LAPSS 2018 POSTER PRESENTATIONS
TITLE: Is There a Place for Sacred Datura in Modern Society?
ABSTRACT: The sacred use of Datura wrightii is not widely understood. There is a perception that Sacred Datura is too dangerous. Some even believe that the use of Sacred Datura is part of devil worship. Sacred Datura can be safely used as a topical pain treatment. Scopolamine from the plant penetrates into the skin, inhibits muscarinic receptors and relieves pain. Pain is felt in the skin. The safest and most effective treatment for pain is in the skin. Many pain patients have been safely treated with this pain medicine. Currently, more than 100,000 people are being killed every year from the use of oral opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Treatment of pain with oral medicines is dangerous. Sacred Datura is also used in religious practices. After proper instruction by a religious leader, a preparation of Sacred Datura is ingested. This causes a sacred dream in which the spirit goes to God. God instructs the spirit. If the spirit accepts God's teachings, the spirit returns to the body. Sacred Datura is used four times in life to induce sacred dreams: to accept the responsibility of adulthood, to accept the responsibility of marriage, to accept the responsibility of parenthood and to accept the responsibility of death. The US Army took away the religious right to use Sacred Datura in October, 1855. This racist act is still in force in California. It remains a felony in California to use Sacred Datura in religious practices.
TITLE: A Qualitative Analysis of the Links Between Post-Treatment Stressors and Long-Term Benefits of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD
ABSTRACT: MDMA (±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic, psychoactive substance that has a rich history of therapeutic use. Since its criminalization in 1985, however, there has been no legal medical use of MDMA, and funding for studies has faced difficult roadblocks. In recent years, however, due to changing FDA restrictions, psychedelic research has begun to see a resurgence, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD has developed into a robust area of study. This project performs a qualitative analysis of the Phase II clinical trial completed by MAPS (2016): “A Randomized, Triple-Blind Phase 2 Pilot Study Comparing 3 Different Doses of MDMA in conjunction with manualized psychotherapy in 24 Veterans, Firefighters, and Police Officers with Chronic, Treatment-resistant Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” This poster presents analysis of 17 transcripts from Long Term Follow Up (LTFU) interviews with trial subjects to identify common themes of participants’ experiences during and after treatment. One year after treatment, each participant completed a LTFU questionnaire and was interviewed by their trial therapists, during which they elaborated on their written answers. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and incorporating Clinician Assisted PTSD Scale (CAPS) scores, the project has shown that significant intervening life events are associated with fading benefit of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Findings also show that all participants experience a number of lasting personal benefits that extend beyond quantifiable symptom reduction. Using this preliminary data, we suggest areas for further qualitative research in subsequent trials.
TITLE: The role of MDMA in treating PTSD: Real-world descriptions from qualitative follow-up
ABSTRACT: Following a decades-long block on research investigating the therapeutic potential of ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in human participants, research into the modality has found footing in recent years. Led by FDA/DEA/IRB approved quantitative phase II clinical trials investigating the potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for individuals with a variety of ailments, the field has begun to show a resurgence. These programs have set out to indicate the safety and efficacy of these therapy modalities through quantitative empirical data; however, to date there have been no published qualitative analyses to investigate the experience of subjects in these studies and to explore why they believe these therapies were or were not efficacious. This study aimed to fill the gap in research by performing a pilot qualitative analysis of a recent Phase-II clinical trial completed by MAPS (2016): “A Randomized, Triple-Blind Phase 2 Pilot Study Comparing 3 Different Doses of MDMA in conjunction with manualized psychotherapy in 24 Veterans, Firefighters, and Police Officers with Chronic, Treatment-resistant Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” This study employed qualitative Long Term Follow-Up interviews at the one-year follow-up session for each participant post-treatment to explore a variety of factors relating to their experience and outcomes within and after the study. The project so far analyzed a sample of 17 participant interviews using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) along with quantitative data taken throughout the study. This study helped to develop a deeper understanding into participants’ experiences of the treatment, will aid in developing improved protocols for qualitative research across the psychedelic sciences, and will inform future quantitative research protocols. The final results provided important findings that shed light on the real-world physiological and neurochemical effects of MDMA during this treatment, explored factors related to extended efficacy, and in many ways expanded on the quantitative findings of the Phase-II study.
