Upcoming Psilocybin Studies: Opioid Addiction, Alzheimer’s Disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome.
Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research, Imperial College of London, and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have all shown promising results on psychedelics’ ability to treat long-lasting depressive, PTSD, and anxiety symptoms with minimal side effects.
At the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, researchers have focused on how psychedelics affect behavior, mood, cognition, brain function, and biological markers of health. Their 2006 publication on the safety and enduring positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin is widely considered the landmark study that sparked a renewal of psychedelic research world-wide. To date, they have published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in respected scientific journals and the research has demonstrated therapeutic effects in people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression and addiction.
Upcoming studies will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Lyme disease syndrome, anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression. Source: Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.
There is evidence to suggest that psychoactive mushrooms have been used by humans in religious ceremonies for thousands of years.
A 6,000-year-old pictographs discovered near the Spanish town of Villar del Humo illustrate several mush- rooms that have been tentatively identified as Psilocybin Hispanica a hallucinogenic species native to the area.
Archaeological artifacts from Mexico well as the so-called “Mayan Mushroom Stones” of Guatemala have also been interpreted by some scholars as evidence for ritual and ceremonial usage of psychoactive mushrooms in the Mayan and Aztec cultures of Mesoamerica. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the mushrooms were called teonanacatl, or “God’s Flesh.”
Following the arrival of Spanish explorers to the New World in the 16th century, chroniclers reported the use of mushrooms by the natives for ceremonial and religious purposes. According to the Dominican Friar Diego Duranin The History of the Indies of New Spain (published c. 1581), mushrooms were eaten in festivities conducted on the occasion of the accession to the throne of Aztec emperor Moctezuma II in 1502.
The Franciscan Friar Bernardino de Sahagun of witnessing mushroom usage in his Florentine Codex (published 1545–1590) and described how some merchants would celebrate upon returning from a successful business trip by consuming mushrooms to evoke revelatory visions.
After the defeat of the Aztecs, the Spanish forbade traditional religious practices and rituals that they considered “pagan idolatry”, including ceremonial mushroom use. For the next four centuries, the Indians of Meso- America hid their use entheogens from the Spanish authorities.
Although dozens of species of psychedelic mushrooms are found in Europe there is little documented us- age of these species in Old World history besides the use of Amanita muscaria among Siberian peoples.
The few existing historical accounts about psilocybin mushrooms typically lack sufficient information to allow species identification, and usually refer to the nature of their effects. For example, Flemish botanist Catrolus Clusius (1526–1609) described the bolond gomba (crazy mushroom), used in rural Hungary to prepare love potions. English botanist John Parkinson included details about a “foolish mushroom” in his 1640 herbal Theatricum Botanicum.
“Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients. Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential.”
- Paul B. Rothman, M.D., Dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Scientists today are entering a new era of studying a truly unique class of pharmacological compounds known as psychedelics. Although research with these compounds was first started in the 1950s and ‘60s, it abruptly ended in the early 1970s in response to unfavorable media coverage, resulting in misperceptions of risk and highly restrictive regulations.
After a decades-long hiatus, in 2000 the research group at Johns Hopkins was the first to obtain regulatory approval in the United States to reinitiate research with psychedelics in healthy, psychedelic-naive volunteers. Our 2006 publication on the safety and enduring positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin is widely considered the landmark study that sparked a renewal of psychedelic research world-wide.
Since that time, they have further groundbreaking studies in more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in respect- ed scientific journals. The Peer Review Articles are listed later in the plan.
This makes Johns Hopkins the leading psychedelic research institution in the U.S., and among the few leading groups worldwide. Their research has demonstrated therapeutic effects in people who suffer a range of challenging conditions including addiction (smoking, alcohol, other drugs of abuse), existential distress caused by life-threatening disease, and treatment-resistant depression.
Researchers at the John Hopkin’s Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness focus on how psychedelics affect behavior, mood, cognition, brain function and biological markers of health.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research
According to John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness, Tens of millions of people worldwide suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Millions more have suffered from emotional and physical abuse but never get diagnosed. Their research has indicated that PTSD is “notoriously difficult to treat and cure and Conventional treatments fail all the time.”
