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Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs
    #3008151 - 08/16/04 06:19 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)


Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs

By Arran Frood

Could illegal hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and psilocybin ever become credible prescription medicines?
It might sound far-fetched, but just a decade ago it seemed unlikely that the prohibited and mildly hallucinogenic drug cannabis would become a mainstream pain-killing medicine.

But it is happening: Cannabis pain-killing pills and sprays are being developed to help people with multiple sclerosis, cancer and Aids.

Now some scientists and psychotherapists think more powerful psychoactive drugs like psilocybin, found in 'magic mushrooms', could have a future as medicinal agents for a number of conditions.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved, but not funded, a pilot study aiming to see if the euphoria and insight of a mild psychedelic 'trip' can ease the physical and emotional pain experienced by thousands of terminal cancer patients each year.

Professor Charles Grob
Charles Grob, Professor of Psychiatry and Paediatrics at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre, California, and lead scientist on the cancer-psilocybin trial, said: "There is great potential.

"A significant patient population may gain benefits from these treatments."

Professor Grob will be one of the first scientists in 25 years to administer psilocybin to a person in a therapeutic setting.

He wants to see if people's lives can be improved if psychoactive drugs are used under carefully controlled conditions.

Past success

In the past it seemed to work: in the 60s, cancer sufferers reported less anxiety, a reduced fear of death, better moods, and surprisingly, even less pain in the weeks after treatment with LSD, which is similar in structure and effect to psilocybin.

It is right that we look at these chemicals with the same stringent standards as we do for other drugs

Dr Kate Law
So, what will happen during a 21st century psychedelic therapeutic session?

The subjects will lie down wearing an eye mask to screen out distractions and headphones pumping in gentle music to fully immerse them in their journey.

"We are going to let the patients guide their own experience by reacting only to their needs," said Professor Grob.

"We are there to hold their hands and talk if they feel the need, but we will not overtly attempt to take it in any spiritual or religious direction. It is up to them."

The rationale says it is better to let the drug gently lift the veil, divorce the association between mind and body and let the patient enjoy the full-on experience as they wish, than interfere in a way that may be incompatible with the patient's psyche.

UK perspective

Could this ever cross the water? In the 50s, 60s and 70s, Britain and many European countries were active centres of psychoactive drug research.

Dr Kate Law, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: "With full, informed consent, we have no problem with it in principle.

"These patients are adults and people make their own choices. It is right that we look at these chemicals with the same stringent standards as we do for other drugs.

"People shy away from the fact that other powerful drugs like heroin are used when caring for cancer patients, many of which have side-effects of their own."

However, Dr Law said Cancer Research UK will only support this type of research if there was an analgesic effect - and the preliminary results suggest the overall procedure did not confuse or harm the patient.

Could the drug experience provide the patient with a greater delusion and a more fantastical escape?

Would it allow patients, perhaps already in denial, to become even more withdrawn, hidden, aloof even?

Dr Ken Checinski is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and senior lecturer at St Georges Medical School, London.


Although he does not represent the RCP, he says his opinions may be typical of many psychiatrists. He says it is a question of balancing the benefits and the risks.

"In terminal care the patient has a right to be pain free, but also has a right to go about their business in the usual way during the final weeks of their lives.

"It's unacceptable to be made psychologically unwell during this period.

"But most drugs also have a medical use - amphetamine and cocaine derivatives, opiates, tranquillisers and now the cannabinols - so there is no reason why we shouldn't consider using the serotonin agonists (hallucinogens).

"However, governments should provide funding for this type of research, not vested interest groups."

The scientific use of mind-altering drugs has often been controversial. But Professor Grob and his scientific allies have fought long and hard for a reconsideration of the hallucinogens as serious medicines.

A not-for-profit collective of like-minded scientists, groups like MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) believe outlawed drugs like MDMA (ecstasy) and psilocybin have a better chance than conventional treatments of successfully managing many conditions.

