In this episode, Joe interviews the Co-Founders of Enosis Therapeutics: researcher and scientist, Agnieszka Sekula; and psychiatrist, clinical advisor to the Australian Psychedelic Society, and leading Australian advocate for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, Dr. Prash P.
Enosis Therapeutics is a medtech startup that began with the question: how can we use VR – with or without psychedelics – to improve mental health outcomes? They feel that the biggest problem with powerful psychedelic experiences is that, once you’re back in reality, it’s oddly difficult to remember the insights and new ideas that were so clear during the experience, and even harder to make connections that lead to concrete change. They believe that the immersive nature of VR and the novelty of unique VR environments creates a sense of presence that can’t be recreated otherwise – a liminal, in-between state that’s just different enough to allow the patient to feel like they’re back in that non-ordinary state, and therefore more able to anchor their experience and begin to find connections and more clearly understand newfound insights.
This all happens by the user essentially creating nonlinear, abstract, multi-sensory VR paintings while describing what they remembered; allowing them to revisit these worlds later, bring in therapists (or anyone else) to work inside these environments, and hear their own voice describing what happened, thereby creating a mental map that can be worked with in completely unique ways.
They talk about the conflict between new technologies and traditionalists; the problems with moving away from psychoanalysis and not treating psychotherapy as a process; how VR could improve the efficacy of therapy (and improve therapists’ lives); how it could replace models of repeated dosage; how VR could generate analytics to actually quantify success in mental health treatment; and how (whether psychedelics are used or not) culture needs to bring the psychedelic way of thinking to mental health.
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Kyle and David meet up to talk news, but end up mostly having a discussion about the numerous challenges facing the rapidly growing industry of psychedelic therapists, guides, and facilitators.
That discussion comes from the article, “Psychedelic workers of the world, unite!”, which breaks down the shortcomings and risks of an industry many are flocking to without realizing what they’ll likely have to deal with: unprecedented legal and financial risks, burnout, misalignment with management, transference and countertransference, and what happens when one finds themselves in the middle of a genuine emergency? While these issues could be found in any industry, a big reason why they seem so prevalent and dangerous in the psychedelic world is our lack of elders and passed-down experience – and the faster this all grows, the more we need that guidance.
And for news, they talk about Ohio State making history as the first U.S. University to receive a license to grow psilocybin mushrooms; a new study showing that LSD enhanced learning, exploratory thinking, and sensitivity to feedback; and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funding $1.5 million to research the efficacy of psychedelics for substance use disorder – which spurs a conversation about research, funding, and the idea that maybe we’re spending too much time and money on neuroscience.
In this episode, Joe interviews Priyanka Wali, MD: board-certified practicing physician in Internal Medicine, MAPS-trained psychedelic facilitator, comedian, and co-host (with Sean Hayes of "Will & Grace" fame) of the HypochondriActor podcast, where they discuss interesting medical issues in a funny (and hopefully uplifting) way.
She talks about recognizing and protecting the humanity of healthcare professionals, and how medical school is creating a cycle of hurt people trying to help other hurt people. She believes we need to become more holistic, especially in embracing Indigenous ways of thinking, as their frameworks may be the only way to explain phenomena with which Western science can’t come to terms.
They talk a lot about ancient psychedelic use: the use of a soma described in the Rigveda; Egyptian culture and mushrooms observed in statues; Plato; the work of Brian Muraresku and Graham Hancock; and Vedic chants, Kashmiri Bhajans, and how singing (especially in a group) can be especially healing to the nervous system. And as Wali experienced first-hand the Kashmiri Pandit genocide of 1990, she discusses how much colonialism has changed cultures, and how much our cycles of oppression relate to our collective inability to experience pain and fear.
They discuss the psychological impact of living through major catastrophes; the special and hard-to-describe feeling of returning to your home (especially in a world changed by colonization and constant conflict); the sad case of Ignaz Semmelweis and hand washing; ghosts of Japan’s 2011 tsunami, the concept of ‘future primitive,’ and more.
