Ayelet Waldman is a novelist, non fiction author, and former federal public defender. Her latest book is called A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life. I interviewed her this morning.
Why did you start microdosing?
I started microdosing because I was profoundly and dangerously depressed. I have a mood disorder and for many, many years my medication worked great. I took it, I did what my doctor told me and everything was fine. But at some point my medication stopped working. I tried all sorts of different things. And nothing helped. I was getting worse and worse and more and more full of despair and more and more full of rage and more and more unstable and I became suicidal. I started doing things like googling the effects of maternal suicide on children and I was so terrified that I was going to do something to myself, that I was going to hurt myself, that I decided to do something drastic and something that some people might think is crazy -- I decided to try microdosing with L.S.D.
Did it work?
Oh absolutely. It worked for sure. It's sub-perceptual. In fact, if I told you right now, "Hey Mark, I slipped a microdose of LSD. in your coffee," you wouldn't even know the difference. The effect for me was instantaneous. My depression lifted right away. The book is called A Really Good Day because at the end of that very first day, I looked back and I thought, "that was a really good day." It wasn't like everything was perfect. Read the rest
Jan Hoffman writes about recent research into the effects on psychedelics such as psilocybin on anxiety and depression: "About 80 percent of cancer patients showed clinically significant reductions in both psychological disorders, a response sustained some seven months after the single dose."
Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, and Dr. Daniel Shalev of the New York State Psychiatric Institute are among leaders in psychiatry, addiction medicine and palliative care who endorsed the work. The studies, they wrote, are “a model for revisiting criminalized compounds of interest in a safe, ethical way.”
If research restrictions could be eased, they continued, “there is much potential for new scientific insights and clinical applications.”
Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants.
Moreover, there are few side effects. But there is a catch: the experiences must be rigorously contextualized, written down, analyzed, etc.
Dr. Griffiths noted that patients received extensive support, which may have deepened and secured their life-affirming transformations.
“People will take psilocybin at a rave or at Burning Man” — the art and performance desert festival — “but the effect,” he said, “evaporates like water running through their hands.”
Set and setting and settlement. Read the rest
Johns Hopkins is among several institutions challenging a key tenet of outlawing psychedelics: that they have "no medicinal use." Baltimore Magazine
examines the progress made by key researchers
Roland Griffiths and Bill Richards. Read the rest
Once the domain of countercultural psychonauts, LSD and mushrooms in one-tenth doses are becoming more popular among you professionals, especially in the tech industry. Read the rest
In the New Yorker
, Ariel Levy explores the buzz around Ayahuasca, the ultimate artisanal psychedelic drug.
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“I came home reeking of vomit and sage and looking like I’d come from hell,” Vaughn Bergen, a twenty-seven-year-old who works at an art gallery in Chelsea, said of one ayahuasca trip. “Everyone was trying to talk me out of doing it again. My girlfriend at the time was, like, ‘Is this some kind of sick game?’ I was, like, ‘No. I’m growing.’ ” His next experience was blissful: “I got transported to a higher dimension, where I lived the whole ceremony as my higher self. Anything I thought came to be.” Bergen allows that, of the nine ceremonies he’s attended, eight have been “unpleasant experiences.” But he intends to continue using ayahuasca for the rest of his life. He believes that it will heal not only him but civilization at large.
The process of making ayahuasca is beyond artisanal: it is nearly Druidical. “We pick the chacruna leaf at sunrise in this very specific way: you say a prayer and just pick the lower ones from each tree,” a lithe ayahuasquera in her early forties—British accent, long blond hair, a background in Reiki—told me about her harvests, in Hawaii. “You clean the vine with wooden spoons, meticulously, all the mulch away from the roots—they look so beautiful, like a human heart—and you pound these beautiful pieces of vine with wooden mallets until it’s fibre,” she said. “Then it’s this amazing, sophisticated process of one pot here and one pot there, and you’re stirring and you’re singing songs.”
She and her boyfriend serve the ayahuasca—“divine consciousness in liquid form”—at ceremonies in New York, Cape Town, Las Vegas, Bali.
In 1965, John Lennon, George Harrison, Cynthia Lennon, and Pattie Boyd were having dinner at a dentist friend's house. The dentist put LSD in their coffee without telling them first. When he revealed what he had done, John was pissed off, and rightly so. "How dare you fucking do this to us?" he said. Rolling Stone's Mikal Gilmore has the story and an animated interview with John about their first trip on LSD and the secret history of Revolver:
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"It was as if we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a horror film," Cynthia Lennon said. "The room seemed to get bigger and bigger." The Beatles and their wives fled Riley's home in Harrison's Mini Cooper. (According to Bury, John and George had earlier indicated a willingness to take LSD if they didn't know beforehand that it was being administered.) The Lennons and Harrisons went to Leicester Square's Ad Lib club. In the elevator, they succumbed momentarily to panic. "We all thought there was a fire in the lift," Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971. "It was just a little red light, and we were all screaming, all hot and hysterical." Once inside at a table, something like reverie began to take hold instead. As Harrison told Rolling Stone, "I had such an overwhelming feeling of well-being, that there was a God, and I could see him in every blade of grass. It was like gaining hundreds of years of experience in 12 hours."
The couples ended up at the Harrisons' home in Esher, outside London.
