research
Psychedelics in American Religious Experience

Psychedelics in American Religious Experience

How important are psychedelics in the religious experience of the United States? We know drugs like LSD and psilocybin can occasion powerful, life-changing experiences of awe and renewal. We also know psychedelics have been used by millions of people since the 1960s. But no one has ever tried to count the number of people who’ve had psychedelic-related mystical experiences. I ran a survey of over 6,000 people to get an answer. Background: Walter ‘Wally’ Pahnke and psychedelic mysticism Fifty-one years ago, a massive 9.2 Richter scale earthquake shook Alaska. At the same time, Wally Pahnke was experiencing another sort of...
Scientists are crowd-funding the first ever LSD brain imaging study

Scientists are crowd-funding the first ever LSD brain imaging study

Dr. David Nutt and Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, the researchers who blew your mind with a landmark psilocybin study in 2013, are at it again. This time they’re examining the effects of LSD on the brain, and they want your help. The active research phase has already been conducted — 20 volunteers were dosed and scanned, producing the world’s first images of brains on LSD. Now the researchers must analyze the raw data before they can publish the results. To fund this final phase of the study, the scientists have launched a crowd-funding campaign on Walacea.com in partnership with the Beckley Foundation. Within the first 24 hours, they were...
Too Big for a Nobel Prize: Remembering Sasha Shulgin

Too Big for a Nobel Prize: Remembering Sasha Shulgin

David Presti celebrates Sasha Shulgin in the most recent MAPS Bulletin. Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin was born in Berkeley on June 17, 1925, and received his bachelor’s (1949) and doctorate (1955) degrees from the local college, the University of California in Berkeley. Except for some time spent as an undergraduate at Harvard and a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he lived his entire life either in Berkeley or nearby in the East Bay. Sasha’s doctoral research in biochemistry at UC Berkeley developed methods for the synthesis of amino acids containing chemical isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. Isotopically labeled...
A Conversation with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Researchers

A Conversation with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Researchers

This interview originally appeared in the MAPS Bulletin Winter 2014 Vol. 24, No. 3 – Annual Report. Featuring Annie Mithoefer, B.S.N., Shannon Clare Petitt, I.M.F., Saj Razvi, L.P.C., Ben Shechet, and Will Van Derveer, M.D, it sheds a great deal of light on MDMA-assisted therapy and the people behind MAPS.   Annie Mithoefer, B.S.N., is a co-investigator for MAPS’ study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for service-related PTSD in U.S. veterans, police officers, and firefighters in Charleston, SC. She is also a Registered Nurse, Grof-certified Holotropic Breathwork Practitioner and is trained in Hakomi Therapy and can be reached at amithoefer@me.com. Shannon Clare Petitt, I.M.F., is...
New species of lichen is apparently psychedelic: Dictyonema huaorani

New species of lichen is apparently psychedelic: Dictyonema huaorani

25 February 2015 — This article has been updated to better reflect the limitations of the study. A new species of lichen has been discovered in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, according to a recent paper published in The Bryologist. Researchers led by lead author Michaela Schmull have tentatively identified tryptamine and psilocybin in the lichen, among other potential substances. The story is a rather unusual one. There is only one known sample of the lichen in all of Western science, and it was collected in 1981 by ethnobotanists Wade Davis and Jim Yost while conducting research in Ecuador. In a 1983 paper...
Psilocybin may help treat alcoholism, according to new study

Psilocybin may help treat alcoholism, according to new study

According to a new study published in Psychopharmacology, psilocybin may be useful in treating alcohol dependence. The research was conducted at the University of New Mexico by a research team including lead author Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, and Dr. Rick Strassman. Yes, that Rick Strassman — the one who performed pioneering DMT research in the 1990s and authored DMT: The Spirit Molecule. With only ten human subjects, this was a “proof of concept” study — the researchers aimed to show that the drug is effective for treating alcohol dependence, and to provide a baseline for further studies. “Although recent studies have investigated the...
New Video from Jason Silva: 'Drugs As Tools For Spirituality'

New Video from Jason Silva: ‘Drugs As Tools For Spirituality’

“The new space is inner space,” says Jason Silva in his new video. It’s the latest edition in his series of thought-provoking short-films called Shots of Awe, which continues to live up to its name. This episode focuses on MAPS — the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies — and the importance of set and setting in maximizing the potential of a psychedelic session. He name-drops Timothy Leary, who stressed the importance of preparing a positive tripping environment for yourself. “You are immediately plunged into a dialogue with your own subconscious,” Silva says. Meanwhile, “The world becomes like a sensurround system. The fidelity, the...
Psychedelics linked to reductions in suicide and distress

Psychedelics linked to reductions in suicide and distress

People who have used psychedelic drugs are less likely to suffer from depression, psychological distress, or suicidal thinking, according to a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The research was led by Peter Hendricks, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Survey responses from over 190,000 adults were analyzed and the respondents were divided into two groups — lifetime psychedelic users and non-users. Lifetime users were defined as those who had ever, even once, tried DMT, ayahuasca, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, or LSD. 13.6% of survey...
Veteran Explains How MDMA Therapy Helped Him Overcome PTSD

Veteran Explains How MDMA Therapy Helped Him Overcome PTSD

In a recent “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, Iraq War veteran Tony Macie opened up about how he overcame his treatment-resistant PTSD through experimental MDMA-assisted therapy. Here’s his introduction: My name is Tony Macie, and I am a retired Sergeant of the U.S. Army. I spent 15 long months in Iraq during the surge in 2006 and 2007. When I returned home from the war, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from a lot of issues ranging from what I experienced during combat and some of the disconnect with my brothers in arms when I transitioned...
My Interview with Rick Doblin, Psychedelic Pioneer & Founder of MAPS

My Interview with Rick Doblin, Psychedelic Pioneer & Founder of MAPS

I recently had the good fortune of meeting my psychedelic hero, Rick Doblin, the founder and president of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. What’s more, he graciously agreed to an on-camera interview! I asked him about the origins of MAPS, the Russian ban of methadone in Crimean addiction clinics, New Zealand’s new regulatory framework for legal highs, MAPS’ recent partnership with the military to research MDMA as a treatment for PTSD, and much more. My favorite part is when Rick tells the story of taking LSD on his twenty-first birthday. He heard a siren and became convinced that the Russians were bombing Tampa,...
Word Clouds Show What It's Like to Be on Drugs

Word Clouds Show What It’s Like to Be on Drugs

What does the language of drug experience look like? What words do we turn to again and again to describe an LSD trip or a cannabis high? Rehabs.com has created some slick graphics to answer these questions (although they are not the first). They performed “extensive linguistic analysis on thousands of written user experiences” drawn from the Erowid database. The graphics cover eight popular drugs, including LSD, DMT, MDMA, and mushrooms. The words shown are the ones most unique to each particular drug, and the size of each word indicates its frequency in user reports. One major problem with an analysis like...
MAPS Completes First New Therapeutic LSD Study in 40 Years

MAPS Completes First New Therapeutic LSD Study in 40 Years

Update 5 March 2014: The study has been published, and the final copy is available here. Rick Doblin, the founder and president of MAPS, said this in a recent “Ask Me Anything” interview on Reddit: We’ve just completed the world’s first study of the therapeutic use of LSD in over 40 years, in Switzerland to treat anxiety associated with end-of-life issues. Eleven of the 12 subjects had never done LSD before and there were no serious adverse events, even in people facing death. This recently completed Swiss study is truly momentous — it’s the first “double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of LSD-assisted psychotherapy since...