May 20, 2024

Tripping back into fashion

A second look at hallucinogens

After many years on the fringe of medical
research, hallucinogens have borne some promising fruit in recent patient

Retired clinical psychologist Dr Clark
Martin tried (without success) many of the conventional treatments for
depression, such as counselling and antidepressants, as he fought through
chemotherapy and other taxing treatments for kidney cancer. Nothing seemed to
be of any lasting benefit until his first experience of psychedelia, at age

The treatment involved psilocybin, a
psychoactive ingredient in certain kinds of mushrooms. For many years consciousness-enhancing chemicals like this have been regarded as dangerous drugs for ageing hippies. But now US scientists are tuning in again. Keeping to
rigorous safeguards and protocols, scientists have gained permission to study
their medical and research potential. 

Dr Martin was administered the
hallucinogen, and lay for six hours on a couch with an eye mask on, listening
to classical music. He says this helped him to beat depression and transform
his relationships with his daughter and friends. 

Although the encouraging results are
preliminary and on a very small scale, researchers are gathering in San Jose,
Calif. for the largest conference on psychedelic science in four decades. 

Reactions to hallucinogens can vary
significantly depending on the setting, so experimenters and review boards have
designed comfortable environments with experts nearby to monitor behavioural
responses to the drugs and adverse reactions. ~ New York Times, Apr 11


Jared Yee