Michael Costuros is an "executive coach" in California's Marin County (birthplace of the hot tub) who every year takes a group of entrepreneurs to South America on a trip within a trip. Each spends $10,000 to hopefully leverage "the healing power of ayahuasca," Costuros says. From Chris Colin's feature in California Sunday:
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Chris Hunter, co-founder of the company behind the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko, signed on in hopes that it would help him navigate some sticky professional relationships. Jesse Krieger, publisher of Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press, wished for insight into growth strategies. Other participants included the founder of a financial technology company, the scion of a footwear empire, and a firearms executive looking for a pivot. Under the guidance of Costuros and a local shaman, they would participate in a San Pedro ceremony — San Pedro is another powerful plant-based psychedelic — followed by two separate ayahuasca ceremonies....
The participants — all men this year — spent their first day traveling to the retreat center, getting situated, and enjoying massages. At 8 a.m. the next day, they assembled in a small, open-air structure. Following an initial cleansing ceremony, they drank their first batch of medicine (fermented wheatgrass and dirt is how Krieger described the taste) and lay down on thin mats under a thatched roof. There they’d remain for ten hours.
The first 60 minutes of the ayahuasca ceremony felt like two weeks for (AirHelp CEO Henrik) Zillmer. Uncontrollable vomiting and feverish shivering aside, he was unable to move and watched helplessly as his mind departed his body and descended into a vast black hole.
Roky Erickson is the founder of pioneering Texan psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators, an outfit that emerged in mid-1960s from Austin's underground scene and influenced bands ranging from ZZ Top and Primal Scream to The Flaming Lips and Queens of the Stone Age.
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Nature Magazine reports that researchers from Imperial College London gave psilocybin to 12 people with depression. All the patients showed "a marked improvement in their symptoms."
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Researchers from Imperial College London gave 12 people psilocybin, the active component in magic mushrooms. All had been clinically depressed for a significant amount of time — on average 17.8 years. None of the patients had responded to standard medications, such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or had electroconvulsive therapy.
One week after receiving an oral dose of psilocybin, all patients experienced a marked improvement in their symptoms. Three months on, five patients were in complete remission.
“That is pretty remarkable in the context of currently available treatments,” says Robin Carhart-Harris, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London and first author of the latest study, which is published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
The equivalent remission rate for SSRIs is around 20%.
This 61-year-old woman, who has never taken psychedelics before, decided to take 1 gram of psilocybe cubensis (a very small dose). In this video, shot by her son, we get to watch her go through the different stages of what seems to be a fairly strong trip, which lasts about four hours. She said she would not do it again with someone filming and interviewing her, but she said the experience helped her "reconnect with her real self" and that she might take it again with friends in the woods. Read the rest
Jean Francois Painchaud, aka PHAZED, is Canadian animator/producer who works on the PBS kids show, Wild Kratts. He also makes trippy, NSFW Gifs and posts them to his accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. Shogofawafa recently interviewed PHAZED about his work, and how he deals with the censorious bluenoses at Facebook.
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Your work became viral after it was banned on Facebook. Did Facebook inadvertently do you a favour?
In a way, yes. Soon after I started posting my art online, I found out that there are people out there who are very sensitive when it comes to the female body. Some get particularly upset when they see a nipple. No matter how much I censor my work, I still get reported. It’s ridiculous.
So, whenever they take down my art or censor me, I make a big deal out of it, hoping that we might be able to change this culture of incessant censoring over time. That’s the main thing I learned from practising Judo – to use whatever people throw at me, against them.
How did mushrooms affect your work?
Mushrooms didn’t only help my art develop; they changed my entire life. Using mushrooms helped me overcome my depression, my insecurities and my anxiety. Most of that anxiety came from negative experiences with my father and being bullied at school.
Before I found shrooms, I was making art to improve my skills. It was as if I was trying to impress myself or show off.
Taking psychedelic mushrooms just once can change your personality for the rest of your life, according to Katherine MacLean, a postdoctoral researcher at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
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The results, published today (Sept. 29) in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, revealed that while other aspects of personality stayed the same, openness increased after a psilocybin experience. The effect was especially persistent for those who reported a "mystical" experience with their dose. These mystical experiences were marked by a sense of profound connectedness, along with feelings of joy, reverence and peace, MacLean said.
Lisa Rein writes, "Fresh from a Supreme Court victory in a marijuana case, and armed with a campaign song written by John Lennon, maverick psychologist and prominent LSD researcher Timothy Leary decided to run for governor of California in a bid to unseat the incumbent Ronald Reagan, only to be knocked out of the race by a felony conviction and 10-year sentence for possession of two half-smoked marijuana joints, as a symbol of Nixon's newly proclaimed War on Drugs."
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In the New Yorker's annual tech issue, Emily Witt profiles the founders of Erowid, "a couple in their mid-forties -- a man and a woman who call themselves Earth and Fire, respectively."
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"One month a year, giant Himalayan bees, the biggest bees in the world, come to collect nectar from a poisonous flower, giving the honey they make certain medicinal, aphrodisiac, and hallucinogenic properties."
In this short documentary, filmmaker Raphael Treza meets with a Nepalese tribe to learn about this honey, and how they use it. During the making of the film, the translator eats too much of the honey and falls unconscious.
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Five scenes from "LSD: The Opera" performed at Los Angeles's REDCAT last month. It ain't over 'til Tim Leary sings? Read the rest