Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Psychedelic Therapy: an expert discussion at Splore 2019

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  • andin,

    Great discussion thanks for transcribing it.
    What is being looked for in risk assessment for ibogaine? Heart condition, physical or mental health, or does death just drop out of a clear blue sky? So to speak...
    Did ayahuasca in NZ a very personal experience it was too, no black snakes tho :-)
    I find myself wondering if ones life up to that point was an influence on the experience a person has? I mean there were elements in common but the experience is unique. MDMA is certainly one of the gentler mind enhancers(if thats right word)
    What part does someones fear of losing control have? And I dont want to start superficially categorizing large groups of the population. But many just wont even entertain the thought. I just have no ide, let alone evidence. And yes set and setting is all important.
    10 years for MDMA to be cleared in godzone? Jeez I hope. Just how conservative is that environment?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andin,

    Great discussion thanks for transcribing it.

    Heh. I just ran the discussion and published it. Emma Hart transcribed it (6000+ words!) and Bart Janssen made the kind offer to pay her for doing so. The drug policy panel from the same Splore session will be next.

    What is being looked for in risk assessment for ibogaine? Heart condition, physical or mental health, or does death just drop out of a clear blue sky? So to speak…

    Given that the issue is coronary, the first of those. But I don’t know if screening for heart conditions helps.

    Did ayahuasca in NZ a very personal experience it was too, no black snakes tho :-) I find myself wondering if ones life up to that point was an influence on the experience a person has? I mean there were elements in common but the experience is unique.

    The businessman I interviewed did observe that he may have been able to go into measured contemplation after the initial 45-minute rocket ride “because I haven’t really had any trauma to deal with”.

    That may also be why ibogaine experiences are reported as being so challenging. If you’re taking it for drug or alcohol dependence, by definition you’re already at the end of your tether.

    MDMA is certainly one of the gentler mind enhancers (if thats right word)

    But it is an amphetamine-related drug and thus unsuitable for long-term use. By contrast, I already know someone who apparently successfully manages his long-term manic-depressive condition with more-than-once-a-week LSD microdosing. (In that he’s coherent, happy and runs a successful business.)

    It would be good to know more about the difference in effect between microdosing and the now fairly established “big reset” phenomenon of higher doses. Given that Suresh really likes measuring people’s brains, I expect we’ll find out some of that in his study :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Thanks to Emma and Bart :-)

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Emma Hart transcribed it (6000+ words!)

    Boy does my spellcheck know some new words now.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Fascinating discussion. I'm strongly reminded of discussions about toxins - the rule is that everything is toxic, it just depends on the dose. And the same thing kept coming up here - it's the dose that's important for the effect.

    The obvious problem is that without good trials you can't get a handle on the dose or worse find out if dose is different for different people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Smokey Smokersen,

    This is such refreshing progress and partially redeems me from annoying people for years with rants about the coming treatment 'revolution'.

    I've been living with depression for decades and a recent diagnosis of dysthmia helped me understand its persistence. I've been using psychedelics (mainly LSD & MDMA) for a couple of those decades, sporadically, for both recreational and therapeutic purposes and I recognised early on that they were helping me.

    Integrating my early experiences would have been so much more successful and useful if I'd been able to do so with guidance from a professional.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Mar 2019 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

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    Okay, the correct way to take acid, is with one of these.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

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    And this could be your new world view.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I'm pretty much cured:-)

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to steven crawford,

    Of what?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to steven crawford,

    Okay, the correct way to take acid, is with one of these.

    The Merry Pranksters MC rides again!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    These Gujarat Indians make the Hells Angels look like sensible motorists.

    Of what?

    All the stuff thats being talked about in this blog, andin. Some people call it the spiritual malaise.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to steven crawford,

    Sounds very healthy. How do you plan to avoid reinfection on you return? It can be a problem sometimes. Thats if you plan to return long term ;-}

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to andin,

    That is something I’m concerned about. I have to get my ‘working at hight’ certification for my job when I get back. Thats basically a licence to use a ladder, and the cheapest ladder training corse is $150. And I’m going to have to work thru the menu of recently introduced sight safe training programs, each costing a small fortune, so that I can be allegeable to earn a couple of dollars over the minimum wage. It’s all super safe, but all that pedantic compliance to endless inventions of extra rules just because, does nothing good for my mental health.

