The Fifteenth Horizons is Right Around the Corner

Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics, the annual psychedelic conference in New York City, is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary year.

Horizons has been a landmark on the psychedelic conference circuit long before there was ever such a thing. Once a small, single-day gathering at Judson Memorial Church, the conference has grown into a five-day event. In the past, its stage has welcomed speakers such as Steven Benally, Rick Doblin, Amanda Feilding, Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., Bia Labate, Ph.D., Nick Powers, Ph.D., Alexander Shulgin, Ph.D. and Ann Shlugin. 

From the beginning, the goal has been to create a forum with the credence and respectability that the topic of psychedelics deserves. The conference has, accordingly, sought out historic venues to host its programming: The New York Academy of Medicine, founded in 1847, and The Great Hall at Cooper Union, where; when it was new, Abraham Lincoln spoke. More recently, in September, Horizons debuted the Horizons Northwest conference at the Portland Art Museum, one of the oldest art museums in the country.

After all, why should this subject, which many traditional cultures have held sacred for thousands of years, not be discussed in esteemed cultural institutions?

A panel from last year’s Horizons NYC

What’s Special About This Year?

In previous years, the focus at Horizons has been on advocacy and awareness. But things are changing. Now that we are seeing the fruits of this work – with, for example, the Natural Medicine Health Act in Denver, Colorado, and most prominently with the Psilocybin Services Act in Oregon – the focus is moving quickly toward implementation.

What are the hard problems of making psychedelics accessible to a large group of people? How do we meet this historic opportunity safely, responsibly, and with wisdom? 

The Program and Speakers

Classes and workshops for care professionals will be offered on Wednesday and Thursday, October 12 and 13, at The New York Academy of Medicine. Attendees will have a chance to learn from experienced researchers and guides William A. Richards, Ph.D., Brian D. Richards, Psy.D, Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., Marcela Ot’alora G., LPC, and Bruce D. Poulter, RN, MPH on Wednesday. Those who have taken classes before can enroll in intermediate workshops on Thursday: “Guiding Psilocybin Therapy Sessions,” with Mary Cosimano, LMSW of Johns Hopkins, and “Intermediate Topics for MDMA Therapy Clinicians,” with Marcela Ot’alora G., LPC and Bruce D. Poulter, RN, MPH.

Registration for our next cohort of Navigating Psychedelics is open, and this round is hosted by Joe! We are hosting two groups on Tuesdays and two groups on Wednesdays starting November 29th. Enroll Today, and if you have questions, sign up for one of our weekly webinars!

After a challenging year in the industry, The Psychedelic Business Forum at The New York Academy of Medicine will begin with an overview of the state of the industry on Thursday, October 13. We will hear from companies operating in this space on impact- and values-driven models, as well as from those raising capital for psychedelic endeavors. Mike Mullete, who oversaw the commercialization of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and who is now COO of MAPS PBC, will give a briefing on how MAPS PBC is preparing to bring MDMA-assisted therapy to market.

On Friday, October 14, all programs will move to The Great Hall at Cooper Union, beginning with topics related to the clinical research of psychedelics: What are the new therapeutic psychedelic compounds? What can we understand from the mixed or weak results of certain recent studies? Michael Bogenschutz, MD, who published the first contemporary pilot study of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for alcohol use disorder, will present new results from his research. Corine de Boer, MD, Ph.D., and Hailey Gilmore, MPH will give an update on the MAPS PBC Phase 3 study for the use of MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of PTSD. The day will end with a video address by Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D.

Sutton King, MPH speaks at last year’s Horizons NYC

Saturday, October 15, is focused on the medical and legal implementation of psychedelic treatments. What are the current successful and ongoing efforts to develop regulated access to psychedelic experiences? What work has yet to be done? Assembly member Patrick B. Burke, who introduced a bill to regulate the medical use of psilocybin in New York State, will kick off the day. Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D. will appear along with retired Lieutenant General Martin R. Steele and Marcus and Amber Capone of VETS to speak about the remarkable confluence of veterans and psychedelic therapy. Brett Waters, Esq. will also give a briefing on federal-level policy reform.

Sunday, October 15, is all about the way people are actually using psychedelics in the world – not in medical or clinical environments, but “in the wild.” Saleena Subaiya, MD, MSc and Kate O’Malley, MA will present two of the larger surveys that have been done on the impact of ayahuasca use on behavioral health and mental illness among users and facilitators – the first time preliminary conclusions have been presented on this subject. Bia Labate, Ph.D. and Joseph Mays, MSc will speak about decolonizing psychedelics, and Sandor Iron Rope, president of the Native American Church of South Dakota, will tell his story and offer an Indigenous perspective on the rise of psychedelics in popular culture.

We’re ecstatic to announce CONVERGENCE, where conference meets festival. From March 30-April 2, 2023, immerse yourself in a 360-degree celebration of science, business, spirit, art, music, and community of psychedelia, all at L.A.’s iconic WisdomeTickets are available now!

Looking Forward to Community

The purpose of Horizons is to be in service to the public availability of quality knowledge on psychedelics, as well as to strengthen the networks and communities involved in this work. The decisive ingredient in both? People.

