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mr peabody

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How I completely healed my panic attacks with psilocybin mushrooms

by Kevin Stephenson | reset.me | Dec 5 2019

Around this time last year, I was really struggling psychologically from panic attacks. I don’t know what led to this affliction, but it was just awful. When you’re having an attack, you feel intense fear overwhelm you; fear like your life is in jeopardy in situations that warrant no such reaction. You lock up and feel the need to ‘get away’ or feel as if something terrible is about to happen.

In the past, I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression but this was something different. It was debilitating. I would have them when I’d go out to the store or the gym or at work in important meetings in front of my superiors who definitely knew something was up. It was embarrassing and affected my confidence doing anything as I’d always have it in the back of my mind ‘what if I have a panic attack?’

Needless to say, my life sucked and, to be honest, I thought about just ending it.

Fast forward to today and now I’m doing great, I haven’t had a panic attack since and I never saw any professional or took any prescription drugs either. So, how did I do it?

Psilocybin mushrooms. Amazingly, I believe one big 4-gram dose of Amazonian cubensis, a species of psilocybin mushrooms, miraculously cured me of this terrible affliction in one night. Let me explain how it happened.

Last year after suffering from these episodes for a few months which seemed to progressively get worse, I decided to take roll the dice and see if mushrooms could help me. In previous experiences with mushrooms, I felt during a trip that the mushrooms were trying to help me overcome my depression and anxiety by showing me how negative thought patterns and constantly beating myself down is a big contributor to all this. While I very well accept that this is probably just the mushrooms changing my perspective and allowing me to see things from a different point of view, honestly, it felt like I was communicating with something greater that wanted to help me.

This is not uncommon in psychedelics, particularly mushrooms, and many people report having very spiritual experiences and feel like they’re communicating with a higher power and their ability to help people suffering from depression and anxiety is well-documented.

However, panic attacks are a different thing and a serious condition which usually requires years of therapy and a plethora of various prescription medications to overcome. That’s IF you’re lucky.

Now, the risk of taking a heavy mushroom dose when you have panic attacks is it could potentially exacerbate your conditions, and my fear was I could very well be walking into a 6-hour long panic attack which could leave me worse off than I was before.

But, I had faith that they could help me, so I took a chance.

After taking the 4-gram dose all at once (the biggest I’ve ever taken), I laid down in a dark room as I came up as well as for most of the duration of the trip. Occasionally, I listened to my iPod, but mostly I just analyzed my thoughts and tried to find the root of the problem causing these attacks, while at the same time, I tried to prevent myself from having an attack while I was tripping.

I don’t know how it came to me, but while tripping, I somehow got the idea to suddenly focus hard on my breathing when negative thoughts or thoughts of panic would come up. To sort of override them and focus not only on in and out breaths but specifically the sensation of each breath, in an attempt to clear my mind of any bad thoughts. This went on for almost the entire trip and a few times, I would start to feel an attack coming on but I’d go right back to my breathing and, unbelievably, it worked.

It’s almost as if I was strengthening my mind to deal with these attacks as well as developing some sort of psychological immunity to them because ever since that night, I haven’t had one since. While I have had bouts of anxiety here and there, I’ve never had a full-on panic attack where I lock up and feel helpless like I did before. I think this mushroom experience is the reason why.

 
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mr peabody

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Sachin Patel, M.D., Ph.D.


Study sheds light on cannabis' calming effects on anxiety and stress*

by Vanderbilt University Medical Center | Medical Xpress | Jan 13 2020

A molecule produced by the brain which activates the same receptors as marijuana is protective against stress by reducing anxiety-causing connections between two brain regions, Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers report.

This finding, published today in Neuron, could help explain why some people use marijuana when they're anxious or under stress. It could also mean that pharmacologic treatments that increase levels of this molecule, known as "2-AG," in the brain could regulate anxiety and depressive symptoms in people with stress-related anxiety disorders, potentially avoiding a reliance on medical marijuana or similar treatments.

When mice are exposed to acute stress, a break in an anxiety-producing connection between the amygdala and the frontal cortex caused by 2-AG temporarily disappears, causing the emergence of anxiety-related behaviors.

"The circuit between the amygdala and the frontal cortex has been shown to be stronger in individuals with certain types of anxiety disorders. As people or animals are exposed to stress and get more anxious, these two brain areas glue together, and their activity grows stronger together," said Sachin Patel, MD, Ph.D., the paper's corresponding author and director of the Division of General Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

"We might predict there's a collapse in the endocannabinoid system, which includes 2-AG, in the patients that go on to develop a disorder. But, not everyone develops a psychiatric disorder after trauma exposure, so maybe the people who don't develop a disorder are able to maintain that system in some way. Those are the things we're interested in testing next."

The study also found that signaling between the amygdala and the frontal cortex can be strengthened through genetic manipulations that compromise endogenous cannabinoid signaling in this pathway, causing mice to become anxious even without exposure to stress in some cases. This finding demonstrates that the cannabinoid signaling system that suppresses information flow between these two brain regions is critical for setting the level of anxiety in animals.

"We don't know how or why this cannabinoid signaling system disappears or disintegrates in response to stress, but it results in the strengthening of the connection between these two regions and heightened anxiety behaviors in mice. Understanding what's causing that compromise, what causes the signaling system to return after a few days, and many other questions about the molecular mechanisms by which this is happening are things we're interested in following up on," said Patel, also the James G. Blakemore Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Pharmacology.

David Marcus, Neuroscience graduate student and first author on the paper, and Patel are also interested in how the system reacts to more chronic forms of stress and determining whether there are other environmental exposures that compromise or enhance this system to regulate behavior.

*From the article here:

 
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mr peabody

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Single dose of psilocybin found to reduce anxiety for nearly five years*

by Chris Moore | Jan 14 2020

A 2016 study found that a single dose of shrooms can significantly reduce cancer patients' fear of death, and a new follow-up study has found that these benefits can last for years.

Nearly five years ago, a team of researchers conducted a landmark trial exploring whether psilocybin, the compound in magic mushrooms that makes us trip balls, could reduce anxiety in patients suffering from lethal forms of cancer. Since then, researchers' interest in exploring the therapeutic potential of Psilocybe cubensis has skyrocketed.

Several clinical trials in the last half-decade have concluded that psilocybin can effectively treat anxiety, depression, and other conditions. That's why the federal government is now seriously considering legalizing this natural psychedelic as an adjunct to therapy.

In the original 2016 study, researchers gave a single dose of psilocybin to 29 people suffering from life-threatening forms of cancer. Each of these patients was previously diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression as a direct result of their illness. Six months after taking this single dose, between 60 and 80 percent of patients reported a significant reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Years later, the original research team followed up with patients from the original study to see if the positivity generated from the psilocybin experience was still in effect. Out of the surviving 16 patients, 15 agreed to take additional psychological assessments between 3.2 and 4.5 years after the initial study.

Reductions in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, demoralization, and death-anxiety were sustained at the first and second follow-ups,” the authors wrote in the follow-up study, published in the Journal of Pharmacology. At the second follow-up, 4.5 years after the original study, 60 to 80 percent of patients still showed signs of decreased anxiety and depression. “Participants overwhelmingly attributed positive life changes to the psilocybin-assisted therapy experience and rated it among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives.”

The authors also asked participants to describe how their psychedelic experience changed their outlook on life. “I experienced such overwhelming love in my psilocybin experience that it gave me new confidence,” according to one subject. “I think the extreme depth of love I felt changed the way I relate to others. It gave me a feeling that I have a right to be here and to enjoy life.”

