Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Psychedelic Therapy: an expert discussion at Splore 2019

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  • andin,

    Great discussion thanks for transcribing it.
    What is being looked for in risk assessment for ibogaine? Heart condition, physical or mental health, or does death just drop out of a clear blue sky? So to speak...
    Did ayahuasca in NZ a very personal experience it was too, no black snakes tho :-)
    I find myself wondering if ones life up to that point was an influence on the experience a person has? I mean there were elements in common but the experience is unique. MDMA is certainly one of the gentler mind enhancers(if thats right word)
    What part does someones fear of losing control have? And I dont want to start superficially categorizing large groups of the population. But many just wont even entertain the thought. I just have no ide, let alone evidence. And yes set and setting is all important.
    10 years for MDMA to be cleared in godzone? Jeez I hope. Just how conservative is that environment?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andin,

    Great discussion thanks for transcribing it.

    Heh. I just ran the discussion and published it. Emma Hart transcribed it (6000+ words!) and Bart Janssen made the kind offer to pay her for doing so. The drug policy panel from the same Splore session will be next.

    What is being looked for in risk assessment for ibogaine? Heart condition, physical or mental health, or does death just drop out of a clear blue sky? So to speak…

    Given that the issue is coronary, the first of those. But I don’t know if screening for heart conditions helps.

    Did ayahuasca in NZ a very personal experience it was too, no black snakes tho :-) I find myself wondering if ones life up to that point was an influence on the experience a person has? I mean there were elements in common but the experience is unique.

    The businessman I interviewed did observe that he may have been able to go into measured contemplation after the initial 45-minute rocket ride “because I haven’t really had any trauma to deal with”.

    That may also be why ibogaine experiences are reported as being so challenging. If you’re taking it for drug or alcohol dependence, by definition you’re already at the end of your tether.

    MDMA is certainly one of the gentler mind enhancers (if thats right word)

    But it is an amphetamine-related drug and thus unsuitable for long-term use. By contrast, I already know someone who apparently successfully manages his long-term manic-depressive condition with more-than-once-a-week LSD microdosing. (In that he’s coherent, happy and runs a successful business.)

    It would be good to know more about the difference in effect between microdosing and the now fairly established “big reset” phenomenon of higher doses. Given that Suresh really likes measuring people’s brains, I expect we’ll find out some of that in his study :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Thanks to Emma and Bart :-)

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Emma Hart transcribed it (6000+ words!)

    Boy does my spellcheck know some new words now.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Fascinating discussion. I'm strongly reminded of discussions about toxins - the rule is that everything is toxic, it just depends on the dose. And the same thing kept coming up here - it's the dose that's important for the effect.

    The obvious problem is that without good trials you can't get a handle on the dose or worse find out if dose is different for different people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Smokey Smokersen,

    This is such refreshing progress and partially redeems me from annoying people for years with rants about the coming treatment 'revolution'.

    I've been living with depression for decades and a recent diagnosis of dysthmia helped me understand its persistence. I've been using psychedelics (mainly LSD & MDMA) for a couple of those decades, sporadically, for both recreational and therapeutic purposes and I recognised early on that they were helping me.

    Integrating my early experiences would have been so much more successful and useful if I'd been able to do so with guidance from a professional.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Mar 2019 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to ,

    Of what?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to ,

    Okay, the correct way to take acid, is with one of these.

    The Merry Pranksters MC rides again!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to ,

    Sounds very healthy. How do you plan to avoid reinfection on you return? It can be a problem sometimes. Thats if you plan to return long term ;-}

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to ,

    ...but all that pedantic compliance to endless inventions of extra rules just because...

    Indeed. We had two tradies in the house the other day and one of them was wearing these...https://colorex.co.nz/shop/products/plastering-tools/plasterers-red-stilts/ .

    The other thought they might be the answer to his problem.

    His firm was sub contracting to one of the Big Guys, who in paying due homage to the gods of Workplace Safety had banned all subbies from using ladders. Yes, you read right. No ladders, and scaffolding to be used....even when changing a simple light bulb.

    Don't despair steven, you're not the only one having thoughts that somehow the world has gone just more than a little weird...and that without the assistance of mind altering chemicals.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to ,

    pedantic compliance to endless inventions of extra rules just because,

    otherwise known as Bureaucratic Arse Covering. So in the unlikely event of anything happening its not their fault, they dont have to pay for any cost incurred its on your head, they might sue you for unsafe work practice, revoke any licence and charge you again for the licence and just to reiterate its not their fault.
    Good luck with all that ;-o

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to ,

    left had right hand protocols are culturally significant in his environment.

    I know because of the food consumption/ toileting protocols in those cultures left handedness may cause problems I didnt know it extended to writing I guess it does.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to ,

    the form was mainly in Hindi but with the odd english word

    Language use in India always deserves a footnote! The language spoken in the station office was most likely Hindustani, a colloquial dialect of Northern India used as a lingua franca throughout the Indian rail system, and also used in Bollywood film dialogue. Hindustani is related to the standard varieties of both Hindi and Urdu: the three names were historically used interchangeably, and “Hindustani” has (less often) been used as a cover term for the entire Hindi-to-Urdu dialect chain. Hence the forms written in Hindi. (Though it’s also true that Modi has promoted Hindi as the preferred standard over all other languages throughout the past decade, so it’s possible even the spoken variety has been shifting more towards Hindi.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • Smokey Smokersen,

    Ketamine for depression in NZ. I've been watching progress on this and might put my hand up for a try when it's available.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/111644630/ketamine-could-have-big-impact-on-nzs-struggle-with-depression

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Mar 2019 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Fascinating discussion. I’m strongly reminded of discussions about toxins – the rule is that everything is toxic, it just depends on the dose. And the same thing kept coming up here – it’s the dose that’s important for the effect.

