In this episode, Joe interviews Medical Director of the Kuya Institute for Transformational Medicine, consultant to Onnit Labs, consultant to several international treatment centers, and author of one of Joe's most referenced books, The Concussion Repair Manual, Dr. Dan Engle.
Engle is quite knowledgeable when it comes to concussions and traumatic brain injuries and the brain’s ability to heal. He specializes in psychiatry, neurology, peak performance methods, and healing through regenerative and plant medicines. He talks about the sadly very different stories of his siblings, the factors that affect neurological resiliency, the need for establishing neurological performance baselines for athletes, the science behind CBD being a neuro-protectant, the safety and efficacy of psilocybin, how scaling research can dilute data, the importance of dipping one’s toes into non-ordinary states of consciousness before trying psychedelics, how we seem to have hit a new phase of learning more about preparation, and how not trying to achieve transcendence is suppressing a biological need.
Engle will be opening a new center in the new year, and for now, is offering a free "Integration call" over Zoom every week at 4:30pm MST. You can learn more at fullspectrummedicine.com.
“It’s fascinating that, in the midst of this medical movement, we’re seeing both of these fields of medicine, in parallel, gain more and more traction- this being the psychedelic medical arena, which is more psychological-based in nature, and then you have the neurologic concussion repair arena [that's] more hardware, brain-tissue based. So you’ve got, now, software and hardware technologies in two parallel medical paths, both accelerating at the same time, with this intermediary bridge between those two fields, which is the psychedelics.”
“There’s a lot of interest, there’s a huge demand, the data’s very good, and when done well, there can be a pretty significant profit margin. And so, it still comes down to: the primary focus has to be client care and client outcome, not a profit-driven model.”
“When you prepare people well, for sure, you see this magnificent improvement in rates of response, recovery, whether you’re going for healing something like one of those epidemics I mentioned, or just optimization and fulfillment and the radical remembering of our awesomeness and what we’ve come to be a part of. At that point, the whole game has changed. The whole game of life just has changed from scarcity to abundance, from ‘what I have to’ to ‘what I get to,’ from the ‘me, mine and I,’ to the ‘us, the we, and the all.’ This is a shift in consciousness. It’s a shift at the level of the psyche, and psyche means soul, so this is a process where we reconnect with the deeper aspect of our inherent humanity, and no agent on the planet is as consistently predictive to support that process than psychedelics. Near-death experience can do that, but it’s not as easy to control that process.”
“We’re always evolving, individually and collectively, and these psychedelic medicines, when done well- these are sparks. They’re ignitors. They’re catalysts of consciousness.”
In today’s Christmas episode of Solidarity Friday, Kyle and Joe take a break from the news and instead sit down with Jonas Di Gregorio and Kristina Soriano of the Psychedelic Literacy Fund, a donor-advised fund working to raise money and co-finance the translation and publication of the most important books on psychedelic therapy into a variety of different languages.
Their first project is both volumes of Stan Grof's The Way of the Psychonaut, which they hope to have translated into German, French, and Italian by July (for Grof's 90th birthday), and they have started a list of future projects, with Christopher Bache's LSD and the Mind of The Universe likely next. They talk about early interactions with Rick Doblin, why they went with a donor-advised fund rather than a crowdfunding model, the synchronicities they saw at early steps in their path, what Grof's work has meant to them, and a possible future goal of setting up a Grof museum in Prague. Kyle and Joe also share stories of their interactions with Grof and how his work (and how little he was being discussed) led to the beginnings of Psychedelics Today 4 years ago.
If you're feeling some holiday generosity and want to help more people gain the knowledge Grof has brought to so many, please visit Psychedelicliteracy.org and make a donation (or volunteer translation services or suggest future projects).
Lastly, if you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas from Psychedelics Today!
