Please see below selected recent alternative lifestyle-related change.
- Psychedelic drugs such as MDMA and psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms, have promised to revolutionise psychiatric treatments. A small trial in military veterans suggested that a lesser-known, potent psychedelic drug called ibogaine could be used to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI). One month after ibogaine treatment, the veterans reported that TBI symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression had decreased by more than 80%, on average1.
- Further reading:
- 36 Ways to Live Differently - the art of non-conformity blog -
- Anil Seth: "Reality is a controlled hallucination" - CCCB LAB
- Change your mind with these gateway drugs to intellectual humility - Big Think
- Ex–Tesla director gives Harvard $16 million to study psychedelics - Quartz
- Here’s what to know about using meditation to be a better person - Psyche Ideas
- How to Live Like an Exile - The School Of Life
- If ghosts are real, then they aren't supernatural - Big Think
- If you want psychedelic healing, your ego may need to die - Psyche Ideas
- The Power of Now - Clues Dot Life
- What is a Transcendental Experience? - The School Of Life
- When mindfulness meets capitalism, it loses its way - Psyche Ideas
- Your consciousness has been completely transformed. Now what? - Psyche Ideas
- Commonly known as DMT, “N,N-dimethyltryptamine” is one of the most powerful psychedelics known. In this immersive and intense altered state of consciousness, users are fully awake. They will see vivid and vibrant imagery overlaid in front of their eyes, and even encounter sentient beings with whom they can have deep conversations. Unlike other psychedelics such as LSD or mushrooms, whose effects can persist for hours, a DMT trip might last only 5 to 15 minutes when the drug is inhaled or injected. Though today DMT is commonly synthesised in the lab, and even studied as a potential treatment for depression, natural forms found in a variety of plants have been taking our ancestors on mind-altering trips for thousands of years.
- The Pentagon launched a new UFO reporting tool. The secure online form is open only to current or former federal employees, or those with ‘direct knowledge of US government programs or activities related to UAP dating back to 1945’.
- Researchers gave healthy subjects potent, intravenous doses of the psychedelic DMT and observed their brains with both functional MRI and electroencephalography. They then witnessed the brain's hierarchical organisation collapse, to be replaced by a state of "global hyperconnectivity". Brain entropy, defined as "the number of neural states a given brain can access," skyrocketed.
- Research claimed that people in Spain were getting high on hallucinogenic drugs derived from plants 3,000 years ago, the oldest direct evidence of narcotics use on the European continent.
- The clinical evidence for using psychedelics to treat major mental health conditions is building, but despite the growing data, we don't know just how psychedelics might be helping. One theory behind conditions like depression is that they’re caused by the breakdown of connections between brain cells. Researchers have found, in multiple studies, that psychedelics can increase connections between cortical neurons - specifically, they spark growth of the tendril-y antennae on neurons, called dendrites, that catch signals from other brain cells. In theory, this may mean new connections being formed and strengthened, helping the brain to rewire itself.
- Further reading:
- The FT noted that, in recent years, microdosing psychedelics has become more mainstream, and some business leaders and HR professionals are evangelising ketamine-assisted therapy as an increasingly popular health benefit for employees. Ketamine is legal for medical use in the US and UK, and while it’s most widely used as an anaesthetic, studies have found ketamine is useful in treating depression and other mental illness. As rates of mental illness increased by more than 25% in the first year of the pandemic, according to a recent report by the World Health Organisation, ketamine-assisted therapy gained popularity as a mental health treatment.
- The UK's Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has spent the last half a century redefining the relationship between nature and humankind. CAT was founded in 1973 by an experimental community of architects, engineers, builders and organic growers, who felt compelled to seek alternative ways of living in response to an international oil crisis, ignited by the Yom Kippur War in Israel, that saw governments across Europe ban driving on Sundays and impose rations on heating. In 1975, a visitor centre was opened to increase public awareness and engagement, setting the tone for CAT's unique identity: part research centre, part tourist attraction and part educational hub. Today, the centre offers master's degrees in fields such as green building, energy provision and sustainable food; many CAT alumni have gone on to be leaders in the sustainability field.
- Further reading:
- Results from a survey that questioned the general public on drug use, the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, found that 1.2 million 18 to 25-year-olds admitted taking LSD in 2019 compared with 317,000 in 2004 - almost a fourfold increase. This uptick came during an era where LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), ketamine and MDMA were being more and more trialled and prescribed to treat a range of medical issues such as depression and post traumatic stress disorder, while the legal barriers to these drugs being used in therapy are falling away.
- There has been a boom in psychedelics research to treat various conditions ranging from PTSD to depression. The use of psychedelics like psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, has been particularly effective in limiting anxiety in studies with terminally ill patients at Johns Hopkins University and New York University. Given the state of the world and the liberalization of drug laws in the United States, people are returning to plant medicine to ease the ills of modern life, noted South Africa writer Joseph Dana.
