Psychedelics – psychedelic drugs – Psychedelics – psychedelic mushrooms – psychedelic drug
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Origin of the term
The term psychedelic is derived from the Greek words ψυχή (psyche, “soul, mind”) and δηλοῦν (deloun, “to manifest”), hence “mind manifesting”, the implication being that psychedelics can develop unused potentials of the human mind. The word was coined in 1956 by British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond; the term was loathed by American ethnobotanist Richard Schultes but championed by American psychologist Timothy Leary.
Aldous Huxley had suggested his own coinage phanerothyme (Greek phaneroein– “visible” and Greek thymos “soul”, thus “visible soul”) to Osmond in 1956. Recently, the term entheogenic has come into use to denote the use of psychedelic drugs, as well as various other types of psychoactive substances, in a religious, spiritual, and mystical context.
Psychedelics are potent psychoactive chemicals or plants that can alter perception, mood, and cognitive processes. Some of the most common psychedelics include:
- Psilocybin (found in certain mushrooms)
- DMT (dimethyltryptamine)
- Ayahuasca (a brew containing a woody vine and the leaves of the chacruna plant)
- Mescaline (found in San Pedro and peyote cacti)
Mind-altering psychedelic plants naturally grow as far afield as the Amazon, the Himalayas, and the Pacific Northwest of the US.
Psychedelics aren’t a new fad. Their use predates the written word, with archaeologists confirming their use in ancient ritual and ceremonial contexts. While the ingestion of psychedelics for recreational and sacred purposes has been ongoing, their therapeutic potential was first recognized by scientists in the mid-20th century. The word “psychedelics” was first coined in 1957 to identify drugs that reveal useful aspects of the mind. In recent years scientists have begun referring to psychedelic compounds more properly as “entheogens.”
One of the motivations for this renaming was a concern among scientists that “psychedelics” carried negative cultural baggage from the 1960s. Use of the term entheogens is intended to allow patients, medical practitioners, policymakers, and the public to approach this emerging field of medicine and discovery without stigma or bias.
Between 1950 and the mid-’60s, more than 1,000 clinical papers were published on psychedelic drug therapy, spearheaded by researchers awed by the assorted medical benefits these compounds could potentially offer.
The introduction of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 saw psychedelics research slow to a trickle as government-sanctioned research ceased, and the compounds became tarred by the War on Drugs.
Fast forward to the present day, and studies into this fascinating compound have picked up momentum again. Scientists are delving back into psychedelic research, exploring the myriad ways this unique medicine may help heal diverse ills. Recent research has shown promise in using psychedelics to treat substance dependency, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and to help with end-of-life care.
More Than Just a High: Psychedelic Drugs May Have Long Lasting Mood Benefits
Many people use psychedelic drugs to try to amplify the fun of a party or concert. Now a study published this week finds those drugs might keep the good vibes going even after the chemicals have worn off.
Several past studies have found that in a laboratory setting, psychedelic drugs can help lessen anxiety, depression, or PTSD. The authors of the new study set out to try to find out whether these benefits to mood and mental health hold true in the real world.
So, they went to places where people who use these drugs are likely to be: music festivals. After talking with more than 1,200 people at a half-dozen festivals, the researchers concluded that psychedelic drugs, such as LSD or “magic mushrooms,” left people feeling more socially connected and in a better mood, even after the drugs had worn off.
These findings, the researchers said, confirm the previous laboratory research.
The new findings add to the evidence that psychedelic drugs may hold some sort of clue to improving mood and possibly treating mental health issues.
However, it may be a while, if ever, before we can make the connection and put the drugs to such uses.
“Psychedelic research is still in its infancy,” Molly Crockett, PhD, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University in Connecticut, told Healthline.
“Our study adds to a growing evidence base of potential mood benefits of psychedelics, but more research needs to be done to realize this potential,” she said.
What researchers discovered
To help understand that potential, Crockett and her colleagues wanted to learn about the “afterglow” of psychedelics — how they affect someone after the drugs have worn off but while the person is still in the same setting where they were used.
What they found was that people who had taken the drugs in the recent past — especially those who had taken them within the past 24 hours — were more likely to report “transformative experiences.”
And these experiences were linked to feeling socially connected and being in a positive mood.
Crockett notes there have been other studies that have surveyed people to try to understand how the drugs have affected mood months or years after they’ve used them.
But, she said, “to our knowledge, ours is the first study to survey people’s experiences with psychedelics in a naturalistic setting immediately after their use.”