Mental Health, Australia News, Science, Drugs, Health

Mental Health, Australia News

‘Psychedelics renaissance’: new wave of research puts hallucinogenics forward to treat mental health

‘Psychedelics renaissance’: new wave of research puts hallucinogenics forward to treat mental health

9/25/2021 11:56:00 PM

‘Psychedelics renaissance’: new wave of research puts hallucinogenics forward to treat mental health

In what’s been described as a ‘paradigm shifter’ for psychiatry, clinical trials are exploring the therapeutic use for illegal substances

Sarris and Psychae Institute co-director Dr Daniel Perkins previously conducted aninternational surveyof ayahuasca drinkers. Of those who reported anxiety or depression at the time, 70% and 78% respectively reported an improvement in symptoms. (The study was observational, so cannot establish causation.)

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For Raymond, taking ayahuasca was the kind of ineffable experience – an encounter with the mystical – that many who have consumed the brew describe. “I got to have these unvarnished truths come out about myself,” he said.“Me wanting to be what I thought was a manly man, or whatever, a military man … I didn’t have tools to healthily express emotion,” he says. “Even with a psychologist I’d struggled to open up.”

Michael Raymond says consuming ayahuasca saw some “unvarnished truths come out about myself”.Photograph: Michael RaymondOne drug that has shown promise for treating PTSD is MDMA, when used in conjunction with therapy. In the US, aphase III clinical trial

– the last barrier of research a drug must clear before regulators will consider approving it as a new medication – found it was “highly efficacious” and safe in people with severe PTSD.MDMA’s mode of action differs from the psychedelics, but it also increases serotonin in the brain. Dr Stephen Bright, a psychologist and senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University, says: “That release of serotonin seems to turn on parts of the prefrontal cortex associated with language, and that might be why people are able to talk about experiences they haven’t been able to [before].”

Bright is leading a small MDMA-assisted therapy trial in Perth later this year –Australia’s first – which will treat four people with PTSD.Ecstasy pills. MDMA increases serotonin in the brain and is being used in a Perth trial to treat people with PTSD.

Photograph: Westmacott/AlamyRegulatory requirementsDespite promising results to date, no psychedelics have yet amassed the required level of clinical evidence to be listed as lawfully supplied drugs on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. But Dr Daniel Perkins says regulators are recognising their potential benefits. “It’s a question of how they provide access, not whether they would or not.”

Perkins, who was the director of the office of medicinal cannabis in the Victorian department of health, emphasises that the psychedelics form only part of the treatment. The other is psychotherapy, and any drug approval would also be conditional upon treatment protocols that have been vetted in clinical trials.

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In February, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) made an interim decision rejecting a proposal to reclassify MDMA and psilocybin from prohibited drugs to controlled substances. It has deferred making a final decision, pending an independent report into the risks and therapeutic benefits of the drugs, which is due for release next week.

The regulator already grants permission for the use of these drugs on a case-by-case basis through its special access scheme – but it is not uncommon for access to then be prevented at a state level.Tania de Jong, founder of Mind Medicine Australia, the nonprofit that led the reclassification bid, says a change in the regulations wouldn’t result in a “floodgate of use”, but better standardise the federal and state approvals doctors would have to obtain.

Read more: The Guardian »

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