As humans have searched for answers to their most pressing questions over the centuries, psychedelics have played a part in the psychospiritual development of many cultures around the globe, in addition to being used as a medicine to treat acute disorders and illnesses. And while the 20th century saw an encompassing legal crackdown on psychedelics, it seems as though our global attitudes are shifting. As we enter this new renaissance of psychedelic research, studies are showing their benefits in the treatment of the “illnesses of society” like depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, and other mental ailments.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about psychedelics and their use for psychospiritual and medicinal healing:
Psychedelics are a classification of plant-based and synthetic substances that are known for producing non-ordinary states of consciousness that are so powerful and unique that they are most often compared to near-death experiences or states of religious ecstasy. Beyond the stigmas surrounding these powerful medicines, there lies a rich story of ancient human history, scientific discovery, and medicinal therapy.
Hallucinogen, entheogen, and psychedelic are all words used to describe a class of uniquely powerful consciousness-shifting substances, and while they are very similar, they do have some important and illuminating distinctions. Each of these terms describes the effects of consciousness alteration in a slightly different way, which gives us a fascinating insight into how we understand these compounds and the visionary state they produce.
The legal status of psychedelics is an ever-evolving topic that differs from country to country, and, so far, there’s no global consensus about how these visionary substances should be legally treated. While laws in the US still classify psychedelics as Schedule I substances with “no medicinal value,” organizations and governments around the world are recognizing the failure of the War on Drugs and our need to reconsider psychedelics’ medicinal value.
Psychedelics have an incredible amount to offer humanity, but like every powerful medicine, these mind-expanding plants and chemicals should never be taken lightly, used recklessly, or approached without research and great care. The dangers of street drugs, history of mental illness or heart disease in the family, and interactions with prescription drugs are all considerations to make before undertaking a psychedelic experience.
Psychedelic therapy is the practice of using the revelatory and pattern-dissolving properties of psychedelic substances such as LSD, MDMA , or ayahuasca to promote trauma release, healing, and personal growth. In this type of therapy, small doses of psychedelics are administered as a way to break through a patient’s mental blockages to get to the root of their condition and supplement their therapeutic treatment.
Integration is arguably the single most important factor in what gives a psychedelic experience lasting therapeutic and personal growth value. Many experienced leaders in the psychedelic movement have stressed the importance of both intention setting and integration in working with psychedelics, which can involve working with a counselor to process and integrate the lessons of a psychedelic experience in a lasting and positive way.
The old stereotype about psychedelics warned that taking them too much may make you go off your rocker and be crazy for the rest of your life. But contemporary research suggests that not only are these fears vastly over-exaggerated, but that for psychedelics actually show huge promise in treating mental disorders like anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and addiction.
Harm reduction psychotherapy is a new model of psychotherapy — often with a focus on substance use and abuse — that defies most everything we know about traditional rehab or addiction recovery. Whereas conventional models of addiction treatment require complete abstinence, the goals and forms of someone’s treatment plan is tailored to their desired relationship to a substance whether they want to abstain completely or want to just use them more responsibly.
LSD was first discovered in the 1930s by Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman, when its primary use was by psychologists as a therapeutic tool and prescription drug. With growing evidence and recognition of LSD’s therapeutic benefits for treating depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders, will it be a prescription drug once again in the not-too-distant future?
To cultures around the world, plant medicine healing is both a reproducible science and a delicate magic. And historically, potent psychedelic plant medicines were seen as capable of healing the mind, the body, and the soul. Today we are in many ways rediscovering this same understanding through the lens of scientific study as we learn that what was once dismissed as superstition is actually grounded in numerous verifiable facts of human neurochemistry, physiology, and psychology.
Over twenty years ago, former heroin addict and scientist Howard Lotsof filed a series of patents for an alternative addiction treatment that contained ibogaine, the active chemical in the traditional West African psychedelic iboga.
Since then, research has only supported Lotsof’s experiences with ibogaine’s potential to treat addiction, prompting the National Institute on Drug Abuse to include ibogaine on the list of drugs to be evaluated in the treatment of drug dependency.
Ibogaine has been hailed as a miracle drug, an unparalleled addiction interrupter, and a oneirophrenic — or “waking dream creator” — by some experts. This alkaloid (ibogaine hydrochloride in full) is the name of the principal active compound in iboga, a psychedelic plant native to Gabon that has long been used for spiritual rituals by the Bwiti tribe. While each can be used for a psychedelic experience, understanding the difference in their application and effects is important to deciding which is right for you.
DMT is a psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family that naturally occurs in the human body and, in fact, in every living being. This powerful psychedelic instigates a very quick but intense psychedelic experience. Researchers have reported finding DMT in the pineal gland of rodents, which has led to the widespread belief that DMT also occurs in the human pineal gland, an endocrine organ intimately connected to spirituality, imagination, and creativity.
DMT is known for taking people on nail-biting adventures into other realities and other dimensions, leaving those who partake in it overwhelmed with a kaleidoscope of emotions and a novel set of experiences that defy comprehension, much less description. But while language is an inadequate tool for describing the depth of a DMT experience, there are some themes that many DMT experiences have in common, which can help us to better understand the incomprehensible landscapes that DMT brings us to.
Drug prohibition isn’t just one of the most hotly contested issues of our day, it’s an issue that has resulted in some of the most far-reaching consequences for both American citizens and people living around the world. The US has led this global effort to prohibit, stigmatize, and eradicate these substances, but this approach, known as the War on Drugs, has taken a huge toll on human rights, public health, and crime rates.
Whereas only a few decades ago possession of psychedelic substances was outlawed and psychedelic research banned, we now live in a day where marijuana is legal in several states,and research into psychedelic substances is pouring in at an incredible rate. That’s not just good news for those that oppose the War on Drugs or advocate for freedom of consciousness, but for the people suffering from afflictions that psychedelic therapy helps treat.