An Unlikely Ally in Recovery: Psychedelics
November 21, 2022 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Jim Harris Was Paralyzed. Then He Ate Magic Mushrooms. After becoming paralyzed from the chest down, the mountain athlete found an unlikely ally in recovery: psychedelics.
posted by theora55 (24 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Culinary mushrooms have health benefits (A Lion's Mane Hoagie with caramelized onions and bell peppers is not a bad way to spend a lunch)

Reishi Mushrooms taste like garbage, but seem to be worth consuming anyways

It's kinda hard to dodge the 'woo' around this subject, but there seems to be some real science behind the benefits of these things. Based on the observed neurotropic properties of other mushrooms, I'm not shocked that psilocybin could help you reconnect with your getaway-sticks after a bad neurological injury.
posted by The Power Nap at 9:59 AM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Fascinated by the ongoing thoughts around psychedelics as curative, but also get caught up with a sneaking suspicion that it's like all the pro-pot stuff my stoner friends would shout out about weed before it got legalized.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:40 AM on November 21 [10 favorites]


That was a fascinating read.

It's so exciting to read about the possibilities for these treatments. I hope Harris is able to continue to benefit from his practice, and I hope research makes these treatments more available to many more people soon.

Thanks so much for posting this, theora55!
posted by kristi at 10:43 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


it kinda, sorta makes a bit of sense. Psychedelics, in the simplest of descriptions, activate neurons and nervepaths all through your brain, making connections that aren't supposed to normally happen (that's where all the "I hear colors" and "I taste music" adventures come from) I can see how psychedelics might have connected nerves in a way that got around/through the paralysis. It's pretty cool to contemplate the possibilities.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:45 AM on November 21 [16 favorites]


This is my father's name, so it's been a little trippy (pardon the pun) to keep seeing this title crop up in places (ah, second pun).
posted by MollyRealized at 11:15 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Love this, thanks for posting!

I get that the D.A.R.E. program and other propaganda has confused a lot of people about drugs but I still think it's odd that anyone is surprised or skeptical about the potential health benefits of psychedelics and cannabis. Drugs are drugs whether they are legal or not. Just because LSD and magic mushrooms and pot are illegal in some places does not mean they are bad for you or they only do bad things to you. I'm not saying they're always good for everyone. They might be bad for some people sometimes just like drinking alcohol might be bad for some people sometimes.

Do the skeptical people feel surprised or suspicious about the health benefits of other legal drugs? I mean people are going around consuming all sorts of substances because drugs can do good things to your brain and body just like drugs can do bad things to your brain and body.

I'm pretty sure I heard recently that Nancy Reagan was using a lot of tranquilizers back in the Just Say No days.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 11:16 AM on November 21 [19 favorites]


Oh don't get me wrong - I fully believe there are benefits to be explored and had. Maybe my "sneaking suspicion" is residual "Just Say No" vibes, old core Puritanism programming or too many hours spent with stoner buddies trying to convince me that pot would cure all your ills.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:29 AM on November 21 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not sure how anyone can be skeptical anymore of these psychedelics if they've read about any of the incredible research that's been done. The anecdotes alone from the book How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan - primarily about terminal cancer patients using psychedelic therapy to make peace with their upcoming death, overcoming their extreme depression to live their final days to the fullest and find genuine joy - were so powerful and moving that I was immediately made a believer. This is a drug that made people stop fearing death. How cool is that?? I'm convinced that at the very least these drugs very likely have the capability to move some serious chess pieces around in people's brains who otherwise thought they had hit a stalemate.

I think it's fair to be skeptical of people who tend to wave off things like FDA approved medications for depression/anxiety/any number of health issues in favor of "only natural therapies" etc - and go on to include psychedelics under the umbrella. But I do hope this stuff gets researched more heavily over time because I wouldn't be surprised if there is a wealth of benefits.
posted by windbox at 11:39 AM on November 21 [11 favorites]


And here in Colorado proposition 122 just passed, so Harris can access psychedelics legally from his home in Carbondale.