Another participant said that “the psilocybin experience changed my thoughts about myself in the world... I see myself in a less limited way. I am more open to life. It has taken me out from under a big load of feelings and past issues in my life that I was carrying around.”

These findings suggest that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy holds promise in promoting long-term relief from cancer-related psychiatric distress,” the study concludes.

The authors note that the study does have its limitations, especially due to its small subject pool. But that doesn't take away from the study's positive implications. “Nonetheless, the present study adds to the emerging literature-base suggesting that psilocybin-facilitated therapy may enhance the psychological, emotional, and spiritual well-being of patients with life-threatening cancer.”

*From the article here:

 
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mr peabody

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The great Kava boom: How Fiji's beloved psychoactive brew is going global

by Talei Tora in Suva | The Guardian | 4 Feb 2020

From trendy bars in New York, to anti-anxiety pills sold in Australia and New Zealand, the powdered root is taking off.

On a Friday night in Suva, the capital of Fiji, the Kava Bure is filling up. Groups of people have started arriving to meet friends for a post-work basin or three of kava, a drink made from the root of the piper methysticum tree.

The bar, which is out in the open air with wooden tables surrounded by bamboo fencing, sells $5 or $10 bags of powdered kava. These are mixed in a plastic basin by an elderly Fijian man, who asks patrons if they would like the mix “sosoko” – strong – or “just right,” before giving them the basin and coconut shell bowls for drinking.

“Kava Bure is a place where I can just sit, relax and enjoy myself with friends after a long day at work. Normally, we would go there to have a few basins,” says Ropate Valemei, a frequent patron.

Kava bars are relatively new in Fiji (compared to Vanuatu, where there are more than 300 bars) and reflect the shift of kava consumption from something drunk in traditional ceremonies or shared among family and friends while sitting on the floor around a tanoa (wooden kava bowl) or plastic basin to more commercial spaces.

But the appeal of kava – known to have psychoactive qualities – is no longer confined to the Pacific. There are now 100 kava bars across the US and Australia is preparing to allow commercial importation. In the meantime, the world’s first kava tissue culture laboratory in Fiji has been set up, aiming to increase supply and sell kava in products from a brewable powder to anti-anxiety medication.




'Demand just went up’

Kava sessions can last anywhere from an hour to several hours, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. The taste is earthy and the strong aftertaste is sometimes counteracted by sucking on a lolly or mint after consuming a bowl. In Fiji, seasoned drinkers are “black belts”, who can drink kava for hours, sometimes every day of the week. But for the uninitiated, the drink has an almost immediate numbing effect, which starts from the mouth and then eventually makes its way down the body, leaving a person with a relaxed sensation that gets stronger with every bowl.

But while extremely popular in the Pacific, kava has, for the most part, struggled to cut through internationally, in part due to tight regulations in Western countries, where kava has been blamed for causing liver problems, though evidence suggests this is only the case if kava is taken in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs.

Kava export earnings in Fiji peaked in the 1980s, at more than US $16m per year, largely driven by exports to Europe. After kava was banned in Europe in the 1990s, exports plummeted. But there has been steady growth since then, with the export market growing from about 900 tonnes per year in the 1990s to 6,000 tonnes in 2015.

By 2018, kava export earnings were peaking, with the largest amount being exported to the United States at 148,000kg, 80,000kg to New Zealand and 13,000kg to Hawaii.

Fiji’s kava market suffered a major setback in 2016 when it was hit by Tropical Cyclone Winston, the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the southern hemisphere. Winston devastated the country, causing $US1.4bn in damages – more than one third of the country’s GDP – and wiped out huge swathes of the kava crop.



But kava sellers who have been able to re-establish their businesses are experiencing a huge boom. The lack of kava supplies after the cyclone caused a spike in the price of A-grade kava from about $FJ40-60 to $FJ120 per kilogram. This dramatic increase, combined with a sudden interest in the drink from foreign markets, has meant that more people have begun planting kava crops, and even then they cannot keep up with demand.

Mary Work, a kava stall owner at Suva’s Municipal Market has been selling kava for 18 years and has had a front row seat to the spike in demand. “From my point of view, after the cyclone the demand just went up. And [even with] the high price, they just want it more now,” she adds.

“There is a lot of demand. My husband is supplying the US and they want one tonne every month. He can’t meet the demand. One tonne a month ... And kava takes three to four years to mature.”

“The people are flying over there, even from overseas … and a lot of people from Australia too, like Fijians living there are coming back and planting their kava now, which is good.”

“The demand for kava is so high they [are] beginning to harvest young ones. One year, two year [-old plants], you know, so you getting young ones coming and you don’t allow it to mature because there is a lot of demand.”


Going high-tech

At the other end of the kava market is Fiji Kava Limited, also known as Taki Mai, one of two large kava processing facilities in Fiji. It is the first kava company to list on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and in 2019 opened the world’s first kava tissue culture laboratory, which will clone parent kava plants and grow standardised, quality-controlled plantlets at its factory in Levuka, the old capital of Fiji.

Fiji Kava’s laboratory sits on a hill behind the 140-year-old Levuka public school, nestled between two kava nurseries. Its factory is unprepossessing from the outside but inside it is a different story. Visitors have to remove their shoes and put on protective plastic feet coverings. The dark rooms are lit by florescent lights and lined with small glass jars holding tiny kava samples.



The company is planning on initially growing 250,000 tissue culture plantlets and hopes to increase this by 500,000 plantlets annually. Fiji Kava Limited currently makes anti-anxiety capsules for the Australian, New Zealand and US markets and instant kava powder.

In October 2019, on a visit to Fiji, the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison announced "the personal kava import limit for people travelling from Fiji to Australia will be increased from 2kg to 4kg, and a pilot program will start by the end of 2020 allowing commercial importation of kava."



At the time of the kava announcement, Morrison described the relaxing of importation rules as a “further demonstration” of the countries’ close relationship. Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, thanked him for the announcement, saying “the whole of Fiji” had been waiting for Australia’s rules on kava to change.

Kava retailer Pauline Benson says even this small increase in a personal importation allowance is welcome. “Australia has always had a huge demand for kava because there's a large Pacific Island population living in Australia and it’s so hard to get kava there… there is still a huge demand,” she says.

Back in Kave Bure in Suva, the tables are full as dusk arrives. Cries of “Bula!” – Fiji’s national greeting – ring out as someone in the kava circle takes a bowl to drink. Ropate Valemei says that while people often arrive at the bar with a few friends, over the course of an evening of drinking they will inevitably make many more. In the Pacific, whether it be for traditional ceremonies or in more modern social gatherings, kava continues to bring people together.

 
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AutoTripper

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The great Kava boom: How Fiji's beloved psychoactive brew is going global

by Talei Tora in Suva | The Guardian | 4 Feb 2020

From trendy bars in New York, to anti-anxiety pills sold in Australia and New Zealand, the powdered root is taking off.

On a Friday night in Suva, the capital of Fiji, the Kava Bure is filling up. Groups of people have started arriving to meet friends for a post-work basin or three of kava, a drink made from the root of the piper methysticum tree.

The bar, which is out in the open air with wooden tables surrounded by bamboo fencing, sells $5 or $10 bags of powdered kava. These are mixed in a plastic basin by an elderly Fijian man, who asks patrons if they would like the mix “sosoko” – strong – or “just right,” before giving them the basin and coconut shell bowls for drinking.

“Kava Bure is a place where I can just sit, relax and enjoy myself with friends after a long day at work. Normally, we would go there to have a few basins,” says Ropate Valemei, a frequent patron.

