October 5, 2009

LSD Making a Comeback In Therapy?

Take two tabs of LSD and see me in the morning.

Here in Boulder, we have an abundance of New Age, Eastern, obscure and alternative therapies available to help people. LSD, typically, is not one of them.

However, researchers are once again studying plant medicine, psychedelics, and Psilocybin as potential treatments for mental illness.

In a recent article titled “LSD returns–for Psychotherapeutics,” Scientific American explores the merits of LSD as a legitimate treatment for mental illness—and NPR reported on the issue, as well.

NPR explored the brain and spirituality. One piece, “Is God a Trip?” explored the benefits of Peyote for healing shingles.  Another piece, The God Chemical: Brain Chemistry and Mysticism, explores how a researcher at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center is studying peyote, LSD, and mushrooms, their location in the brain and their impact on our spiritual feelings.

So what’s the big deal?

As a psychotherapist and life-coach for the past five years, I have worked with a variety of clients who have tried just about everything to “heal” their ailments.

Modern pharmacology, a multi-billion dollar industry, promises to treat just about anything. Modern medication can and does help millions of people. Still, few treatments are “magic bullets,” and the side affects from pharmaceuticals can be harmful.

Then there’s medical marijuana, which was used by nearly 600,000 Americans last year to treat a variety of ailments and pain relief.

What if LSD, peyote, mushrooms, or marijuana became part of a legitimate, well respected treatment plan for clinicians? What would it have to look like? Could it be possible that these “illicit” substances actually heal people?

And what can we learn from how indigenous peoples used mind-altering plants and herbs therapeutically?

In the right hands and with quality supervision, could LSD really help people with anxiety, depression, or other conditions that afflict nearly half of the US population which is purported to have a mental illness?

It is likely that human suffering will ever really go away. But perhaps new treatments and therapies can help people better relate to, and manage the suffering they do experience.

What do you think?

For further reading, check out The History of LSD Therapy by Stanislov Grof, M.D.

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