A big part of the successful vote here was promoting the use of psychedelics for treating PTSD for veterans.
posted by mochapickle at 12:44 PM on November 21 [11 favorites]


It seems baffling that such a thing should work, but ... let's find out! Let's take all this stuff out of Schedule I so we can actually do research on it!

I've been taking a small dose of CBD and a micro-dose of THC (something like 30-50mg / 1-3mg) every day for the last 5 or 6 months, just before bedtime. It started as a sleep aid and to quiet my noisy anxiety brain at bedtime, and it really worked, to my great surprise.

There is no mechanism by which this should also be improving my daytime life, too, but I've felt less anxious, my mood has been more even, and I've just ... felt an improved quality of life. Is it placebo? Maybe! But maybe there's something there, and we're only barely allowed to find out because it's next-to-impossible to study this stuff.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:52 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Canada just passed the four year milestone for federal cannabis legalization and in the Health Canada feedback form for the Cannabis Act review (itself already way way overdue), one of the things I wrote in was Canada has the chance to lead the way in cannabis studies because it's legal.

Uh, if you're Canadian, you have until midnight tonight to have your say about what could use improvement in the Canadian cannabis industry.

I am hoping we begin the same process for psychedelics. I cannot try those out because I am on an SSRI but I encourage the research and use for those to whom it would prove beneficial.
posted by Kitteh at 1:08 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


"It started as a sleep aid and to quiet my noisy anxiety brain at bedtime, and it really worked, to my great surprise.

There is no mechanism by which this should also be improving my daytime life, too, but I've felt less anxious, my mood has been more even, and I've just ... felt an improved quality of life."


In my own experience (which has not included CBD or THC, just better sleep hygiene), getting more and better sleep can make a significant difference in my mood and my experience of my daily life.

I'm so glad your quality of life has improved, uncleozzy!
posted by kristi at 1:09 PM on November 21 [7 favorites]


Do the skeptical people feel surprised or suspicious about the health benefits of other legal drugs?

There is a well worn path between substances that do something that have had their profile raised and those same substances suddenly doing everything. Of which pot is just the most recent example which for a while now in some cicles would cure whatever ails ya and wax your car to boot.

On top of that this is a single example in a non clinical setting and he got results essentially immediately after a single dose. Which is again pretty unusual with treatment for this sort of injury.

So some skepticism is warranted. Though if this turns out after study to actually have significant effects it is amazing good news.
posted by Mitheral at 1:14 PM on November 21 [9 favorites]


And here in Colorado proposition 122 just passed

Guys ... wait, listen ... I think I just declassified something with my mind.
posted by adept256 at 3:50 PM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Ain't surprised this guy partially healed his snowkite nerve injury eating mushrooms known for neuron regrowth but..

Oh god, snowkite is fucking terrifying. A parachute is designed to stay open to keep you alive. A kite is designed to close in an emergency to keep from harming you. Not the same! Around 1m30s and some other places, watch how he releases the bar and attempts to quickly grab the snow covered mountain side.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:54 PM on November 21 [3 favorites]


The first season of New York Magazine’s Cover Story podcast does some investigative journalism into therapists using psychedelics to abuse patients and research participants. Well worth a listen.

My own single experience with psychedelics was positive. The darkness that is always creeping around the edges of my awareness lifted for several weeks afterward trying mushrooms and I found I could actually fully enjoy nice things for a while. So I hope there’s enough responsible oversight in place to prevent unscrupulous practitioners from taking advantage of people or some scandal is going to take the whole thing down before it fully gets started.
posted by antinomia at 3:58 PM on November 21 [6 favorites]


In my own experience (which has not included CBD or THC, just better sleep hygiene), getting more and better sleep can make a significant difference in my mood and my experience of my daily life.

Yes, absolutely! Although truthfully, my quality of sleep wasn't really awful beforehand. I've mostly been sleeping pretty well for nigh on 20 years now (somehow), but when I started having a little trouble, I tried melatonin, which sure did knock me out, but also left me feeling ... a little weird? in the morning.

So right -- whether the CBD + THC is just helping me get a normal night's sleep or doing something more, I don't know, but either way, I've found a source that's cheap enough to continue using, and I don't see any reason to stop. But it would be really nice if we could deschedule cannabis and get some more robust studies about what the various cannabinoids are doing to us.

