Have you heard of the movement to decriminalize psychedelics, also known as entheogenic plants? With the support of a grassroots movement named Decriminalize Nature, Denver, Colorado, and Oakland and Santa Cruz in California, all entheogenic plants have been decriminalized to various degrees, and not only because people are involved in tripping balls — the medicinal value of entheogenic plants is enormous.
In addition to showing potential to help with chronic pain, psychedelics can help with many mental health conditions, including alcohol abuse, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and OCD.
And that will be long-lasting, with one study showing “strong long-term mental health effects rather than routine neurochemical changes for brain damage,” which means that it can continue to cure symptoms better than pharmaceuticals.
They can work quickly, too. The same study also noted that psilocybin and LSD had just two administrations. At the same time, ibogaine — from iboga, the West African shrub — showed the potential to be effective in a single government. In a world where 1 in 5 of us needs care for a mental health condition, the scope for recovery is immense.
Below are some of the therapeutic potentials of psychedelics and the conditions they may be able to help treat.
It’s a beautiful irony that plants lumped into a toxic opioid stack are increasingly being used to minimize alcohol dependency, and entheogens are embracing cannabinoids in this thrilling medicinal approach.
This research paper on LSD, peyote, ibogaine, and ayahuasca notes that their effectiveness is attributed to their association with neurotransmitter receptors that are strictly related to addiction and reinforcement. The paper stated, “These drugs help to rebound from opioid dependency via several medicinal processes, including a fascinating ‘after-glow’ reaction that partly illustrates their activity on neuron serotonin.
The research paper goes on to state that ‘Serotonin has long been recognized as essential to the well-known phenomenological, sensory, emotional and cognitive complexities of psychedelics.’ Since low serotonin rates continue to be found in addictive communities, such serotonin-based mechanisms may be quite beneficial in helping drug abstinence.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that causes symptoms such as trauma flashbacks and panic attacks, not rarely to the point where people have problems living regularly. Because psychotherapy can trigger symptoms of PTSD, a new approach to treatment is warranted.
While it is yet to be used in the laws enacted to decriminalize psychedelics, MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) has shown a great deal of interest in helping to alleviate PTSD symptoms.
This summary article from 2016 discusses a variety of studies, finding that “MDMA tends to promote the retrieval of painful memories without the individual becoming distressed by the detrimental influence that normally follows these memories.” And, according to the report, it only took 2-3 sessions when paired with psychotherapy.
Depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety are affecting millions of people in the US. As this review article points out, psilocybin and MDMA can result in “substantial and lasting change in people with treatment-resistant depression and anxiety.”
The article notes that this idea is nothing new, and “During the 1950s and early 1960s, research sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health demonstrated the potential for drugs of this class to significantly reduce depression and existential suffering among people with cancer.”
The article goes on to suggest that psilocybin and LSD offer a ‘reframing of perception and interactions with others and the environment,’ and the effects of well-managed psychedelics appear to be ‘a state of surprise, a mental change in the context, an enhanced potential for affection, and an enhanced sense of attachment. Patients dealing with medical conditions that robbed them of hope or purpose to live can undergo a transformational change in perception and understanding of the intrinsic significance, importance, and importance.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by obsessive feelings and worries that contribute to compulsive behaviour. It is also compounded by problems such as delusions, suicidal feelings, and fear, among others.
This study found that clinically administered psilocybin was associated with “symptomatic reduction of OCD symptoms in patients with OCD-resistant therapy.”
The analysis noted that “5 [out of 9] participants readily defined their encounters as both psychological and spiritually enriching. Four participants recorded profound transformative, transcendental encounters during HD [high dose], such as the discovery of other planets, witnessing past rebirths of creation, and connecting with deities. “(Hey, bonus).
Chronic pain trials are usually not proper, but anecdotal evidence that psychedelics may help alleviate chronic pain is plentiful, particularly when taking microdoses — so much so that researchers performed this analysis on the self-reported effects of microdosing. It notes that “The latest study reveals that self-medication with MDP [microdosed psychedelics] is more effective than traditional therapy for anxiety, ADHD / ADD, and physiological conditions such as pain.”
And Changa — a mix that involves DMT-infused materials and ayahuasca plants — was found to be promising in this research, which focuses on analgesic (pain-killing) effects. The case stated, “The case described here indicates that Changa can produce a long-lasting analgesic benefit, involving a combination of mood-enhancing effects.” The case also said that “other psychological factors, association with multiple neurotransmitter systems; and Remarkably, Changa may deliver pain medication that targets several monoamine neurotransmitters.”
As for hemp, there is a lot of work to be conducted on these fascinating future forms of natural healing. Let’s hope the decriminalization campaign will help solidify this research in the coming years — helping, very simply, stop the madness. (If you’re interested in getting decriminalization going in your community, get out to Decriminalize Nature.)
In conclusion, we can end with an encouraging quote from this 2018 study.
“If abandonment, stress, childhood adversity, hunger, violence and deprivation — i.e., psychiatric injury — may have long-lasting negative implications for mental wellbeing, it is also scientifically possible that optimistic, cathartic encounters, often supernatural, can be reliably accomplished in PAP [psychedelic-assisted-psychotherapy].”