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Psychedelics Today

A show discussing the important academic and other research in the field of Psychedelics. We discuss how psychedelics relate to human potential and healing.
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Now displaying: September, 2019
Sep 24, 2019

In this episode, Kyle and Joe interview Ben Sessa, a Consultant Psychiatrist. Ben comes on the show to talk about preliminary results from the first ever, MDMA assisted therapy for alcohol use disorder (AUD).

3 Key Points:

  1. Ben Sessa plays a role in leading the current MDMA assisted therapy study for alcohol use disorder, and shares preliminary results.
  2. In the current stage, out of the first 12 patients, 2 have turned back to drinking, 5 have stayed completely dry and another 5 who have had a drink or two but have not relapsed back to their typical levels of consumption.
  3. Most people with a long term substance addiction have a history of trauma. MDMA can help people feel safe, in order to work through and heal trauma.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics


Trip Journal                                               Integration Workbook


Show Notes

Preliminary Results

  • They had 13 people in the study, and they took data on 4 people
  • The first caveat in these results is that there was no blinding and no placebo in this study
    • There is no way to tell that it was solely the drug that resulted in the effects
  • In terms of tolerability, everyone preferred it to other treatment, there were no bad reactions to the MDMA, there were no negative reactions, it was a total success in terms of tolerability
  • In the current stage, out of the first 12 patients, 2 have turned back to drinking, 5 have stayed completely dry and another 5 who have had a drink or two but have not relapsed back to their typical levels of consumption
    • They did a similar study previous to this one except without the MDMA and they had 11 patients, 9 of them went back to their full level of consumption
  • They chose alcohol use disorder because it's so difficult to treat
  • All patients are recruits from local drug and alcohol services
    • Ben picks them up after they have detoxed, after they have been cured of the physical dependence, but when they have yet to be cured of the psychological dependence
  • They receive 2 dosing days within their 8 week therapy (usually weeks 3 and 6)
    • They do 125mg and then half that size dose 2 hours later, which sustains the high
  • Ben mentions that recruitment is difficult, a lot of people have a drinking problem, but they can't have patients that are depressed, suicidal, pregnant, epileptic, etc.

Future for the Study

  • Up until next March, they are continuing to take in new patients for the study to have more data
  • The next step is to have a randomized control study
  • This current study is sponsored by Imperial College of London
    • It's not a MAPS sponsored study, it's the first non MAPS, MDMA study
  • The main papers, with all the data are over a year and a half away from publishing

Addiction and Trauma

  • “MDMA addiction is as rare as a hen with teeth.” - Ben
  • “Most people with a long term substance addiction have a history of trauma.” - Ben
  • Trauma and PTSD is highly treatment resistant
  • There are certain drugs that inhibit fear response, such as alcohol, heroin, etc
    • They make you forget the pain but you can't work with them and do therapy with them, with MDMA you can
  • MDMA can help people feel safe, in order to work through and heal trauma
  • “We are all the products of our attachment relationships.” - Ben

Breaking Convention

  • This past year was the 5th one
  • There were 1300 attendees from all over the world
  • What's wonderful about Breaking Convention is how multidisciplinary it is
    • There's the guy in the gray suit in one room talking about high level neuroscience and a hippie with dreads in the other room talking about the spirits that live in the Salvia leaves
    • Ben says they work really hard to make that balance work
  • There's a lot of debate and conflict in the psychedelic movement right now,
    • Breaking Convention is very important for creating space for this debate

Looking ahead

  • Ben is looking into opening a clinic
  • He mentions academia is not his area of study, he is a clinician, but this research is an excuse to treat patients

Links

Breaking Convention


About Ben Sessa

Ben Sessa is a consultant psychiatrist in adult addictions, working part-time at Addaction in Weston-Super-Mare and is senior research fellow at Bristol, Cardiff and Imperial College London Universities, where he is currently taking time off clinical medical practice to study towards a PhD in MDMA Psychotherapy. He has specialist training as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and is interested in the developmental trajectory from child maltreatment to adult mental health disorders. Dr Sessa’s joint interests in psychotherapy, pharmacology and trauma have lead him towards researching the subject of drug-assisted psychotherapy using psychedelic adjuncts. He is the author of two books exploring psychedelic medicine; The Psychedelic Renaissance (2012) and To Fathom Hell or Soar Angelic (2015) and is currently conducting research with Imperial College London and Cardiff universities studying the potential role for MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of PTSD and alcohol dependence syndrome. Dr Sessa is outspoken on lobbying for change in the current system by which drugs are classified in the UK, believing a more progressive policy of regulation would reduce the harms of recreational drug use. He is a co-founder and director of the UK’s Breaking Convention conference.

