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Flying Planes on Magic Mushrooms/Psilocybin

Many of my friends don’t quite understand what I do but they reassure me it’s something they would never attempt. Airplanes are one of my favorite places to eat mushrooms of the Cubensis variety. There are a few reasons that I’ve observed and will detail below. This may help you see things from my perspective.

Pre flight ritual: Roll all the weed left, smoke then go to the airport with super munchies

First, when do you eat the mushrooms? Well I think I’m familiar with my body and know I have about 15-20 minutes before I start feeling the on set of the mushrooms.

This sets up an ironic perfect time to eat them, take off. As the plane takes off you begin your takeoff as well. Important part I didn’t mention to the Magic, you must have a window seat. This is essential to enjoying the flight. To get even more specific flights around 5:30-6 get nice orange sunset hues bouncing off the clouds and what not. If you really want to go the extra step be sure your window is facing the west coast.

 

How much mushrooms are you eating on a flight?

It doesn’t feel right telling people how much they should be eating, especially on a flight. I’ll make a suggestion but knowing your own comfort level is the key here. I usually eat about 1- 2 grams mixed in with some nuts and berries for a 2-3 hour flight so I’m definitely walking off that plane still in the clouds.

Lovely Sun and Psilocybin hitting the same 

Why do you do this and is there a difference in the effect/flight?

The first time I did it was by accident, I forgot I had a little on me before I hit security so I just ate em. Turned out to be the most comfortable flight I’ve ever taken.

Growing up I’ve been haunted with ideas of planes crashing so it took a while to get that stuff out of my head but from time to time I’ll get a little nervous because of the turbulence. One thing I noticed instantly when I was on cubensis was that the feeling of my stomach dropping when the plane dips was no longer happening. It felt as if when the plane dipped my body didn’t lag it dipped right along with it…hmmm that was a cool observation. Being “one” with the planes movements eased my mind. It made a obvious difference in flight ease and relaxation.

The view, the last flight was quite spectacular as the clouds were heavenly. I really wanted to fly into them. At one point I forgot I was on the plane with other people. My eyes were adjusting to the lighting outside so the contrast created an interesting lighting effect upon glancing back to my left. It was as if the plane were a cave and the light source was my window. When I would peek over my shoulder back into the plane I only could see darkness. To paint a picture of what was happening, my eyes were locked on the clouds, phone in my left hand ready to take photos, hoodie over my head, listening to my own songs “this is soooooooullllll” vibrating through my headphones. Safe to say I was feeling great, the lady sitting next to me dosed off and could careless about what I was doing. Sometimes people can disrupt my selfie flow.

Initial takeoff
I can feel you now, (neo voice)

The sound is usually muffled when flying so that adds to the quietness of the whole experience. Even if there are people talking the effect of being so high (in the air) gives a silence that I really appreciate.

Last but not least, breathing deep seems a bit more rewarding on a flight too. It feels like I just sink deep into my seat then zone all the way out. The plane transforms into my personal spaceship for a few hours.

Would I recommend a rookie to do this? Nah this is for those that know themselves well enough to handle a trip on a trip.

Introducing the Cube Podcast coming soon! Getting my equipment list together!

How to Clone Mushrooms 101

How To Clone Mushrooms

Remember Dolly the sheep?

It’s the first thing I think of any time I hear the word “clone.” It took scientist many years, but eventually they were able to create the worlds first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell.

Luckily, cloning mushrooms isn’t nearly that complicated.

In fact, it’s something any budding mycologist can easily do at home.

Why Clone Mushrooms?

  • Capture Wild Strains

    Cloning wild fruits allows you to copy mushrooms from the wild and cultivate them.

  • Finding Valuable Traits

    Cloning allows you to copy fruits that have interesting genetic variations, color, shape, ect.

  • Clone Cultivated Mushrooms

    You can also copy store bought mushrooms, or mushrooms that you have cultivated yourself.

There are several reasons why you’d want to clone mushrooms.

