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Lewis Smart

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I would like to see talks on the many new studies of psychedelic medicine taking place right now.

In the middle of the last century, researchers and medical / psychiatric practitioners had very promising results studying what is known as the psychedelic family of drugs - LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, etc.

As we all know, things got a little out of hand (in the eyes of government at least) when these substances began to gain popularity amongst people who were using them recreationally and for other personal reasons. This resulted in prohibition.

What is sad is that the prohibition was so thorough that access to these substances became so difficult, even for scientists and doctors, that all that promising research dropped off to almost nothing.

Things are finally changing. Certain studies recently broke the ice, and now there are a range of new and interesting efforts to explore the psychedelic (or entheogenic) substances, and results so far are overwhelmingly positive.

A John Hopkins study found that magic mushrooms provide long term improvements in quality of life and personality. A study associated with an organisation called MAPS found that MDMA is a very potent tool for combating PTSD. A UCLA study indicated that magic mushrooms have potential to relieve anxiety in terminally ill patients. There are many more, completed, ongoing, and in planning.

Sadly, funding for this promising field is still scarce. These drugs are still portrayed as dangerous 'psycho-mimetic' chemicals in much seemingly authoritative literature, notably anything related to drug enforcement agencies, and this continues to cause problems for researches who wish to gain access to the materials and funding necessary.

I suspect that if our society opens up to the possibility of integrating the experiences these substances provide into medicinal, and eventually cultural practise, then we will see many and diverse positive benefits from that.

TED could make a huge dent in the stigma by hosting a researcher, doctor, artist or writer from the psychedelic community.

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  • Mar 8 2013: I know a guy who has done LSD several times. This man had serious qualms with religion and God; a very militant atheist. LSD showed him understanding, and he feels less angry about the way he was raised and can now defend his atheism without getting argumentative or upset. It was very therapeutic for him.
    • Mar 9 2013: I know someone just like that too.

      These substances show a wide range of therapeutic benefits which seem often to come from the perspective changes the experience of them brings. They can really help you see the big picture, about your life, the world, and how the two fit together.

      This study from John Hopkins (http://www.heffter.org/research-jhus.htm) gave participants doses of psilocybin, the major component of magic mushrooms. There was a control group also, who were given some stimulant. A majority of the mushroom group had experiences which they then and later on declared to be amongst, and often the single most, important experiences of their lives, with great improvement in attitudes towards self and life, desired changes in behavior, etc.

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