Tag: psilocybin

Psychedelics: A Historical Account of Use and Rejection

Dane Larsen | @_danebailey

Decriminalization of historically denounced psychedelic drugs, which alter the state of consciousness, is more prevalent than the public often sees. This ties back to religious and transcendental experiences that played a role in human evolution. The scope goes as far back as 7,000 years ago to the first ideas of “Big Gods” and anything of that nature, as Ishmael Apud, Professor at Universidad de la República de Uruguay, analyzes. It occurs in primary documents of the ancient civilizations and modern scientific studies alike.

From the research, it is clear that psychedelics have had a prominent place in society for thousands of years. In fact, only the arbitrary regulations of governments of the Church have barred the use of such drugs. Governments have taken this position to save citizens from themselves. However, the history of psychedelics presents evidence of beneficial effects on the body, individual, and society. Continue reading “Psychedelics: A Historical Account of Use and Rejection”

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Psilocybin Mushrooms Are Changing the Way You Die

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

For thousands of years, people have used psychedelics to pursue life-altering experiences. With relatively low risk, these drugs have provided great insight to many. They also have, in smaller doses, helped to improve concentration and mental ability. Recently, LSD microdosing even became the subject of an anonymous public study. Now, information is out about the healing effects of psilocybin mushrooms on depression and anxiety on the terminally ill.

Also known as magic mushrooms, the drug can produce vivid hallucinations in heavy doses, but the overdose and injury risk are both particularly low. As a result, Denver is actually considering decriminalizing the drug, but they are not alone in showing support; a recent study points to a very interesting medical use for psilocybin mushrooms.

Psilocybin Mushrooms and Terminal Cancer

In December of 2016, the Journal of Psychopharmacology published a groundbreaking study on the effects of psilocybin mushrooms on terminal cancer patients. It’s fairly common knowledge that those facing a terminal illness have higher rates of depression and anxiety; of course, people with terminal cancer are prone to these effects. But evidence shows that the drug may have a major effect on their condition.

In the study, researchers looked at 51 cancer patients, each of whom had symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. A month after getting baseline measurements of depression and anxiety, half of the group received 3 micrograms of psilocybin (less than a microdose, a placebo). The other half consumed 30 micrograms, which is a medically significant quantity.

Five weeks later, the two groups reversed, getting the opposite dose. The researchers also monitored depression and anxiety levels after the first and second trial, as well as six months later. They then published their results from after the first and second session and at the follow-up.

The Results

Psilocybin mushroom trial results

Astonishingly, the drug had a clinically significant effect on the patients. The researchers defined this as depression and/or anxiety decreasing 50% or more from the baseline. For those that received the high dose first, the results were immediate. After the first session, 92% of subjects with depression and 76% of those with anxiety saw a clinical response. For 60% and 52%, respectively, the symptoms were in full remission.

On the other hand, those with the placebo dose did not see these changes. Clinical response rates were 32% and 24%, while remission rates were a paltry 16% and 12%. But once they received their dose the second time, the numbers shot up.

After session 2, the group that then received the high dose (the low-dose group from session 1) saw similar results to the high-dose group from session 1. Their clinical response rates for depression and anxiety were 75% and 83%, while remission rates spiked to 58% and 42%. At the six-month follow-up, the figures only changed marginally.

What Can We Conclude?

All in all, this study strongly suggests that psilocybin mushrooms may be very helpful in treating depression and anxiety in cancer patients. After all, just one dose sent over half of all participants into remission. Of course, the drug is not helpful in treating the diseases themselves. However, it can still change the way that people die, altering their perception of life for the better.

At this time, the biggest obstacle to treatment will almost certainly be governments across the world. In most countries, it is a crime to consume psilocybin mushrooms or other hallucinogenic drugs. Very few allow the practice and those that do have many nuances in the law. For example, psilocybin is illegal in Brazil, but the sale and consumption of mushrooms containing them are not. The United States, along with most countries, has a blanket ban on the substance.

With increasing evidence for medical capability, it is entirely possible that the world will soon see a push to legalize mushrooms. This could play out quite like the drive to legalize marijuana. As stated previously, Denver is already considering the measure. The FDA is also beginning to approve trials for their use. However, there likely will be pushback, particularly from more conservative lawmakers hesitant even to take action on marijuana. The future of psilocybin as a medical treatment is quite unknown, but one thing is clear: the drug has the potential to make a major impact on the world.


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Abolishing the DEA Would be Good for Your Health

By Francis Folz | United States

Like most presidents of the 20th century, Richard Nixon was a statist. His policies reflected this throughout his troubled presidency. This, of course, includes the elimination of the gold standard, the institution of wage and price controls, and the creation of unconstitutional federal programs. Most, notably, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

A History of Harm

Since he created the agency, it has been the most prominent overlord of personal responsibility. America has a  long-held claim that it is the land of the free. However, the DEA has usurped every American’s sovereignty, spending millions of dollars on arresting and detaining Americans. What for? Nixon and the DEA claimed that “subversive substances” were a public enemy.

