With each passing day, our migration back to ancient substances like cannabis or psilocybin-containing mushrooms portends a hopeful existence where humans are less inhumane. But it’s not just natural flora that can facilitate transcending our current version of existence for something better. Even something best.
While we globally brace for the new strain of coronavirus concurring with the hope that many saw in the vaccines for the original, all conjoined with political unrest and other daily traumas, it’s no wonder that anxiety and depression continue to swarm in pandemic fashion. What is wondrous, however, is that psychedelics like ketamine and psilocybin have revealed astonishing promise for treating these mental conditions. And fast. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA aka ecstasy) have been life-changing in treating conditions like anxiety and depression [1,2] and post-traumatic stress disorder [2,3]. Psychedelics like LSD have even been shown to induce personality changes demonstrating “the power of psychedelics to elicit major changes in outlook, well-being, and personality.”  LSD promotes the disordered or entropic brain, where phenomena like ego-dissolution and mystical experiences are thought to generate. The idea is that this process can led to opening our minds to potentially profound and lasting mental changes, something our ailing Earth gravely needs.
The interest in these substances from a clinical perspective requires scientific inquiry into the best ways for dosing in the safest and most productive ways. And just like in cannabis research, where studies evaluate using single versus multiple cannabinoids and/or terpenes in search of potentiating ensemble effects, some researchers are looking to combine multiple psychedelics in search of more efficacious treatments.
In August 2020, MindMed and Liechti Lab announced a partnership to conduct clinical trials to evaluate using LSD and MDMA in tandem. The study seeks to understand if MDMA can help ameliorate rare, short-term, negative side effects of LSD use (negative thoughts, rumination, panic, loss of trust, and paranoia), making patients more comfortable during psychotherapy because MDMA can produce euphoria and help invoke trust.
Dr. Miri Halperin Wernli, President of MindMed says, “we are looking to bring the participants outside the bounds of their everyday perceptions, bringing their mind into a very flexible state… facilitating new states of consciousness. This will provide the opportunity to step outside their usual sense of self and experience themselves from a radically different and new perspective.” And for someone struggling with anxiety or depression, a new you might be just what the doctor ordered.
There was once a time in the 1960s where a group of people called the Brotherhood of Eternal Love sought to synthesize and distribute so much of their Orange Sunshine LSD that it would become freely available to anyone who wanted it. They felt that they were helping humankind heal and become liberated from toxic ways of life — those that Terence McKenna called dominator culture. 
Fast-forward 50+ years, with foreboding mental health stats resulting from a menagerie of traumatic, life-altering events, and here we are looking to the very same molecules as an exodus, a reset button, not to a blank slate to start anew, but to heightened qualities of life such that, for once, we can look at our Earth with an innate love, and better understand how to change our course to one more harmonious to our survival.
Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay
- Liechti ME. Modern clinical research on LSD. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017;42(11):2114-2127. [journal impact factor = 6.751; times cited = 67 (Semantic Scholar)]
- Mithoefer MC, Grob CS, Brewerton TD. Novel psychopharmacological therapies for psychiatric disorders: psilocybin and MDMA. Lancet Psychiatry. 2016;3(5):481-488. [journal impact factor = 16.209; times cited = 101 (Semantic Scholar)]
- Sessa B, Higbed L, Nutt D. A review of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy. Front Psychiatry. 2019;10:138. [journal impact factor = 2.849; times cited = 26 (Semantic Scholar)]
- Lebedev AV, Kaelen M, Lövdén M, et al. LSD-induced entropic brain activity predicts subsequent personality change. Hum Brain Mapp. 2016;37(9):3203-3213. [journal impact factor = 4.421; times cited = 125 (Semantic Scholar)]
- McKenna T. Food of the Gods. Bantam: New York. 1992.