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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Can LSD help with mental health issues?

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We have already seen some people use "designer drugs" such as to aid mental performance, now we may see a wave of medical research activity examining how LSD and other substances can help tackle some of the most common mental health problems including drug addiction itself.

First images of the brain on LSD

The Beckley/Imperial Research Programme has released the world’s first images of the human brain on LSD. Amanda Feilding and David Nutt, the co-directors of the Programme, hosted a symposium on Wednesday 13 April in celebration of this unprecedented scientific achievement.

 

brains

 

The images are part of the first ever brain imaging study to examine the effects of LSD on the human brain. The findings have been published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: “Neural Correlates of the LSD Experience Revealed by Multi-Modal Neuroimaging by Carhart-Harris R, Feilding A, Nutt D et al,” representing the overturning of a 50-year ban on research into LSD.

These first findings from the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme give invaluable insight into how LSD may be used, firstly to help treat some of society’s most intractable illnesses, such as depression, addiction and OCD, and secondly, to further our understanding of the nature of consciousness itself.

The findings illustrate the principles of psychedelic action, i.e., the destabilisation and disintegration of normally well-organised independent brain networks, accompanied by reduced segregation between brain networks, resulting in much greater connectivity and communication between the different networks.

Altered activity and communication patterns involving high-level brain networks correlates with experiencing fundamental changes in consciousness, such as ego-dissolution, altered meaning and a more fluid state of consciousness. In addition, our results provide invaluable insight into how LSD changes how the visual system functions and gives a scientific basis for the common psychedelic experience of ‘seeing with the eyes shut’.

The BBC has done a brilliant job in summarising this development in both a motion infographic:

[If this doesn’t work on your device, click here.]

And a more traditional one:

BBC LSD

Conclusion

We have already seen some people use “designer drugs” such as to aid mental performance, now we may see a wave of medical research activity examining how LSD and other substances can help tackle some of the most common mental health problems including drug addiction itself.

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3 Responses

  1. In the early 1960’s I worked under Humphry Osmond, MD at the NJ Bureau of Research in Neurology & Psychiatry in Princeton. One of our projects was the use of LSD as a treatment and possible “cure” for chronic alcoholism. The work was going well, but like all the other related studies using psychedelics, was shut down by Federal edict (which Dr. Osmond probably played a role in, sadly). It’s great quite likely, a big part of the treatments of the future for all sorts of ailments.

    Ron Wynne, PhD, Silver Spring, MD

  2. Hi Ron, how interesting! It looks like the next few years are gong to be particularly interesting. The increased legalisation of cannabis use for medical reasons seems to be having a knock-on effect on attitudes
    Best Wishes
    Russell

  3. I’ve read that marijuana has medical effects on the user but do you guys have any idea what healthy benefits does magic mushroom gives? I’ve read this article about shroom http://www.trufflemagic.com/blog/shrooms-vs-acid-lsd-vs-shrooms-psychedelic-experience/ and it says that it has some benefits too. I dont know if this is entirely true. I want to ask you guys who has some personal experience about this shrooms thing. Thanks to those who will answer!

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