.

“Psilocybin does in 30 seconds what antidepressants take three to four weeks to do,” David Nutt , a professor of neuropsychopharmacology in the division of brain sciences at Imperial College London explains in the film. Researchers have found that a single dose of psilocybin accompanied by therapy can have a transformational effect on mental health – like a “surgical intervention” – able to treat even cases of depression and anxiety that resist standard treatment.

The film follows the researchers and study participants that are at the forefront of this modern era of psychedelic study. Cancer patients facing distress about end of life talk about how their experience helps them overcome that distress and accept their condition. Healthy volunteers who took psilocybin for the first time to help show that it can be used safely in a therapeutic setting describe the way the “trip” changed their perception.

It’s fascinating to see.

On a basic level, a part of the brain that seems to coordinate mood and is very active in cases of depression seems to basically stop acting for a time, allowing connections to form between regions of the brain that rarely communicate with each other. This mimics an effect seen in the minds of long term meditators. Something in this experience seems to cause the “trippy” effects of the drug, which participants in this research undergo while listening to music and sitting with trained observers.

“In terms of whether these agents cause hallucinations, they’re a little bit misclassified, a hallucination is an experience in some sensory phenomenon based on a stimuli that doesn’t exist in reality, it’s internally generated,” says Stephen Ross , an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, in an interview in the film. “Versus an illusion would be looking at the wall and the wall is melting, that would be an illusion, and these drugs tend to cause more illusions than frank hallucinations, they alter how we perceive real stimuli.”

In order to cause these effects, these drugs activate serotonin 2-A receptors, explains David Nichols, president and co-founder of the Heffter Research Institute.

But something about this experience – the brain activation, illusions, and hallucinations – seems to do something more profound that’s harder to understand. It’s able to reliably cause what researchers call a “mystical experience.” That experience is strongly linked with lasting effects.

“It was like you’re at the top of a roller coaster and you’re about to go down and I remember inside myself saying, ‘I’m taking my mind with me, I don’t know where I’m going but I’m taking my mind with me’ … and I felt okay and off I went,” says Sandy, one of the healthy volunteers who tried psilocybin for the first time, describing her experience.

People return from that journey changed.

“When we came back it was like someone had put on a light bulb inside Annie’s head, she was literally glowing,” says the husband of one terminally ill patient in one of these psilocybin studies at UCLA. “I felt wonderful, I think it’s an incredibly useful tool … what we did, it probably would have taken me years of therapy,” she agrees.


Your New Anti-Depression Medication: LSD

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Shortly following its synthesis in 1938, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) fascinated mystic explorers of consciousness while wreaking havoc on those that didn’t realize they might be going in over their head. Briefly marketed in therapeutic settings in 1947 (and used by the CIA in mind control experiments shortly thereafter), LSD was deemed illegal in the United States in 1968.

As the cycles of history go, we have returned to therapeutic applications. While still illegal in the US, LSD is showing promise in treating patients suffering from depression. This study is particularly interesting in that it investigates the role of the human brain’s default-mode network in mental time travel. As it turns out, those of us with an active DMN are more likely to reflect on the past and hence wax romantic about what is not present, a reliable marker of depressed states.

Psychedelics appear to deactivate the DMN, forcing users to stay in the present moment. Ironically, the DMN has been championed in Flow states, in which the experiencer is also in the throes of “ego dissolution,” the term LSD researchers employ regarding the deactivation of the DMN. Flow states apparently shut down the brain’s central executive mode (the other major mode) in its own form of ego destruction.

There’s even a style of introspection associated with the DMN: nondirective meditation. Also known as ‘mind wandering,’ this study showed a positive link between activation of the DMN with emotional processing and memory retrieval.

This form of meditation is not simply daydreaming, though that too is pertinent: we have an average of two thousand daydreams every day, each lasting an average of fourteen seconds. Nondirective meditation takes its cue from mindfulness, noticing thoughts arise while abstaining from creating a narrative. Our brain produces thoughts, but the conscious ‘I’ has a role in what stories it tells from those mental images.

Which puts the activation—or, in the case of LSD, deactivation—of the DMN into the spotlight. The human brain is complex and interactive, a symphony not a solo. What appears to be true regardless of how you get there is the necessity of ego dissolution when dealing with emotions. Perhaps better put, not taking things so seriously.