Sep 17, 2019

In this episode, Joe and Kyle interview Rachel Anderson and James Franzo, founders of the EDELIC Center for Ethnobotanicals. In the show, they talk about the benefits of creating a healing practice using botanicals such as Kratom and the need to decriminalize all plants.

3 Key Points:

  1. EDELIC is a non-profit in Eugene, Oregon that began as a public lending library that has grown to a community of information, events, and conservatory of psychoactive botanicals.
  2. Kratom can sometimes get a bad rep, commonly thought of as an opioid. But Kratom is not an opioid, it just affects the opioid receptors in the brain, respiration never changes, and it's actually in the same category as the coffee family, so it gives a boost of energy.
  3. There is not an economic incentive that puts the botanical research on the same level as synthetic research.  At EDELIC, the goal is to create scientific evidence that validates citizen-led research, authentic scientific information, and create a scientifically valid, open science and praxis oriented, non-commodified access pathway, to and from the direct human & botanicals/fungi relationship while protecting the bounty emerging from therein.

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Show Notes

EDELIC

  • EDELIC is a non-profit in Eugene Oregon that has been operating for 4 years
    • They started as a public lending library
    • They put on a weekly discussion group and host events
    • What started as a library, grew to a conservatory to protect plants, and now includes research

Conservatory

  • They have 15-16 psychoactive species, such as Salvia, Kratom, San-Pedro, etc.
    • Volunteers are able to help out in the garden
  • They are interested in growing the conservatory to have different climates that cater to each individual plant

Events

  • They have done both a CBD event and Kratom event, and have brought the plants from the conservatory
  • The events that they have been holding are based on community desire for more information on those plants

Kratom

  • Kratom has the potential to prevent deaths in the opioid crisis with less initial stigma than ibogaine, psilocybin, etc
  • The symptoms of withdrawal from Kratom are similar to withdrawal from coffee
  • Kratom is a plant and the benefits can be harnessed along with a practice
    • when habits are formed, a person doesn't need to have a dependency on the Kratom
    • Kyle mentions that creating a practice is a foreign concept to some people, they think their healing comes solely from the substance and not the practice
  • The best way to take it is in tea form, and let all the intelligence centers of the body take the medicine in
    • James says he hears news and TED Talks on Kratom tinctures and extracts, and he thinks that leans Kratom toward that abusive behavior again
    • Using it continuously and re-upping on the go makes it less of a practice
    • “In all cases, were encouraging folks to focus on the whole botanical, letting the intelligence of the body to form the relationship with the plant will keep you safer than going in the other direction” - James
  • The goal is to use the Kratom to take away the pain to a point where the individual has more energy and to say, “what can I do to improve my health in this moment?”
    • That may look less like taking 100% of the pain away and taking it away just enough to have the energy to create a practice of healing without the reliance on another substance
  • Its generally safe, it has a predictable response in individuals, and it is legal
  • Kratom is not an opioid, it just effects the opioid receptors in the brain, respiration never changes, and its in the same category as the coffee family, so it gives a boost of energy
  • “Botanicals, integration practice, and realizing our internal intelligence centers can really influence and inform our decision making process” - James
  • Kratom can be tested, and there are industry standards similar to how cannabis is tested
    • Kratom is highly unregulated and you are taking a risk when not testing it for quality

Decriminalize Nature

  • In 1994, the World Trade Organization introduced this piece of legislation that says in US Patent Law, minor scientific alterations to natural botanical plants can be patented
  • Patent law protects scientific adaptations to botanicals, and therefore, the US claimed that third world countries owe us royalties for agricultural products
    • In Canada, they said to patent an indigenous plant is to steal from the third world country, and i n that case, the US owes other countries over 300 million and in pharmaceuticals, billions
    • That is why in the US, there is an urge to make money on synthetic versions of these plants
    • There is not an economic incentive that puts the botanical research on the same level as the synthetic research
  • The WTO does not recognize technology or innovations by farmers, artisans or grassroots innovators that happen in a grassroots setup
  • There are churches that are recognized at the federal level, they cant conduct research, but they have access to provide these plants
  • "We are hoping to create scientific evidence that validates citizen-led research, authentic scientific information, and create a scientifically valid, open science and praxis oriented, non-commodified access pathway, to and from the direct human & botanicals/fungi relationship while protecting the bounty emerging from therein. – James
  • Rachel notes that all funding so far has been from volunteers and donors
  • “I am strongly for decriminalizing nature, it protects the indigenous, it protects nature, there is no reason someone should be criminalized for using plants” - Rachel
  • There is a unique interplay between the laws at the local, state and federal level

