Psychedelics Could Trigger A ‘Paradigm Shift’ In Mental Health Care

Is American medicine on the brink of a psychedelic revolution?

It’s seeming more and more likely. A scientific review of the existing research into the therapeutic applications of psychedelics, published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, highlights the enormous potential of substances like LSD, psilocybin (hallucinogenic mushrooms) and MDMA (the active ingredient in Ecstasy) for treating a host of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, anxiety associated with terminal illness and depression.

While the research is still young, the small, preliminary studies highlighted in the review have shown that positive results can come from short courses — or even single sessions — of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

“The studies are showing big effects,” Dr. Matthew Johnson, a behavioral pharmacologist at Johns Hopkins University and one of the study’s authors, told The Huffington Post. “The exciting thing isn’t just that these drugs work for something that we already have treatment for. It’s that they’re getting big effects on disorders for which we have very poor treatment.”

HuffPost Science caught up with Johnson, who has conducted extensive research on the therapeutic applications of psilocybin and other hallucinogens, to learn more about how psychedelics could fundamentally change the way we treat mental illness.

Some people are calling psychedelics a “paradigm shift” in mental health care. Do you agree?

“Paradigm shift” is an appropriate term. It’s often overused in science, but this really is the case. There are fundamental differences in the approach of existing medication and psychedelic treatments, so that’s why we call it a different paradigm.

This is truly medication-facilitated therapy. So much of the data suggests that it’s the nature of the subjective experience that one has while under the effects of the substances that determines the long-term benefits — it’s —> Read More