First of all, the forest is the original source for all commercial mushroom strains. Now, you could try to collect spores to propagate these wild mushrooms- but it would be a gamble, not knowing what type of genetics you’d end up with.

Cloning, on the other hand, allows us to take new mushroom strains from the wild, easily make identical genetic copies in the lab, and eventually cultivate them for food or medicine. With cloning, you have a better chance of getting a prolific strain. If growing outside, it will already be genetically adapted to your local environment.

Cloning also allows us to copy mushrooms with interesting characteristics and unique genetics- such as larger fruits, faster colonization times, or a whole array of other potentially valuable traits- and capture those traits for future benefit.

The Cloning Process

The process of cloning mushrooms is relatively simple, and basically the same whether cloning wild species, cultivated species, or even store-bought fruits.

All you need to do is harvest a piece of tissue from a mushroom fruitbody, place it on agar, and allow the mycelium to grow out until you have pure culture.

Easy!

cloning-mushrooms-process

This strategy works because the mushroom fruitbody, even after being picked, is still a living, breathing, manifestation of mycelium.

The cells are still willing and able to reproduce.

By transferring the live tissue to a nutrient rich agar media, the cells can spring into action, propagating mycelium across the plate.

Why Not Start From Spores?

You could always search for novel strains by starting from spores, instead of creating a clone.

The problem is that spores are a total crapshoot. When you dump millions of spores on an agar plate, they will germinate and start to grow “hyphae”, single celled filaments which contain exactly half the genetic information required to form a fruitbody.

To form mycelium, two hyphae need to meet. When they do, they essentially create a new strain- with any number of potential genetic variations. The results are very unpredictable, which is why commercial growers start from copies of proven strains, rather than spores.

Cloning is a way to guarantee that the genetics of your culture will be the same as the genetics of the fruit which the clone was taken from.

That being said, starting from spores does have it’s applications, just not if you are looking for predictable results.

Harvesting Tissue

The tissue can be taken from any part of the mushroom fruitbody, but some of the best sites to harvest reproductive cells are the stem butt(which often contains remnants of mycelium), close to the gillsunderneath the cap, or smack dab in the middle of the stem.

NOTE: It is not recommended to harvest actual gill tissue, mainly because it will be difficult to ensure cleanliness, and because it will be covered in mushroom spores- which may germinate and create a novel strain different from your clone.

It is also hard to ensure cleanliness if taking tissue from the stem butt, since it has been exposed to contaminate rich environments.

If possible, I like to take tissue from the inside of the stem, because that is where you get the cleanest sample- even though it may be a little slower to grow than the rapidly reproducing cells directly under the gills.

mushroom-tissue-clone


Cloning At Home

You can easily perform clones at home… so don’t be afraid to give it a shot.

Step 1: Select Fruit and Clean

First thing you want to do is select the fruit.

Try and find a relatively large fruit body, since extremely small specimens, or thin fleshed species can be hard to obtain clean tissue samples from.

You’ll then want to clean the outside of the fruitbody by thoroughly wiping it down with an alcohol soaked cloth. This will damage the mushroom and make it not suitable for eating, so you’ll need to be willing to sacrifice it for the clone.

The reason we do this is because the outside of the fruitbody has been exposed to air and is no doubt covered in all sorts of contaminates- which could easily find their way on to the plate. Wiping the fruit down won’t completely eliminate the hazard, but it will significantly reduce the potential for contamination.

cloning-king-oyster

Step 2: Tear Fruit In Half

Once the fruitbody has been cleaned, tear it in half in a sterile environment. In front of a flow hood is best, but this can also be down in a SAB (still air box).

You should tear the fruit rather than cut it to prevent pushing contaminates from the outside of the fruit into the center of the fruitbody. The inside of the mushroom will be naturally sterile and contain nothing but fertile mushroom cells.

If using a flow hood, remember to always keep the fruitbody downstream of the flow hood.

taking-tissue-samplestransfer-mushroom-clone

Step 3: Transfer Tissue

Take a flame sterilized scalpel and remove a small piece of tissue from inside of the fruit body.