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and Kyle are both on the road, so David and Alexa take the helm.
They cover news stories about:
-a man in Colorado facing a Class 3 drug felony for giving people psilocybin mushrooms in exchange for monetary donations – pointing out the bold (or stupid?) stances some are taking to highlight the absurdity of legislation that allows possession and donation as long as no money changes hands;
-a study showing what many of us have felt ourselves: that the day after psilocybin-assisted therapy, depressed patients had a stronger brain response to music and saw improvements in the ability to find pleasure in previously empty activities;
-a trip report from a psychedelically-naive 50-year old, showing the power and beauty of MDMA-assisted therapy;
-the New Hampshire state Senate continuing to be behind the times and voting down House Bill 639, which would have created a legal recreational cannabis framework for the state;
-a video where people on the street in Oregon were asked how much they thought psilocybin therapy would cost, showing a drastic misalignment between public perception and reality;
and a local TV news feature touring Rose City Laboratories, the first licensed psilocybin testing lab in Oregon.
And in conversation, they talk about some of the lesser-discussed (and often dismissed) tools like CBD, THC patches, and very low-dose edibles; the problem with drug dealers and harm reduction; the power of music in guiding a psychedelic experience (and in living a pleasurable life); and the importance of dosing and listening to your body to know what's right for you.
In this episode, Joe interviews Nick Kadysh: Founder and CEO of PharmAla Biotech and member of the board of directors for The Canadian Psychedelic Businesses Association.
PharmAla Biotech is a Toronto-based Life Sciences company with two focuses: contracting with manufacturers to provide researchers with GMP MDMA (created under Good Manufacturing Practice regulations), and creating and researching novel analogs of MDMA. And just today, they announced that Health Canada has authorized them (and their distribution partner, Shaman Pharma) to supply their LaNeo™ MDMA for the treatment of a patient under Canada’s Special Access Program – the first time this has happened in Canada.
He discusses the creation of PharmAla and why their model changed from primarily researching analogs to manufacturing; why they’re operating out of Canada and using manufacturers instead of running the lab themselves; the excitement around Australia’s recent about-face on MDMA and psilocybin-assisted therapy; the bureaucracy of U.S. drug policy and how much a broken supply chain affects the whole industry; bad IP and companies filing rapid fire patents; why creating new analogs of MDMA is so important; and why the psychedelic space needs to bring culture along with us.
He also talks about Spravato, cannabis and risks of cancer, THC nasal sprays, and research he’s most excited about: that MDMA seems to alleviate dyskinesia caused from Parkinson’s disease, and that MDMA could improve social anxiety in people with autism. He’s aiming to run a clinical trial and believes they have developed a safe MDMA analog that the autistic community will respond to very well.
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and temporary-Colorado-resident Kyle once again record in-person, discussing how psychedelics could change business, the drug war and safe supply, and more.
-a Rolling Stone profile on David Bronner, who makes the case for multi-stakeholder capitalism; where businesses are accountable to their workers, customers, the environment, and surrounding Indigenous communities instead of just investors – an idea more people would likely align with after a psychedelic experience;
-The first psilocybin service center in Oregon (EPIC Healing Eugene) finally receiving their license via the Oregon Health Authority;
-A man who saw his color blindness improve for four months after a 5g mushroom experience;
-Delaware officially legalizing recreational cannabis;
-The opening of 'The Drugs Store' in Vancouver, British Columbia: a mobile store selling drugs illegally as a response to the opioid epidemic and constant influx of untested and laced drugs – the "inevitable result of the government doing nothing" towards offering a safe supply;
-and a survey from the CDC showing that cannabis use among teenagers has declined since legal dispensaries began opening, disproving one of the most common prohibitionist arguments that legalization would only increase use.
And of course, these topics bring on a lot of conversation: how businesses need to be more reflective on how they're operating; concern over if too much regulation is nerfing the world; the human cost of the drug war and the ever-escalating amount of ODs and drug poisoning cases; HPPD and the need for research around psychedelics and vision/perception; why we will always need both clinical access and the recreational underground, and more.