TITLE: Multiple Mushroom Doses and Tripping Trip Sitters
ABSTRACT: This poster will focus on the unexpected outcomes of multiple psilocybin doses over the course of a ten day retreat setting as well as the benefits and risks of facilitators dosing with clients. Much of the research and practices with psilocybin mushrooms today consists of medium-high doses consumed on an inconsistent basis with facilitators who do not consume psilocybin along-side their clients. MycoMeditations is a psilocybin-assisted retreat program operating legally in rural Jamaica. Our practice differs from those standards in research models in that we administer multiple doses over the course of seven to ten days. Rather than the much talked about psilocybin tolerance build-up, we are instead frequently finding that this is not the case, with many participants also being profoundly impacted by lower doses toward the end of their retreat. Responsible facilitator dosing during sessions, leading to increased bonding and trust within the group is a foundation to our approach. We have found that multiple doses of psilocybin
mushrooms in this remote, natural setting presents increased opportunity for emotional/
psychological healing. The presence of experienced facilitators who can direct their heightened focus to participants also has great potential to improve client outcomes. The poster will include a PowerPoint outline with multiple examples of particularly ‘tough’ clients who had found little to no relief with ketamine, ayahuasca, and other psychedelics until repeat encounters with psilocybin mushrooms. I will also include first hand reports from myself as a ‘dosing facilitator’ with nearly two decades of experience. We believe that this model can be of great value even in clinical settings as legal psychedelic therapy moves forward.
TITLE: Antidepressants and Psychedelics: Blunted Subjective Experiences and Increased Physical Toxicities
ABSTRACT: It has long been hypothesized that dysregulated serotonin neurotransmission contributes to the development of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, conventional pharmacologic treatment options for these disorders such as antidepressants target serotonin neurotransmission via inhibition of the pre-synaptic reuptake pump. Examples include the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), and tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) medication classes. In recent years psychedelics have built a small yet promising evidence base in the treatment of psychiatric disorders that are usually managed with antidepressants. Psychedelics (MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, DMT etc.) are thought to produce their psychedelic effects primarily by serotonin agonism, thus likely also target serotonin neurotransmission as a therapeutic mechanism. As psychedelic science progresses, psychedelics and antidepressants may formally assume competitive positions as treatment options for psychiatric diagnoses, although many participants presently seeking ritual or underground psychedelic experiences for therapeutic purposes are taking or have recently stopped taking antidepressants. A number of small clinical studies and anecdotal reports have documented decreased subjective psychedelic phenomena of psychedelics after being pretreated with SSRI antidepressants. Since therapeutic benefits have been correlated to the mystical experience in psilocybin research, it suggests that recent antidepressant exposure may lower the effectiveness of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies. Contrary to the diminished psychological experience, there are higher blood concentrations of psychedelic drug when taken after antidepressant exposure documented in the existing literature, which increases risk of serotonergic toxidromes. There are likely many underlying mechanisms of drug interaction between antidepressants and psychedelics involving acute pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic drug interactions as well as longer term neuroadaptional events that lower chances of therapeutic success or increase risks of physical toxicity. The mechanisms, implications for psychedelic research, as well as clinical therapeutics of psychedelics will be explored further in relation to the apparent drug interactions between antidepressants and psychedelics.
