Plenty of people need and use therapy because therapy can help with problems such as various neurological or psychological disorders, can help them on a journey of healing from trauma, or simply can be used as weekly maintenance and support. But traditional therapy might not always be the answer, as it is not a one-size-fits-all solution to everyone’s problems. What about the relationship between psychedelics and mental health?
There are many forms of therapy, both traditional and non-traditional forms. Anyone can find the form that works for them, whether traditional therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or psychotherapy. In the arsenal of different forms of mental health care exists a nascent form called Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy, a form of care that utilizes psychedelic medicine in conjunction with psychotherapy.
Most people have heard of “magic mushrooms,” a psychedelic drug known for causing an altered state of mind and hallucinations, used commonly in the 1960s and 1970s. Many have used magic mushrooms themselves. However, the idea that psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms can be used as a form of care might be a new concept for some people, causing some apprehension in its use in mental health care.
However, there is still much unknown about these drugs, and much work is happening to learn of their potential benefits in neurological and psychological disorder treatments. To combat some of these concerns, let us explore the use of psychedelic medicine in conjunction with therapy to hopefully assuage some apprehensions and possibly open up a new avenue for psychotherapy that might work for you.
What Are Psychedelics?
Psychedelics are a class of psychoactive substances that have mental and sensory perception-altering effects as well as, at high dosages, the ability to induce hallucinations. Such drugs include but are not limited to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD or simply “acid”), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), ketamine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or simply “ecstasy”), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and Ayahuasca. Many of these substances are found or are close analogs of chemicals found in plants or fungi.
Psychedelics have since been classified as “drugs of abuse”, being perceived as having no medicinal and medical value. However, controlled clinical studies have been conducted to evaluate the potential psychopharmacological properties and therapeutic effectiveness as a supplement to existing psychotherapeutic approaches.
Psychedelics generate shifts in mood, perception, and emotions, sense of time and affect all the senses. They also increase body temperature, affect coordination, and cause disorganized thoughts. Many different psychedelics are found naturally in seeds, vines, fungi, leaves, and trees. These drugs might also be produced in laboratories.
History of Psychedelic Drug Usage
Psychedelic medicine was used traditionally for millennia in spiritual and folk healing rituals, from Eurasia with the use of the ergot fungus (Claviceps purpurea), Central and North America with the use of morning glory (Turbina corymbosa) and peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii), and from the Amazon with the use of the ayahuasca brew (Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis).
Psychedelics were used in ancient times by various cultures worldwide and had mystic and spiritual associations, and they were traditionally swallowed in food or drink form, smoked, or inhaled. Mushrooms, for example, were often eaten fresh, cooked, or brewed as tea. The plant and fungal forms of these drugs were also occasionally mixed with tobacco or marijuana when smoked.
In the 1960s and 1970s, psychedelic drugs became associated with mainstream and counterculture, such as the “hippie” subculture, which developed in New York, Boston, Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, and more.
How Do Psychedelics Work?
Psychedelics work by activating serotonin 5-HT2A receptors, increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, allowing for more molecules to enter the brain while also activating other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
These psychedelics are thought to work by “resetting” what is known as the brain’s default mode network. This network is a group of regions in the brain that show lower activity levels when engaged in tasks such as paying attention but higher levels of activities when awake but not engaged in any mental activities or exercises. These regions of the brain are also responsible for our sense of self.
Psychedelics disrupt these regions of the brain, causing those who take psychedelics to lose their sense of self and experience ego dissolution, also colloquially known as “ego death,” which is a complete loss of subjective self-identity and has nothing to do with actually dying or injury. Often, the recreational use of psychedelics is used with the explicit purpose of triggering an ego death.
How Might Psychedelics Affect You?
Psychedelic drugs can affect each person differently based on weight, height, general health, if the user is used to taking it, if other drugs are taken simultaneously, the amount of the drug, or the strength of the batch.
The effects of psychedelic drugs can last hours, but this can vary widely based on the specific type of psychedelic drug that is taken. Some effects include a feeling of euphoria, relaxation, and wellbeing, but also confusion, dizziness, and blurred vision. Other physical effects include irregular heartbeat and breathing, sweating, and numbness.
What Is Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy?
Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy is a process and form of psychotherapy by which a patient uses psychedelic medicine in combination with traditional psychotherapy methods to assist in the healing and maintenance of various neurological or psychological disorders. Psychedelic drugs create and lead to profound spiritual experiences and insights and improve the treatment of trauma and mental health issues, thus creating a correlation between psychedelics and mental health.
The use of these psychedelic drugs in this manner must be done in a controlled environment aided by professionals. That is where the “therapy” in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy comes in. Specifically, psychedelic drugs are used in conjunction with psychotherapy, where a patient talks to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health providers rather than a regular therapist.
In Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy, you might discuss your condition and your moods, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors with your mental health provider with the help or assistance of psychedelic drugs. With the right guidance from a professional, there can be a beneficial relationship between psychedelics and mental health.
What Can Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Help With?
Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy can help with various mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by allowing patients to access emotions and memories that were previously unavailable without an altered state of consciousness. According to Med Plant Science, the most commonly reported benefits of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy include:
- Decreased levels of anxiety and depression
- Increased insight and understanding into the causes of one’s condition
- Increased self-awareness
- Increased compassion for oneself and others
- Decreased feelings of isolation and alienation
- Improved relationships with family members and friends
- Improvement in quality-of-life measures
There is also a relation between psychedelics and addiction. There has been recent research on “psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for addiction,” including a pilot study of treatments for dependence on tobacco and alcohol. This relationship between psychedelics and addiction might be counterintuitive, where one might assume that psychedelics might be the cause of addiction. But the relationship between psychedelics and addiction can actually be that of recovery rather than misuse.
There is also an interest in the use of psychedelic medicine in hospice or end-of-life care, in which “These medications can help people overcome their fear of death, and can help make the process of dying a more meaningful and spiritual experience.”
How to Invest in Psychedelics?
Med Plant Sciences offers psychedelic investment opportunities in which you can invest in the therapeutic revolution, aiding in the progression and change of mental health treatment and improving the outcomes of patient treatments.
By joining the movement, investors can be at the forefront of innovative advancements in treating the ongoing crisis of mental health and addiction.
Med Plant Sciences offers the chance for investors to experience medical advancements at the ground level. By the Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) note, those who participate will have the opportunity to convert their investments into future equity. As Med Plant Sciences advances, it’s estimated to reach a higher valuation, and with a 20% discount on future equity, investors could be gaining more than helping to save lives.
To take part in this forward initiative, you can sign up to join the initial financing round.
After signing up, you’ll receive your confirmation from Microdose. From here, you’ll be sent details of the onboarding process from Microdose’s investor education and community management partner, Mission Club.
These details will include any educational material, vetting, and information on opportunities to meet the founders, so participants can better decide whether they would like to fully commit their investment to this increasingly innovative era.
Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy is a nascent idea and new form of psychotherapy that might be beneficial for some patients with various neurological and psychological disorders such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, addiction, and more. Though there has been a history of worry about these drugs and their negative effects on the users, the use of these psychedelic drugs in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy would always be used in controlled environments with licensed professionals.
Studies are still being done on these drugs and their potential effects on patients while in conjunction with psychotherapy. Talk to your primary care provider for more information on whether Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy is right for you.
Written by Med Plant Science