The 25 Most-Read Inverse Science Stories of 2017: Wild, Wonderful & Strange


This year will be remembered for its immense cultural and social upheavals, both good and unbelievably, Earth-shatteringly bad. But what appears to have remained consistent, at least judging by the science stories that Inverse fans read, interacted with, and shared, is a healthy curiosity about the the weird and wonderful, the science of our own bodies and minds, and scientific discoveries that push the limits of what we currently consider reality. That, and an obsession with whatever Neil deGrasse Tyson has to say about anything.

To celebrate a strange and sensational year in science, here are the 25 science stories that Inverse readers loved the most.

A Hamer individual from Ethiopia who took part in the study. Many alleles associated with light skin originated in Africa, not in Europe.

25. Genetics Researchers Just Disproved a Long-Held Racist Assumption

As racial tensions escalated this year in America and around the world, scientists found hard evidence that many of the assumptions people make about people with dark skin are completely, utterly unfounded. Many people still act as if people born with dark skin are less human, a behavior inherited from Middle-Age Europeans who believed the African people they encountered were not the same species as them. In October, scientists revealed they — and the people who continue to promote those beliefs — were completely wrong, showing that the human genes for dark and light skin all originated in Africa.

Read more about the racist theory debunked by science.

24. Drake Equation Revision Hugely Ups Odds of Intelligent Alien Life

The Drake Equation, written in 1961 for the first meeting of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), is a seven-variable equation that calculates the odds that there are any active civilizations beyond Earth. In 2016, scientists decided it was a bit outdated, and so they updated it to include new data on exoplanets collected in the 50+ years since the equation was written. The new probability that there isn’t any other intelligent life out there is 10 billion trillion — making it extremely likely that there is something else out there.

Read more about your chances of meeting aliens in this lifetime.

23. Science Explains the Marijuana Hangover

The marijuana hangover — replete with headache, fatigue, fogginess, and dehydration, — has long confused pot users, who are more likely to associate the symptoms with alcohol. Scientists chalk the tired feeling up to the restless sleep that ensues when you get too high, and the dehydration you feel is caused by weed shutting down saliva production, which is what also causes the dreaded “dry mouth” while smoking.

Read more about the psychological and physical downside of a pot brownie binge.

22. Humans Have Been Having the Same Nightmare for Thousands of Years

Over the centuries, humans have come up with countless, often absurd, explanations for the phenomenon known as sleep paralysis. When it strikes, sleepers find themselves suddenly awake but unable to move, pinned to their bed as if a heavy weight is sitting on their chest. Scientists think the phenomenon has its roots in our brains, which actively paralyze us during REM sleep so that we don’t act out our dreams. If we’re suddenly interrupted during that phase, our brains sometimes “wake up” before our bodies do, leading to the terrifying nightmare-like experience.

Read more about sleep paralysis, which led to the evolution of the “Night Hag”.

Fossils found in submerged tunnels in Mexico might be the oldest human artifacts found in the Americas.

21. A Stolen Human Skeleton Might Be America’s Oldest

An investigation of the spoils from a plundered underwater cave in Tulum, Mexico, turned up an unlikely guest: the most ancient human skeleton ever found in the Americas. The Chan Hol II skeleton, which was first discovered in February 2012 and was actually stolen shortly after photos of it went public, was recovered by scientists who showed, using carbon dating, that it was 13,000 years old.

Read more about the very first Americans, who were actually in Mexico.

20. Diarrhea Is Evolution’s Immune System Drain-O

Poop will never not be funny for readers. It’ll also never not be interesting to scientists. This June, they discovered that diarrhea serves a critical purpose for animals, having evolved over millennia of evolution. As much as it sucks to get the runs while traveling or after eating an adventurous meal, having to rush to the can is much better than not getting diarrhea. The uncomfortable bowel movement, the scientists reported, is your body’s way of flushing out all of the potentially life-threatening toxins in your gut before they get into the rest of your body.

Read more about the biological reason diarrhea is good for you.

19. 20 Years After the Great Lego Spill, They’re Still Washing Ashore

In 1997, a container ship called the Tokio Express bound for New York was hit by a wave so huge that it knocked an enormous container full of 4.8 million pieces of Lego into the water. While at the time it didn’t seem like the miniature blocks would ever make it to their final destination, in July of this year residents of Cornwall, United Kingdom reported that the pieces are still washing up on the beach, suggesting there’s still a chance they may float to the other side of the Atlantic.

Read more about Lego pieces posing a hazard to barefoot British beach-goers.

18. Reddit Study on Ideal Penis Size Consistent With Dick Science

Despite all the changes that took place this year, our fascination with penis size did not waver. In July, the results of a small Reddit survey on penis size were presented in graph form, showing an upside-down U-shaped curve spanning lengths from four to ten inches. While this survey only incorporated self-reported data from 761 users, the results actually matched up well with what scientists already know about average peen size: like Reddit’s dicks, most dongs are about six and seven inches long and five to six inches around.

Read more about the average penis size and girth, on Reddit and elsewhere.

17. Neuroscience Reveals How the Brain Changes as it Watches Porn

We’re watching porn at record-breaking rates, and all that visual, er, stimulation has scientists wondering what it’s doing to us on an individual and a societal level. So far, we’ve learned that porn acts in many ways like a drug, causing our brains to release the pleasure-tr iggering neurotransmitter dopamine, and it may also activate the amygdala, the part of the brain linked to emotional behavior and motivation. Word’s still out on whether casual porn watching is problematic, but some scientists worry that very frequent porn viewing might be linked to certain psychological issues.

Read more about what all those late-night Pornhub visits do to your brain cells.

16. The Real Story Behind ‘Roanoke’ Is Creepier Than ‘AHS’

The sixth season of American Horror Story, centered on the historical real-life tragedy of the lost American colony at Roanoke, premiered in 2016, but it continued to intrigue Inverse readers well into 2017. Scientists have used lasers, magnometers, and radar to uncover rare objects that survived the 400 years since the colony was founded, but these still haven’t cleared up whether the colonists succumbed to disease, a violent uprising, or something even more sinister.

Read more about American Horror Story and the even more horrific Roanoke legend behind it.

15. China Transmits Data Into Space Using Quantum Entanglement

Around the world, scientists are making huge leaps in the field of quantum teleportation, which could revolutionize quantum computer security. China’s researchers are leading the pack, this year succeeding in transporting a quantum particle 870 miles into space — breaking the former distance record of 62 miles.

Read more about China’s supremacy in the quantum teleportation race.

14. Human Mini-Brains Growing Inside Rat Bodies Are Integrating

We’re living in the age of farmed organs, but scientists are still working out the kinks. These days, they’re growing human mini-organs inside animal bodies using stem cells that can be coerced into turning into livers, hearts, and brains. The brains are proving to be a bit problematic: in November, scientists reported that human brain cells grown inside rats are starting to transfer blood and nerve signals, giving the researchers pause: might these rat-brain hybrids become conscious?

Read more about whether hybrid rat-human brains will ever wake up.

13. Conspiracy Theorists Have a Basic Cognitive Issue, Say Scientists

Conspiracy theories abounded this year, which is perhaps not surprising, as previous studies have shown that increases in such beliefs tend to correlate with rising mistrust in authority structures. In October, scientists discovered what’s different about the way that people with these beliefs actually think: people who tend to believe in conspiracy theories, they explained, see patterns that don’t actually exist, and it’s this “illusory pattern perception” that causes them to believe in bizarre explanations for those imaginary patterns.

Read more about what’s different about the brains of conspiracy theorists.

12. Here’s Scientist Bill Richards’s Playlist for Tripping on Mushrooms

Psychedelic researchers have had a big year, using mind-altering drugs to treat psychological illness and thereby mitigating decades of stigma against them. Studies on the effects of the drugs, however, must be meticulously designed so that they will be considered legitimate, and so Bill Richards, Ph.D., a Johns Hopkins University researcher, used science to create a seven-hour playlist to maximize the experience of a psychedelic trip.

Read more about how to listen to music during a mushroom trip like a psychedelic scientist.

