DMT: A Religious Model. Psychedelics Researcher Rick Strassman Gives His First Presentation in 5 Years at CU Boulder
In his new book, DMT and the Soul of Prophecy, medical doctor and psychedelics researcher Rick Strassman uses Old Testament prophetic literature as an alternative, Western model by which to understand and integrate the contemporary psychedelic experience.
Strassman recently gave his first talk in 5 years at the National Psychedelic Symposium hosted by the Psychedelic Club at CU Boulder. Scroll down to watch the video and learn more about his book.
Carefully examining the concept of prophecy in the Hebrew Bible, he characterizes a “prophetic state of consciousness” and explains how it may share biological and metaphysical mechanisms with the DMT effect."
DMT is the psychedelic constituent of the South American shamanic brew, ayahuasca, first described in Western academic journals in the early 1950s by Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes
(January 12, 1915 – April 10, 2001), who lived among the indigenous communities who used it for spiritual and healing purposes.
See: Richard Evans Schultes, America's Greatest Ethnobotanist, Discusses the Importance of Plant Medicines
Ayahuasca tea is made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine combined with Psychotria viridis and/or Diplopterys cabrerana, both of which contain a potent short-acting hallucinogen, DMT. B. caapi contains a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) that inhibits the breakdown of DMT (a monoamine) by monoamine oxidase enzymes located in the human digestive tract. Consumption of DMT in an ayahuasca tea formulation allows absorption of DMT into the body and creates an extended experience that last a few hours. The fact that ayahuasca comes from a tea made from multiple plants makes it difficult to study in the United States for regulatory (FDA) reasons.
For more on harmala and other alkaloids, see: Alexander Shulgin: Why I Do What I Do
Schultes conducted groundbreaking plant research in the Amazon rainforests in the 1940s. After WWII began, the United States government sent Schultes to the South America to investigate disease-resistant rubber plants needed for war effort and to research curare, a plant medicine that had been as a muscle relaxant since the 1930s. Until then, curare was only known to modern medicine as an Amazon dart poison.
Schultes was one of the first to alert the world about destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the disappearance of its native people.
Strassman and Current Psychedelics Research
In 1991, Strassman's publication in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Human hallucinogenic drug research in the United States: a present-day case history and review of the process, established
Description of therapy sessions and a more in-depth background of psychedelics research history is found in Science & Sacraments, a documentary made for the Purdue University Archives Psychoactive Substances Research Collection.
The first indication being pursued (now in Phase II trials) is the use of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to treat anxiety associated with cancer diagnosis. Researchers are located at Johns Hopkins University, NYU, UCLA, the University of New Mexico, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Small but successful pilot studies have been completed for the treatment of nicotine addiction and alcoholism. Ayahuasca is being studied for the treatment of depression and is already being used to change self-destructive behaviors of inmates in Brazil.
Recent population studies using data from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that hallucinogen use predicts reduced recidivism among substance-involved offenders under community corrections supervision. Another study using NSDUH data showed that U.S. adults with a history of using nonaddictive psychedelic drugs had reduced likelihood of psychological distress and suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. DEA Schedule I status of serotonergic hallucinogens is a major barrier to research.
Author Peter Hendricks states in latter study above, "Given the regulatory difficulty associated with administering classic psychedelics to humans, population-based survey studies represent one means for examining the relationships of classic psychedelic use with mental health and suicidality. What population-based survey studies sacrifice in internal validity afforded by experimental methodology, they gain in external validity provided by large samples, minimal inclusion and exclusion criteria, and assessment of subjects in real-world settings."
Two of Strassman's studies–Dose-response study of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in humans. I. Neuroendocrine, autonomic, and cardiovascular effects and Dose-response study of N,N-dimethyltryptamine in humans. II. Subjective effects and preliminary results of a new rating scale–were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (now JAMA Psychiatry) in 1994.
Since 1996, Dr. Strassman has explored models for the DMT effect focusing primarily on the Old Testament concept of prophecy.
DMT and the Soul of Prophecy
The highly developed and perhaps even similarly divinely stimulated intellect then extracts information from the content of the information."
