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    Default Psychedelics and anxiety

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    Swiss LSD study yields incredible results for terminally ill patients

    By Victoria Kim

    The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease published the results of an innovative study measuring LSD's effects on end-of-life anxiety. The study marks the first controlled trial of LSD in over 40 years. It tested the use of LSD as a complement to talk therapy for a group of 12 people "nearing the end of life."

    After about two months of weekly therapy, the eight participants who received full doses of LSD improved by about 20% on standard measures of anxiety. The four subjects who took a much weaker dose got worse. Overall, after following up with the group a year after the trial's conclusion, Dr. Peter Gasser, who conducted the therapy, said the patients' "anxiety went down and stayed down."

    The drug caused no serious side effects other than temporary and therapeutically valuable times of distress. One of the subjects, a 50-year-old Austrian social worker named Peter, told the New York Times that he was worried about having a bad trip, but ended up having a mystical experience. "I had what you would call a mystical experience, I guess, lasting for some time, and the major part was pure distress at all these memories I had successfully forgotten for decades," he said. "These painful feelings, regrets, this fear of death. I remember feeling very cold for a long time. I was shivering, even though I was sweating. It was a mental coldness, I think, a memory of neglect."

    One 67-year-old patient said he met his dead, estranged father "somewhere out in the cosmos," who nodded to him in approval.

    Switzerland is known for their progressive, harm reduction approach to drug policy. Their national heroin treatment program, for example, provides drug addicts with free methadone and clean needles. This policy has seen reduced deaths and crime rates, which is a marked turnaround from what was once the site of Zurich's infamous Platzspitz park, dubbed "needle park" in the 1980s.

    It's been just over 70 years since Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann discovered LSD's mind-altering qualities when he absorbed some through his fingertips. But research about the drug's therapeutic qualities are just making a resurgence, along with mushrooms and ecstasy. Since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA) came into effect 44 years ago, these psychedelics were labeled as Schedule I drugs, which are defined as having no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse, making them more difficult to conduct studies with. Marijuana is also considered a Schedule I drug.

    Before the CSA, close to 700 studies with psychedelic drugs took place, and the research suggested that psychedelics offered significant benefits in treating alcoholism, easing end-of-life anxiety and treating many complex psychiatric illness such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    The scientific community has researched psychedelics for the treatment of PTSD, alcoholism and drug addictions, and their findings have been promising. The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, for example, found that psilocybin, an active component of magic mushrooms that trigger transformative spiritual states, may have lasting medical and spiritual benefits when taken in the right dosage. The study researchers were able to reliably "induce transcendental experiences" in subjects. These experiences offered long-lasting psychological growth and helped people find peace in their lives without negative side effects.

    With Switzerland's progressive approach to drug policy, scientists are able to conduct studies with drugs that are still very controversial in the U.S. While countries like Switzerland and Israel are ahead of the game in propelling research of the medical benefits of psychedelics, the U.S. is falling behind by limiting research of these substances.

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    Just one dose of psilocybin can ease anxiety

    By Alexandra Sifferlin

    Cancer is a brutal disease on both the body and mind. Not only do treatments like chemotherapy take a massive toll, but the emotional side effects can be hard to bear. Depression and
    anxiety are high among people with cancer, including those in remission. But two new studies offer promising relief through an unlikely source: hallucinogenic drugs.

    In two new studies released simultaneously by researchers at New York University and Johns Hopkins, doctors reveal that a single dose of psilocybin can ease anxiety and depression for up to six months. The results have great potential for people dealing with the fear associated with a cancer diagnosis, but also for people with psychiatric disorders that haven't responded to traditional treatments like psychotherapy or antidepressants.

    The studies, both published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, are accompanied by 11 editorials of support from leaders in psychiatry, including two past presidents of the American Psychiatric Association. “Our results represent the strongest evidence to date of a clinical benefit from psilocybin therapy, with the potential to transform care for patients with cancer-related psychological distress,” says NYU study author Dr. Stephen Ross, director of substance abuse services in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone in a statement.

    The NYU Langone Medical Center study involved 29 people who had serious psychological distress, like anxiety or depression, stemming from advanced cancer. Each person received either a capsule of psilocybin or a placebo capsule; in a second session, they were given the pill they hadn't yet taken. The sessions lasted from four to six hours in a room equipped with head phones, a couch and a sleep mask.

    People had their own individual experiences with the drug. But the results were remarkable: 60-80% of people in the study reported reductions in their depression and anxiety symptoms that lasted six months after the treatment.

    The Johns Hopkins study, which involved 51 adults, had similar results. They each received one large dose of the drug, and six months later, 80% of the people in the trial continued to show decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms. Eighty-three percent of people reported increases in their well-being and life satisfaction, and 67% said the trial was one of the top five most meaningful experiences in their lives.

    Several people described experiencing an overwhelming feeling of love while on the drug and felt they had changed immediately. "The feeling of immense love lingered for weeks, and four years later I still feel it at times," says participant Dinah Bazer, who was experiencing severe anxiety about a possible ovarian cancer recurrence. "My fear and anxiety were completely removed, and they haven’t come back."

    Lisa Callaghan's late husband, former TV news director Patrick Mettes, was also in the NYU trial. Mettes eventually died from cancer of the bile ducts, but undergoing the trial gave him a sense of peace, says his wife. "In his trip there was an evolution through all of these stages of emotional development," says Callaghan. "He was reborn into this place of personal and universal love. He said he felt it all around him, and he felt a sense of forgiveness too."

    The potential therapeutic use of psilocybin has been recognized for years, but strict drug laws implemented 45 years ago stalled research. In the 1950s and 1960s, several teams in the United States studied psychedelic compounds for potential mental disorder treatments. But widespread recreational use of the substances became cause for concern and overshadowed the possible therapeutic benefits. In 1971, psilocybin and other psychedelic compounds were classified as schedule 1 drugs, meaning that the government believes they have high potential for abuse. This classification makes it very difficult for research to continue, despite the fact that experts argue adverse side effects from psilocybin (when used responsibly) are rare.

    "I tried to understand how something this big had been buried," says Ross. Due to these restrictions, Ross says it took the hospital a couple years to get their study off the ground.

    Some of the men and women in the studies did experience side effects, like nausea and headaches, but none were severe. It's unclear precisely how psilocybin works, but the study authors say that the drug may activate parts of the brain that are impacted by serotonin, which can play a role in anxiety, mood and depression.

    Significantly more research is needed before psilocybin could be considered as a clinical therapy. The researchers stress that psilocybin in the trials was given in a very controlled environment with multiple investigators present, and that people should not attempt the drug on their own. There's also some concern that pharmaceutical companies may not see financial incentives in single-dose therapies.

    Still, many people in the medical community are hopeful. "We're excited about finding a medicine that can be helpful to people suffering from conditions not successfully treated by standard treatment," says Dr. George Greer, medical director of the Heffter Research Institute, which helped fund the studies. "There's a lot of interest."

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    My spouse died from a slow and painful cancer. Fortunately we were able to attend a Shaman ceremony in Ecuador and partake of ayahuasca. This was a life changing event and greatly eased the pain.

    -Karin

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    Psilocybin found to ease end-of-life anxiety

    By David Biello

    UCLA psychiatrist Charles Grob and his colleagues enlisted 12 cancer patients—11 of them women—between June 2004 and May 2008. All suffered from fatal cancers, ranging from
    breast cancer to multiple myeloma, as well as "acute stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder due to cancer, or adjustment disorder with anxiety." All agreed to take a "moderate dose" (0.2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight) of psilocybin (and niacin on another occasion) to see if the psychedelic drug might offer some relief from their fear of death and disease.

    The unusual decision to have each patient serve as both a subjects and then as a control—rather than having two separate groups, one treated with psilocybin and one with niacin—was taken because the researchers believed "that to be the ethical course to take, given the life circumstances subjects were encountering," (i.e. imminent demise). In other words, Grob and his colleagues felt that all the terminally ill patients should be allowed to experience any potential benefit from the psilocybin treatment. The patients were brought into the hospital, hooked up to a heart monitor and settled in a room "decorated with fabric wall hangings and fresh flowers." Headphones played music of their choice. At 10:00 AM on the day of a treatment, each of the 12 patients in the study individually swallowed the appropriate dosage of psilocybin (or niacin for the control session) as a pill. Researchers then measured various vitals and checked on their status every hour thereafter until the psychedelic experience was over, roughly six hours later.

    Eight of the 12 subjects had previous experience with hallucinogens, either in the past year or as far back as 30 years ago. Though heart rate and blood pressure climbed as a result of taking the drug, none reported a "bad trip" and most enjoyed a "significant" reduction in end-of-life anxiety between one and three months after treatment, as measured by various psychiatric questionnaires. Their depression eased as well—a change that was sustained as much as six months later for those who survived that long. Unfortunately, the psilocybin, at this dose anyway, did nothing for physical pain.

    The patients generally reported that the medication helped them to examine their lives and determine "how they wished to address their limited life expectancy." Sadly, as of publication of the research, 10 of the 12 subjects have died. But the research suggests that using psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin may help to ease the existential anxiety and despair that modern medicine has largely found no other way to treat.

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    How psychedelic drugs help cancer patients face death

    By Lauren Slater

    Pam Sakuda was 55 when she found out she was dying. Shortly after having a tumor removed from her colon, she heard the doctor’s dreaded words: Stage 4; metastatic. Sakuda was given 6 to 14 months to live. Determined to slow her disease’s insidious course, she ran several miles every day, even during her grueling treatment regimens. By nature upbeat, articulate and dignified, Sakuda — who died in November 2006, outlasting everyone’s expectations by living for four years — was alarmed when anxiety and depression came to claim her after she passed the 14-month mark, her days darkening as she grew closer to her biological demise. Norbert Litzinger, Sakuda’s husband, explained it this way: “When you pass your own death sentence by, you start to wonder: When? When? It got to the point where we couldn’t make even the most mundane plans, because we didn’t know if Pam would still be alive at that time — a concert, dinner with friends; would she still be here for that?” "When" came to claim the couple’s life completely, their anxiety building as they waited for the final day.

    As her fears intensified, Sakuda learned of a study being conducted by Charles Grob, a psychiatrist and researcher at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center who was administering psilocybin — an active component of magic mushrooms — to end-stage cancer patients to see if it could reduce their fear of death. Twenty-two months before she died, Sakuda became one of Grob’s 12 subjects. When the research was completed in 2008 — (and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry last year) — the results showed that administering psilocybin to terminally ill subjects could be done safely while reducing the subjects’ anxiety and depression about their impending deaths.