Kava bars are relatively new in Fiji (compared to Vanuatu, where there are more than 300 bars) and reflect the shift of kava consumption from something drunk in traditional ceremonies or shared among family and friends while sitting on the floor around a tanoa (wooden kava bowl) or plastic basin to more commercial spaces.

But the appeal of kava – known to have psychoactive qualities – is no longer confined to the Pacific. There are now 100 kava bars across the US and Australia is preparing to allow commercial importation. In the meantime, the world’s first kava tissue culture laboratory in Fiji has been set up, aiming to increase supply and sell kava in products from a brewable powder to anti-anxiety medication.




'Demand just went up’

Kava sessions can last anywhere from an hour to several hours, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. The taste is earthy and the strong aftertaste is sometimes counteracted by sucking on a lolly or mint after consuming a bowl. In Fiji, seasoned drinkers are “black belts”, who can drink kava for hours, sometimes every day of the week. But for the uninitiated, the drink has an almost immediate numbing effect, which starts from the mouth and then eventually makes its way down the body, leaving a person with a relaxed sensation that gets stronger with every bowl.

But while extremely popular in the Pacific, kava has, for the most part, struggled to cut through internationally, in part due to tight regulations in Western countries, where kava has been blamed for causing liver problems, though evidence suggests this is only the case if kava is taken in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs.

Kava export earnings in Fiji peaked in the 1980s, at more than US $16m per year, largely driven by exports to Europe. After kava was banned in Europe in the 1990s, exports plummeted. But there has been steady growth since then, with the export market growing from about 900 tonnes per year in the 1990s to 6,000 tonnes in 2015.

By 2018, kava export earnings were peaking, with the largest amount being exported to the United States at 148,000kg, 80,000kg to New Zealand and 13,000kg to Hawaii.

Fiji’s kava market suffered a major setback in 2016 when it was hit by Tropical Cyclone Winston, the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the southern hemisphere. Winston devastated the country, causing $US1.4bn in damages – more than one third of the country’s GDP – and wiped out huge swathes of the kava crop.



But kava sellers who have been able to re-establish their businesses are experiencing a huge boom. The lack of kava supplies after the cyclone caused a spike in the price of A-grade kava from about $FJ40-60 to $FJ120 per kilogram. This dramatic increase, combined with a sudden interest in the drink from foreign markets, has meant that more people have begun planting kava crops, and even then they cannot keep up with demand.

Mary Work, a kava stall owner at Suva’s Municipal Market has been selling kava for 18 years and has had a front row seat to the spike in demand. “From my point of view, after the cyclone the demand just went up. And [even with] the high price, they just want it more now,” she adds.

“There is a lot of demand. My husband is supplying the US and they want one tonne every month. He can’t meet the demand. One tonne a month ... And kava takes three to four years to mature.”

“The people are flying over there, even from overseas … and a lot of people from Australia too, like Fijians living there are coming back and planting their kava now, which is good.”

“The demand for kava is so high they [are] beginning to harvest young ones. One year, two year [-old plants], you know, so you getting young ones coming and you don’t allow it to mature because there is a lot of demand.”


Going high-tech

At the other end of the kava market is Fiji Kava Limited, also known as Taki Mai, one of two large kava processing facilities in Fiji. It is the first kava company to list on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and in 2019 opened the world’s first kava tissue culture laboratory, which will clone parent kava plants and grow standardised, quality-controlled plantlets at its factory in Levuka, the old capital of Fiji.

Fiji Kava’s laboratory sits on a hill behind the 140-year-old Levuka public school, nestled between two kava nurseries. Its factory is unprepossessing from the outside but inside it is a different story. Visitors have to remove their shoes and put on protective plastic feet coverings. The dark rooms are lit by florescent lights and lined with small glass jars holding tiny kava samples.



The company is planning on initially growing 250,000 tissue culture plantlets and hopes to increase this by 500,000 plantlets annually. Fiji Kava Limited currently makes anti-anxiety capsules for the Australian, New Zealand and US markets and instant kava powder.

In October 2019, on a visit to Fiji, the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison announced "the personal kava import limit for people travelling from Fiji to Australia will be increased from 2kg to 4kg, and a pilot program will start by the end of 2020 allowing commercial importation of kava."



At the time of the kava announcement, Morrison described the relaxing of importation rules as a “further demonstration” of the countries’ close relationship. Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, thanked him for the announcement, saying “the whole of Fiji” had been waiting for Australia’s rules on kava to change.

Kava retailer Pauline Benson says even this small increase in a personal importation allowance is welcome. “Australia has always had a huge demand for kava because there's a large Pacific Island population living in Australia and it’s so hard to get kava there… there is still a huge demand,” she says.

Back in Kave Bure in Suva, the tables are full as dusk arrives. Cries of “Bula!” – Fiji’s national greeting – ring out as someone in the kava circle takes a bowl to drink. Ropate Valemei says that while people often arrive at the bar with a few friends, over the course of an evening of drinking they will inevitably make many more. In the Pacific, whether it be for traditional ceremonies or in more modern social gatherings, kava continues to bring people together.

Hello Sir. Sincerely hoping you are well in life and in positive mood and spirit. Thank you again for your sincere reaching out to me To learn more to see if you could help with some advice from your experience.

Just a quick comment here because winter illnesses have me drains currently. I'm hardly vaping cannabis actually. It just springs to mind that that point is connected to our discussions beforehand and the contribution I will make here now.

I have actually been using kava recently on a daily basis and I have found it profoundly enjoyable and therapeutic. However, it does exacerbate my excessive mucus production as virtually all medicinal and psychoactive herbs do.

But I've hardly been using any vaporizer and just been enjoying cannabis edibles alongside the kava.
I have been very aware since getting into the kava and Studying into it How remarkably unknown It still remains in our westernised societies.

So I have been trying to promote awareness of it specifically from the angle of it being A potential godsend for many addicts dealing with not just physical withdrawal symptoms, but also psychological dependence and addictions.

Kava is actually a psychedelic plant medicine but a very subtle one which works on the heart and the emotions. As well as the mind. As if we could separate them haha.

But also for those Who are trying to moderate or limit or even pause or stop their cannabis usage on other forums where I participate, I have been suggesting it as an alternative to mix and match, or simply replace.

I really feel it has some potential to help people to kick all types of addictions and then hopefully not be addicted to kava, but then from what I have learnt about it and experience so far I don't think it's such a bad thing to use on a daily basis versus many other psychoactive herbs and substances.

Anyway, Sorry, I'm going off track. I just found it interesting the timing of your post here and my current Personal experience with kava and the picture I am seeing across the globe.
 

mr peabody

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How safe is ketamine for anxiety and depression?

by Women Fitness Magazine | 30 March 2020

One in four people have a mental disorder, and the most common mental health issues are anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are debilitating mental issues that can take over your life, and can lead to even more serious issues such as excessive drinking.

While both ailments are different, both are treated in similar ways. Many patients opt to take medication for both anxiety and depression, alleviating their symptoms and improving their quality of life.

There are many different anxiety and depression medications out there. But some surprising medications can treat both mental issues, such as ketamine.

Click here and know everything about using ketamine for anxiety and depression.

What is ketamine?

Are you wondering, what is ketamine? Ketamine is an anesthetic discovered in 1962 and approved for medical use in 1970. It was first used on Vietnam War soldiers in the operating room. Because of its safety, it’s also used on small animals during surgical operations.

Since ketamine is a new medication, we’re learning more about its uses and benefits. Its anti-depressant effects were discovered between the years of 2000 and 2006. In randomized trials, ketamine was discovered to improve depression in patients.