More to the topic of the post, there is at least one company that claims to be mailing psilocybin products across the US, which seems legally-fraught, to put it mildly, but they also seem to be coming at it from a place of wanting to spread the news about its medical uses, so good luck to them, I suppose.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:51 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Despite my best efforts, I can no longer source this line I fondly remember reading which perhaps best sums up my feeling on this specific and all attendant debates, at least as I best remember it - if it jogs anyone's memory by all means please refresh:

"As long as we're here, locked in this machinery of meat, why not push all the buttons on the control panel?"
posted by thecincinnatikid at 6:40 PM on November 21 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I'm another voice sitting with the skeptics--and honestly, the gushing anecdotes do more to encourage me to mentally flag "take with a grain of salt" than convince me.

This does not mean that I don't find cannabis incredibly useful as an aid to relaxation: getting stoned reminds me that a state of releasing anxiety is possible and demonstrates what that state feels like, which makes it easier and more motivating to seek it while sober.

My skepticism doesn't mean that I think we shouldn't fund more research, either: I'm excited to find out what folks doing research on psychedelics will discover, and I think further research is a great idea. It's just that I'm fundamentally suspicious of any panacea that comes without contraindications and trade offs.
posted by sciatrix at 9:49 PM on November 21 [5 favorites]


It's just that I'm fundamentally suspicious of any panacea that comes without contraindications and trade offs.

This might be why humans invented religion. We need a knowledge tradition to gate-keep the use of psychedelics.
Ergot ergo monastic lore.
posted by Thella at 12:17 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]



Oh god, snowkite is fucking terrifying. A parachute is designed to stay open to keep you alive. A kite is designed to close in an emergency to keep from harming you. Not the same! Around 1m30s and some other places, watch how he releases the bar and attempts to quickly grab the snow covered mountain side.


God damn it jeffburdges, take another look a the only piece of his art reproduced for the article.

Ostensibly, it’s a bare, rugged and forbidding peak rising out of Hokusai stylized glacial ice and snow.

But it’s also almost a Trompe-l'œil of a disembodied hand with every tendon and muscle popping out, digging for all its worth into snow covered ground.

I saw that, but I didn’t understand the significance of it until I read the final phrase of your comment.

Would you guess he is consciously aware of that? I would say no.
posted by jamjam at 12:44 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


The first season of New York Magazine’s Cover Story podcast does some investigative journalism into therapists using psychedelics to abuse patients and research participants. Well worth a listen.

Hard agree. You can find it here: Cover Story: Power Trip

The folks behind the podcast (Psymposia and friends) were recently banned from an industry event and unfairly ridiculed in absentia by Hamilton Morris. They discuss their side of the story in this video.

This whole debacle has been painful to watch because I am a fan of the the Psymposia people, Hamilton Morris, and psychedelics in general.

I think the Psymposia people are doing the right thing because the unbridled enthusiasm for psychedelics that I'm seeing in the Anglosphere recently is begging for a backlash.
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. at 8:05 AM on November 22


Schedule 1 drugs (and the equivalent in other countries) aren't criminalized because they are bad for you, they are criminalized because they are good for you and bad for your masters. Just like teaching slaves to read or letting women have bank accounts. The war against unauthorized pleasure and free thought was never for your own good. You can get stimulants weapons and watch violence on TV, but ephorics, nipples and blaspheming are illegal.

The natural, pleasurable or liberating experiences are dangerous, and that is why they are taboo, and an army of trained, armed, violent men can kill you with impungity for trying to be free. Thinking is resisting and if you "resist" they can turn off their body cams an murder you.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 9:19 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]


> Culinary mushrooms have health benefits (A Lion's Mane Hoagie with caramelized onions and bell peppers is not a bad way to spend a lunch)

I have a Lion's Mane growing right now that's about four times the size of my fist.Thank you for this suggestion!

For the times when people have been helped by mushrooms: I wonder how much of it is the psychedelic qualities, and how much the psychedelic qualities are a side effect but it's something else in the mushroom that's doing the work.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:48 AM on November 24


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