Therapeutic Bases of Psychedelic Medicine: Psychointegrative Effects

This introductory chapter looks at psychedelic medicine from a cross-cultural perspective, illustrating the therapeutic and spiritual interpretations of their uses in many societies. The cross-cultural similarities in their use and interpretation reflect a biological foundation for their uses and effects. The chapter addresses some of the standard interpretations of these substances’ mechanisms of action in the serotonergic neurotransmitter system. The author’s analyses of the systemic effects of serotonergic transmission, and the interaction of the psychedelic medicines with serotonergic mechanisms, provide the basis for characterizing their effects as psychointegrative. Psychedelics produce a disinhibition of informational, emotional, and visual processes and stimulation of the integration of limbic system processes within the neocortex. This in effect integrates behavioral and emotional dynamics with the rational processes of the symbolic brain.

KRIYA: Ketamine Research Institute

KRIYA Institute is devoted to understanding the therapeutic properties of ketamine (and related medicines). We provide clinical services directly to patients; we give presentations about therapeutic ketamine in a variety of settings; we offer consultation services to physicians and therapists; and we run KRIYA Conference, which was the first conference in the world devoted to the use of ketamine. Our mission is to bring together the most rigorous Science and an appreciation of Spirit in the study of psychospiritual medicines such as ketamine.

Set, Setting, and Matrix

The future use of psychedelics as an aid to therapeutic change is bound to come. The best source of information on how to use these extraordinary drugs is clearly a detailed description of the successes (and failures) of those researchers who have used these compounds to bring curative, creative and growth-potentiating experiences to their patients. A study of their work is recommended in order to identify those elements that lead to successful sessions. Two known essential elements are “set,” which involves the personality and expectations of the patient, and “setting,” which has to do with the environment of the session. A third element of importance is that of “matrix,” which includes consideration of the environment (1) from which an individual comes, (2) in which the individual lives during the time of the sessions, and (3) to which the individual returns after successful therapy—the everyday living space; these three elements are discussed.

Human Nature and the Nature of Reality: Conceptual Challenges From Consciousness Research

Holotropic states (a large special subgroup of nonordinary states of consciousness) have been the focus of many fields of modem research, such as experiential psychotherapy, clinical and laboratory work with psychedelic substances, field anthropology, thanatology, and therapy with individuals undergoing psychospiritual crises (“spiritual emergencies”). This research has generated a plethora of extraordinary observations that have undermined some of the most fundamental assumptions of modem psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy. Some of these new findings seriously challenge the most basic philosophical tenets of Western science concerning the relationship between matter, life, and consciousness. This article summarizes the most important major revisions that would have to be made in our understanding of consciousness and of the human psyche in health and disease to accomodate these conceptual challenges. These areas of changes include; a new understanding and cartography of the human psyche; the nature and architecture of emotional and psychosomatic disorders; therapeutic mechanisms and the process of healing; the strategy of psychotherapy and self-exploration; the role of spirituality in human life; and the nature of reality.

Integrating Underground Psychedelic Use: A Cautionary Note for Licensed Health Care Providers

Discussion of risks facing health care professionals who offer psychotherapy-based “integration services” to people who are illegally using psychedelic substances (underground use). Gives examples of the types of public safety complaints a health care licensing board may receive, and the types of questions a licensee might expect to be asked. Encourages licensees to review current statutes and administrative rules governing their license and to work with their licensing board prior to offering integration services.

Positive Psychology in the Investigation of Psychedelics and Entactogens: A Critical Review

We reviewed the concepts and empirical findings in studies with psychedelics and entactogens related to positive psychology – the study of healthy human functioning, well-being and eudaemonia. It is an unresolved question how beneficial effects of psychedelics and entactogens are related to the potential risks of these substances – particularly in non-clinical settings.

We searched in PubMed, PsychINFO and the Cochrane Library for controlled clinical and epidemiological studies which applied concepts from positive psychology. We included N = 77 eligible studies with 9876 participants published before November 1st, 2017: (1) quantitative studies (N = 54), (2) preliminary or exploratory studies and reviews not including meta-analyses (N = 17), and (3) studies evidencing primarily negative results (N = 6).

Positive psychology concepts have been applied for measuring effects of clinical trials, recreational and ceremonial use of psychedelics and entactogens. Psychedelics and entactogens were shown to produce acute and long-term effects on mood, well-being, prosocial behaviours, empathy, cognitive flexibility, creativity, personality factors like openness, value orientations, nature-relatedness, spirituality, self-transcendence and mindfulness-related capabilities.

There is preliminary evidence for beneficial effects of psychedelics and entactogens on measures of positive psychology in clinical and healthy populations, however their sustainability remains largely unresolved. The reported results must be considered preliminary due to methodological restrictions. Since longitudinal data on both positive and adverse effects of psychedelics are lacking, more rigorous and standardized measures from positive psychology should be applied in less biased populations with prospective longitudinal designs to carefully assess the benefit-risk-ratio.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled ‘Psychedelics: New Doors, Altered Perceptions’.

Novel Psychopharmacological Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders: Psilocybin and MDMA

4-phosphorloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (psilocybin) and methylenedioxymethamfetamine (MDMA), best known for their illegal use as psychedelic drugs, are showing promise as therapeutics in a resurgence of clinical research during the past 10 years. Psilocybin is being tested for alcoholism, smoking cessation, and in patients with advanced cancer with anxiety. MDMA is showing encouraging results as a treatment for refractory post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety in autistic adults, and anxiety associated with a life-threatening illness. Both drugs are studied as adjuncts or catalysts to psychotherapy, rather than as stand-alone drug treatments. This model of drug-assisted psychotherapy is a possible alternative to existing pharmacological and psychological treatments in psychiatry. Further research is needed to fully assess the potential of these compounds in the management of these common disorders that are difficult to treat with existing methods.

The Nature of Ayahuasca

Ayahausca is a traditional plant medicine from the Amazon used to treat a variety of physical and psychology illnesses and conditions. This documentary explores the use of the Ayahausca as a holistic medicine, challenging stigmas around its use and helping people become more conscious and ethical consumers of the plant if that’s the path they choose.