In similar tests, ketamine was also found to reduce anxiety and alleviate the effects of specific anxiety disorders, such as PTSD.

Different types of ketamine

There are many different types of ketamine, but two treat depression and anxiety best with few interactions:

- Esketamine
- Racemic ketamine

Esketamine is a nasal spray that activates the S-enantiomer of ketamine. The S-enantiomer produces anti-depressants effects that move through the NMDA receptor, leading to a new growth of nerve connectors.

Racemic ketamine (R-ketamine) is the type of ketamine administered through an IV. While more tests need to be done, studies show R-ketamine is more potent than esketamine, providing stronger and longer-lasting anti-depressant effects.

Why choose ketamine for depression?

There are many anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications on the market. Why should patients choose ketamine? Ketamine is a safer alternative to other anxiety and depression medications. While more tests need to be done, it’s believed ketamine comes with fewer side effects.

For example, many anti-depressants increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. Ketamine doesn’t cause this side effect.

Some anti-depressants need to build up in your system to take effect, which could take weeks. In addition, many patients develop resistance to these medications, forcing them to increase their dose.

Ketamine is becoming popular because it acts quickly — this study shows ketamine relieves depression and anxiety symptoms in as little as two hours.

Does ketamine have any side effects?

While ketamine is safer than many anti-depressants, it does come with a few side effects. These include:

- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Out-of-body experience
- Disturbances and hallucinations

In addition, long-term ketamine use could come with more or different side effects.

Ketamine for anxiety and depression works

Ketamine is a popular anesthetic and its anti-depressants effects were discovered recently. Research shows ketamine for anxiety and depression alleviates symptoms quickly and ketamine is a powerful anti-depressant.

If you’re looking for a natural way to alleviate depression and anxiety, CBD is said to treat both depression and anxiety.

How ketamine treats depression


Ketamine: Is it safe?


Here’s how ketamine actually works as a treatment


 
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SeeMeNoWiHiDE

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After many years of anxiety, and a year of research and experimentation with psychedelics, I'll say as a positive... It works well for me, and other like-minded friends of mine. Especially MDMA, which although synthetic has helped me tremendously. Psilocybin also...

• • •

The only thing that has truly helped me with my depression and anxiety is Psilocybin which was...illegally self-administered. After years of suffering and this miraculous experience I feel intimately afraid of the law and the government because right now, taking care of my mental health is considered a serious crime. I find that to be disgraceful to say the least.

• • •

As someone who was suffering from deep depression & crippling anxiety, my life has been completely changed through the healing power of these psychedelic medicines. They did for me what countless anti-depressants never could - they changed my relationship with my body & mind, they helped me heal the deep traumas I needed to, to enable me to move forwards with my life.

• • •

Psychedelics saved me from a two year long struggle with anxiety and depression. These tools allowed me to look at life from another perspective and I want to see them help others without the fear of being prosecuted.

• • •

I've personally benefited from taking part in the study at Imperial College and psilocybin has proved to be the most effective treatment I've had for my depression and anxiety. This treatment should be widely available to those it's suitable for.

• • •

The benefits of Psilocybin are amazing. Not only during trips, which can be life changing and eye opening experiences; But also in microdosing to help the effects of depression and anxiety. Microdoses significantly helped me with many internal issues I was having mentally.

• • •

Psilocybin worked wonders in allowing me a break from the crippling anxiety I've suffered for nearly 30 years. Rescheduling would at least allow a chance for me to finally put an end to my suffering.

• • •

Psilocybin is the only thing that's ever helped me. I have complex PTSD and bipolar disorder. Self-medicating with psilocybin has saved my life twice and given me hope. It helped me see reality and that I am connected, not isolated. Nothing medically prescribed by my GP has helped - just made it worse, numbed out and dumbed down, merely existing. I really need this medicine in a legitimate clinical setting. It should not be illegal for medical use. It saves lives. I need this.

• • •

I suffer from severe anxiety and have benefited from psilocybin in the past. I would like to legally experience the benefits of psilocybin as a medicine in the future. Please consider the potential benefits to public health and reschedule LSD and psilocybin to a Schedule 2 drug.

https://psychedelicsociety.org.uk/petitions/psychedelics-for-depression-anxiety
I’ll agree with the mdma (probably the most relaxed/no anxiety for me for a couple weeks or at least not as bad, mushrooms work but I hate the high, every time I’ve eaten them I get extremely high and off of like 1.5-2 grams
 

mr peabody

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University of Houston


Adults who mix cannabis with opioids report higher anxiety, depression

Science Daily | Aug 12 2019

Researchers at the University of Houston has found that adults who take prescription opioids for severe pain are more likely to have increased anxiety, depression and substance abuse issues if they also use marijuana.

"Given the fact that cannabis potentially has analgesic properties, some people are turning to it to potentially manage their pain," Andrew Rogers, said in describing the work published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. Rogers focuses on the intersection of chronic pain and opioid use, and identifying the underlying psychological mechanisms, such as anxiety sensitivity, emotion regulation, pain-related anxiety, of these relationships. Rogers is a doctoral student in clinical psychology who works in the UH Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and its Substance Use Treatment Clinic.

Under the guidance of advisor Michael Zvolensky, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor of psychology and director of the lab and clinic, Rogers surveyed 450 adults throughout the United States who had experienced moderate to severe pain for more than three months. The study revealed not only elevated anxiety and depression symptoms, but also tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and sedative use among those who added the cannabis, compared with those who used opioids alone. No increased pain reduction was reported.

"Importantly, while the co-use of substances generally is associated with poorer outcomes than single substance use, little work has examined the impact of mixing opioids and cannabis," said Rogers.

Opioid misuse constitutes a significant public health problem and is associated with a host of negative outcomes. Despite efforts to curb this increasing epidemic, opioids remain the most widely prescribed class of medications. Prescription opioids are often used to treat chronic pain, despite the risks, and chronic pain remains an important factor in understanding this epidemic.

Cannabis is another substance that has recently garnered attention in the chronic pain literature, as increasing numbers of people use it to manage chronic pain.

"There's been a lot of buzz that maybe cannabis is the new or safer alternative to opioid, so that's something we wanted to investigate," said Rogers, who said the idea for the study evolved from a conversation with Zvolensky. Rogers was studying opioid use and pain management when they began discussing the role of cannabis in managing pain.

"The findings highlight a vulnerable population of polysubstance users with chronic pain and indicates the need for more comprehensive assessment and treatment of chronic pain," said Rogers.

 
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Mind Medicine Inc. cofounder JR Rahn with "Shark Tank" star and investor Kevin O'Leary.


Pharma startup aims to turn LSD into an FDA-approved medicine for anxiety disorder

by Will Yakowicz | Forbes | 1 April 2020

Mind Medicine Inc., a New York-based psychedelic drug development company, that counts Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary and Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie as investors, has acquired the exclusive rights to eight clinical trials that are exploring the medicinal properties of LSD. One of the studies is an ongoing, placebo-controlled Phase 2 trial of LSD for the treatment of anxiety disorder.

The deal gives Mind Medicine a 10-year exclusive collaboration with the laboratory of professor Dr. Matthias Liechti, one of the world’s leaders in psychedelics pharmacology and clinical research at University Hospital Basel in Switzerland. Mind Medicine will also get exclusive worldwide rights to data, compounds, and patent rights associated with the research on LSD and other psychedelic compounds.

Mind Medicine cofounder JR Rahn, a 32-year-old former Uber employee, says his company’s mission is simple: “We are going to develop these drugs as FDA-approved medicines. We are going to focus on the data and clinical trials and develop IP that will help us create federally-legal medicines” he says. “We need to get the average person to realize that these are not evil drugs—they can be used as medicines and be successful at treating unmet medical needs.”