“We have an inherently global mission. We’re an Italian and a Philippino living in America, trying to translate the work of a Czech psychiatrist.” -Kristina
“For me, it’s his capacity to really connect different fields, from quantum physics to psychiatry, [to the] history of religion- it’s really remarkable. The depth of his knowledge is so wide, and I think it can speak to so many people coming from different fields. I remember as a teenager, sharing the content of the books by Grof with friends that were studying physics and friends who were studying philosophy and friends who were studying psychology, and all of them could find something they could really appreciate.” -Jonas
“A book can be a harm reduction tool. ...Just having a book at the right time can really help you integrate a difficult experience and change the course of your life. Definitely, this has been the case for me. I didn’t know anyone in my community at the time that could really guide me, and these books played that role.” -Jonas
“Especially now, there’s a lot of conversation about diversity- how to increase diversity in the psychedelic community. Maybe the way to do that is literally to speak their language.” -Jonas
“I think the mental health crisis isn’t language-specific. I think it happens everywhere.” -Kristina
In this episode, Joe interviews "Car Bomb"- the 9-year NHL veteran, 2-time Stanley Cup winner (as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks), founder of The Chapter Five Foundation (an organization helping athletes transition into post-sports life), and advocate for the healing power of psilocybin, Daniel Carcillo.
Carcillo tells the story of his struggles and depression brought on from post-hockey life transition, 7 diagnosed concussions, and the death of his good friend and fellow player, Steve Montador, who struggled with similar issues before his sudden death in 2015. He talks about the stress of pro sports and the cult-like, team-first attitude in hockey, the hazing athletes experience coming up, the causes and effects of yelling coaches and a "be better" attitude, and how his post-hockey work and speaking out has ostracized him from the community while many people are reaching out to him for help behind the scenes.
His first hero dose of psilocybin forever changed his life, but it wasn't just psilocybin- he's done a lot in the 5 years since that first ceremony, from neurofeedback, acupuncture, deprivation tanks, and using a gyrostim, to regularly microdosing, taking medicinal mushrooms like lion's mane and reishi, meditating, starting a CBD and supplements company, and growing huge crops of cannabis. He talks about how this has all helped improve his life and his relationships with his family, and what he hopes to do with his Chapter Five Foundation and beyond- researching more into what worked for him and developing a protocol/regiment to help people affected by concussions, post-concussive syndrome, TBIs, CTE, or just those struggling with what to do after sports.
“I’m an advocate for everything, for all tiers. I’m an advocate for the Decrim Nature [model] because it’s a lower-tier model to get people this medicine, and then I’m an advocate for the clinical model that people are pushing forward in Oregon, and I’m an advocate for these big pharma/biotech companies coming out and researching. ...You really have to make sure that we’re doing it the right way, and I think a lot of the companies out there are, so I think there’s such an opportunity at the ground floor right now to really get in, and if you have something that’s proven, that’s worked (like we do), then I really, really just feel so passionately about furthering that type of research, to again, get millions of people this type of treatment and this type of option.”
“It’s still kind of unbelievable when I begin to talk about it, kind of what I’ve set in motion, but I believe in it so much and I’m still really in awe of what this medicine has done for me. We have one life to live. How do I help the most people that I can?”
“I just had to adjust my whole perspective and thinking and how I spoke to myself, changing the negative motivation to positive. But it’s constant work, because I’m just so used to being yelled at and then [being negative towards myself]. It’s definitely one of the biggest shifts that I’ve had, and I had that shift- that was at 2 and a half months after that big ceremony. That’s where I knew- that’s what really convinced me, and I’ll never forget this: I was driving out to my plants and they were about, I don’t know, 3 feet tall, and we were about 2 and a half months in, and I was like, ‘Wow Dan, really good job.’ I had this voice say that and I was like, ‘What the hell was that? Where did that come from?’ I’ve never done that, ever, and I was like ‘Ohhh man, something happened. Something shifted.’”