11. The Crazy Flat Earthers’ Theory That Trees Don’t Exist Isn’t Completely Crazy

The Flat Earth Movement drew criticism from Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and pretty much every other rational mind out there, but one of their bizarre theories actually kind of made sense. Kind of. Some Flat Earthers believe that what we call trees are actually just the tiny remnants of a world where trees were as wide as mountains and were so tall they scraped the sky. In the “no forests” theory, the present-day world represents the sad, small remains of what the Earth once was — which, as Inverse argued, is not altogether untrue.

Read more about the flat-Earther “no forest” theory and its somewhat compelling argument.

10. Indonesia Sea Monster Has Been Identified (It’s Not a Giant Squid)

In May, our appetite for the grotesque was satiated when news broke about a “sea monster” that had washed up on the shore of Indonesia’s Maluku Islands. This 50-foot-long blob of flesh was so badly decomposed that it was unidentifiable, and the giant bones that pierced through it only deepened its mystery. But about a week after it washed up, experts finally determined that it was the corpse of a type of baleen whale, misshapen because of the hot gases that bloated up inside it during decomposition.

Read more about the huge, dead sea animals mistaken for sea monsters.

9. Genetic Analysis Shows Early Humans Avoided Inbreeding, Incest

This year marked the penultimate season of Game of Thrones, which was as rife with incestuous themes as any other season. A study published in October echoed those themes, suggesting that our ancient human ancestors were a lot less genetically reckless than the inhabitants of Westeros. In the Science study, archaeologists showed evidence that humans buried together in Russia 34,000 years ago were no closer than second cousins, suggesting that even these humans knew not to bone their closest relations.

Read more about why incest is best left to the characters on Game of Thrones.

8. Scientists Discover Super-Massive Black Holes Just Outside Our Own Galaxy

We’re comfortable making movies about black holes because they’ve long seemed so far removed from real life, but a study published in January suggested that they’re a lot closer to us than we think. In an announcement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists reported that they’d found evidence of two super-massive black holes in two of the Milky Way’s neighboring galaxies, 39 million and 176 million light years away from us.

Read more about your friendly neighborhood super-massive black holes.

7. Long-Term Marijuana Use Changes Brain at the Cellular Level, say Scientists

Weed smokers have long noticed, anecdotally, that long-term marijuana use tends to change people’s behavior, but it wasn’t until October of this year that scientists started to notice the cellular changes underlying those behavioral shifts. Using rats that were administered daily doses of marijuana, researchers publishing in JNeurosci showed that the GABA neurons in the brain were unable to properly regulate the amount of dopamine swimming around, causing abnormally drawn-out good feelings of reward — which is the mechanism that’s thought to lead to addiction.

Read more about marijuana’s long-term effects on your brain.

6. Upper Body Strength Is Biggest Factor in Male Attractiveness

Scientists behind a controversial study, published in December, used the results of a questionably designed experiment to argue that women, by and large, find strong-looking men attractive because those men look like they can fight. The ability to fight, in turn, is said to be appealing because ancient women needed men to protect them, and some vestige of that preference remains today. The researchers’ explanation, however, didn’t take into account the fact that perhaps the women involved in the study were not necessarily hard-wired to find those men attractive and rather were subject to a number of other influences, including their own personal choice.

Read more about why male attractiveness isn’t all about being swole.

5. Neil deGrasse Tyson Slams Flat Earth Theory With a Single Picture

Astrophysicist and notorious know-it-all Neil deGrasse Tyson could not resist sharing his thoughts on the rising Flat Earth conspiracy theorist movement, tweeting a sick eclipse-related riddle in November that was guaranteed to stump even the staunchest “globalist” truther.

Read more about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s admittedly clever addition to the flat Earth debate.

4. What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain

Written in 2015, this scientific investigation on the psychological effect of staying in one’s hometown remains a perpetual Inverse Science favorite. It’s not surprising, considering that migration rates among American youth are at a historic low and that more and more people are choosing to put down roots in the states where they were born.

Read more about the psychological effect of never leaving home.

3. Nanoparticle Scientists Warn Tattooed Folks: Ink Doesn’t Stay Put

A report from nanoparticle scientists in September, published in Scientific Reports, cast doubt on the permanence of ink tattoos, revealing that tiny particles from certain kinds of inks actually swim away from the skin and wind up in the lymph nodes. In particular, they found elevated levels of titanium dioxide, a white compound that’s often added to other pigments, in the lymph nodes of the four cadavers they used in their small study. It’s not clear yet whether the escaped compounds pose any danger to people with tattoos, but it’s certainly something scientists must consider.

Read more about the troubling impermanence of seemingly “permament” tattoos.

2. Surgeons Remove Over 28 Pounds of Feces From a Constipated Man

It was hard for readers to resist the horrific photo of an enormous colon, clogged with nearly 29 pounds of feces, cradled like a small animal in the arms of a surgeon. It belonged to a 22-year-old Chinese man in Shanghai who, suffering from an ailment called Hirschsprung’s disease, was unable to expel the majority of waste in his body for his entire life. He’s fine now, thanks to a team of surgeons who removed 30 inches of his swollen colon during a 3-hour operation.

Read more about what happens to a body when it never gets to poop.

1. Scientists Have Found the ‘Holy Grail’ of Physics, Metallic Hydrogen

Kicking off the year, in January, was a monumental announcement by Harvard physicist Isaac Silvera, Ph.D., who claimed to have created metallic hydrogen — a theoretical state of matter that scientists never thought would be possible. Silvera reported in Science that he had forced elemental hydrogen into that state using immense amounts of pressure and extremely cold temperatures, noting that, if produced in large enough amounts, metallic hydrogen could be used as a form of fuel for deep space travel. Other scientists in the narrow field, however, did not mince words when the time came to publicly criticize Silvera’s work.

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.

LSD VS PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS – QUICK FACTS

LSD

  • 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.

 

PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS VS. LSD EFFECTS

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.”

WHICH PSYCHEDELIC SHOULD YOU TRY?

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.

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

LSD Versus ADHD

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.”

Source:www.fatherly.com

Alcohol Is Worse for Mental Health than Psychedelics.


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In a study of 130,000 American adults, including 19,299 psychedelics users, researchers failed to find evidence that taking psychotropic substances results in serious mental health problems. Alcohol, on the other hand, continues to drive rates of depression and suicide higher because it easily aggravates smaller mental health issues into something larger.

Funded by the Research Council of Norway, scientists found that people often reported experiencing deep and meaningful events while under the influence of substances like LSD or psychedelic mushrooms. While those reports were subjective, the study also looked at clinical conditions like serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts and plans, depression, and anxiety.

“Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances.”

Teri Krebs, a neuroscientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who helped lead the study, concludes that it is difficult to seefrom a public health perspective any government’s justification for outlawing the use of psychedelic substances: “Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances.”

Popular author and Stanford philosophy graduate Sam Harris explains his own experience with psychedelic drugs during his Big Think interview. Early in the clip, Harris offers important caveats to taking hallucinogenic drugs because many are neurotoxins. For the serious inquirer, however, they are a way to further explore the nature of consciousness.

Source:http://bigthink.com

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.

Source:http://www.businessinsider.in

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.

5 Powerful Psychedelics That Treat Mental Disorders and Change Human Consciousness by Reorganizing the Brain


Psychoactive plants and hallucinogens have given us the opportunity to see life through different perspectives for thousands of years. Many of these plants, which can only be defined as gifts from nature, have unfortunately been declared illegal in many parts of the world due to the ignorance and intolerance of many governments. As the shift in consciousness is accelerating across the planet, more people are accepting the true power of psychedelics with unprecedented potential to treat cancers, addictions, psychological traumas, but most of all, to reorganize the brain and shift thought patterns. It is now imperative for human consciousness that we free psychedelics from scrutiny and demonization, so that we may all use these plants responsibly to facilitate a greater awareness of non-secular concepts that are changing our world.