"I was drawn to DMT because of its presence in all of our bodies. Perhaps excessive DMT production, coming from the mysterious pineal gland, was involved in naturally occurring "psychedelic" states. These states might include birth, death and near-death, psychosis, and mystical experiences." –Rick Strassman
Strassman's most recent book, DMT and the Soul of Prophecy, discusses how naturally occurring DMT may produce prophecy-like states of consciousness and thus represent a bridge between biology and religious experience. From Amazon.com, Soul of Prophecy:
The practical implications of my theory suggesting that Hebrew Bible prophetic experience partakes of the same psychedelic-like features of the DMT state are twofold. One is that those who revere the text but lack experiential confirmation of its truth may consider the prudent application of the psychedelic state in such situations. The other is that one might use the Hebrew Bible as a means for deciphering and extracting much more information from the contemporary Western psychedelic drug experience than has hitherto been possible."
In the video below, American Psychiatric Association Past President Jeffrey Lieberman shares with Google employees the impact that LSD had on his life.
In his book, Shrinks, Lieberman said:
My trip did produce one lasting insight, though--one that I remain grateful for to this day...I marveled at the fact that [if] such an incredibly minute amount of a chemical...could so dramatically alter my cognition, the chemistry of the brain must be susceptible to pharmacologic manipulations in other ways, including ways that could be therapeutic."
2014-2015 American Psychiatric Association President Paul Summergrad sat with Ram Dass (formerly Harvard psychedelics researcher Richard Alpert)
Given American mental health's epidemic of death, government should fund psychedelic therapy research to generate needed evidence, then support its integration into society. If not, states might take matters into their own hands. The public already has.
CNN: Could this be the next medicinal marijuana?
Dr. Strassman is currently Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He is also President and co-founder of the Cottonwood Research Foundation, which is dedicated to consciousness research
Organizations that Provide Major Funding for Psychedelics Research
Heffter Research Institute:
International Ctr for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, & Service (ICEERS):
Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS):
The Beckley Foundation:
CLICK IMAGES FOR LINKS
Stunting Growth of Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Pain Meds: Meditation Better
than Placebo, Meditation & Psychedelic Psychotherapy Better than Overprescribing
Given the gradual decline of organized religion in the United States, perhaps these sacraments could also help the renewal of faith.
Pew: Millennials increasingly are driving growth of ‘nones’
Religion's Simplest Form: Roots of the R-word and the Key to its Revival
MIT Angles: Magic Mushrooms or Medical Mushrooms?
Note: Story has been updated
American mental health: Spend more time caring, less time labeling. American mental health is suffering and private insurance still isn't paying despite your 250+ labels for mental disorders.
Today we remember an American Psychiatric Association diagnosis from the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that was dropped from the DSM-5. Created during the early 1990s heyday of televangelist Robert Tilton (Pastor Gas) and the Christian Coalition movement, diagnostic code 306.66 Spiritual-Type Use Disorder was never used due to political pressure.
For those of you who don't know, the DSM is the mental disorder labeling device that creates enormous stigma in the American mental health system.
NIMH director Thomas Insel, MD, describes a major drawback of the DSM, lack of validity: "The goal of this new manual, as with all previous editions, is to provide a common language for describing psychopathology.
Psychiatrist Julie Holland takes issue with overdiagnosis of normal moods, and overmedicating those moods with pharmaceuticals
Recently, my psychiatric journals have been full of glossy ads promoting a new diagnosis, “binge eating disorder.”
A picture of a sad, lonely woman surrounded by junk food sits underneath text introducing me to the diagnosis, encouraging me to ask my female patients if they sometimes regret how much they eat, because they may be ashamed to talk about it.
These ads were paid for by Shire Pharmaceuticals, the same company that makes the amphetamine Adderall. But Adderall has lost its patent, hence Vyvanse, a new, ultra, long-acting amphetamine.
Shire’s newer ADHD ads also target women, recommending Vyvanse for 12-hour control of symptoms “throughout her day.”
There's no patenting a sacred mushroom, either.
Spiritual-type use disorder, as described by Alan Watts:
"The use of things that would lift us out of the egocentric situation could therefore be considered medicine for a social disorder. But again, I would say that substances used in that way should be used as medicine in the sense that they should not become diet.
In this matter, everybody speaks for himself, but I have discovered that this is not the sort of thing you take very often, as you might go to church. It is something that you can take several times in gradually diminishing quantity. Beyond that, it is up to you to integrate your vision with everyday life.
