Transforming Psychedelics into Medicines
Recent reports confirmed that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied saying he would rather see bodies piled on the streets than another lockdown. Billions across the world struggle to cope financially, mentally, and psychologically. Sensibly, experts worry in silence whether the continued pandemic confinement may irreparably damage the mental health of millions in the UK and the world.
Prior to the COVID19 disaster and according to the official statistics, 284 million people globally were already struggling with anxiety and another 300 million with addiction. Pre-pandemic numbers were on the rise compared to two decades ago. The twenty-year increase is significant — almost double for anxiety and quadruple for drug addiction. There is only one reason for that.
The available treatments are not working.
Science is now taking on an exciting new path to radically change the treatment paradigm for mood disorders — Psychedelic Drugs with a Doctor’s prescription. In the past the scientific research in the field was slow, but that pace has recently been changing drastically. Below are natural and chemical substances that are currently prohibited and often stigmatized in many countries but are also in clinical trials at top medical facilities around the world.
Derivative of naturally occurring Ibogaine extracted from root barks of the iboga tree. 18-MC has a negligible hallucinogenic effect compared to Ibogaine. In clinical trials as a potential treatment in targeting addiction as a brain condition. 18-MC is believed to be helpful during opioid withdrawal due to its ability to regulate dopamine.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
A non-addictive substance, LSD acts on the serotonin system. In the 1950s, LSD was used by the CIA to control the mind experimentally. And in the 1950s and 1960s, it was sold as a medication. LSD is not currently approved for any medical use. However, in clinical trials, different doses of LSD are being tested for cluster headaches, anxiety, depression, and healthy elderly populations for tolerability and safety.
An active substance in Peyote and San Pedro cacti, mescaline is a classic and long known serotonergic psychedelic substance (hallucinogen).
A naturally occurring psychedelic compound produced by more than 200 species of fungus. One of the most clinically advanced substances currently tested in over 64 clinical studies for major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dysmorphic body disorder, anorexia, depression in early Alzheimer’s disease, demoralization in long-term AIDS survivors as well as migraine patients. Psilocybin is a non-addictive compound approved for existential anxiety relief in terminal cancer patients in several countries.
Psychedelics as a therapy
Psilocybin may soon be legally available for young and old
First, DMT was isolated from the root bark of jurema preta. An alkaloid present in numerous plants is generally not active orally unless combined with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). Currently, DMT is in clinical trials as a potential treatment to enhance prosociality and learning by modulating the serotonin system. Don’t we all wish that more people with highly narcissistic traits tune back to the wellbeing of others?
Developed by Merc in 1921 and used as a psychotherapy aid at the beginning of the 1970s. Currently, MDMA has no accepted medical indications. However, as of May 2021, a new study investigating MDMA called Stanford Reward Circuits of the Brain is about to start.
DMT combined with MAOI.
In mental health and mood disorders, the ultimate goal of treatment is the benefits of a psychedelic minus the trip (psychedelic experience). Specific (high) doses of psychedelic substances may cause hallucinations, but so are many other medications on the market. The mind-altering properties are generally an undesired side effect of any medical treatment. Will neutralizing the hallucinations abort the positive healing effects is yet unknown. The good news, there are several ways to offset the side effects. For example, an altered state of consciousness induced by LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, etc., can potentially be attenuated or shortened by neutralizer Ketanserin. An antihypertensive FDA-approved drug Ketanserin is an antagonist of 5-HT2 receptors and may potentially halt psychedelic experience that may arise during a psychedelic therapy session.
Clinical trials are on the way to determine whether new treatments can stop the next invisible pandemic of mental health conditions. Until then stay tuned.
The healing power of psychedelics
Science is one step closer to reverse the damage of chronic stress