    Sakuda’s terminal diagnosis, combined with her otherwise perfect health, made her an ideal subject for Grob’s study. Beginning in January 2005, Grob and his research team gave Sakuda various psychological tests, including the Beck Depression Inventory and the Stai-Y anxiety scale to establish baseline measures of Sakuda’s psychological state and to rule out any severe psychiatric illness. “We wanted psychologically healthy people,” Grob says, “people whose depressions and anxieties are not the result of mental illness” but rather, he explained, a response to a devastating disease.

    Sakuda would take part in two sessions, one with psilocybin, one with niacin, an active placebo that can cause some flushing in the face. The study was double blind, which meant that neither the researchers nor the subjects knew what was in the capsules being administered. On the day of her first session, Sakuda was led into a room that researchers had transformed with flowing fabrics and fresh flowers to help create a soothing environment in an otherwise cold hospital setting. Sakuda swallowed a capsule and lay back on the bed to wait. Grob had invited her — as researchers do with all their subjects — to bring objects from home that had special significance. “These objects often personalize the session room for the volunteer and often prompt the patient to think about loved ones or important life events,” Roland Griffiths, of Johns Hopkins, says.

    "The thinking is that with the aid of the psychedelic, you may come to see the object in a different light. It may help bring back memories; it promotes introspection, it can be a touchstone, it can be grounding,” Halpern says.

    Sakuda brought a few pictures of loved ones, which, Grob recalled, she clutched in her hands as she lay back on the bed. By her side were Grob and one of his research assistants, both of whom stayed with the subjects for the six-to-seven-hour treatment session. Sakuda knew that there would be time set aside in the days and weeks following when she would meet with Grob and his team to process what would happen in that room. Black eyeshades were draped over Sakuda’s face, encouraging her to look inward. She was given headphones. Music was piped in: the sounds of rivers rushing, sweet staccatos, deep drumming. Each hour, Grob and his staff checked in with Sakuda, as they did with every subject, asking if all was O.K. and taking her blood pressure. At one point, Grob observed that Sakuda, with the eyeshades draped over her face, began to cry. Later on, Sakuda would reveal to Grob that the source of her tears was a keen empathetic understanding of what her spouse, Norbert, would feel when she died.

    Norbert Litzinger remembers picking up his wife from the medical center after her first session and seeing that this deeply distressed woman was now “glowing from the inside out.” Before Pam Sakuda died, she described her psilocybin experience on video: “I felt this lump of emotions welling up . . . almost like an entity,” Sakuda said, as she spoke straight into the camera. “I started to cry. . . Everything was concentrated and came welling up and then . . . it started to dissipate, and I started to look at it differently. . . I began to realize that all of this negative fear and guilt was such a hindrance . . . to making the most of and enjoying the healthy time that I’m having.” Sakuda went on to explain that, under the influence of the psilocybin, she came to a very visceral understanding that there was a present, a now, and that it was hers to have.

    Two weeks after Sakuda’s psilocybin session, Grob readministered the depression and anxiety assessments. Over all among his subjects, he found that their scores on the anxiety scale at one and three months after treatment “demonstrated a sustained reduction in anxiety,” the researchers wrote in The Archives of General Psychiatry. They also found that their subjects’ scores on the Beck Depression Inventory dropped significantly at the six-month follow-up. “The dose of psilocybin that we gave our subjects was relatively low in comparison to the doses in Stanislav Grof’s studies,” Grob told me. “Nevertheless, and even with this modest dose, it appears the drug can relieve the angst and fear of the dying.”

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    The Trip Treatment

    By Michael Pollan

    In 2010, Patrick Mettes, a 54-year old television news director being treated for a cancer of the bile ducts, read an article on the front page of the Times that would change his death. His diagnosis had come three years earlier, shortly after his wife, Lisa, noticed that the whites of his eyes had turned yellow. By 2010, the cancer had spread to Patrick’s lungs and he was buckling under the weight of a debilitating chemotherapy regimen and the growing fear that he might not survive. The article, headlined “Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning in Again,” mentioned clinical trials at several universities, including N.Y.U., in which psilocybin was being administered to cancer patients in an effort to relieve their anxiety and “existential distress.” One of the researchers was quoted as saying that, under the influence of the hallucinogen, “individuals transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states . . . and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance.” Patrick had never taken a psychedelic drug, but he immediately wanted to volunteer. Lisa was against the idea. “I didn’t want there to be an easy way out,” she recently told me. “I wanted him to fight.”

    Patrick made the call anyway and, after filling out some forms and answering a long list of questions, was accepted into the trial. Since hallucinogens can sometimes bring to the surface latent psychological problems, researchers try to weed out volunteers at high risk by asking questions about drug use and whether there is a family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. After the screening, Mettes was assigned to a therapist named Anthony Bossis, a bearded, bearish psychologist in his mid-fifties, with a specialty in palliative care. Bossis is a co-principal investigator for the N.Y.U. trial.

    After four meetings with Bossis, Mettes was scheduled for two dosings—one of them an “active” placebo (in this case, a high dose of niacin, which can produce a tingling sensation), and the other a pill containing the psilocybin. Both sessions, Mettes was told, would take place in a room decorated to look more like a living room than like a medical office, with a comfortable couch, landscape paintings on the wall, and, on the shelves, books of art and mythology, along with various aboriginal and spiritual tchotchkes, including a Buddha and a glazed ceramic mushroom. During each session, which would last the better part of a day, Mettes would lie on the couch wearing an eye mask and listening through headphones to a carefully curated playlist. Bossis and a second therapist would be there throughout, saying little but being available to help should he run into any trouble.

    I met Bossis last year in the N.Y.U. treatment room, along with his colleague Stephen Ross, an associate professor of psychiatry at N.Y.U.’s medical school, who directs the ongoing psilocybin trials. Ross, who is in his forties, was dressed in a suit and could pass for a banker. He is also the director of the substance-abuse division at Bellevue, and he told me that he had known little about psychedelics—drugs that produce radical changes in consciousness, including hallucinations—until a colleague happened to mention that, in the nineteen-sixties, LSD had been used successfully to treat alcoholics. Ross did some research and was astounded at what he found.

    “I felt a little like an archeologist unearthing a completely buried body of knowledge,” he said. Beginning in the 1950s, psychedelics were used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including alcoholism and end-of-life anxiety. The American Psychiatric Association held meetings centered on LSD. “Some of the best minds in psychiatry had seriously studied these compounds in therapeutic models, with government funding,” Ross said.

    As I chatted with Tony Bossis and Stephen Ross in the treatment room at N.Y.U., their excitement about the results was evident. According to Ross, cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months. The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review, but the researchers expect to publish later this year.

    “I thought the first ten or twenty people were plants—that they must be faking it,” Ross told me. “They were saying things like ‘I understand love is the most powerful force on the planet,’ or ‘I had an encounter with my cancer, this black cloud of smoke.’ People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field.”

    I was surprised to hear such unguarded enthusiasm from a scientist, and a substance-abuse specialist, about a street drug that, since 1970, has been classified by the government as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. But the support for renewed research on psychedelics is widespread among medical experts. “I’m personally biased in favor of these type of studies,” Thomas R. Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (N.I.M.H.) and a neuroscientist, told me. “If it proves useful to people who are really suffering, we should look at it. Just because it is a psychedelic doesn’t disqualify it in our eyes.” Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (nida), emphasized that “it is important to remind people that experimenting with drugs of abuse outside a research setting can produce serious harms.”

    Many researchers I spoke with described their findings with excitement, some using words like “mind-blowing.” Bossis said, “People don’t realize how few tools we have in psychiatry to address existential distress. Xanax isn’t the answer. So how can we not explore this, if it can recalibrate how we die?”

    In follow-up discussions with Bossis, Patrick Mettes spoke of his body and his cancer as a “type of illusion” and how there might be “something beyond this physical body.” It also became clear that, psychologically, at least, Mettes was doing remarkably well: he was meditating regularly, felt he had become better able to live in the present, and described loving his wife “even more.” In a session in March, two months after his journey, Bossis noted that Mettes “reports feeling the happiest in his life.”

    "As a scientific phenomenon, if you can create conditions in which seventy per cent of people will say they have had one of the five most meaningful experiences of their lives? To a scientist, that’s just incredible,” said Griffiths.

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    Psychedelic mushrooms could cure anxiety for cancer patients

    By April Short

    When O.M. was 21 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was a pre-med student at the time. His first reaction was denial, followed by an overwhelming and lasting anxiety, as described in an Atlantic article by Roc Morin. Even after six rounds of chemotherapy helped O.M. kick the cancer, he was plagued with a devastating fear that the disease might return. He checked his lymph nodes so often to see if they’d grown that he developed callouses on his neck.

    He experienced this debilitating end-of-life anxiety from the moment he was diagnosed until the day he ingested psilocybin, extracted from hallucinogenic mushrooms, while laying on a psychiatrist’s couch during a New York University study. O.M. is one of 35 study participants, all of whom suffered from severe anxiety due to cancer.

    The double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study, which is still ongoing, looks at the potentials for psilocybin to treat anxiety and other psychological distress stemming from advanced cancer. The second half of the study will look at the effect of psilocybin on “pain perception, depression, existential/psychospiritual distress, attitudes toward disease progression, quality of life, and spiritual/mystical states of consciousness.”

    O.M. told the Atlantic that when he ate the mushrooms, it was “like a switch went on.”

    “I went from being anxious to analyzing my anxiety from the outside,” he said. “I realized that nothing was actually happening to me objectively. It was real because I let it become real. And, right when I had that thought, I saw a cloud of black smoke come out of my body and float away.”

    Gabrielle Agin-Liebes, the research manager for the NYU study, told the Atlantic that O.M. had one of the highest possible anxiety ratings possible prior to the study. The day following his treatment, O.M. scored a zero. He had absolutely no anxiety, and stayed that way for seven months following the treatment.