Rahn says that Dr. Liechti will also help the company prepare micro-dosing study of LSD as a potential treatment for adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). “Micro-dosing” is a term that refers to the practice of taking small, non-psychedelic doses of psychedelic drugs. It’s an outright trend in Silicon Valley as people look for ways to be more creative, deal with stress and self-treat anxiety and other maladies.

“Over the past decade we have amassed the largest collection of clinical trials around LSD; we have been studying the pharmacology and potential medical uses of LSD and other psychedelics for many years in the laboratory, in patients, and in healthy volunteers,” Dr. Liechti said in a statement.

If the thought of taking acid to treat anxiety gives you, well, anxiety, researchers have found that the drug can be harnessed to reduce anxiety disorder symptoms in humans. LSD was discovered in 1943 by Sandoz chemist Albert Hofmann. A few years later and through 1966, Sandoz provided LSD to psychiatrists and researchers to study its effects and potential as a treatment for anxiety associated with terminal cancer, alcoholism, opioid use disorder and depression in conjunction with therapy. In 1968, after LSD became synonymous with the counterculture revolution, it was banned by the U.S. government, Sandoz stopped making the substance and it entered the black market.

Mind Medicine is one of many companies trying to repurpose psychedelic molecules as the next blockbuster drug. Companies like Compass Pathways, which is backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, is running an FDA-approved clinical trial on psilocybin to treat depression. ATAI Life Sciences, based in Germany and backed by former billionaire Michael Novogratz, invests in and acquires companies like DemeRX, which is studying the psychedelic root iboga and how it could help treat addiction.

Mind Medicine is also exploring an ibogaine derivative to treat opioid addiction. Dr. Stanley Glick, who invented 18-MC, a form of ibogaine without its intense psychedelic effects, joined Mind Medicine last year and is preparing the company’s Phase 2 study targeting opioid withdrawal and opioid use disorder. Ibogaine has a long history in West Africa, where people have been using it for rites passages for hundreds of years.

During the past year, Mind Medicine raised over $30 million from investors, including ABC’s “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary and Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, before going public on Canada’s NEO stock exchange through a reverse takeover in early March. It also trades over the counter in the U.S.

Its market cap might only be $155 million and its stock is trading around 50 cents, but Rahn says the potential reward for a company like his could be capturing a multi-billion dollar market. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults, which is about 18% of the population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

O’Leary says he was skeptical when he was first approached to invest. He says he’s never done recreational drugs and opposes anything illegal, but his mind was changed after realizing the company will focus on the FDA drug development pathway. (O’Leary says he invested only after Rahn shook his hand and promised that the company would not pursue the recreational market.)

“Once in a while, you hear an idea that is a game changer. There haven’t been new medicines for depression, alcoholism, ADHD, or any of that for 35 to 40 years," says O’Leary. “This is a medicinal pursuit with a huge, positive outcome for the human race if it works.”

Rahn knows his company has an uphill battle that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to convince the FDA to approve LSD and other psychedelic drugs. He also realizes that he has a cultural battle to fight as well in convincing people that LSD, which has long been used as a recreational drug, is a serious pharmaceutical medication.

“This isn’t the 1960s all over again. I want nothing to do with those kinds of folks who want to decriminalize psychedelics,” he says. “You don’t have to be a revolutionary to bring these drugs to market. You just need to show up to work every day, do the rigorous science, take a pragmatic approach and we’ll get there.”

 

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Why Kava is a beautiful, legal way to treat anxiety

by Madison Margolin | Doubleblind | 29 April 2020

I had my first experience with Kava a few years ago, sipping it from a latte in the corner of a brick coffee house in Bushwick, where the menu was filled with other trendy add-ins like kratom and CBD. A far cry from the tropics of Fiji, where much of the world’s kava originates, my Brooklyn kava latte—if not authentic, per se—speaks to the growing popularity of the root, especially for those looking for herbal alternatives to alcohol.

Native to the South Pacific, kava—a.k.a. awa in Hawaiian, ava in Samoan, and yaqona in Fijian—derives its name from the Tongan and Marquesan word for “bitter.” Related to the pepper family, kava is known for its mild, mellow, and calming effect, and can even help with sleep or muscle pain, says Naoshi Grady, founder of Potent Kava, a small family-run company based out of Kauai. “Generally, it’s a social drink that brings family and friends together,” he says. “Traditionally, we drink it out of a big tanoa, a big wooden bowl that’s the kind of bowl they drank kava out of for centuries, talking, sitting cross legged, usually in a circle—in a kava hut or shack.”



According to Hawaiin mythology, Kane and Kanaloa, the gods of water and fertility, brought kava to Hawaii from Kahiki, the heart of Polynesia. “It’s been in Hawaii for hundreds of years, used socially, and in spiritual or religious ceremonies,” Grady explains. Used as a sacrifice to the gods, or in ceremonies such as for the upcoming planting season or to pray for rain, kava has helped people feel connected to the gods and communicate with them. Each region throughout the Pacific has its own particular kava practices—whether that’s presenting kava to the village chief for permission to go fishing, closing a business deal, or settling a dispute—but in Hawaii, Grady says “pretty much anytime is kava time,” be it for a birthday, a funeral, a milestone, a celebration, or simply a get-together.

Like cannabis, kava comes in different varieties, with each strain offering different effects. “It’s not a psychedelic,” Grady distinguishes. “You just get mental clarity and relaxation.” Kava is a long term crop, he adds, taking about three to five years to mature. While it grows wild in certain valleys, those who cultivate it need to prep the ground and area—ideally somewhere in the mountains with a good water supply.

Growing up, Grady traveled to Fiji often with his father, who bought a kava farm there. “He grew some kava down there when I was still a little kid, and got super into the whole thing, exporting it back to Hawaii, where people were selling it,” Grady says. “So I fell into it, and started to farm it, too, in Hawaii.” Now he says there’s an emerging market on the mainland, too, serving spots like that Brooklyn kava cafe.


Naoshi Grady, founder of Potent Kava, grew up around Kava on his father’s farm in Fiji.

To prepare kava, you need to mash up the root and mix it with water, before straining it to your desired viscosity. “You knead it with your hands in a strainer, then you strain up all the fibers, then you sit down in a circle and do your kava protocol,” says Grady. “And then you serve it up with half coconut shells and say mahalo ka Awa—giving thanks to the kava.”

To the kanaka or native Hawaiian way of life, which includes hunting, fishing, and gathering, says Grady, kava is integral. “One of the most important plants in our culture, in all of the Pacific, is the kava plant.” It’s a way of life that in some ways couldn’t be more opposite from a dark corner of that Brooklyn cafe—but perhaps a taste of that slow, mellow, island life is what the rest of us on the mainland need, especially in hustle hubs like New York. Not only exporting a root, the Pacific islands are exporting a culture with much to teach us about unwinding into a greater presence of mind.

 

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Project Lucy: LSD Experiential Therapy for anxiety disorders

PR Newswire | 4 Jun 2020

Targeting a Phase 2b psychedelic assisted therapy trial for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

NEW YORK, June 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Mind Medicine (MindMed) Inc. (NEO: MMEDOTCQB: MMEDF), the leading neuro-pharmaceutical company for psychedelic inspired medicines, has officially launched Project Lucy, a commercial drug development program for the treatment of anxiety disorders. The company intends to initiate a Phase 2b human efficacy trial that will focus on experiential doses of LSD, administered by a therapist. This is the first experiential, psychedelic-assisted therapy to be added to the company's drug development pipeline.