Horizons – as well as other in-person events like it – offers something that is not available by reading, by listening to podcasts, or by watching Netflix docuseries. Anyone who has attended a similar live event knows. There is an undeniable energy that comes with being physically present with others. If it hasn’t sunk in, it will once you spend the day alongside hundreds of others listening to, say, a three-star military general advocate for the therapeutic use of Schedule 1 compounds: This is real. People are working hard at this; people believe in this.

Indeed, because this subject has been prohibited and criminalized for decades, this can be a powerful experience. For many who are on the fence about committing to advocacy or entering this field in some way, this environment can tip the scales, empowering people to become community participants and leaders.

Registration for Horizons New York is still open. Visit Horizons PBC’s website for a detailed event agenda, speaker lineup, and to register.

And when registering, make sure to use code PSYCHEDELICSTODAY-NY-17 at checkout to receive 17% off!

Photos by Andres Bohorquez Marin

This post is part of a 2022 media sponsorship between Horizons PBC and Psychedelics Today.



PT362 – Psychedelic Storytelling: Transforming Out Loud

In this episode, Victoria interviews Cory Firth: Chief Storyteller at the Nikean Foundation, one of the world’s leading charities funding psychedelic research and advancing education.

Rick Doblin has famously said that while the FDA responds to data, it’s stories that most resonate with people, and the current direction of the Nikean Foundation is rooted in that idea – that there is a massive population of “psychedelic seekers” who could likely benefit greatly from the psychedelic experience, but who just need to hear that one special story that inspires them to take the leap towards change. While the efficacy of psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is proven over and over again in study after study, most people don’t connect with that data – it’s the nuance and human connection in personal stories that cut through the “drugs are bad” media bias, and Firth believes that as more people share their transformational tales – who “transform out loud” – society can really change for the better. 

He discusses the value of storytelling in affecting change on multiple levels; the idea of integration as an ongoing practice; the wisdom gained through trauma; and the trust and vulnerability required to be able to share a powerful story. And to practice what they preach, he and Victoria share their own personal stories of healing with the help of psychedelics. We hope they’re stories that someone out there needs to hear.

The Nikean Foundation is aiming to build the largest collection of transformational stories, and they want to hear yours. You can join in by sharing your story at their website, or by sharing the site with a friend. You can submit now, but they officially launch this storytelling project next week, on October 14 at Horizons NYC, where Victoria, Kyle, and David will be! If you haven’t bought a ticket yet, use code PSYCHEDELICSTODAY-NY-17 at checkout to receive 17% off, and when you’re there, come say hello!

Notable Quotes

“Everybody who gets into psychedelics in a transformational way does so because of a friend or a colleague or someone in their family that tells them a story about how they were able to experience them and find some healing potential. …One of the main ways people get into this is through stories. How can we put a little gasoline on that fire and see how it can evolve?”

“You can’t change someone’s mind unless you show them how you changed yours.”

“My goal, eventually, is to have enough stories where someone who’s seeking something can come to the site and see another story of someone who looks like them, in their position – but in the future, where the potential has been reached. They see the potential in themselves. They see the potential of the transformational mechanisms of psychedelics, and they’ve gone through it, and now they see that it’s possible for them.”

Links

Nikean.org: The Nikean Foundation

Psychedelics Today: PT342 – Spencer Hawkswell – The Right to Psilocybin in Canada: TheraPsil’s Charter Challenge

Tim.blog (Tim Ferriss)

Therapsil.ca

Maps.org: MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD

Integration.maps.org: Psychedelic Integration List- Mental Health Support Practitioners by Location

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, by Michael Pollan

Rootstothrive.com

GQ.com: Where the Psychedelic Revolution Is Headed, According to the Guy Who (Arguably) Started It (Rick Doblin’s discussed quote is here)

Therapsil.ca: Psilocybin Therapy Offered Cancer Patient Thomas Hartle More Than He Could Have Asked For

Psychscenehub.com: David Nutt’s Drug Harm Ranking scale.

PT361 – Mycology and Evolutionary Genomics

In this episode, Joe interviews Jason Slot, Ph.D.: Associate Professor of Mycology and Evolutionary Genomics at Ohio State University, and founding member and scientific advisor to the Entheome Foundation, which has the goal of publishing 200+ fungal genomes by 2023 – starting with all the psilocybin-producing species.  

Slot talks about evolutionary genomics and his process: how he looks for interesting gene clusters in the genomes of different fungi to hypothesize what these clusters could be responsible for, how different species interact, and how these genes and species have evolved over time. He discusses the state of mycology in 2022 and the booming interest in functional mushrooms; the regulations around psilocybin and how they all relate to the dispensing of mushrooms; the weirdest things he’s seen in the complicated process of mushroom reproduction; substrate supplementation (with different enzymes, tryptophans, or even DMT); and just how much there still is to discover in the world of mushrooms and other possible plant medicines. 

He also discusses illumina high throughput sequencing; tetrapolar mating systems; Paul Stamets’ P-Value scale and the hayflick limit; mushroom parasexuality; horizontal gene transfer; and a lot of other scientific aspects of the unique studies of a mycologist. If you’re interested in psilocybin-producing mushrooms and want to explore mycology more deeply, this episode serves as a great introduction.