I usually like to flame sterilize the scalpel before tearing the fruitbody in half, allowing it to cool in the stream of the flow. You can also force it to cool by dipping it in the clean agar plate before transfer.

Either way, the scalpel should be cool before contacting the mushroom, otherwise it will likely kill the tissue.

There are many places to remove tissue- but the easiest to work with is the thickest, fleshiest part of the mushroom. This is typically the center of the stem or the center of the cap, and will vary depending on species.

Just keep in mind that basically anywhere you take the tissue will contain cells that are suitable for cloning.

Remove the tissue by scraping your scalpel along the fruit a few times. You can also cut a small 1/8” square, but this is usually more cumbersome.

Bring the tissue upstream and place it on the agar dish.

This motion should be smooth and quick as possible, minimizing the time that the agar plate is open. This is especially true if using a SAB.

I like to put at least three pieces of tissue in a triangle pattern on one single plate. Not every tissue will take off, and some will be contaminated, so placing multiple pieces of tissue on each plate will be more economical.

king-oyster-clone

Step 4: Clean, Colonize, and Store

Once the plates have been inoculated and wrapped in parafilm or masking tape, store them on a shelf at room temperature away from direct sunlight. I like to also place the plates in a Ziploc bag to keep them free from dust or other airborne contaminates.

Watch the plates closely, and over the next 2-3 days you should see mycelium starting to grow radially from the tissue.

It is possible to get a clean culture on the first shot, but there is also a good chance that your plate will contain contamination, especially if working with wild clones.

If that is the case, simply perform culture transfers by removing a piece of clean mycelium from the contaminated plate onto a new dish. Repeating this process a few times should eventually give you a clean culture to work with.

Of course, if your plate is overly contaminated, and there is no visible clean mycelium, it may be best to throw it out and try again.

king-oyster-clone-growing-on-plate

Source – freshcapmushrooms   

Cactus being converted into Bio Degradable Plastic

While some Earth-friendly plastic is now made from corn, cacti don’t need the resources and can be grown on land we don’t need for food production.

This new biodegradable plastic is made from cactus

In a university lab near Guadalajara, Mexico, researchers trim cactus leaves and feed them into a juicer, creating a bright green liquid. When it’s mixed with other natural materials and processed, it undergoes an impressive transformation: The cactus juice becomes a biodegradable plastic.

It’s one experiment to help tackle the world’s plastic problem. Around nineteen billion pounds of plastic ends up in the ocean each year, and as plastic breaks down there and in landfills, it makes its way into the food system; people now eat an annual diet of more than 50,000 pieces of microplastic. Plastic made from cactus wouldn’t necessarily help stop the flow of trash into waterways. But the researchers say that the material biodegrades quickly and is nontoxic if it’s eaten. And unlike plastic made from fossil fuels, the cactus-based plastic is carbon neutral as it breaks down–the carbon dioxide it emits equals the carbon dioxide it took in as a plant as it grew.

[Photo: Sandra Pascoe Ortiz]

The prickly pear cactus used in the experiment, which grows locally, is well suited to become plastic. “The cactus of this species contains a large amount of sugars and gums that favor the formation of the biopolymer,” says Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, a chemical engineering professor at the University of the Valley of Atemajac, who is leading the research.

Cactus also has another advantage over some other plants that are currently used to make plastic. Corn, for example, which is often used to make compostable forks or cups, still has an environmental footprint from the fertilizer and other resources used to grow it. It’s also using land that could be used to grow food. Cactus, which survives in harsh environments with little or no intervention, can grow on land that doesn’t make sense for farming. “It does not require much care for its cultivation and production,” says Pascoe Ortiz.

The resulting material isn’t yet as long-lasting as plastic made from fossil fuels. But it could still be useful in some applications. “We are thinking of products that are disposable, single-use, or that do not need to be durable,” she says. It may also be more biodegradable than other alternatives; corn-based plastic, for example, is unlikely to break down unless it’s in an industrial composting facility, and most consumers still don’t have access to that type of facility. The cactus-based plastic can biodegrade in a backyard composter within a few months.

