What Is The Therapeutic Potential of Psychedelics?

By Tomás Páleníček

The knowledge of healing and spiritual properties of natural psychedelic medicines such as ayahuasca, teōnanācatl (psilocybe mushrooms), peyote (cacti Lophophora williamsii), Tabernanthe iboga containing DMT, psilocybin, mescaline or ibogaine have been preserved continuously to these days by native people of Latin America and Africa. The active substances contained in these medicines, called psychedelics, hallucinogens or entheogens, are powerful substances that alter one’s perception, thinking, emotional and cognitive processing and can also induce strong spiritual and mystical experiences. Western science has technically discovered psychedelics at the end of the 19th century with the isolation of mescaline, while the biggest boom in psychedelic research and potential therapeutic use came out in the 50´s after the discovery of LSD. After almost 40 years of prohibition these substances found a way back to human clinical research and nowadays we are witnesses of the renaissance of clinical studies focusing on their therapeutic potential. After isolated case reports and open label studies, controlled double blind phase II and III clinical studies are emerging, showing huge therapeutic potential of psychedelics in affective disorders, anxiety, addiction and other disorders. But at the end of the story, we are technically rediscovering the old knowledge and trying to match it to our modern western way of thinking. Is there still something we can learn from the traditional use of psychedelic medicines?

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