Psychedelics and Psychiatry
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<img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-20682" title="psychedelic-fence" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/wiredscience/2010/04/psychedelic-fence-660x495.jpg" alt="psychedelic-fence" width="660" height="495" /> SAN JOSE, California — A sprawling Holiday Inn by the San Jose Airport does not seem like the right place for a conference on the new science of psychedelic drug therapies. Yet, last week, the stucco-walled hotel played host to a mèlange of playful scientific researchers, serious drug self-experimenters, and roving bands of hippies in handmade-looking clothing. The scene was as strange as you’d expect at a conference called “Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century.” Scientists and doctors studying the medical uses of psychedelics are trying to figure out what to do with the cultural heritage of their drugs.
We tend to associate psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary and rock music, but there's an emerging evidence-based movement to (re)incorporate them into psychiatric practice. Science blogger Vaughan Bell describes his own experience and the science of ayahuasca. Psychedelic drugs, mental health and brain science have traditionally made for a heated combination, but a recent scientific article, published in September's Nature Reviews Neuroscience, has attempted to more coolly assess the growing research on the potential of hallucinogens to treat depression and anxiety.
This post is part of a Nature Blog Focus on hallucinogenic drugs in medicine and mental health, inspired by a recent Nature Reviews Neuroscience paper ‘The neurobiology of psychedelic drugs: implications for the treatment of mood disorders’ by Franz Vollenweider and Michael Kometer. This article will be available, open-access, until September 23. For more information on this Blog Focus please visit the Table of Contents .
BEN SESSA , MBBS, BSc, MRCPsych + Author Affiliations DECLARATION OF INTEREST None. Psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4,5-trimethoxy-β-phenethylamine (mescaline), psilocybin, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and their relations occur in abundance throughout the natural world, and have been used by humankind for thousands of years. In some cultures they are important tools for spiritual experiences, whereas in others they are labelled as dangerous drugs of misuse.