Sherree Malcolm Godasi
TITLE: In the realms of consciousness: Psychological processes of psychedelic integration
ABSTRACT: Depth psychoanalyst Carl Jung denied ever using psychedelic substances or administering them to patients and fervently challenged their use as means for personal growth. Still, he personally confessed to devoting more than 40 years of his life to studying the same psychic sphere of numinous experience often recognized through the psychedelic lens. Themes that are shared in both the momentous psychedelic realm and depth psychology studies suggest the latter’s innovative grasp of the profundity of consciousness is exceptionally relevant to decoding the psychedelic experience. It is also useful for potentiating their ability to catalyze both personal growth and collective development when paralleled with active psychedelic integration. This poster will examine the foundations of the psychedelic integration process through core concepts of depth psychology, and how solidifying fleeting psychedelic experiences through ongoing integration practice can further amplify and sustain the inevitable undertaking of human transformation.
Dario Nardi, PhD, Jason Gentile, Charles Johnston & Winter Garand
TITLE: Facets of Ayahuasca
ABSTRACT: Problem/Question: There is a lack of guidance in non-indigenous settings for people doing ongoing work with ayahuasca. Other books do X or Y but not easy handout, non-technical, non-personal booklet for broad use in different ceremonial circles. Research Protocol: A team of four drew upon their own and others’ experiences, focusing on 11 topics: Initiation, archetypal encounters, integration and practical considerations, relationship work, sexual awakening, chakra and energy work, complementary medicines, ceremonial helpers, community leadership, serving medicine, master facilitators. They used an action research approach. Results: A concise booklet on typical experiences and suggested best practices. Careful attention to nomenclature and phrasing for accuracy, risk management and integration.
TITLE: Visionary Biota Worldwide: Entheogenic Shamanism and the Human Experience of Selected Natural Psychoactive Substances
ABSTRACT: Humans have consumed natural psychoactive “drugs” since time immemorial. Among indigenous tribes around the world, shamans have healed the “spiritually ill” of the community by using these visionary natural substances in ritual ceremonies, tending to ailments ranging from malevolent sorcery to psychological illness throughout history. Today, on almost every continent, indigenous shamans, western healers, and modern psychoactive plant-based religions practice these traditional and syncretic forms of healing for natives and foreigners alike. “Psychedelics,” “hallucinogens,” or “entheogens”—all remarkably consciousness-altering substances—have transcended through the millennia, presenting ways to access and explore vast, incomparable realms of the human psyche. In recent times, scientific research has provided strong empirical evidence for the unique potential of many of these substances to become psychiatric treatments with unparalleled therapeutic efficacy. This project is an in-depth, exploratory literature review of three of the world’s geographically distant, major entheogens: ayahuasca, peyote, and ibogaine. By examining these botanical psychedelics’ psychological and physiological effects, indigenous uses, and contemporary applications, this poster aims to provide a sound informational basis for further study of what entheogenic remedies have offered timelessly and what they may indicate for the future of psychiatric and spiritual development.
TITLE: The Quantum Theory of Consciousness
ABSTRACT: The Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of Quantum Mechanics (QM), first articulated by Everett, proposes the universal wave function does not actually collapse, but
instead fractals off uncountably many parallel universes, preserving the alternate histories of each quantum event. An Einstein-Rosen Bridge (ERB), commonly called a wormhole, is a tunnel linking two arbitrarily distant points in spacetime; it is conjectured that if such bridges exist in one universe, they could also span the parallel universes of the MWI. I propose that dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and some of its variants open an ERB to the many-worlds through some unknown quantum-chemical process. I further propose a kind of Axiom of Choice that states the existence of a choice function that can select a particular region of a particular world at will, given the right set and setting, and that mapping these regions may be possible with extended-state protocols. This meme differs from the prevailing medicine/healing paradigm, and I will present applications of it to art, music, magic, mysticism, religion, and culture based on anecdotes and my own experiences.