- Promising studies and destigmatisation are making psychedelics an increasingly viable treatment for mental illness. Dozens of new startups have sprung up to develop and deliver the drugs to patients in need. A Quartz field guide looked at the world of psychedelic medicine, from how psychedelics became popular with pharma companies to the psychedelic medicine companies to watch.
- Psychedelics, particularly when consumed in regular, sub-hallucinogenic “microdoses”, are producing promising early results in medical labs at prestigious universities and drawing legions of new fans from Silicon Valley boardrooms to veteran support groups. Advocates say microdosing can boost creativity, happiness, focus, and energy. Meanwhile, startups are attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital for potentially lucrative applications in legal pharmaceuticals to treat conditions like depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and addiction.
- In recent years, studies have shown that hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA seem to have powerful therapeutic effects on conditions including major depression, anxiety, and addiction disorders. One unique aspect of psychedelics is that taking a single moderate dose can yield long-lasting therapeutic benefits for people with certain conditions, such as cancer patients with depression and anxiety. Research published in Neurotherapeutics suggests these outsized benefits may also apply to people with migraines. The evidence is preliminary but promising, and it could open up new areas of research for treating migraines, which are often chronic and debilitating, noted Big Think.
- Taking LSD really does free your mind, claimed recent research. The drug lets the brain make unexpected connections by weakening its means of filtering information gained from past experiences.
- Synthesis is an Amsterdam-based wellness retreat claiming to offer the world’s first commercial psychedelic depression therapy. The treatment is medically supervised by a leading clinical psychologist at Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research, who uses psilocybin-infused truffles, which are related to magic mushrooms and legal in the Netherlands. Patients enter a 13-month course that includes monthly group therapy and a five-day retreat with two psilocybin sessions. Since the release of a groundbreaking study in 2016, more and more scientific research points at the medicinal and therapeutic benefits that psychedelic mushrooms can have on patients suffering from depression and other mental illnesses. A commonly cited reason for why psilocybin, the main psychoactive component of magic mushrooms, can be so effective is that it can ‘unshackle’ patients’ minds - enabling them to see things in a different way, consequently leading to lasting shifts in their mindsets.
- Further reading
- Novelist Philip Pullman talked of the shadow world - the state that John Keats called “Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason” - is where the imagination is at home, and so are ghosts and dreams and gods and devils and witches. There, possibilities are unlimited, and nothing is forbidden.
- The Economist reported on how MDMA, the active ingredient in the party drug ecstasy, is being touted as a revolutionary treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is being trialled in America where, for one army veteran, it has been a life-saver,
- Canada legalised recreational marijuana. With a phased roll-out, the country will become the second in the world, after Ecuador, to make weed legal. In Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, cannabis users will initially only be able to order weed online, with delivery by mail.
- What impact do psychedelic drugs have on the brain? What does research show about their potential for use? A psychiatrist examined the evidence behind some common misconceptions.
- The body of academic work validating commonplace anecdotes about hallucinogenic drugs is growing, found Quartz. Scientists have published papers on, for example, the mystical experiences created by psilocybin, the key ingredient in magic mushrooms. “Researchers have identified a feeling of ‘unity’ or oneness of all things as the most prominent feature” of such experiences, wrote Shelby Harman in Quartz last year.
- The Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial focuses on two main research areas: the action of psychedelic drugs in the brain, and their clinical utility, e.g. as aides to psychotherapy, with a particular focus on depression.
- Further reading:
- Academic research on psilocybin has also lent credibility to the theory that the self is nothing more than an illusion. Artists given psychedelic drugs have been described in journals speaking, “of an increased richness of imagery and of pleasurable sensory experiences. One said, “I looked out of the window into the infinitely splendid universe of a tiny mauve leaf performing a cosmic ballet.” Another spoke of “light falling on light.”” Other participants in studies have described their experiences, relayed by academics, as, “I felt a communion with all things,” and, “Every corner is alive in a silent intimacy.”
- Outside of the various claimed benefits of psychedelic drugs, many people find the concept of inducing hallucinations alluring. Given the negative side effects of many psychedelic drugs, the high likelihood of getting a knock-off drug of low quality instead of what you asked for, and the terrifying possibility of a nine-hour-long bad trip in which you are attacked by demon clowns, drugs might not be the best method for this. However, Big Think argued that it is possible to cause yourself to hallucinate without taking drugs.
- A leading writer claimed that it remains the case that- as with all intoxicants – psychedelics’ proper socialisation (which implies, for the writer legalisation), is the best way to ensure their safe use. The psychedelics, in common with all sorts of other mind-bending compounds, are “just too important and powerful to be left in the hands of doctors - let alone shrinks”.