Certainly a monumental task, this quieting of that pesky inner voice always speaking forward and backward with so little regard for the moment. In 1970, when LSD had become illegal, the philosopher Alan Watts put forward his own thoughts on the topic in his essay, ‘Psychedelics and Religious Experience.’

Watts considered the incessant individualistic focus of American culture to be one of the failures of imagination that LSD prominently points out. Societies mimic brains in breadth of connections—think of neurons as people interacting and communicating. If you consider yourself an island separate from the populace, depression is guaranteed; if everything that happens is happening to you, life becomes a conspiracy aimed at your demise.

Watts continues along this line:

All forms of life and being are simply variations on a single theme: we are all in fact one being doing the same thing in as many different ways as possible.

While Watts enjoyed his experiences with psychedelics, especially LSD and cannabis, he recognized their limitations. They can introduce you to important ideas that you might not have considered, but you have to stay there on your own, which is essentially the same argument being made about LSD as a depression reliever. In fact, microdosing has become a popular therapeutic technique with strong anecdotal results.

Watts points out another issue that today is slowly dissolving in America: the religious fear of union. In Buddhist and Hindu systems, Watts’s specialty, man has every opportunity to become one with the godhead. In Western faiths this is blasphemous. A loss of ego, one of the most discussed consequences of LSD, connects you with the ebbs and flow of existence. Hold too tightly the reigns, your hands are burned.

Surrender is key. Psilocybin is proving especially effective in treating patients at the end of their lives, particularly with the existential quandary of transience. We need medicine in the prime of life as well. Research on LSD continues to be promising. With all the talk of ending the ‘drug wars’ in political and prison system circles, America needs to rethink its relationship to psychedelics as well.

Psychedelics and the Religious Experience

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I spent a lot of time in the Gardner A. Sage Library. I also passed many hours just outside of it. As a religion student at Rutgers University, it was accessible to me as part of the theological seminary. During the day, I would scour texts learning about ancient faiths. At night, I would climb down a metal ladder bolted into a brick façade leading to an underground courtyard.

By day, my imagination was filled with the visions and hallucinations of millennia-old sages and prophets. While the sun slept, I was having my own thanks to healthy doses of psilocybin and LSD. I would stare at movies that didn’t exist playing across those bricks, contemplating the cosmos from a tiny library basement in New Brunswick.

My first cover story for the university’s Daily Targum entertained the notion of having a religious experience while on psychedelics. My editor later told me she received numerous letters about the piece, most expressing disdain. Critics claimed it impossible to have the slow revelations of, say, disciplines like yoga and meditation instantly with a tab of acid. It is, they said, cheating.

In the 20 years since those long days and longer nights, my feelings haven’t changed about the power of psychedelic (“mind manifesting”) substances. Fortunately cultural assumptions have shifted dramatically. While these chemicals were scientifically studied and governmentally funded during the ’50s and ’60s, research ended when they were ruled illegal by Richard Nixon in 1970. The law states psychedelics have no therapeutic or medical value.

Since then, these substances have been locked in the same legal drawer as narcotics — ironic, as that word is derived from the Latin narko, “to make numb,” a claim nobody on LSD would ever make. Decades of potential therapeutic research have been missed, most notably thanks to corporate greed.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are the words of Director of the National Institute of Mental Health Tom Insel:

The N.I.M.H. is not opposed to work with psychedelics, but I doubt we would make a major investment. … It would be very difficult to get a pharmaceutical company interested in developing this drug, since it cannot be patented.

Thankfully not everyone is so pessimistic. Psilocybin, the main compound in “magic mushrooms,” was the focus of a recent trial at N.Y.U. Researchers discovered that it helps alleviate anxiety and existential distress in cancer patients. For the uninitiated, this sounds like an escape; much like my detractors in ‘95, psychedelics are believed to conjure false gods in the minds of users.

Nothing could be further from the truth. First off, psychedelic substances force you to confront personal issues — a “bad trip” is often encountered during an investigation of latent emotional content. In fact, during both of my experiences with the entheogenic brew ayahuasca, my entire evening was consumed not by visions of cosmic serpents, but by habitual character patterns. My revelations had nothing to do with universal harmony, but the courage to practice techniques for breaking bad habits. Yes, there were plenty of visual and auditory hallucinations. They simply weren’t the most pertinent aspect.

