Psilocybin Switches Off Part Of Brain That Causes Depression — But Current Laws Interfere With Research

 
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by Reshma Biring

on July 31, 2015

Speaking at Breaking Convention, a three-day conference held in London that aimed to explore the benefits of psychedelic drugs as medicines, amongst other topics, Professor David Nutt talked to me about his concerns on how the law is interfering with medical research and why LSD is still a problem child.

Professor David Nutt is to drug science what David Attenborough is to the natural world. A renowned neuropsychopharmacologist based at Imperial College, London, Professor Nutt is famed for sparking debates around illegal drugs and government policies. He is one of a few voices for the psychedelic community, and those researching banned substances, who speaks candidly about drugs by using science to back up what he says.

Photo: Professor Nutt. Via: BreakingConvention.co.uk

Photo: Professor Nutt. Via: BreakingConvention.co.uk

Hearing him talk at Breaking Convention about how laws are making it very difficult to research psychedelic drugs, makes it feel like the human race is missing out on something: a giant leap for medicine that politicians are happy to shun. When the idea that psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin (the compound found in magic mushrooms) can be used to treat a variety of mental health issues, such as addictions, anxiety and depression, why wouldn’t you want to delve into the rabbit hole of research, and see where it takes you?

Shrouded in red tape and a bad political reputation, LSD was banned in the UK and thrown into deep space in 1966. Roll forward nearly half a century and politicians still won’t change their stance on what could be the wonder drug for therapeutic practice, regardless of what positive findings have been produced.

“Politicians have this peculiar fear of LSD,” asserts Professor Nutt. “Albert Hoffman [the Swiss scientist who first synthesized the drug in 1938] said LSD was his ‘problem child’. There is no doubt it is still a problem child for very many politicians, for reasons that are historic, based on ignorance and on disinformation.”

Public opinion about the drug, which is notoriously associated with hippy culture, paints a different picture where psychedelics are more socially acceptable than the Government leads us to believe.

“One of the interesting things about psychedelics is that there is an enormous amount of sympathy in the general public to their use, particularly as medicines,” explains Professor Nutt. “A lot of people are very angry that they have been denied to the public as medicines for over 50 years. My own view is that this is the worst censorship of medicine and clinical research in the history of the world. If you really want to use [psychedelics] as medicine, it’s important to have a sound scientific underpinning.”

Professor Nutt and his team have been busy pioneering the use of techniques called ‘brain imaging’ to explore how psychedelics work in the brain. They have achieved three studies with psilocybin and have just completed the world’s first ever brain-imaging study with LSD, and the results are exciting for scientists, doctors and patients alike.

“We’ve [discovered] that these drugs have quite profound effects, for instance, they switch off the part of the brain that causes depression. Now we’re doing a trial using psilocybin to treat depression because we think where conventional treatments fail, psilocybin might work.”

But even though the outcome of these tests has proved quite promising, the stumbling blocks to this research are still present. The biggest and most obvious challenge is that these drugs are illegal. Only a very small handful of hospitals in the UK have permission to hold drugs like cannabis or psilocybin, which means Professor Nutt and his team can spend years of valuable time in getting extra permissions to do their work.

“The depression trial took three years to work through all the different regulations. We spent almost all the money we had just getting the drug and getting through those regulations,” explains Professor Nutt.

When you consider that a normal drug trial might take six months to get going, the research into psychedelics is very costly— at least ten times that of other trials. And money doesn’t come easily. Since the UK Government doesn’t stand by this line of research, crowdfunding has been one of the options to bring in the cash for this research. But when there’s lives at stake, isn’t it about time the Government turned their heads and tuned in their ears, instead of copping out whenever they catch wind that perhaps these so-called ‘bad drugs’ can actually be useful?

“The world needs to wake up to the potential of drugs like LSD and psilocybin, and also cannabis,” proclaims Professor Nutt. “These drugs have enormous potential. Every day that goes on with these drugs illegal, patients are suffering; patients are committing suicide because they are not getting treated for their depressions or their pain. So, it is a priority for medicine in the world to reverse these laws.”

