Ayahuasca is a plant based psychedelic that is found in the South American countries of Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. It has been used for many centuries by the First Nation people of these nations for religious and therapeutic purposes.
Ayahuasca is from the Banisterioposis caapi vine and is boiled into a concentrated liquid. All senses can be affected by ayahuasca including a persons thinking, sense of time, emotion, and hallucinations.
Those who have tried Ayahuasca have spoken of the profound effect it has had on their life.
The Beckley Foundation
The Beckley Foundation is a UN accredited non-profit organisation dedicated to global drug policy reform which was created in 1998 by Amanda Feilding.
The foundation has been at the forefront of scientific research in psychoactive substances.
Cannabis is a cannabinoid drug that contains the psychoactive ingredient THC and comes from the cannabis plant. Cannabis has been used for both recreational and medicinal purposes for hundreds of years.
In more recent years there has been a movement to legalise cannabis for recreational purposes.
CBD or cannabidiol is the second most active ingredient in cannabis but in a key difference often contains no THC, the element that produces the “high” of cannabis. CBD has exploded in popularity in recent years and is largely legal compared to its cannabis cousin.
Cluster headaches are extreme spells of pain generally on one side of the head and often felt around the eye. They generally occur in men aged 30 or 40 but can affect anyone.
The cause of cluster headaches remains unclear and the treatment of them are not always effective. Psilocybin has been reported to reduce the pain of cluster headaches after a single or few doses.
Controlled Substances Act
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the statute providing the legal framework for the regulation of drugs that are deemed to pose a risk of abuse and that are often referred to as controlled substances.
There are five schedules with “schedule 1” being deemed the highest risk. Drugs classified as schedule 1 are said to have a “high potential for abuse” and “have no currently accepted medical use in the U.S.”. Drugs that are classified as schedule 1 include cannabis, LSD and MDMA.
DMT (or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine)
DMT is a strong psychedelic found in many animals and plants. It can produce intense hallucinations as well as altering a person’s sense of time and emotions. DMT is structurally similar to psilocybin. The high of DMT is often very intense but short-lived compared with other psychedelics. It has the nickname “The Spirit Molecule” popularised by the book of the same name authored by Rick Strassman.
Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that makes a person feel good. It is produced by a group of nerve cells within the middle of the brain and sends out messages to other areas of the brain.
Having the right amount of dopamine is important for both the body and the brain.
Edibles are a form of ingesting cannabis via food or drink. The effects of edibles can take a much longer time to take effect compared with smoking cannabis and can often cause a stronger high than smoking.
Empathogen is a collective term for a group of drugs that increases a person’s feeling of empathy, benevolence towards others. They often increase friendliness and playfulness but can sometimes cause mood swings and bouts of depression. The most famous empathogen is MDMA.
A hallucinogen is a group of drugs that can alter a person’s perceptions, thoughts or feelings. They have the ability to cause hallucinations within humans that appear real but are not. The hallucinations can be both positive and negative. Psychedelic substances that can cause these include LSD, DMT and psilocybin.
A form of cannabis that is produced by collecting and compressing trichomes. Unlike the plant cannabis Hash commonly comes in small brown blocks.
Hemp comes from the same species of plant as cannabis and has a variety of uses. The plant contains low levels of delta-9.
Hemp is used in a variety of commercial and industrial products including rope, textiles, food and biofuel.
Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance that is found in plants such as Tabernanthe iboga and Voacanga Africana.
First discovered in Central Africa the plant has psychedelic effects on the user. It has been used to counter drug addiction but has been associated with 19 fatalities between 1990 and 2008.
Ketamine is a very powerful anaesthetic which can cause users to feel happy, detached, chilled or anxious and confused. Recent studies have shown that Ketamine can be used as a useful treatment for depression.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
LSD is a potent psychedelic drug with effects that include hallucination, intensified thoughts and emotions. It can take up to two hours to take effect but can last up to 12 hours.
During the 1950s and 1960s there were numerous studies completed on the potential benefits of LSD within psychiatry and psychology which are now being revisited in modern studies. It has shown positive effects in treating anxiety, depression and addiction.
