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Recent News:
German documentary about psilocybin features Heffter board member
Psilocybin, where science meets spirituality | CBS News
Newsweek article covers psychedelic research
Experiences of hallucinogen treatment | The Psychologist
Heffter researcher Roland Griffiths on psilocybin and mysticism | TEDx
Magic Mushrooms Help Smokers Kick Habit in Small Study | Bloomberg
Turn On, Tune In, Get Better | Scientific American
Interview with Robin Carhart-Harris on LSD research | The Independent
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Heffter board member interviewed on Vox

Goodbye to the Godfather of Psychedelics | California Magazine

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California, the magazine of the Cal Alumni Association, has a moving article by Laura B. Childs about the memorial service for Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the renowned psychedelic chemist.

“Sasha’s work is by all objective criteria worthy of the very highest academic honors, Nobel Prize kind of stuff, but such honors are impossible as we struggle as a society to learn how to balance the complexities that are stirred up by the power of psychedelics,” said UC Berkeley neurobiology lecturer David Presti during the hour-long memorial service. “It was too big to be done in a multimillion dollar laboratory. It instead required an alchemist’s den, a courageous spirit, a careful focus of intention, and a goodly dose of mystical insight. Then the stuff of legend happened. Thank you, Sasha.”

Goodbye to the Godfather of Psychedelics: Sasha Shulgin Now “Tripping in the Cosmos” | California Magazine

 


Study links psychedelic experience to dreaming | The Washington Post

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According to The Washington Post, new research at Imperial College London shows that subjects injected with the psychedelic drug psilocybin exhibit brain activity that resembles the dreaming state. The researchers found that psilocybin increases activity in parts of the brain associated with emotion, memory, and arousal. They found a corresponding decrease in the activity of brain networks associated with high-level cognition.

by Rachel Feltman

“In fact, a mind-altering compound found in some 200 species of mushroom is already being explored as a potential treatment for depression and anxiety. People who consume these mushrooms, after “trips” that can be a bit scary and unpleasant, report feeling more optimistic, less self-centered, and even happier for months after the fact.

“But why do these trips change the way people see the world? According to a study published today in Human Brain Mapping, the mushroom compounds could be unlocking brain states usually only experienced when we dream, changes in activity that could help unlock permanent shifts in perspective.”

Psychedelic mushrooms put your brain in a “waking dream,” study finds | The Washington Post

Link to original article | Human Brain Mapping

 


High Hopes | Science

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An article by Kai Kupferschmidt in Science magazine gives a comprehensive survey of current psychedelic research. “High Hopes” focuses on the work of Heffter board member Stephen Ross and includes quotes from board members Roland Griffiths and Franz Vollenweider.

“Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD and psilocybin, believed that these psychedelic drugs might be useful in treating mental illness; the company he worked for, Sandoz, sent them to doctors around the world for experimentation in the 1950s and ’60s. But then, the drugs fell from grace, and most of the research was stopped. Now, researchers have rediscovered psychedelic drugs for their unmatched ability to alter the way the brain processes information, and they are studying them as possible treatments for depression, addiction, anxiety, cluster headaches, and other disorders. But this remains a contentious field, and the scientists studying these drugs face many difficult questions.”

High Hopes | Science


Heffter co-founder outlines process for legalization of psilocybin | reset.me

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Heffter co-founder David Nichols has an “Editors Pick” article on reset.me, a new web site devoted to journalism on psychedelics and related topics. In “When Will Medicinal ‘Magic Mushrooms’ Be Legalized?” Dr. Nichols gives an overview of Heffter-sponsored research using psilocybin to treat addiction, anxiety, and other disorders. He also describes the three-phase research process that Heffter is undertaking with the goal of making psilocybin a legal medication.

Many people have now seen media stories about the renewed research interest in psychedelics as medicines, often called a “renaissance” in psychedelic research, over perhaps the past five years or so. Although many psychedelic substances have been used safely as medicines in indigenous cultures for millennia, we are now seeing renewed interest in these substances in Western cultures. As a co-founder ofthe Heffter Research Institute  I have watched with an increasing sense of both amazement and gratitude — that we have been able to accomplish so much in such a relatively short time. We are on the path to make psilocybin into a prescription medicine! The Heffter Institute has been a key driver of this “renaissance,” utilizing most of the donations we receive directly to support clinical research.”

When Will Medicinal “Magic Mushrooms” Be Legalized? | reset.me

 


NY Times ayahuasca article quotes Heffter board member

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An article in the New York Times “Fashion and Style” section covers the current popularity of the psychedelic beverage ayahuasca. The article features quotes from Heffter board member Charles Grob.

“‘It’s a fascinating compound with a great deal to be learned from its effects,’ said Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist who is the director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center and who helped administer a study in Manaus, Brazil, in the 1990s that linked dramatic positive transformations among alcoholics and drug addicts with ayahuasca use. But along with its positives, Dr. Grob is quick to list its dangers.”

Ayahuasca: A Strong Cup of Tea | New York Times


Study compares psilocybin and MDMA | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

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A new study uses fMRI technology to distinguish the effects of MDMA (“Ecstasy”) and the classic psychedelic psilocybin on the networks within the brain. Researchers found that psilocybin produces unique changes in consciousness.