Notable Quotes

“It’s a small field, but I think that it’s growing. I think we have a lot more interest coming in because the growth of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms is just ridiculous. It’s a huge industry in the making.”

“I do crazy evolutionary analyses with all the fungal genomes I can get my hands on, and then find something interesting in the evolutionary history, and then I find an organism that’s got that particular gene or gene cluster that I’m interested in. It gives rise to interesting hypotheses.”

“They’re organisms with their own existences. We tend to think of a mushroom as a tool for therapy, or we think of a mushroom as a product or something like that. But these are organisms with their own rights to exist and thrive as they would.”

Links

Ohio State University: Center for Psychedelic Drug Research & Education

Entheome: The Entheogen Genome Project

Psychedelics Today: Brian Pace and Jason Slot – Neurochemical Ecology, and the Evolution of Psilocybin Mushrooms

Ucdavis.edu: Illumina High Throughput Sequencing

Nanoporetech.com: Nanopore DNA sequencing

Scottsdaleinstitute.org

420dc.com: Penis Envy Mushrooms Review: The Shocking Truth Behind The World’s Most Psychedelic Shroom

Wikipedia.org: Parasexual cycle

Fungi.com (Paul Stamets)

Shroomery.org: Biotransformation of tryptamine derivatives in mycelial cultures of Psilocybe

Wikipedia.org: Horizontal gene transfer

Hostdefense.com: What Is the Stamets P Value® System?

Wikipedia.org: Hayflick limit

Convention on Biological Diversity: About the Nagoya Protocol

PT360 – Kanna: Love and Wholeness Through Nature’s Alternative to MDMA

In this episode, Joe interviews Stephanie Wang: Founder and CEO of KA! Empathogenics, which has created the first-ever empathogenic supplement chew with the primary ingredient of kanna. 

Similar to our exploration of kratom with Oliver Grundmann, Ph.D., this episode dives deep into a plant rarely talked about in psychedelic circles: kanna (or Sceletium tortuosum), a succulent native to South Africa. As a natural serotonin reuptake inhibitor and serotonin releasing agent, kanna’s effects sound very similar to those of MDMA (heart-opening, feeling surrounded by love and wanting to connect, an increase in energy, hunger suppression), but with a lot more: sleep improvement, a decrease in gut inflammation, increased focus and awareness, and a feeling of brain recalibration and true homeostasis (and it’s legal!). KA!’s first product is their kanna chew: a healthy, pH-neutral snack with no sugar, preservatives, caffeine, or artificial sweeteners, made with the intention to “restore full spectrum aliveness for all human beings.” 

Wang breaks down the science behind why kanna works, its history with the Khoisan people of South Africa, her first kanna plant ceremony, contraindications and what pairs well with it, how you should take it and how long it can last, and why she chose KA! as the name for her company. She and Joe also talk about their shared past with Evolver, the complexity in the simple question: “How are you?”, the care needed when making comparisons, society’s move towards self-directed healing and more natural foods, and the question of whether or not every modern culture is truly ready for psychedelics and natural plant medicines.

Notable Quotes

“It was amazing to experience kanna in a ceremonial setting where it was incredibly expansive and heart-opening. That’s literally how it feels: You just feel this oneness and you feel enormous love. You feel everything around you is love, everyone is love. And what it also had an effect on is how we were relating to each other in that setting. So imagine that you’re in a place where nothing matters. Nobody cares what you look like, where you came from, what job you have, how much money you make, what social strata [you’re in]; nobody cares. All you care about is meeting each other in that heart-centered space, in a very human and intimate space.”

“One out of five Americans (at least) suffer from some kind of mental health issue. …[Something] you talk about a lot in your show is this wholeness: we are far more than just our minds. We are bodies, we are hearts, we are spirit as well. So really looking at that as a whole is tremendously important, and kanna is one of those amazing plants that starts to connect you to that understanding.”

“What we look for a lot, in terms of our own healing, is in nature already. And instead of trying to tease out, ‘Okay, here’s the active component and let’s just isolate this, patent this, etc. and then make a drug, and then…’ – that’s, to me, an old model, actually. And what happens is then… the wholeness is lost. …There’s a reason why this particular plant evolved this way and has all these properties.”

Links

Ohmyka.com (KA Empathogenics)

Evolverhealth.com

Thealchemistskitchen.com

Realitysandwich.com

Facebook: Evolver Boston (for a piece of Joe’s history)

Wikipedia.org: Khoisan people

Iamshaman.com: Lost Khoisan Tribe (and kanna usage)

5rhythms.com

Psychedelics Today: The Intertwined Prohibitionist Histories of Psychedelics and Kratom

Vice.com: This Legal Supplement Made Me Roll Like I’d Taken MDMA

NIDA: What are MDMA’s effects on the brain?

Biorxiv.org: Revised estimates for the number of human and bacteria cells in the body

Electricalclassroom.com: What is kA rating?

Trailblazerspresents.com

PT359 – Art, Philosophy, Sexuality, and “Psychedelics Tonight”

In this episode, Joe interviews Sawyer Hurwitz: filmmaker, producer, editor, and augmented reality collage artist who releases animated art under the name, “Psychotronic Solutions.”