5 Powerful Psychedelics That Treat Mental Disorders and Change Human Consciousness By Reorganizing the Brain

Author’s caution: I preface this article with a few words of caution. Specifically, through my shamanistic practices around the world, I have experienced the effects of all of the psychedelics mentioned below. Each has its own use and effectively complements specific practices in shaman culture. They are not to be abused in any setting as many can lead to a temporary lack of awareness of body and reality itself. This effectively places the subject in harms way, especially without a support party present. Please use any psychedelic plant responsibly, never if you are under 19 years of age*, and only under the supervision of those who have been trained or have experienced the benefits first-hand through education and guidance. Your support party should always be sober, of clear mind and somebody you trust.

Note:

  • Do not ingest psychedelics with alcohol
  • Do not ingest psychedelics without supervision of responsible adults
  • Do not combine psychedelics without expert supervision
  • Do not use psychedelics as recreational party drugs
  • Do not use psychedelics if you are prone to drug-seeking behavior
  • Do not use psychedelics as a form of escaping from reality
  • Do not use around dangerous environments
  • Do not use if you are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Do not use if ignoring responsibilities in life to chase a high
  • Do not use if symptoms aggravate a present mental illness
  • DO ingest the raw plant whenever possible, rather than smoking it

Most of the psychedelic scare stories ever published were generated by people pursuing their own political or financial agendas, or by people with fundamentalist morals who were afraid of losing their power. In the last century, most of the information intended to vilify psychedelics has been proven false.

The shift in consciousness that has taken over the planet will not enlighten every human being. Some are not meant to experience the shift and will pass on (sometimes when you least expect it). Others are already on board. For those in between (and even for those on board), psychedelics offer a unique window of opportunity “during the high” which is otherwise absent without it. There are so many wonderful elements of consciousness including specific gateways which psychedelics enter, that ego simply has no chance of competing out. Ego tries, but it rarely if ever succeeds. They open a portal of beauty and creativity so large, that you can step into it and enjoy it in a way that is rarely available to the humanity from any other substance on Earth. Only very deep meditative states can match what psychedelics offer, and each state is very different.

Many researchers have been interested in the idea that psychedelics facilitate communication across the brain and, more specifically, how the default-mode network in the brain, arguably science’s best biological correlate of the self, normally works to constrain this.

Two studies have found absolutely no link between psychedelic use and a wide suite of mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts. For example, people who have tried LSD or psilocybin have lower lifetime rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts.

“Psychedelics” are substances with the ability to expand human awareness beyond our normal modes of perception. Some may be the most amazing substances known to humanity, so potent that just 1/10,000th of a gram can send one on a journey beyond time and space, beyond life and death. Here the psychedelic voyager can unlock and experience the collective evolutionary consciousness of billions of years past and an infinite future.

They allow the user to transcend the body, the personality, and view of the mind from undreamed-of perspectives, experiencing supersensory and extrasensory perception, choose from an infinite variety of “realities,” which can permanently change our experience of life.

Love, Pristine Consciousness and Death - What They Have in Common - FB

Worship involving psychedelic plants and their use in spiritual pursuits can be traced to the beginnings of recorded history. The major role these plants played in the formation of early religions has been documented by several historians.

Each person’s mind and capacity for handling psychedelics is different. Psychedelics are not for everybody. Although most psychedelic trips are experienced as beneficial, some people have had experiences that left them disturbed afterwards. The main reason for these negative experiences is (in my experience) a lack of preparation, rather than anything inherent in the person or in the substance.

5 Powerful Psychedelics

Out of the following psychedelics, I have found Salvia and Ayahuasca to be the most powerful out of body experiences (that can be recalled), and Cannabis to be the most profound to alter daily thinking patterns when taken consistently and with the aid of meditation.

Cannabis

Perhaps one of the most medicinal but least powerful of all hallucinogens, Cannabis Sativa whose active ingredient is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has also been referred to as marijuana, dope, pot, bush, weed, hash, ganja, joint, among others. It is by far one of the safest psychedelics on Earth, and perhaps one of the few that can be utilized without supervision.

Cannabis can treat a number of diseases and disorders better than pharmaceuticals, including cancer, fibromyalgia, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. It has also been found to reduce blood pressure, treat glaucoma, alleviate pain and eveninhibit HIV. It is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective.

 

When cannabis is used over a period of time, it allows us to witness our many subtle motives which, under normal consciousness, are usually not noticeable. Duality within human consciousness becomes clear as does the ego and alter ego. Cannabis highs last typically from 1-4 hours.

There are two states of awareness which relate to these sensory effects. The basic one can be called pure awareness. In this state the person is completely and vividly aware of his experience, but there are no processes of thinking, manipulating, or interpreting going on. The sensations fill the person’s attention, which is passive but absorbed in what is occurring, which is usually experienced as intense and immediate. Pure awareness is experiencing without associations to what is there.

The other state of awareness is one which can be termed conscious awareness, in which the sensory experience is connected to meanings, plans, functions, decisions, and possible actions. This is our normal way of perceiving and how we usually go about our daily lives. We do not sense the world directly, but with the incorporation of our memories, meanings, and uses. In the state of pure awareness objects are experienced as sensory qualities, without the intrusion of interpretation. There are examples of this in normal life. The sensation of sexual orgasm may be (and hopefully is) experienced with pure awareness. Natural beauty, such as flowers, mountains, oceans, and sunsets, is sometimes experienced from a point of awareness without adding conscious thinking.

With this expansiveness which occurs after ingesting cannabis, users may begin to notice infinite possibilities to raise the quality of his/her life that would otherwise have remained hidden from normal, defensive consciousness. And feelings of health and happiness naturally lead to hope, which of itself can be curative.

For a person using marijuana for the first few times, sensory changes occur sequentially, rather than all at once. First they may notice increased brightness and clarity of colors, then sounds, then visual structures, such as paintings or designs. (Two dimensional photographs and motion pictures may be seen in three dimensions on the high, a perception which can be transferred to the normal state under certain conditions.) Then proprioceptive sensations may present themselves. Any order of the effects may occur during one high state or several. Often effects will develop to particular levels and then stabilize without further elaboration.

Psychedelics Treat Mental Disorders Change Human Consciousness Reorganizing Brain - Cannabis

Cannabis can act as the loosening agent, so that whatever has been banned from consciousness may come cascading forth. To uncover our deceptions without our usual rationalizations can be unpleasant, an experience that has turned many psychologically fragile individuals away from marijuana despite its therapeutic catharsis.

Intensity of sensory experience seems related to the total proportion or amount of attention which is involved in the process. If attention is used in conscious or unconscious processes in making decisions, remembering, evaluating, etc., then this much is removed from the awareness of the sense experience. Thus it may be that one of the causes of sensory enhancement under cannabis is that attention energy moves from consciousness processes into awareness processes, which amplifies the experience.

Cannabis’ contribution to the developing spirit is cumulative. As bodily tensions are reduced mental fears dissolve, clearing the way to greater insight. People who try cannabis and reject it do so usually because they feel uncomfortable and confused in altered, fuller consciousness. Instead of life being safely framed by the rigidity of the societal dogma, the world becomes unfamiliarly bigger, brighter, fuller, yet less manageable, more unpredictable and full of mystery. A mind that has been bound and accustomed to a low charge or a selling without light very often finds the expansiveness of reality too highly energized. The light can be blinding and disorienting. Over time, and with regular intake, when these higher states of seeing are no longer the focal point of attention, a restructuring of values may emerge.

Salvia

Given the right dose, individual, set and setting, Salvia Divinorum produces a unique state of ‘divine inebriation’ which has been traditionally used by Mazatec healers. It is the most powerful natural psychedelic legally available and capable of profound out-of-body experiences just by simply chewing its leaves. Users should observe all cautions with Salvia including appropriate sitters, safe environments and education before ingestion. Its effects can be traumatic for those who are unprepared.