Apparently there is good news in that one odd candidate—MDMA-assisted psychotherapy—has produced miraculous patient outcomes in fact the Researchers at Johns Hopkins were quoted as saying that, “the patient results practically defy belief.”
(MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.
MDMA was initially popular in the nightclub scene and at all-night dance parties (“raves”), but the drug now affects a broader range of people who more commonly call the drug Ecstasy or Molly.
The John Hopkins Study further states, as one actual patient put it in the “Trip of Compassion” documentary, “I felt like I went through 15 years of psychological therapy in one night. “with 107 participants, 56% no longer qualified for PTSD after treatment with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, measured two months following treatment. At the 12-month follow-up, 68% no longer had PTSD. Most subjects received just 2–3 sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. All participants had chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD and had suffered from PTSD for an average of 17.8 years.
On August 16, 2017, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to MDMA for the treatment of PTSD. There is a clear path ahead to make MDMA a legal medicine for millions of people suffering from PTSD. This is very promising, and we are cautiously very optimistic that patients will see similar outcomes from Psilocybin therapies.
In the last decade, a number of research groups in Europe and the Americas have conducted studies into the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics for conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research is the first to gain this level of stature within a major academic institution.
When delivered safely and professionally, psychedelic therapy holds a great deal of promise for treating some very serious mental health conditions.
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris
Head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College, London, England
The Centre is the first in the World to Clinically investigate the brain effects of LSD using modern brain imaging and the first to study psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – for treating severe depression.
These studies have laid the groundwork for larger trials that are now taking place around the world. Other pioneering work from the group includes breakthrough neuroimaging research with psilocybin, MDMA and DMT (the psychoactive compounds found in ecstasy and ayahuasca respectively).
Research conclusion: single moderate-dose psilocybin (in conjunction with psychotherapy) was safely ad- ministered to a cohort of patients with cancer-related psychological distress (e.g. anxiety, depression).
It produced rapid and sustained anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects (for at least 7 weeks but potentially as long as 8 months), decreased cancer-related existential dis- tress, increased spiritual wellbeing and quality of life, and was associated with improved attitudes towards death.
The psilocybin-induced mystical experience mediated the anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects of psilocybin. Psilocybin, administered in conjunction with appropriate psychotherapy, could become a novel pharmacological-psychosocial treatment modality for cancer-related psychological and existential distress. Source: NYU.
Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial.
Stephen Ross1,2,3,4,5,6, Anthony Bossis1,2,4, Jeffrey Guss1,2,4, Gabrielle Agin-Liebes10, Tara Malone1, Barry Cohen7,Sarah E Mennenga1, Alexander Belser8, Krystallia Kalliontzi2,James Babb9, Zhe Su3, Patricia Corby2 and Brian L Schmidt2
Department of Neuropsychology & Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience, Maastricht University, PB 616, 6200 MD, the Netherlands.
Microdosing psychedelics is the repeated use of small doses of, for example, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin, typically for a few weeks. Despite the popular and scientific attention in recent years and claims by users that it has therapeutic value in affective disorders like depression, little scientific knowledge is available to back this.
The purpose of this review was to investigate whether there are scientific grounds to state that this practice could be helpful in the treatment of affective disorders, and safe to use repeatedly.
To that end, the literature (PubMed, MedLine) was searched, looking for (controlled) experimental studies with low doses of LSD and/or psilocybin, in healthy volunteers and patient samples. After a selection process and the addition of relevant articles, 14 experimental studies entered this review.
Findings show that both LSD (10-20 mcg) and psilocybin (<1-3 mg) have subtle (positive) effects on cognitive processes (time perception, convergent and divergent thinking) and brain regions involved in affective processes.
Besides the pleasant experience, increased anxiety and a cycling pattern of depressive and euphoric mood were also found. With regard to safety, it was demonstrated that low doses are well tolerated (in healthy volunteers) and have no-to-minimal effects on physiological measures.
