A Brief History
Psychedelica have been used by ancient cultures for centuries. Indigenous cultures around the world, from the Amazon rainforest to Native American tribes, have used substances like psilocybin-containing mushrooms, peyote, and ayahuasca in their spiritual and healing rituals. The substances were thought to help individuals connect to the divine, aid in self-discovery and give them insights about the nature of reality.
In the mid-20th Century, compounds such as LSD (lysergic Acid Diethylamide), and psilocybin began to be synthesized for potential therapeutic purposes. The widespread recreational use in the 1960s of psychedelics led to the classification of these substances as Schedule I controlled drugs in the United States. This effectively stopped most research into their therapeutic benefits for decades.
Psychedelics induce altered states that are characterized by intense emotions and profound insights. These effects can be described as “trips” and they can be positive, negative, or challenging. The experience is influenced by factors like the person’s mentality, the environment, and the dose.
Users may experience the following:
Altered Perception: Colors can become more vivid, patterns appear, or sensory perceptions merge. This leads to synesthesia.
Ego Dissolution – Some people report losing their sense of themselves, leading them to feel interconnected with everything.
Mystical and Spiritual Experiences: Many users report encounters with transcendent or profoundly spiritual entities that lead to a sense of purpose, interconnectedness, and greater awareness.
Recent scientific studies have reignited the interest in psychedelics’ therapeutic potential. Researchers have shown promising results when treating mental conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. A trained therapist guides the patient through a structured psychedelic journey.
Psilocybin is a substance found in magic mushroom. It has been studied extensively. Researchers have found that even a single session with psilocybin can result in lasting improvements in mood, and reduce anxiety for people who are suffering from terminal illness or depression.
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), often classified as an empathogen rather than a classic psychedelic, has shown remarkable success in treating PTSD when used alongside therapy. It helps patients to process traumatic memories, and improves their emotional resilience.
Safety and Regulation
Although psychedelics have a promising therapeutic potential, they are not without risk. Psychedelics may induce difficult experiences and, in rare instances, trigger psychosis among individuals who are predisposed to mental illness. Their use should be under the supervision of trained professionals and in controlled environments.
Some jurisdictions are decriminalizing or legalizing psychedelics for recreational or medical purposes as the medical and science communities continue to investigate the benefits and risk of these drugs. Regulation is a complex matter, but responsible use and harm-reduction are important considerations.