The researchers are currently working with a company that is interested in bringing the material to market.

Source – FastCompany 

Aboriginal approach to mental health in times of drought

In Australia, psychological tools developed with Aboriginal people can also support farmers whose land is suffering the effects of climate change.

‘If the land is sick, you are sick’

A coal truck roars past, stirring up red dust that blows over the famished cattle and sheep lying in grassless paddocks. The carcasses of dead kangaroos lie next to empty water troughs. There is no birdsong.

Some say it has been the worst drought in a century here across the central and eastern part of Australia. As in other parts of the world, climate change and land clearing are driving soaring temperatures and extreme weather events, including heatwaves and droughts. Australia already sees several weeks each year when temperatures climb above 45ºC, but few people were prepared for the drying-up of dams and waterways.

Food insecurity is now a real threat in parts of the country as livestock and wildlife are dying in inner New South Wales. Farmers are struggling; rates of depression and anxiety are increasing among those who stay.

“I was sleeping for 15 hours a day,” says Richard, a cattle farmer living near White Cliffs in western NSW. “I felt so sick and tired I thought I had cancer. But it was depression.”

His depression hit just before this drought, and was brought on, he thinks, by extreme stress and family issues. But drought only adds to farmers’ stress: it degrades the land, which makes it harder to earn a living.

In 2018, a study from the University of Newcastle in NSW found that farmers in rural parts of the state experienced “significant stress about the effects of drought on themselves, their families and their communities”. Other research suggests that income insecurity related to drought increases the risk of suicide among farmers.

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Psychologist Pat Dudgeon at the University of Western Australia is used to people suffering in response to extreme stress. She was Australia’s first Aboriginal psychologist, and specialised in suicide prevention because of the mental health issues in her community in the Kimberley, a region of north-west Australia.

Throughout Australia, rates of suicide have increased dramatically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the past 30 years. The rise is due to ongoing issues of racism, poverty and intergenerational pain, the legacy of centuries of colonisation and mistreatment by British and Australian governments. For instance, many Aboriginal people have had their land taken from them and been forcibly removed to live in missions or be fostered by non-Aboriginal people.

Dudgeon believes many lessons can be learned about grief and trauma from the loss of land and culture that Aboriginal people have experienced. She says psychology can move away from the Western tradition of expert and patient, towards a more narrative form based on Aboriginal traditions and reconnecting with the land. And as more psychologists begin to incorporate these Aboriginal concepts into their practice, such a combined approach might help farmers dealing with drought to reconnect with the land and improve their mental health, too.

“If the land is sick, you are sick,” says Fiona Livingstone, who manages a suicide prevention programme at the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health.

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She explains that the traditional Aboriginal concept of health is much broader than that of conventional Western medicine. Aboriginal people, she says, are deeply connected to “country”, the place with which they have spiritual ties. The personal, social and ecological are closely interconnected: “health” is the state in which they are all in balance.

Prolonged drought affects Aboriginal communities in farming regions economically, because it leads to a lack of work. There’s also grief at the loss of nature from the deaths of wild animals and plants. These experiences of not being able to take care of the land during long periods of drought increase stress, leading to an increase in antisocial and risk-taking behaviour such as drug dependence and drinking. People begin to “mistrust each other, gossip maliciously and turn against each other,” say the authors of one report. Droughts can have the effect of “exacerbating underlying grief and trauma”.

Read the full article at Scroll 

A Plane Made Only From Hemp ?

Hempearth, the Canadian cannabis firm, has designed the world’s first plane made and powered by hemp – the non-psychoactive member of the cannabis family 10 times stronger than steel. Interestingly, everything from the seats, the wings, the plane walls and even the pillows are made from hemp. The plane, with a wingspan of 36 feet, can hold one pilot and four passengers. What’s more? It runs on 100% hemp oil!

Hemp is lighter than traditional aerospace materials (such as aluminium and fiberglass) and therefore requires a lot less fuel to reach a high altitude. Most importantly, hemp is non-toxic, sustainable, requires way less water and land to grow than cotton, and compared to steel or carbon fibre, has almost no environmental impact.