He is also the director and lead editor of something we’re quite proud of here at Psychedelics Today: our new TV show, “Psychedelics Tonight”; a series of 30-minute episodes hosted by Joe and Kyle exploring lesser-explored psychedelic compounds, presented through ALTRD.TV. Episode 1, “Investigating Iboga – The African Plant with Sacred Roots,” premiered last night, and a new episode will air each Monday through October at 6 p.m. PST. Since this podcast was recorded while the show was still being filmed, they don’t go into it much, but we will be having more in-depth discussion after season 1 finishes, and want to know what you think! To watch for free, click the link in our bio or head to ALTRD.TV and search for Psychedelics Tonight. 

Hurwitz discusses his past of feeling almost addicted to LSD exploration; his art and how LSD helped him overcome the classic artist’s restrictive “I’m not good enough” paradigm; Sarajoy Marsh’s Trauma-informed, Brain-sensitive Yoga being used in prisons to essentially create wellness communities; psychedelics and creativity; Nietzsche’s notion of Apollonian and Dionysian forces; entropy and negentropy; the relationship between psychological unwinding and sexuality and his realization (during a psychedelic experience) that he was queer; and how artists can differentiate themselves in a world where art is more readily available than ever.

Notable Quotes

“[LSD] helped me relinquish the idea that I am creating and that I am anything, and instead, just succumb to the process and engage with the medium in the way that one would a lover. And again, maybe that’s too heady or silly, but just being present with the art is what I think allows it to reach its fullest blossom, and just trusting the fact that I’m doing the best I can.” 

“I think that love on a spectrum and sexuality on a spectrum is so much more chaotic than the firm binary that we’ve put [faith] into for so long. And again, if psychedelics are something that open up your perspectives, it allows you to sort of break models that you’ve been born into and raised with. And for a lot of people, that’s discovering that their experience (wherever it falls on that spectrum) is maybe outside of what we’ve been calling the norm for a long time, as opposed to necessarily what is the norm. I suspect that the norm is that the experience of love and sexuality is so, so, so, so much more diverse than we’ve been characterizing it as for a very long time.” 

“I think that a lot of the drive for art comes from a need to communicate love and connection, and in a lot of ways, that connection is the experience of God. And I think that, in a sense, art comes from almost a divine place in that regard, and psychedelics are also a tool for us experiencing that. Again, I’m not a religious person by any means, but psychedelic experiences are often spiritual experiences, and I think it’s because they touch on the same thing: what it means to live in oneness with the world.” 

Links

Psychedelics Tonight

Psychotronicsolutions.com

Instagram: @psychotronicsolutions

Psychedelics Today: PT311 – William Leonard Pickard – LSD, Fentanyl, Prison, and the Greatest Gift of All: The Natural Mind

Sarahjoyyoga.com: Trauma-informed, brain-sensitive yoga training

Be Here Now, by Ram Dass

The Way of the Psychonaut Vol. 2: Encyclopedia for Inner Journeys, by Stanislav Grof, MD, PhD

YouTube: Let’s Talk: Psychedelics and Queer Identity (a Psychedelics Today webinar)

Epochemagazine.org: Eros and Thanatos: Freud’s two fundamental drives

The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Wikipedia.org: Negentropy

Alexgrey.com

Allysongrey.com

Androidjones-obtain.com

Amandasage.com

Screenshot from the opening of the animation, “Weird Trip.” Check out the full piece and more at psychotronicsolutions.com.

PT358 – Contexts of Use: Exploring the Various Paradigms of Psychedelics

In this episode, Kyle interviews Clinical Psychologist, past guest, and Founder of the Psychedelic Society of Vermont, Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D.

This episode was recorded live in front of a small audience at the Railyard Apothecary in Burlington, VT, shortly after the Psychedelic Science & Spirituality Summit, which Joe and Kyle attended (hosted by Barnett’s Psychedelic Society of Vermont). They reflect a bit on the conference (perhaps the best one Kyle has attended) and Kyle’s history in Vermont, but most of their conversation revolves around exploring  the various contexts of use around psychedelics – how our current paradigm of a heavy focus on medicalization and treatment of disorders misses a huge portion of real-world use: self-improvement, ceremonial, celebratory/recreational, and to even help with addictions. 

They discuss MAPS and MDMA use for PTSD; psilocybin for end-of-life depression and alcohol use disorder; ibogaine for getting off opiates; Chris Bache, high dose LSD sessions, and preparing for death; how dietas are better preparation for an experience than what most studies call for; Jon Dennis’ fight for religious use of psychedelics; decriminalization vs. legalization; how psychedelics helped Barnett connect with the spiritual and communal aspect of 12-step programs; the beauty and pitfalls of celebratory/recreational use; and how there’s really no wrong door when it comes to how one uses psychedelics (as long as it’s safe and respectful).

For regular listeners, this episode may be a bit introductory, but it may also be a great episode to share with your friends who are starting to become interested in this exciting new world. Do you want to attend a live recording and ask the guest questions? Keep an eye on our events page for the next one!

Notable Quotes

“How do we integrate the science that’s happening (the research) with what’s already happening out there in communities? There are people using psychedelics in ceremonial use, [for] celebration, [and] for recreation, and I want to integrate it all, because there’s no wrong door here, I think.”