    As Morin's Atlantic article notes, psilocybin was used for medicinal purposes for centuries by indigenous peoples before Western Christian globalization stomped out its mainstream usage. In the wake of WWII, hallucinogens-as-medicine made a comeback among psychiatrists. When psychoactive substances gained recreational popularity as street drugs, the Nixon administration waged its war on drugs, passing the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Psilocybin was given restrictive Schedule I classification along with LSD, cannabis and other psychoactive substances. Nixon's war on drugs still rages on today, filling prisons with nonviolent drug offenders and targeting minority populations.

    1970s-era policies have also suppressed most research of psychedelics for decades, but thanks to the efforts of determined scientists and research groups like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), government-approved human studies of controlled psychedelic substances are breaking ground again. While the federal government still deems them dangerous and void of medical purpose, research continues to reveal a promising medical potential of most psychoactive Schedule I substances to treat issues ranging from pain and anxiety to addiction and cancer.

    A recent FDA-approved study looked at LSD in the treatment of end-of-life anxiety. It was the first controlled study of LSD in humans in 40 years, and the results were overwhelmingly positive, with every patient reporting reduced anxiety and no negative side effects.

    The NYU psilocybin study is not the first of its kind. Charles Grob conducted a study with similar outcome measures at Harbor-UCLA. However, the NYU study uses higher doses of psilocybin and examines 32 subjects instead of the 12 Grob examined. The results of the current psilocybin study are still being examined, but principal investigator Stephen Ross told the Atlantic that, “the vast majority of their patients have exhibited an immediate and sustained reduction in anxiety. Consistent with similar studies involving psilocybin, approximately three-fourths of the participants rate their experience with the drug as being one of the top five most significant events of their lives.”

    O.M. was among the overwhelming success cases.

    “At the hospital they gave me Xanax for anxiety,” he told the Atlantic. “Xanax doesn’t get rid of your anxiety. Xanax tells you not to feel it for a while until it stops working and you take the next pill. The beauty of psilocybin is: it’s not medication. You’re not taking it and it solves your problem. You take it and you solve your problem yourself.”

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    Ketamine infusion therapies for end-of-life care

    For a terminal illness ketamine may be a great treatment option. Psychedelic drugs and their derivatives, such as ketamine, help patients cope with existential concerns, and can reduce anxiety leading up to death. Ketamine infusion therapies can offer end-of-life patients peace of mind.

    Patients who have access to psychedelic medications as part of treatment for their terminal illness have found that they weren’t scared of death anymore. They frequently say that the treatment was one of the most meaningful experiences they’ve had, ever. They talk about gaining a sense of peace with the universe, and having a sense of universal oneness and serenity. Their anxiety typically decreases significantly.

    Palliative and hospice care professionals, as well as all of the individuals who care for their loved ones, do an exceptional job caring for those in the various stages of dying. But often the depression, anxiety, and melancholy that come with having a terminal diagnosis go untreated. Ketamine infusions may be one good option for addressing this part of end-of-life care. In most cases, ketamine works instantly and helps to treat those often-overlooked symptoms in a way that few if any treatments beyond psychedelics can.

    An appropriate treatment regime may involve a series of outpatient infusion therapies followed by maintenance treatments from time to time as needed by the patient.

    The opportunity to provide some relief from depression, anxiety and fear may be a great gift for many facing death. And for those who are particularly struggling it may be especially welcome.

    -Dr. Allison Wells

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    I suffer from anxiety-based food aversion; my mind convinces my body that it doesn't need food. When at my worst I was consuming less than 500 calories per day. I started microdosing with psilocybin, and pulled a complete 180. After the initial nausea fades, the microdose puts me very much in tune with my body and it's needs. It allows me to easily circumvent whatever "reason" it is on that day that I've used to justify not eating. Basically, it makes my hunger unignorable to the point where I have to do something about it. My appetite is much healthier now thanks to this practice.

    -non-zer0

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    LSD helped me with debilitating anxiety and also helped me quell and control the subsequent substance use that the anxiety was causing. This is a game changer for me after trying so many harmful drugs from my doctor that never came close to the efficacy of LSD.

    -anon

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    I would say that psilocybin cured my social anxiety pretty much overnight. I went from not really talking to anyone to becoming friends with pretty much everyone. I learned how to talk to people much better. The mushrooms made me try more at social interactions and to not worry about the consequences so much.

    -anon

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    4-AcO-DMT worked wonders for my social anxiety. I assumed the opposite would be true, but I was completely worry-free when interacting with strangers in very public places.

    -TNS

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    I feel qualified to talk about social anxiety and psychedelics, as I've had a lot of experience with both. My recommendation is to take a low-to-moderate dose of a psychedelic in a setting with strangers. If you can't tolerate the idea of tripping around strangers, then trip with a group of friends. It's important to do it in a setting that challenges your anxiety.

    The ONLY way to overcome social anxiety is to confront it. Psychedelics can help you do this.

    -TheAppleCore

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    Clinical trials demonstrate the remarkable benefits of magic mushrooms

    In a recent Time Magazine article, Dinah Bazer recounts her personal experience with psilocybin. A cancer survivor struggling with severe anxiety (driven by her fear of a recurrence), Bazer agreed to participate in a magic mushroom trial conducted at the NYU Langone Medical Center.

    While fear gripped her when the drug first brought her "tumbling through space," the experience ended up being a profoundly healing one:

    "… I started to feel love. I felt like I was being bathed in love and it was overwhelming, amazing, wonderful … The feeling of immense love lingered for weeks, and four years later I still feel it at times. My fear and anxiety were completely removed, and they haven't come back … The experience changed how I wanted to live my life. I used to get up, grab a quick snack and eat it in the car. But I no longer want to be in a hurry. Now I get up an hour early, make a real breakfast and read my paper … I used to imagine what it would be like if the cancer recurred, but I don't think about it the same way anymore. When I don't feel well, and thoughts of a recurrence creep into my mind, I lack fear and simply think, 'Let's just see what happens.'"

    According to lead author Dr. Stephen Ross, director of substance abuse services and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone, their investigation revealed that psilocybin “was a rapid, immediately acting anti-anxiety and antidepressant.”

    “The high-dose psilocybin resulted in significant decreases in both clinician-rated and self-reported measures of depressed mood and anxiety among the patients. The effects lasted in 78 percent of patients for depression and 83 percent for anxiety in a follow-up assessment six months later."

    -Dr. Joseph Mercola

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    As someone who has had severe clinical depression off and on for decades and tried psilocybin once (at what I think was a lower dose than they used in the study) I can verify that it works, and works very well. It's positive, it promotes joy and imagination, and I feel much more in touch with my feelings.

    I stopped taking my antidepressant that was making me feel even more detached. I felt the medication that I'd been taking was pushing me in the wrong direction. After taking the psilocybin I never took that medication again.

    -Ursula

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    Psychedelic mushrooms found to relieve anxiety in cancer patients for months at a time

    The Johns Hopkins study looked at 51 similar patients who were given a low dose of psilocybin relative to their body weight (3mg), or a high dose (25mg). Five weeks later, patients received the opposite dose. Similarly, researchers found that most patients felt their mental health symptoms had been alleviated 6 months after tripping on the high dose, and 65% reported no longer feeling any depression or anxiety, respectively.

    Stephen Ross, a psychiatrist at NYU and lead author of one of the studies, told the Atlantic he was surprised by how well tripping on psilocybin seemed to work for patients. “The moment patients get psilocybin, their distress comes down,” he said. “That’s very new in psychiatry, to have a medication that works immediately and lasts that long.”

    -Katherine Ellen Foley

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    Psilocybin for cancer depression

    By Ron Cassie

    The diagnosis of Clark Martin’s liver cancer came at the same time as the birth of his daughter, with doctors informing the clinical psychologist that he had about a year and a half to live. “It was emotionally very upsetting,” the soft-spoken Martin recalls. “Not because of the dying, but because of my daughter.”

    His late-stage cancer, however, proved one of the rare cases that responded to the initial chemotherapy. “I was lucky,” he says. But not out of the woods. During the next two decades, cancer cells would reappear in his lungs, metastasizing into tumors. On each occasion, Martin battled the disease into remission, but the endless regimens and surgeries and ever-looming threat of cancer drove him into bouts of anxiety and depression as he obsessed over his health and micro-managed his treatment plans. “I have a scientific background and became very narrowly focused,” he says. “I felt like I needed to know more than the doctors. I withdrew from life.”

    Ultimately, his friends and daughter—entering college by this time—convinced him that he needed to address his mental wellbeing. He tried counseling, but it didn’t improve his outlook. Neither did antidepressants. Partly from desperation to “pop out” of his funk and partly out of professional curiosity, the Vancouver, WA-based Martin flew to Baltimore to participate in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins where he would ingest a powerful dose of psilocybin—the naturally occurring psychoactive ingredient found in “magic” mushrooms.

    “All of a sudden, things in the room, things you feel inside, start feeling unfamiliar. Like my brain was going offline,” Martin says. “The experience in my head was just of being in a void,” he continues. “I’m a boater and I’ll use this analogy: Imagine you fall off a sailboat into the open ocean and when you turn around, the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone."

    “At one point, I was in a stadium-like building with stained glass—it may have been a giant cathedral. At another point I had the feeling of living on a bubble. I had my space on the bubble and other people had theirs. But mostly there was just an experience of tranquility,” Martin continues. “No people, no architecture, no thoughts, no ideas—nothing. Just calm presence.”

    Today, six years later, Martin credits psilocybin—as well as the preparation and guidance that went with it—with parting the fog of his depression. He also credits his psychedelic session with transforming and opening his relationships with his daughter, friends, and even his Alzheimer’s suffering father. “I still think about it every day,” he says, choking up for a moment. “I’m still unpacking and integrating what I learned into my daily life.”
    Last edited by Sherman Peabody; 09-23-2017 at 06:31 PM.

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    Distinguished Community Member Sherman Peabody's Avatar
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    Immediate reduction in depression and anxiety for up to eight months seen in patients with advanced cancer after a single dose of psilocybin

    By Sarah Boseley

    A single dose of psilocybin can lift the anxiety and depression experienced by people with advanced cancer for six months or even longer, two new studies show.

    Researchers involved in the two trials in the United States say the results are remarkable. The volunteers had “profoundly meaningful and spiritual experiences” which made most of them rethink life and death, ended their despair and brought about lasting improvement in the quality of their lives.

