Psychedelics Pioneer Creates Alcohol Substitute With No Toxicity
In 2009, David Nutt was dismissed from his role as England’s chief drug adviser when he claimed LSD and MDMA were less dangerous than alcohol. Though it’s surely a nuanced argument, Nutt was referring to the relative toxicity between the substances – a fact overshadowed by the cultural stigma surrounding them. And now he’s trying to take that conviction to market with an alcohol substitute called Alcarelle, which gives users the buzz without the horribly toxic side effects.
“The industry knows alcohol is a toxic substance,” said Nutt in an interview with the Guardian. “If it were discovered today, it would be illegal as a foodstuff. The safe limit of alcohol, if you apply food standards criteria, would be one glass of wine a year.”
This hasn’t slowed the consumption of alcohol as the trillion-dollar global industry continues to flourish. Meanwhile, alcohol is attributed to nearly 6 percent of all deaths globally every year – that’s about 3.3 million people killed from alcohol-related issues.
While Nutt’s career is marked by his many breakthroughs studying the psychologically therapeutic effects of psychedelics – and earning him the lengthy title of neuropsychopharmacologist – he’s had his idea for an alcohol alternative on the back burner for decades.
Ever since he began studying alcohol antidotes that reversed the drug’s inebriating effects, Nutt realized that GABA receptors in the brain could be targeted to produce intoxication, while avoiding the elements that damage the liver and other vital organs. And now he believes the market is primed for a release of his product as the extent of alcohol’s adverse effects have become more widely understood.
He also believes the Silicon Valley doctrine of creating “disruptive” technologies has set the stage for his product to infiltrate the behemoth that is the alcohol industry.
In fact, he says he believes the industry will be receptive to his product as major liquor, wine, and beer brands are already investing in alternatives such as cannabis, at the behest of their customers; notably the newer generations that have access to more data and are more health conscientious.
But instead of trying to convince alcohol producers to revamp their entire process, Nutt says Alcarelle could simply be added to existing product, while the alcohol content is synthesized out or the product not distilled at all.
Nutt has identified the serotonin, dopamine and GABA receptors in the brain that alcohol works across and says he can individually target disparate receptors to achieve desired effects.
Not only could Alcarelle vary in the level of intoxication it induces, but it can also deliver a “capped” drunkenness where, after a certain point, you won’t get any drunker no matter how much you imbibe.
Nutt is currently working on acquiring $26 million in funding to have it properly tested and approved by the appropriate government regulatory agencies, before taking it to market. He already has one investor who provided the seed funding to get the product off the ground.
For now, only a handful of people, mostly he and his colleagues, have had the pleasure of trying his drug, and all are in concurrence that it’s as effective, if not more pleasant than alcohol. If it truly evades liver damage and a hangover, he may have an incredibly desirable compound on his hands. And coming from a man who owns a bar of his own and intends to one day sell Alcarelle at his establishment, it all sounds pretty promising.
For more on research conducted in Nutt’s field check out Gaia’s original series Psychedelica:
Ayahuasca Study Shows Breakthrough in Resolving Intercultural Conflict
Can plant medicines heal long-standing, sociopolitical conflicts? A new study brought together groups with deep-rooted enmity for each other in an ayahuasca ceremony—could this be the solution for a more peaceful world?
Plant medicines, including ayahuasca and psilocybin from “magic mushrooms” have become breakthrough therapeutic modalities for treating depression, anxiety, and addiction, as taboos around psychedelics fade and scientists study their effects in sanctioned clinical settings. And now a group of scientists from the US, UK, and Israel has begun to look at ayahuasca as a tool for resolving intercultural conflict. By bringing together Israelis and Palestinians for a group ceremony, the researchers looked for signs of reconciliation and intergroup contact between the subjects.
Dr. Maya Shetreat MD, is a neurologist and herbalist specializing in plant medicine and psychedelic-assisted therapy. She had this to say about the recent study…
“We should definitely be able to experience significant shifts in identity politics because we know that psychedelic medicines like ayahuasca or psilocybin have these ego-dissolving properties that change the way our brains see us, see our identity, and perceive us as being separate from one another,” Dr. Shetreat said. “So, theoretically it’s possible that any kind of identity issues, whether it be political or otherwise, could be more in a place of resolution because people can see past differences.”
Results of this recent study proved to be profound, with several participants reporting visions in which they re-lived trauma from the perspective of those from the opposite culture. And in one instance, a participant was able to embody a single experience from both perspectives.
But while these results held significant weight for those involved, how does this translate at a larger scale?
“You know we have to ask the question, is it really necessary for everyone to be in ceremony and go through a psychedelic experience in order to create change? And actually, I think there’s an argument that it doesn’t take that many people, not everybody has to be in that role and enter that liminal space. The people who are called and the people who are motivated to engage with the medicine have those revelations, integrate, take action, and actually lead other people to see those connections that other people might not be able to see,” Dr. Shetreat said.