TITLE: Metaphysical Phenomena: Approaching the Psilocybin Spectrum
ABSTRACT: This poster will cover the metaphysical phenomena and approaches that I have experienced through private psilocybin mushroom facilitations and my personal practice of entheogenic meditation in seclusion in nature at night time. Topics include : The energetic waves (ebb and flow) of psilocybin mushrooms and differences in effects between common strains of cubensis and psilocybe azurescens (one of the most potent psilocybin mush.) Sharing similar closed eye visuals simultaneously with others through focus and meditation. The similarities in feelings, emotions and empathic connections (Childlike wonderment, the removal of layers, a sense of humility, humbleness, compassion, and examples of telepathy experienced with others.) Common inter-dimensional and metaphysical phenomena that occurs when taking psilocybin in seclusion in nature on mountain peaks at night time. (Nature's response through specific movements from plants or tree limbs, translucent interconnections among the stars, orbs and lights, UFO's, shadow beings, channeling of spirits) Entheogenic stargazing practices as a catalyst to opening doorways - Heightened states of consciousness through mushroom meditations (Samadhi, Christ Consciousness, Connection to Gaia) Integrating phenomena back into our daily lives (Each experience guides our perception to help us realize why or how we are unique. Potentially creating a sense of purpose or a new direction in life filled with excitement.)
TITLE: Psychedelic Christianity: Truth and Fiction
ABSTRACT: My poster presentation examines the true psychedelic history of Christianity. While some believe these entheogenic traditions can be seen in amanita muscaria mushrooms secretly hidden in art, I believe the actual history can be found in texts. Far from any “cover up” or suppression of psychedelics, Christians openly acknowledged the remarkable properties of cannabis, mandrake, and opium using these (and probably others) in their spiritual practices. While engaged in research for my forthcoming book Psychedelic Mystery Traditions I stumbled upon at least three phases of entheogenic development in early Christianity: the Nazarene apocalyptic tradition (the first followers of Christ), gnostic mystical tradition (pagan followers of Christ), and the final orthodox tradition. These later two, gnostic and orthodox, will also be broken down further into subcategories of ancient and medieval psychedelia in the presentation. Finally, I will show how these Christian entheogenic traditions clashed with the surviving pagan fertility religions of medieval wise-woman, demonizing their own spirit plant ointments into the witches’ ointment.
Juan Acosta-Urquidi, PhD,
TITLE:EEG studies of the acute effects of the visionary tryptamine N,N-DMT and 5-MeO-DMT
ABSTRACT: Psychedelics are proving to be useful tools to explore consciousness as evidenced by the resurgence of research in the emerging field of Psychedelic Brain Science. The objective of this exploratory research was to examine the EEG correlates of the smoked inhalation of exogenous psychoactive DMT molecular action. The rapid onset (10-20 sec), short acting (5-15 min.), and the reversible nature of the effects made such a study feasible and avoided the problem of variability in the Ayahuasca brew constituents. Known as a potent visionary tryptamine, DMT is ubiquitous in nature and has also been localized in the brain and peripheral tissues of mammals, including humans. Two sources of DMT were tested: N, NDMT from a natural extract of the Acacia tree Mimosa hostilis root bark and 5- MeO-DMT an extract from the Sonoran Desert Toad venom, Bufo alvarius. Statistical comparison (Paired t-tests, correlated samples) of absolute power values for all EEG bands between baseline vs. DMT tests and post recovery conditions was computed for all subjects. DMT effect revealed a highly significant suppression of Alpha (ave. 88%, P<.0012, N=17) and increased high Beta 25-30 Hz (ave. 65%, P<.05, N=10) and Gamma 40 Hz power (ave.138%, P<.0001, N=20). Reversible hypercoherence was also consistently recorded in Delta, Theta and Beta bands. This study is neurophenomenological as the DMT- induced profound alterations in consciousness correlated with the QEEG metrics analyzed. The time course and intensity of the subjective experience correlated with the magnitude of the observed QEEG effects. The significance of these findings is discussed with reference to DMT target receptor pharmacology mechanisms. The exact function of this endogenous DMT is the subject of ongoing neuropharmacological research which is discovering anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and promising effectiveness in the treatment of addiction disorders.
Mitchell Gomez, MA
TITLE: Psychedelic Harm Reduction - Pre and Post Consumption