Hempearth CEO Derek Kesek says:

“This plane project is our first experiment with industrial hemp, and we plan to explore many other uses. Once we establish structural testing and information from this project, we will apply it to other forms of construction. This is the kind of future we all want here on Earth. The sky may not be the limit.”

Hempearth is also developing hemp composites in Montreal, which could replace all fiberglass in aviation and other industries — such as construction.  It recently turned down Dupont as they “don’t and never will sign or work with fascist companies that are associated with military, The Rockefellers, The Rothchilds and or the Military Industrial Complex”.

“I build things organically and take it one thing at a time,” Kesek adds. “Richard Branson is my biggest inspiration because he is showing that it’s not business as usual any more: if you want something you go get it.”

When the first hemp plane is completed, its first flight is set to take place at The Wright Brother’s Memorial in Kitty Hawk North Carolina – the birthplace of aviation.

Outlaw: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur

FX has announced a new slate of documentary series, including one about Tupac and his mother Afeni Shakur. The network has greenlit Outlaw: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur, a five-episode series directed by Allen Hughes.

“Told through the eyes of the people who knew them best, Outlaw is an intimate wide-angle portrait of the most inspiring and dangerous mother-son duo in American history, whose unified message of freedom, equality, persecution and justice are more relevant today than ever,” FX said in a press release.

Political and social activist and Black Panther member Afeni Shakur looks up while photographing the scene during a rally in support of the Panther 21, New York, New York, April 4, 1970. The Panther 21 were Black Panther members arrested by New York police under suspicion of planning a series of bombings, charges that were eventually dropped against all the defendents. (Photo by David Fenton/Getty Images)

Hughes previously directed HBO’s 2017 miniseries The Defiant Ones, which profiled Dr. Dre and Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine. According to Deadline, the director secured a deal with the Tupac Estate to access released and unreleased recordings, writings and poetry in May.

Last year, Hughes recalled some of his dealings with the Tupac Estate for his HBO series during an interview with The Wrap.

“The Tupac Estate was — and I know them, they’re all old friends — but there was some stuff with him at the gun range that they were precious about,” he said. “My original cut is not the way it [eventually aired]. The family and the estate were really sensitive about taking things out of context when it came to weapons in his hands, you know? He was at a shooting range and it was pretty explosive in the original cut, and they were very, very, very adamant that we not do it that way.”

FX hasn’t revealed a premiere date for Outlaw. An official announcement is expected in the coming months.

Source – HipHopDX 

Giant Golden Buddha

I’ve been thinking and getting more encouragement to begin sharing some of the good stories I have in the book of life. Many of them experiences everyone can relate to and some not so relatable one of a kind. I think I will be doing a podcast “Introducing the Cube” and I want to start the first episode talking about that one time my friend Jenny surprised me by bringing me inside a temple in China town that I’ve walked past every day after eating a handful of mushrooms. I like the way the audio sounds on iPhone so I may wing it from the good ol X for now but either way be on the look out for the cubes.

How to Become a Psychedelic Therapist?

 

As recent trials of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy enter the last phase of testing, the coming need for many trained therapists and guides seems inevitable. Until recently, the only opportunity to train and work legally as a psychedelic therapist was in clinical trials. That will likely change over time as expanded access becomes the next step for current trials (evaluating MDMA and psilocybin) and if psychedelic-assisted therapies become FDA approved.

Many people are looking for information about psychedelic therapy and opportunities to become guides or therapists after reading Michael Pollan’s new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence [1]Providers are seeking trainings to become more informed about psychedelic experiences. They also want to know how to become certified to administer psychedelics in clinical trials and potentially post approval.

Still, there remain many unknowns about what training programs outside of the drug sponsors will be acceptable by FDA to dispense MDMA or psilocybin post-approval. FDA has never regulated psychotherapy, but medical devices often require training in a certified program. Demonstration of competency and maintaining of the acquired skills is required for compliance with regulatory agencies. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is one example of a specialized device with specific training requirements. It’s not yet known how FDA will regulate trainings for psychedelic-assisted therapies.