Salvia divinorum is both similar to, and different from, other drugs that affect the brain and behavior. In many ways Salvia divinorum is a unique ‘magical’ herb. Salvia (and the salvinorin it contains) is very difficult to categorize pharmacologically. It does not fit well into any existing pharmacological class. A very small and almost insignificant amount of salvinorin can immediately propel the user into an out of body experience. Once the appropriate concentration of salvinorin is met, it takes only seconds before the user is unable to verbally respond to a sitter, and thus important that all dangerous objects and physical obstacles be removed in the user’s space. Most users who are exposed to large doses have only slight recall on what transpired in reality for up to 15 minutes after the dose.

Most reports describe the use of this plant by Mazatec shamans, and although it is just barely touched upon in the anthropological literature, it is also reportedly used by their immediately contiguous neighbors, the Cuicatecs and Chinatecs. Given that the plant is quite easily propagated, it is surprising that such an extraordinary herb is only known of in such a geographically limited area. It seems quite probable that it would have found its way to other neighboring tribes through sharing and trade.

With a moderately strong dose of Salvia, consciousness remains and some thought processes are still lucid, but one becomes completely involved in inner experience and loses all contact with consensual reality. Sometimes voices may be heard. With eyes open contact with consensual reality will not be entirely lost, but when you close your eyes you may forget about consensus reality and enter completely into a dreamlike scene. Shamanistic journeying to other lands, foreign or imaginary; encounters with beings, entities, spirits; or travels to other ages may occur. You may even live the life of another person. At this level you have entered the shaman’s world.

Individuality may be lost; one experiences merging with God/dess, mind, universal consciousness, or bizarre fusions with other objects real or imagined, e.g. merging with a wall may be experienced. At this level it is impossible to function in consensual reality, but unfortunately some people do not remain still but move around in this befuddled state. For this reason a sitter is essential to ensure the safety of someone voyaging to the inner levels. To the person experiencing this, the phenomenon may be terrifying or exceedingly pleasant; but to an outside observer the individual may appear confused or disoriented.

The dose can be well moderated by using an extract and users can enjoy a variety of intensities by simple sublingual application.

What is especially important during a Salvia trip is to not talk to the recipient unless it is requested and preferably shutdown all electronic devices including television, phone and music as they can create disruptions during the experience. Salvia is not a party drug and requires a responsible support person or group by the user’s side at all times.

What is interesting is that a surprisingly large proportion of salvia users report a type of afterglow which persists. It typically involves mood elevation, an overall sense of well being, and often a fresh outlook on life which can linger for several days (or longer) after the experience. This phenomenon seems to be quite common. For many mood elevation can last between one and three days.

Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)

Ingesting these types of mushrooms has a strong hallucinogenic effect that begins to affect the user within 20-30 minutes. Early effects of the active ingredients in mushrooms, psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin, are broken down into psilocin once they have been taken. The initial feelings are described as mild anxiety or anticipatory sensations. Entire physical body sensation of energy or mild electricity running through the body is common.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms have been part of human culture as far back as the earliest recorded history. Ancient paintings of mushroom-ed humanoids have been found in caves in the Saharan desert. Central and Southern America cultures built temples to mushroom gods and carved “mushroom stones”. These stone carvings in the shape of mushrooms, or in which figures are depicted under the cap of a mushroom, have been dated to as early as 1000-500 B.C. The purpose of the sculptures is not certain, but these stones may have been religious objects.

The effects leave users in a high state of euphoria. They are mood enhancing, general happiness, insightful ideas and sense of creative energy.

In mathematical terms, normal brains have a well-ordered correlation state. There’s not much cross-linking between networks. That changes after the psilocybin dose. Suddenly the networks are cross-linking like crazy, but not in random ways. New types of order emerge.

“We can speculate on the implications of such an organization,” wrote researchers, who were led by neurobiologist Paul Expert of King’s College London. “One possible by-product of this greater communication across the whole brain is the phenomenon of synaesthesia” common during psychedelic experiences, of sensory mix-up: tasting colors, feeling sounds, seeing smells, and so on.

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.

The first study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, revealed decreases in brain activity after injection of psilocybin that were localized to the default-mode network.

This finding was exciting because it synched with the idea that psychedelics cause temporary “ego dissolution”, in other words diminishing one’s sense of having a firm and enduring personality. New research adds to our understanding about how this happens.

A study that examined brain scans of people under the influence of psilocybin found that it reduces activity in certain areas of the brain. That reduction of activity leads to the drug’s effect on cognition and memory. Psychedelics, and psilocybin in particular, might actually be eliminating what could be called the extra “noise” in the brain.

Psychiatry professor Matthew Johnson, who works at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, presented the preliminary results of a pilot feasibility study looking at the ability of psilocybin to treat smoking addiction at the 2013 Psychedelic Science conference in Oakland, Calif. For the study, five cigarette-addicted participants underwent placebo-controlled psilocybin treatment with a psychiatrist. All five completely quit smoking after their first psilocybin session. At all followup visits, which occurred up to one year later for the first four participants, it was biologically confirmed that the participants had abstained from cigarettes.

It should be noted that like all ‘major’ hallucinogens, psilocybin can precipitate psychotic episodes and uncover or aggravate previous mental illness. If you’re stressed out or depressed, don’t take mushrooms; if you have schizophrenia,DO NOT take mushrooms.

For exhaustingly exhaustive and thoroughly technical descriptions of most Psilocybes, the reader is referred to Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World by Paul Stamets, Singer & Smith: Mycologia 58, 263-303 and H0iland: Norw J Botany 25(2), 111-122.

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a brew prepared with the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, originally used for spiritual and healing purposes in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Peru’s government claimed that consumption of the “teacher” or “wisdom plant “constitutes the gateway to the spiritual world and its secrets, which is why traditional Amazon medicine has been structured around the ayahuasca ritual”

Psychedelics Treat Mental Disorders Change Human Consciousness Reorganizing Brain - Ayahuasca

Though scientific evidence of the clinical benefits of ayahuasca is limited, advocates say it has become increasingly popular as a tool to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and addictions.

“Most people seek ayahuasca with good intentions. They are not thrill-seeking but are curious, serious, or have specific issues such as depression,” says botanist Professor Dennis McKenna, from the University of Minnesota.

The vine is usually mixed with leaves containing the psychedelic compound DMT (diemethyltryptamine). It causes hallucinogenic experiences, and is made up of a chemical compound that already occurs within the human body endogenously (as well as in a number of plants). This means our brains are naturally set up to process the compound because it has receptors that exist specifically to do so.

Research based on near-death experiences points to the fact that the brain releases DMT during death. Some researchers have also conjectured that DMT is released during other intense experiences, including orgasm.

Gabor Mate, a medical doctor from Vancouver who is a prominent ayahuasca researcher, contends that therapy assisted by psychedelics, and ayahuasca in particular, can untangle complex, unconscious psychological stresses. He claims these stresses underlie and contribute to all chronic medical conditions, from cancer and addiction to depression and multiple sclerosis.

The results of the first North American observational study on the safety and long-term effectiveness of ayahuasca treatment for addiction and dependence were published in June 2013 in the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews. All of the participants in the study reported positive and lasting changes, and the study found statistically significant improvements “for scales assessing hopefulness, empowerment, mindfulness, and quality of life meaning and outlook subscales. Self-reported alcohol, tobacco and cocaine use declined, although cannabis and opiate use did not.” The reported reductions in problematic cocaine use were also statistically significant.

It is a ritualistic learning process that is becoming increasingly popular across the globe, with people exploring their personal development through the introspective nature of the hallucinogenic experience, according to the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service (ICEERS).

LSD

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a naturally occurring alkaloid extracted from the fungus Ergot which can grow on rye and other grains. It is among the most potent, mood changing chemicals. It is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste. From a chemical perspective, LSD in its pure, unadulterated form, is relatively safe, and although it varies from person to person, it has no serious physiological effects. “Man-made” LSD or “street acid” on the other hand is manufactured with combinations of poisons (usually strychnine, a rat killer) and should be avoided at all costs. Unlike cannabis, LSD highs can last much longer — usually over six hours and in some cases more than twelve hours on different “street acids” which can be problematic for those experiencing “bad trips.”

Note that the extraction of LSD from Ergot is complex and requires skills that are well-versed in chemistry. Do not initiate your own experiments.