In this episode, Joe interviews Erica Rex: award-winning journalist, past guest and writer, and participant in one of the first ever clinical trials using psilocybin to treat cancer-related depression; and Mona Sobhani, Ph.D.: cognitive neuroscientist and the author of "Proof of Spiritual Phenomena: A Neuroscientist’s Discovery of the Ineffable Mysteries of the Universe."
As Rex discovered the power of psychedelics through a clinical trial, she discusses a huge problem she discovered: that researchers are not preparing participants enough for the ontological shock they may go through in trying to match unexplainable happenings to a rigid framework (or match the normal to a framework that has suddenly shifted) – that while patients have support at the clinic, it all disappears when they return to normal life. She believes that all too often, researchers are doing only what is necessary to be able to continue to receive funding, push drugs through the FDA, and prescribe a pill.
And as psychedelics changed Sobhani from very constrained scientific thinking to being very open to new ideas about consciousness and spirituality, she learned that many scientists had similar stories, and that coming out of the psychedelic closet is sometimes the best thing to do to normalize these ways of healing.
They discuss the challenges of newcomers trying to explain their experience without having the necessary language; how we still don't truly understand mental illness; how the DSM just clusters symptoms to fit 'disorders' into a box; how society has started pathologizing anything we find unpleasant (which of course, is a part of being human); Gary Fisher’s research on using LSD and psilocybin for schizophrenic children, why science needs to combine consciousness research and psychedelics research, and more.
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and Kyle record in-person again, discussing psychedelics and parenthood, sports, music, and more.
-an Elle (!) article about how mushrooms are becoming the new ‘Cali sober,’ with more and more people starting to microdose – including parents;
-ESPN's documentary, "Peace of Mind," highlighting the rise of psychedelic use among athletes, including retired NHL player, Riley Cote;
-An article discussing how interest in psychedelics has skyrocketed in Oregon since the passing of Measure 109, and how over-regulation and the glacial speed of the government is only driving the growth of the black market;
-An essay attempting to define what it is that leads people to describe music as psychedelic (with several recommendations from Joe);
-DMT aficionados using AI to create and catalog depictions of the entities they've seen;
And they have larger discussions about the drug war, how famous athletes are opening people's minds to psychedelics, how strict regulation in psychedelic legislation can create more harm, how we need to collaborate more in the psychedelic space, the concept of a DMT 'hyper-slap,' and the problem of psychedelic exceptionalism and thinking your drug is good while others are bad.
In this episode, David interviews two founding members of Fireside Project: activist, healing justice practitioner, musician, and Chief Ambassador, Hanifa Nayo Washington; and lawyer, aspiring researcher, and Executive Director, Joshua White, Esq.
Fireside Project was created after White volunteered for a help line for years and realized a few things: that follow-up calls made a big difference; that the state of mental health in the U.S. was a disaster (he was talking to some of the same people for years); and that while psychedelics were becoming popular, they would likely only be accessible to the wealthy. Alongside Washington, they realized the most effective thing they could do would be creating a free help line where people could call for peer support during a psychedelic experience, and receive support in integrating that experience afterward. They’ve focused on finding volunteers who may be marginalized or who have been persecuted from the war on drugs, but most importantly, have real experience and true compassion (rather than letters after their name proving their credentials). They are on track to receive 10,000 calls over their first two years.
They discuss Fireside’s Burning Man origin story; the serendipity they’ve seen in the organization’s beginnings and so many calls; where the name came from; how they prepare volunteers; what true equity looks like; and how, while it’s a common challenge for therapists and facilitators to hold back and not try to fix a problem, that may be even more important here.
Fireside Project takes calls every day from 11am – 11pm PST, and while there is an app you can download, they recommend saving their number in your phone for when you need it (62-FIRESIDE). And to destroy the notion of being afraid to ask for help, they encourage everyone to share their stories on social media: the times that you’ve used Fireside Project or the times you had a challenging experience and wish you had known about them. Many newcomers have no idea this support exists, and it could truly be life-changing for them.