Psychedelics News December 2019

Psychedelic Science – A Conversation with Roland Griffiths

Source: Sam Harris | By: Sam Harris & Roland Griffiths | Published: 2 Dec 2019

On Sam Harris’ podcast (paywall), he speaks with Roland Griffiths.

“They discuss the historical prohibition against their use; the clinical and scientific promise of psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, DMT, MDMA, and other compounds; the risks associated with these drugs; the role of “set and setting”; the differences between psychedelics and drugs of abuse; MDMA and neurotoxicity; experiences of unity, sacredness, love, and truth; the long-term consequences of psychedelic experiences; synthetic vs natural drugs; the prospects of devising new psychedelics; microdosing; research on psilocybin and long-term meditators; the experience of encountering other apparent beings; psilocybin treatment of addiction; and other topics. In his Afterword, Sam discusses his experience on a large dose of psilocybin—his first psychedelic experience in 25 years.”

Much of the conversation can be seen as a short history of where psychedelics research is at and is heading. Roland Griffiths is cautiously optimistic and also highlights the process that needs to still happen. In the end, Sam describes his first trip in 25 years.

Hear (or read) more about Sam’s experience with psychedelics here.

LSD – microdosing LSD in the name of self-improvement | DW Documentary

Source: DW/YouTube | By: DW | Published: 4 Dec 2019

A documentary by DW on YouTube recommended via Synthesis (which is featured). Paul Austin (from The Third Wave) is also prominently featured. Although the documentary is mainly about micro-dosing and personal experiences, it does also feature James Fadiman and mentions his research and book about micro-dosing. It also shows (in the feature about Synthesis) macro-dosing in a group (and supported) session.

One still questions how much is a placebo (with regard to micro-dosing) and also here a lot of interesting research is being done. One featured is by Johannes Ramaekers from the Maastricht University. He states, “Nobody has actually been able to assess whether this claim is true or false. Right now we’re just being presented with case reports of individuals that support the claim, but objective evidence of whether such a tiny dose, has positive effects has not been established.”

Further on he does mention that preliminary research shows positive effects on mood and creativity during the ‘active’ period (10 hours). Other research also argues that LSD (normal dose) might help with depression (and also touches in the end on psilocybin for depression and other mental disorders).

World’s first magic mushroom nasal spray for PTSD and depression

Source: Health Europe | By: Stephanie Price | Published: 4 Dec 2019

Silo Wellness has developed the first nasal spray for microdosing psilocybin. The article states that the spray allows the psilocybin to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream, but doesn’t specify how they exactly do the dosing.

See their press release here.

Dr. Bronner’s Support of Psychedelic Therapy & Drug Policy Reform

Source: Dr. Bronner (company) | By: David Bronner | Published: 5 Dec 2019

“This letter is to state our public endorsement of Oregon’s statewide Psilocybin Therapy Service Initiative of 2020 (PSI 2020), Oregon’s statewide Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act of 2020 (DATRA), as well as Decriminalize Nature’s efforts to decriminalize natural psychedelic plant medicines in cities around the country including in Oregon.”

Dr. Bronner’s (an American producer of organic soap and personal care products) CEO – Cosmic Engagement Officer – offers his substantial support for decriminalization and drug reform.

Psychedelics in Your Neighborhood

Source: Psychedelics Today | By: Zoe Moynihan | Published: 10 Dec 2019

A personal account of how the second coming of psychedelics (research) is impacting all of us. Progress should be done carefully (festina lente – make haste slowly), at the same time we should be open to helping and guiding each other.

“After receiving an FDA “Breakthrough Therapy” designation … hallucinogens [or psychedelics] are finally finding [a] place amongst the most viable psychiatric protocols of the modern-day.”

“My goal is to become an integrative psychiatrist, but I have been counseled to refrain from mentioning psychedelic research in my medical school application.”

“But in the meantime, may we embrace this important avenue of self-exploration, by being there for one another.”

Mystery of why magic mushrooms go blue solved

Source: Chemistry World | By: Katrina Krämer | Published: 10 Dec 2019

“Why do magic mushrooms turn blue when they are cut? Chemists have now unravelled this decade-old mystery, in the process revealing that the dark blue pigments at the centre of the mystery are similar to indigo, the dye used to produce blue jeans.”

Previous research didn’t find what was actually causing the psilocybin-contain mushrooms to go blue, now they have found out it’s quinoid psilocyl oligomers (similar to indigo). The color is (as was previously predicted) the result of a cascade reaction that starts with psilocybin.

Why the mushrooms turn blue in the first place is still an open question. One hypothesis is that the might serve a protective role (so the mushrooms don’t get eaten).

We are the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit organization studying psychedelics and marijuana. Ask us anything!

Source: Reddit | By: MAPS team/commenters | Published/ran: 12 Dec 2019

The MAPS team (which is currently fundraising $400.000) did an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit. The topic wasn’t very popular, but did help to bring some extra attention to the work they are doing (and promote the fundraiser).

The top questions related to participating in the Phase 3 trial (with MDMA), how to pursue work in this area, and joining MAPS.

“MAPS’ goal is to develop MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD into an FDA-approved prescription treatment by the end of 2021 or in 2022.” In a further elaboration, this means that in most states it will probably be legal (and so hopefully also offered, but in 23 states the reclassification still needs more lobbying/work after that.

“Rodent studies that use large and repeated doses of MDMA have reported neurotoxic effects. Meta-analysis across several neuroimaging studies in heavy Ecstasy users, most of whom were poly drug users, found evidence of changes in serotonin activity. There was an association with time since last use, suggesting the changes in the serotonin transporter levels may be reversible over time. As with any drug, at some given dose the substance will become toxic to the body. MAPS’ studies employ active doses (75-125 mg) spaced a month apart, which have no evidence for neurotoxic effects in animals or humans.” In reply to the question if neurotoxicity was an issue.