Final Thoughts

  • There is a need for people to come together, a need to not feel alone, a need to share
  • If anyone is interested in starting a non-profit, Rachel and James are willing to help

Links

Website

Email: team@ecfes.org


About Rachel Anderson

Rachel’s focus is on somatic therapies and the healthy integration of plant practices. She has successfully fund-raised, planned and organized public events, hosted intentional integration practices with ethnobotanicals, created artwork, designed integration journals, met with the 4J school board to discuss drug awareness education in classrooms. Rachel brings power, stability, and genuine strength and determination to ECfES and acts as an original steward for the original ECfES vision.

About James Franzo

A 20-year journey of self-education (using what has now become a large part of the lending library we operate) inspired James to launch ECFES. Additionally, gaining experience working in the field of chemical dependency treatment and social services contributed further to his disenfranchisement with current policy and treatment modalities, and attracted him further to evidence-based approaches to drug policy reform and the mental health field in general. Specifically, potent ethnobotanical plants and mind/body methodologies for integrating them. James is also an honorably discharged military veteran, who served for six years. James has been the website content developer @ ECFES, library archivist, team builder, and steward of the original vision for ECFES, an ethnobotanical/psychedelic/entheogenic healing center under one roof.

Sep 10, 2019

In this episode, Joe interviews Tep, a chemical engineer and educated, psychedelic enthusiast. They dive into rich conversation regarding drug use education and creating a cohesive meaning among recreational, medical and therapeutic substance use.

3 Key Points:

  1. There is a disconnect between drug education and drug use. There are a lot of people who use drugs, but not a lot of people who are educated on how to use them.
  2. There is a huge advantage of isolating the property of the drug when using them for therapy. For example, using isolated psilocybin vs mushrooms.
  3. Learning on site at festivals and music events may not be super successful, drug education and harm reduction may look more like preparation.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics


Trip Journal                                              Integration Workbook


Show Notes

About Tep

  • Tep listens to all sorts of music, whether that's rave style with lights, or jam bands, or a music festival with camping, or even rap and jazz
    • There is a whole spectrum of drug use in the music environment
  • She points out that some people are very mindful of what and how much they are taking, and other people are just taking anything they can find, and sometimes a lot or too much
    • She started to talk to people at festivals and realized that people really didn't know about the benefits and power of psychedelics
    • There definitely is a place for harm reduction education at festivals

Drug Use Assistance Groups

  • Joe brings up the Zendo project and other initiatives that help people who are having a difficult drug experience to walk them out of it
  • Some festival ‘families’ go around and have missions to hydrate people or make sure people are having a good time
    • They aren't staff or paid to do it or anything but they do it for the good of the whole

Vision

  • Learning on site may not be super successful, most festival goers have an agenda for adventure and music and not for learning at a booth or speaker
    • Drug education and harm reduction may look more like preparation
  • Tep mentions Diplo doesn't allow any drug use at his shows, alcohol is the only allowed substance
    • Tep thinks that he probably doesn't know that alcohol is far worse than psychedelics and other drugs

Theraputic Use

  • When someone goes and has a vacation, they have certain chemicals released in their mind, it is still therapeutic, even if it's not a psychedelic experience
  • “Not only can psychedelics be fun, they can also be therapeutic.” - Tep
  • Tep started going to camping style festivals and started hanging out with a crowd of people 10 years older than her, where their drug use was mature and mindful and safe
    • Then when she would hang around her younger friend group again, she realized how unsafe and unmindful their drug use was
    • It led her to be more active in wanting to educate everyone on how to use drugs properly

Exotic Compounds

  • Shulgin's magical half dozen includes 2CB, 2CT2, and others
  • Tep mentions preference of truffles over mushrooms
  • Her and Joe bring up the decrease in potency of most drugs with exposure to moisture and time and other variables

Compound Isolation

  • There is a huge advantage of isolating the property of the drug when using them for therapy
    • For example, using isolated psilocybin vs mushrooms
  • The therapy is just as important as the substance
  • There is a way to find information in this community without getting a degree in it

About Tep

Tep is a chemical engineer who had an interest in modern psychedelic research. She is passionate about the EDM and music culture and finding new ways to educate drug users on harm reduction and drug use education.

Sep 3, 2019

In this unique episode, Dr. Peter Sjöstedt-H joins together in conversation with Dr. Andrew Gallimore, Author of Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game. In the show, these two Englishmen discuss Peter's critique of Dr. Gallimore's recent book.