While it is yet unclear whether psychedelic microdosing is of therapeutic value for depression, the aforementioned effects on selective processes suggest that low doses of psychedelics could play a role in depression by inducing some kind of cognitive flexibility, which might lead to decreased rumination.
While previous studies were conducted mostly in small samples of healthy volunteers, future placebo-con- trolled clinical trials in depressed patients are required to understand the therapeutic value of microdosing psychedelics, how this differs from therapy using full psychedelic doses, and whether different psychedelics have different effect patterns. The proposed research will give new insights into the potential of future alter-
native psychiatric treatment forms that are fiercely needed.
© The Author(s), 2020.
Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York (Reiff ); Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta (Richman, McDonald); Department of Psychiatry, Dell Medical School and the Institute for Early Life Adversity Research, University of Texas at Austin (Nemeroff ); Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Butler Hospital, Brown University, Prov- idence, R.I. (Carpenter); Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Widge); Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, Calif. (Rodriguez); Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison (Kalin).
Objective: The authors provide an evidenced-based summary of the literature on the clinical application of psychedelic drugs in psychiatric disorders.
Methods: Searches of PubMed and PsycINFO via Ovid were conducted for articles in English, in peer-re- viewed journals, reporting on “psilocybin,” “lysergic acid diethylamide,”“LSD,”“ayahuasca,”“3,4-methylenedi- oxymethamphetamine,” and “MDMA,” in human subjects, published between 2007 and July 1, 2019. A total of 1,603 articles were identified and screened. Articles that did not contain the terms “clinical trial,” “therapy,” or “imaging” in the title or abstract were filtered out. The 161 remaining articles were reviewed by two or more authors. The authors identified 14 articles reporting on well-designed clinical trials investigating the efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin, and ayahuasca for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, trauma and stress-related disorders, and sub- stance-related and addictive disorders as well as in end-of-life care.
Results: The most significant database exists for MDMA and psilocybin, which have been designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “breakthrough therapies” for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant depression, respectively. The research on LSD and ayahuasca is observation- al, but available evidence suggests that these agents may have therapeutic effects in specific psychiatric disorders.
Conclusions: Randomized clinical trials support the efficacy of MDMA in the treatment of PTSD and psilocybin in the treatment of depression and cancer-related anxiety. The research to support the use of LSD and ayahuasca in the treatment of psychiatric disorders is preliminary, although promising. Overall, the database is insufficient for FDA approval of any psychedelic compound for routine clinical use in psychiatric disorders at this time, but continued research on the efficacy of psychedelics for the treatment of psychiatric disorders is warranted.
Rationale: Microdosing psychedelics-the regular consumption of small amounts of psychedelic substances such as LSD or psilocybin-is a growing trend in popular culture. Recent studies on full-dose psychedelic psychotherapy reveal promising benefits for mental well-being, especially for depression and end-of-life anxiety. While full-dose therapies include perception-distorting properties, microdosing may provide complementary clinical benefits using lower-risk, non-hallucinogenic doses.
Objectives: This pre-registered study aimed to investigate whether microdosing psychedelics is related to differences in personality, mental health, and creativity.
Methods: In this observational study, respondents recruited from online forums self-reported their micro- dosing behaviors and completed questionnaires concerning dysfunctional attitudes, wisdom, negative emotionality, open-mindedness, and mood. Respondents also performed the Unusual Uses Task to assess their creativity.
Results: Current and former microdosers scored lower on measures of dysfunctional attitudes (p < 0.001, r = - 0.92) and negative emotionality (p = 0.009, r = - 0.85) and higher on wisdom (p < 0.001, r = 0.88), open-mindedness(p = 0.027, r = 0.67), and creativity (p < 0.001, r = 0.15) when compared to non-microdosing controls.
Conclusions: These findings provide promising initial evidence that warrants controlled experimental re- search to directly test safety and clinical efficacy. As microdoses are easier to administer than full-doses, this new paradigm has the exciting potential to shape future psychedelic research.