LSD is known to cause changes in consciousness, including “ego-dissolution,” or a loss of the sense of self. Despite a detailed knowledge of the action of LSD at specific serotonin receptors, it has not been understood how these pharmacological effects can translate into such a profound effect on consciousness.

Psychedelics Treat Mental Disorders Change Human Consciousness Reorganizing Brain - LSD

It is capable of producing a full range of low and high level hallucinatory states in a fashion that is significantly less consistent and reproducible than that of many other commonly used psychedelics.

Although LSD is technically capable of producing hallucinatory states in a fashion that is on par with other powerful psychelics, including vividness and intensity, these effects are extremely rare and inconsistent in comparison. This lack of consistently induced hallucinatory breakthroughs means that for most, LSD is simply not as deep of an experience as certain other psychedelics. On the rare occasion that they are induced however, they can be comprehensively described in terms of their variations as lucid in believability, interactive in style, new experiences in content, autonomous in controllability and geometry-based in appearance.

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease published results from the first study of LSD’s therapeutic potential in humans to appear in more than four decades. The controlled, double-blind study, which was conducted in Switzerland under the direction of Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser, measured the impact of LSD-assisted psychotherapy on 12 people with life-threatening diseases (mainly terminal cancer). “The study was a success in the sense that we did not have any noteworthy adverse effects,” Gasser says. “All participants reported a personal benefit from the treatment, and the effects were stable over time.”

LSD reduces connectivity within brain networks, or the extent to which nerve cells or neurons within a network fire in synchrony. LSD also seems to reduce the extent to which separate brain networks remain distinct in their patterns or synchronization of firing. Overall, LSD interferes with the patterns of activation in the different brain networks that underlie human thought and behavior.

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and his colleagues at Imperial College London did sequential brain scans of 20 healthy volunteers over 6 hours, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which maps brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow, and magnetoencephalography (MEG), a technique that images brain function by recording magnetic fields produced by electrical currents occurring in the brain.

Dr. Carhart-Harris suggests that “with better assessment tools available today than in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it may be possible to evaluate potential uses of LSD as a treatment for addiction and other disorders, such as treatment-resistant depression “which we are currently investigating with a similar drug to LSD”. LSD also may provide a useful human model of psychosis, as it leads to changes in brain network behavior that shows overlap with the early phase of psychosis.

“I see the true importance of LSD in the possibility of providing material aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality. Such a use accords entirely with the essence and working character of LSD as a sacred drug.” Dr Albert Hofmann, the founder of LSD.

“… LSD is best understood as a powerful unspecific amplifier, or catalyst, of mental processes, which facilitates the emergence of unconscious material from different levels of the human psyche.”‘ Dr. Stan Grof, Esalen Institute.

The War on Drugs May Have Misrepresented Psychedelics; Here’s Why That Matters


magic mushrooms

The word “psychedelic” can inspire visions of the 1960s — hippies dancing in mud puddles at Woodstock and Grateful Dead groupies packed into Volkswagen buses. But psychedelics may not be as dangerous and addictive as our society thinks. Many of the negative perceptions we have of psychedelics can be traced back to their prohibition in the 1970s, when The War on Drugs terminated all of the medical research being conducted on them.

Nearly half a century has passed since then, and psychedelic research is only beginning to surge again, but the evidence already suggests substances like LSD (acid), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and MDMA (ecstasy) may be able to treat mental health disorders and substance addiction better than what’s currently available. That is, if the law will allow it.

1.INCONSISTENCIES IN DRUG SCHEDULING

All legal and illicit drugs are categorized into five groups, called schedules, which are based on available medical uses and potential for abuse. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “ schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” These drugs also have “no currently accepted medical use.”

LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA are all placed in schedule I; however, many psychedelic experts agree that these substances are not addictive and have a low potential for abuse. In fact, they may just be the total opposite.

“The curious property of psychedelics is that they’re anti-addictive,” Dr. James Fadiman, author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide from Santa Cruz, Calif. told Medical Daily. Fadiman has been researching psychedelics since the 1960s, and over the decades, he’s observed that the drugs are difficult to abuse because they are incapable of producing psychoactive effects when used in succession.

“You can take 100 micrograms of LSD, [a typical dose], on Monday and have an experience. Then if you take 100 micrograms on Tuesday, you’ll maybe get one tenth of that experience. Take 100 micrograms on Wednesday, [and you’ll get] no experience. Take even 1,000 micrograms on Thursday, zero experience. It’s as if your system says, ‘this is not appropriate!’”

Meanwhile, many drugs that are widely regarded as extremely addictive or dangerous are placed in less restrictive schedules than psychedelics. Cocaine, for example, has been ranked by a panel of addiction experts as one of the most addictive drugs, yet it is placed in schedule II, along with methamphetamine. And all the way down on schedule IV is Xanax, a highly addictive benzodiazepine frequently prescribed for anxiety disorders.

“I never, ever write a prescription for a benzodiazepine without telling the patient that they are addictive, and that there is a risk that they will become addicted,” Dr. Howard Forman, director of the Addiction Consultation Service at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, told Medical Daily. “My goal is not to have these people on medications for 50 years. Benzodiazepines are essential for the right patients, but it’s a heavy responsibility to prescribe them.”

So why are psychedelics classified as schedule I if they have a lower potential for abuse than some schedule II or IV drugs?

Terrence Boos, chief of the DEA’s Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section, told Medical Daily: “ They are placed there because they do not have a medical use,” adding that this has been supported by ongoing research. However, the DEA did not provide any details regarding this research during an interview with four of the agency’s members, nor did they respond to follow-up requests.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees the research, told Medical Daily it would not make information regarding investigational new drugs available to the public.

Independent and small-scale research studies, however, have demonstrated that psychedelics can effectively treat mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Moreover, the research often indicates that psychedelics can be even more effective than the medicines that are currently prescribed. For example, typical treatments for depression have been shown to fail in some instances among patients; but with psychedelics, they’ll respond well.  In a study currently being conducted by the Beckley Foundation, 12 people with treatment-resistant depression were relieved from their symptoms for months after receiving just a single dose of psilocybin.

Antidepressants and benzodiazepines, the most common medications used to treat mental disorders, must also be taken daily, and often over the course of a lifetime. Psychedelics, on the other hand, make long-lasting, positive changes in the brain after as little as one dose. In 2011, Johns Hopkins University discovered that a single dose of psilocybin could make people more open-minded for up to a year. And in April, research directed by the Beckley Foundation found that LSD creates more flexible patterns of thinking by increasing the communication between different brain networks.

“ Normally, a brain operates in a well-defined, organized manner, while still maintaining a degree of flexibility or adaptability,” Anna Ermakova, a science officer at the Beckley Foundation, explained toMedical Daily. “ Certain mental illnesses, such as depression, addiction, or obsessive-compulsive disorder are associated with inflexible or excessively organized patterns of activity. Psychedelics are thought to break down these organized patterns.”

The results of these studies may be promising, but because they aren’t FDA-sanctioned, they cannot be considered for rescheduling psychedelics. The FDA requires a series of approved studies to be conducted in order for a new prescription medicine to be developed. The last step alone, called a phase III clinical trial, requires anywhere between 300 and 3000 participants, and must last between one and four years.

MDMA is among the first schedule I drugs to be tested in a phase III trial; in 2017, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) will test the drug as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If it’s successful, the FDA may move to legalize MDMA-assisted therapy.

Past research has already shown that MDMA-assisted therapy — therapy sessions during which patients are administered a dose of MDMA — is a long-lasting, effective treatment for PTSD. Across a series of studies conducted by MAPS, 136 patients who all suffered from PTSD for an average of 19 years, and were unresponsive to typical treatments, found lasting results from just two MDMA-assisted therapy sessions. The success rate was 83 percent, compared to just 10 to 20 percent for SSRIs, the class of antidepressants often used to treat PTSD. After four years, nearly all of the patients had remained PTSD-free, and those who relapsed were cured after a single additional MDMA-assisted therapy session.