The effects of psilocybin and MDMA on between-network resting state functional connectivity in healthy volunteers

Leor Roseman, Robert Leech, Amanda Feilding, David J. Nutt, and Robin L. Carhart-Harris

“Perturbing a system and observing the consequences is a classic scientific strategy for understanding a phenomenon. Psychedelic drugs perturb consciousness in a marked and novel way and thus are powerful tools for studying its mechanisms. In the present analysis, we measured changes in resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) between a standard template of different independent components analysis (ICA)-derived resting state networks (RSNs) under the influence of two different psychoactive drugs, the stimulant/psychedelic hybrid, MDMA, and the classic psychedelic, psilocybin. Both were given in placebo-controlled designs and produced marked subjective effects, although reports of more profound changes in consciousness were given after psilocybin. Between-network RSFC was generally increased under psilocybin, implying that networks become less differentiated from each other in the psychedelic state. Decreased RSFC between visual and sensorimotor RSNs was also observed. MDMA had a notably less marked effect on between-network RSFC, implying that the extensive changes observed under psilocybin may be exclusive to classic psychedelic drugs and related to their especially profound effects on consciousness. The novel analytical approach applied here may be applied to other altered states of consciousness to improve our characterization of different conscious states and ultimately advance our understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying them.”

Link to full article | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience


Professor guides psychedelic medicine revival | Purdue Exponent

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The Purdue University independent daily student newspaper, The Exponent, has a featured article about Heffter’s President and co-founder Dr. David Nichols.

AP photo

by Reed Sellers

“A former Purdue professor is making major headway in a revolutionary method of treatment for psychiatric disorders by facilitating controlled psychedelic trips.

“Adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and former Purdue distinguished professor, David Nichols, has been conducting research on psychedelics since 1974, when he came to Purdue as an assistant professor. Nichols said he was interested in why, of all the life-changing events people experience, a drug can be one of them.

“’The thing that was interesting to me was how these things produce such profound effects on the brain,’ Nichols said. ‘You fall in love or you get married, have a child, maybe a parent or sibling dies – these kinds of things. Or you could take some LSD and your life may be permanently changed after that.’”

Link to full article | Purdue Exponent


Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, 1925-2014

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We’re saddened to note the passing of Dr. Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, an important pioneer of psychedelic chemistry. In addition to a long and remarkably productive career as a chemist, Dr. Shulgin authored a number of influential books including two scientific autobiographies, PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story (1991) and TIHKAL: The Continuation (1997), both co-written with his wife Ann Shulgin. An obituary with a detailed overview of Dr. Shulgin’s career is available on ShulginResearch.org.

“Psychedelics and empathogens were Sasha’s most passionate interest, as he wholeheartedly believed that these drugs could be exceptionally valuable tools for self-discovery when properly used. ‘I am forever in their debt,’ he said, ‘And I will forever be their champion.’”


Psychedelic Science | Southern California Public Radio

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Southern California Public Radio station KPCC has an excellent four-part series on the current state of psychedelic research. The series, reported by Health Care Correspondent Stephanie O’Neill, features interviews with Heffter board members George Greer, Charles Grob, and Stephen Ross.

Research into the therapeutic potential of illegal ‘psychedelic’ drugs to treat an assortment of mainstream mental health conditions is undergoing a modern-day renaissance.

“A host of published studies in the field is showing promise for psychedelics, such as psilocybin — the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’ —  to help treat alcoholism, depression, drug addiction and severe anxiety caused by serious or terminal illness.”

Link to Part 1, Psychedelic Science: The surge in psychiatric research using hallucinogens | SCPR

Link to Part 2, Psychedelic Science: Researchers enlist Psilocybin to help fight alcoholism | SCPR

Link to Part 3, Psychedelic Science: Using ecstasy to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder | SCPR

Link to Part 4, Psychedelic Science: Psilocybin shows promise treating cancer anxiety | SCPR


Psilocybin inhibits the processing of negative emotions in the brain | Science Daily

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A team at the Psychiatric University Hospital of Zurich, including Heffter board member Franz X. Vollenweider, found that psilocybin improves the mood of healthy individuals. According to the Zurich researchers, a moderate dose of psilocybin can lessen the effect of negative stimuli in the amygdala and other areas in the brain. The study could lead to new treatment options for people with depression.

This research is making news globally. International coverage appears on this Arabic site (scroll down the page) and this Thai site.

“Emotions like fear, anger, sadness, and joy enable people to adjust to their environment and react flexibly to stress and strain and are vital for cognitive processes, physiological reactions, and social behavior. The processing of emotions is closely linked to structures in the brain, i.e. to what is known as the limbic system. Within this system the amygdala plays a central role — above all it processes negative emotions like anxiety and fear. If the activity of the amygdala becomes unbalanced, depression and anxiety disorders may develop.”

Link to summary article | Science Daily

Link to original article | Biological Psychiatry

Biological Psychiatry cover cropped

This article is published as a cover story in Biological Psychiatry (article in press) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00063223, Rainer Kraehenmann, Katrin H. Preller, Milan Scheidegger, Thomas Pokorny, Oliver G. Bosch, Erich Seifritz, Franz X. Vollenweider, Psilocybin-Induced Decrease in Amygdala Reactivity Correlates with Enhanced Positive Mood in Healthy Volunteers, Copyright Elsevier, 2014.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.04.010