 

This piece first appeared on the Psychedelic Press UK.

there are 35 Comments

metanoic

I’m all for medical research into these various substances but let’s call this what it is and in doing so give everyone a much clearer picture of why politicians and their status quo cronies in the establishment are terrified of these substances. It’s a ‘War on Consciousness’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0c5nIvJH7w

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Padge Vounder

as a sufferer of major depression who has gotten no relief from SSRI medications, studies like these are a beacon of hope to me

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Rene E Porcile

While I think conscious altering drugs can reduce or eliminate the pain with depression, the solution should be a temporary one. I think chanting spiritual sounds like Ani-Hu or Hu out loud for 30 to 60 minutes will work way better. These chants will connect the person to their true essences — to their loving heart, joy, creativity, to their true authentic power, etc. More on the subject: msia.org

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Gristle McThornbody

I’m sorry you’ve had to suffer with depression. I’ve had it too, since childhood, and it’s a living hell. I had no success with SSRIs; mushrooms have been the only thing that’s worked for me. I’ve been micro dosing psilocybin mushrooms for 2 years and they brought me back from the brink of suicide. I had forgotten what being “alive” felt like until 1g restarted my body and mind. I take them in .2-.6g doses whenever I need them; they feel clean, light, energizing. They have re-regulated my entire body and I flow through life more easily; a miracle compared to the slow drowning of depression.

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Padge Vounder

Thanks for the reply, which ones are you taking? there are some that grow wild near me which I’ve identified, but I’m a bit worried about having an adverse reaction

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Gristle McThornbody

Psilocybe Cubensis, which are less potent than others. That’s cool you found some in the wild, what species are they? The spores are legal and can be bought online (Spore Works for ex.), and they’re really easy to grow, shroomery.com has lots of info.

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Gristle McThornbody

If you decide to try mushrooms, I’d recommend starting at .1g to test your sensitivity. Any negative side effects will be very mild, and go away after an hour. It’s likely you won’t notice anything at this dose though.

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David Siegert

Spiritual sounds? Lmao.

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lite104me

Maybe these studies could be done in Portugal which seems to be leading the western world with an enlightened stance and laws regarding drugs. http://mic.com/articles/110344/14-years-after-portugal-decriminalized-all-drugs-here-s-what-s-happening

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MarcelloPellegrinoErnetti

Hi Gristle, I’m curious, you say they’re “really easy to grow”, but from tutorials I’ve seen it looks like there’s an overwhelming amount of steps and extremely meticulous and obsessive level of sanitation and contamination control needs to be exercised. Are these impressions wrong?

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Laura Christine

If it switches off depression then how do bad trips sometimes happen even with small doses?

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Rene E Porcile

HU is an ancient name of God from Sanskrit. When anchored-in with a living Spiritual Master a person can learn how to break free of this beautiful, but illusionary world. msia.org teachings are the foundation to Insight Seminars (insightseminars.org) and to the University of Santa Monica (universityofsantamonica.edu) where they offer an accredited masters degree program in Spiritual Psychology. Here’s a free gift titled – How to transform yourself (one of thousands of cd’s available on Awakening to your True Self).
How to Transform Yourself:
https://www.msia.org/store/product.php?productid=4235

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tnizzle

Nothing has made me feel more alive than psychedelics. Even as a former chronic opiate user, these psychedelic treatments are the only thing that have offered me reprieve from the torture that is opiate withdrawal. After 5 years of use, I kicked the habit and now have almost a 4.0 GPA at my university.

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Gristle McThornbody

Hi, yes, it is much easier than these tutorials make it seem at first. I’ve never had a contaminated jar. You don’t need a flow hood or box to inoculate in, just wipe the counter with isopropyl, clean hands, and wear something over your face so you’re not breathing on everything. Wipe the inoculating needle after each jar w/ isopropyl, you can run needle through a flame if you want extra insurance. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps for PF Tek:

1. Mix BRF, vermiculite and H20, and place in mason jars.
2. Fill pot with a few inches water, place jars inside on old jar rings covered with foil (so glass doesn’t crack) boil for 2.5-3hrs, replacing H2O as needed.
3. Wait till jars are cooled all the way through, inoculate.
4. Place fully colonized cakes in plastic tub (w/ 2-3 inches wet perlite). Mist and fan couple times per day.
5. Pick shrooms and enjoy. Dunk used cakes in water overnight and roll in vermiculite for 2nd and 3rd flushes.