When Can I Offer Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy?

The FDA may approve MDMA for PTSD treatment as early as 2021, as MAPS has projected based on an optimistic (and likely realistic) finding of significant and positive results from two on-going Phase 3 trials. If so, thousands of therapists and doctors will be needed to meet the increased demand and opportunity for greater access. PTSD can be a difficult to treat condition with many individuals not accessing or responding to available treatments, so this call for expanded access will be an exciting opportunity to provide care to a much larger number of people who are currently suffering.

The next likely candidate for FDA approval after MDMA is psilocybin for the treatment of depression. In late 2018, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy designation for psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression, which will help expedite its approval as long as results from clinical trials remain positive

What are the Options for Training in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy?

Despite many unknowns, some training programs already exist, and many more are expected to become available.

In 2015, the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) started a formal training program called the Certificate in Psychedelic-assisted Therapies and Research. The hybrid residential, in-person and online curriculum is a roughly 9-month course with rotating guest lecturers and a weeklong retreat. This program is broad in focus, interdisciplinary, and covers classic psychedelic medicines (e.g., psilocybin, ayahuasca, peyote, LSD) as well as the newer medicines (sometimes labeled empathogens or entactogens) like MDMA and ketamine.

To enroll in the CIIS certificate program, interested individuals must fill out an application, complete an interview, and receive an offer from the program’s selection committee. Applicants are required to be a licensed mental health or medical professional, counseling attorneys, or ordained or commissioned clergy and chaplains. The tuition cost is currently set at $10,000. There are several information sessions scheduled throughout the year to explain more and answer questions about the program. Each cohort generally starts in the Spring and graduates in December.

More substance-specific trainings also exist. In anticipation of Expanded Access approval, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has now posted an application for the MDMA Therapy Training Program with an invitation to apply. Training is currently prioritized for providers who would likely qualify for the Expanded Access program. If accepted by FDA, more clinics will open for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD treatment during expanded access. Requirements for clinics and providers are provided as is a forum for providers to connect with others who are interested in starting up MDMA clinics.

While no strict criteria have been released about who would qualify, the MAPS website states that at minimum one person in the therapy team pair must be licensed to conduct psychotherapy. While the other person does not need to be licensed, they “must display training in therapeutic relationship, ethics, and traumas.”

Each clinic also needs a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) license, which requires a licensed medical provider who can prescribe (e.g., medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), or other eligible prescriber). MAPS encourages interested providers to apply now in preparation for the expected post-FDA approval. The cost for training and supervision is currently set at $9,000.

Other industry drug sponsors, such as Usona Institute and COMPASS Pathways, and researchers at various universities have devised their own trainings and ways to prepare clinicians to work on clinical trials of psychedelics. At this time, there are no details posted on websites about what the trainings consist of, but journal publications have described procedures, such as the Usona Guide Manual [2].

What Do You Learn in the Training Programs?

The CIIS program is approximately 180 hours and covers a wider range of topics related to psychedelic therapies. More time is spent on historical and philosophical aspects of non-ordinary states of consciousness, including non-substance induced ones as seen in Holotropic Breathwork and deep meditation. The learning objectives are focused more broadly on psychedelics and empathogens, rather than specifically on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy [3].

The MAPS program is a 5-part course with didactic training and experiential learning components. Trainees start with online e-learning modules covering MDMA pharmacology and its clinical safety profile, an introduction to the MDMA Treatment Manual [4], and some basics about clinical trials. A week-long, in-person training follows where MDMA session videos are viewed and discussed with the therapists who treated the study participants. The next parts involve role playing, observing MDMA sessions, and then treating a patient with supervision and evaluation from the trainers.

Some parts of these two programs overlap significantly. For example, the weeklong in-person retreat for both programs focuses on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and are taught by Michael and Anne Mithoefer, MDMA study therapists and lead instructors at MAPS.

