November 26, 2015 11:31 AM   Subscribe

In the early 1960's, drugs like LSD and psilocybin found their way out of university labs and onto the street -- and their value as medicine was lost as their status as protest and party drugs emerged. Mass recreational use, conservative political forces and a continuing media frenzy ensured the vilification of hallucinogens – until drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms were completely outlawed in 1970. Serious medical research would not begin again until the early 21st century, four decades later.
Turn on, tune in, and heal thyself - CBC's Ideas presents High Culture, a 3-hour (2--3) series examining the use of psychedelics to curb anxiety, alcoholism, and depression. posted by mannequito (22 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Excellent post!

My wife tried microdosing with limited effectiveness for her - she said it made her spacey and not very productive.

We both personally "believe" in psychedelics, though we have limited experience with modern RCs, just the old classics of shrooms and acid. I think I'm a better person for having done these...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:48 AM on November 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have a 3 hour drive I'm about to embark upon. Grabbed these as podcasts and will listen!

Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 11:52 AM on November 26, 2015

I just underwent an ayahuasca ceremony with a shaman steeped in the mestizo tradition, and I can say that it was an arduous, but deeply profound and transformative experience. I'm deeply grateful for it. They say that a fruitful session can be the equivalent of two years of really good therapy, and I can confirm that it really gave me some important insights that I'm going to be mindful of and work on for years. I've done psychedelics before but never with such a focus on personal healing - more for tripping out and having fun - and this was something else entirely. I believe it is something of a deep medicine, under the right rituals, mindset, and respect for the proper practices. I've read about how it works on certain parts of your brain to loosen many of those feedback loops that we unquestioningly keep rigid in our minds. Powerful stuff, and we haven't even begun to explore its potential.
posted by naju at 12:17 PM on November 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

Vice/Motherboard: What Ayahuasca Taught Me About Taking Care Of My Health
posted by naju at 12:23 PM on November 26, 2015

Benefits Of Microdosing With LSD

I spent more of the 1980s microdosing LSD than probably even I remember, and yeah, I'd say it influenced me in mostly positive ways (and continues to).

Word of warning though. LSD has, among other things, a stimulant effect. Indeed much of what I was using it for was extending my useful waking hours. Problem is, eventually the body says enough. Maybe you don't burn out like a coke fiend after a 92 hour bender, but you do burn out. At least I did. Low level chronic fatigue which only really reconciled once I took a full on holistic approach to getting my personal biosphere back in order (diet, exercise, regular sleep cycle etc).

Which leads to a little hard-earned wisdom. You really can't fool nature. Artificial energy is artificial energy. You will pay for it eventually, with interest.
posted by philip-random at 12:28 PM on November 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've done psychedelics before but never with such a focus on personal healing - more for tripping out and having fun - and this was something else entirely. I believe it is something of a deep medicine, under the right rituals, mindset, and respect for the proper practices. I've read about how it works on certain parts of your brain to loosen many of those feedback loops that we unquestioningly keep rigid in our minds.

"Back in the day", I had pretty easy access to quality LSD, and would do it on or around the solar holidays as a sort of ctrl-alt-del reboot for my psyche. Every session would be focussed on play and insight, not in a clinical sense, but certainly there was processing taking place that helped me gain insight and find clarity for the next few months.

That was, what? 1995-2000 or so? Somehow those were the years of my life that I felt the best adjusted and the most well-armed for confronting daily life.

I miss those days. I have some blotter on hand right now, but I sampled it and got nothing. Hoping further samples yield better results. I could use some good intense paisley-flavored therapy right about now.
posted by hippybear at 12:29 PM on November 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can't be the only family man who thinks about going psychedelic just as soon as the kids have left home but before my body has fully crapped out. Thanks for the links.
posted by colie at 12:36 PM on November 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

I took acid a few times. Didn't live up to the hype. YMMV.
posted by jonmc at 1:21 PM on November 26, 2015

My only mushroom experience to date was the most effective and long-lasting antidepressant I've ever encountered, and I've taken a lot of the manufactured kind.