    The obvious problem is that without good trials you can’t get a handle on the dose or worse find out if dose is different for different people.

    The interesting thing with psychedelics is that dose isn’t related to toxicity as we usually understand it. LSD is active at the microgram level and a tripping dose is 75-100 micrograms.

    We literally don’t know what the LD50 for LSD is, but given that high doses cause vasoconstriction and raised body temperature there must be one. One estimate cited here on Erowid’s page on the question is 14,000 mcg, or 140 high doses. (As Geoff notes, ibogaine is in a separate category, because there is a documented cardiac risk at high therapeutic doses.)

    So we’re not really talking about pharmacological deaths. Psychiatric risk? Sure. So care – good old set and setting, assistance if required with integrating the experience – is really important. It seems very significant that severe adverse reactions are basically unknown in the modern studies.

    We still don’t really know how a single tiny dose of these drugs can produce lasting changes in cases of depression and addiction. But we do know that they have profound temporary effects on brain activity. From the story last year where I interviewed Suresh:

    One particular set of studies described by Pollan, marshalled by British researcher Robin Carhart-Harris, has led to a relatively new theory about why psychedelics work as they do. When subjects were given psychedelics and had their brain activity observed with a technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), which measures electrical activity, it became apparent that a set of structures in the brain called the Default Mode Network was effectively taken offline.

    The DMN is essentially how we get by day-to-day; it deploys a bundle of default assumptions about who we are, what we know and what our senses tell us, based on what they’ve told us in the past. It’s bossy and efficient. But it’s also implicated in undesirable repetitive behaviours like depression and addiction. When it was quieted in the subjects, the other parts of the brain lit up and began communicating with each other and neuroplasticity increased. People became unstuck.

    “The thing that amazed me when I first looked at the data was just how massive the effects were,” says Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, a lecturer at the Auckland School of Medicine who did the brain imaging for Carhart-Harris’ psilocybin and LSD studies. “I’d been playing around with giving people drugs and measuring brain signals for a few years at that point and I’d never seen data like this before. What the hell was happening to this person’s brain?

    “When we went into the study we weren’t even sure it was going to do anything for us to record. But here were these gobsmackingly massive effects, a profound effect on brain function."

    Suresh also noted that the benefits of ketamine in relieving intractable depression manifest the day after, when the patient has no ketamine left in their system. I put it to him that it seemed like a more benign version of ECT, and he didn’t disagree. And like ECT, the anti-depressive benefits of ketamine dissipate and can only be maintained via top-ups.

    And yet alongside this kind of “big reset” at high therapeutic doses, we have the even-less-well-understood phenomenon of microdosing (which, at 1/10th of a dose isn’t really all that “micro”), which may increase creativity, openness and a sense of wellbeing. Suresh and Will’s microdosing study is going to be very interesting to watch.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to ,

    Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous experimented with psychedelic therapy.

    He was a huge fan and actually tried to persuade his colleagues in the organisation to embrace it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    If anyone wants some Saturday viewing, the 1966 NBC feature on the Spring Grove Experiments is worth a look:

    The outcomes from nearly 20 years of treating mental illness and alcoholism were largely (but not universally) positive. But watching it now, I was horrified at times by the style of the treatment, which leans heavily on a kind of psychotherapy (especially the dynamic between patient and therapist) that's not fashionable now. I was thinking "Get your hands off that woman!" and "Back the fuck off, man!" quite a lot as I watched it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Suresh is a real treasure :-) by the sound of it

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andin,

    Suresh is a real treasure :-) by the sound of it

    He's great. And I respect that fact that he's determinedly not an advocate, just an open-minded scientist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    A fascinating watch! And, yes, me too with the incredibly hands on approach. Also, quite a lot of leading questions.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Speaking of 'dreamtime' which no one was specifically, but almost...
    There was an excellent documentary on Maori TV tonight (by Werner Herzog) about the internet and its impact on society, called: 'Lo and Behold: Reveries of the connected World' - well worth a look if you can find it -
    the question came up "does the internet dream of itself?'
    I think it can be found on their on demand service. if you are quick.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    For some reason, this 2017 Vice story on one of the Imperial College studies (perhaps one of the ones Suresh worked on, I haven't checked) washed up in my Facebook feed.

    "Several of our patients described feeling 'reset' after the treatment and often used computer analogies," Robin Carhart-Harris, who led the study, said in a statement. "For example, one said he felt like his brain had been 'defragged' like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt 'rebooted.' Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary 'kick start' they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a 'reset' analogy. Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy.

    The 60s gave ECT a bad press. It’s actually a very effective treatment with relatively few side effects.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Neil,

    shocking developments
    They seem to be having success in various areas with running much lower currents through areas of the brain to stimulate it - it need not be up in the 'convulsive' order of charge.

    We are after all, all Galvanic beings...

    see
    https://healthtalk.unchealthcare.org/your-brain-on-electricity/

    We are what we eat...
    I was also interested to read that the 'gut-brain' neurons are replaced almost every couple of weeks.
    at New Scientist but behind the pay wall.
    general info here
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/your-gut-directly-connected-your-brain-newly-discovered-neuron-circuit

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

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