Psychedelic-Assissted Therapy for Veterans and Personality Improvement
Psychedelic-assisted therapy at the VA
Psychedelic-assisted therapy has recently gained mainstream acceptance among civilians, but what about for members of the military and veterans?
This therapy may soon be an option for some veterans. As “Lucid” reports, “psychedelic-assisted therapy is on the rise at some veterans administration hospitals.”
Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder have been so successful, with 68 percent of participants in remission, the FDA granted MDMA a special ‘Breakthrough Therapy’ designation. But this therapy is not yet available all over the country, prompting more researchers to call on the VA to create protocols for MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine therapies. These psychedelics are still classified as Schedule 1 narcotics, and it will take political will and bipartisan support to win FDA approval.
If that happens, researchers at the forefront of these therapies hope to see VA hospitals nationwide using psychedelics to help veterans by the year 2024.
Could the use of hallucinogens actually improve your personality?
A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology looked at how psychedelics affect personality. Researchers recruited adults who were planning on using hallucinogens in the near future and asked them to fill out a survey regarding their personality, based on the five-factor model of personality traits:
- Openness to experience
Participants took the survey three times — before their psychedelic experience, two weeks after, and four weeks after. The results were impressive, with people reporting a reduction in neuroticism and an increase in agreeableness, even four weeks after their experience.
Brandon Weiss, a psychologist at Imperial College London and lead researcher told Psychology Today, “[F]irst, people seemed to report that they were not as quarrelsome or critical in their interactions with others. Second, people reported that they were less easily upset by things and less anxious.”
Weiss also pointed out that despite these positive outcomes, hallucinogens can be dangerous, especially with people who have pre-existing psychosis. More data is needed to confirm the studies’ findings. As a large number of participants did not follow through with the entire survey. But this is more evidence that hallucinogens could be another tool to help with mental health.
New Gene Discovery May Explain Rapid Human Brain Evolution
A revealing new study on human evolution and brain development has just been published. Could this lend credence to the stoned ape theory of brain evolution?
About 300,000-800,000 years ago the human brain experienced a massive and accelerated growth spurt. Scientists have offered many explanations for how and why this may have occurred, but a new study out of Boston Children’s Hospital focused on a fast-evolving set of the human genome called human accelerated regions (HARS). Previous studies have found about 3,100 HARS during brain development, but the team at Children’s Hospital determined one HAR gene PPP1R17 could be responsible for or play a significant role in, rapid brain development. Further, they discovered this works differently in humans than in other animals.
Ben Stewart, the host of Gaia’s Limitless series, said,”[T]hese regions of the human DNA may hold some kind of an answer at the rapid explosion of human neo-cortex because if you think of it evolutionarily, there’s not been one creature, at least on planet Earth, that has been studied that had any organ increase in size as large and as rapidly as the human brain did, so there’s definitely some unanswered questions there.”
“I’m pretty sure that these HARS regions are being looked at for something very unique in the evolution of the brain, and my own personal twist on it is this also might be important when we start looking at brian-machine interfaces and how the brain can potentially cause mutations to adapt to some kind of technology in the brain to enhance or evolve the human brain,” Stewart said.
How could this new discovery be related to the Stoned Ape theory?
“There’s a possibility that the Stoned Ape theory could lead into this. Now, the Stoned Ape theory was really popularized by Terence McKenna,” Stewart said. “Over time, you would have some of our ancient ancestors, hominids, that would be following behind bovine creatures, cows, and in the cow patties in the fields that would naturally, having followed these creatures around for hundreds of thousands of years or whatever it might have been, that they would have started eating the mushrooms, the psilocybin mushrooms that grow naturally in cow patties. These experiences tickling the language centers and other parts of the brain, bringing down the rigidity of the default mode network, and activating other communication hubs within the brain, that could actually explain the rapid explosion of the human neocortex.”
“In this article, they’re saying that these human accelerated regions act differently in humans than they do in primates or creatures like mice and ferrets that they’ve looked into now. So, potentially if there is some connection with the Stoned Ape theory, that psychedelics or psychotropics helped in the expansion of the human neocortex, and made us as, at least psychologically, so much different than the rest of the creatures on Earth, then there may be something to look at here.”