Mind-Altering Drugs News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on mind-altering drugs
After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, C. J. Hardin wound up hiding from the world. He had tried almost all the accepted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. “Nothing worked for me,” said Mr. Hardin. Then, in 2013, he joined a small drug trial testing whether PTSD could be treated with MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy. “It changed my life,” he said. “It allowed me to see my trauma without fear or hesitation and finally process things and move forward.” Based on promising results like Mr. Hardin’s, the Food and Drug Administration gave permission Tuesday for large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials of the drug - a final step before the possible approval of Ecstasy as a prescription drug. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a small nonprofit created in 1985 ... sponsored six Phase 2 studies treating a total of 130 PTSD patients. Two trials ... focused on treating combat veterans, sexual assault victims, and police and firefighters with PTSD who had not responded to traditional prescription drugs or psychotherapy. Patients had, on average, struggled with symptoms for 17 years. After three doses of MDMA administered under a psychiatrist’s guidance, the patients reported a 56 percent decrease of severity of symptoms on average, one study found. By the end of the study, two-thirds no longer met the criteria for having PTSD. Follow-up examinations found that improvements lasted more than a year after therapy.
Note: Read more about how MDMA has been found effective for treating PTSD in a therapeutic context. This FDA approval to begin Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA suggests that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
Johns Hopkins Medicine announced the launch of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, to study compounds like LSD and psilocybin for a range of mental health problems, including anorexia, addiction and depression. The center is the first of its kind in the country, established with $17 million in commitments from wealthy private donors and a foundation. The centers at Johns Hopkins and Imperial College give “psychedelic medicine,” as some call it, a long-sought foothold in the scientific establishment. Since the early 2000s, several scientists have been exploring the potential of psychedelics and other recreational drugs for psychiatric problems, and their early reports have been tantalizing. The emergence of depression treatment with the anesthetic and club drug ketamine and related compounds, which cause out-of-body sensations, also has piqued interest in mind-altering agents as aids to therapy. The ... funding will help clarify which drugs help which patients. Roland Griffiths, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins who will direct the new center ... said the new funds will cover six full-time faculty, five postdoctoral scientists and the costs of running trials. Among the first of those trials are a test of psilocybin for anorexia nervosa and of psilocybin for psychological distress and cognitive impairment in early Alzheimer’s disease. “The one that’s crying out to be done is for opiate-use disorder, and we also plan to look at that,” Dr. Griffiths said.
Note: Learn about the fascinating man who is bankrolling a significant portion of this new center in this New York Times article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources.
Dead Dog on the Left isn’t just a documentary about the use of ecstasy in treating PTSD, it’s a story of the lengths one former marine will go to for friendship. [Tyler] McCourry and [Nigel] Flanigan are the subjects of [the] mini-documentary taken from a forthcoming feature film, MDMA the Movie, which explores the history of the so-called “party drug” more popularly known as ecstasy, its use in therapy, and harm reduction. Both films are directed by Emanuel Sferios. His protagonists may have survived the Iraq war, but only barely. Suicidal thoughts have stalked them both. In May 2012 McCourry did his first [MDMA-assisted psychotherapy] session ... lying in bed, flanked by two therapists. At the beginning of the session he was given a 75mg dose of MDMA. “During those eight hours you’re addressing the most challenging situations in your life,” he says. “It feels very exhausting, like it was some of the most work you’ve ever done in one day.” McCourry calls those trials, now completed, “a transformation of the psyche”. MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has “breakthrough therapy” designation by the FDA. “Since the MDMA therapy I’m able to recognise when something comes up that I need to talk about,” [McCourry] says. McCourry hopes that the therapy will be adopted by the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense. “If you can cure PTSD after three sessions of MDMA therapy then you don’t have to provide a veteran with medications for the rest of their life and talk therapy once a month.”