“That’s a highlight for me: how psychedelics can change our minds; not so much in terms of treating depression or PTSD or addiction, but really challenging us to see ourselves and the world differently, whether we have a psychiatric condition or not.”

“I think we need to embrace all paths, and that’s why I also think decriminalization may not go far enough for some people. That’s an argument out there. I believe in decriminalization, I believe in legalization. Again, there’s no wrong door here. We can medicalize, we can decriminalize, we can legalize, ‘recreationalize,’ buy LSD in Walmart, whatever. I think that having the broadest mind possible and recognizing that there are potential benefits and keeping safety top of mind [is key].”

“I was lucky enough to get really sick from alcohol and wind up in the hospital and eventually wind up in rehab. And I’ve said this publicly before: I don’t think I would have been receptive to the message of recovery in a 12-step based program, which has a lot of spiritually associated with it and there’s a tremendous amount of fellowship and community that comes with 12-step programs. And I had a sense of that because of my LSD use before I got sober. So coming into recovery knowing what I knew, having experienced what I experienced; it was a little bit easier for me to be receptive to that community, that fellowship, that message of spirituality, of surrender, of honesty and openness, willingness – all the principles in a 12-step program.”

Links

ALTRD.tv: Psychedelics Tonight

Drrickbarnett.com

Psychedelics Today: PT326– Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D – Addiction, Recovery, and Competency in Psychedelic Therapy

Vermontpsychedelic.org

Psychedelics Today: Kyle and Joe – Contexts of Psychedelic Use

The Psychedelic Renaissance: Reassessing the Role of Psychedelic Drugs in 21st Century Psychiatry and Society, by Dr. Ben Sessa

Awaknlifesciences.com

Psychedelics Today: PT229 – Dr. Matthew Johnson – What is Consciousness?

Usonainstitute.org

Fluencetraining.com

MAPS.org: MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD

Pubmed: Why MDMA therapy for alcohol use disorder? And why now?

Clearmindmedicine.com

Psychedelicsdaily.com: Ibogaine

Psychedelics Today: PT294 – Andrew Tatarsky, Ph.D. & Juliana Mulligan – Vital Psychedelic Conversations (good episode about ibogaine)

Hopkinsmedicine.org: Hallucinogenic Drug Psilocybin Eases Existential Anxiety in People With Life-Threatening Cancer

Imperial.ac.uk: Magic mushroom compound performs as well as antidepressant in small study

Publichealth.jhu.edu: Comorbid Patterns with Alcohol Use Disorders research

NYtimes.com: After Six-Decade Hiatus, Experimental Psychedelic Therapy Returns to the V.A.

Wayofleaf.com: Psychedelics and Eating Disorders

NPR.org: A New Way To Quit? Psychedelic Therapy Offers Promise For Smoking Cessation

Hopkinsmedicine.org: Johns Hopkins Receives Grant for Psilocybin Research in Smoking Cessation

Psychedelics Today: Chris Bache – LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven

LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven, by Christopher M. Bache

Psychedelics Today: PT293 – Stanislav & Brigitte Grof – The Evolution of Breathwork and The Psychology of the Future

LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research Into Realms of the Human Unconscious, by Stanislav Grof

Marijuanamoment.net: Vermont Governor Vetoes Bill On Safe Drug Consumption Sites And Harm Reduction

Psychedelics Today: Oregon, Measure 109, and Community Access: The Final Vote

Congress.gov: H.R.1308 – Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993

The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries, by R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck

Clinicaltrials.gov: Mescaline

Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic, by Mike Jay

Dancesafe.org

Breadandpuppet.org

Psychedelicsinrecovery.org

Lucid.news: Bill Wilson, LSD and the Secret Psychedelic History of Alcoholics Anonymous

A picture of Kyle and Dr. Barnett from the live event

PT357 – Precision Psychiatry, Ketabon, and The Stress Response System

In this episode, David interviews drug developer, clinical psychiatrist, and Chief Medical Officer at HMNC Brain Health; Dr. Hans Eriksson. 

Eriksson discusses the complexity of the human brain and his fascination with the ability for simple biological interventions to affect really profound disorders – that while psychotherapy and community can have a major effect, sometimes a simple chemical can fix everything. HMNC Brain Health is currently in Phase 2 trials for Ketabon, a ketamine-esque prolonged-release oral capsule which early studies show does not include any dissociation – something a lot of people do not want. And, as a lot of current medicine is guess work, they have also created a blood test (and are working on other predictive diagnostic tests) to identify specific common markers to show who will most likely respond to specific interventions. This work is firmly rooted in the idea of precision psychiatry, with the theory that there will be far fewer patients with treatment-resistant depression if their physicians are able to see which treatments will actually work for them ahead of time. 

He fully explains the stress response system and Vasopressin system, discussing the likely links between stress response dysfunction and depression; and goes into much more: his thoughts on Compass Pathways’ phase 2 data; the famous Escitalopram vs. psilocybin study; how much of progress can be attributed to psychotherapy vs. the compound itself; why it makes sense to study a new compound on top of SSRIs rather than on its own; AI and machine learning; and how science is truly beginning to come to terms with the fact that all systems in the body are connected.