Another adverse quality of the Drug Enforcement Agency is their stifling of medical research on prohibited drugs. From cannabis to LSD, they restrict the ability to research clear health benefits. Here are a few examples of how the DEA restrains medical progress, despite the potential to assuage many Americans’ suffering.

Cannabis and the DEA

The United States has recognized cannabis as a medicine since 1996. Despite this, the DEA’s resistance to reefer and science has been robust. While numerous studies over the past few decades have proven the benefits of marijuana, there is still much more ground to cover. 

For example, it took until 1990 for scientists to discover cannabinoid receptors within the human brain. Cannabis’s designation as a schedule one substance since 1971 has been the most formidable obstacle to delving into marijuana’s myriad of health benefits. Interestingly, the state prohibited the drug far before they even knew of these receptors.

All schedule one illicit drugs, according to the DEA, are dangerous for consumption, highly addictive, and possess no medical value. First of all, it is unconstitutional for the federal government to even create a ranking such as this. But going beyond that, it is absurd for them to consider marijuana a schedule one narcotic.

More than half of all states have some form of medical marijuana, and even the federal government holds a patent for medical marijuana. Furthermore, 85% of Americans believe cannabis should be medically legal. Thus, many wonder why the state still refuses to recognize the drug’s health benefits.

Psilocybin Treatments

Though hard to believe, magic mushrooms, like cannabis, have possessed medicinal and cultural merit for quite a while. However, in the 1970’s, Timothy Leary, a prominent member of the 60’s counter-culture movement, conducted a study called the Concord Prison Experiment. In his study, he distributed psychedelic mushrooms coupled with assisted group therapy to prisoners. He then measured recidivism rates to test the effects of psilocybin-induced treatment. Initially, the results were fruitful, reducing the recidivism rate by 50 percent. 

Another trailblazing psilocybin study conducted in the 1960’s is the “Good Friday Experiment”. Led by doctorate student Walter Pahnke, two groups of theology students attended Good Friday service. Pahnke gave one group the mushrooms and left the other as a control. The objective was to assess whether or not psilocybin could deepen the religious experience. 

As theorized, all members of the psilocybin group reported a substantially more profound experience than the members of the control. These results, as well as others, further discredit the DEA’s claim that psilocybin is a dangerous, addictive substance with no health or therapeutic benefit.

LSD: Lost Past and Lost Potential

In 1938, Swiss scientist Albert Holfmann successfully separated the molecule lysergic acid diethylamide while studying ergot in his laboratory. Ever since his bicycle ride home transformed into a trip of a lifetime, scientists have experimented with LSD, eager to learn of its usefulness. Scientists aren’t the only ones intrigued by the compound. Some historians believe LSD may have been at the crux of the Salem Witch Trials. One plausible explanation is that the women may have ingested ergot, a fungus found on wheat, which contains the LSD.

Although the DEA continues to categorize acid as a perilous substance with no benefit, health or otherwise, to our well-being, the scientific community continues to prove otherwise. Acid is infamous for its ability to stimulate the imagination and to make users more creative and insightful. Other studies conclude that LSD alleviates anxiety, especially amongst the terminally ill. 

But perhaps the most appalling aspect of the DEA’s tyrannical stronghold over the substance is that bromine, a compound identical to acid without the psychedelic-induced trip, has repeatedly reduced cluster headaches, which are intensified migraines notorious for their painful nature. However, since bromine closely resembles LSD, researchers are often unable to further tests bromine’s inexplicable ability to relieve the agony of the horrendous headaches, leaving sufferers helpless and in excruciating misery. 

The DEA, through regulation, is a great threat to the well-being and freedom of Americans. Ending this agency, and Nixon’s failed drug war along with it, would bring a new age of research and medicinal gains. Only through abolishing the DEA can we reap these clear health benefits.


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The Stigma Surrounding Hallucinogens Took Root in Western Colonialism

By Andrew Lepore | United States

For thousands of years, Aboriginal people have been using natural hallucinogenic substances to induce altered states of minds, for spiritual and medicinal purposes. Despite a growing counter culture, and with Western medicine finally starting to recognize the legitimate medical benefits, these substances are still stigmatized by a large part of the population.

Scientific research from recent years showing the ability to treat and even cure ailments From PTSD to addiction to anxiety. Some substances have even been proven to stimulate NeuroGenesis (the growth of brain cells). With promising new research coming out seemingly every day, and the proven benefits for ailments across the board, why are these substances so stigmatized?

A stigma and fear of these substances has existed in the west for hundreds of years, and its roots can be traced all the way back to the colonization of the new world. When the first westerners encountered and conquered the cultures who used these substances as religious ceremonies, the missionaries followed. These missionaries, backed by the power of the state, were attempting to convert the aboriginal people, forcibly if necessary.