The sad irony is that I now can't use them due to widespread reports of seizures when combined with lithium, which I'm now taking. And because Drugs Are Bad Kids, no one's doing medical research on these kinds of interactions so I have no way of assessing the actual risk of the combination - just a decent number of first-person reports on drug forums that said "yeah I had a seizure".
posted by terretu at 3:17 PM on November 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

One thing about Silicon Valley that I didn't expect to find out is that a... well, not large, exactly, but also not insignificant amount of the code that runs all this web junk is written by people who microdose LSD every workday for weeks at a time. Well, or at least who claim to do so.

[Insert that old joke about BSD and LSD here....]
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:52 PM on November 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Trip Planners

(New Yorker magazine visits Earth and Fire at their cabin in the Sierras.)
posted by bukvich at 4:21 PM on November 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yah. It's really too bad the people around Shulgin were white supremacists.
posted by telstar at 5:21 PM on November 26, 2015

Most comments here deal with personal expezrience with LSD, mushrooms etc., but for actual
use of LSD for PTSD, there is this...I had once met the wife, who translated her husband's book. The LSD helped to the point that the author lived into his 90s

For 30 years after his release from Auschwitz death camp, Yehiel De-Nur suffered nightmares but their specific content eluded him. His worst memories escaped him. He wrote books during this period, always signing them with the number tattooed on his left arm (Ka-Tzetnik 135633) at Auschwitz. Ka-Tzet are the initials K.Z., standing for the German "Konzentration Zenter" (Concentration Camp), and every prisoner was known as "Ka-Tzetnik Number so-and-so." Yehiel De-Nur's suffering was so severe during those 30 years that he eventually allowed himself to be persuaded to undergo therapy with LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) at the hands of a Dutch Professor skilled and experienced in the use of this powerful drug. The treatments were mentally and emotionally agonizing; the hallucinations they produced need to be read to be believed and understood - and one needs mental and emotional strength to continue with the reading. After a number of treatments, Yehiel De-Nur saw and remembered what his mind had allowed him to forget since Auschwitz. This is harrowing for the reader, and the memory for Mr De-Nur causes him such suffering that he wonders for a long time afterwards about the wisdom of forcing oneself to recall what the mind kindly allows one to forget. This book is a translation from the Hebrew, one of the translators being Eliyah Nike De-Nur, the writer's wife who gave him constant, loving support. The reader is left with the stark horror of hallucinations and memories wide awake within her, and a strong reminder of the evil that human beings can, and do, perpetrate upon one another. To be read with an open mind and a strong heart. Sheila McLaren.
posted by Postroad at 5:34 PM on November 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

Yah. It's really too bad the people around Shulgin were white supremacists.
posted by telstar at 5:21 PM on November 26 [+] [!]

posted by lalochezia at 7:43 PM on November 26, 2015

:-/ This seems really great. Too bad I live in a place where it's all super illegal and no one's even doing tests I could sign up for.

It's just a bit of a bummer that this all seems totally out of reach to me. I am so messed up mentally and would gleefully try almost any strange, experimental treatment, anything that could make me feel like a person, I'd give it a shot. But no one's offering.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 8:18 PM on November 26, 2015

I tried a microdose LSD regimen for about 6 weeks a while ago. ~15 µg a day, upon waking. My reasoning for this was to assess its effect on my productivity as an alternative to more classical stimulants such as caffeine.

- Generally my mood was improved and focus felt sharper.
- Basically stopped feeling the need for caffeine in the morning.
- My productivity felt improved - context switching seemed to have a lower overhead, and I didn't mind doing tasks I normally don't enjoy.
- Effects did indeed last all day. I would have great productivity at work, and then come home and play board games with my significant other and roommate, and I swear I would win with higher frequency than normal.
- After a while, downsides were noticeable: I started to be extremely tired in the morning, waking up in a timely manner became nearly impossible.
- Another downside was that I felt spacey/aloof at work. (Leaving my desk and engaging in conversation made me feel like I was messing up basic social protocols. This may have purely been an inaccurate perception.)

