Monday, 7 December 2015

Psychedelic Healing                       

In the 1960s and the mid-1970s, there was an anti-establishment cultural phenomenon that developed first in the United States and the United Kingdom, and then spread throughout much of the with London, New York City, and San Francisco along with large Canadian cities. They became the hotbeds of early countercultural activity. 

Casual LSD and Magic Mushroom users evolved and expanded into a subculture that extolled the mystical and religious symbolism often brought about by the drug's powerful effects. They also advocated their uses as methods of raising consciousness and bringing about strange visions and feelings. Unfortunately many of the psychedelic plants had been misused and transformed into recreational street drugs. Further many American GIs in Viet Nam began using these two drugs and it interfered with their fighting abilities. And worse yet, the CIA began experimenting on Canadians with LSD in Montreal with disastrous results.

These two drugs were commonly used recreational drugs as was marijuana. Finally the authorities clamped down on their uses as recreational and experimental drugs and laws were created that banned them altogether. Heavy penalties were heaped upon their users.

Timothy Leary and his Harvard research team had hopes for potential changes in society. Their research began with mushrooms (psilocybin) and was called the Harvard Mushroom Project. The subjects for this research were convicts at the Concord Prison. After the research sessions, Leary did a follow-up. He found that 75% of the “turned on” prisoners who were released had stayed out of jail. He believed he had solved the nation's crime problem. Most officials were skeptical. Subsequently this breakthrough was not promoted any further. That is until the first decade of the following century.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms, collectively known as psilocybin mushrooms. The so-called Magic Mushroom is one of them.                            

Mind-altering psychedelics are back however this time they are being explored in labs for their therapeutic applications rather than being used illegally. Studies are looking at these hallucinogens to treat a number of otherwise intractable psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug or alcohol dependency.           

Since a great many prisoners in our jails prisons are mentally ill, it is possible that these hallucinogens can bring about a reduction of the prison populations everywhere.

The past 22 years have seen a quiet resurgence of psychedelic drug research as scientists have come to recognize the long-underappreciated potential of six of these drugs. In the past few years, a growing number of studies using human volunteers have begun to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of drugs such as LSD, Psilocybin, DMT, MDMA, Ibogaine, Ketamine and Salvia divinorum        

We already know that medical marijuana is used regularly to ease pain etc., so it follows that other hallucinating drugs will serve their purposes also with the blessings of the authorities. I do not however see the eventual approval of these drugs being used for recreational purposes like some States in the US have given their OK for marijuana being used recreationally.

Psychedelic medicines are some of the most powerful tools in the world for personal healing and psychological growth. For example, if properly used, Salvia divinorum may help cure cocaine addiction, curb cancer and HIV, or be useful in Alzheimer’s or schizophrenic patients.

Depression is a challenging and often long-term condition that can be very difficult to treat. In clinical studies, psychedelics have shown significant long-term positive impact on mood, even when used in just a single session. For decades, psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms and LSD have been used in clinical studies, private therapy, and at home to alleviate depression. More recently, the prescription medication ketamine as well as psilocybin has shown incredible results for depression.

I will quote directly from an article titled, How to use psychedelics that gives a good description as to how a retired clinical psychologist, Clark Martin who suffered from depression sought help via the use of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient found in certain mushrooms. His case seemed untreatable as he struggled through chemotherapy and other grueling regimens for kidney cancer. Counseling seemed futile to him. So did the antidepressant pills he tried. 

Nothing had any lasting effect until, at the age of 65, he had his first psychedelic experience. He had left his home in Vancouver, Washington, State to take part in an experiment at Johns Hopkins medical school involving the use of psilocybin as a means of treating depression.

Participants are invited to come to a research room that has been setup to feel comfortable and they take a dose of the substance. A researcher sits with them for the duration of the experience (typically 4-6 hours) and may talk them through any anxiety that arises. But generally, the participants simply remain quiet and feel the experience, following where their thoughts and feelings take them.

This setup can be replicated at home or in another comfortable setting. The most essential elements are a comfortable space, plenty of time to stay in the experience, and someone you trust who can support you during the experience.

The mechanism by which psychedelic experiences alleviate depression is not completely clear to researchers, but there are a few theories. One mechanism may be that the drugs directly open pathways in the brain that are normally inhibited, allowing emotions to flow more freely and helping people feel more grounded and connected. But the mental experiences and explorations that occur while taking psychedelics seem more likely to be responsible for the long term impact. This may explain why people who use psychedelics recreationally do not automatically experience the same benefits as individuals who use these substances in a more directed and focused environment. The mental experiences that consistently arise such as feeling more connected to the universe, being able to openly face fears and challenges of life, seeing your relationships more clearly, and feeling a stronger relationship to your own religious traditions all seem to transform an individual’s perspective on their life.

Today, more than a year later, Clark Martin credits that six-hour experience with helping him overcome his depression and profoundly transforming his relationships with his daughter and friends.

Studies have shown that psilocybin works on the same areas of the brain as the SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, as well as talking therapies and meditation as carried out by skilled practitioners. But the advantage of that means of treatment over pills is the positive effect of using psilocybin that can be a long-lasting treatment of depression.

Many people find their day to day experience of life is filled with anxiety, limiting the activities they do and the enjoyment they have in life. Psychedelics such As certain mushrooms and LSD have been used for decades to treat anxiety disorders and to reduce anxiety levels.

In some cases, these substances seem to directly alleviate feelings of anxiety, even at very small doses (below the level at which they subjectively alter consciousness). For other people, psychedelics help them explore the root causes of their anxieties and fears and find peace with them. And for many people, psychedelics bring them to a place a spiritual peace and openness that can become a new touchstone for letting go of anxiety or learning not to identify with it so strongly.

As time moves on, I believe that there will be less people sufferings from depression and anxiety who are currently suffering from these disabilities and the use of psychedelics will be common as a means of treatment for these unfortunate people who suffer from these forms of illness.  They will be able to function normally in society which will be good for them and society also. 


Those of you who discovered my blog recently, can look at previous articles I wrote by clicking in the archives listed at the left side of the page. 

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