Is Crowdfunding the Solution to Growing Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy?
Crowdfunding Psychedelic Research
The medical benefits of psychedelic drugs have been proven repeatedly, so why hasn’t there been more funding funneled into its research and development? The short answer is that big pharmaceutical companies can’t patent and reap profit from them.
Of course, there is also the stigma behind illegal drugs and their scheduling, but according to scientists leading the charge in research behind drugs like MDMA, LSD and Psilocybin, funding is the biggest hindrance.
This has led research groups like the Beckley Foundation and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, to look to crowdfunding campaigns for money. These groups have found clinical success in the past and haven’t had a lot of trouble getting government permission to test scheduled drugs, they just need resources.
That’s why there’s Fund a mental (health revolution). It’s a crowdsourcing campaign designed to garner money to donate to these organizations that have had success with treating mental health issues like PTSD, addiction and end-of-life anxiety, by using psychedelic drugs paired with intensive psychotherapy. The campaign was started by Rodrigo Niño, a man who, after taking the DMT-containing Ayahuasca, rid himself of severe anxiety upon discovering he had cancer.
Forbidden Fruits of Psychedelics
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies researches psychedelic drugs ranging from LSD, to Ibogaine and Ayahuasca. But their successful research treating PTSD with MDMA has gained them the most attention in scientific communities and the media. Repeated successful studies by MAPS has led them to try to expedite FDA approval by applying for breakthrough therapy status, potentially making MDMA available with a prescription by 2021.
Their success was described in a New York Times article saying, “patients reported a 56 percent decrease of severity of symptoms on average, one study found. By the end of the study, two-thirds no longer met the criteria for having PTSD.”
MAPS wants you to know that MDMA is not the same as “Ecstasy” or “molly,” and that their trials are carefully monitored in a controlled environment, while paired with intense psychotherapy.
There is clearly a cohesive community in this realm as MAPS works together often with The Beckley Foundation as well as NYU’s School of Medicine and other notable researchers like David Nutt. They have even started a week of talks and workshops called the Psychedelic Science Conference held in Oakland, joining members of the community from all over the world.
The Beckley Foundation
When Amanda Fielding discovered LSD in the 60s, she instantly understood the potential that the drug had for consciousness expansion, especially when it came to the creative process. Since then, the drug has been scheduled and vilified in the mainstream, but she knew that the best way to change that perception was to prove its utility through science.
One of the things that her foundation focuses on that is gaining in popularity and intrigue is micro-dosing. With the rise of nootropics and “biohacking,” many people, notably in the tech world, are looking for ways to increase cognitive function and mental performance, by way of psychotropic drugs and supplements. Micro-dosing involves taking a significantly diluted or small amount of a hallucinogenic drug, like LSD or Psilocybin, that does not make you trip. The effects can lead to higher levels of creativity, positive mood and an alert, awakened state. There is no scientific evidence of this, yet. Fielding hopes to change that.
We know that psychedelics can lead to awakened states of consciousness and have the power to heal. With the stigma slowly starting to lift in the mainstream, it seems that a push from the public could be what is needed to clear the final hurdles. Since the failure of the war on drugs, medical marijuana is rapidly being legalized or decriminalized in many states with numerous benefits clinically and fiscally. We could be on the verge of a revolution in decriminalization and sweeping changes in drug policy.
Brain Scans of Shamans Show Ability to Alter Consciousness Naturally
A new study is the first to investigate what occurs in an alternate state of consciousness by looking inside the brain of a shaman.
Shamanism is considered to be the most ancient form of healing and spiritual practice. While science has been studying the healing benefits of the psychoactive plants used by shamans to enter into an altered state of consciousness, there have been very few studies to look at the neurological nature of the state itself. A groundbreaking new study investigated the shamanic state of consciousness accessed without the use of psychedelics.
Carlos Tanner is a longtime student of traditional shamanism and the director of the Ayahuasca Foundation. an educational and ceremonial center in Peru. “Shamanism refers to an alternate dimension, a dimension where spirits reside, where communication is possible, where greater insights can be acquired and brought back to the waking-day life,” Tanner said. “So a shaman would be someone who can enter into a different dimension and then pull that back.”
The process by which shamans access this state is rooted in the rich tradition of what Tanner calls, a ‘science of consciousness enhancement.’
“Oftentimes, there is the term ‘ceremony’ to describe the intentional entrance into this shamanic state. So there would be a preparation where there might be rituals to essentially prepare, certain clothing might be worn, and the use of certain tools, oftentimes a musical instrument, might be used,” Tanner said.
“All of those are a beautiful science of consciousness enhancement that, I think, has been developed through the continual use of a psychotropic substance, although to a point where, in many cases, the psychotropic substance is no longer needed to enter that state because the consciousness enhancement that was provided by the psychotropic substance can be accomplished without it.”
Richard Harris Ph.D. is a researcher at the University of Michigan who conducted the recent study on the shamanic state of consciousness. Dr. Harris and his team were interested in investigating this state in its purest form, unaffected neurologically by the use of any exogenous substances. To facilitate the entrance into the altered state without the use of psychedelics, the practitioners all listened to a recording of shamanic drumming.
“So, we did a study with 24 shamanic practitioners and 24 normal, control individuals and we collected EEG data (electroencephalogram data), you know brain activity data, while each participant had their eyes closed while they were listening to classical music which was the control condition, and then while they were listening to shamanic drumming music which was the more experimental condition,” Dr. Harris said. “So, what we’re doing with the shamanic drumming, we’re using the person’s own physiology to engender the state.”