With the launch of Project Lucy, MindMed is now preparing a total of three Phase 2 commercial drug trials based on psychedelic inspired medicines, making it one of the most advanced and largest drug development pipelines in the psychedelics industry.

MindMed Co-Founders and Co-CEOs JR Rahn and Stephen Hurst said, "Today's announcement demonstrates our team's strong capabilities to efficiently execute on our vision of building a synergistic platform that can take an idea and turn it into a later stage clinical trial with the sense of urgency investors expect and patients deserve. Having the first mover advantage on a diverse pipeline of later-stage commercial drug trials in mental health is important for MindMed as a company, but the learnings we obtain from this pipeline also helps us push the frontier of psychedelic inspired medicines."

As part of MindMed's decision to add an experiential therapy for anxiety disorders to its clinical development pipeline, MindMed has established a project taskforce that is preparing a briefing package for a potential IND (Investigational New Drug) with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). MindMed's Project Lucy task force is working to prepare and analyze data relevant for the discussion with the FDA relating to the potential opening of an US IND for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Previously, the company acquired exclusive, worldwide data rights to eight completed or ongoing clinical trials from the University Hospital Basel evaluating LSD based on over 10 years of research. MindMed plans to assemble and use this data as part of its briefing package to the FDA.

MindMed also received the data and worldwide rights to an ongoing Phase 2 trial for anxiety disorders administered by the world leader in psychedelics pharmacology and clinical research, Dr. Matthias Liechti, and psychedelic therapy expert, Dr. Peter Gasser. Such data and knowhow will help build MindMed's understanding of LSD for anxiety disorders and its platform for LSD as a prescription medication for serious mental health conditions.

Many mental health disorders appear to be interconnected which presents a unique opportunity to MindMed to innovate and create a novel treatment paradigm. As an example, approximately 50% of ADHD patients also suffer from anxiety disorders. Furthermore, up to 90% of patients with General Anxiety Disorder also have symptoms of another mental health problem, such as depression or substance abuse.

The World Health Organization estimates that 284 million people are living with anxiety disorders globally and it is the most common mental illness in the United States. MindMed sees a large opportunity to evaluate the interconnectedness of mental health disorders and create a novel treatment paradigm that incorporates both experiential dose psychedelic-assisted therapy and non-hallucinogenic take-home medicines being developed in its microdosing division.

 
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Microdosing DMT for anxiety

Cameron, Benson, DeFelice, Fiehn, Olson (2019)

Anecdotal reports have suggested that serotonergic psychedelics administered in low doses on a chronic, intermittent schedule, so-called “microdosing”, might produce beneficial effects on mood, anxiety, cognition, and social interaction. Here, we found that chronic, intermittent, low doses of DMT produced an antidepressant-like phenotype and enhanced fear extinction learning without impacting working memory or social interaction. Taken together, our results suggest that psychedelic microdosing may alleviate symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders, though the potential hazards of this practice warrant further investigation.

Psychedelics are potent psychoplastogens, and their effects on neural plasticity have been invoked to explain their long-lasting behavioral effects related to mood and anxiety. Previously, we observed that even a low dose of DMT caused changes in the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) that lasted long after the drug had been cleared from the body. Therefore, we hypothesized that administration of this low dose on a chronic, intermittent schedule might impact behaviors relevant to mood and anxiety that involve the PFC.

Here, we demonstrate that chronic (∼2 months), intermittent (every third day), low (1 mg/kg) doses of DMT facilitate fear extinction learning and reduce immobility in the forced swim test without producing the anxiogenic-like effects characteristic of a high dose (10 mg/kg). Taken together, the data presented here suggest that subpsychedelic doses of psychedelic compounds might possess value for treating and/or preventing mood and anxiety disorders. Despite the therapeutic potential of psychedelic microdosing, this practice is not without risks, and future studies need to better define the potential for negative neurobiological or metabolic repercussions.

Despite the potential risks associated with psychedelic microdosing, the data presented here suggest several exciting possibilities for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. First, a chronic intermittent dosing regimen lends itself to the potential prophylactic treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases. As acute doses of serotonergic psychedelics produce similar effects as an acute dose of the psychoplastogen ketamine, and ketamine has demonstrated promise for preventing stress-induced depression- and anxiety-related phenotypes in animal models, it will be interesting to see if psychedelic microdosing is also capable of preventing the development of depression and anxiety symptoms. Second, the ability of low doses of DMT to produce positive effects on mood and anxiety suggests that the perceptual effects of psychedelics can be decoupled from their therapeutic properties. This could lead to the development of non-psychedelic psychoplastogens with broad therapeutic potential and minimal risk for abuse. Taken together, our results encourage cautious optimism about the potential for psychedelic microdosing to produce beneficial effects on depression and anxiety.

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00692
 

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Combining therapy with the psychedelic drug psilocybin results in large reductions in anxiety and depression
https://www.psypost.org/2020/06/com...ge-reductions-in-anxiety-and-depression-57092

Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound found in so-called “magic mushrooms”. A recent meta-analysis published in Psychiatry Research provides tentative support for psilocybin in the treatment of depression and anxiety.

Researchers have made important advancements when it comes to the treatment of depression and anxiety, including both pharmacological and behavioral interventions. Nevertheless, existing treatments often have ill side effects or are ineffective for certain patients, pointing to the need for more treatment options. Study authors Simon B. Goldberg and his team wanted to investigate one possible new treatment option.

“Researchers have recently resumed investigating psychedelic compounds as a novel treatment approach,” the authors say. “One such substance is psilocybin (4-phosphoroyloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine), a plant alkaloid and 5-HT2A receptor agonist.”

Goldberg and associates conducted the first meta-analysis to examine clinical trials investigating the effects of psilocybin among individuals with heightened anxiety or depression.

The analysis included four studies published between the years 2011-2018 and a total of 117 subjects. Three studies took place in the United States and one in the United Kingdom. The samples had an average of 29 participants each and were largely female (58 percent) and White (86 percent). All participants had clinically relevant anxiety or depression symptoms, or a combination of both.

One trial had a single-group, non-controlled design where all participants were administered a dosage of psilocybin. The three remaining trials employed a random design where roughly half the participants received a psilocybin dose and half received a placebo (the control group). In addition to the drug treatment, all four studies incorporated behavioral interventions and support throughout the trial.

Results of the meta-analysis indicated that participants in all four studies showed large reductions in anxiety and depression after receiving psilocybin dosages. Furthermore, the effects of psilocybin were significant even at the six-month follow-up. For the three double-blind studies comparing placebo and psilocybin conditions, the effects of psilocybin on anxiety and depression were also found.

While the results provide support for psilocybin in the treatment of anxiety and depression, the authors discuss several limitations with the analysis. First, as only four studies were included, the observed effects may not be reliable. Additionally, most studies had a high risk of bias, including detection bias caused by insufficient blinding of participants.

One possible avenue for future research is in the treatment-resistant population. “Additional large-scale studies examining the effects of psilocybin on treatment-resistant depression may be warranted, as only one of the four studies focused on this population,” the authors say.

“Nonetheless,” the researchers conclude, “the current meta-analysis suggests psilocybin in combination with behavioral support may provide a safe and effective treatment option for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is an area for additional careful, scientific study.”

The study, “The experimental effects of psilocybin on symptoms of anxiety and depression: A meta-analysis”, was authored by Simon B. Goldberg, Brian T. Pace, Christopher R. Nicholas, Charles L. Raison, and Paul R. Hutson.
 