Such introspection is not uncommon and should not be underrated. As philosopher and linguist Alan Watts wrote of his first LSD experience:

It was an intensely interesting aesthetic and intellectual experience that challenged my powers of analysis and careful description to the utmost.

Now, as Watts admits, and as I have experienced myself in over 100 psychedelic episodes, these substances serve other functions. And it is here that the true therapeutic and religious value emerges: a reduction in anxiety levels.

Pretty basic, no? Yet not so simple. Stress is most commonly associated with elevated levels of the steroid hormone cortisol. While low levels of cortisol help repair tissue after exercise, chronically elevated levels result in suppressed immune functioning, promotes osteoporosis, acts as a diuretic, disrupts sleep, is linked with excessive protein breakdown and obesity, and impairs learning by damaging the hippocampus. Anxiety is a killer in every sense.

On a larger scale, as evidenced in the N.Y.U. cancer study, anxiety regarding death is pervasive. Americans don’t know how to die; we’ve never developed proper rituals for it. Many elders spend their final days in the cold confines of an ICU or in senior homes. Instead of celebrating life, we mourn the past, so much so that we’re never really here.

Part of what psychedelics address is the present moment. This helps contribute to a drop in anxiety. Instead of an intense focus on where one is heading, or where one’s been, this moment, now, is emphasized. Unsurprisingly, psychedelics alter brain chemistry in a similar manner as meditation.

This occurs in the brain’s default mode, or, more broadly stated, the imagination. Our brain is always in one of two modes: central executive (complete focus) and daydreaming, the default. Researchers in Australia and Norway found that nondirective meditation — letting the mind wander while in meditation — helps reduce anxiety. This is the same region accessed by psychedelics.

As Michael Pollan writes in The New Yorker,

Blood flow and electrical activity in the default-mode network dropped off precipitously under the influence of psychedelics, a finding that may help to explain the loss of the sense of self that volunteers reported. (The biggest dropoffs in default-mode-network activity correlated with volunteers’ reports of ego dissolution.

While anecdotes usually make for poor science, they play an essential role in neuroscience and psychology. Ego dissolution is the foundation both Buddhism and yoga were built upon. You can argue this idea persists in Christianity and Islam (“surrender”), in which the practitioner attempts to dissolve his personal ego through faith in an earthly representative of a godhead.

What persists in both anecdote and research, however, is that breaking patterns is one of the most substantial benefits of psychedelics. LSD and iboga may help alcoholism. MDMA, once used in marriage counseling, is now showing dramatic improvements in veterans dealing with PTSD. (So is yoga.)

This is where the religious experience comes into focus. A feeling of unity with your surroundings, a deeply held sense of comfort and continuity, the lightness of being as anxiety surrenders — all emotional sensations produced when the self-defeating neural regions are turned off during experiences with psychedelics, meditation, and the mental state known as Flow.

The mystical is chemical. When these egoistic brain centers shut down, crosstalk occurs between neural regions that don’t otherwise communicate. Religious literature has expressed the sentiments that result for eons: unity, serenity, peacefulness, compassion. Given the frayed wires so many humans grapple with today, I’m not sure what could be more therapeutic, or spiritual, than this.

The Link Between LSD and Music

LSD and music are always linked, and it is now known that music alters the experience of taking the drug. Imperial College neuroscience student Mendel Kaelen has been studying music and the drug, and a big challenge is the type of music.

It has been Mendel Kaelens job to set the ideal playlist for a trip, and as it must fulfill research regulations, it has not been easy. The intent is to find a therapeutic use for the drug, and the initial attempt is to find a way to treat depression. As all therapy trials use music now it is vital the right tunes are used.

The Link Between LSD and Music
The areas that contributed to vision were more active under LSD, which was linked to hallucinations. 

Before testing on people, the team tested the theory that drugs such as LSD improve the response to music. Volunteers listened to a few musical tracks, once after taking LSD once after taking a placebo. The tracks were largely unknown so as there would not be an immediate attachment and Brian McBride’s and Greg Haines music was used – along with others. Emotional responses were given to the tracks – were they peaceful, was their tension – and emotions were rated higher after taking LSD not the placebo. Power and tenderness were emotions that scored highly.

Kaelen has also researched using a substance found in magic mushrooms to patients who were resistant to treatment for depression, but the results are not yet available. Here the music ad to last for 6 hours and some tracks were taken from the list of Helen Bonney, a music therapist in the 1960’s.

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