This page was made in collaboration with David Drapkin, the Director of Education and Training at Psychedelics Today.

Israel is one of the world’s leaders in psychedelic research. In 2019, Israel became the world’s first country to approve a “compassionate use” program for MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of PTSD. MAPS is heavily involved with researchers in the country who are conducting clinical trials exploring the potential of psychedelics.

Psychedelic Research in Israel

Israel has been at the forefront of psychedelic research, with several groundbreaking clinical trials underway. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has conducted a multi-site, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized Phase III study to assess the efficacy and safety of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Parts of this study are being conducted in Israel. Additionally, an open-label trial (n=30) is exploring the safety and preliminary effectiveness of MDMA-assisted therapy for Israeli veterans with PTSD and moral injury from special forces undercover units.

Other notable psychedelic research in Israel includes studies on ketamine for treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD), comparing the efficacy of intra-nasal and intra-venous ketamine administration, and investigating the use of D-cycloserine for relapse prevention following ketamine infusions. Researchers are also evaluating the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

History of Psychedelic Research & Culture in Israel

The history of psychedelic research in Israel dates back to the 1960s, when two psychiatric institutions, the Geha Mental Health Center near Tel Aviv and the Talbieh Psychiatric Hospital in Jerusalem, began exploring the therapeutic potential of LSD. At Geha, psychiatrists Henricus Wijsenbeek and Ruth Landau conducted trials with LSD on patients diagnosed with various conditions, including schizophrenia, neurosis, depression, anxiety, and hysteria. They found that while LSD exacerbated psychotic symptoms in schizophrenics, it showed promise in treating neurosis [1].

Meanwhile, at Talbieh, psychiatrist David Karsilovsky experimented with LSD on psychotic patients, epileptics, and healthy medical student volunteers, keeping the setting as natural as possible and observing how the drug’s effects depended on the personality of the participants and their specific experimental situations.

As the 1960s progressed, psychedelics began to intersect with Israeli counterculture, marking a transition from clinical research to cultural influence. In 1965, the poet Yona Wallach admitted herself to Talbieh hospital, in part to experiment with psychedelics. Her experiences with LSD there inspired some of her poetry, making her an early example of the intersection between psychedelics and Israeli art and literature. Following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, the influences of the international hippie movement and psychedelic culture began permeating Israeli society more significantly, as young Israelis traveled abroad and international volunteers brought countercultural ideas to Israel.

Two bohemian groups active in Tel Aviv in the late 1960s and early 1970s engaged with psychedelics in different ways, reflecting the diverse attitudes toward these substances within Israeli counterculture. The Lul Group, which consisted of prominent filmmakers, songwriters, and musicians, used psychedelics more casually and recreationally, as a form of escapism from the constraints of mainstream Israeli society. In contrast, the Third Eye Group, led by artist Jacques Katmor, viewed psychedelics as spiritual and creative tools. They actively challenged mainstream Israeli culture through provocative exhibitions and performances that combined psychedelic elements with avant-garde art and theater.

However, the cultural prominence of psychedelics in Israel began to wane in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which dealt a blow to Israeli confidence and led to the decline of countercultural movements. Some figures, like the poet and later cult leader Rina Shani, continued to explore psychedelics and spirituality, but faced backlash from mainstream society. By the late 1970s, new cultural movements like disco and punk had largely overshadowed psychedelics in Israeli popular culture.

The trajectory of psychedelic research and culture in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s, in some ways, mirrored international trends, with early psychiatric research giving way to countercultural experimentation, spiritual seeking, and artistic expression, before a decline by the end of the 1970s. However, this history was also shaped by Israel’s unique sociopolitical context and cultural dynamics during those tumultuous decades, from the impact of wars and shifting political landscapes to the tensions between Israel’s European and Middle Eastern cultural influences [1].

Currently, in Israel, as in the majority of the world, cannabis is still criminalized as a dangerous substance. However, Israel has a special history with cannabis and was the first country in the world to introduce a national system for prescribing and dispensing medical cannabis in the 1990s. Israel is also believed to be the country with the highest percentage of adults using cannabis each year, as well as the country with the highest prescribing rates for medicinal cannabis. In early 2024 the Israeli Ministry of Health released new directives making medical cannabis much more accessible through a relaxation of prescribing and licensing requirements. In 1964, Raphael Mechoulam, a scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, became famous for his work isolating THC as a component of cannabis and continued working in cannabis science until his death in 2023.

Psychedelics and Reconciliation Research

A 2021 research paper by Leor Roseman and colleagues at Imperial College London explores the potential of ayahuasca group rituals to promote reconciliation between Arab Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, based on 31 in-depth interviews. The authors identified three main relational processes: unity-based connection, recognition and difference-based connection, and conflict-related revelations.