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How a psychedelic drug helps cancer patients overcome anxiety

by Robin Marantz Henig | NPR | 3 Dec 2016

The brilliantly-colored shapes reminded Carol Vincent of fluorescent deep-sea creatures, and they floated past her languidly. She was overwhelmed by their beauty — and then suddenly, as if in a dream, she was out somewhere in deep space instead. "Oh, wow," she thought, overwhelmed all over again. She had been an amateur skydiver in her youth, but this sensation didn't come with any sense of speeding or falling or even having a body at all. She was just hovering there, gazing at the universe.

Vincent was having a psychedelic experience, taking part in one of the two studies just published that look at whether cancer patients like her could overcome their death-related anxiety and depression with a single dose of psilocybin.

It turned out they could, according to the studies, conducted at New York University and Johns Hopkins and reported this week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. NYU and Hopkins scientists gave synthetic psilocybin, the hallucinogenic component of "magic mushrooms," to a combined total of 80 people with advanced cancer suffering from depression, anxiety, and "existential angst." At follow-up six months or more later, two-thirds of the subjects said their anxiety and depression had pretty much disappeared after a single dose.

"And about 80 percent said the psilocybin experience was "among the most personally meaningful of their lives," Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and leader of the Hopkins team, said in an interview.

That's how it was for Vincent, one of the volunteers in Griffiths' study. By the time she found her way to Hopkins in 2014, Vincent, now 61, had been living for six years with a time bomb of a diagnosis: follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which she was told was incurable. It was asymptomatic at the time except for a few enlarged lymph nodes, but was expected to start growing at some undefined future date; when it did, Vincent would have to start chemotherapy just to keep it in check. By 2014, still symptom-free, Vincent had grown moderately anxious, depressed, and wary, on continual high alert for signs that the cancer growth had finally begun.

"The anvil over your head, the constant surveillance of your health — it takes a toll," says Vincent, who owns an advertising agency in Victoria, British Columbia. She found herself thinking, "What's the point of this? All I'm doing is waiting for the lymphoma. There was no sense of being able to look forward to something." When she wasn't worrying about her cancer, she was worrying about her son, then in his mid-20s and going through a difficult time. What would happen to him if she died?

Participating in the psilocybin study, she says, was the first thing she'd looked forward to in years.

The experiment involved two treatments with psilocybin, roughly one month apart — one at a dose high enough to bring on a markedly altered state of consciousness, the other at a very low dose to serve as a control. It's difficult to design an experiment like this to compare treatment with an actual placebo, since it's obvious to everyone when a psychedelic experience is underway.

The NYU study used a design similar to Hopkins' but with an "active placebo," the B vitamin niacin, instead of very-low-dose psilocybin as the control. Niacin speeds up heart rate but doesn't have any psychedelic effect. In both studies it was random whether a volunteer got the dose or the control first, but everyone got both, and the order seemed to make no difference in the outcome.

Vincent had to travel from her home in Victoria to Baltimore for the sessions; her travel costs were covered by the Heffter Research Institute, the New Mexico nonprofit that funded both studies. She spent the day before each treatment with the two Hopkins staffers who would be her "guides" during the psilocybin trip. They helped her anticipate some of the emotional issues — the kind of baggage everyone has — that might come to the fore during the experience.

The guides told Vincent that she might encounter some hallucinations that were frightening, and that she shouldn't try to run away from them. "If you see scary stuff," they told her, "just open up and walk right in."

They repeated that line the following day — "just open up and walk right in" — when Vincent returned to Hopkins at 9 a.m., having eaten a light breakfast. The treatment took place in a hospital room designed to feel as homey as possible. "It felt like your first apartment after college, circa 1970," she says, with a beige couch, a couple of armchairs and some abstract art on the wall.

Vincent was given the pill in a ceramic chalice, and in about 20 minutes she started to feel woozy. She lay down on the couch, put on some eye shades and headphones to block out exterior sights and sounds, and focused on what was happening inside her head. The headphones delivered a carefully-chosen playlist of Western classical music, from Bach and Beethoven to Barber's "Adagio for Strings," interspersed with some sitar music and Buddhist chants. Vincent recalled the music as mostly soothing or uplifting, though occasionally there were some brooding pieces in a minor key that led her images to a darker place.

With the music as background, Vincent started to experience a sequence of vivid hallucinations that took her from the deep sea to vast outer space. Listening to her describe it is like listening to anyone describe a dream — it's a disjointed series of scenes, for which the intensity and meaning can be hard to convey.

She remembered seeing neon geometric shapes, a gold shield spelling out the name Jesus, a whole series of cartoon characters — a fish, a rabbit, a horse, a pirate ship, a castle, a crab, a superhero in a cape — and at some point she entered a crystal cave encrusted with prisms. "It was crazy how overwhelmed by the beauty I was," she says, sometimes to the point of weeping. "Everything I was looking at was so spectacular."

At one point she heard herself laughing in her son's voice, in her brother's voice, and in the voices of other family members. The cartoon characters kept appearing in the midst of all that spectacular beauty, especially the "comical crab" that emerged two more times. She saw a frightening black vault, which she thought might contain something terrifying. But remembering her guides' advice to "just open up and walk right in," she investigated, and found that the only thing inside it was herself.

When the experience was over, about six hours after it began, the guides sent Vincent back to the hotel with her son, who had accompanied her to Baltimore, and asked her to write down what she'd visualized and what she thought about it.

Griffiths had at first been worried about giving psychedelics to cancer patients like Vincent, fearing they might actually become even more afraid of death by taking "a look into the existential void."

But even though some research participants did have moments of panic in which they thought they were losing their minds or were about to die, he said the guides were always able to settle them down, and never had to resort to the antipsychotic drugs they had on hand for emergencies. (The NYU guides never had to use theirs, either.)

Many subjects came away feeling uplifted, Griffiths says, talking about "a sense of unity," feeling part of "an interconnected whole." He adds that even people who are atheists, as Vincent is, described the feeling as precious, meaningful or even sacred.

"The reasons for the power and persistence of psilocybin's impact are still a big mystery," according to Griffiths. "That's what makes this research, frankly, so exciting," he says. "There's so much that's unknown, and it holds the promise for really understanding the nature of human meaning-making and consciousness."

He says he looks forward to using psilocybin in other patient populations, not just people with terminal diagnoses, to help answer larger existential questions that are "so critical to our experience as human organisms."

Two and a half years after the psychedelic experience, Carol Vincent is still symptom-free, but she's not as terrified of the "anvil" hanging over her, no longer waiting in dread for the cancer to show itself. "I didn't get answers to questions like, 'Where are you, God?' or 'Why did I get cancer?' " she says. What she got instead, she says, was the realization that all the "fears and worries that take up so much of my mental real estate turn out to be really insignificant in the context of the big picture of the universe."

This insight was heightened by one small detail of her psilocybin trip, which has stayed with her all this time: that little cartoon crab that floated into her vision along with the other animated characters.

"I saw that crab three times," Vincent says. The crab, she later realized, is the astrological sign of cancer — the disease that terrified her, and also the sign that both her son and her mother were born under. These were the three things in her life that she cared about, and worried over, most deeply, she says. "And here they were, appearing as comic relief."

 

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What you should know about microdosing for anxiety

by Anna Wilcox | DoubleBlind | 19 Jun 2020

The lowdown on microdosing LSD, psilocybin, and DMT to ease anxiety.

While tech workers didn’t invent microdosing, they may be responsible for turning it into a trend: The practice is often touted as a biohack for creativity, inspiring new ways to pump out code, design interfaces, or harness the entrepreneurial spirit.

