April 12, 2010

Medicinal...

... psilocybin.

27 comments:

Pogo said...

Might be helpful in some people. Who knows? Worth investigating. I'm all in favor of living better through chemistry and electricity and the scientific method. The downsides will be seen when the numbers are larger. And there are always 'adverse effects'; every time.

I found this quote interesting, though:
"The subjects’ reports mirrored so closely the accounts of religious mystical experiences, Dr. Griffiths said, that it seems likely the human brain is wired to undergo these “unitive” experiences, perhaps because of some evolutionary advantage."

Ha ha.
Scientists really have to stretch their 'behavioral evolution' theory to the breaking point to explain why "religious mystical experiences" are so common.

"Encouraging reciprocal generosity"?
Yeah, that must be it. It was the next logical step from monkeys grooming the bugs out of each other's fur.
Gotta love it; they do try so very hard.

Pogo said...

"...psilocybin use has been associated with side effects such as severe paranoia, nervousness and unwanted flashbacks..."
Source: NewScientist

"Hallucinogenic tryptamines produce neuropsychiatric effects similar to LSD. They may also cause prominent gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Tryptamines are structurally related to serotonin and therefore serotonin syndrome is a particular concern."
Souces: UpToDate.com

"Seizures are not an expected toxic feature of hallucinogens, but they can occur following very high doses."
Principles of Addiction Medicine By Richard K Ries, p. 1050

rhhardin said...

According to Paul F. Schmidt (author of "Religious Knowledge"), you can tell religious mystical experience from drug mystical experience by the latter's hangover.

So it survives the principle of non-vacuous contrast.

traditionalguy said...

The Rx of choice for the Death Panelists of tomorrow is being rehabilitated as a scientific breakthrough miracle. The Brave New World is on the march to save the planet from human life overloads.

Franco said...

Something people who have taken mushrooms already know or knew... Congrats NYTimes and academia, looks like you are onto something...


Imagine the first scuba-diver describing aquatic life to a land-locked tribe.

Land-locked tribe won't swim, or let others swim, because of sharks.

JAL said...

I see it's all about "change."

Pogo said...

Will psilocybin be the red pill or the blue one?

Paddy O. said...

I don't know why it's surprising that spiritual experiences can be linked with neurochemistry. We're physical beings after all, and so our experience of the world, no doubt, always has a physical component. That we can even artificially stimulate this is interesting and maybe even useful.

The trouble comes in that even on the religious side, mystical experiences are impermanent, untrustworthy and often not ultimately transforming. So, the same goes with artificial boosts.

It sounds like this is a great treatment when a brain needs a jump start, a sort of neurochemical version of electric shock therapy. But like with the latter the benefits are easily overstated, and were often over applied. And a jump start is not always the answer to the problem. Add to this it certainly isn't the needed repeated answer to a problem. If you're jump-starting your car every day, there's something wrong elsewhere in the system.

MadisonMan said...

I'd love to study brain chemistry. Alas, once you get so far into a field, getting out into something else is a high wall to breach.

Very interesting article. Certainly warrants further study.

Fred4Pres said...

Apologies to Marvin Gaye...

Ooh, now let's get down tonight
Baby I'm hot just like an oven
I need some lovin'
And baby, I can't hold it much longer
It's getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want Fungal Healing
Fungal Healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Fungal Healing baby, is good for me
Fungal Healing is something that's good for me
Whenever blue tear drops are falling
And my emotional stability is leaving me
There is something I can do
I can get on the telephone and call you up baby, and
Honey I know you'll be there to relieve me
The fungi you give to me will free me
If you don't know the things you're dealing
I can tell you, darling, that it's Fungal Healing
Get up, Get up, Get up, Get up, let's have shrooms tonight
Wake up, Wake up, Wake up, Wake up, 'cos you do it right
Baby I got sick this morning
A sea was storming inside of me
Baby I think I'm capsizing
The waves are rising and rising
And when I get that feeling
I want Fungal Healing
Fungal Healing is good for me
Makes me feel so fine, it's such a rush
Helps to relieve the mind, and it's good for us
Fungal Healing, baby, is good for me
Fungal Healing is something that's good for me
And it's good for me and it's good to me
My baby ohhh
Come take control, just grab a hold
Of my body and mind soon we'll be making it
Honey, oh we're feeling fine
You're my medicine open up and let me in
Darling, you're so great
I can't wait for you to operate
I can't wait for you to operate
When I get this feeling, I need Fungal Healing

paul a'barge said...

It's about time!

edutcher said...

Drugs are always being found to have side effects which can just as important, if not more, than the original purpose. Viagra started out as a blood pressure drug.

TMink said...

Interesting article, but it is difficult to not think of Tim Leary when reading the previously depressed psychologist's remarks.