    The results of the research are published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology together with no less than ten commentaries from leading scientists in the fields of psychiatry and palliative care, who all back further research. While the effects of magic mushrooms have been of interest to psychiatry since the 1950s, the classification of all psychedelics in the US as schedule 1 drugs in the 1970s, in the wake of the Vietnam war and the rise of recreational drug use in the hippy counter-culture, has erected daunting legal and financial obstacles to running trials.

    “I think it is a big deal both in terms of the findings and in terms of the history and what it represents. It was part of psychiatry and vanished and now it’s been brought back,” said Dr Stephen Ross, director of addiction psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center and lead investigator of the study that was based there.

    Around 40-50% of newly diagnosed cancer patients suffer some sort of depression or anxiety. Antidepressants have little effect, particularly on the “existential” depression that can lead some to feel their lives are meaningless and contemplate suicide.

    The main findings of the NYU study, which involved 29 patients, and the larger one from Johns Hopkins University with 51 patients, "that a single dose of the medication can lead to immediate reduction in the depression and anxiety caused by cancer and that the effect can last up to eight months, is unprecedented,” said Ross. “We don’t have anything like it.”

    The results of the studies were very similar, with around 80% of the patients attributing moderately or greatly improved well-being or life satisfaction to a single high dose of the drug, given with psychotherapy support.

    Professor Roland Griffiths, of the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience who led the study at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, said he did not expect the findings, which he described as remarkable. “I am bred as a sceptic. I was sceptical at the outset that this drug could produce long-lasting changes,” he said. "These were people facing the deepest existential questions that humans can encounter - what is the nature of life and death, the meaning of life.”

    But the results were similar to those they had found in earlier studies in healthy volunteers. “In spite of their unique vulnerability and the mood disruption that the illness and contemplation of their death has prompted, these participants have the same kind of experiences, that are deeply meaningful, spiritually significant and producing enduring positive changes in life and mood and behaviour,” he said.

    Patients describe the experiences as “re-organizational”, said Griffiths. Some in the field had used the term “mystical”, which he thought was unfortunate. “It sounds unscientific. It sounds like we’re postulating mechanisms other than neuroscience and I’m certainly not making that claim.”

    Ross said psilocybin activates a sub-type of serotonin receptor in the brain. “Our brains are hard-wired to have these kinds of experiences - these alterations of consciousness. We have endogenous chemicals in our brain. We have a little system that, when you tickle it, it produces these altered states that have been described as spiritual states, mystical states in different religious branches."

    “They are defined by a sense of oneness – people feel that their separation between the personal ego and the outside world is sort of dissolved and they feel that they are part of some continuous energy or consciousness in the universe. Patients can feel sort of transported to a different dimension of reality, sort of like a waking dream.”

    Some patients describe seeing images from their childhood and very commonly, scenes or images from a confrontation with cancer, he said. The doctors warn patients that it may happen and not to be scared, but to embrace it and pass through it, he said.

    The commentators writing in the journal include two past presidents of the American Psychiatric Association, the past president of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a previous deputy director of the Office of USA National Drug Control Policy and a previous head of the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority.

    The journal editor, Professor David Nutt, was himself involved in a small trial of psilocybin in a dozen people with severe depression in the UK in May. "The ten commentators in the journal,"
    he writes in an editorial, “all essentially say the same thing: it’s time to take psychedelic treatments in psychiatry and oncology seriously, as we did in the 1950s and 1960s.”

    "Much more research needs to be done," he writes. “But the key point is that all agree we are now in an exciting new phase of psychedelic psychopharmacology that needs to be encouraged not impeded.”

    The studies were funded by the Heffter Research Institute in the USA. “These findings, the most profound to date in the medical use of psilocybin, indicate it could be more effective at treating serious psychiatric diseases than traditional pharmaceutical approaches, and without having to take a medication every day,” says Medical Director George Greer.

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    First LSD trial in 40 years shows promise

    by Nancy Wride

    A small trial conducted in 2014 in Switzerland demonstrated the potential for LSD-assisted psychotherapy to reduce anxiety stemming from terminal illness. At 2-month follow-up, participants who were randomly assigned to treatment with LSD showed significant reductions in anxiety. At one-year follow-up, participants in the LSD group demonstrated sustained therapeutic benefit with no acute or chronic adverse affects.

    The first research in 40 years testing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has found that it markedly reduced anxiety in patients facing life-threatening diseases. The results of the study of LSD use as a supplement to psychotherapy were published this month online in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

    “The double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in 12 subjects found statistically significant reductions in anxiety associated with advanced stage illness following two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions,” announced the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which sponsored the study. “The results also indicate that LSD-assisted psychotherapy can be safely administered in these subjects, and justify further research.”

    The lead doctor, Dr. Peter Gasser — who has taken LSD himself during therapy — said he found the results encouraging for what the LSD did for patients as well as what it did not do.

    “The study was a success in the sense that we did not have any noteworthy adverse effects,” principal investigator Peter Gasser, a psychiatrist practicing in Solothurn, Switzerland, said in a news release. “All participants reported a personal benefit from the treatment, and the effects were stable over time.”

    One of the participants in the clinical trial described an emotional departure from the clench of worry and panic over his mortality — an altered state and a classic hallucinogenic trip.

    “My LSD experience brought back some lost emotions and the ability to trust, lots of psychological insights, and a timeless moment when the universe didn’t seem like a trap, but like a revelation of utter beauty,” Peter, an Austrian research subject, said in the LSD research announcement.

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    Psilocybin given for end-of-life anxiety

    By Patrick Smith

    People suffering from life-threatening diseases have perhaps the most traumatic relationship with death. Knowing you have only months or weeks to live produces an existential crisis of enormous intensity. In many patients, this means anxiety and depression, making the last part of their lives super distressing.

    Recently, psychiatrists and therapists have turned to the classic psychedelic psilocybin as a potential salve for end-of-life anxiety.

    In a new study, by Stephen Ross and colleagues in New York, recruited 29 people with cancer that was causing them anxiety and depression. Half of the participants were given a moderate dose of psilocybin (0.3mg/kg), and the other half were given an active placebo. All the participants then attended an eight-hour long session of psychotherapy by two clinical therapists.

    One day after the session, participants who had received psilocybin had significant reductions in anxiety and depression scores compared to the active placebo group. This positive change in the participant’s mental state was maintained for 26 weeks following the therapy session. In addition to the clinically significant changes, psilocybin produced feelings of spirituality, well-being, and satisfaction.

    The second study, by Roland Griffiths and colleagues in Baltimore, involved 51 cancer patients with clinical anxiety or depression. The participants were split into two groups, and all were given psilocybin in a calm environment with two trained support monitors present. One group was given a low dose of psilocybin (3mg) and the other was given a high dose (30mg).

    Five weeks after the experience, the participants in the high-dose group had significantly reduced depression and anxiety scores, and these positive effects lasted for at least six months following the session. Participants reported the experience as being extremely meaningful, spiritual, and improving their feeling of wellbeing.

    Neither study reported any harm associated with psychedelics when administered in a controlled, therapeutic environment. The results are incredibly promising, considering these studies are with reasonably sized groups and show clinically significant benefits. In fact, the effects of psilocybin on depression appear to be much greater than typical antidepressants.

    Psychedelics appear to out-perform pharmaceutical drugs like SSRIs. Single doses of psilocybin showed a greater improvement in depression scores than seen with typical antidepressants, lasting for months. Perhaps more importantly, patients often reported that they had experienced life-changing and meaningful spiritual experiences. They saw the root of their anxiety, and that enabled them to come to terms with death.

    This is a profound finding. Taken in the right setting, with the right support, psychedelics could help all of us come to terms with our own mortality, help us learn to accept our fate and live more fulfilling lives. Especially for those suffering from terrible illness, this could be a beautiful gift.

    If anyone in our society deserves all possible care and comfort, it’s people suffering from life-threatening disease. It seems deeply wrong to withhold potential palliative care from them, especially as we can all empathize with a fear of death. We should always be searching for ways to alleviate that fear wherever possible – and psychedelics could be part of the solution.

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    'My fear of dying was gone'

    By Kashmira Gander

    As a commercial real-estate developer in New York City, Rodrigo Niņo is clear that he is as rational as they come. But when at 41 he was diagnosed with stage three melanoma - the most aggressive form of skin cancer that can quickly spread to the organs - he was consumed by anxiety about dying. The disease taking over his body caused his perception of life to shift, so he did something his former self would have regarded as pretty irrational. Niņo headed to the Amazonian jungle to take hallucinogenic drugs.

    “I had a near death experience because my chances of surviving were very bad. The cancer had gone into my lymphatic system and it forced me to confront death.” As Niņo was faced with the fact that he might die, he realised that while he always knew he’d die one way or another, he wasn't prepared in the slightest for losing his life.

    Searching online, he found his feelings had a name: end of life anxiety. Like 40 per cent of cancer patients, he was suffering from psychological distress linked to the disease. He then stumbled across theories of how ayahuasca, a psychedelic drug used in religious ceremonies by tribes in the Amazon basin for centuries, could ease it.

    “It was like waking up from one nightmare to a nightmare worse than the one before. It was a nightmare come true," recalls Niņo, who has been clear of cancer for five years. So, he flew from the Peruvian capital of Lima and took an air taxi into the jungle of Iquitos to the north of the Amazon. There, he visited the Shipibo people to see if ayahuasca could shake his fear of death. What he experienced was so profound that he struggles to articulate it.

    “It was scary. It was very scary. After four sessions I had this inner knowing that my fear of dying had gone... Well, not gone but it made me look forward to death. The paradoxical part is that it gets you out of the fear of dying and appreciating life in a much greater way.”

    “I’m a New Yorker,” he says matter-of-factly. “I’m a father of three kids. I’m a real estate developer and I’m very scientific and data driven. To me, hallucinogenics were just another illegal drug just like heroin or cocaine but I couldn’t have been more wrong."

    Niņo says the impact ayahuasca had on him chimes with what psychologist duo Pahnke-Richard define as a "mystical experience". “It varies from person to person. The experience comes with a great deal of forgetting, like waking up from a very vivid dream. By the time you're back in bed you don't remember 90 per cent of the dream that’s how it works. There is some recollection but what matters are the long-lasting effects on your health. You are left with hope. That can help a person with anxiety and depression or all sorts of different addictions."