Unlike the more classical psychedelics, MDMA does not produce hallucinogenic effects. Instead, MDMA makes you “become very aware of the feelings inside your body,” Brad Burge, director of communications and marketing for MAPS, told Medical Daily. Burge explained that MDMA suppresses activity in the amygdala, the brain region responsible for producing fear. This allows patients to be less fearful of recalling their painful memories during therapy. MDMA also initiates the release of two hormones, oxytocin and prolactin, which can increase one’s sense of connection and trust, helping patients bond with their therapist more easily.

2.THE CONSEQUENCES OF PROHIBITIVE DRUG POLICY

The phase III clinical trials of MDMA are expected to last three to four years, completing in 2021. But even if the trials are successful, psychedelics will not immediately be taken out of schedule I. After the FDA completes a medical evaluation of a drug, it sends a recommendation to the DEA that states which schedule it believes the drug should be placed in. The ultimate decision to reschedule a drug, however, is made solely by the DEA administrator. In the 46 years since drug schedules were first created, the DEA has only rescheduled substances 39 times. Only five of those were instances when a drug was moved from schedule I to schedule II, and many were instances when a drug was moved to a more restrictive schedule.

With that in mind, consider a drug that is on the brink of shattering drug classification legitimacy in the United States: marijuana. Despite the fact that medical marijuana has been legalized in 24 states, the plant remains classified as schedule I. Marijuana and psychedelics were both assigned to schedule I through the passing of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), a statute signed into law in 1970 by Richard Nixon, just before he declared the “War on Drugs.”

“America’s Public Enemy Number One in the United States is drug abuse,” Nixon famously stated. “In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.”

As much criticism as the War on Drugs faces, Nixon’s policies weren’t totally unjustified. During the era of his administration, the rates of drug use and overdoses were skyrocketing.

“In New York City more people between the ages of 15 and 35 years die as a result of narcotics than from any other single cause,” Nixon stated to Congress. “As part of this administration’s ongoing efforts to stem the tide of drug abuse, which has swept America in the last decade, we submitted legislation in July of 1969 for a comprehensive reform of federal drug enforcement laws. Fifteen months later, in October, 1970, the Congress passed this vitally-needed legislation, and it is now producing excellent results.”

The problem is that the results haven’t been excellent. The War on Drugs has failed to reduce any drug use at all, even after drug control spending was dramatically increased. It also has resulted in over four decades of mass imprisonment of the American people for nonviolent crimes, granted America the world’s highest incarceration rate, created a surging and violent black market for drugs, and fueled the Mexican drug cartel.

5 Powerful Psychedelics That Reorganize the Brain and Elevate Consciousness


Psychoactive plants and hallucinogens have given us the opportunity to see life through different perspectives for thousands of years.

Michael Forrester, Prevent Disease | Psychoactive plants and hallucinogens have given us the opportunity to see life through different perspectives for thousands of years. Many of these plants, which can only be defined as gifts from nature, have unfortunately been declared illegal in many parts of the world due to the ignorance and intolerance of many governments. As the shift in consciousness is accelerating across the planet, more people are accepting the true power of psychedelics with unprecedented potential to treat cancers, addictions, psychological traumas, but most of all, to reorganize the brain and shift thought patterns. It is now imperative for human consciousness that we free psychedelics from scrutiny and demonization, so that we may all use these plants responsibly to facilitate a greater awareness of non-secular concepts that are changing our world.

Author’s caution: I preface this article with a few words of caution. Specifically, through my shamanistic practices around the world, I have experienced the effects of all of the psychedelics mentioned below. Each has its own use and effectively complements specific practices in shaman culture. They are not to be abused in any setting as many can lead to a temporary lack of awareness of body and reality itself. This effectively places the subject in harms way, especially without a support party present. Please use any psychedelic plant responsibly, never if you are under 19 years of age, and only under the supervision of those who have been trained or have experienced the benefits first-hand through education and guidance. Your support party should always be sober, of clear mind and somebody you trust.

Note:
– Do not ingest psychedelics with alcohol
– Do not ingest psychedelics without supervision of responsible adults
– Do not combine psychedelics without expert supervision
– Do not use psychedelics as recreational party drugs
– Do not use psychedelics if you are prone to drug-seeking behavior
– Do not use psychedelics as a form of escaping from reality
– Do not use around dangerous environments
– Do not use if you are pregnant or breast-feeding
– Do not use if ignoring responsibilities in life to chase a high
– Do not use if symptoms aggravate a present mental illness
– DO ingest the raw plant whenever possible rather than smoking

Most of the psychedelic scare stories ever published were generated by people pursuing their own political or financial agendas, or by people with fundamentalist morals who were afraid of losing their power. In the last century. more than 99% of all information intended to vilify psychedelics has been proven false.

The shift in consciousness that has taken over the planet will not enlighten every human being. Some are not meant to experience the shift and will pass on (sometimes when you least expect it). Others are already on board. For those in between (and even for those on board), psychedelics offer a unique window of opportunity “during the high” which is otherwise absent without it. There are so many wonderful elements of consciousness including specific gateways which psychedelics enter, that ego simply has no chance of competing out. Ego tries, but it rarely if ever succeeds. They open a portal of beauty and creativity so large, that you can step into it and enjoy it in a way that is rarely available to the humanity from any other substance on Earth. Only very deep meditative states can match what psychedelics offer, and each state is very different.

Many researchers have been interested in the idea that psychedelics facilitate communication across the brain and, more specifically, how the default-mode network in the brain, arguably science’s best biological correlate of the self, normally works to constrain this.

Two studies have found absolutely no link between psychedelic use and a wide suite of mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts. For example, people who have tried LSD or psilocybin have lower lifetime rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts.

“Psychedelics” are substances with the ability to expand human awareness beyond our normal modes of perception. Some may be the most amazing substances known to humanity, so potent that just 1/10,000th of a gram can send one on a journey beyond time and space, beyond life and death. Here the psychedelic voyager can unlock and experience the collective evolutionary consciousness of billions of years past and an infinite future.

They allow the user to transcend the body, the personality, and view of the mind from undreamed-of perspectives, experiencing supersensory and extrasensory perception, choose from an infinite variety of “realities,” which can permanently change our experience of life.

Worship involving psychedelic plants and their use in spiritual pursuits can be traced to the beginnings of recorded history. The major role these plants played in the formation of early religions has been documented by several historians.

“I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about. The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature.”
— Terence McKenna

Each person’s mind and capacity for handling psychedelics is different.
Psychedelics are not for everybody. Although most psychedelic trips are experienced as beneficial, some people have had experiences that left them disturbed afterwards. The main reason for these negative experiences is lack of preparation, rather than anything inherent in the person or in the substance.

5 Powerful Psychedelics

Out of the following psychedelics, I have found Salvia and Ayahuasca to be the most powerful out of body experiences (that can be recalled), and Cannabis to be the most profound to alter daily thinking patterns when taken consistently and with the aid of meditation.

Perhaps one of the most medicinal but least powerful of all hallucinogens,Cannabis Sativa whose active ingredient is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has also been referred to as marijuana, dope, pot, bush, weed, hash, ganja, joint, among others. It is by far one of the safest psychedelics on Earth, and perhaps one of the few that can be utilized without supervision.

It can treat a number of diseases and disorders, including cancer, fibromyalgia, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis better than pharmaceuticals. Marijuana has also been found to reduce blood pressure, treat glaucoma, alleviate pain and even inhibit HIV. It is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective.

When cannabis is used over a period of time, it allows us to witness our many subtle motives which, under normal consciousness, are usually not noticeable. Duality within human consciousness becomes clear as does the ego and alter ego. Cannabis highs last typically from 1-4 hours.

There are two states of awareness which relate to these sensory effects. The basic one can be called pure awareness. In this state the person is completely and vividly aware of his experience, but there are no processes of thinking, manipulating, or interpreting going on. The sensations fill the person’s attention, which is passive but absorbed in what is occurring, which is usually experienced as intense and immediate. Pure awareness is experiencing without associations to what is there.