Once mycelium has fully colonized, they are extremely hardy and their immune system kills bacteria and mold. Also, you don’t need fancy terrariums, just a clear, small-medium sized plastic storage bin with lid.

http://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/11585613/fpart/1/vc/1
http://www.shroomery.org/10256/PF-Tek-v2

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MarcelloPellegrinoErnetti

Thank you so much for the thorough response! I deeply appreciate it.

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ryanmvdl34

I’ve had the same experience. I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for years, I’ve taken SSRI’s (which just numbed me). I’ve read lots of books, and learned coping techniques. Nothing though got at the sad feeling inside of my chest. This feeling that I don’t know what it came from but drives my brain to think worried sad thoughts which cause this feedback loop, that builds and build over the course of the day to the point where I just can’t feel loved or safe. So a couple of years ago I stumbled upon Joe Rogan talking with Amber, which lead to lots of podcasts and research. So two weeks ago I tried 1gm of mushrooms. I “wanted” to do more to get a full therapeudic dose like they do in the hopkins studies, but I was afraid.

It made my body feel very drunk and weak, like it was tired, and a little vibratey. My mind felt normal. The biggest change was perception. I now know what people really mean when they say they “see things”. You know how when you look at a cloud you can “see” a face or something? Because coulds are so random its much easier for your imagination to project its self onto this object and “see face”. My experience is that mushrooms are just like that, only it happens with lots more stuff. You know its just towels folded on the couch but you “see” a silly face. This made drawing ,really, really special, and taught me the projecting your imagination onto the white page is a major skill that needs to be honed. I went to an art college and no one ever talked about that. People talk about techniques, but ignore the skill of “seeing” on the page. I think great artists just do this, and don’t know that they are different in this ability and therefore can’t explain it. anyway…

As the body high was coming on I started to feel anxious (in my very familiar way) I was able to recognize that I took a very small dose, but regardless just like when I am getting blood drawen my body decides it needs to pass out for whatever reason. So I laid down and put my feet up because I could feel it coming. I got real sweaty, and then it passed in prolly 5-10 mins. It wasn’t a big deal, I just wish it didn’t happen.

anyway…the whole thing was neat. So, I goto bed and wake up with no hangover at all and feel very clear and refreshed eventhough I had stayed up until 3am, which normall affects me the next day (I’m 35).

Over the course of the next few days I noticed simply this. I’m just not having worried thoughts. I just don’t feel that deep sad feeling. I have no idea why. I didn’t “figure anything out”, I didn’t “realize anything”. It made me think about all of the self help books I had read and how all of them are bandaids in that you apply the technique after you are feeling bad, but they don’t keep you out of those states.

SO I think I’m going to pursue this. I don’t need some crazy deep mystical experience I just want to feel normal, and fine.

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kbaws

I’d say depression and anxiety are not the same thing. And I personally think a so called “bad trip” should not be labeled as bad – seems more appropriate to call it difficult, as it can get you far out of your comfort zone (facing your deepest fears).

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Eric Lab

For those of you seeking to treat yourself with micro dosing mushrooms, a good way to get rid f the side effects such as nausea, stomach cramps, and sinus problems, is to make a tea or tincture. The tea is faster and more common, simply take your preferred dosage grind it up, put in a pot of water and boil for 10-15 minutes, strain out all fruitbodies and let stand to cool before ingesting. With the tea you may store for a day or so but the active compounds will not last much longer. The tincture is more for storage, and better dosages. you will need 750ml of 190 proof grain alcohol (151 proof will still work but your tincture wont last as long), 35 grams of cubenisis, and some patients. grind up mushrooms, place in a jar and fill the jar with alcohol, till the alcohol covers all of the mushrooms. let this slurry sit for 24 hours, shaking often to unsure full extraction. After waiting 24 hours simply stain out the mushrooms. Then put mushrooms into another jar and fill with new alcohol and wait again. Once stained the second time put both alcohols together. Now put your infused alcohol into a small glass with a fan directed towards the top of the glass to help evaporate. If you followed my tek you will want to evaporate till there is over ten mL left. Once evaporated to your preferred amount suck up alcohol into syringes for storage. Be careful dosing for if you evaporated to much alcohol your tincture will be to potent to handle with care. this tek is to make 1 mL of alcohol equal out to 3.5 grams of dried cubes, you can use different amounts of both alcohol and mushrooms. Just be sure when testing to start out little, we don’t want you going to pluto when you were aiming for the moon.
Safe travels

