The goal for this blog is to share the process of acquisition and research with you for the Terence McKenna Archives, to give you an insight into the process, as well as to share some of the interesting items encountered as part of the hunt. Please sign up to follow the blog and keep an eye out for new posts.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule (film)
The Spirit Molecule explores the enigmatic dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a psychedelic molecule found throughout nature, including humans, and potentially every living organism. Based on the book written by Rick Strassman.
Neural and subjective effects of inhaled N,N-dimethyltryptamine in natural settings
Background: N,N-dimethyltryptamine is a short-acting psychedelic tryptamine found naturally in many plants and animals. Few studies to date have addressed the neural and psychological effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine alone, either administered intravenously or inhaled in freebase form, and none have been conducted in natural settings.
Aims: Our primary aim was to study the acute effects of inhaled N,N-dimethyltryptamine in natural settings, focusing on questions tuned to the advantages of conducting field research, including the effects of contextual factors (i.e. “set“ and “setting“), the possibility of studying a comparatively large number of subjects, and the relaxed mental state of participants consuming N,N-dimethyltryptamine in familiar and comfortable settings.
Methods: We combined state-of-the-art wireless electroencephalography with psychometric questionnaires to study the neural and subjective effects of naturalistic N,N-dimethyltryptamine use in 35 healthy and experienced participants.
Results: We observed that N,N-dimethyltryptamine significantly decreased the power of alpha (8–12 Hz) oscillations throughout all scalp locations, while simultaneously increasing power of delta (1–4 Hz) and gamma (30–40 Hz) oscillations. Gamma power increases correlated with subjective reports indicative of some features of mystical-type experiences. N,N-dimethyltryptamine also increased global synchrony and metastability in the gamma band while decreasing those measures in the alpha band.
Conclusions: Our results are consistent with previous studies of psychedelic action in the human brain, while at the same time the results suggest potential electroencephalography markers of mystical-type experiences in natural settings, thus highlighting the importance of investigating these compounds in the contexts where they are naturally consumed.
Serotonergic Psychedelics in Neural Plasticity
Psychedelics, compounds that can induce dramatic changes in conscious experience, have been used by humans for centuries. Recent studies have shown that certain psychedelics can induce neural plasticity by promoting neurite growth and synapse formation. In this review, we focus on the role of classical serotonergic psychedelics in neural plasticity and discuss its implication for their therapeutic potentials.
Transient reinforcing effects of phenylisopropylamine andindolealkylamine hallucinogens in rhesus monkeys
Relatively few studies have assessed the reinforcing effects of hallucinogenic compounds, and no such studies have attempted to engender contingent responding for these compounds in animals with behavioral histories that include experience with serotonergically mediated reinforcing effects. The objectives of the present study were to investigate the capacity of several hallucinogenic compounds to maintain self-administration behavior in rhesus monkeys with a previous history of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) self-administration, and to compare these effects across a range of doses of drugs from two structural classes (indolealkylamines and phenylisopropylamines). The results indicate that no compound generated reliable responding and that no subject ever self-administered 4-iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenylisopropylamine (DOI) at rates above those engendered by contingent saline. However, 3 out of 4 subjects did respond at rates between 0.75 and 3.0 responses/s in one or more sessions where N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline or psilocybin were available. During some of these sessions in which self-administration was maintained, animals earned a majority of all available infusions and appeared intoxicated by the end of the session. This pattern of transient self-administration may indicate that these compounds have weak reinforcing effects, or mixed reinforcing and aversive effects.