The other state of awareness is one which can be termed conscious awareness, in which the sensory experience is connected to meanings, plans, functions, decisions, and possible actions. This is our normal way of perceiving and how we usually go about our daily lives. We do not sense the world directly, but with the incorporation of our memories, meanings, and uses. In the state of pure awareness objects are experienced as sensory qualities, without the intrusion of interpretation. There are examples of this in normal life. The sensation of sexual orgasm may be (and hopefully is) experienced with pure awareness. Natural beauty, such as flowers, mountains, oceans, and sunsets, is sometimes experienced from a point of awareness without adding conscious thinking.

With this expansiveness which occurs after ingesting cannabis, users may begin to notice infinite possibilities to raise the quality of his/her life that would otherwise have remained hidden from normal, defensive consciousness. And feelings of health and happiness naturally lead to hope, which of itself can be curative.

For a person using marijuana for the first few times, sensory changes occur sequentially, rather than all at once. First they may notice increased brightness and clarity of colors, then sounds, then visual structures, such as paintings or designs. (Two dimensional photographs and motion pictures may be seen in three dimensions on the high, a perception which can be transferred to the normal state under certain conditions.) Then proprioceptive sensations may present themselves. Any order of the effects may occur during one high state or several. Often effects will develop to particular levels and then stabilize without further elaboration.

Cannabis can act as the loosening agent, so that whatever has been banned from consciousness may come cascading forth. To uncover our deceptions without our usual rationalizations can be unpleasant, an experience that has turned many psychologically fragile individuals away from marijuana despite its therapeutic catharsis.

Intensity of sensory experience seems related to the total proportion or amount of attention which is involved in the process. If attention is used in conscious or unconscious processes in making decisions, remembering, evaluating, etc., then this much is removed from the awareness of the sense experience. Thus it may be that one of the causes of sensory enhancement under cannabis is that attention energy moves from consciousness processes into awareness processes, which amplifies the experience.

Cannabis’ contribution to the developing spirit is cumulative. As bodily tensions are reduced mental fears dissolve, clearing the way to greater insight. People who try cannabis and reject it do so usually because they feel uncomfortable and confused in altered, fuller consciousness. Instead of life being safely framed by the rigidity of the societal dogma, the wold becomes unfamiliarly bigger, brighter, fuller, yet less manageable, more unpredictable and full of mystery. A mind that has been bound and accustomed to a low charge or a selling without light very often finds the expansiveness of reality too highly energized. The light can be blinding and disorienting. Over time, and with regular intake, when these higher states of seeing are no longer the focal point of attention, a restructuring of values may emerge.

**** SALVIA ****

Given the right dose, individual, set and setting, Salvia Divinorumproduces a unique state of ‘divine inebriation’ which has been traditionally used by Mazatec healers. It is the most powerful natural psychedelic legally available and capable of profound out-of-body experiences just by simply chewing its leaves. Users should observe all cautions with Salvia including appropriate sitters, safe environments and education before ingestion. Its effects can be traumatic for those who are unprepared.

Salvia divinorum is both similar to, and different from, other drugs that affect the brain and behavior. In many ways Salvia divinorum is a unique ‘magical’ herb. Salvia (and the salvinorin it contains) is very difficult to categorize pharmacologically. It does not fit well into any existing pharmacological class. A very small and almost insignificant amount of salvinorin can immediately propel the user into an out of body experience. Once the appropriate concentration of salvinorin is met, it takes only seconds before the user is unable to verbally respond to a sitter, and thus important that all dangerous objects and physical obstacles be removed in the user’s space. Most users who are exposed to large doses have only slight recall on what transpired in reality for up to 15 minutes after the dose.

Most reports describe the use of this plant by Mazatec shamans, and although it is just barely touched upon in the anthropological literature, it is also reportedly used by their immediately contiguous neighbors, the Cuicatecs and Chinatecs. Given that the plant is quite easily propagated, it is surprising that such an extraordinary herb is only known of in such a geographically limited area. It seems quite probable that it would have found its way to other neighboring tribes through sharing and trade.

With a moderately strong dose of Salvia, consciousness remains and some thought processes are still lucid, but one becomes completely involved in inner experience and loses all contact with consensual reality. Sometimes voices may be heard. With eyes open contact with consensual reality will not be entirely lost, but when you close your eyes you may forget about consensus reality and enter completely into a dreamlike scene. Shamanistic journeying to other lands, foreign or imaginary; encounters with beings, entities, spirits; or travels to other ages may occur. You may even live the life of another person. At this level you have entered the shaman’s world.

Individuality may be lost; one experiences merging with God/dess, mind, universal consciousness, or bizarre fusions with other objects real or imagined, e.g. merging with a wall may be experienced. At this level it is impossible to function in consensual reality, but unfortunately some people do not remain still but move around in this befuddled state. For this reason a sitter is essential to ensure the safety of someone voyaging to the inner levels. To the person experiencing this, the phenomenon may be terrifying or exceedingly pleasant; but to an outside observer the individual may appear confused or disoriented.

The dose can be well moderated by using an extract and users can enjoy a variety of intensities by simple sublingual application.

What is especially important during a Salvia trip is to not talk to the user unless it is requested and preferably shutdown all electronic devices including television, phone and music and they can create disruptions during the experience. Salvia is not a party drug and requires a responsible support person or group by the user’s side at all times.

What is interesting is that a surprisingly large proportion of salvia users report a type of afterglow which persists. It typically involves mood elevation, an overall sense of well being, and often a fresh outlook on life which can linger for several days (or longer) after the experience. This phenomenon seems to be quite common. For many mood elevation can last between one and three days.

**** PSILOCYBIN (MAGIC MUSHROOMS) ****

Ingesting these types of mushrooms has a strong hallucinogenic effect that begins to affect the user within 20-30 minutes. Early effects of the active ingredients in mushrooms, psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin, are broken down into psilocin once they have been taken. The initial feelings are described as mild anxiety or anticipatory sensations. Entire physical body sensation of energy or mild electricity running through the body is common.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms have been part of human culture as far back as the earliest recorded history. Ancient paintings of mushroom-ed humanoids have been found in caves in the Saharan desert. Central and Southern America cultures built temples to mushroom gods and carved “mushroom stones”. These stone carvings in the shape of mushrooms, or in which figures are depicted under the cap of a mushroom, have been dated to as early as 1000-500 B.C. The purpose of the sculptures is not certain, but these stones may have been religious objects.

The effects leave users in a high state of euphoria. They are mood enhancing, general happiness, insightful ideas and sense of creative energy.

In mathematical terms, normal brains have a well-ordered correlation state. There’s not much cross-linking between networks. That changes after the psilocybin dose. Suddenly the networks are cross-linking like crazy, but not in random ways. New types of order emerge.

“We can speculate on the implications of such an organization,” wrote researchers, who were led by neurobiologist Paul Expert of King’s College London. “One possible by-product of this greater communication across the whole brain is the phenomenon of synaesthesia” common during psychedelic experiences, of sensory mix-up: tasting colors, feeling sounds, seeing smells, and so on.

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.The first study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, revealed decreases in brain activity after injection of psilocybin that were localized to the default-mode network.

This finding was exciting because it synched with the idea that psychedelics cause temporary “ego dissolution”, in other words diminishing one’s sense of having a firm and enduring personality. New research adds to our understanding about how this happens.

study that examined brain scans of people under the influence of psilocybin found that it reduces activity in certain areas of the brain. That reduction of activity leads to the drug’s effect on cognition and memory. Psychedelics, and psilocybin in particular, might actually be eliminating what could be called the extra “noise” in the brain.

Psychiatry professor Matthew Johnson, who works at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, presented the preliminary results of a pilot feasibility study looking at the ability of psilocybin to treat smoking addiction at the 2013 Psychedelic Science conference in Oakland, Calif. For the study, five cigarette-addicted participants underwent placebo-controlled psilocybin treatment with a psychiatrist. All five completely quit smoking after their first psilocybin session. At all followup visits, which occurred up to one year later for the first four participants, it was biologically confirmed that the participants had abstained from cigarettes.