If the priest did that, he would create a vacuum, and it would always be filled. The faster a doctor can get people out of his office. The sooner they go around and tell everybody, "This man cured me. I didn't have to go back." And the more people will come in. There are always plenty of sick people. So in the same way, the religious man ought to handle a huge turnover of people coming and going away. Then he is really working."
The Roots of the R-word and the Key to its Renewal: Religion's Simplest Form
Message for American Mental Health
Fix the labeling system. It only serves to increase stigma and is an injustice to those who oppose man-made labels for normal moods or unique personalities. People need help now, and it needs to be affordable, there must be more treatments, and treatments must be improved.
"Obviously, there are situations where psychiatric medications are called for. The problem is too many genuinely ill people remain untreated, mostly because of socioeconomic factors." –Julie Holland, MD
The American mental health system is trying to do things right by conducting rigorous research on non-drug therapies. However, if thought leaders in the United States do not focus heavily on therapies that are affordable, decent mental health care will never be available to most Americans. Insurance companies simply will not want to pay for inefficient and unpredictable therapies.
Reality: Mental Health Care is Simply is Not Available to Rural and Low Income Americans, a Population that Needs it the Most
Unaddressed mental illness and normal stress help feed the fire of opioid abuse in the United States. Low-income patients cannot afford hundreds of dollars to repeatedly see primary care physicians to treat their depression with medications that may not demonstrate full effectiveness for 6-8 weeks. Psychiatrists are likely unavailable and even more expensive. Opioids have been an easy and deadly fix for patients who self medicate their mental pains.
How do you improve substance dependence problems in the United States without providing adequate behavioral health, economic, and social support systems?
Failure to Fund Research of New Therapies Because of Politics, Not Science, Not Public Health: FDA-Approved Drug Therapies and Classic Hallucinogens to Treat Alcoholism: Barriers, Background, and the Latest Research. More found here.
Politicians, get off your moral high horse and work to create a national framework where patients can safely address their moods and are not subjected to expensive, ineffective, and harmful substances, whether by prescription or from the alcohol bottle. Foster mature, honest, and intelligent discussion related to mind-altering substances. Non-addictive sacred hallucinogens and cannabis deserve respect and a proper framework for their use, not illegal status and stigmatism. Nobody dies from either substance, unlike the 40,000 deaths caused by prescription opioids in 2014. Along with meditation, hallucinogens and cannabis could provide inexpensive means of resilience that do not break the bank, allowing more resources to be allotted to those with more serious and difficult-to-treat forms of mental illness. Give more attention to the power of positive emotions. Wake up, Uncle Sam, mass shootings are a loud siren ringing through our nation.
Mental Health, Addiction, and Drug Policy:
Politics & Faux Morals Trump American Health
LEARN MORE ABOUT GROUNDBREAKING, HEROIC RESEARCH
OF SACRED PLANT MEDICINES IN THE LINKS BELOW
FDA-Approved Drug Therapies and Classic Hallucinogens to
Treat Alcoholism: Barriers, Background, and the Latest Research
Non-Addictive Serotonergic Hallucinogens and
Emerging Targets for Addiction Pharmacotherapies
We can't end this story without Dewey Cox's experience with the Beatles in February 1968, where they traveled to Rishikesh, in northern India, to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation (TM) training session at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Amid widespread media attention, their visit was one of the band's most productive periods. Led by George Harrison's commitment, the Beatles' interest in the Maharishi changed Western attitudes about Indian spirituality and encouraged the study of Transcendental Meditation.
Meditation is No Joke:
More on Transcendental Meditation: "Self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs is not a rarity among veterans returning from war. According to the VA’s National Center for PTSD, more than 20 percent of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) abuse such substances. For Jensen, the destructive forces of substance abuse culminated the day he put a gun to his head in front of his wife and two young children."
“There’s a reason there’s 10 different types of depression medication, because what works for you might not work for the next guy,” Jensen explained to DAV.org. Through nearly half a year of treatment, Jensen was prescribed five different kinds of depression medication, three types of anxiety medication and two different sleeping aids. But none of it provided the relief he was hoping for. “Everybody’s different. You need to find the right fit for you, and in order to do that you need to try new things.” “There are other methodologies besides medications and expensive treatments that they can do themselves and have for the rest of their lives without spending a lot of time and money,” Yellin stated. “Learning TM is a one-time fee for a lifetime of help.”
PTSD is No Joke:
The BEST Mental Health Care Access in the United States is for United States Combat Veterans. Level of Care: DISMAL.