Classic Psychedelic Use and Mechanisms of Mental Health: Exploring the Mediating Roles of Spirituality and Emotion Processing on Symptoms of Anxiety, Depressed Mood, and Disordered Eating in a Community Sample
A resurgence of research has begun to systematically examine the relationship between psychedelic use and mental health and well-being. Although preliminary findings examining the therapeutic value of these substances show promise, the mechanisms through which psychedelic use may predict reduced mental distress remain poorly understood. To this end, we surveyed a community sample of individuals (n = 159) who endorsed lifetime psychedelic use to examine relationships among psychedelic use and self-reported spirituality, difficulties in emotion regulation, and symptoms of mental health issues. Results revealed a pathway through which classic psychedelic use predicted greater spirituality, which in turn predicted better emotion regulation, ultimately predicting lower levels of anxiety, depressed mood, and disordered eating. These results contribute to our understanding of potential mechanisms of change with respect to psychedelics and mental health. They also add to the growing body of literature pointing to the healing effects of the cultivation of spirituality and emotion regulation as separate and related constructs.
The Relationship Between Psychedelic Use, Mystical Experiences, and Pro-Environmental Behaviors
Expanding on the work of Forstmann and Sagioglou, this study investigated the differences in personality and pro-environmental behavior (PEB) as a function of psychedelic-occasioned mystical experiences. A sample of 240 participants with prior psychedelic experience completed an online survey. Data were collected on participants’ psychedelic-occasioned mystical states, personality, and self-reported PEB. A measure of behavioral PEB was also included (Charity Task). The mean scores on self-reported PEB, openness and agreeableness of participants who met the criteria for a “complete” mystical state, were significantly higher than those who did not. Specifically, those who experienced a mystical state scored higher on the PEB types “eco-shopping and eating” and “one-off domestic conservation actions.” Participants who demonstrated PEB in the Charity Task scored higher on self-reported PEB than those who did not, supporting the task’s validity. Findings suggest that mystical experiences influence PEB. Future research with experimental designs could further illuminate potential causal relationships.
Pharmako/Gnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path
This is the third and final volume of North Atlantic Books’ updated paperback edition of Dale Pendell’s Pharmako trilogy, an encyclopedic study of the history and uses of psychoactive plants and related synthetics first published between 1995 and 2005. The books form an interrelated suite of works that provide the reader with a unique, reliable, and often personal immersion in this medically, culturally, and spiritually fascinating subject. All three books are beautifully designed and illustrated, and are written with unparalleled authority, erudition, playfulness, and range.
Pharmako/Gnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path includes a new introduction by the author and as in previous editions focuses on plant-based and derivative psychedelic “teachers” (including ayahuasca, peyote, LSD, and DMT) and on the “poison path” of substances such as belladonna, ketamine, and ibogaine. Each substance is explored in detail, not only with information on its history, pharmacology, preparation, and cultural and esoteric correspondences, but also the subtleties of each plant’s effect on consciousness in a way that only poets can do.The whole concoction is sprinkled with abundant quotations from famous writers, creating a literary brew as intoxicating as its subject.
The Pharmako series includes the predecessor volumes Pharmako/Poeia (which covers tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, opiates, salvia divinorum, and other substances) and Pharmako/Dynamis (focusing on stimulants and empathogens).
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
This manual uses material from The Tibetan Book of the Dead for this preparation. The authors also make an important contribution to the interpretation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. They show that it is concerned not with the dead, but with the living. The last section of the manual provides instructions for an actual psychedelic session, under adequate safeguards. The authors were engaged in a program of experiments with LSD and other psychedelic drugs at Harvard University until sensational national publicity unfairly concentrating on student interest in the drugs, led to the suspension of the experiments. Since then, the authors have continued their work without academic auspices.
N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an Endogenous Hallucinogen: Past, Present, and Future Research to Determine Its Role and Function
This report provides a historical overview of research concerning the endogenous hallucinogen N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), focusing on data regarding its biosynthesis and metabolism in the brain and peripheral tissues, methods and results for DMT detection in body fluids and brain, new sites of action for DMT, and new data regarding its possible physiological and therapeutic roles. Research that further elaborates its consideration as a putative neurotransmitter is also addressed. Taking these studies together, the report proposes several new directions and experiments to ascertain the role of DMT in the brain, including brain mapping of enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of DMT, further studies to elaborate its presence and role in the pineal gland, a reconsideration of binding site data, and new administration and imaging studies. The need to resolve the “natural” role of an endogenous hallucinogen from the effects observed from peripheral administration are also emphasized.