Notable Quotes

“I was really fascinated by the understanding that on one level, this extremely complex system of the human brain (probably the most complex system in the known universe) can find some of the explanations regarding its functioning in chemicals [and] in compounds of different sorts interacting with targets, receptors, transporters, etc.; and that this can have a profound effect on how we feel and think. And this link between, on one hand, basic biology, and on the other hand, this complex emotional world that is being a human, is so fascinating.”

“If someone comes into the hospital after a car accident and needs a blood transfusion, no one would ever think the thought that: ‘We take any blood we have in storage.’ They would check what blood [type] you have. …But still, in psychiatry, when someone comes in with a severe depression, we hand out an SSRI typically as the first-line treatment. But think: if you could have a tool that could say, ‘Okay, but you belong to the 30% that has a very good likelihood of responding very well to a medicine that corrects your stress response system,’ that could lead to [a] much shorter path from the interaction with the healthcare [provider] to actually overcoming the depression.”

“One area that I expect to be developing quite a lot in [the] coming years is to understand how the brain is affected by things that are ongoing in other parts of our bodies; for instance, things such as peripheral inflammation: Does that affect the brain? The composition of the gut microbiome in our guts: What effect does that have on the brain? I think we are probably moving into an era where we see the brain not only as an isolated world swimming around in the cerebrospinal fluid protected by the blood-brain barrier, but actually as more of a dynamic part in our bodies.”

Links

HMNC-brainhealth.com

Compasspathways.com: COMPASS Pathways announces further positive results from groundbreaking phase IIb trial of investigational COMP360 psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression

NEJM.org: Trial of Psilocybin versus Escitalopram for Depression

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry

Psychedelics Today: Amanda Feilding – The Beckley Foundation: Changing Minds through Psychedelic Research

Pubs.asahq.org: The Vasopressin System: Physiology and Clinical Strategies

YouTube: Amanda Feilding on Trepanation

Washingtonpost.com: The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life

PT356 – Investing in Psychedelics and The Rush to Improve on the Classics

In this episode, Joe interviews Brom Rector: podcaster and founder of Empath Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in psychedelic medicine startups.

Rector talks about which companies he sees succeeding, which companies are set up to fail, which he is investing in, and why the current crash in psychedelic business (where everything was once over-hyped and now we’re being overly skeptical) is a good thing. He believes that with the current focus on medicalization, the psychedelic community is being ignorant over just how big of an industry will exist outside of that paradigm, and finds it interesting how many people are focused on creating new compounds: How can anyone really improve on the classic psychedelics? 

Other than a focus on the business side of psychedelics, this was recorded in-person, and the conversation goes to a lot of other places: the theory of psychedelics damaging heart valves; the connection between Oprah, MDMA, and Mormons in UTAH; Xanax as a psychedelic security blanket; why so many psychedelic-friendly people love microdosing but have never had a deep experience; logical positivism and why “evidence-based” sounds pretentious; the DSM-5; Colorado Initiative 58; the power in branding and the emergence of high-end packaging; Mike Tyson; Compass Pathways; Christian Angermayer’s leaked memo; ibogaine; Dr. Zee and the next generation of Shulgins, other ways of knowing; and much, much more (just look at how many links there are). 

Notable Quotes

“The tech, future-y, optimist version of me that likes the idea of progress and experimentation at all costs loves it, but it’s also like: mushrooms have been around for like 2,000 years. In business, in order to succeed, you need to improve on something, and usually not just an incremental improvement either – you need to make a big improvement, otherwise no one really cares. Can you imagine what a 10x improvement over psilocybin would be? I can’t really imagine that.”

“You see all these …sketchy Canadian companies, and a lot of them are just making the slightest modifications to these molecules, calling them something new, sending out a bunch of press releases, raising money for investors; and is that – this bullshit thing started by this random company, going to replace psilocybin? I don’t think so.” 

“I’ve heard a lot of different companies talking about trip-stoppers as a big business plan, and I don’t know, dude. It’s interesting; the thing to me (and this is just my personal gut reaction about this) is in my experience, the moments immediately following when I thought I wanted the trip to stop is when I learned the lesson.”

“I think that they may realize eventually that this IP stuff may be helpful for them to achieve dominance in the pharma space, but it’s not going to prevent people from growing their own mushrooms, [or] people from seeking decriminalized care under Measure 109 or [in] Denver. …People are just kind of being willfully ignorant of how big this non-FDA market for psychedelics is going to be, I think. And maybe the people at Atai think that they can stop it by lobbying or something, but I don’t think they think they can do that. The people are going to speak, and the people want shrooms.” 

Links

Empath.vc

Apple podcasts: ”Brom Podcast” (formerly “The Integration Conversation”

Brom Podcast: 35: Sam Banister – The Art and Science of Designing Novel Psychedelic Compounds

Psylo: Psychedelic-inspired medicine to treat mental illness

Thethirdwave.co: Do Psychedelics Carry A Heart Risk?

Dancesafe.org: Is MDMA Neurotoxic?