What are the Experiential Learning Components of Trainings?

Dating back to the first research studies of LSD in the 1950s, a first-hand experience in a non-ordinary state of consciousness has been perceived valuable for administering psychedelics. It’s thought that by understanding the drug effects, the therapists can more readily establish empathetic rapport and presence to support a person’s therapeutic process. They can also be better able to respect the power and significance of these experiences.

For indigenous communities, it’s deemed essential that shamans or ceremonial leaders have personal experience with the psychoactive plants they give to others. But in Western medical practices, it is rarely the case that doctors are encouraged (or even allowed) to take a medication to understand the effects a patient would feel.

Thus, psychedelics present a new challenge for psychiatric medical training. If there is value in having a personal experience, then how can providers legally pursue an experiential learning component to their training? To date the evidence of potential benefits of doing so remain anecdotal due to lack of approved controlled research.

CIIS’s program is an “above board” program with no use of illicit substances. MAPS, however, received approval in their sponsored, FDA-approved studythat allows trainees in their program to receive one dose of MDMA in a clinical setting if they also are eligible for the research study as a participant. As with all clinical trials, participants in the approved study must meet criteria to enroll and provide data to assess potential benefits or harms. Even if they meet the basic inclusion criteria, trainees are not required to undergo an MDMA session. Some might have conditions that would counter-indicate the use of MDMA. For example, pregnant women or individuals with cardiac disease would be excluded. Trainees may also simply not want to take a drug.

As alluded to earlier, Holotropic Breathwork is one alternative to reach a non-ordinary state of consciousness without consuming any substance. Through accelerated breathing and stimulating music, a person can enter into states similar to ones induced by drugs.

CIIS incorporates Holotropic Breathwork as experiential learning in their program. Therapists may consider alternatives, but they should do so while considering carefully the legal and ethical guidelines of their licensing board and professional organizations. Psychedelic Support and its partners do not encourage or condone the illegal use of substances.

Given this reality, other possible alternatives for experiential learning do exist. They include attending plant medicine ceremonies in other countries where it is legal, shamanic drumming/chanting practices, or extended meditation. Research is needed to understand if first-hand exposure by therapists impacts patient outcomes, and if so, what type of drugs or experiences are best for training. We encourage therapists exploring this new area to consult with their colleagues and even seek out legal counsel as they deem appropriate.

What Can I do Now?

If becoming a psychedelic therapist is of interest to you, then there are things you can do now to help figure out if this path is right for you and if so, prepare for the future. You can start by reading books and articles about psychedelic-assisted therapies. If you want hands-on experience supporting individuals undergoing a difficult psychedelic experience, one great way to do so is to volunteer for harm reduction services at festivals.

Already a health provider? Network with other professionals interested in this topic and attend psychedelic conferences. If you are a clinician, consider joining a Psychedelic 101 and 102 Introductory Course by Psychedelic Support providers, Dr. Elizabeth Neilson and Dr. Ingmar Gorman. Check out our website Psychedelic.Support to view a current list of organizations offering professional trainings related to psychedelics.

Lastly, educate yourself and share what you are learning with others. A new profession is evolving, and more opportunities are becoming available for those who wish to pursue a career in psychedelic medicine.

References

  1. Pollan, M. (2018). How to change your mind: what the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. London, United Kingdom: Penguin.
  2. Cooper, K. (2014). Guide manual for pharmacokinetics of psilocybin in healthy adult volunteers study (Unpublished manuscript). University of Wisconsin, Madison.
  3. Phelps, J. (2017). Developing guidelines and competencies for the training of psychedelic therapists. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 57(5), 450-487.
  4. Mithoefer M. (2017). A Manual for MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Version (8.1).

Psychedelic Philanthropy

An unusual array of donors

Philanthropy is essential to this research. The stigma around psychedelic drugs remains so strong that there’s little government support for the research. With a budget of $1.8bn, the National Institute of Mental Health is the largest funder of research on mental illness in the world, but almost none of this money goes towards studies of psychedelics.

