Here’s rundown of the different psychedelics and why people are so excited about them.
Psychedelics activate the serotonin 5HT2a receptor in the brain. Antidepressants and the atypical antipsychotics also affect this receptor but in different ways.
Psychedelics are a class of drugs that cause hallucination experiences and altered states of consciousness when you consume a normal dose of them. This is in contrast to alcohol, where you have to consume a lot of it and become intoxicated to have an altered state of consciousness.
The common psychedelics are psilocybin found in mushrooms,
N, N dimethyltryptamine, or DMT for short. This is a compound found in Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a tea found in the Amazon forest. Not the online retailer.
One of the plants that makes up the tea has monoamine oxidase inhibitor properties. The MAOI’s are a type of older antidepressants that are very good, but have certain food interaction. So just be aware if you decide to drink some of this tea on your own, that you make sure you aren’t taking or eating other foods or medications that could interact with the tea.
Another plant-based psychedelic is mescaline found in the peyote cactus and a few other cacti. These three are naturally occurring psychedelics. A synthesized drug is lysergic acid diethylaminde known as LSD.
Ketamine is a psychoactive drug that was originally approved for anesthesia and is now being used to treat depression. Ketamine causes altered states of consciousness and hallucinatory experiences, but the effect is very temporary lasting maybe hours on average. So it’s not included in the list of classic psychedelics.
Ectasy is the compound MDMA. The FDA granted approval for it to be studied in the treatment of PTSD.
So among this list, psilocybin has led the pack in the push to get it approved for clinical use. Current psilocybin is a schedule 1 drug which means it is illegal to use and possess. It can only be used for research purposes.
Drugs are classified in the United States by a schedule system rating the drugs by addiction and abuse potential. The next level down is Schedule 2 which includes drugs like opioid pain medications and the stimulants that we use for ADHD. The drugs on this schedule are legal, but they are highly regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
LSD and Ayahuasca has had quite a few studies for various disorders such as depression, anxiety and alcohol use disorder.
But psilocybin has made the most progress.
To date, there’s 59 trials registered with the Food and Drug Administration. You can see the trials by going to clinicaltrials.gov and search for psilocybin. Some of the trials are currently recruiting volunteers or will be recruiting soon.
I’m hopeful that as we see more long-term psychiatric effects of COVID infection and pandemic effects, that this drug will get approved and make a world of difference very quickly and with long lasting impact. So fingers crossed on seeing some real change.
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