The study argues that ayahuasca ceremonies can contribute to peacebuilding by providing a space for shared spiritual experiences and personal revelations related to the larger sociopolitical context. However, the authors suggest that the structure of these rituals often mirrors the power imbalances and exclusion of Palestinians in Israeli society.

Three case studies of Palestinian participants are presented, demonstrating how they challenged the status quo through revelatory events and emancipatory messages during the rituals. The findings suggest that while psychedelic experiences can foster unity and shared humanity, the larger sociopolitical context and power imbalances must be addressed for lasting reconciliation to occur.

It is important to note that this study was conducted before the most recent escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas.

Psychedelics in Israel Today

The current landscape of psychedelics in Israel is characterized by a growing interest in the therapeutic potential of these substances, as evidenced by the emergence of research initiatives, conferences, and organizations dedicated to advancing the field.

One notable event is the upcoming Psychedelic Medicine conference, set to take place in Tel Aviv in July 2024. This research conference, originally planned for 2023, aims to bring together experts from various disciplines to discuss the latest developments in psychedelic medicine. The conference will cover a wide range of topics, including the mechanisms of psychedelic action, clinical trials, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, and the legal and ethical aspects of psychedelic treatment.

Tel Aviv University has established the Institute for Integrative Psychedelic Research (IPR-TLV), which is the first institute of its kind in Israel. The IPR-TLV aims to promote interdisciplinary research on psychedelics, focusing on the study of brain-mind-body associations with the goal of revolutionizing mental health. The institute emphasizes the role of psychedelics in studying the link between neural, psychological, and social factors in promoting health and well-being. It also encourages scientific and clinical collaborations to translate experimental insights into clinical practice.

Currently, the IPR-TLV is conducting studies on the use of psilocybin for the treatment of kinesiophobia (fear of movement)) and the potential of ketamine and prolonged exposure therapy as a rapid treatment for PTSD. These studies utilize advanced neuroimaging techniques to gain insights into the neurobiology of these conditions and the mechanisms of treatment response.

MAPS Israel, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in the United States, is actively promoting and supporting innovative treatments for various mental health conditions, including PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, and eating disorders. MAPS Israel collaborates with the Israeli Ministry of Health and mental health hospitals to advance studies exploring the combined effects of psychotherapy and psychedelics. The organization also supports the training of therapists in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and aims to foster inclusivity and community healing through its research and educational projects.

Another notable institution is the Hadassah BrainLabs Center for Psychedelic Research, located at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and affiliated with the Hebrew University. This center is dedicated to discovering and developing novel psychedelic-based treatments for psychiatric disorders, with a focus on obsessive-compulsive disorder and the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, in addition to more common targets like depression and PTSD. The center leverages the expertise of Hadassah-Hebrew University researchers and the extensive infrastructure of Hadassah BrainLabs to advance its mission.

In summary, the psychedelic landscape in Israel is rapidly evolving, with a growing number of research institutions, organizations, and events dedicated to exploring the therapeutic potential of these substances. These initiatives aim to advance our understanding of psychedelics and their potential to revolutionize mental health treatment, while also fostering collaboration, inclusivity, and community healing.

Psychedelic Companies in Israel

Israel is emerging as a hub for psychedelic medicine, with several companies and organizations working to advance research and access to psychedelic-assisted therapies. Here are a few notable developments:

Clearmind Medicine, an Israeli company listed on the Canadian stock exchange, is developing breakthrough treatments for binge behavior and mental health conditions, including alcohol use disorder, binge eating, and depression. Their lead compound, MEAI, aims to provide a euphoric alcohol-like experience while reducing the desire to consume alcoholic beverages, potentially helping millions who struggle with alcohol moderation.

Another Israeli company, PsyRx, is focused on using ibogaine and psilocybin APIs to offer patients next-generation drug treatments. With over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and cannabis industries, PsyRx is one of the few companies offering GMP-approved APIs of psilocybin and ibogaine.

The Access Center for Psychedelic Treatment & Therapy (ACPT) is Israel’s first non-profit organization dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being through increased access to safe and legal psychedelic therapy options and therapeutic services. ACPT brings together a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, specialist doctors, clinical psychologists, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, and financial and legal professionals to provide comprehensive support for those seeking psychedelic treatment and therapy for healing.

Several clinics in Israel offer ketamine-assisted therapy, providing a legal option for those seeking psychedelic treatments. As research progresses and regulations evolve, it is expected that more substances, such as MDMA and psilocybin, may become available for therapeutic use in the future.

External references for Israel and Psychedelics

All resources available on Blossom are directly linked on this country page. Find even more background about this topic with these external references.

1. Hartogsohn, I., & Zadoff, I. (2023). Psychedelics in Israel: A Brief History.

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