3 Key Points:

  1. Dr. Andrew Gallimore’s recent book, Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game, explains how DMT provides the secret to the very structure of our reality.
  2. Based on a recently published review of Andrew’s book, Dr. Peter Sjöstedt-H sifts through and confronts Andrew’s idea that DMT allows one access to, and existence in a hyperspatial world.
  3. They discuss Peter’s critique, covering topics on information, consciousness, dimensions, dreams and theory.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics


Trip Journal                                                Integration Workbook


Show Notes

Peter’s review on Alien Information Theory

  • Peter mentions 3 ‘problems’
    • The first problem is a critique on what information is
    • The second point regards consciousness
    • The third point talks about dimensions and theories

Information

  • The first problem Peter states says that the originality of the work pushes the ideas further toward art and further away from truth
    • Andrew says he is a fan of making things a work of art, and he says at the start of the book that it isn't something scientific
    • In philosophy it's called speculative metaphysics
    • “It's cliche isn't it, that science fiction eventually becomes science fact.” - Peter
  • Minkowski Space Time, the theory that Einstein supports, HG Wells wrote about a half a century before Minkowski wrote about it
  • Peter says that a person could be defined by a set of numbers, weight, height, age, etc.
    • Andrew says that the information is the electron, and how it interacts with other information
  • How do we know that there is not more to anything than that which we can know about it?
  • How matter creates/is mind is a mystery

Consciousness

  • Peter asks, ‘does information at a high level produce subjectivity?’
    • Andrew says consciousness is fundamental
  • Panpsychism holds a distinction between an aggregate and a hold-on
  • Andrew says that integrated information is consciousness
    • Information doesn't emerge from consciousness, information actually is consciousness
  • Andrew says that he is an idealist, he thinks that the world is structured
  • Peter says that information always has to be about something
    • Andrew disagrees and says that information is substantiated
    • You could say, the fundamental digits of our reality are ran by an ‘alien computer’, the physics completely different than our understanding of reality
  • Andrew says that the absolute self is not only aware of itself, its aware that it is aware of itself
  • He also says that these ideas are all musings, all things he has thought about as possibilities
  • Peter asks Andrew if he thinks brains are required for consciousness
    • Andrew says, consciousness is not a property of matter, it is an organization of things

Dimensions and Theories

  • Andrew says we don't need senses to experience other worlds
    • The DMT experience is not mind dependent, it shows another reality
    • When you're dreaming, it's independent of the sensory experience, but its not entirely independent of the waking world
    • “The dream state is informed by the waking state.” - Andrew
  • Peter asks, ‘If the brain creates dreams, why does the brain not create the DMT world?’
    • “We know how the brain learns to construct worlds, but we don't know how the brain learns to construct DMT worlds.” - Andrew
  • When looking at a machine elf, is he equally as able to deny his consciousness as we are able to?

Final Thoughts

  • Peter concludes that Andrew is a Realist/Panthiest
  • Peter and Andrew think that they don't disagree with each other, but Peter believes Andrew would have to go into extremely deep detail on all of his points in his book, and the book is thick enough as it is
  • Peter agrees Andrew’s book is a great narrative for mapping the DMT space
    • Andrew likes to think of it as computational idealism

Links

Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game

Peter's Review


About Dr. Andrew Gallimore

Dr. Andrew Gallimore is a computational neurobiologist, pharmacologist, chemist, and writer who has been interested in the neural basis of psychedelic drug action for many years and is the author of a number of articles and research papers on the powerful psychedelic drug, N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), as well as the book Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game (April 2019). He recently collaborated with DMT pioneer Dr. Rick Strassman, author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule, to develop a pharmacokinetic model of DMT as the basis of a target-controlled intravenous infusion protocol for extended journeys in DMT space. His current interests focus on DMT as a tool for gating access to extradimensional realities and how this can be understood in terms of the neuroscience of information. He currently lives and works in Japan.

About Dr. Peter Sjöstedt-H

Dr Peter Sjöstedt-H is an Anglo-Scandinavian philosopher of mind and a metaphysician who specializes in the thought of Whitehead and Nietzsche, and in fields pertaining to panpsychism and altered states of sentience. Following his degree in Continental Philosophy at the University of Warwick, he became a Philosophy lecturer in London for six years and has now passed his PhD (on ‘Pansentient Monism’, examined by Galen Strawson and Joel Krueger) at the University of Exeter, where he also teaches philosophy modules and writing skills. He is now to become a postdoc fellow of the university. Peter is the author of Noumenautics , the TEDx Talker on ‘psychedelics and consciousness‘, and he is  inspiration to the inhuman philosopher Marvel Superhero, Karnak.

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