The OPEN Foundation, a Dutch organization that supports psychedelic research, published the second part of a special issue in the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews. Three new articles focus on the use of psychedelics for treating addiction, including an article on the Heffter-supported study on tobacco addiction at Johns Hopkins University. Other article topics include the potential of psychedelics in healthcare and a review of LSD in the treatment of addictions.
The New Yorker magazine has a brief but powerful documentary video illustrating their recent article on psychedelic research. The video features cinematographer Eddie Marritz, one of the subjects in the Heffter-sponsored study on psilocybin therapy for cancer patients at New York University.
In an interview on the website of the Open Foundation, Heffter researcher Matthew Johnson discusses many topics in the field of psychedelic science. Dr. Johnson talks with writer Olivier Taymans about his study on psilocybin as a treatment for tobacco addiction, the timeline for legalization of psychedelics for clinical applications, the nature of mystical experiences, advice for people seeking a career in psychedelic research, and other subjects.
On March 6th, the New York Open Center will host a showing of the documentary film A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin. Along with the film, the event features a panel discussion with Heffter researchers Stephen Ross, Jeffrey Guss, and Anthony Bossis.
Most contemporary research on psychedelic drugs focuses on the treatment of psychological disorders such as depression and PTSD. Now, researchers at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine are investigating the use of the psychedelic (R)-DOI to treat asthma, a disease that affects 25 million Americans.
According to Charles Nichols, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, “Not only is this a significant breakthrough in the field of study of serotonin and psychiatric drugs, but it is a breakthrough in the field of asthma as well. We have identified an entirely new anti-inflammatory mechanism for the treatment of asthma in the clinic that could someday be administered in an inhaler or a daily pill.”
An opinion piece in the popular news magazine THE WEEK encourages government funding of scientific research into psychedelics. National correspondent Brian Cooper examines how pharmaceutical companies fund research on new drugs using two examples–psychedelics and antibiotics. In both cases, the industry has financial incentives for avoiding research. The solution, according to Cooper, is to provide an independent source of funding.
“So what is to be done? First, direct government funding is and always has been an important part of scientific funding. In a sane world, with substances as promising as the above psychedelics, the government would simply fund the research itself and be done with it. Only an increasingly anachronistic brand of drug warrior politics stands in the way. But with something like 22 veterans per day committing suicide, any treatment with a potential 60+ percent long-tem cure rate for PTSD ought to be jammed through mass trials at the highest possible speed.”
As a sign of growing public awareness and acceptance of psychedelic research, The New Yorker, possibly the nation’s most prestigious general-interest magazine, features an extensive article on the subject in its issue of February 9th, 2015. Author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) focuses on the use of psilocybin as a treatment for end-of-life anxiety in cancer patients. Pollan interviewed several Heffter-supported researchers at Johns Hopkins and New York University.
“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.”
The new issue of the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews is devoted to psychedelic research. The issue includes articles on the use of psychedelics for treating substance abuse, crisis intervention, andÂ the subjective experiences of psilocybin users in an fMRI study.
“We are witnessing a revival of psychedelic research. An increasing number of studies investigating the therapeutic use of psychedelics are currently underway at some of the most renowned universities. Dedicating a second issue of ‘Current Drug Abuse Reviews’ to psychedelics aims to keep up with this blossoming field. With the availability of modern scientific instruments, psychedelic research is once again gaining a firm foothold in academia.”
The study at the University of Alabama on psychedelics and suicide, cited in the previous post, is getting a lot of attention in the media. Newsweek covered the story in their issue of January 25, 2015.
“A new study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that participants who took naturalistic doses of ‘classic’ psychedelics–magic mushrooms, DMT, mescaline and LSD had significantly decreased the likelihood of having suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and psychological distress.”
Classic psychedelic use protective with regard to psychological distress and suicidality | ScienceDaily
Heffter-supported researchers at the University of Alabama and Johns Hopkins examined health data for 190,000 individuals and found that people who have used one of the classic psychedelic drugs are less prone to suicidal thoughts and actions.
“Despite advances in mental health treatments, suicide rates generally have not declined in the past 60 years. Novel and potentially more effective interventions need to be explored,” said Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and lead study author. “This study sets the stage for future research to test the efficacy of classic psychedelics in addressing suicidality as well as pathologies associated with increased suicide risk (e.g., affective disturbance, addiction and impulsive-aggressive personality traits).”
Hendricks says the take-home message from this study is that classic psychedelics may hold great promise in the prevention of suicide and evaluating the therapeutic effectiveness of classic psychedelics should be a priority for future research.