Thursday May 26, 2016

High Culture, Part 3

Psychedelic clinical trials require volunteers to relax, enjoy music, art and

Psychedelic clinical trials require volunteers to relax, enjoy music, art and flowers. (Nuala O'Connell)

Listen to Full Episode 53:59

LSD. MDMA. Magic Mushrooms. The demonized drugs of the 1960's, some of them banned over four decades ago, are back. But now they're on the front-lines of medicine, as scientists around the world explore their healing properties.  LSD for alcoholism. Psilocybin (magic mushrooms) for anxiety. MDMA (Ecstasy) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. IDEAS producer Mary O'Connell takes a trippy path into the world of hallucinogens. Turn on, tune in, and heal thyself!  **This episode originally aired November 24, 2015.


(Click on the image below to view a history of the re-emergence of psychedelic drugs) 

Right now, we're witnessing a renaissance around the world with psychedelic drugs. Clinical trials are testing psychedelics to curb anxiety, alcoholism, depression; help those with post-traumatic stress disorder, and enhance the mystical experience for all users -- the list goes on. It all began in the 1950's, when LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) were studied for their therapeutic benefits. 

But in the early 1960's, these drugs found their way out of university labs and onto the street -- and their value as medicine was lost as their status as protest and party drugs emerged. Mass recreational use and abuse, conservative political forces and a continuing media frenzy ensured the vilification of hallucinogens – until drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms were completely outlawed in 1970. Serious medical research would not begin again until the early 21st century, four decades later. 

Today, cannabis has been legalized in places like Washington, Colorado, Alaska  Oregon, Uruguay and the Netherlands. Portugal has completely decriminalized all drug use. In Canada, the first clinical trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in 44 years has just taken place. MDMA known on the street as the party drug, Ecstasy, is enjoying a success rate of 85% with PTSD. There is hope that within five years medical MDMA will be available through prescription, administered by a therapist.  

Participants in this episode:

Rick Doblin, Founder and Executive Director of MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.   

Bill Richards, Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bayview Centre, Director of Clinical Work, Psilocybin Project. 

​Ingrid Pacey, Psychiatrist, lead investigator MDMA-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, University of British Columbia. 

Mark Haden, Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health, Board Chair of MAPS Canada, (Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies).   

Lou Lukas is a volunteer in Johns Hopkins University Psilocybin Project. 

Joan Reeves, pseudonym, participated in a private two day ayahausca ceremony. 

Reading List: 

  • Sacred Knowledge by William A. Richards, Columbia University Press, New York, 2015. 

  • Realms of the Human Unconscious by Stanislav Grof, The Viking Press, New York, 1975.  

  • Psychedelic Psychiatry by Erika Dyck, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2008.  

  • The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin, HarperOne, San Francisco, 2010.

  • The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary and Ralph Metzner, Kensington Publishing Corp., New York, 1964. 

  • The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, Harper & Row, New York, 1954. 

  • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, Longman Publishing, New York, 1902.  

  • The Road of Excess: A Psychedelic Autobiography by Brian Barritt, PSI Publishing, Georgia, 1998 
  • Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties and Beyond by Martin A. Lee, Grove Press, New York, 1994. 

Related Websites: