Connect with us

Health

The Big Trip: How psychedelic drugs are changing lives and transforming psychiatry

Editor

Published

on

[ad_1]

For decades, hallucinogens have been associated with technicolour dance floors, sitar-driven Beatles tunes and the controversial evangelism of Timothy Leary.

But today, drugs like LSD and MDMA are undergoing a radical transformation — from party drug to potentially revolutionary treatment tool.

Around the world, clinical trials are examining psychedelic drug therapy as a possible treatment for everything from PTSD to cigarette addiction.

Listen to our special, hour-long radio edition of The Big Trip, a special Day 6 program about the latest in psychedelic drug research.

Researchers believe psychedelic drug therapy could help treat everything from PTSD to cigarette addiction. We explore hallucinogens’ transformation from party drugs to potentially revolutionary treatment tools. 54:00

To date, many of the studies have been preliminary, with small sample sizes.

But experts say MDMA and psilocybin — better known as ecstasy and the key ingredient in magic mushrooms — could be available for prescription use within the next five years.

Earlier this year, Day 6 spoke with the researchers behind the studies — and the patients who say psychedelic therapy has changed their lives.

Here are some of their stories.

The army veteran

Sergeant Jon Lubecky says MDMA-assisted psychotherapy saved his life. (Submitted by Jonathan Lubecky)

On Christmas Eve in 2006, Sergeant Jon Lubecky put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.

He was at peace with the decision to end his life. But the bullet never came.

Earlier that year, Lubecky had suffered a traumatic brain injury during a mortar strike on the base where he’d served in Iraq. When he returned to the United States, he was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I’d wake up hearing explosions that weren’t there,” he recalled.

For eight years, Lubecky struggled with traumatic flashbacks and severe depression. None of the treatments he tried made a meaningful difference.

Then, in 2014, a medical intern handed him a cryptic note that said: “Google MDMA PTSD.”

Later that year, with a trained therapist at his side, Lubecky took ecstasy for the first time.

A gloved hand holds three tablets of MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy. (Ross Land/Getty Images)

He was one of 24 participants in a small study in Charleston, South Carolina using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat severe, treatment-resistant PTSD.

Years later, he says his PTSD symptoms are largely gone.

“It was a miracle that changed my life.”

Lubecky says MDMA-assisted psychotherapy empowered him to work through his trauma. 1:00

He wasn’t alone: 67 per cent of the study’s participants were still PTSD-free one year after their treatment.

In 2018, researchers launched a Phase 3 clinical trial looking at MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in collaboration with Health Canada and the FDA.

If their findings line up with earlier studies, they say MDMA could be a legal prescription drug by 2021.

Other psychedelic compounds could be on a similar path — and mental health advocates aren’t the only ones taking note.

George Goldsmith first became aware of the renaissance in psychedelic drug research when his son, who suffered from treatment-resistant depression, was treated with ketamine.

In 2016, Goldsmith became the co-founder of Compass Pathways, one of the first for-profit companies seeking capitalize on psychedelic drug research.

He believes psilocybin, the key ingredient in magic mushrooms, could be a legal prescription drug as early as 2022.

Lubecky believes psychedelic therapy has the potential to eradicate PTSD.

“I have really high hopes.”

For more about Jon’s story and the burgeoning psychedelic drug industry, check out Part One of The Big Trip.

The medical student

Octavian Mihai says psychedelic therapy helped alleviate his severe anxiety after a cancer diagnosis. (Submitted by Octavian Mihai)

Octavian Mihai was officially declared cancer-free in 2013, but his mental health was steadily getting worse.

At 21, the NYU student was terrified that the cancer might come back. After his treatment ended, those worries spiralled out of control.

“It was just crippling anxiety,” he said.

Deeply concerned for his mental health, his doctor put Mihai in touch with a team of researchers at NYU who were studying psychedelic therapy as a possible treatment for anxiety in cancer patients.

Later that year, after weeks of careful preparation, Mihai put on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and ingested a little white capsule of psilocybin.

One gram of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, is seen on a scale at New York University. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

He spent the next eight hours on an intense psychedelic journey — one that lifted him outside himself, and ultimately helped him overcome his fear of dying.

“I lost complete sensation of my body, and I just lifted myself to a different plane,” he said.

During his eight-hour psychedelic trip, Octavian says he felt his anxiety fall away. 1:17

Researchers are still working to determine exactly how psychedelic drugs affect the mind.

According to psychologist Alison Gopnik, psilocybin decreases activity in the brain’s “default mode network,” which is responsible for generating our sense of self.

Gopnik believes the disruption of that network could increase our flexibility in thought, paving the way for new perspectives.

“What psilocybin seems to do is to push an adult brain back more to that state of exploration and learning,” she said.

Five years later, Mihai’s cancer-related anxiety has never returned.

“I’ve lived every day not worried about it.”

For more about Octavian’s story and the science behind psychedelic drug therapy, check out Part Two of The Big Trip.

The lifelong smoker

Alice O’Donnell underwent psilocybin therapy in 2012 as part of a smoking cessation trial. She never smoked again. (Submitted by Alice O’Donnell)

For nearly 40 years, cigarettes were Alice O’Donnell’s constant companion.

“Cigarettes were the crutch,” she said. “I finally reached the point that I could not go to sleep at night unless I knew I had at least a half a pack of cigarettes available for morning.”

Over the years, she tried unsuccessfully to quit many times. But after a Pilates class left her on the verge of collapse, she decided to ditch the habit for good.

Shortly thereafter, in 2012, she enrolled in a Johns Hopkins University study using psilocybin as a tool for smoking cessation.

The drug induced powerful hallucinations, including a disturbing vision of her own damaged lungs.

According to Johns Hopkins University, 80 per cent of participants in the smoking cessation trial that Alice joined still hadn’t touched a cigarette six months after their psychedelic experience. (Sebastien Bozon/Getty Images)

Alice never smoked again, but she says the drugs had other benefits as well: “Just the whole expansion of my thought processes; realizing how great the universe is out there,” she said.

Researcher Matthew Johnson, who helped facilitate Alice’s psychedelic therapy, likened the experience to a “crash course in meditation.”

During her psychedelic therapy session, O’Donnell says she felt as though she travelled inside her own body. 0:49

Those apparent benefits lead some academics, including Jules Evans, a philosopher who studies “ecstatic experiences,” to speculate that psychedelic drug therapy could eventually become a mainstream wellness practice.

Evans believes many people could benefit from access to the drugs. But he also warns that experiences like Alice’s are far from inevitable.

Rather, they tend to be shaped by the expectations of researchers and therapists who serve as guides.

“The music that they play is going to affect your trip; the instructions that you get on the trip are going to guide it,” Evans said. “The way that your therapist helps you to make sense of your experience will shape it as well.”

Moreover, for people who are predisposed to conditions like schizophrenia, the drugs can have negative long-term consequences.

Nonetheless, O’Donnell hopes clinical psychedelic therapy will become more widely available in the future.

“I definitely think more people could benefit from it.”

To learn why some researchers believe psychedelic therapy could become a mainstream wellness tool, check out Part Three of The Big Trip.


For more from Jon, Octavian, Alice and many others whose lives have been changed by psychedelic drug research, follow this link for our special, hour-long radio edition of The Big Trip.

The Big Trip was written, reported and produced by Day 6 producer Annie Bender. 

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Health

Herbal remedies: Saw palmetto for hair loss prevention

Editor

Published

on

By

(Natural News) Saw palmetto is a small, shrub-like palm endemic to the United States. Known for its medicinal properties, saw palmetto has been used for centuries to treat reproductive issues and hormonal imbalance.

Today, saw palmetto is used as an ingredient in many hair growth products and supplements, as it is thought to prevent hair loss. This could be due to saw palmetto’s influence on the hormones that dictate hair growth.

Saw palmetto for hair loss

There is evidence to suggest that saw palmetto can help treat hair loss and prevent its occurrence. According to a 2012 study, saw palmetto could inhibit 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). 5-AR converts testosterone, a male sex hormone, into a more potent hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Research shows that high levels of DHT can shrink hair follicles and result in hair loss. DHT also makes it harder for hair follicles to grow new hair once the old hairs fall out. By inhibiting 5-AR, saw palmetto blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT.

In another 2012 study, researchers evaluated the effects of saw palmetto supplementation in men with mild or moderate androgenetic alopecia, or male-pattern baldness. One group received 320 milligrams (mg) of saw palmetto every day for two years, while another group took one mg of finasteride, a conventional drug used to treat hair loss.

The results showed that 38 percent of participants who supplemented with saw palmetto experienced improvements in hair growth, compared to 68 percent of those who supplemented with finasteride.

While the experiment showed that finasteride was more effective, the researchers noted that saw palmetto may be less likely to work in people with more severe cases of hair loss. More research is needed to confirm this.

Saw palmetto is available in several forms, including oral supplements and hair care products like conditioners and shampoos.

Due to limited research on the use of saw palmetto for hair loss, there is no official recommended dosage for it. That said, a study published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery cited a recommended dosage of 160 mg twice daily for saw palmetto tablets. Researchers often use this dosage when studying with saw palmetto.

Take note that saw palmetto has been reported to sometimes cause mild side effects, such as headaches and stomachaches. If in doubt about using saw palmetto, consult a natural health practitioner.

Other natural remedies for hair loss

Hair growth depends on several factors, including a person’s genetic makeup. Still, some home remedies might help prevent hair loss and/or encourage hair growth. These remedies include:

  • Jojoba oil – Jojoba oil helps nourish hair follicles without leaving any residue behind. It also stimulates hair cells to grow faster.
  • Aloe vera – Aloe vera helps get rid of sebum buildup in the scalp. Sebum is a natural oil that helps keep the scalp moisturized. It can build up on the scalp and clog hair follicles due to poor hair hygiene.
  • Garlic – The pungent compounds in garlic help increase blood circulation in the scalp, which stimulates hair growth. These compounds also stimulate the synthesis of collagen, a protein that gives structure to hair.
  • Onion – Like garlic, onions boost blood flow in the scalp for better hair growth.
  • Licorice root – Licorice root helps relieve dry and irritated scalp. It also strengthens weak follicles.
  • Rosemary oil – Rosemary oil has antiseptic properties. It is ideal for treating scalp issues that slow hair growth, such as dandruff and bacterial infections.
  • Coconut milk – Coconut milk helps moisturize a dry scalp, which is a leading cause of hair loss.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works as a clarifying agent, ridding the scalp of extra sebum and other residues that can clog hair follicles and inhibit hair growth.

Some hair loss is natural. But for mild to moderate cases of hair loss, it might help to use herbal remedies, such as saw palmetto, to strengthen hair or encourage hair growth.

Continue Reading

Health

Scientist that condemned coronavirus lab leak theory admits he squashed it to protect Chinese scientists

Editor

Published

on

By

(Natural News) An American scientist who criticized theories that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) might have accidentally escaped or leaked from a Chinese laboratory has admitted that he was denouncing the idea in order to protect Chinese scientists.

Dr. Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nongovernmental organization that conducts scientific and policy research regarding emerging diseases, led an endeavor in February 2020 to quash any kind of suspicion that COVID-19 might have accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research and academic institution supported by the Chinese state.

This culminated in a statement published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet that condemned the “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 doesn’t have a natural origin.”

The Lancet article was written during the very early stages of the global pandemic, during a time when there wasn’t any kind of rigorous research on the origins of the virus.

Daszak further reiterated his support for China in a statement released on Feb. 6, stating that he stands with other scientists to “strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that 2019-nCoV does not have a natural origin. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this virus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging diseases.”

In June, Daszak also wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian titled: “Ignore the conspiracy theories: scientists know COVID-19 wasn’t created in a lab.”

But on Friday, Jan. 15, Daszak’s spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that his statement, which has been used to silence anybody with a dissenting opinion regarding the origins of the coronavirus, was published to protect Chinese scientists from criticism.