The Poor State of American Mental Health is No Joke:
Sadly, using military and wartime jobs as a solution to job growth is a solution for some politicians. The United States is entrenched in a toxic cycle of perpetual warfare. A decent proportion of men and women in the United States military will leave service in their 20s and be on disability for the rest of their lives. They'll come back to a country that has not focused on domestic policies. The United States has the worst mental health care among developed nations with few effective means of treating PTSD. Politicians cheering from the sideline have zero insight as to how their country is perceived by the rest of the world and how it factors into winning the war of ideology. This mindset is not sustainable for our country.
No Accountability in America: Rising deaths among white middle-aged Americans could exceed Aids toll in US
The Poor State of U.S. Drug Policy and Substance Abuse Care is No Joke: Appalachia, American Politicians Lack Courage to Go "All In" on Opioid Maintenance, Harm Reduction, Mental Health & Drug Policy Reform
Heroin use via injection was responsible for an HIV outbreak in southeastern Indiana and a hepatitis C epidemic that is currently sweeping through Appalachia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C infection rates in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia tripled from 2006 to 2012, coinciding with increased injectable drug use.
Hepatitis C may lie latent for years and not cause harm to patients. However, when it become acute, it destroys the liver and kills those who have it.
Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) is a new drug that can essentially cure hepatitis C. Made by Gilead Sciences, Inc., Sovaldi costs about $1,000 a pill, or about $84,000 for a patient on a standard, 12-week treatment schedule.
The True Cost of an Expensive Medication: The U.S. is unique among Western countries in that it doesn’t regulate drug prices. One nurse tells the story of what it’s like to watch patients get sicker when they can’t afford a pricey treatment
NPR: Hepatitis Drug Among The Most Costly For Medicaid
All told, 33 states spent more than $1 billion to treat the disease with Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi, according to data released Tuesday by Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Still, the money spent was enough to treat only 2.4 percent of Medicaid patients infected with the virus.
NPR: Costly Hepatitis C Drugs Threaten To Bust Prison Budgets
Americans foot the healthcare bill for the rest of the world: Maker Of $1,000 Hepatitis C Pill Looks To Cut Its Cost Overseas More than 3 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C. Many of them are poor or incarcerated. In the U.S., Gilead says it will rely on insurance coverage plus giveaway "patient assistance" programs for people who aren't insured.Sensitive to anger over its pricing decision in the U.S., Gilead is talking to generic drugmakers in India about a licensing deal that would set the price at $2,000 per treatment course, or 2 percent of the U.S. price, for 60 low-income countries.
"We think a $2,000 price tag, although a discount from U.S. prices, is not going to get the job done," says Rohit Malpani, a policy director of Doctors Without Borders. "It's a discount from a price we think is absolutely outrageous. The way we look at it is, how much does this drug cost to make and what is patients' ability to pay?"
Solvadi can be made for far less, Malpani and other critics say, perhaps $68 to $136 for a 12-week treatment course.
"We know from our experience treating HIV over the past decade and a half that treatment needs to be simple and affordable," Malpani says in a Doctors Without Borders statement. "Full hepatitis C treatment needs to be available for no more than $500 per person."
Liver Disease Stage Req. for Medicaid Coverage of Sovaldi
Massachusetts General Hospital:
EPIDEMIC THAT AMERICAN MEDICINE MADE
BERNIECARE: Why You Should Support Single Payer Healthcare and Better Quality of Life. Americans cannot afford the high cost of health insurance alone, even without prescription drug coverage. Average Americans go broke while private insurance and pharmaceutical companies profit. A healthcare system is supposed to keep citizens healthy, not make the patients depressed and bankrupt and the doctors suicidal.
The Atlantic: Among Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, a study by the Commonwealth Fund found that the U.S. was last or near-last in measures of health access, efficiency, and equity.
National Center for Policy Analysis: How the U.S. Single-Payer System for Seniors’ Health Compares Internationally. Even America's single-payer Medicare system needs an overhaul.
Psilocybin to Prepare Americans for End-of-Life and Combating Negative Effects of Loneliness in Homebound Older Adults Seniors may have discussed end-of-life, but a discussion with a doctor sure as hell won't get someone mentally ready for death.
Something isn't working in the United States. Why is Bernie Sanders is the only one providing real solutions?
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