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The Journey of Psychedelic Medicine

April 19, 2023

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The journey of psychedelic medicine has not been a smooth one to say the least. Past restrictions on the study of psychedelics have led to misuse and misunderstanding, giving these hallucinogenic substances a bad reputation. 

To read more on the history of psychedelics in relation to wellness, check out our previous blog post that goes into more depth on all things regarding hallucinogenic substances and their role in the past.

This post is here to shed more light on the trippy journey that psychedelics have had, and where their place stands in current medical practices for the treatment of mental illnesses. 

The revival of psychedelic medicine

The revival of psychedelic medicine is testing the boundaries once placed on hallucinogenic substances. 

Central to this revival of psychedelic medicine is the re-emergence of a model that recognizes the importance of particular boundaries when it comes to introducing hallucinogenic substances. 

In a study on psychedelic medicine: a re-emerging therapeutic paradigm, researchers recognized particular boundaries that are crucial for the reintegration of psychedelic medicine. 

These boundaries include: 

  • The setting (accounting for the physical environment in which the psychedelic drug is consumed in)
  • The state of being of the individual consuming the psychedelic drug (psychological expectations)
  • The therapeutic clinician–patient relationship (for facilitating healing experiences and realizing positive outcomes)

Accounting for these boundaries is what will determine the successful re-emergence of psychedelics, and their role in medicine.

Types of psychedelics used for healing 

Psychedelics have gained a lot of attention in recent years as they show substantial potential to help improve people’s mental health through psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. 

The majority of the clinical trials supporting psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy help treat those who suffer from mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol and nicotine dependence.

Psychedelics used for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy include: 

  • Psilocybin
  • LSD
  • MDMA

Most of the current research is done with psilocybin, as it has an advantageous safety appeal and has shown the potential to treat multiple disorders. 

Current research plans for psychedelic medicine

Research for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is still in the clinical trial phase, but many are hoping to see this method open for professionals to practice in the next few years. 

Psychedelics seem to have a very broad range of uses, and research is continuing to expand to determine the potential of these hallucinogenic substances.

Studies with psychedelic treatments are expanding to other mental health conditions. Johns Hopkins University is testing the theory of psilocybin curing eating disorders at its Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research. Research is also being conducted at Yale University and the University of Arizona to determine if psilocybin is an effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Potential risks associated with psychedelics

There are always certain risks and potential harms that come from using any drug, and psychedelic substances that aid psychotherapy or counselling for mental illness also come with this warning label. 

Many of the risks associated with psychedelic drugs stem from those who use illicit substances in unsupervised nonmedical contexts. Because of this, psychedelics have a history of having a high potential for abuse and misuse. 

When using psychedelics in a medical setting, there may be some potential adverse effects, depending on the person and their medical history. Some of these effects include acute increases in anxiety, fear, heart rate, and blood pressure. 

When discussing this emerging research for the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, it is important to consider both the possible benefits and harms of using psychedelic agents for psychotherapy.  

Moving forward with psychedelic medicine 

Psychedelic research is continuing to expand in all different kinds of areas. These areas include exploring different psychedelic substances, the effects psychedelics have on the brain, and how psychedelics can improve mental health.

Scientists and researchers are excited about the future of psychedelic medicine and the potential treatments that these hallucinogenic substances may offer.

Megan Binder

B.A Psychology

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