Abstract Background: In recent years there has been growing media attention on microdosing psychedelics (e.g., LSD, psilocybin). This refers to people routinely taking small doses of psychedelic substances to improve mental health and wellbeing, or to enhance cognitive performance. Research evidence is currently limited. This paper examines microdosing motivations, dosing practices, perceived short-term benefits, unwanted effects, and harm reduction practices.
Methods: An international online survey was conducted in 2018 examining people’s experiences of using psychedelics. Eligible participants were aged 16 years or older, had used psychedelics and could comprehend written English. This paper focuses on 525 participants who were microdosing psychedelics at the time of the survey.
Results: Participants were primarily motivated to microdose to improve mental health (40%), for personal development (31%) and cognitive enhancement (18%). Most were microdosing with psilocybin (55%) or LSD/1P-LSD (48%). Principal components analysis generated three factors examining perceived short-term benefits of microdosing: improved mood and anxiety, enhanced connection to others and environment, and cognitive enhancement; and three factors examining negative and potentially unwanted effects: stronger-than-expected psychedelic effects, anxiety-related effects, and physical adverse effects. Most participants (78%) reported at least one harm reduction practice they routinely performed while microdosing.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that people microdosing are commonly doing so as a self-managed therapy for mental health, either as an alternative or adjunct to conventional treatments. This is despite psychedelics remaining prohibited substances in most jurisdictions. Recent findings from clinical trials with standard psychedelic doses for depression and anxiety suggest that a neurobiological effect beyond placebo is not unreasonable. Randomized controlled trials are needed, complemented by mixed methods social science research and the development of novel resources on microdosing harm reduction.
Authors: Department of Cognitive Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and King’s College, London, England.
The phenomenon of ‘microdosing’, that is, regular ingestion of very small quantities of psychedelic substances, has seen a rapid explosion of popularity in recent years. Individuals who microdose report minimal acute effects from these substances yet claim a range of long-term general health and wellbeing benefits. There have been no published empirical studies of microdosing and the current legal and bureaucratic climate makes direct empirical investigation of the effects of psychedelics difficult.
In Study One we conducted a systematic, observational investigation of individuals who microdose. We tracked the experiences of 98 microdosing participants, who provided daily ratings of psychological functioning over a six week period. 63 of these additionally completed a battery of psychometric measures tapping mood, attention, wellbeing, mystical experiences, personality, creativity, and sense of agency, at baseline and at completion of the study. Analyses of daily ratings revealed a general increase in reported psychological functioning across all measures on dosing days but limited evidence of residual effects on following days. Analyses of pre and post study measures revealed reductions in reported levels of depression and stress; lower levels of distractibility; increased absorption; and increased neuroticism.
To better understand these findings, in Study Two we investigated pre-existing beliefs and expectations about the effects of microdosing in a sample of 263 naïve and experienced microdosers, so as to gauge expectancy bias. All participants believed that microdosing would have large and wide-ranging benefits in contrast to the limited outcomes reported by actual microdosers. Notably, the effects believed most likely to change were unrelated to the observed pattern of reported outcomes. The current results suggest that dose controlled empirical research on the impacts of microdosing on mental health and attentional capabilities are needed.
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JAMA, American Journal of Psychiatry, Psychology Today, Fast Company, PR, Smartness, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Spore Store, John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness, NYU, University of California, Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College, London, England, Healthline.com, Journal of Pharmacology, Wikipedia, U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Department of Neuropsychology & Psycho- pharmacology, Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience, Maastricht University, of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York (Reiff ); Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta (Richman, McDonald); Department of Psychiatry, Dell Medical School and the Institute for Early Life Adversity Research, University of Texas at Austin (Nemeroff ); Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Butler Hospital, Brown University, Providence, R.I. (Carpenter); Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Widge); Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, Calif. (Rodriguez); Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison (Kalin),Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Scarborough, ON, Canada ,Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, German Institute for Addiction and Prevention Research, Catholic University of Applied Sciences, Centre for Social Research in Health, The Graduate Center, MIND Foundation,. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, German Institute for Addiction and Prevention Research, Catholic University of Applied Sciences.