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The Role of Psychedelics in Medicine

In recent decades, psychedelic drugs have been used as medicines. Today, some psychedelic drugs are being studied for their various abilities
The Role of Psychedelics in Medicine

Psychedelic medicines have long been associated with counterculture, but a growing body of research is aiming to rehabilitate their effects on mental health.

A detailed analysis published by the Global Drug Survey (GDS), which has gathered responses from more than 100,000 participants globally over the past seven years, indicates that psychedelics are increasingly being used by people seeking medical treatment.

The same survey found that almost one in every three Americans who had used psychedelics said they did so for therapeutic purposes.

The results suggest that illegal substances may be changing our understanding of how drugs affect psychology and medicine and that their potential use in treating depression and addiction should be taken seriously.

Psychedelics in medicine

It’s safe to say that psychedelic drugs have long been associated with the counterculture. While Native American cultures have used hallucinogenic plants for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the term “psychedelic” was coined and used to describe these substances. 

In the 1960s, hippies embraced psychedelics as a way to expand consciousness and set themselves apart from mainstream society.

The drugs were stigmatized due to associations with countercultural movements and were banned under Schedule I by President Nixon in 1971 for being too dangerous.

Psilocybin in medicine 

Research indicates that psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can be used to treat depression, anxiety, and addiction.

You may have heard about magic mushrooms and psilocybin, the active ingredient in them.

Evidence suggests that a single dose of psilocybin may be able to “reset” the brain’s neural circuits and reduce depression symptoms for an extended period. But what exactly is psilocybin? How does it work?

And how can it help us cope with mental health issues like depression?

Psilocybin is a natural psychedelic that has been used for thousands of years by Native Americans in religious ceremonies.

It’s also being studied as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and addiction by some universities across the globe, and results from some studies have shown that it can be effective at reducing symptoms of these conditions.

A research team led by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris at Imperial College London looked at the effects of psilocybin on 15 healthy volunteers who had never previously taken a hallucinogen.

These participants were given either a single dose or two doses spaced several days apart; their brains were then scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow, while they performed memory tasks before and after taking the drug.

The researchers found that after receiving psilocybin, the volunteers showed increased connectivity between different regions of their brains involved with processing emotions and self-awareness—a change that persisted for more than six months after treatment ended, even without ongoing use over time. 

The authors concluded: “[This] work provides support for our previous hypothesis that acute psilocybin produces lasting changes in both behavioral pattern recognition and emotional processing.”

Ayahuasca and substance abuse.

Some research suggests that Ayahuasca may help treat depression and substance abuse. The name “ayahuasca” is a combination of the Quechua words for “vine” (aya) and “wood” (Huesca). 

The vine, also called Banisteriopsis caapi, contains harmine and other alkaloids with psychedelic properties; the leaves of the chacruna plant contain DMT. Both are ingredients in an ayahuasca brew made by combining them with water and letting it sit overnight before drinking.

Ayahuasca has been used for religious ceremonies in South America since at least 500 CE; it’s still commonly consumed by shamans today as part of their healing practice. 

In addition to being considered a sacred medicine by indigenous people who use it, there’s some evidence that ayahuasca might be helpful for treating depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse problems, and possibly even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though more research needs to be done here.

MDMA and PTSD 

MDMA, which was once primarily known as ecstasy or molly, can be used to alleviate PTSD symptoms and boost feelings of optimism and empathy.

In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2018, researchers found that MDMA-assisted therapy helped reduce PTSD symptoms and allowed many participants to resume day-to-day activities.

Two years after treatment, 62% of subjects no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Subjects also reported feeling higher levels of optimism and empathy after treatment than they had before taking MDMA.

Other studies have shown similar positive results: in a 2016 study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School Of Medicine’s Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, 83% of participants who were given either two doses of psilocybin or one dose followed by two doses six weeks later showed clinically significant reductions in anxiety or depression scores four weeks following their second dose compared with pre-drug scores (with an average decrease in score between -42% and -56%).

ketamine was approved by the FDA in America 

In 2017, ketamine was approved by the FDA as a fast-acting treatment for hard-to-treat depression.

The drug is administered intravenously and works quickly; it can be used in emergency situations when patients need relief from suicidal thoughts or depression and are otherwise not responding to other medications.

The FDA’s decision may open doors for further research into psychedelics as potential treatments for mood disorders, and it will certainly raise questions about how these drugs are regulated and who should have access to them.

Summary: Psychedelic medicine is increasingly recognized as having therapeutic potential.

Psychedelic drugs have been used in religious ceremonies in many cultures for centuries. But they’ve also been studied by scientists who want to understand how they work and what effects they have on the brain and behavior. 

In recent decades, psychedelics in medicine have been used as drugs in several countries, including the United States and Canada. Today, some psychedelic drugs like Ibogaine and Iboga are being studied for their ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and addiction; other studies are examining their effect on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Conclusion

Psychedelic medicine is more than just a fun party experience. While they can be dangerous if used improperly, there is significant evidence that they have therapeutic potential for treating mental health conditions.

The best part about this new era of psychedelic research is that it’s not limited to pharmaceutical medications—you can explore these mind-altering substances on your terms with ayahuasca retreats, MDMA therapy sessions, and other psychedelic-based treatments.

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