Magic mushrooms are naturally occurring mushrooms that are found on all continents of the earth apart from Antarctica. They contain the compound psilocybin which can cause hallucinations.
Magic mushrooms have been used for centuries by humans and reached the West in the 1950s thanks to an article in Life magazine.
Similar to magic mushrooms, magic truffles are mycelium that also contain psilocybin. They remain legal in the Netherlands despite the ban on magic mushrooms.
MDMA, also known as Ecstasy is a stimulant that is often used for recreational purposes. MDMA can increase energy, empathy and pleasure. Recent studies have shown that MDMA can help with PTSD when coupled with assisted therapy as it allows a patient to access and discuss extremely sensitive topics.
Mescaline is a naturally occurring psychedelic with comparable effects to LSD and psilocybin. It occurs in several species of cacti and have been used for thousands of years by the indigenous people of Mexico.
There are suggested medical used of mescaline including for the treatment of depression and alcoholism.
Microdosing is the practice of taking very small amounts of a drug in an effort to gain the benefits of the drug without the risk of any side effects.
The practice has become popular in recent years with many people extolling the benefits of microdosing LSD or psilocybin.
MK-Ultra was an illegal human experimentation program conducted by the CIA in the United States.
Participants were dosed with high doses of psychoactive substances such as LSD without the subjects’ consent as well as electroshocks, hypnosis, isolation, sexual and verbal abuse.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to reorganise synaptic connections in response to learning, experience or following an injury.
LSD has been shown to improve neuroplasticity in those suffering from traumatic brain injury.
Phase I (Clinical trial)
A phase I clinical trial with test the safety, side effects, best dose and timing of a new treatment. They usually have a small number of participants who have not been helped by other treatments.
Phase II (Clinical trial)
Phase II trials attempt to find out whether the new treatment works well enough for a phase III trial as well as more about possible side effects and further information about the best dose. They are larger than phase I trials and usually have around 100 participants.
Phase III (Clinical trial)
Phase III trials compare the new treatment with the best currently available treatment with the aim of attempting to find out which one works better as well as how the treatment affects the participant’s quality of life.
Phase III trials have more participants than phase I or phase II with sometimes as many as a thousand people. Most phase III trials are randomised.
Phase IV (Clinical trial)
Phase IV trials are often completed after the drug has been shown to work and has been licenced.
They aim to find out what the long terms risks and benefits are of the new treatment.
The placebo effect is a phenomenon that tricks the brain into thinking that a fake treatment with no medicinal benefits is working. The idea is still largely unexplained by science but has a very powerful effect on humans which can cause numerous issues within scientific studies when trying to draw conclusions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Sufferers of Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD often relive traumatic events through nightmares and flashbacks. They also can have feelings of isolation, irritability, guilt as well as problems sleeping.
Recent studies have shown that MDMA coupled with assisted therapy can be a useful treatment for PTSD.
Psilocybin is the naturally occurring psychedelic compound that is found within fungi. The effects of psilocybin include a change in consciousness, mood, thought that people call a “trip”.
Psilocybin has possibly been consumed by humans for thousands of years. It gained popularity in the 1950s in western society.
In recent years there have been studies that have shown psilocybin could have positive medical benefits in the treatment of depression and addiction.
A group of drugs that are psychoactive substances that can bring about a change in perception, mood and cognitive processes. Through their ability to affect the senses and a person’s thinking that have the ability to cause hallucinations when taken.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy is the process of providing participants with a dose of a psychedelic substance as part of a psychotherapeutic process.
Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University are two centres currently conducting such trials and assessing the potential benefits.
Psychonautics is both the exploration and process of describing altered states of consciousness that can be achieved by meditation or hallucinogenic substances.
Serotonin is a chemical that carries messages between the nerve cells in the brain and throughout the body.
Serotonin has a very important role in regulating a person’s mood and is often referred to as the “happy chemical”.
Sufferers of depression have been shown to have reduced levels of serotonin.
THC is the psychoactive element of cannabis that gives the user the “high” feeling.
Treatment-resistant depression is when a person has been treated for depression, but the symptoms have not improved.