It should be noted that like all ‘major’ hallucinogens, psilocybin can precipitate psychotic episodes and uncover or aggravate previous mental illness. If you’re stressed out or depressed, don’t take mushrooms; if you have schizophrenia, DO NOT take mushrooms.

For exhaustingly exhaustive and thoroughly technical descriptions of most Psilocybes, the reader is referred to Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World by Paul Stamets, Singer & Smith: Mycologia 58, 263-303 and H0iland: Norw J Botany 25(2), 111-122.

**** AYAHUASCA ****

Ayahuasca is a brew prepared with the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, originally used for spiritual and healing purposes in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Peru’s government claimed that consumption of the “teacher” or “wisdom plant “constitutes the gateway to the spiritual world and its secrets, which is why traditional Amazon medicine has been structured around the ayahuasca ritual”

Though scientific evidence of the clinical benefits of ayahuasca is limited, advocates say it has become increasingly popular as a tool to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and addictions.

“Most people seek ayahuasca with good intentions – they are not thrill-seeking but are curious, serious – or have specific issues such as depression,” says botanist Prof Dennis McKenna, from the University of Minnesota.

The vine is usually mixed with leaves containing the psychedelic compound DMT(diemethyltryptamine). It causes hallucinogenic experiences, and is made up of a chemical compound that already occurs within the human body endogenously (as well as in a number of plants). This means our brains are naturally set up to process the compound because it has receptors that exist specifically to do so.

Some research based on near-death experiences points to the fact that the brain releases DMT during death. Some researchers have also conjectured that DMT is released during other intense experiences, including orgasm.

Gabor Mate, a medical doctor from Vancouver who is a prominent ayahuasca researcher, contends that therapy assisted by psychedelics, and ayahuasca in particular, can untangle complex, unconscious psychological stresses. He claims these stresses underlie and contribute to all chronic medical conditions, from cancer and addiction to depression and multiple sclerosis.

The results of the first North American observational study on the safety and long-term effectiveness of ayahuasca treatment for addiction and dependence were published in June 2013 in the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews. All of the participants in the study reported positive and lasting changes, and the study found statistically significant improvements “for scales assessing hopefulness, empowerment, mindfulness, and quality of life meaning and outlook subscales. Self-reported alcohol, tobacco and cocaine use declined, although cannabis and opiate use did not.” The reported reductions in problematic cocaine use were also statistically significant.

It is a ritualistic learning process that is becoming increasingly popular across the globe, with people exploring their personal development through the introspective nature of the hallucinogenic experience, according to the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service (ICEERS).

**** LSD ****

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a naturally occurring alkaloid extracted from the fungus Ergot which can grow on rye and other grains. It is among the most potent, mood changing chemicals. It is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste. From a chemical perspective, LSD in its pure, unadulterated form, is relatively safe, and although it varies from person to person, it has no serious physiological effects.“Man-made” LSD or “street acid” on the other hand is manufactured with combinations of poisons (usually strychnine, a rat killer) and should beavoided at all costs. Unlike cannabis, LSD highs can last much longer–usually over six hours and in some cases more than twelve hours on different “street acids” which can be problematic for those experiencing “bad trips.”

Note that the extraction of LSD from Ergot is complex and requires skills that are well-versed in chemistry (do not initiate your own experiments).

LSD is known to cause changes in consciousness, including “ego-dissolution,” or a loss of the sense of self. Despite a detailed knowledge of the action of LSD at specific serotonin receptors, it has not been understood how these pharmacological effects can translate into such a profound effect on consciousness.

It is capable of producing a full range of low and high level hallucinatory states in a fashion that is significantly less consistent and reproducible than that of many other commonly used psychedelics.

Although LSD is technically capable of producing hallucinatory states in a fashion that is on par with other powerful psychelics, including vividness and intensity, these effects are extremely rare and inconsistent in comparison. This lack of consistently induced hallucinatory breakthroughs means that for most, LSD is simply not as deep of an experience as certain other psychedelics. On the rare occasion that they are induced however, they can be comprehensively described in terms of their variations as lucid in believability, interactive in style, new experiences in content, autonomous in controllability and geometry-based in appearance.

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease published results from the first study of LSD’s therapeutic potential in humans to appear in more than four decades. The controlled, double-blind study, which was conducted in Switzerland under the direction of Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser, measured the impact of LSD-assisted psychotherapy on 12 people with life-threatening diseases (mainly terminal cancer). “The study was a success in the sense that we did not have any noteworthy adverse effects,” Gasser says. “All participants reported a personal benefit from the treatment, and the effects were stable over time.”

LSD reduces connectivity within brain networks, or the extent to which nerve cells or neurons within a network fire in synchrony. LSD also seems to reduce the extent to which separate brain networks remain distinct in their patterns or synchronization of firing. Overall, LSD interferes with the patterns of activation in the different brain networks that underlie human thought and behavior.

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and his colleagues at Imperial College London did sequential brain scans of 20 healthy volunteers over 6 hours, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which maps brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow, and magnetoencephalography (MEG), a technique that images brain function by recording magnetic fields produced by electrical currents occurring in the brain.

Dr. Carhart-Harris suggests that “with better assessment tools available today than in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it may be possible to evaluate potential uses of LSD as a treatment for addiction and other disorders, such as treatment-resistant depression “which we are currently investigating with a similar drug to LSD”. LSD also may provide a useful human model of psychosis, as it leads to changes in brain network behavior that shows overlap with the early phase of psychosis.

“I see the true importance of LSD in the possibility of providing material aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality. Such a use accords entirely with the essence and working character of LSD as a sacred drug.” Dr Albert Hofmann, the founder of LSD.

“… LSD is best understood as a powerful unspecific amplifier, or catalyst, of mental processes, which facilitates the emergence of unconscious material from different levels of the human psyche.”‘ Dr Stan Grof, Esalen Institute.Although I don’t recommend trying LSD without a trained professional guiding you through the process, if you are absolutely determined to ignore this advice, the following video gives sensible guidelines on how to prepare for and manage an LSD trip.

Study of 3 Psychedelics Finds They Do No Harm but Actually Improve Mental Health


magicmushrooms

A new study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology has found that taking psychedelic drugs does not result in impairment of mental health or an increased risk of depression. From the three drugs that were involved (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or LSD, Psilocybin and Mescaline), the study declared that there are ‘no significant associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and increased likelihood of past year serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans and suicide attempt, depression and anxiety.’

People who experiment with psilocybin “report it as one of the most profound experiences they’ve had in their lives, even comparing it to the birth of their children.”

We’ve known for several years now that the psychedelic compound psilocybin found in certain types of mushrooms can cause beneficial personality changes in an individual resulting in a more open personality, which is associated with imagination, art, feelings and general ‘broad-mindedness’. This study was conducted at the John Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore and found that even as little as one mushroom can cause these positive personality changes for up to a year. It is noteworthy to say that openness is also associated with larger successes in life, according to psychedelic researcher and scientist Dr. Robin Carhart Harris.

“Psychedelics often elicit deeply personally and spiritually meaningful experiences and sustained beneficial effects.” [Source]

Magic Mushrooms Cubensis

The end of the abstract for the study published by the Journal of Phychoparmacology concludes that,“Overall, it is difficult to see how prohibition of psychedelics can be justified as a public health measure.”, alluding to the failed – and in this case pointless – drug war that begin during Richard Nixon’s tenure President of the United States. This study alludes to the fact that the war on drugs is losing its meaning in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that disproves the propaganda line that these substances are dangerous, as it has already with cannabis. The study also highlights psychedelics as non-addictive and ‘extremely’ unlikely to cause ‘serious adverse events’.

The results of this study are likely no surprise to many, because the idea that taking psychedelic drugs results in mental instability is preposterous. Research on psychedelics has only recently started up again after a multi-decade hiatus under the dictate that this research is unsafe to conduct. This assertion is being contradicted by a growing body of evidence that psychedelics do not cause serious problems like we’ve been told, and now psychedelics are slowly becoming the new mainstream area of research into mental health.

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