With a few exceptions, drug companies are disinterested as well.

“Psychedelics are off-patent, can’t be monopolized, and compete with other psychiatric medications that people take daily,” explains Rick Doblin, the founder and director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, a research and advocacy group that is the leading nonprofit in the field.

Rick Doblin

Two years ago, MAPS’ own research into the use of MDMA, also known as ecstasy, to treat post-traumatic stress disorder was granted “breakthrough therapy” designation by the FDA. MAPS’ protocol, which combines therapy with three administrations of MDMA, is currently in a final phase of clinical trials, and could gain FDA approval as soon as 2021.

MAPS has been sustained entirely by donations from individuals and family foundations. These donors include ex-hippies, liberal activists, New Age types, political conservatives, technology entrepreneurs and an anonymous Bitcoin millionaire known as Pine. Prominent American families, including the Rockefellers and the Hyatts, have funded research.

Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz — he’s the billionaire co-founder of Facebook — have supported three nonprofits that focus on research into psychedelics. Good Ventures, their family foundation, has made two $100,000 grants to the Heffter Institute and a $500,000 grant to the Usona Institute for research testing the use of psilocybin to treat depression. Good Ventures also made two $500,000 grants to MAPS for its research into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.

The philanthropy of Tuna and Moskovitz has been influenced by effective altruism, which encourages people to use reason and evidence to do as much good as they can. EAs look for causes that are importanttractableand neglected (for explanations, see this and this), which makes psychedelic research an excellent fit. The suffering from mental illness is widespread, there’s growing evidence that psychedelics can help and relatively few philanthropic dollars flow into the cause — well under $100m a year, by my estimate. By comparison, the American Cancer Society spent $838m and the American Heart Association spent $890m in their most recent fiscal years.

“If you look at the amount of funding for brain research, as compared to other illnesses, such as cancer, it’s minuscule,” says Dr. Borenstein of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Particularly as we learn more about the workings of the brain through scans, the opportunity to help those who suffer from mental illness is growing.

That said, there’s reason to be skeptical about psychedelic therapy, as blogger and psychiatrist Scott Alexander explains. He writes, among other things, that “between 10% and 50% of Americans have tried psychedelics. If psychedelics did something shocking, we would already know about it.” It’s important not to let the exuberance surrounding psychedelics get too far out front of the evidence.

Psychedelics’ transformative potential

Meantime, the advocacy work being done on behalf of psychedelics could have even more world-changing potential, some say. The advocacy is driven by a simple but profound belief: That people should have the freedom to choose what substances to put into their bodies.

For many, the mind-expanding benefits of psychedelics could outweigh the risks: An intriguing 2006 study led by Dr. Roland Griffiths at Johns Hopkins found that psilocybin could reliably lead to “mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance.” It was a small study, with just 30 volunteers, but two-third of them said the drug trip was among the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives.

By starting Atman Retreat in Jamaica, Nesmith-Beck will make psilocybin legally available to those who can spend four days and about $1700, plus airfare, for a group experience with doses tailored to each user’s preferences, preparation and integration with trained facilitators, and amenities such as beachfront access and vegetarian meals. His first retreat aims to attract EAs, and it is mostly filled.

On an Effective Altruism Forum, Nesmith-Beck makes a bold claim:

We believe increasing access to high quality psychedelic experiences can be impactful for improving mental health, boosting personal efficacy, perhaps making people more altruistic, and promoting human flourishing in the long run.

I heard similar claims while reporting my story for The Chronicle. Several enthusiasts told me that psychedelic experiences will connect people more closely to nature, and there’s at least weak evidence that people who have experienced LSD, psilocybin and mescaline during their lifetimes feel closer to nature and engage in ecological behaviors like recycling. Of course, that could be a matter of correlation, not causation.

Allan Badiner, a writer, editor and environmental activist, has experimented with psychedelics while supporting environmental causes. He served on the board of the Rainforest Action Network for more than 25 years and now helps to fund for psychedelic research and advocacy at the Threshold Foundation.

Read the full article at Medium