Note: A touching 26-documentary on this case is available at the above link. Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
For most, psychedelic drugs conjure up images of the 1960's, hippies tripping out on LSD or magic mushrooms. But ... these powerful, mind-altering substances are now being studied seriously by scientists inside some of the country's foremost medical research centers. They're being used to treat depression, anxiety and addiction. The early results are impressive, as are the experiences of the studies' volunteers who go on a six-hour, sometimes terrifying, but often life-changing psychedelic journey. For nearly two decades now, [scientist Roland Griffiths] and his colleague Matthew Johnson have been giving what they call "heroic doses" of psilocybin to more than 350 volunteers, many struggling with addiction, depression and anxiety. Carine McLaughlin was a smoker for 46 years and said she tried everything to quit before being given psilocybin at Johns Hopkins last year. That was more than a year ago; she says she hasn't smoked since. The study she took part in is still ongoing, but in an earlier, small study of just 15 long-term smokers, 80% had quit six months after taking psilocybin. That's double the rate of any over-the-counter smoking cessation product. Jon Kostakopoulos was drinking a staggering 20 cocktails a night ... when he decided to enroll in another psilocybin trial at New York University. During one psilocybin session, he was flooded with powerful feelings and images from his past. He took psilocybin in 2016. He says he hasn't had a drink since.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s esketamine on Tuesday for treatment-resistant depression; the drug is the chemical cousin of ketamine, the powerful anesthetic that has been used illegally as the club drug Special K. It will be sold as Spravato. It's for patients who have tried at least two other medications without success, and it should be taken with an oral antidepressant. "There has been a longstanding need for additional effective treatments for treatment-resistant depression, a serious and life-threatening condition," Dr. Tiffany Farchione, acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said. Spravato is a nasal spray administered by an approved health care provider in a doctor's office or a medical clinic. It may also be self-administered but only under the supervision of a care provider and cannot be taken home. Depending on the severity of the patient's depression, it is given either once a week or once every other week. The drug is rapidly acting, so it starts working faster than other antidepressants, according to Janssen. It works by restoring brain cells in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Currently available treatments for major depression are ineffective in 30% to 40% of patients. The drug was designated as a breakthrough therapy in 2013, a status intended to "expedite the development and review of drugs for serious or life-threatening conditions," the FDA said at the time.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources.
At 74, the venture capitalist George Sarlo might not have seemed an obvious candidate for an ayahuasca experience. Mr. Sarlo’s close friend, a doctor, told him about ayahuasca, a psychedelic brew made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, native to the Amazon. Used for centuries in sacred healing traditions throughout Central and South America, ayahuasca is now gaining popularity around the world. [It] is mostly illegal in the United States. Notably, ayahuasca’s increasing popularity knows no age limits: many of those now showing interest are squarely in Mr. Sarlo’s own demographic. Mr. Sarlo himself was initially skeptical. Taking ayahuasca would entail a potentially distressing night of hallucinations, and excretions of all kind, especially vomiting. But he still decided to head to Yelapa, a small village in Mexico, and swallow down the bitter brew. Mr. Sarlo said that afterward, something shifted. “It changed my life completely.” He realized that his life had been “absolutely full of miracles,” he said. As Michael Pollan put it, “psychedelics might be wasted on the young.” Mr. Pollan, the author of the recent best seller “How To Change Your Mind,” a history of psychedelics and a chronicle of his own experiences trying them, said ... he was surprised by the number of people he encountered when writing his book in their 70s and 80s expressing interest in trying psychedelics. Though perhaps he shouldn’t have been: as he himself has written, one of the reasons to come to psychedelics later in life is to tangle with one’s own mortality.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources.