    “The experience comprises of six different factors. Firstly, there is a sense of unity which is another way of saying you find your soul. There is a feeling that you are one with everything and that everything is interconnected. Then there’s animism where everything around you has a soul and a spirit. The third is the feeling that time and space shifts. The fourth is a paradoxical sense where you can understand that different realities can take place at the same time. You are also given a sense of sacredness of knowing something bigger than yourself, and you also face a truth that is more real than truth itself. Most patients report having these feelings and end up with therapeutic benefits associated with this."

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    Studies find that psilocybin radically improves the well-being and positivity of terminally ill cancer patients

    By Amanda Feilding

    In a ground-breaking development in the field of psychiatry, two new studies published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology show that a single dose of psilocybin – a powerful, naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms” – can radically improve the well-being and positivity of terminally ill cancer patients.

    The research, completed at NYU and Johns Hopkins University, gave participants diagnosed with advanced cancer a moderate to high dose of psilocybin in a controlled environment with psychological support from highly qualified guides. Results demonstrated immediate and marked reductions in the levels of anxiety and depression that, remarkably, still persisted 6 months later in 80 per cent of the participants.

    End-of-life care presently consists of counseling and pharmaceutical treatments, such as antidepressants, to quell feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety commonly associated with a diagnosis of terminal illness. However most medications, along with psychotherapy, can take months to start working and are not effective for all patients. Commonly prescribed drugs such as benzodiazepines may be addictive and can have other unpleasant side effects.

    This approach, known as “psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy” makes use of the “magic mushroom” ingredient psilocybin. Studies over the last decade have shown that giving people psychedelics, with the support of psychotherapy, can provide fundamental and enduring changes much quicker than counseling alone.

    “In some ways, I feel that I am better equipped to deal with what life throws at me, and to appreciate the good things. I am grateful to be alive in a way that I didn’t know I could be grateful,” said Eddie Marritz, a participant in the NYU study. “It’s a kind of gratitude that’s ineffable. I am much more focused on this moment.”

    This research adds to the growing collection of evidence of psychedelics’ therapeutic potential and indicates a significant development of an exciting new model of mental health treatment. Scientists are discovering that psychedelics change consciousness in a way that has the potential to revolutionise the field of psychiatry.

    “The most interesting and remarkable finding is that a single dose of psilocybin, which lasts four to six hours, produced enduring decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms, and this may represent a fascinating new model for treating some psychiatric conditions,” said Dr Roland Griffiths, lead investigator at Johns Hopkins.

    As larger Phase III clinical trials are conducted, further investigating the positive effects psychedelics like psilocybin can have on mental illnesses, it’s clear that this new model could help countless people worldwide who are seeking a long-term solution for their psychological suffering.

    The approach highlighted today, known as “psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy” makes use of the “magic mushroom” ingredient psilocybin. Various studies have shown that giving people psychedelics, with the support of psychotherapy, can provide fundamental and enduring changes much quicker than counseling alone.

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    Ibogaine rescued me from overwhelming anxiety

    By Holly Stein

    For the last 12 years I’ve battled with general anxiety and depression and have taken an insane variety of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant pharmaceuticals (all of which either didn’t help, made me feel like a zombie, made me feel better but disconnected, or left me feeling worse than before as soon as I stopped taking them). I’ve been to hundreds of hours of therapy and spent countless hours reading self-help books using all different approaches and methods.

    I had ups and downs over the years, and after a steady improvement I weaned off an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication with the support of my psychiatrist in January of 2012. In July 2013, I had my first panic attack since I was 18, and after that my anxiety escalated tremendously. It felt like everything started to make me panic, and I started to slowly lose my confidence and ability to function. From suffering and feeling massive anxiety throughout my whole wedding day, to panicking on chair lifts snowboarding and developing anxiety on airplanes and boats, I started to lose the ability to do things I enjoyed. Worse yet, “everyday” normal things started to fall apart — from getting in elevators (as a wedding planner I ride in elevators all of the time), not being able to be a passenger in a car, being scared of getting sick after eating, and much more. I felt like the walls were closing in on me. I was physically and mentally sick with anxiety all of the time.

    I’ve had multiple weddings where I’ve sat outside an elevator for 10 minutes trying to “will” myself to get in, only to end up carrying my emergency kits up and down many flights of stairs. Nothing helped, and the anxiety led me to an onslaught of severe depression and dependency on my husband. I felt like the only thing I was good at was faking it. There was rarely a day that went by that I didn’t crawl into a ball in my bedroom and sob uncontrollably from depression. But as soon as I was in front of other people, at work, I could lock it up and put on the best fake smile around, which only made me feel worse.

    I developed an extreme identity of self-loathing and was unable to control my emotions. I took every comment personally and blamed myself for everything that happened. About once a week someone would tell me to “eat a cheeseburger” or that I was too skinny, and while I would laugh it off, it left me feeling crushed and insecure that people thought I was ugly. (P.S. If you’re reading this and said this to me, I love you and have no resentment. I have now found confidence in loving myself, but just know that you never know someone’s journey, and shaming someone’s body can be hurtful, even if it is “skinny shaming!”)

    I knew things were starting to unravel pretty badly when I started having suicidal thoughts. Often. It got so bad that I had to ask my husband to get the gun out of the house because I really didn’t know what I was capable of when I was in those dark moments. However, rationally and logically, I knew everything. I knew to be positive, and to not say the word “can’t” and all of the most important tools to change these horrific mental habits, but I somehow lacked the ability to convert them into usable feelings and thoughts. And I knew I wasn’t a quitter.

    Fast forward to months and months of researching and learning that psychedelics have an unbelievable success rate in curing anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental struggles when used in the correct setting. I followed people like Amber Lyon and Aubrey Marcus and discovered the medicine, iboga, which is the bark of a root from Africa that has been used medicinally for hundreds, if not thousands of years. I then found a retreat overseas and researched and talked to them for months before booking a psycho-spiritual session with them for January 13-20, 2015.

    Iboga is a very spiritual medicine, and from the moment I booked the trip in November, 2014, I knew I made the right decision. And then, from the moment I arrived, I could feel the medicine was working on me. During my stay I did two sessions with iboga, which we call “journeys.” They last about 10 hours each. The results were nothing short of life-saving. From the two journeys I had, I experienced visions that showed me where all of my anxiety, depression, insecurity, and self-loathing stemmed from when I was 9 years old. It showed me that I was beautiful, that I loved myself, and that I had everything I needed to overcome all of my struggles and fears, and that I could do it. It let me take all of the knowledge that I had and finally convert it into usable emotions and thoughts. Iboga is not a magic plant that solves all of your problems, but rather a tool that gives you the insight to conquer your demons. It was by far the toughest week I have ever gone through, but it was the most rewarding, life-changing weeks of my life and I would do it over a million times.

    So many of us battle these demons of self-loathing, insecurity, anxiety, and depression, and we bury them deep inside as not to show weakness. I know, I was the best at it. Many people reading this will probably think, “No way — she always seemed so happy.” If anyone reading this wants to hear more about my experience and journey or learn more about iboga, or wants someone to talk to, please, please, please message me. I would love nothing more than to share my experience with you or lend an ear, with absolutely no judgment. If I can inspire just one person to keep going amongst their struggles, or inspire one person to try iboga, or inspire just one person to know they are not alone, that is more than I could ever ask for. Also, for those not suffering, please try to keep in mind that everyone is on their own path in life, doing the best they can, so be kind, and do your best to reserve judgment. What you see on the surface may not be the whole story. One kind comment can give someone the encouragement to keep going, while one hurtful comment can spiral someone’s entire day into depression. It’s happened to me a lot.

    Lastly, I want to thank my husband, for all of the support and love he provided me through what was the darkest year of my life, which I know caused him tremendous pain at times as well. I also want to thank the providers at the retreat. You guys literally saved my life, and I will be forever grateful. I consider you all a part of my family, and you will all be forever in my heart. You guys know more about me than some of my closest friends, and I know I will never be able to repay you for what you’ve done for me. Know that I will be thinking of you often.

    So, while 2014 was the worst year of my life, I can finally see that you can’t appreciate the good without the bad. I feel as if I’ve been to mental hell and back, and know that 2015 will bring (and already has), strength, love, inner-beauty, and the ability to conquer all challenges that come my way.

    For the first time in my life I can say that I am genuinely happy and it feels incredible! I have finally found the meaning of life.

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    Psilocybin helps cancer patient overcome anxiety

    by Robin Marantz Henig

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

    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.

    Three years after her trip, Carol Vincent is still symptom-free, and she's 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 her fears and worries turn out to be "really insignificant" in the big picture of the universe.
    Last edited by Sherman Peabody; 09-25-2017 at 05:43 PM.

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    Distinguished Community Member Sherman Peabody's Avatar
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    As a practicing physician Lauri received a diagnosis of advanced cancer, and in coping with treatments plus the changes in all of her roles as mother, doctor, and wife, she began to show signs of PTSD. In her psilocybin treatment session at Johns Hopkins, she began to see her life differently, seeing the actual steps she could take to make herself healthier and happier with the energy she had. These steps ended up being transformative for her, and amazingly, her cancer has also gone into remission. She has become a powerful advocate for this therapy as an opener to self-understanding and greater health-building behaviors.

    “I am here as a talking example, not a statistic. There’s a part of spiritual healing where you learn to take care of yourself. Part of this awakening was about taking care of myself. I’m not addicted to bad habits. I was able to sleep better. I had much less stress and anxiety. And that led to eating healthier, and exercising and choosing healthier options in my life.”

    -Lauri Kershman, MD

    http://www.usonainstitute.org/narratives/

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    Psilocybin for end-of-life anxiety

    By Marlene Rupp

    “It’s almost as if when you take psilocybin, it’s like taking onboard your own psychotherapist,” said one participant about his psychedelic experience. A widespread belief about psychedelic drugs is that they can turn users mentally ill; what the data shows, however, is that psychedelics can achieve quite the opposite effect: they afford patients a relief of symptoms. Indeed, a growing body of evidence supports that psychedelic drugs may be extraordinarily effective in treating mood disorder and addiction.

    Not surprisingly, facing one’s own mortality can unleash strong emotions. Up to 40 percent of cancer patients develop a mood disorder which in turn interferes with their chances of recovery. Psychedelic drugs certainly can’t heal cancer, but it appears they can mitigate the accompanying psychological distress.

    Lead researcher Roland Griffiths and his team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine tested this hypothesis with 51 cancer patients. One group received a high dose of psilocybin, whereas the control group received an active placebo, which in this case was a very low dose of psilocybin that had no detectable behavioral effects. In this way, all participants were told they were taking psilocybin.