I wonder what the mechanism is. I did use mushrooms a few times back in the day, never enough to trip hard, it was recreational in nature. But I cannot say that any psychedelic experience fundamentally changed me.

I had a friend in grad school that could pretty reliably who had used hallucinogens by paying attention to their world view and how they interacted with others though. He thought the experience made you better because it exposed you to the limits and potential treachery of your own experience.

Whatever would help treatment resistant mental illness would be wonderful.

Trey

sunsong said...

There was also Richard Alpert/Ram Dass - who moved from mind altering drugs to spirituality:

...
Having only recently obtained his pilot's license, Alpert flew his private plane to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where Leary first introduced him to teonanácatl, the Magic Mushrooms of Mexico. By the time Alpert made it back to America, Leary had already consulted with Aldous Huxley, who was visiting at M.I.T., and through Huxley and a number of graduate students they were able to get in touch with Sandoz, which had produced a synthetic component of ergot rye fungus called LSD. Alpert and Leary brought a test batch of both substances back to Harvard, where they conducted the Harvard Psilocybin Project and experimented with LSD relatively privately...


wikipedia

William said...

I have had for several brief moments in my life the feeling that I was a fine fellow, that the world was a pleasant place, and that things would work out alright in the end. If it were possible to take a drug that replicated this feeling and made it endure, I would take it every day, q.i.d. I wonder though whether that drug would be like corrective glasses that gave one accurate vision or whether such a drug was a kind of psychotropic Ponzi scheme.

Methadras said...

How are Psilocybin commercials going to look like? And even funnier is, how are they going to describe the disclaimed side-effects? This is clearly caption worthy.

jamboree said...

Well the guy they mention is old. He's already earned his living. Not such a good idea for this to be given to someone, say, in their 30s with small children.

Maybe that's it...it could be a retirement drug. Something to give you a delusion that it's all okay when you already have made your money and right before you die.

TMink said...

Methadras, have you seen the hallucinations in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas? They made me laugh, but they also made me a tad uncomfortable. That is the cinema approach they should use, but fewer lizards and bats.

Trey

El Pollo Real said...

In the future, boomers will be able to end their lives under the influence of the drug of their choice and under controlled circumstances as a matter of right.

Most will choose the morphine drip in an attempt to "be like" Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin or other favorites, if only at the last moment.

Lionheart said...

Headlines, links trendily terse. Still cannot surpass the Instapundit's "Heh"

Fred4Pres said...

El Polo Real: Nothing like choking on your own vomit to check out (which probably ranks right up there with heroin ods and drug induced heart attacks in terms of what takes out over indulgent rock stars).

Michael McNeil said...

In the future, boomers will be able to end their lives under the influence of the drug of their choice and under controlled circumstances as a matter of right.

Most will choose the morphine drip in an attempt to “be like” Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin or other favorites, if only at the last moment.


“You mean what everybody means nowadays … Ignore death up to the last moment; then, when it can't be ignored any longer, have yourself squirted full of morphia and shuffle off in a coma.”
Aldous Huxley, Time Must Have a Stop

David said...

Read what Pogo quoted.

Back in the day, I avoided the hallucinogens out of fear. I felt like I was clinging to the rim of the rabbit hole already, and that they could send me down there for a long and unwelcome time. That feeling of tottering on the edge is rare now, but it returns occasionally and I just hunker down until it goes away. It's very nice that the 'shrooms work for some people in a medical way, but I'm still not inclined to take the chance.

Fact is, the docs are just guessing.

Chip Ahoy said...

That's not a sign, you idiot, that's an OMEN!

Carlos Castaneda totally cracked me up.

DaveC said...

I wonder though whether that drug would be like corrective glasses that gave one accurate vision

That's a fair analogy. The difference between seeing a tree, and registering it as "that's a tree" or looking at the tree and seeing all the individual leaves on it, and perhaps each leaf quaking individually and an overall pattern to the way the breeze moves different parts of the leaves on the tree. In general, it is a good thing to accept that the world exists in itself, without your assistance. And it is a good thing just to observe things around you without thinking so much how it applies to yourself. I myself get into bird watching and I cannot believe how many people are so totally oblivious to migrating species that you only see for a couple of times a year or will not stop and listen to a goldfinch sing. I dont think that you can force people to heighten their awareness and pay attention to little things around them, but if they take drugs and finally do see things differently, well good for them. Duly noted, there are dangers and risks involved with doing that. Certainly if you go out in the woods and pick mushrooms and eat them, even if you think you know what you are doing, you run a much greater than average risk of dying a horrible agonizing death (in around 3 days with no recourse but multiple organ transplants). Also if you think that tryptamines such as DMT are the same as psilocybin, as some people do, you in for a very rude and horrid surprise.

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