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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Psychedelics

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Drugs like ketamine and psilocybin offer patients a new perspective on their experiences with racism

Photo: Emma Miller/Unsplash

In a handful of clinics across Canada and the United States, therapists are administering ketamine to their patients to help them explore the psychological trauma left by racism. Ketamine, a psychedelic drug used in hospitals as an anesthetic and recreationally for its dissociative effects, seems to help people view their trauma through a third-person perspective, writes science journalist Emma Betuel in Future Human. In turn, they are able to extend compassion to themselves and learn to heal.

At the heart of this burgeoning field of study is the long-overdue understanding among mental health professionals that trauma due to racism is…


A wide gulf lies between what we ‘see’ on psychedelics and what we do with what we saw

Image: nutcat/Getty Images

Twenty minutes late, Matt (whose name was changed for privacy) stumbles into my therapy office, dives onto my green couch, stretches out like a Freudian pro, and buries his face in his hands. Matt, a renowned New York wellness entrepreneur, had found me through the intersection of Burning Man and the plant medicine communities — where most of my clients come from. …


A day after Oregon legalizes psilocybin, a new study adds to a growing body of literature that psychedelics can be useful for psychiatry

Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

This is the kind of news you might need the day after a nail-biting election night: A new study released today showed that psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, is a powerful antidepressant. The research, unintentionally published with a remarkable sense of timing, comes a day after Oregon voted to become the first state in the country to legalize the drug in order to enable its use in therapeutic settings.

Researchers found that two separate doses of the psychedelic compound, combined with a total of 11 hours of therapy in the weeks before and after taking the drug, significantly…


Experts say psychedelic breathwork can ‘blow your socks off’

Illustration: Tsjisse Talsma

In an attempt to escape the ever-increasing stress of life in 2020, I laid down on the floor of my Northern Californian cabin on a recent Saturday afternoon and did something not uncommon in this corner of the world: I tried to enter a psychedelic state of consciousness. The catch is, I didn’t take any drugs.

Following a guided video, I did a practice known as “psychedelic breathwork,” a method of controlled breathing that’s meant to stimulate a psychedelic experience and spark a greater awareness of one’s emotional state. …


Drug trips, under controlled conditions, break down the barriers between people and bring users closer to nature

Photo: jhillphotography/Getty Images

This is a remarkable moment for psychedelics. Elite universities, including Johns Hopkins and Imperial College in London, have opened centers to research the medical benefits of drugs such as psilocybin, a hallucinogen found in certain mushrooms.

The nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is recruiting people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to participate in FDA-approved clinical trials using MDMA, better known as molly or ecstasy. CBS News’ 60 Minutes last fall reported on life-changing psychedelic journeys.

So far, the psychedelic renaissance has focused on the potential of these drugs to address mental illness and rightly so. A growing body…


It’s increasingly popular and there’s a good reason why

Credit: tao lin via flickr/CC BY 2.0

Every era has the drugs that define it. The Victorians embraced opium for relaxation and cocaine-infused wine for pep. Post-Second World War businessmen had Martini lunches, their disaffected housewives had Valium; both indulged in amphetamine-laced pills. Today, Adderall provides the same focus and confidence of yesterday’s stimulants, while opioid pharmaceuticals fill our bathroom cabinets.

There are countless reasons people take drugs. To wake up. To fall asleep. To concentrate. To dissociate. To numb pain. To enhance pleasure. But the need that psychedelics meet is hard to pinpoint. Is it to commune with others? Connect with a higher power? Delve deep…


A new trial by Johns Hopkins Medicine will study the effectiveness of psilocybin for eating disorder treatment

Illustration: Théophile Bartz

In early September, the burgeoning field of psychedelic research got a long-sought-after dose of legitimacy: Johns Hopkins Medicine received $17 million in funding to launch the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. A first-of-its-kind facility for the United States, the center will study the efficacy of psychedelics — namely psilocybin (otherwise known as psychedelic mushrooms) — as a treatment for a range of mental health disorders. …


Psychedelics and the nature of perception

Credit: yngsa/iStock/Getty

Last summer, when I took acid with a close friend, she told me she could suddenly see the world in 3D.

“Don’t we always see in 3D?” I asked her.

“Of course,” she said, “but you know what I mean.”

And I absolutely did.

From the balcony of my third-floor apartment, we peered out into the branches of a nearby tree like sailors on the prow of a ship. …


How psilocybin, LSD, and other psychedelic drugs could increase wellness in people without mental illness

Illustration: Théophile Bartz

When psychologist Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1998, he did something radical. Over the years, he had grown tired of his fields’ constant focus on the negative (mental illness, trauma, suffering, pain) and felt that more attention should be paid to the other side of the coin: happiness, well-being, and flourishing. He called this “positive psychology,” and made it the theme of his one-year term as APA’s leader. Instead of focusing solely on reducing ill-being, Seligman organized researchers and practitioners around the idea that people should also be given the tools to thrive.

According…


After I signed up for one, I started to dig into their data. That’s when things got weird.

A photo of magic mushrooms, Psilocybe semilanceata, covered in frost.
A photo of magic mushrooms, Psilocybe semilanceata, covered in frost.
Magic mushrooms, Psilocybe semilanceata, covered in frost. Photo: Andrew Hasson/Getty Images

I’ve never been the kind of person to gush about mind-altering drugs. In fact, it takes only the slightest whiff of woo-woo to send me rolling my eyes — hard, with gleeful abandon. But when I tell people I’ll be taking a not-insignificant dose of psychedelics as part of a research study to treat depression, no shock ensues.

We live in a psychedelic renaissance where tripping for divine revelation or high productivity is fast becoming a trend. …

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