    Five weeks after the treatment with high-dose psilocybin, 92 percent of depressed patients and 76 percent of anxious patients showed significant improvements in symptoms. These positive results were not only immediate, but also long-lasting. Six months after their psychedelic experience, the patients suffering from depression were still going strong, with improvement rates of 79 percent. Regarding end-of-life anxiety, the improvement rate further increased from 76 percent five weeks after the treatment to 83 percent six months after the treatment. What’s more, half a year after the psilocybin session, over 80 percent of all participants stated that the experience had increased their well-being and/or life satisfaction.

    “Such a substantial and enduring effect after a single dose is unprecedented in the field of psychiatry,” said Roland Griffiths, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.

    “We’re looking at a new paradigm for the way mental disorders can be treated,” said Pharmacologist Dr. David Nichols, President and co-founder of the Heffter Research Institute.

    https://sapiensoup.com/psychedelics-mental-health

    -----

    Ketamine infusion therapies for end-of-life care

    For a terminal illness ketamine may be a great treatment option. Psychedelic drugs and their derivatives, such as ketamine, help patients cope with existential concerns, and can reduce anxiety leading up to death. Ketamine infusion therapies can offer end-of-life patients peace of mind.

    Patients who have access to psychedelic medications as part of treatment for their terminal illness have found that they weren’t scared of death anymore. They frequently say that the treatment was one of the most meaningful experiences they’ve had, ever. They talk about gaining a sense of peace with the universe, and having a sense of universal oneness and serenity. Their anxiety typically decreases significantly.

    Palliative and hospice care professionals, as well as all of the individuals who care for their loved ones, do an exceptional job caring for those in the various stages of dying. But often the depression, anxiety, and melancholy that come with having a terminal diagnosis go untreated. Ketamine infusions may be one good option for addressing this part of end-of-life care. In most cases, ketamine works instantly and helps to treat those often-overlooked symptoms in a way that few if any treatments beyond psychedelics can.

    An appropriate treatment regime may involve a series of outpatient infusion therapies followed by maintenance treatments from time to time as needed by the patient.

    The opportunity to provide some relief from depression, anxiety and fear may be a great gift for many facing death. And for those who are particularly struggling it may be especially welcome.

    -Dr. Allison Wells

    https://www.lonestarinfusion.com/201...end-life-care/

    -----

    Clinical trials demonstrate the remarkable benefits of magic mushrooms

    In a recent Time Magazine article, Dinah Bazer recounts her personal experience with psilocybin. A cancer survivor struggling with severe anxiety (driven by her fear of a recurrence), Bazer agreed to participate in a magic mushroom trial conducted at the NYU Langone Medical Center.

    While fear gripped her when the drug first brought her "tumbling through space," the experience ended up being a profoundly healing one:

    "… I started to feel love. I felt like I was being bathed in love and it was overwhelming, amazing, wonderful … The feeling of immense love lingered for weeks, and four years later I still feel it at times. My fear and anxiety were completely removed, and they haven't come back … The experience changed how I wanted to live my life. I used to get up, grab a quick snack and eat it in the car. But I no longer want to be in a hurry. Now I get up an hour early, make a real breakfast and read my paper … I used to imagine what it would be like if the cancer recurred, but I don't think about it the same way anymore. When I don't feel well, and thoughts of a recurrence creep into my mind, I lack fear and simply think, 'Let's just see what happens.'"

    According to lead author Dr. Stephen Ross, director of substance abuse services and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone, their investigation revealed that psilocybin “was a rapid, immediately acting anti-anxiety and antidepressant.”

    “The high-dose psilocybin resulted in significant decreases in both clinician-rated and self-reported measures of depressed mood and anxiety among the patients. The effects lasted in 78 percent of patients for depression and 83 percent for anxiety in a follow-up assessment six months later."

    -Dr. Joseph Mercola

    https://wakeup-world.com/2017/07/27/...nd-depression/

    -----

    Psilocybin for cancer depression

    By Ron Cassie

    The diagnosis of Clark Martin’s liver cancer came at the same time as the birth of his daughter, with doctors informing the clinical psychologist that he had about a year and a half to live. “It was emotionally very upsetting,” the soft-spoken Martin recalls. “Not because of the dying, but because of my daughter.”

    His late-stage cancer, however, proved one of the rare cases that responded to the initial chemotherapy. “I was lucky,” he says. But not out of the woods. During the next two decades, cancer cells would reappear in his lungs, metastasizing into tumors. On each occasion, Martin battled the disease into remission, but the endless regimens and surgeries and ever-looming threat of cancer drove him into bouts of anxiety and depression as he obsessed over his health and micro-managed his treatment plans. “I have a scientific background and became very narrowly focused,” he says. “I felt like I needed to know more than the doctors. I withdrew from life.”

    Ultimately, his friends and daughter—entering college by this time—convinced him that he needed to address his mental wellbeing. He tried counseling, but it didn’t improve his outlook. Neither did antidepressants. Partly from desperation to “pop out” of his funk and partly out of professional curiosity, the Vancouver, WA-based Martin flew to Baltimore to participate in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins where he would ingest a powerful dose of psilocybin—the naturally occurring psychoactive ingredient found in “magic” mushrooms.

    “All of a sudden, things in the room, things you feel inside, start feeling unfamiliar. Like my brain was going offline,” Martin says. “The experience in my head was just of being in a void,” he continues. “I’m a boater and I’ll use this analogy: Imagine you fall off a sailboat into the open ocean and when you turn around, the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone."

    “At one point, I was in a stadium-like building with stained glass—it may have been a giant cathedral. At another point I had the feeling of living on a bubble. I had my space on the bubble and other people had theirs. But mostly there was just an experience of tranquility,” Martin continues. “No people, no architecture, no thoughts, no ideas—nothing. Just calm presence.”

    Today, six years later, Martin credits psilocybin—as well as the preparation and guidance that went with it—with parting the fog of his depression. He also credits his psychedelic session with transforming and opening his relationships with his daughter, friends, and even his Alzheimer’s suffering father. “I still think about it every day,” he says, choking up for a moment. “I’m still unpacking and integrating what I learned into my daily life.”

    http://www.baltimoremagazine.com/201...chedelic-drugs

    -----

    I am a 58 year old retired small business owner forced into early retirement by cancer, and the traumatic effects, both physical and mental, of the treatment of cancer. I'd gone from a person who worked 12 hours/day 6 days/week, hiked, camped, and fished to a person immobilized by depression, anxiety, and grinding fatigue who relied on a daily cocktail of Ritalin, Ativan, Tramadol, and whatever antidepressants my therapist was currently trying out on me. I was desperate, as a person with Stage 4 Cancer, not to live out whatever time I had left like a drugged vegetable, unable to do the things on my bucket list, crying all the time, thinking only of cancer returning.

    A friend gave me Michael Pollan’s New Yorker article, “The Trip Treatment,” which contained information about the clinical trial research that had been done at Johns Hopkins and NYU, showing psilocybin to lift, with durability, depression and anxiety suffered by Stage 4 Cancer patients. But how to find the mushrooms? I found a psilocybin assisted retreat in Jamaica, through a Google search. Magic mushrooms are legal in Jamaica. Impressed and reassured by the healing intent, and the serious emphasis placed on set and setting, I decided to go to Jamaica.

    From my first session with the mushrooms, my depression and anxiety lifted and I had no use, craving or need for the drugs I had been taking. My energy returned, the fatigue was gone. And those were just the physical results. The spiritual experience of the sessions was and continues to be almost incommunicable. That said, it was not a recreational experience. It was a hard but absolutely joyous work that continues as I integrate the sessions into everyday life, and it will remain as one of the most significant events of my lifetime. I only wish that young people, healthy people, all people, could benefit from the life affirming lessons of psilocybin mushrooms.

    -Diana

    https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2017...ual-awakening/
    Last edited by Sherman Peabody; 10-07-2017 at 07:56 AM.

  4. #4
    Distinguished Community Member Sherman Peabody's Avatar
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    Psychedelics and end of life therapy

    By Wesley Thoricatha

    Few things are as frightening as facing one’s own mortality, and the challenges of grappling with the existential make the everyday problems of sickness and pain even more challenging. Terminally ill patients with advanced cancer or other diseases are understandably prone to depression and anxiety, which makes difficult circumstances considerably more difficult for them and their families. To ease this end of life transition, doctors have been researching the therapeutic value of psychedelics as a catalyst for emotional catharsis and acceptance that can allow patients to better come to peace with their situation. Such research gives us a chance at a major and meaningful breakthrough.

    This research first started in the 60s with psychiatrist and psychedelic therapy pioneer Stanislav Grof who found very promising results before the cultural backlash against psychedelics made further study impossible. Today, this research is continuing under the guidance of leading edge Swiss and US researchers who are using psilocybin and LSD in clinical trials with terminally ill patients.

    Psilocybin aiding end of life therapy

    Dr. Charles Grob, a researcher and psychiatrist at the UCLA Medical Center, studied the effects of psilocybin or “magic mushrooms” in end of life treatment for terminal cancer patients. Completed in 2008 and published in 2011, the study involved 12 subjects who were dying of end-stage cancer. Grob’s process involved the double-blind administration of either the psilocybin or a placebo, and gave the patients seven hours to go on an inward journey in a safe environment with regular checkups by trained staff. After the session, patients were asked to describe their experiences and their levels of anxiety were measured.

    The results of Grob’s study were highly encouraging. While many of the patients underwent challenging moments during their psychedelic journey, they were cathartic and therapeutically valuable parts of the experience. Grob concluded that psilocybin was safe to administer in such an environment, and that it lead to “a significant reduction in anxiety at 1 and 3 months after treatment.” He further asserted that the results “support the need for more research in this long-neglected field.”

    New LSD research

    Another psychedelic being studied for end of life care is LSD. Swiss scientist Dr. Peter Gasser recently completed the first controlled trial of LSD in over 40 years, and it too produced very encouraging results. Like the psilocybin study, Dr. Gasser’s LSD study involved 12 terminally-ill patients who underwent psychedelic journeys in a controlled and safe environment. Gasser’s patients described emotional rollercoasters and mystical experiences that put their end of life transition in a new light. The results for those patients who received full doses of LSD is that “their anxiety went down and stayed down” for a year or more after treatment.