Prnewswire.com: Numinus to Acquire Novamind, Creating the North American Industry Leader in Psychedelic Therapy and Research

Psychedelicalpha.com: Psychedelic Bulletin: MINDCURE – A Canary in the Psychedelic Coal Mine?

Fieldtriphealth.com

Compasspathways.com

Psychedelics Today: PT233 – JR Rahn of MindMed – LSD, ADHD, and Decriminalization

Psychedelics Today: The Teafaerie – Psychedelic Emergenc(y), Shamanism, 5-MeO-DMT and more!

Huffpost.com: Drugs and the Meaning of Life

Aubreymarcus.com

YouTube: Alex Jones – Magellan is a lot cooler than Justin Bieber

Awaknlifesciences.com

Wikipedia.org: Logical positivism

Leafly.com: Election 2022: Colorado psychedelic legalization and decriminalization guide

Twitter: Zeus’ post (LSD atomizer, not a DMT pen)

Apple Podcasts: Hotboxin With Mike Tyson

Schedule35.co

Psychedelics Today: PT351 – Seth Rosenberg – The Trauma In Being Arrested and The Injustice of the Drug War

Wikipedia.org: Legal status of ibogaine by country

Twitter: Depressed panda meme

Beond.us

YouTube: Linton Kwesi Johnson – Inglan Is a Bitch

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, by Michael Pollan

Vice.com: Investors Are Debating Who Should Own the Future of Psychedelics

Wavepaths.com

Psychedelics Today: PTSF 41 (with Mendel Kaelen of Wavepaths)

Nue.life

Kanna.health

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (Vol. 1 & 2): 50 Years of Research, Edited by Dennis McKenna

The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications, by Christian Rätsch

Drzee.org

PT355 – The Drug War, Caregiving, and Blue Sky Thinking

In this episode, David interviews Ifetayo Harvey: Social media manager for Caring Across Generations and Founder of the People of Color Psychedelic Collective (POCPC), which educates and builds community for people of color who are interested in psychedelics and ending the drug war.

She talks about her childhood and what it was like to have her father be arrested and sent to jail for selling cannabis; her realization of our history of systemic racism and law enforcement’s disproportionate targeting of Black people; why she wanted to try psychedelics; her first mushroom experience; and her path to MAPS, Drug Policy Alliance, living in New York, putting on a conference; and finally, entering the world of caregiving. 

She discusses how too often race is talked around (instead of about); what we can learn from the pitfalls of legal cannabis and the ongoing opioid crisis; drug war reparations; New York’s cannabis social equity programs; and the importance of centering society around care and caregiving. They talk a lot about “blue sky thinking,” and how a lot of problems exist largely because we’ve grown comfortable in complicity and simply haven’t come together to say: “We want this to change.” 

Notable Quotes

“It was overwhelmingly beautiful, being in nature. And I just felt like I saw a different side of life, a different side of my imagination and my mind. For a long time, I would say all of high school, I identified strongly with atheism. …I grew up around a lot of Christian folks, and spirituality; I knew existed because my mom was spiritual. But I didn’t feel that. When I took mushrooms, I felt that a lot more, and I’m like, ‘Whoa, there’s no denying this.’”

“There was a panel on race and I just remember going there and being really excited, being like ‘Hmm, what are we going to talk about?’ and then leaving feeling really deflated because it seemed like everyone on the panel was too cautious about talking about it. When it came to talking about race, everyone was talking around the issue instead of talking directly to it, and that kind of stuff makes me uncomfortable, because who does it serve to not talk directly about race? And who does it hurt?”

“What I hope happens is that people start to realize we do have a say-so in how things play out. We can come together as people who care, people who have aligned values, and say, ‘We want to organize around this, we want to build power around this.’ …There’s this tendency to just be passive and just say, ‘Oh well, the people with the money are going to do what they want to do and hey, there’s nothing we can do about it.’ …I hope that more people come together and realize that you can have an impact. You can have power in this.”

“In this time that we’re in with COVID, monkeypox, wars happening, climate change; hope feels like a discipline. And that can feel hard at times, but also, it reminds us that we have to work towards something.”

Links

Ifetayo.me

People of Color Psychedelic Collective

Drugpolicy.org

Drugpolicy.org: Children of Incarcerated Parents Bear the Weight of the War on Drugs

Ted Talk: Kimberlé Crenshaw- The urgency of intersectionality

MAPS.org

Psymposia.com: Why the Psychedelic Community is so White

YouTube: “Dismantling Patriarchy in Psychedelics” panel

Leafly.com: How I got one of NJ’s first 11 cannabis dispensary licenses

NYCLU.org: Stop-and-Frisk Data

NBCnewyork.com: NYC Cops Told to Let People Smoke Weed in Public (Where it’s Allowed)

Thecannabisalliance.us

Caringacross.org

PT354 – Psilocybe, Microdosing, and Multigenerational Mycology

In this episode, Joe interviews Laura Guzmán-Dávalos: 40-year veteran mycologist at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico; and daughter of Gaston Guzman, who most consider the world authority on the genus, Psilocybe. 

