Psychedelics have been used for over 5000 years and were originally viewed as a way to gain access to the spiritual world. Human beings across all cultures and throughout history have reported having profound, mystical experiences as a result of ingesting psychedelic plants such as psilocybin mushrooms (known as “magic mushrooms”). These plants were given to us by nature in order to show us ways that we could live better lives. This is because psychedelics offer an experience like no other: they offer direct, unmediated access to our own consciousness and can therefore help us understand who we really are and how we got here. They tap into the deepest recesses of our minds and allow us to travel through time.
From the early 1950s until the early 1970s, clinical research with psychedelic drugs was abundant. The scientific community studied the therapeutic benefits of LSD and other psychedelics for a range of mental disorders, including addiction and depression (Stanislav Grof, M.D.). By 1965, over 1,000 published studies had found that LSD was an effective treatment for alcoholism, opioid addiction and neurosis (Psychedelic Therapy). A meta-analysis conducted in 2014 concluded that there is substantial evidence to support the use of psychedelic substances as suggested treatments for unipolar mood disorders and substance use disorders (Griffiths et al.). However, since the Controlled Substances Act came into effect in 1971, research on psychedelics has been restricted.
How do psychedelics work?
Serotonin (5-HT) is an important neurotransmitter in our brains that helps regulate things like mood, sleep, digestion, appetite etc. By causing more serotonin to be released into the brain, psychedelics work by elevating our mood; this elevates our general outlook on life. Serotonin can be found in many different species of plants, including psilocybin mushrooms. When we ingest these plants, they are broken down by enzymes in our stomach and liver into the chemical psilocin, which is similar to serotonin.
Many researchers have argued that the way psychedelics work is through a process called “psychedelic therapy,” meaning they allow people to delve into their subconscious and look at repressed memories to provide a better understanding of themselves and how they relate with others. With this new insight, patients can then work toward reconciling their issues within themselves and move forward in a healthier way.
In contrast to lucid dreams, which are remembered by the person having them — when we’re awake — we don’t remember the majority of our dreams because they happen while we’re asleep. “Psychedelics have marked similarity with naturally occurring states, so that might be why they lead to these very transformative experiences,” says Harvard psychology professor and psychedelics researcher Dr. Matthew Johnson. “
What is psychedelic assisted therapy and how does it work?
The use of psychedelic compounds to enhance the therapeutic process is known as psychedelic therapy.
This new approach to mental healthcare is beginning to emerge, which could have a huge impact on how we understand and treat addiction and other mental health issues. Psychedelic assisted therapy has been shown to be highly effective as a treatment for depression, PTSD, anxiety, opiate addiction and much more. In the past decade there have been over 50 clinical trials utilizing psychedelic medicine which have demonstrated that up to 80% of patients experience an extraordinary reduction in symptoms. These results significantly outperform those seen with any other traditional medications or therapies for a number of different conditions. The scientific data shows just how powerful psychedelics can be when used correctly—and why they shouldn’t be locked away in a cupboard somewhere but put to good use in controlled settings.
Though psychedelic assisted therapy is not yet approved by any national regulatory agency outside of a case by case basis, its benefits are becoming more apparent every day.
Written by Med Plant Science