Older Americans suffer disproportionately from chronic pain and its attendant ailments, anxiety, depression and insomnia. In the search for relief, they consume more pharmaceutical drugs than perhaps any comparable cohort on this planet. Psychedelic therapies to treat mental health conditions offer a radical departure from current pharmaceutical models. The psychedelic therapy modalities currently under investigation combine a limited number of treatment sessions with a psychedelic substance, sandwiched between intensive pre- and post-treatment therapy sessions. The ideal, and realistic, outcome from this course of treatment is not mere symptom control, but durable remission. Indeed, these studies are finding that, in clinically significant numbers, recipients of a single course of psychedelic therapy report the experience to be life-changing, and enduring over time. The positive preliminary outcomes of clinical studies by MAPS using MDMA to treat PTSD, and Compass Pathways for psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression, have convinced the FDA to grant them Breakthrough Therapy Designation. In the 1960s researchers were interested in seeing if psychedelic drug treatment could alleviate existential distress in terminal cancer patients. This line of research was picked up 35 years later by Dr. Charles Grob, whose 2011 pilot study of psilocybin treatment for terminal cancer patients found significant enduring reductions in anxiety and improvement in mood at a six-month follow up.
James “Whitey” Bulger terrorized Boston from the 1970s into the 1990s with a campaign of murder, extortion and drug trafficking. In 2013, Janet Uhlar was one of 12 jurors who found Bulger guilty in a massive racketeering case, including involvement in 11 murders. But now Uhlar says she regrets voting to convict Bulger on any of the murder charges. Her regret stems from a cache of more than 70 letters Bulger wrote to her from prison, some of which describe his unwitting participation in a secret CIA experiment with LSD. The agency dosed Bulger with the powerful hallucinogen more than 50 times when he was serving his first stretch in prison, in Atlanta. Uhlar has spoken publicly about her regret before but says her belief that the gangster was wrongly convicted on the murder charges was reinforced after reading a new book by Brown University professor Stephen Kinzer: “Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control.” Gottlieb’s secret program, known at MK-ULTRA, enlisted doctors and other subcontractors to administer LSD in large doses to prisoners, addicts and others unlikely to complain. Uhlar reviewed the 1977 hearings by the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence, which was looking into MK-ULTRA, and found testimony where CIA director Stansfield Turner acknowledged evidence showing that the agency had been searching for a drug that could prepare someone for “debilitating an individual or even killing another person.”
At this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, where the cannabis industry enjoyed a whole pavilion of its own, the biggest takeaway was where cannabis is headed in terms of human health. Rick Doblin, executive director of MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies ... has delivered a TED talk on the future of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. And at Davos there was strong interest in the plant-based psychedelic molecules Doblin works with, [pharmacist Saul] Kaye said. “If you look at cannabis as an entryway into the market for botanical-based medicines, you can look at mushrooms, psilocybin,” said Kaye. “You can look at ibogaine, ayahuasca, which are new medicinal models that are breaking out in the world based on botanical medicine that has been illegal for the last 100 years. “Cannabis has elevated access to all kinds of botanical-based medicines, which ultimately can change mental health, physical health; and it’s a fascinating area that we can ... elevate the conversation around.” Other topics at the cannabis forum ... merited an “elevated” conversation of their own. A speaker from StemCell United, for example, addressed the fast expansion of CBD companies in Asia, building on what Kaye termed “a global de-stigmaization” across the Asian markets. The result, he said, has been to begin changing the traditional impression of cannabis from “This is illicit, this is a drug,” to, “This a research drug that is much safer than alcohol and tobacco.”
Hallucination-inducing drugs like magic mushrooms could be about to break big pharma’s stranglehold on the hugely lucrative market for antidepressants, according to the head of the world’s first centre for psychedelic research. Antidepressant prescriptions have doubled in England in a decade with around seven million adults taking the drugs, and the global market is predicted to be worth $15.9bn (Ł12.5bn) by 2023. At Imperial College London, Dr Robin Carhart-Harris is leading one of the first trials to test how therapy using psilocybin mushrooms, which are currently banned in the UK, compares to leading antidepressants. While he won’t prejudge the results of the study, he says participants describe a cathartic emotional “release” with psilocybin therapy – the polar opposite of antidepressants, which patients complain leave their emotions, whether positive or negative, “blunted”. It is the first of many studies planned under the banner of the new Centre for Psychedelic Research at London’s Imperial College. Dr James Rucker is another of those researching the potential benefits of psychedelics ... at King’s College London. The King’s team are launching two trials, one looking at whether psilocybin therapy can help people whose depression is resistant to treatment with conventional antidepressants. He says it was “possible” the drug could be licensed in five years.