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Dianna Donnelly

Amazing. I too have always had it. I call mine the krakken. It’s really bad right now and I’m looking for a beacon myself. Thank you to both of you for this. Cheers!

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rachel austin

I wish I knew how to go about that! I really need to quit talking opiates from the doctor but don’t want to withdraw,last time I tried I wanted to kill myself, I’m just about to give up

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tnizzle

Another very valuable tool I have found is an herb known as “Kratom” (mytragina speciosa). There are different ‘strains’ that have a range of different effects as well, depending on your personal needs. Kratom eliminates withdrawals completely for most people if administered correctly, and it made quitting opiate pain killers easy for me.

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rachel austin

Where does one find such a thing?

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tnizzle

I found sources by googling “kratom reddit” and “kratom reddit best vendors”. There is a huge forum with a wealth of information on the subject. On a side note, it is sort of a pain to consume because dosages are multiple grams worth (anywhere from 3-12g is typical), and downing the powder can be inconvenient and bothersome as it tastes quite bitter. But, that is just a small price to pay for the utter pain and sorrow of opiate withdrawal.

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Vector Nectar

It’s single “f” and double “n” for Albert’s sake!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/469551596402303/?ref=ts&fref=ts
http://leap.cc

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Callum H

I will never be believed, but I’m certain that I had small doses of possibly ‘LSD’ or some sort of psychoactive compound tested on me over a number of months (I was, WAS, a bad person, and probably justified these methods being tested on me). Anyway, I had a number of intense spiritual experiences and, after having depression for many years, feel a lot more positive and well in myself since the experience. I think it’s probably best I never know for sure (as it was an incredibly illegal experiment,from a human rights perspective, and also definite confirmation would possibly cause me to react with a very justified anger, which would ‘void’ this new perspective I have on life, aswell as causing massive controversy, if I could prove it), but after being an atheist all my life I felt an intense connection with something Divine and ‘greater than ourselves’. It definately induced a deep spiritual awakening and awareness within me. I felt so sure I was being experimented on, that I upped sticks and moved to the other side of the country a few weeks ago (I was living with someone who worked in medicine. When we first met he mentioned several times the ‘types of people’ he believed should have new drugs tested on them and be socially experimented on, and I had, HAD, technically, fallen under on of these catoregories so was always incredibly paranoid about his motives) as I believed the masons were involved. Since moving, all the ‘crazy things’ have completely ceased, which definately confirms an experiment of this nature has been tested on me. Although it will be incredibly hard to prove. I am currently in the process of writing an autobiography which will include, in detail, these events. I would love to experiment on myself to explore and further this research, but after what happened, it’s important that I remain drug free until a full mental health evaluation can be performed.

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Callum H

You can buy ‘growing kits’ online and it’s perfectly legal to purchase. However, cultivation is illegal. So make sure your shady about it. Also they are notoriously hard to grow so I would definately watch a few YouTube videos and read up on other people’s experiences ect first. Also check the correct dosage on forums. I hope this is helpful 🙂

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Justin Sharma

That really depends on the trip and experience. Most “bad trips” often happen because the mindset or setting (or both) was off and not appropriate for the experience and user.

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tommyD

It’s not just depression – psilocybin, LSD and other tryptamines are very effective in treating cluster headaches, one of the most painful conditions known to medical science.

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Sam E. Lawrence

From a drug dealer. And not on the internet. If you live in a major city, and want to find these things, you can, but it might take some effort. An electronic music festival is a good place to start looking. Talk to the people who don’t look normal. 😀

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