COMPASS Pathways and King’s College London Announce Results From Psilocybin Study In Healthy Volunteers

Source: PR Newswire | By: Compass Pathways | Published: 12 Dec 2019

Using their own psilocybin-containing mixture (COMP360), Compass showed it was safe for use, and that they are capable of running up to 6 sessions at the same time.

COMPASS Pathways, a mental health care company, has reported that its COMP360 (psilocybin) was well-tolerated when administered to healthy adult volunteers with support from specially trained therapists in a randomised placebo-controlled trial by King’s College London.

The study looked at the effects of 10mg and 25mg doses of COMP360, compared with placebo, in 89 healthy volunteers. Doses were administered simultaneously to up to six participants, who then received 1:1 psychological support from an assisting therapist throughout the session, overseen by a lead therapist and study psychiatrist.

Why Chronic Microdosing Might Break Your Heart

Source: Chacruna | By: Kelan Thomas | Published: 17 Dec 2019

In this thoughtful article, Dr. Kelan Thomas describes the possible negative side-effect of micro-dosing (LSD or psilocybin) on your heart. Specifically, he warns about the potential risk of valvular heart disease (VHD). Although there are no long-term studies that show this to be the case, evidence to the contrary (studies that show it doesn’t happen) also isn’t available.

VHD is something to be concerned about, but on a much lower level than for instance serotonin disease. The article itself is just a first primer, actual research into this would be highly encouraged.

Microdosing LSD for Alzheimer’s proves safe in early human trial

Source: New Atlas | By: Rich Haridy | Published: 18 Dec 2019

Microdosing of LSD was found to be safe (but also see two articles above). The article links to this paper.

“The trial did not examine the longer term effects of microdosing, but instead was simply investigating how single, very low LSD doses affect a person’s mood and cognition.”

A general hallucinogenic LSD dose is around 100 to 200 micrograms (μg). Testing four different dosages – a placebo, 6.5, 13, or 26 μg – the researchers concluded 13 μg is the highest dose recommended for a microdose. At 26 μg, subjects began reporting “drug-like sensations.”

“No adverse effects were detected in any of the dose groups, both across the three-week trial and in a follow-up examination one month later. No abnormalities were seen across blood pressure, heart rate, or ECG measurements.”

“The jury is certainly still out on whether psychedelic microdoses could be a clinically effective tool, or whether decades of anecdotal reports amount to not much more than a grand placebo effect akin to psychedelic homeopathy. This new study undoubtedly presents a promising pathway towards Phase 2 clinical trials that will hopefully begin to offer some solid clinical data elucidating exactly what psychedelic microdosing does in humans.”

How to Trip Sit

Source: Drug Science | By: Michelle Janikian | Published: 19 Dec 2019

The blog is an excerpt from the book Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion by Michelle Janikian. It goes into detail on how to trip sit, it starts with this encouraging excerpt: “Trip sitting is fairly simple. The most important thing to remember is to be a calm, nonjudgmental, and kind presence for the entirety of someone else’s psychedelic journey. It’s helpful for trip sitters to have psychedelic experience of their own, especially with challenging trips, but this is not completely necessary.”

It also touches upon topics like medication, expectations, boundaries. The blog/chapter ends with a handy checklist.

The Drug Science Podcast Episode #5 – Psychedelics

Source: Drug Science | By: Drug Science | Published: 19 Dec 2019 (recorded 13 Nov 2019)

Two live episodes of the Drug Science podcast. David Nutt interviews several guests about 1) psychedelics for psychiatric treatments and 2) psychedelics for wellbeing. Both are interesting to listen to and have a high-level overview of what has happened in those two specific areas over the last few years.

MAPS Bulletin – Winter 2019

Source: MAPS | By: various | Published: 20 Dec 2019

MAPS reflects back on the success of last year (e.g. Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, 212 trainees for MDMA Therapy Training Program), highlights research, MAPS in the media, and dives deeper into some of the research. Some notes:

  • Rick Doblin mentions April 2020 as a pivotal moment where the interim results of the first of two Phase 3 studies will be evaluated, positive news means a challenging $8 million fundraiser (this is ‘just’ the remainder that needs to be raised), negative news would be even tougher.
  • One of the Phase 2 (and now Phase 3) therapists (Gregory Wells) shares his experience and that of participants. One thing that stood out was the following: “As awareness of the study has grown, we have received a lot more interest from people with PTSD and their families than we ever expected. We believe this is a testament to the integrity and power of the treatment and how well it has been received by the media and the general public.”
  • Expanded Access is what makes possible the access to MDMA-therapy outside of the clinical trials, and is (in part) the training ground for new therapists (for after Phase 3). Timoty Crespi shares his take on how he sees the future of MDMA-therapy: “As we await the FDA’s approval of Expanded Access, we dream of launching our MDMA-assisted psychotherapy program by treating a few patients at our current site in Portland. Our future aspirations are to expand the program by opening an additional center ideally suited for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. We have been developing a business plan which could take almost 300 patients through the 15-session protocol per year and which could also serve as a training ground for future psychedelic therapists.”

Baba Ram Dass, Proponent of LSD Turned New Age Guru, Dies at 88

Source: The New York Times | By: Douglas Martin | Published: 23 Dec 2019

It’s a sad day for the psychedelics community as one of its vocal advocates has died. Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert) died on December 22, 2019. He will be most remembered for sharing his wisdom in over a dozen books.

His death was first announced on his Instagram.

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