Carlos Plazola locked himself in a bedroom while his cousin stood guard. For five hours, he tripped on magic mushrooms. He ingested 5 grams - a heady amount that connoisseurs call the “heroic dose.” It was Plazola’s first time using the mushrooms, which contain the naturally occurring hallucinogen psilocybin. He started having epiphanies, one right after the other, like lightning bolts. “I was making connections that I had never made in terms of my understanding of what we are, what the cosmos are, why we’re here, where we’re going,” Plazola said. That mushroom trip last October by Plazola, the well-connected onetime chief of staff of a former Oakland City Council president, helped make Oakland the first city in California and the second in the nation to effectively decriminalize magic mushrooms. In May, Denver became the first city in the nation to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. In Oakland ... the City Council on June 4 approved its ordinance unanimously, with little pushback. Oakland even went a step further by decriminalizing not just mushrooms but also a range of other psychoactive plants and compounds including peyote, iboga and ayahuasca. The measure ... does not actually legalize natural psychedelics, which remain illegal under state and federal law. Instead, it declares the arrest and investigation of adults for using, possessing, growing or distributing plant-based hallucinogens to be among the lowest priorities for local police and restricts the use of city funds to go after users.
Note: Forbes recently published an excellent article clearing up the hype about some aspects of this sensitive subject. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources.
UCSF psychiatrist Brian Anderson is studying an experimental therapy to help long-term AIDS survivors ... who are feeling sad and demoralized. In a clinic outfitted with a comfortable couch, soft lighting, throw pillows and blankets, the participants of his study are given psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms. The results were compelling enough that he’s planning a second study. Anderson’s work is part of a resurgence in psychedelic study that has been ... fueling grassroots efforts around the country to decriminalize use of certain psychedelic drugs. Statewide measures are being discussed in California and Oregon. The decriminalization efforts are focused on natural psychedelics — mushrooms, along with herbs, cacti and other plants from which hallucinogenic compounds can be extracted. Though several studies in the first half of the 20th century had shown promise in using psychedelics for treatment of mental health and neurological disorders, the drugs were broadly maligned in the 1960s and ’70s. More recently, microdosing — the practice taking small, carefully controlled amounts of a psychedelic — has taken off among Silicon Valley techies and university students who believe it boosts productivity and creativity. Almost all studies at the moment rely on private donations for funding. Studies are still limited, but they’re happening at universities around the country. At Johns Hopkins, Johnson and his colleagues reported about an 80% success rate in using psilocybin to help people quit smoking in one small study. Research out of UCLA has found that psilocybin may help cancer patients with depression and anxiety.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on studies of psychedelics from reliable major media sources.
Psychedelic medicine is having a moment. Just weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Johnson & Johnson’s ketamine-like nasal spray for depression, a group of European technology investors ... got together for the largest-ever private financing round for a psychedelic medicine biotech company, ATAI. Psychedelic medicine involves research and investigations into mind-altering substances to treat mental illnesses including addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. After recreational use of psychedelics became popular in the 1960s, the U.S. government classified most of them “drugs of abuse” with no real medical value. However, recent clinical studies show mounting evidence that some psychedelics can help patients with certain mental illnesses, either in combination with traditional therapies or in cases where nothing else has worked. Now health and technology investors are paying attention. German company ATAI Life Sciences announced on Tuesday that it has raised more than $40 million in new financing. The round valued the company at $240 million, according to a person familiar, making it both the biggest round and the most valuable company in the young space. ATAI is currently funding clinical trials for what it refers to as “formerly stigmatized compounds,” including psilocybin, the active compound in psychedelic mushrooms, and arketamine, a different variant of ketamine from the one Johnson & Johnson researched, as potential treatments for depression.