Daniel Carcillo is a two time Stanley Cup Champion and played 9 seasons in the National Hockey League. Daniel experienced emotional, sexual and physical trauma within hockey's culture and battled mental health and addiction issues during and post career. When he retired in 2015, after sustaining 7 concussions and due to Post Concussion Syndrome, he founded Chapter 5 Foundation, a charitable organization that helps athletes transition into life after the game. Daniel struggled with PCS symptoms like light sensitivity, slurred speech, insomnia, headaches and head pressure, impulse control issues, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts and traditional treatments did not work. Daniel brought forth the Decriminalize Nature resolution to the city of Chicago, sits on the Decriminalize Nature National Advisory Board & the board of the Heroic Hearts Project, a registered 501(c)(3) non profit that connects military veterans struggling with mental trauma to ayahuasca therapy retreats. Daniel has recently founded Made Therapeutics, a life sciences company that is researching loading and maintenance doses of psilocybin to treat traumatic brain injury, Post Concussion Syndrome, migraines and TBI related anxiety, depression and PTSD. Daniel and Made Therapeutics will be working towards validating the first novel care option for TBI survivors through Health Canada (IMPD) and FDA (IND) clinical trials, with Pre-IMPD & Pre-IND meetings set to establish a pathway forward to fast track status for traumatic brain injury.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle and Joe talk about what they've been up to in the last few weeks: doing drugs!
Kyle first tells us about his recent experiments with revisiting salvia (which is legal in his state) and how different the experiences were from his young-and-dumb experiments as a teenager- how smaller doses in more ceremonial settings with years of experience in breathwork-inspired non-ordinary states of consciousness helped him see salvia differently. He talks about feeling like he just met the spirit of salvia, and the first message was to "respect the plants." He may be seeing her again.
And Joe talks in-depth about his experience last Friday with his first intermuscular ketamine injection- the setting, the music (Sigur Rós- good call, Joe), the dose and timing, and what he heard and felt (and didn't) in his ultimately anxiety-relieving, body-dissolving time in an empty void. Like Kyle, he's now even more open to and supportive of ketamine after the experience.
And they also talk about a new ibogaine analog that was recently created called tabernanthalog (or TBG), of which a single injection helped against heroin use relapse in mice for 14 days and doesn't stimulate the brain's reward centers. And they talk about the good that could come from the drug-designing technique used to create it, called function-oriented synthesis.
“Some people tell me they like 1.2 mg/kg. Some people even like to go as high as 2. I think 2 mg/kg is essentially like, they could harvest all your organs and you wouldn’t notice one bit. Based on how high and dissociated I was, they probably could have done it to me- if they made it quick, like 5 minutes. I probably would have been fine.” -Joe
“The way I always framed it before going in was: this is an experience of consciousness without identity, without ego, without anything, really. And I didn’t really feel like there was anything there that was me. The idea of 'Joe' felt like a weird thing, a weird silly thing. There was just, like, I and ego and one consciousness, so it wasn’t like a Hindu, bliss consciousness thing; it was like me, as an entity, experiencing… something. Like empty void.” -Joe
“This experience was really just fascinating, like how rapidly my consciousness changed. It wasn’t a hurried, frenetic thing like DMT. It was like, “Oh, nope. You’re just here. You’re chilling. You’re not going anywhere.” -Joe
“The MAPs protocol is going to be very expensive. Psychedelic Therapy is already very expensive. So, if we could have a drug that would be safe for somebody to take at home, alone, I think of course we should do that. Not everything is cured through the psychedelic experience. Though a lot of things can be, it’s not the case that everything needs to be.” -Joe
In this episode, Joe interviews Dr. Thomas of Clarity Psychiatry in Boulder, Colorado.
Thomas first discusses what he initially looks for in patients (low-lying fruit like a vitamin D deficiency or poor diet) and what he recommends for boosting immunity and improving overall health, then this becomes a bit of an "everything you ever wanted to know about ketamine and ketamine-assisted therapy" podcast.