A “microdose” is a dosage of a psychoactive substance that is too low to produce a noticeable intoxicating effect. Psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and cannabis are the three most commonly micro-dosed substances. Anecdotally, the reasons why consumers microdose are many: Anxiety, creativity, and depression all make the list.

Yet, while consumers report many benefits to microdosing, the topic has long eluded the scientific community that’s responsible for putting these reports to the test. The 1971 Controlled Substances Act criminalized the possession, cultivation, and processing of many drugs, psychedelics included. The act, however, does a lot more than criminalize the possession of these substances. It also forces scientists to jump through immeasurable hurdles to access psychedelics for research.

But that doesn’t mean that some researchers don’t try.

Microdosing for anxiety

Every once in a while, researchers are permitted to move forward with psychedelic studies. Fortunately, the rising popularity of microdosing is spurring a push for real scientific research on the topic. Whereas five years ago there were virtually no studies on microdosing psychedelics, academic journals have since published nearly 400 different papers on the topic.

But, quality research is still in short supply when it comes to exploring the effects of microdosing for anxiety, or any other mental health condition. In some studies, anxiety was actually listed as a side effect of microdosing psychedelics, along with general discomfort and neuroticism - common side effects of full-dose psychedelics, as well.

There are some glimmers of hope, however. Several reviews suggest that microdosing psychedelics may, in some instances, improve mood, enhance focus, and perhaps foster creativity. Trials of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy are also promising.

There are a few caveats about microdosing for anxiety that are worth mentioning, however, which include certain aspects of the psychedelic experience that cannot be quantified by Western science. It’s difficult to put a value on ego death, for example, or to fully define the meaning and personal significance of that kind of experience.

In a sense, microdosing may be equivalent to taking medication, while a full-blown psychedelic experience may reconfigure your relationship to anxiety and trauma.

Psychedelics can inspire what famed researcher Roland Griffiths calls “the mystical experience,” which is a spiritual experience similar to a religious epiphany or state achieved by deep meditation. But, these experiences are usually occasioned by high doses of psychedelics, not small ones.

It’s possible that a sudden spiritual epiphany caused by a full dose of a psychedelic drug may engage the root cause of anxiety in an entirely different way than microdosing. In a sense, microdosing may be equivalent to taking medication, while a full-blown psychedelic experience may reconfigure your relationship to anxiety and trauma.

Currently, no scientists have studied the spiritual implications of microdosing, nor have they studied whether or not consistent microdosing can encourage a spiritual openness that’s similar to that achieved by full-dose psychedelic-assisted therapy.

How often should you microdose psychedelics for anxiety?

For most consumers, microdosing psychedelics does not mean taking a small dose every day. As preclinical animal trials and interviews with regular microdoses suggest, microdosing is most often intermittent. That means consumers will take one small dose every three or four days, for up to several months at a time.

Microdosing intermittently rather than daily may help avoid developing a tolerance to any given psychedelic, at least according to user reports. “Tolerance” occurs when a consumer gradually becomes less sensitive to the effects of a psychedelic, rendering many of the spiritual and cognitive benefits moot.



Microdosing LSD for anxiety

Scientists have already proven that, when taken with an open mind in the right setting, LSD can inspire long-term relief from anxiety and depression. Back in 2014, scientists completed the first placebo-controlled trial of LSD since the 1970s. The study was completed in Switzerland and sponsored by MAPS, an independent research organization that’s currently leading the global initiative in psychedelic research.

The trial explored the effectiveness of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in 12 patients facing life-threatening illnesses. By the end of the study, patients not only reported better moods and reduced anxiety overall, but experienced relief that continued for 12 months.

But, here’s the catch—in this study, patients didn’t microdose. Almost all trials of psychedelics in clinical settings thus far have been full-dose. As mentioned above, a full-dose experience is very different from a microdose experience; the latter does not inspire hallucinations while the former does.

A microdose of LSD is considered one-tenth of a normal dose, which is around 10 micrograms. For most consumers, measuring out exactly 10 micrograms is a near-impossible task. So, many dedicated microdosers slice tabs of acid into eight or more pieces in an attempt to control their dose.

Thus far, there is only one double-blind human study that looks at the effects of microdosing LSD. However, the study did not look expressly at anxiety. Instead, it discovered that microdosing LSD does, in fact, change the way that consumers experience time. More specifically, it makes time feel slower so that seconds seem to last longer.

More informally, however, survey investigations by psychedelic researcher Jim Fadiman have found that many microdosers take LSD to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. But, there’s a catch here, too. Of the 418 people who Fadiman interviewed, those who microdose LSD for anxiety alone had the most trouble. As Vice reports, anxiety can be an unwanted side effect of an LSD microdose.



Microdosing mushrooms for anxiety

Like LSD, full-dose psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was successful in treating depression and anxiety caused by life-threatening illness. In a landmark study by Roland Griffiths, psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy inspired improvements in the outlook, mood, and anxiety levels of cancer patients—improvements that held up 12 months after treatment.

The profound changes caused by psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy are linked to the spiritual experiences that the substances inspire. A microdose of magic mushrooms, which is approximately 0.33 grams, is not likely to cause the profound mystical experience associated with the full-dose of the fungi. But, that doesn’t mean that microdosing mushrooms for anxiety is without benefit.

In 2018, Czech researchers compared the effects of microdosing psilocin to ketamine, in rats undergoing a stressful maze test. Psilocin, along with psilocybin, is one of the psychoactive components in magic mushrooms. The research, while limited and highly experimental, did find that low doses of both substances had a mild anxiolytic effect.

Unfortunately, however, scientists have yet to study mushroom microdosing in a clinical setting. However, both the internet and survey studies are ripe with anecdotal accounts of people who experiment with microdosing. In one review, a self-described microdoser explained:

“I have had very positive results from infrequent psilocybin microdosing. I have found fast and relatively long-lasting relief from depression and social anxiety doing this, as compared to other pharmaceutical options I’ve been offered.”



Microdosing DMT for anxiety

DMT is another psychedelic of interest to mental health researchers. DMT is found naturally in many different plants and it is the primary molecule that contributes to the active effects of ayahuasca. When taken on its own in a full dose, DMT inspires an intense but relatively short-lived psychedelic experience. Along with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, DMT is considered an entheogen. The molecule’s reputation for inspiring a strong quasi-religious experience has even earned it a special nickname—“the spirit molecule.”

Amazingly, scientists have actually completed one preliminary experiment on microdosing DMT for anxiety and depression. A team led by University of California Davis researcher Lindsey Cameron published the first study on DMT microdosing in 2019. But, the early study wasn’t completed in humans. Instead, the team tested the effects of chronic, low-dose DMT on rats.

In the trial, Cameron and her team gave rats microdoses of DMT that were far too small to induce hallucinations. Then, the scientists forced the rodents into situations that would normally trigger anxiety and depressive behaviors in rodents. They then continued to administer these ultra-low doses of the psychedelic every third day for three months. The results were positive: Microdosing DMT appeared to ease fear and depression-like behavior during stressful events.

Of course, experimenting with rodents is a far cry from meaningful trials and pilot programs of DMT in human therapy. Normally, positive results in an animal test would pave the way for future clinical trials in humans. But, with psychedelic research, things aren’t that easy.

Thanks to the legal restrictions imposed by the Controlled Substances Act, scientists are more or less limited to animal studies when researching these compounds. To graduate to human clinical trials would require special permissions, loads of red tape, or moving research initiatives outside the country. These same barriers are not present for scientists performing research and development on new synthetic pharmaceutical compounds.

 
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