Note: Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, hemp and hops, has been getting a lot of attention from the media recently. On the other hand, THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that makes people feel “high” or “stoned,” is often overlooked (and sometimes even looked down on) when discussing marijuana’s medical potential. However, a new study ... published on the Scientific Reports journal on Tuesday, revealed that THC exhibited the “strongest correlation with therapeutic relief, compared to the more socially acceptable chemical found in cannabis, CBD (cannabinol).” Cannabinoid content, and especially THC content, came out as the main factor for optimizing symptom relief, when tested for a wide variety of health conditions. [Study co-author Jacob Miguel] Vigil explained the results derived from the observation of real-time data from Releaf App, which he qualified as “the largest database of its kind in our country.” Using the app, patients reported the results and effects of their actual cannabis use. The researchers discovered cannabis is more effective for the treatment of mental symptoms like agitation, irritability, anxiety, depression, excessive appetite, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, gastrointestinal pain, stress and tremors, than it is in the treatment of physical ailments. Despite the conventional wisdom ... that only CBD has medical benefits while THC merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits.
MDMA, the principal ingredient in the party drug ecstasy, is about to give a lifeline to some of the worst sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Israel. The U.S. could be just years behind in launching similar clinical treatments using the substance. Israel’s Ministry of Health has approved the use of MDMA, a psychoactive drug, for use on dozens of patients. While the drug is still on the country’s law books as dangerous for recreational use, it is now being administered as treatment for compassionate use. In compassionate cases the drug will be made available to patients outside of clinical trials if they have not responded sufficiently to other medications or treatments. MDMA makes people feel euphoric, a sensation that made its use synonymous with rave culture and EDM (Electronic Dance Music), because it floods the body with serotonin. Serotonin is produced by nerve cells. When levels are low it can lead to depression and disrupt other physiological processes. The launching of the new Israeli initiative is a direct result of groundbreaking research in the U.S. The Middle Eastern nation approved the program after sending a representative to the California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for training. MDMA has been illegal in the U.S. since 1985 but the findings of clinical trials, ongoing with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval since 2001, have shown that the drug enhances the treatment of PTSD in a clinical setting.
Note: Read also a CBC article titled "How psychedelic drugs are changing lives and transforming psychiatry." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing mind altering drugs news articles from reliable major media sources.
It's the little things that Jon Lubecky appreciates now, like playing a board game with his family. But it wasn't always that way for the former Army sniper, who came home in 2006 after nearly a year in Iraq with a traumatic brain injury from a mortar attack and a nasty case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Traditional treatments, including the use of antidepressants like Zoloft, were useless. Over three sessions, Lubecky spent six to eight hours under the influence of MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy. Finally, Lubecky was able to talk about his trauma and thus make progress dealing with it. Rick Doblin runs the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, a non-profit advocating for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. "It starts by reducing activity in the amygdala, which is the fear-processing part of the brain, so that people's fearful emotions linked to trauma can be more easily recalled and processed," Doblin said. Once the drug produces feelings of safety, veterans can then access memories which had been crippling before. While one in three veterans found pills like Zoloft and Paxil effective in treating their PTSD, a study including 24 veterans showed PTSD was eliminated in 68 percent of vets treated with MDMA-assisted therapy and significantly reduced in the other 32 percent. MDMA-assisted therapy is now about to begin its third phase of FDA testing. If all goes well, MDMA will be available by prescription as early as 2021.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs.
Recreational marijuana use will soon be legal in Canada after the Senate passed a "historic" bill. Canada is only the second country in the world - and the first G7 nation - to implement legislation to permit a nationwide marijuana market. In the neighboring US, nine states and the District of Columbia now allow for recreational marijuana use, and 30 allow for medical use. The Cannabis Act, stems from a campaign pledge of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep marijuana away from underage users and reduce related crime. Uruguay was the first country to legalize marijuana's production, sale and consumption in December 2013. The justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, ... applauded the vote. "This is an historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada," she tweeted. "This legislation will help protect our youth from the risks of cannabis while keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime." Once the bill is formally approved, adults will be able to carry and share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public. They also will be allowed to cultivate up to four plants in their households. However, stringent rules will still govern the purchase and use of marijuana. Consumers are expected to purchase marijuana from [regulated] retailers. Marijuana will also not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. The Canadian government has also implemented changes to their impaired driving laws, to address repercussions for driving under the influence of cannabis.