    It makes me want to just check out.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to steven crawford,

    ...but all that pedantic compliance to endless inventions of extra rules just because...

    Indeed. We had two tradies in the house the other day and one of them was wearing these...https://colorex.co.nz/shop/products/plastering-tools/plasterers-red-stilts/ .

    The other thought they might be the answer to his problem.

    His firm was sub contracting to one of the Big Guys, who in paying due homage to the gods of Workplace Safety had banned all subbies from using ladders. Yes, you read right. No ladders, and scaffolding to be used....even when changing a simple light bulb.

    Don't despair steven, you're not the only one having thoughts that somehow the world has gone just more than a little weird...and that without the assistance of mind altering chemicals.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to steven crawford,

    pedantic compliance to endless inventions of extra rules just because,

    otherwise known as Bureaucratic Arse Covering. So in the unlikely event of anything happening its not their fault, they dont have to pay for any cost incurred its on your head, they might sue you for unsafe work practice, revoke any licence and charge you again for the licence and just to reiterate its not their fault.
    Good luck with all that ;-o

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to andin,

    I ran into some pretty trippy bureaucratic procedures at Mumbai railways station last week. I kept getting sent to different checkouts until I arrived at the one where I had to fill out the big pink form. Thing is, the form was mainly in Hindi but with the odd english word. I had a translator who had earlier approached me to see if I needed my shoes shined.

    Ultimately, I ended up with my train ticket, and I successfully boarded the train to Bhavnagar. What was puzzling me for a while was why the train ticket guy was so difficult to deal with (language barrier aside). It turns out in hind sight, it might have been his left-handed-ness. He was holding a pen in his right hand, then using his left hand to drive that with.

    This guy was suffering from left-handed-ness disability. Something I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. He wasn’t trying to be obstructive, he simply couldn’t easily help me fill out my form, because left had right hand protocols are culturally significant in his environment. His left-handed-ness might have even led to phycological problems which affected his ability to preform well as a bureaucratic. Some of these sorts of culture differences, I’ve been confronted with recently, have been mildly shocking but not enough to blow my mind completely. This is a good therapy for me. It’s helping me to keep my boat afloat so to speak.

    I also used not metaphorical real boats in a similar way. I went sailing up the cook strait by myself a few mouths back. The tide flows thru that part of the world at a great rate of knots and with an unpredictable frequency. It’s not a particularly dangerous place to be if you’re well equipped and know what you’re doing. But being alone in the middle of the Cook strait as the sun goes down, I can report, is ominous.

    Maybe it’s the hypo reality that cracks the dysthymic concrete for me, and supervised psychedelic therapy might be a way less dangerous way to get where I'm trying to go.

    Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous experimented with psychedelic therapy.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to steven crawford,

    left had right hand protocols are culturally significant in his environment.

    I know because of the food consumption/ toileting protocols in those cultures left handedness may cause problems I didnt know it extended to writing I guess it does.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to andin,

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    The train man had a hang up about his hand writing hand at least. Not all people adhere to the right hand for food handling rule. I had lunch with a small family in Alang. The lad that persevered at inviting me to his family home worked at the periphery of the ship breaking industry. The food was all laid out on a tarp on the floor. Flies where all over it. All the hand washing facilities where in place, so we washed out hands before we sat down, everyone was just eating any which way they wanted. I was a bit worried about the milky drinks but I didn’t get sick.