Overall, decided it wasn't quite worth it for me. I didn't notice any observable lack of quality in my work output, just these issues of fatigue and aloofness made it feel bad for my health. That being said, I might try another regimen at some point, just out of curiosity to repeat the effects.
posted by gnidan at 8:47 PM on November 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah - Shulgin and white supremacists? Cite needed!
posted by Devonian at 1:24 AM on November 27, 2015

I have used microdoses of psyilocybin for intense study days, and it's awesome. No more than .5g at a time, with noticeable euphoria starting at .3g doses (these are where I try to be now). It's awesome - I wish I knew someone who could reliably get me more, but the streets are fickle when you appear to be the whitest kid you know.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 7:55 AM on November 27, 2015

> I wish I knew someone who could reliably get me more, but the streets are fickle when you appear to be the whitest kid you know.

Purchasing spore prints are legal, as are purchasing grow kits... at least around here, the cops apparently have no interest in small home grows.

NB: I haven't tried this as access around here is good.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:16 PM on November 27, 2015

It's just a bit of a bummer that this all seems totally out of reach to me.

Me too man, me too. I even wrote a song about it.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:03 PM on November 28, 2015

So, I finally listened to all three episodes. It's a really great series -- the first episode digs into the psychological studies that were taking place before bans were put in place, the second deals mostly with psilocybin and LSD and modern studies, the third deals mostly with MDMA but also other substances.

One thing I found particularly noteworthy was in the third hour. It was a researcher saying basically (paraphrasing, not going to try to find it to transcribe) "these drugs have been out in the wild for a long time, and a lot of people have taken them, but most people who take them aren't taking them at what would be a therapeutic dose and they aren't taking them in a therapeutic situation, so you may have experience with these drugs, but you haven't actually experienced what people in these settings have experienced."

I've been taking LSD and mushrooms and MDMA for years if not decades, and have limited experience with peyote and mescaline. And based on the interviews with study subjects, I'd have to say that in general my experiences have not been at all similar to theirs as far as self-exploration and discovery goes. Except for this one time....

I was visiting a wonderful, magical friend who had concocted this tea out of mushrooms and San Pedro cactus and other things, and it was this warm steamy smelly mess, but I drank what I was given. It was a delightful experience, full of colors and joy and laughter, up until some time after the peak when things started to settle into a groove, and we sort of fell into a reverie on the bed just lying there listening to music and letting our trips drift along.

I was watching the room, mostly the ceiling, which was (for lack of a better description) a mass of crawling paisley. Suddenly the background behind the paisley crawlers disappeared and the Great White Light Of The Universe was shining out from behind them, and I had a long conversation with the GWLOTU about my life path and how I had choices to make. I remember I was offered three paths.... The path that I chose at that point has had profound resonances over the decades, and the challenges and rewards offered have certainly been true for my life.

That experience has remained deeply resonant with me as I have continued to live my life, and whenever I get to a challenge or personal frustration with my life I remind myself that I was given a choice and this is the path that I chose. It's given me a drive and a purpose that is always in the background, and has given me a context that helps in times of despair and guides me through both the great and awful moments I encounter.

I won't say that I have experienced therapeutic psychedelic therapy, but that moment is resonant compared to the interviews in this 3-hour podcast. And I can attest, even with my own limited experience, it was profound and life-changing.

Excellent series, excellent post. I hope more people listen to it, because there is obviously a lot of potential there that, if unlocked, could help a lot of people.
posted by hippybear at 11:19 AM on December 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

I was at a conference with Shulgin in 2007 in which a guy gave presentation that exemplified the worst 1920's era racism complete with "blacks have inferior minds" idea. His name is Reid something. A number of us objected, but he was not censured and not ejected. As far as I know he is still in Ann Shulgin's circle. I have come to realize over the years that Alexander Shulgin was a dirty, drunken racist towards the end of his life.
posted by telstar at 6:35 PM on December 15, 2015

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