Note: In the US, more people are arrested for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined.
It was only after U.S. veteran Jonathan Lubecky pulled the trigger on a loaded gun aimed at his head and it misfired that he finally decided to seek help. He had tried to commit suicide five times after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The only two drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for PTSD, Zoloft and Paxil ... didn’t work for combat-related PTSD. Out of desperation, he volunteered as a subject in an experimental study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. The study was sponsored by the ... Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and funded entirely by private donations. After his treatment with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, Lubecky managed to heal from his PTSD to the point that he became National Veterans Director for Senator Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential primary campaign. His recovery is not unusual. The Lancet Psychiatry published a scientific paper about the study Lubecky volunteered for; it reported that two-thirds of the 26 veterans, firefighters and police officers treated no longer qualified for a diagnosis of PTSD one month after their second MDMA session, with their reduction of PTSD symptoms lasting over time. Drug prohibition has for decades delayed medical research into the healing properties of Schedule 1 drugs. Now that this research is finally being conducted, we’re learning that enormous suffering and many suicides could have been prevented over these decades.
Note: The above was written by MAPS founder Rick Doblin. Read more about how MDMA, also known as 'ecstasy,' has been found to be effective for treating PTSD in a therapeutic context. Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
In recent years, rigorous research has been conducted on entheogens, such as ayahuasca, LSD, mescaline and psilocybin, and on the empathogen Ecstasy. The goal is to evaluate their effects on addiction, cluster headaches, depression, trauma, cancer, epilepsy, death and dying, as well as to explore their value in the study of consciousness. Psilocybin - or magic mushrooms - have been used in traditional healing rituals for thousands of years. However, for more than 40 years it has been illegal in the U.S. But recent findings are tearing down the barriers surrounding psychedelic research, as it has been clinically shown that they have the ability to ease depression and soothe anxiety in patients dealing with serious illness and impending death. Two separate studies discovered that a single, moderate-to-large dose of psilocybin was able to help alleviate profound distress among cancer patients. Researchers know “how,” but they do not know “why,” psilocybin has worked in these settings. One theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking that is so pronounced in depressed people, making way for a mystical experience. Neuro-imaging studies ... suggest that the positive effects of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy are explained by changes in something in the brain called “the default mode network.” It turns out that this network is hyperactive in depression. Interestingly, in both meditation and also with psilocybin this network becomes quiescent.
Note: See an article in the UK's Independent showing remarkable results from these studies. Learn more about the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs now being explored by the scientific community.
According to one theory, jolly old St. Nick might have been so jolly because he was derived from shamans who went from hut to hut handing out hallucinatory mushrooms in Siberia and the Arctic during the Winter Solstice, right around the same time as Christmas. "As the story goes, up until a few hundred years ago these practicing shamans or priests connected to the older traditions would collect Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), dry them, and then give them as gifts on the winter solstice," [said] anthropologist John Rush. The festive deep red and white mushrooms were eaten by the humans and reindeer who roamed the region, sending both of them on well ... a tinsel-turvy trip. "This idea [is] that reindeer go berserk because they're eating Amanita muscaria. Reindeers flying — are they flying, or are your senses telling you they're flying because you're hallucinating?" Harvard biology professor Donald Pfister told NPR. Reindeer were also considered "spirit animals" and the Siberian shamans wore red deer pelts as tributes, according to scholars. Even more, shamans dressed up like the mushrooms, which explains Santa's cozy red and white suit. Another scholar told NBC that the idea of Rudolph's flashy red nose likely originated from the color of the mushrooms, noting how remarkable it was that the tripping beast was put in charge of directions. "It's amazing that a reindeer with a red-mushroom nose is at the head, leading the others," Boston College classics professor Carl Ruck mused.
Note: See a 7-minute New York Times video on this intriguing hypothesis. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources.
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