The Lancet letter was written during a time in which Chinese scientists were receiving death threats and the letter was intended as a showing of support for them as they were caught between important work trying to stop an outbreak and the crush of online harassment.”

WHO team heads to Wuhan to probe virus origin

The situation surrounding Daszak’s initial statements and his sudden retraction are being compounded by the fact that the doctor is part of an international 15-member team of experts sent by the World Health Organization (WHO)to Wuhan to figure out the origins of the coronavirus.

According to the WHO, the team’s official mission is to determine how, where and when the virus crossed from animals to humans.

Daszak has been tweeting about the mandatory quarantine period he and his team are going through. During day four of quarantine, he said that the day, like the previous days, is “packed” with virtual meetings.

Day 6 of quarantine lockdown in Wuhan & it’s that special time for our friendly health care workers to swab for our PCR tests – they go deep, but they’re very cheerful about it. Xie xie! pic.twitter.com/QvKzgC0Lng

— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) January 20, 2021

Peter Ben Embarek, team leader and WHO food safety and animal diseases expert, said that the team will be granted permission “to move around and meet our Chinese counterparts in person and go to the different sites that we want to visit,” once they’re done with the mandatory quarantine period.

It is unclear whether the WHO team will be looking into the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the theory that the coronavirus was engineered. Embarek has stated his desire to visit the “famous Wuhan market” to try and determine “everything that went in and out” of there in the weeks before the first confirmed cases.

Embarek is referring to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where many wild animals were often sold. This place is being investigated as a likely setting for the supposed “animal-to-human jump” of the coronavirus, or a place where that jump was accelerated.

“We know the virus originated in bats at some point, and then we know that human cases appeared in Wuhan in December 2019,” said Embarek. “But what happened in between, how many other animal species were involved in between, and where, remain to be found in more detail.”

“We don’t really know what happened in that period of time, and that’s what we are looking out for.”

Questions will remain regarding the role of the institute in the initial outbreak; questions that will continue to linger if WHO team does not conduct its investigation.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even said that the government has reason to believe that several researchers working for the institute “became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”

Pompeo said that this calls into question the claims made by Shi Zhengli, the institute’s senior researcher on bat-related viruses, that there had been “zero [COVID-19 or SARS-related] infection” among the institute’s student body and staff.

Pompeo noted that the possibility of an “accidental infection” in a lab is more likely than people might think, especially considering that such an incident has already occurred in China. In 2004, a SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people and killed one originated in a research facility.

Continue Reading

Health

California healthcare workers suffer severe allergic reactions following coronavirus vaccination

Editor

Published

on

By

(Natural News) Six healthcare workers suffered allergic reactions after getting a shot of Moderna coronavirus vaccine in San Diego, California. Their symptoms were considered severe and required medical attention.

The doses administered to the six healthcare workers were part of the Moderna Lot 041L20A distributed to 287 providers across the state earlier this month. That batch of shipment, which arrived in California between Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, is composed of 330,000 shots.

Moderna said in a statement that it is cooperating with California’s health department to investigate the allergic reactions.

“Moderna acknowledges receiving a report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that a number of individuals at one vaccination center were treated for possible allergic reactions after vaccination from one lot of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine,” the statement read. “The company is fully cooperating with CDPH in investigating these reported adverse events.”

Dr. Erica Pan, California’s state epidemiologist, said Sunday, Jan. 17, that providers should err on the side of caution and stop using the doses until federal, state and company officials finish an investigation.

“Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory and pause the administration of vaccines from Moderna Lot 041L20A until the investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Moderna and the state is complete,” she said.

Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz have already paused distribution while two Covid-19 vaccine clinics have been canceled in Stanislaus County following the allergic reaction reports.

The delay was a huge blow to California’s vaccine distribution efforts. California currently has the second highest number of coronavirus cases per capita in the United States, with Los Angeles being a particular hotspot.

All cases of apparent allergic reactions occurred at San Diego County’s drive-through mass vaccination site at Petco Park. No other providers have reported allergic reactions to vaccines administered from the same batch of doses.

Continue Reading

Chat

Trending