He talks about the range in treatment methods across conventional models and what you could expect to experience in relation to dose, experience, and price, and how he likes to use ketamine in his practice. And he talks about the dependence that can come from more conventional "get dripped" methods, the variation of doses and subsequent effects on most people vs. more sensitive people, ways to calibrate a patient to give them the best (and safest) possible experience, the missed opportunities of models that don't spend as much time on the experience and integration, why he believes so strongly in the efficacy and safety of ketamine (especially when compared to other psychedelics), and why how he'd like to see breathwork be used more in conjunction with both psychedelic and traditional therapies.
“In the worldview of the way I was trained, the whole point of ketamine therapy is not to get somebody hooked on ketamine for the rest of their life. It’s to give them enough corrective expanded experiences of healing and of their own inherent wholeness that they don’t need the ketamine- that whatever was off-balance is coming right.”
“I’d like to maybe reframe the word ‘dissociative.’ With ketamine, chemically, in the ketamine state, we are becoming less and less in tune with outside sensory input. We are dissociating with ourselves as a body, temporarily, to some degree. And we are associating with ourselves as something other than body. And there’s some real- I’m just going to go ahead and use the word- there’s some real magic in that possibly. There’s some real healing potential.”
“One of the final common pathways, shall we say, of any medicine or technique that can induce a non-ordinary state is temporarily softening the ruminative negative self-narrative that’s so characteristic of human suffering and mental illness. And how you achieve that state, in some ways, is potentially not even that important. ...Holotropic breathwork, or what I call journey breathwork, in any of its forms, absolutely can soften that egoic function and give people access to the parts of themselves that are bigger than that negative self-narrative, and just to bask in the juiciness of what’s possible when that happens. ...And I think from a pragmatic standpoint, if we were to use breathwork as [an] interim integration tool between sessions, could we get away with maybe slightly decreasing the frequency of the more expensive psychedelic sessions? Might there be societal value in that while still retaining the efficacy and the self-learning and the insights and all the good stuff that goes along with that?”
Dr. Thomas graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He completed his medical school training at Emory University School of Medicine. He then went on to complete his post graduate psychiatric residency training at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle and Joe sit down and discuss several topics in the news.
First, they congratulate co-founder of Psymposia, President of Adelia, and friend of Psychedelics Today (and first podcast guest) Brett Greene, on Adelia being acquired by CYBIN, for the equivalent of about $15.75 million USD (!!). And they talk about Silo Pharma announcing an upcoming Phase 2B trial testing low-dose psilocybin and LSD on the effects of neurogenesis on patients with Parkinson's disease and how we often forget that psychedelics can help with physical ailments (and not just depression and anxiety), 17 healthcare professionals at TheraPsil being allowed to take psilocybin as part of a training program and the need for therapists and sitters working with psychedelics to have psychedelic experiences themselves before working with others, and rock art evidence of datura being ingested at Pinwheel Cave in California.
And they also discuss a very important article about how to keep the psychedelic renaissance from going off the rails. With so much excitement surrounding psychedelics and so many underground groups and professional organizations doing so much without any centralized control, it's too easy for people to drain their bank accounts, jump ahead of science, and overcommit to an idea, forgetting the very real risks of these substances and everything surrounding them. And if we go too far, it just raises the risk of those in power shutting it all down.
“There’s a lot of nervousness around training, I think. Like, what constitutes good training? Not only is a ton of education, but it’s kind of a ton of time. The same way psychoanalysts have to go through psychoanalysis themselves, and therapists have to do therapy themselves, why is it not the case that psychedelic people need to do the same?” -Joe
“I think we need to be having some of these honest conversations even if it goes against our mission here at times of wanting to help get these substances legalized, decriminalized, whatever that track is. And [talking about] the promise of it, sometimes maybe we do get idealistic and say ‘This is going to revolutionize and change the world!’ but I also have to think back to some of my past experiences and be like, ‘Do I want to go through that again? I don’t think so.’ I mean, it pushed me out on the other side and I think made me a stronger person to some degree, but going through what I went through in those early years, it was pretty terrifying.” -Kyle
“Education and caution, I think is the point here, moving forward, and to be really honest with yourself too, especially if you’re in a place [where you’re] educating folks about psychedelics. How can you listen to other people’s stories and hear that maybe they’re not always light and magic- that people do experience a lot of fallout from it at times and things can get worse?” -Kyle
In this episode, Joe interviews Ph.D., Professor at the University of Maryland focusing on economics and global business studies, Advisory Board Member of the Usona Institute and Synthesis Institute, and co-founder of the Transformative Capital Institute, Bennet Zelner.