They wanted to use religion as a means to corral the various tribes. When the missionaries witnessed the strange rituals undertaken by the locals and heard of their ability to “contact” the gods and dead ancestors through the consumption of substances, they were viewed as heresies and abominations.

The goal of the church also was to be the medium between the individual and god; if the natives believed they could contact the gods simply through the medium of a substance, there would be no need for the church. As the state and the church were intertwined, the interest of the church is the interest of the state; therefore resisting the church was resisting the iron fist of the state.

“Missionaries who followed the explorers into the new world inevitably tried to stamp out local religions and replace them with Christianity. When the Spaniards first encountered Peyote in the new world, they associated it with the aztecs bloody sacrificial rites and called it ‘the devil’s root.’ The holy office of the inquisition enacted the first anti drug policies in the new world, and the use of Peyote was condemned as being superstitious behavior contrary to the Christian beliefs. In attempts to stop use of the Cactus, the Spaniards tortured and killed many natives. Though In some cases, the natives were able to resist the missionaries and some non-christian religions remained.”

Excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances: Magic In Bloom

This played out in many theatres across the globe, From North and America to Africa. in most cases, the Missionaries got what they wanted. Thousands of years of accumulated knowledge on native substances were wiped out with the extinction of certain peoples and their culture.

Though some cultures were, at first, either inaccessible to westerners or resisted conversion and the traditional use of these substances continue for them to this day. These are the cultures which have provided us the knowledge on the substances which we now know most about, such as the South American cultures who use Ayahuasca, the African Bwiti tribe who use Iboga, and some Native American religions who use Peyote Cactus.

This stigma surrounding hallucinogenic substances has taken many forms since the times of colonialism. In the early stages of the United States and in the 1800’s, the use of these substances was associated with Native Americans, who at the time were viewed as “savages”.

Aside from conquest, the West had little contact with hallucinogenic substances. This was until the 40s and 50s when there were breakthroughs in the understanding and cultivation of these substances, namely the discovery of the hallucinogenic effects of LSD and isolation of psilocybin from mushrooms.

These discoveries led to the growth of the counterculture 60’s and 70’s that glorified the use of hallucinogens as party drugs, and the substances quickly started becoming associated with hippies, drug abuse, and doing dumb stuff. This added stigma resulted in the sweeping psychedelic bans of the late 60’s when consumption and distribution of many of these substances was made illegal.

The cause of the stigma is no longer due to religious implications, or differences in culture with those we are conquering, but has manifested itself in the form of drug prohibition. Most people don’t know this, but drug prohibition doesn’t just stop people who are using hallucinogens recreationally from getting it, it makes any treatment and most research on the effects on humans illegal. This long-lasting stigma has had a lasting and impacting effect, as even hundreds of years later, mainstream western medicine is only recently coming around the corner to recognize the benefits.

Over the last decades, some amazing abilities of these substances have been coming to light.from their unique ability to stimulate neurogenesis (the growth of the brain cells is cells) and the formation of new neural pathways. To their ability to treat, even to cure addiction. And to their ability to reboot the brain in depressed and anxious people, even to the point of curing PTSD.

With more and more promising research coming out of the woodworks, many are starting to look past the stigma that has surrounded these substances for almost 500 years. The stigma surrounding these substances is not only logically unjustified but morally unjustified, as it has led to the imprisonment of thousands of innocent people simply for the possession of benign substances.

Denver Could Soon Decriminalize Psilocybin Mushrooms

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Colorado is popular for its laid-back marijuana laws, and could very soon experience a similar trend with Psilocybin mushrooms, which are often called “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms.”

An organization called Colorado for Psilocybin entered a Denver city building to gain the proper signatures for a movement to relieve penalties on the psychedelic drug, according to CPR.

If the change turns out to be successful, felony charges for those possessing the drug will become nonexistent, and Psilocybin will be marked with the lowest enforcement priority for police.

Anyone caught with more than two ounces of dried mushrooms, or two pounds of uncured “wet” mushrooms, would be subject to a citation: less than $99 for the first offense, increased by increments of $100 for subsequent offenses, and never more than $999 per citation.

Tyler Williams is one of the leaders of the movement. He reports pulling strategies from similar movements for marijuana last year. He went on to say “I’m a big believer in cognitive liberty, and so whatever people decide to consume I think is up to them… I think people should be informed about what they are consuming, and they shouldn’t have to be afraid of going to jail for that.”

The young activist believes in the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual power surrounding the drug, which echoes the activity of many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

This would not be the first instance action such as this has been taken, though. Cultivation of the psychedelic is legal in New Mexico. California sought to make a transition away from punishing nonviolent crimes in 2014, and may soon pass a decriminalization measure similar to this one.