    New hope for the hopeless

    Gasser and Grob’s research on psilocybin and LSD should be a wake up call for doctors, caregivers, and families that are dealing with terminal illness. Their studies illustrate that these psychedelics are safe to administer in a proper environment, and they offer highly valuable introspective journeys that lead to measurable positive benefits, such as anxiety reduction.

    Caring for those who are facing the end of their life and easing their stress is incredibly important both for the individual and their family and friends. It is universal, and every culture has worked to ease this transition and to make it more understandable. End of life therapy is potentially entering an exciting new stage. It is wonderful news that we are once again studying and embracing psychedelics as important healing tools in these scenarios.

    https://psychedelictimes.com/psyched...-life-therapy/

  5. #5
    Distinguished Community Member Sherman Peabody's Avatar
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    Psychedelics are the only medicine that worked for managing my depression and anxiety. Since medicating with psychedelics my life has improved all round, including finding employment.
    I should not be criminalised for treating my illness, especially since traditional medicines have failed me for a decade and are far more dangerous and expensive. There is no reasonable excuse for their prohibition.

    ---

    After many years of anxiety, and a year of research and experimentation with psychedelics, I feel free to mention it as a positive, and no, I do not do psychedelics all the time, just now and again when I feel the need... 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 has been 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 completley 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.

    ---

    I live with depression and mental illness. The antidepressants I am prescribed have rarely helped, if at all. They even come with a health warning that a side effect could well be feelings
    of depression and suicidal thoughts / feelings. Although advised otherwise by close friends, I have "visited" the healing powers in the world of psychedelics, and although I'm not cured, I can honestly say that my life has been less torturous. I haven't needed to see the mental heath people anywhere near as often in recent years. Not because I "felt better" or am "cured", but because psychedelics have helped me manage my mental health issues so much better than I used to be able to.

    ---

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

    ---

    I've suffered from depression for many years, yet all available medication has come with severe side effects. Psilocybin has worked for me as and has no long-lasting adverse effects!

    ---

    After decades of suffering from debilitating depression myself, I am now cured from such following a controlled experience with a psychedelic substance. These substances get to the core of the issues rather than sedate. Handled with care they offer medicinal effects that can not be matched by contemporary pharmaceutical products.

    ---

    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.

    ---

    Being a veteran and someone who had a tough childhood I found myself very depressed and suicidal. Even when I began to sort my life out, gave up alcohol and got myself fit again I still had a pain in my heart that left me feeling like ending my life. I stumbled across information on how psychedelics had help others with these feelings. After much research I decided to try mushrooms. to cut a long story short after the first journey I can with hand on heart say that it took me to a place of love that removed these negative feelings and the pain. These feelings have never returned.

    ---

    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.

    ---

    I have suffered from depression plus alcoholism with two deep bouts which lead to many weeks of work. Through the ceremonial use of magic mushrooms I was able to recover from both, without the use for any antidepressants or CBT. Psycidelics work!

    ---

    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. 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 need this medicine in a legitimate clinical setting. It should not be illegal for medical use. It saves lives. I need this.

    ---

    I have experienced the healing benefits of psilocybin first hand. Dealing with depression has been a life-long struggle for me, and since taking psilocybin, I've experienced a significant change in my way of thinking and behaving. Microdosing especially helps me to break habits and rusty old patterns.

    ---

    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.

    All of the above (cursor way down in "comments"):
    https://psychedelicsociety.org.uk/pe...ession-anxiety
    Last edited by Sherman Peabody; 10-26-2017 at 06:38 PM.

  6. #6
    Distinguished Community Member Sherman Peabody's Avatar
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    New Serotonin study suggests psychedelics may effectively treat anxiety

    Taylor Bennett
    Sep 7, 2017

    A lot of us associate the word serotonin—a neurotransmitter that allows brain cells to communicate back and forth—with sleep and with stress. And while it is partly responsible for how much sleep we got last night and how stressed we are at work today, there is still much to learn about the chemical nerve. Researchers from Imperial College London think they’re onto something as they argue that a two-pronged model of how serotonin acts be incorporated into its present understanding. They believe that this updated model will transform the way we treat mental illnesses, such as depression, addiction, and anxiety.

    Serotonin acts through a variety of sites called receptors, two of which are especially important: Serotonin 1A and 2A. Drugs like antidepressants and antipsychotics interact with these serotonin receptors to ultimately help people cope better with mental health conditions. Those suffering with depression are often prescribed SSRIs. These drugs help relieve symptoms by boosting levels of serotonin in the brain and specifically increasing activity at the serotonin 1A receptor. This reduces brain activity in stress circuitry, which in turn helps one better handle their disease.

    While activating this 1A receptor proves important and effective, these researchers say that activating the 2A pathway—responsible for creating the effect of psychedelics—may be therapeutically important as well. And in their paper, they argue the possibility of effectively treating certain mental illnesses with psychedelics. “Activating serotonin 2A receptors may be a good thing, as it makes individuals very sensitive to context and to their environment,” said Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, lead author of the research paper and Head of Psychedelic Research at Imperial. “Crucially, if that is made therapeutic, then the combination can be very effective. This is how psychedelics work—they make people sensitive to context and open to change via activating the 2A receptor.”

    Serotonin has proven to make situations less stressful, via activation of the 1A pathway. However, this might not always be enough, as is the basis of the researchers’ argument. They believe that in certain cases, activating the 2A pathway is also necessary, as it helps patients alter negative behaviors and thought patterns. Furthermore, it just might put up a fight against certain brain wiring that has become resistant to change when conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction are present.

    According to the authors of the study, the introduction of the two-pronged model could lead to a notable shift in psychiatric care. It has the potential to offer patients who endure their mental illnesses with pharmaceuticals a secondary treatment option, which is to actively address it instead by fundamentally modifying behaviors and thinking. Furthermore, Dr. Carhart-Harris believes that this new model sheds light on the important role that environment plays in drug administration, asserting that drugs—at least psychedelics and possibly SSRIs—should not be administered in isolation. “We need to pay more attention to the context in which medications are given. We have to acknowledge the evidence which shows that environment is a critical component of how our biology is expressed,” he said.

    *This research paper “Serotonin and brain function: a tale of two receptors” by Robin Carhart-Harris and David Nutt is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.*

    "http://thriveworks.com/blog/serotonin-study-suggests-psychedelics-treat-mental-illness/"
    Last edited by Sherman Peabody; 10-26-2017 at 06:11 PM.

  7. #7
    Distinguished Community Member Sherman Peabody's Avatar
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    LSD has really helped my SA. It has changed the way I view things and made me more carefree. I don't feel so confined within myself. Now when I want to say something, I say it with confidence. If nobody likes what I had to say, too bad so sad. I said it because I wanted to and didn't hurt anyone in the process. That's a win.

    -soaringfalcon11

    ---

    I have SA, and I took 1/3rd of a hit of LSD. Not enough to get visuals or any of those psychedelic thought patterns... But I must say I feel fantastic and haven't felt this motivated and optimistic and social in a LONG time.

    Mushrooms are definitely harder for me to deal with, and the constant nausea never really allows me to feel totally comfortable on it anyways. A lot of times I talk to somebody about LSD
    and they say, "well, I should probably try shrooms first." Hell no! I wonder where they got that idea. I did LSD before I ever did mushrooms, and they are just far cleaner and easier to deal
    with than mushrooms could ever be. The only advantage mushrooms might have for first-timers is that the trip is significantly shorter.

    -meyaj

    ---

    I had a friend sell me a single dose of LSD. I took it and it opened my mind to another world. It showed me not everything is what it seems, and that being who you are...how you truly feel without inhibitions...is perfectly acceptable and the only way to live life - i.e., being yourself. If you're constantly pandering to everyone, you're putting yourself through hell and you will hate yourself. But if you realize that the ETHICAL thing to do is honor yourself and how you truly feel (without worrying about what others think), then you've made great progress... LSD helped me to realize this, and I'm hopeful it could do the same for you because you seem like a great guy who has suffered long enough. Just realize that YOU are just as good as anyone else, and you ARE special, and DO deserve to give yourself a break.

    -soaringfalcon11

    ---

    I took a half blotter my first time, and had an absolutely amazing experience. One blotter has the potential to be too much for MOST people to handle, not just people with anxiety disorders. Even a normal-strength one, I would never recommend somebody take a full one their first time... the drug is very powerful, and just like it can do really intensely wonderful experiences, it can also be just as intense in the other (terrible) direction, and if you don't treat the drug with the total respect it demands, it WILL kick your ***, plain and simple.

    I've taken LSD probably about 20 times altogether, mushrooms maybe about 5 times, although I never really liked shrooms all that much and when it sent me to hell and back again, I was really nervous about doing any psychedelic ever again. That was maybe 2-3 years ago. I've probably done LSD maybe once or twice since then, but if I'm feeling nervous about it, I can't do it. That's begging for a bad trip. That's also why it's kind of reckless to poison the well, so to speak, and make it somewhat impossible for some people to have a good trip simply because they've been led to BELIEVE it's impossible.

    It's not. I've seen many psychiatrists and have never had my SAD and GAD classified as anything but "very severe". Yet I handled it fine the first time. Probably even more important than "set and setting" (and infinitely easier to control) in lowering the chances of a bad trip, is simply taking a lower dose. Bad trips are extremely extremely dose dependent. You might say that was just the expected reaction of taking LSD with an anxiety disorder, and it's definitely a very POSSIBLE reaction.

    Would I recommend somebody who has an anxiety disorder and has never done a psychedelic before to give LSD a shot? No, but I wouldn't deny them the amazing experiences I've had, either (and even the bad trips were really profound learning experiences for me as I reflected on them and got to the "roots" of my personal framework that triggered these bad experiences...)

    That being said, I have a few pointers for people with SA who may one day try LSD:

    - No matter how prepared you think you are, a bad trip is ALWAYS possible, so don't get cocky.

    - A bit paradoxically, don't do it if you're feeling nervous about it... a confident mindset is an absolute must.

    - NEVER let yourself be pressured into taking a psychedelic. Most people who have done psychedelics before should KNOW how harmful it is to try and pressure someone who doesn't feel absolutely ready, but there are always some idiots. Only do it if and when YOU feel it's right.