Zelner discusses the problems with our current economic, healthcare, therapeutic, and community paradigms- that our prevailing model is one of hyper-individualistic, drug-first action, compounded by a crisis of connection (the epidemic of loneliness we're experiencing), a crisis of extraction (giant corporations replacing local businesses with the bulk of profit being sent outside the community), and a crisis of depletion (decisions about community resources being made by those outside the community). And he talks about how his Transformative Capital Institute aims to facilitate many small changes to lead to large paradigm shifts, centered on his pollination approach- recognizing and encouraging the intrinsic interdependence between individual and community well-being.
He talks about the various projects the Transformative Capital Institute is working on, the way change happens and the complications of creating new paradigms from flawed ones, and how the pollination approach relates to psychedelics: using the newfound window of openness people experience after an experience to connect them with their community systems and surrounding environment- to help heal a person while revitalizing currently-broken systems at the same time.
“The pollination approach is rooted in a core, ecological principle, which is that the health of a system and of the elements in a system depends on the continual renewal and recirculation of resources within that system, and that’s the complete opposite of what we have right now.”
“What you’re not seeing is the reduction in subsequent local economic activity that’s going to occur as a result of the few bucks you just saved at Walmart. One of the other projects that I’m working on with a few other folks attempts to quantify that so that people can see what the effects are of spending their money locally vs. spending it at outposts of giant corporations. And I think if we can make that information accessible and comprehensible to people, then we can change behavior without even having to build in some kind of strong form incentive.”
“We’ve been taught by every institution in our society from the time that we are born that we’re not enough, that there’s not enough to go around, and in order to get ahead, we basically need to win at the expense of someone else, who loses. Even once we recognize how fallacious that is intellectually, there’s still a lot of work to be done to eliminate the deep, cognitive imprints in which that type of thinking is enshrined. ...I think that psychedelics-- as I said, they’re tools of personal transformation, so they can help people heal from trauma, etc. But I think they can also help people move into new paradigm ways of thinking and behaving.”
“In terms of shifting to a new paradigm in the healthcare system, I think the key shift needs to be one from a system that is focused on managing disease or managing disease symptoms (which is what we currently have) ...toward a system that’s focused on producing well-being. And I think psychedelics have a big role to play in that type of system.”
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, after a short and much-needed break, Kyle and Joe return, but don't really touch on any news. This time, they have a very open conversation largely focused on philosophy and capitalism.
They dive into a lot of philosophical questions: are we reducing the mystical to the medical? Do we understand enough about spirit and somatic energies to measure them? How much are therapists and sitters interpreting mystical experience and assigning meaning to it for others vs. teaching people how to interpret it themselves? What makes a God? Is commodifying the sacred bad? And what makes something sacred other than it being significant? And the classic: What is good?
They also touch on Harvard School of World Religions' year-long series on psychedelics and the future of religion, the Divine Command Theory, James Kent's DoseNation podcast series, Charles Eisenstein and the concept of deflationary money, the billionaire pledge, triple bottom line thinking and other ways to incentivize employees to make businesses closer to co-ops, and why not all capitalism is bad. Lastly, Joe highly recommends Tom O'Neill and Dan Piepenbring's book, CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, which touches on MKUltra, the Phoenix Program, how the government used Charles Manson, and how the drug war was a logical consequence of the paranoia of the U.S.S.R. and communism toppling the USA and capitalism.
