In the years since the 1970 prohibition of psychedelics-including prohibition of clinical use and research–very little progress has been made in the development of drugs to treat mental illness. The healing effects of time and continued support by the Heffter Research Institute have enabled several promising studies to recently be completed that will hopefully lead to larger Phase III trials.
Heffter Research Institute, along with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Psychoactive Drug Screening Program, helps fund the Roth Lab that maintains the Ki Database at UNC Chapel Hill. The Ki Database (or Ki DB) is a public domain database of published binding affinities (Ki) of drugs and chemical compounds for receptors, neurotransmitter transporters, ion channels, and enzymes. Heffter co-founder David Nichols (Dr. Dave)
now offers his knowledge at the Roth Lab after working for 40 years at Purdue University.
In the latest NIMH Director Blog, director Thomas Insel commended Roth Lab director Bryan Roth for the lab's DREADD technology work with psychoactively-inert Salvinorin B. Dr. Roth is on the Heffter Scientific Advisory Panel. Hopefully Roland Griffiths'
receptor pharmacology study involving DMT, psilocybin, dextromethorphan, and Salvinorin A will produce results that can be added to the PDSP Ki database.
Only time will tell if psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy will someday be used to help families and loved ones better manage the painful dying process, reduce suicide, lessen violence & social division, and fight difficult-to-treat mental disorders like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, self-harm (cutting), eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder), and addictions (alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, opioid, food).
The comorbid nature and overlapping genetic profile of many of these disorders makes them especially difficult to treat with current medication, but make them a prime target for ancient sacraments that have surprisingly shown effectiveness against many of these conditions.
- 2 Population Studies by Peter Hendricks at UAB
- Pilot study using psilocybin to treat cocaine abuse and addiction
Is it medically unethical for the United States government not to fund the research of relatively benign compounds, from a safety standpoint, like MDMA and classic hallucinogens to help people with addiction, psychosomatic illnesses, and brain disorders?
Although MDMA is currently being researched to treat PTSD, psilocybin's neuropharmacological profile points toward possible success in treating posttraumatic stress and moral injury, a condition explained here in the PTSD Research Quarterly, PTSD.VA.gov, The New York Times, and NPR.
Comorbidities of PTSD are highlighted here:
Despite calls for the removal of psychedelic medicine from Schedule I drug classification and expansion of psychedelics research by reputable scientific publications such as Scientific American, the United States government does not fund research into their beneficial effects.
Here's more on Heffter Research Institute from the Heffter website:
The Heffter Research Institute promotes research of the highest scientific quality with the classical hallucinogens and related compounds (sometimes called psychedelics) in order to contribute to a greater understanding of the mind leading to the improvement of the human condition, and to alleviate suffering.
The Heffter Research Institute was incorporated in New Mexico in 1993 as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. The Institute is named after Dr. Arthur Heffter, a turn-of-the century German research pharmacologist, who was the first scientist to study, systematically, a naturally-occurring hallucinogen, publishing his work in 1897. Learn more about Arthur Heffter here.
The general objectives of The Heffter Institute include:
- Developing knowledge regarding, and standards of practice for, the appropriate and safe use of classical hallucinogens in a medical context.
- Conducting basic chemical, pharmacological, and neurobiological investigations on various psychoactive substances and their mechanisms of action.
- Conducting ethnopharmacological investigations designed to clarify our understanding of the role played by psychoactive plants in the religious, medical, and social institutions of other cultures.
- Conducting phytochemical and pharmacological investigations of plants and other naturally occurring materials, designed to discover, isolate, and characterize novel natural products with novel types of psychoactivity.
- Publishing scientific reports, earning grants and awards; organizing and sponsoring scientific conferences to present research results, and providing a forum for discussions of the appropriate medical and scientific uses of classical hallucinogens.
- Conducting clinical research studies to investigate potential therapeutic applications of classical hallucinogens.
- Informing the scientific and medical communities about the issues of safety, adverse effects, and therapeutic potentials related to the use of classical hallucinogens in a medical context.
- The current political and intellectual climate offers new opportunities to reopen avenues of research that have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pursue in the past within conventional frameworks. Government agencies will provide support to legitimate researchers of classical hallucinogenic agents, as the Institute Founders can testify from long periods of research funding. Nevertheless, when it comes to extending the investigations from animal models to human subjects, or to testing hypotheses that the effects of these agents may in certain circumstances be beneficial rather than entirely detrimental, the government's role as a supporter of research has been insufficient.
In order for truly uncompromised and creative research in the field of classical hallucinogen neuropsychopharmacology to have any hope of fulfilling its promise, it must be pursued from within the context of an independent research institute whose operations and research programs are independent of government funding. The Heffter Research Institute will neither condemn classical hallucinogenic drugs nor advocate their uncontrolled use. The sole position of the Institute in this regard will be that these substances, utilized in thoughtfully designed and carefully conducted scientific experiments, can be used to further the understanding of the mind.
Heffter Newsletter: Light
at the End of the Tunnel?