    - Do it in a comfortable AND controlled environment. What I mean by controlled is that most people stress you must be comfortable, but it HAS to remain that way as well. If you might get kicked out all of a sudden, or other people you don't want might drop in on you, it's not good enough.

    - Your mind needs to be just as comfortable and in-control too. You lose even a tiny bit of control, and LSD will take you to places you really don't want to be. At the same time, it's not an escapist drug. You don't get "high", as some people here have oddly put it. If you're feeling stressed about something that day, it's only going to make that stress the entirety of your reality. It's a bit hard to explain, but you will live and breathe that stress. You can use other drugs like alcohol, opiates, etc, to push your problems to the side and forget about them, but psychedelics are very much the opposite. Some people take advantage of this fact and even use it to really deal with issues (why I feel it would be a great psychotherapeutic tool), but if you've never done it before you really are in no position to make that kind of judgment

    - DON'T DO IT ALONE. This is for your comfort AND safety. Plus, the magic of a trip just seems to be so much more amazing if you have somebody to share it with.

    - Abortive and/or calming drugs like antipsychotics and benzos are NOT a must, but are good to have on hand if possible. Calming drugs like benzos won't take you straight out of a trip but are preferable. I've talked to people who have used antipsychotics to abort the trip and it's apparently a really uncomfortable experience having your mind instantly being rocketed right back into reality, so much so that in retrospect, most of them would have preferred riding it out.

    - Realize that the main effects of LSD can last up to (and for some people, exceed) 12 hours, and you want to make sure you allot at least this much time to absolute control over your environment. You also won't have a chance in hell of sleeping during this time without the help of some STRONG stuff, so make sure the timing is good. Some people feel better than ever the next day, and some people feel like crap, so ultimately you want about 48 hours to yourself where you don't have to work or anything.

    - Whatever happens, you are NOT going crazy, everything that happens is a figment of your own mind and imagination, and, as hard as it might be to believe, time is NOT standing still, it's moving as its normal pace, and so even the worst trip is going to come to an end soon enough.

    -meyaj

    ---

    I've candyflipped a few times, after quite a bit of experience with LSD, and some experience with MDMA (mostly at potent doses), and it is a VERY good thing I waited. It was easily the most intense experience of my life, and it's impossible to really convey in words but I guess "intense" is the best I can do, because that's really what it was, like the most complete and utter intensity I could imagine, all bottled up into one experience. NOT for beginners... each time there the very clear feeling that I was just barely straddling the border between control and totally losing it. To suggest that somebody should do it (or should have done it) the first time they take LSD is, quite honestly, some of the most bizarre, foolish, and potentially DANGEROUS advice I've ever heard somebody give sincerely.

    I feel is SO important for people who have never done LSD before (ESPECIALLY with an anxiety disorder) to understand. Candyflipping generally only makes it quite a bit HARDER to deal with. Although ultimately, they have easily been the best drug-induced (oh who am I kidding... ANYTHING-induced) experiences I've ever had.

    -meyaj

    ^^
    "http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f30/lsd-has-really-helped-my-sa-71980/"
    Last edited by Sherman Peabody; 10-26-2017 at 06:09 PM.

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    Distinguished Community Member agate's Avatar
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    The links in the two most recent posts in this thread aren't working. I'm seeing "Page not found."
    MS diagnosed 1980. Avonex 2002-2005. Copaxone 6/07 - 5/10.
    Member of this MS board since 2001.

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    Distinguished Community Member Sherman Peabody's Avatar
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    ^^
    Thanks, agate! I just figured it out. BT Forum is truncating these links when I paste them in. The only workaround is to put them in quotes, so going forward please copy/paste them into your browser.

  10. #10
    Distinguished Community Member Sherman Peabody's Avatar
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    Social anxiety and psychedelics

    IMO, there is a huge difference between everyday 'worry', and actual anxiety. Yes, anxiety is "all in the mind", but that's kind of disingenuous because so is literally all of reality itself. Perception literally IS reality, and to say that something is "all in your head" as a way to try to decrease the effects of the thing is a massive misunderstanding of the power and the role of perception in life. Anxiety is a serious problem for people who experience it, and it is not something you can just decide your way out of, and that's basically a different way to say "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," and that's something only people who haven't experienced or don't actually understand these things will ever say. If you can just choose not to feel it, then it's simple worry, not the kind of problematic and truly crippling anxiety people are almost always referring to in this context. It's an actual chemical imbalance, not an internal misunderstanding of when to "talk or not talk."

    Psychedelics are a great tool, but they're not medicine in the way that western culture thinks of "medicine." We think of medicine as something like Tylenol - something you can take
    for an ailment that will go to work automatically to cure you of the ailment. There is no work involved with the kinds of medicine we consider to be 'medicine.' Psychedelics are largely a different sort of medicine. Psychedelics aren't a "cure" in that same sense, they're more tools that can help you to find the "cure," so to speak, within yourself, and to understand what you may actually already know about how to overcome your problems though. Taking a psychedelic won't cure your anxiety automatically, but the psychedelic experience may lead you to understandings that you may not have otherwise found, understandings that might allow you to work through the underlying cause of your anxiety or understandings that allow you to see reality in a way that no longer makes you as anxious.

    It's important to understand that all anxiety is a manifestation of an internal fear that has been embedded in your subconscious because of a traumatic event, often, though not always, during childhood. Some very common ones are fear of failure, fear of success (which is ultimately a fear of failure,) fear of death or grave physical injury, fear of loss, abandonment, etc. Most other fears stem from these more basic fears. Social anxiety is often a manifestation of social fears like the fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, or another fear that was instilled early on in life, and to overcome the social anxiety you need to figure out the root fear behind it is, and then understand why you're afraid of it, and then to negate it by proving to yourself that you don't need to fear that underlying cause (e.g. "I'm leaning to genuinely love myself, and I no longer need others to make me feel valuable, so I no longer need to fear abandonment.")

    Psychedelics are a great tool for finding out what the root cause is, which will provide you with a target to focus on. You can then work through it during your integration period after the trip and moving forward in life, but a psychedelic alone isn't going to just automatically remove the fear and chemically block you from feeling anxiety the way Tylenol can chemically block you from feeling the pain of a headache.

    On another noteworthy point, psychologists have long agreed that the number - one best and most effective method for overcoming fears including phobias and social anxiety is immersion therapy. You immerse yourself in situations that cause the fear, but you begin very slowly, gradually, starting perhaps with something as simple as sitting alone and merely contemplating or imagining being in social situations. It's very important not to dive head-on into the thing that causes the fear because this can re-traumatize the person experiencing the fear and/or anxiety, and that's obviously the most counterproductive thing that could happen, so I strongly disagree with the people suggesting you do something like eat a bag of mushrooms and go to the mall or something. Psychedelics magnify any emotions you're feeling, so in my educated opinion, better to start small and inch forward.

    So begin slowly and progress gradually. You want to experience being outside your comfort zone to learn that you can handle it, but you don't want to drown while learning how to swim, as it were. This is the working concept behind immersion therapy, but there is a definite balance to this sort of therapy. It's not like throwing a kid into a pond to teach the kid to swim - (which I think is a stupid idea anyway, but the comparison works well for the sake of this conversation,) immersion therapy is more like walking step by step into deeper and deeper water so as to be able to check and see that "Okay, I'm still not drowning, I got this. Moving forward my next step will be..." so as to gradually build a tolerance to the thing you fear, and thereby gaining confidence and actually defeating the fear.

    Tryptamines also may not be the best for beginning work on this sort of thing, and in fact, the best thing to do would be to start off stone sober, and maybe even do all the work sober, using psychedelics only as a tool for contemplating the steps you've taken and the steps you plan on taking later, and only when it's honestly gonna help. Phenethylamines like MDMA would probably be more along the lines of the kind of drug that would be conducive to diving straight into chaotic and potentially panic-inducing social situations, but I definitely wouldn't recommend that sort of step with tryptamines, and especially not as a beginner to this kind of work--until you're well into working on being able to be comfortable (or at least confident in yourself) while in social situations AND sober.

    I also disagree with those who imply that using psychedelics to find relief is "lazy," but I think I understand what was meant by that. I do believe there are more effective ways to do this kind if work if you already have a good working understanding of yourself and the issues you face. So long as you don't know damn near every proverbial inch of your own psyche (I don't believe anyone really does) then psychedelics can always be useful for gaining a more accurate working understanding of your 'self' and your fears and beliefs, and what work you need to start doing to improve all of the above when you come down.

    Psychology and pharmacology are my two specialties and I have almost thirty years of firsthand experience with literally crippling social phobia -- in fact panic disorder with agoraphobia and social phobia -- and how they're treated and most often overcome. I've spent the past sixteen years studying these conditions closely in an effort to overcome them myself, and I've stayed up to date with the newest, and the most effective, treatments, for these sorts of things.

    -CNSninja (Bluelight)

    -----

    ^^
    I'd like to personally thank you for your post, it touched me. You've explained in great detail how psychedelics can/should be used to get to the root of the issue at hand. They have the potential to grant to us a greater capability to understand 'why' we are the way we are. I've long wondered why I am so very anxious when I am around people. I think it is a fear stemming from a traumatic event in the past. A fear of not knowing what I am expected to say, or how I am expected to behave. A fear of rejection.

    When I am deeply moved by a psychedelic experience, I find the social anxiety becomes so very irrelevant - but I cannot jump into a social situation in that state of being. Mainly because when I look back on how I acted (or what I posted on some internet forum) it all seems so.... overly loving? Overly emotional?

    It's like I'm trying to push out all these emotions that I hide inside all in one go. It certainly isn't my usual demeanor which is reserved and quiet. But when I am in the tryptamine 'zone' that reservation, that quiet shell I keep around me is completely obliterated. Almost too much, in fact. But I can't decide if that side of me is truly who I am, or if it's something temporarily imparted by the psychedelic. I lean towards it being truth, but a truth that I can't face when I'm not tripping.

    I look back at my words and actions, and they seem 'silly' and 'not like me' - so I feel shameful. But when I was saying or writing them, they were the most truthful and clear representation of my feelings towards another. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that psychedelics can give me an ability to shed free from my anxious fear of 'what will people think' -- but later on I revert back, I delete what I wrote, I go back into hiding after the trip is over.

    -1and1areOne (Bluelight)

    http://www.bluelight.org/vb/threads/...y-and-tripping
    Last edited by Sherman Peabody; 11-02-2017 at 03:53 PM.

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