Credibility established

A similar study involving psilocybin and the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is nearing completion at the University of Arizona.

And an MDMA (ecstasy) trial for the counselling of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) victims is finally underway after a bureaucratic bad-trip with red tape.

"We are re-opening an area that has been shut down for 25 years," said Professor Grob.

"A couple of groups have established credibility through the formal channels. It may take time but it's possible."

Nevertheless, more state-tolerated than state-sponsored, MAPS and their academic friends know that the eyes of the authorities and a wider scientific community are upon them.

The study is funded by the Heffter Research Institute.

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Re: Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs [Re: Anno]
    #3008262 - 08/16/04 08:31 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)

Allthough interesting, it will never happen, the potential isnt there like it is with cannabis. Maybe cocaine will be looked at as a powerful fatigue medication as well =b.

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badger, badger,badger...
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Re: Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs [Re: Redo]
    #3008739 - 08/16/04 01:33 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

cocaine is used as an anesthetic already


Got a question about a substance?  Erowid might already have your answer! Have questions about the  mushroom experience? The  Tripper's FAQ may have your answer or someone else might have had your question before.
I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights.
  - Theodor Seuss Geisel Dr. Suess

"I didn't come here to be easily understood" - Steve

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Barred Spiral

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Re: Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs [Re: Redo]
    #3009493 - 08/16/04 04:58 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)


Redo said:
Allthough interesting, it will never happen, the potential isnt there like it is with cannabis.

That's not true, psychedelics have a very high success rate when applied in a very controlled and guided session. It's an area which was on fire in the 50's & 60's until it became political and got shut down. These things are already under way, and I hope it stays very scientific and professional. That will be the key to it working, is A) the FDA & DEA cooperating enough to allow researchers to accurately test these things without it becoming political, and B) the researchers having enough knowledge & psychological understanding to allow the sessions to be benifical.

The encouraging thing is the researchers sound, at least from this article, to be aware enough to allow people to guide themselves while providing the insights to help them understand what might be hard for them to interpert.

The very nature of experience is ineffable; it transcends cognitive thought and intellectualized analysis. To be without experience is to be without an emotional knowledge of what the experience translates into. The desire for the understanding of what life is made of is the motivation that drives us all. Without it, in fear of the experiences what life can hold is among the greatest contradictions; to live in fear of death while not being alive.

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Barred Spiral

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Re: Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs [Re: Anno]
    #3009560 - 08/16/04 05:08 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

This is a really exciting thing for me. I've had my own really positive experiences from psychedelics in general, and I'd REALLY love to see them become a legitimite medicine because I think there is great potential in them.

I'm extremely interested in psychiatry, and I think the more people are able to understand themselves, the happier and more well off they are. Imagine if people who are having difficulty in life are able to have a guided session in which they can confront the issues they might have trouble directly dealing with. It's really exciting to see this.

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Re: Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs [Re: Twirling]
    #3012137 - 08/17/04 06:05 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)

all drugs have their place, but psychedelics will never have their place in legal US law. Too many people have too many problems, and more and more of the population is prone to mental illness today. It can make a person who is predisposed to mentall illness much worse then they would ever have been without the psychedelic, and you just dont know if it will onset a mental illness. These drugs can make one use almost impossible to reverse for certain people.

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Re: Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs [Re: Anno]
    #3013156 - 08/17/04 01:39 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

who knows, maybe if they do good reseach and prove it can be very helpfull...

that would be great! :laugh:
also for the main acceptance of psycheldelics

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Re: Medicine hope for psychedelic drugs [Re: stefan]
    #3015520 - 08/17/04 10:20 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

At the very least they could prove that toxicity of psychedelics is extremely low and therefore take some cannon fodder away from the government propoganda machine.

Remember, people fear what they don't know. If we can get some verified research done, and get that information into the hands of educators, then we may be able to spread the truth about these things.


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