    But at the 200 rupee buffet down Alang road, there is no way anyone would behave like that. The right hand etiquette is most defiantly required there.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to steven crawford,

    the form was mainly in Hindi but with the odd english word

    Language use in India always deserves a footnote! The language spoken in the station office was most likely Hindustani, a colloquial dialect of Northern India used as a lingua franca throughout the Indian rail system, and also used in Bollywood film dialogue. Hindustani is related to the standard varieties of both Hindi and Urdu: the three names were historically used interchangeably, and “Hindustani” has (less often) been used as a cover term for the entire Hindi-to-Urdu dialect chain. Hence the forms written in Hindi. (Though it’s also true that Modi has promoted Hindi as the preferred standard over all other languages throughout the past decade, so it’s possible even the spoken variety has been shifting more towards Hindi.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • Smokey Smokersen,

    Ketamine for depression in NZ. I've been watching progress on this and might put my hand up for a try when it's available.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/111644630/ketamine-could-have-big-impact-on-nzs-struggle-with-depression

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Mar 2019 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Fascinating discussion. I’m strongly reminded of discussions about toxins – the rule is that everything is toxic, it just depends on the dose. And the same thing kept coming up here – it’s the dose that’s important for the effect.

    The obvious problem is that without good trials you can’t get a handle on the dose or worse find out if dose is different for different people.

    The interesting thing with psychedelics is that dose isn’t related to toxicity as we usually understand it. LSD is active at the microgram level and a tripping dose is 75-100 micrograms.

    We literally don’t know what the LD50 for LSD is, but given that high doses cause vasoconstriction and raised body temperature there must be one. One estimate cited here on Erowid’s page on the question is 14,000 mcg, or 140 high doses. (As Geoff notes, ibogaine is in a separate category, because there is a documented cardiac risk at high therapeutic doses.)

    So we’re not really talking about pharmacological deaths. Psychiatric risk? Sure. So care – good old set and setting, assistance if required with integrating the experience – is really important. It seems very significant that severe adverse reactions are basically unknown in the modern studies.

    We still don’t really know how a single tiny dose of these drugs can produce lasting changes in cases of depression and addiction. But we do know that they have profound temporary effects on brain activity. From the story last year where I interviewed Suresh:

    One particular set of studies described by Pollan, marshalled by British researcher Robin Carhart-Harris, has led to a relatively new theory about why psychedelics work as they do. When subjects were given psychedelics and had their brain activity observed with a technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), which measures electrical activity, it became apparent that a set of structures in the brain called the Default Mode Network was effectively taken offline.

    The DMN is essentially how we get by day-to-day; it deploys a bundle of default assumptions about who we are, what we know and what our senses tell us, based on what they’ve told us in the past. It’s bossy and efficient. But it’s also implicated in undesirable repetitive behaviours like depression and addiction. When it was quieted in the subjects, the other parts of the brain lit up and began communicating with each other and neuroplasticity increased. People became unstuck.

    “The thing that amazed me when I first looked at the data was just how massive the effects were,” says Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, a lecturer at the Auckland School of Medicine who did the brain imaging for Carhart-Harris’ psilocybin and LSD studies. “I’d been playing around with giving people drugs and measuring brain signals for a few years at that point and I’d never seen data like this before. What the hell was happening to this person’s brain?

    “When we went into the study we weren’t even sure it was going to do anything for us to record. But here were these gobsmackingly massive effects, a profound effect on brain function."

    Suresh also noted that the benefits of ketamine in relieving intractable depression manifest the day after, when the patient has no ketamine left in their system. I put it to him that it seemed like a more benign version of ECT, and he didn’t disagree. And like ECT, the anti-depressive benefits of ketamine dissipate and can only be maintained via top-ups.

    And yet alongside this kind of “big reset” at high therapeutic doses, we have the even-less-well-understood phenomenon of microdosing (which, at 1/10th of a dose isn’t really all that “micro”), which may increase creativity, openness and a sense of wellbeing. Suresh and Will’s microdosing study is going to be very interesting to watch.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to steven crawford,

    Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous experimented with psychedelic therapy.

    He was a huge fan and actually tried to persuade his colleagues in the organisation to embrace it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    If anyone wants some Saturday viewing, the 1966 NBC feature on the Spring Grove Experiments is worth a look:

    The outcomes from nearly 20 years of treating mental illness and alcoholism were largely (but not universally) positive. But watching it now, I was horrified at times by the style of the treatment, which leans heavily on a kind of psychotherapy (especially the dynamic between patient and therapist) that's not fashionable now. I was thinking "Get your hands off that woman!" and "Back the fuck off, man!" quite a lot as I watched it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Suresh is a real treasure :-) by the sound of it

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

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