Much of Guzmán-Dávalos’ work revolves around collecting and documenting fungal specimens in and around Mexico, with an overarching goal of better understanding the interactions of different mushroom species. Even though many species were discovered in Mexico, the country seems to be a bit behind in terms of documented real-world evidence, so she’s speaking with microdosers to learn more about their habits, while also studying how alkaloids are involved in the effects of psilocybin. Additionally, one of her Ph.D. students is researching the use of mushrooms among different cultures in Oaxaca, and Guzmán-Dávalos believes they will uncover many differences and solid evidence to help lay the groundwork for legalization. 

She talks about ethnomycology and what she does as a mycologist; Psilocybe and psilocybin-containing mushrooms; what basidium is; functional mushrooms and how the mushroom hype has made her life a lot busier; and brings up a good point: With all the discussion about new companies isolating the drug and removing the psychedelic experience, have we considered how similar that concept is to microdosing?

Notable Quotes

“I am excited that normal people are looking to mushrooms because of [the hype around them] …because [there] was a time that they were forgotten. So it’s very good that normal people [are looking at] mushrooms again. But [they need] to be careful that not all mushrooms function or serve for everything.”

On her father, Gaston Guzman: “I am very, very grateful [for] him. I. He introduced me [to] this life, because it’s not work – It’s a life. And I love it.”

Links

Researchgate.net: Laura Guzman-Davalos’s research

Academia.edu: Laura Guzman-Davalos

UDG.mx: UdeG has the most important mycological collection in Western Mexico

Telluride Mushroom Festival Keynote Speaker: Laura Guzman-Davalos

Wikipedia.org: Basidium

Fantasticfungi.com

PT353 – Psychedelics and Creativity

In this episode, Kyle interviews three past guests: author, microdosing enthusiast, and legendary researcher, Dr. James Fadiman; ecologist, researcher, and science writer focusing on psychedelics’ capacity to influence nature connectedness, Dr. Sam Gandy; and professor, writer, researcher, and Co-Founder and Director of Breaking Convention, Dr. David Luke

Gandy and Luke recently co-wrote a paper called “Psychedelics as potential catalysts of scientific creativity and insight,” and Gandy reached out to have us set up a conversation with Fadiman, since he was one of the early voices behind the concept of psychedelics for creativity. And this podcast is that conversation: less of a Kyle-lead interview and more of three people picking Fadiman’s mind. 

He talks about his 1966 paper on creative problem-solving and how his research team established its protocol with real-world experience, and then the three of them discuss much more: the differences between artistic and scientific creativity; how the psychedelic experience is similar to dreaming and the hypnagogic state; microdosing; why Indigenous cultures who say ayahuasca spoke to them are likely accurate; DMT entity encounters and problem-solving; society’s lost interest in divination; pluralistic perspectivism; why the West’s scientism obsession hurts research; how science has too few mystics and too many technicians; “pseudo-delics”; and the serotonin/depression conundrum.

Notable Quotes

“What the paper brings back is that altered states [are] part of the human condition.” -James

“One of the aspects of creativity is allowing us to adapt to a changing environment, to a changing world. So, any potential avenues at all; even if the promise of creativity isn’t guaranteed (it doesn’t need to be guaranteed) – even if there’s the possibility of harnessing or enhancing creativity somewhere; even the mere possibility, I think, makes this area worthy of exploration.” -Sam

On new compounds that take the psychedelic experience out of the substance (sarcastically): “I’m already ready for the next iteration of that, which is: they’re coming up with a substance which you can take which will eliminate the problem of pleasure during sex, …because all of the complications of relationships don’t come from the sexual act, they come from the emotional issues around it. So we can eliminate [the pleasure].” -James

“We’re at the edge of a couple of other possible revolutions. The revolution in mental health that you don’t have to be depressed and that you don’t have to take antidepressants is a major shift; and that it can come from a natural substance that you can grow in your closet; these are huge shifts. Again, what do Indigenous people do when they need a medication? They go out and find where it grows. We are returning to that, but at the level of a large civilization. That’s massive. We’re also taking in what we’ve talked about: a lot of experiences and a lot of parts of consciousness that science has prevented us from looking at for quite a while due to its dominance. And when a culture falls apart, into the cracks come all of these alternatives that have been denied. So that’s where we are, and it’s a wonderful time.” -James

Links

Convergence

Jamesfadiman.com

Psychedelics Today: PT275 – James Fadiman, Ph.D. – Transpersonal Psychology, Microdosing, and Your Symphony of Selves

Researchgate.net: Sam Gandy

Psychedelics Today: PT292 – Sam Gandy – Vital Psychedelic Conversations

Researchgate.net: David Luke

Psychedelics Today: PT296 – Dr. David Luke – Vital Psychedelic Conversations

Sagepub: Psychedelics as potential catalysts of scientific creativity and insight

Sagepub: Psychedelic Agents in Creative Problem-Solving: A Pilot Study (1966)

Futuresciencenews.com: Saudi Arabia starts shift to green fuel production, builds $5B hydrogen plant

What is a pluralistic perspective?

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures, by Merlin Sheldrake

Wikipedia.org: Zener cards

Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Wikipedia.org: Hypnagogia

Goodreads.com: August Kekulé quote

On Beyond Zebra! By Dr. Seuss

Sciencedaily.com: No evidence that depression is caused by low serotonin levels, finds comprehensive review