“Coming from the somatic world, our bodies- I think, sometimes we dismiss that and maybe might call that a little ‘woo woo,’ but how is your body an actual instrument that can help you understand maybe what’s going on? It’s firing a bunch of signals all the time, right? Information is just coming in and we have to try to make sense of it. Is it an appropriate instrument to try to learn how to discern the information that’s coming in? Could we finely tune that?” -Kyle
“It’s helpful to have diagnostic categories, but I think we’re taking the diagnostic categories a little too seriously and making them a little too real. A diagnostic category is not as real as a glass of water in your hand. One’s real concrete, one’s real abstract. Both are helpful at times. Both could be harmful, depending on what you do with the glass.” -Joe
“A lot of folks want to just use psychedelics and escape the world, like the ‘drop out’ thing. Like, ‘I’m just going to be with the spirit world.’ But it’s like, what good is you being with the spirit world if you’re not having any impact on the world world?” -Joe
“Being hubristic enough to say that ‘I have an answer’- that’s where I see the problem. Being willing to engage in conversation with people with a lot more experience with this kind of thing is probably where it’s at. Like, ok, let’s talk to 4-5 economists and see what their opinion is. Maybe talk to some professional ethicists to see what their opinion is. I don’t think anybody is going to have the answer, but by hearing all of those perspectives, we can learn more.” -Joe
In this episode, Joe interviews writer, director, and producer of the recent documentary, "The Way of the Psychonaut: Stanislav Grof's Journey of Consciousness," Susan Hess Logeais.
The film, which we streamed and presented a panel for back in October, was co-produced by Stan Grof himself, and tells of his journey from his youth in Nazi-occupied Prague to Esalen to today, with much of Logeais and her theory-affirming life story mixed in. It features interviews with many big names, including Fritjof Capra and Rupert Sheldrake, and full-length interviews can now be found on the film's website; 2 of which are conversations between Grof and legends we've lost recently: Ralph Metzner and Michael Harner. It is Joe's favorite film on Grof and his work.
Logeais talks about making the movie and meeting such big names in the field, wonders how differently children might grow up if quantum physics and a respectful agreement with nature were taught in school, discusses cesarian births and the differences they could create in fear or stress response in comparison to kids born traditionally, and talks about the power of breathwork and its enormous influence on psychedelic-assisted therapy.
“When I met Stan and heard him speak and heard what he spoke about- tantric science, mythology, Eastern spiritual traditions, even quantum physics, Shamanic journeywork- there were so many things that he spoke about that I had explored on my own before I met him. And then in the course of making the movie, I realized that he had introduced many of those concepts during his 14 years at Esalen. And so I was resonating with him on a level-- it’s like he was impacting my life before I met him.”
On using MDMA with psychedelics: “Perhaps as an introduction to a psychedelic experience, especially for people who are older, it might not be a bad idea. I know the anxiety that I had occasionally when something was going really fast and very deep. But I agree with you in that the depth and that anxiety passes, and it’s in the learning to get past that anxiety that we develop capacity for reflection and to move away from reactivity. So I think maybe for the first trip, just to say, ‘Ok, this is what you’re in for, and next time we’re not going to do this.’”
“I just want to say how valuable I think Stan’s contribution is, and how proud I am, or how, I guess, grateful I am to have worked with him in the creation of this film. And I’m so glad that you enjoyed it because I wanted to take his theories, his discoveries, his contributions, and make them accessible and interesting so that people could watch it and come away with an understanding that would hopefully inspire them to then go and do the deep work. And I hope people come to the website and visit the live stream archive page so that they can gain a deeper understanding of all these amazing concepts that Stan participated in sharing during his time at Esalen and his ITA conferences.”
Susan holds a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry. She is skilled in Music Videos, Film, Documentaries, Commercials, and Theatre. She demonstrates strong entrepreneurship professional with a Interdisciplinary Degree focused in Transformational Entertainment and Human Consciousness from Marylhurst University. She is an actress and producer, known for Gone (2012), Not Dead Yet (2009) and The Way of the Psychonaut: Stanislav Grof's Journey of Consciousness (2020).