Psychedelic drugs could treat depression, and other mental illnesses

Nelson Vergel

"It seems that psychedelics do more than simply alter perception. According to the latest research from my colleagues and me, they change the structures of neurons themselves.

My research group has been studying the effects of psychedelics on neuronal structure and function, and we found that these compounds cause neurons to grow. A lot. Many of these compounds are well-known and include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocin (from magic mushrooms), N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT, from ayahuasca) and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, aka ecstasy).

These are among the most powerful drugs known to affect brain function, and our research shows that they can alter the structure of the brain as well. Changes in neuronal structure are important because they can impact how the brain is wired, and consequently, how we feel, think and behave.

Prior to our study, there were relatively few compounds known to have such drastic and rapid effects on neuronal structure. One of those compounds was ketamine — a dissociative anesthetic and quite possibly the best fast-acting antidepressant that we have available to us at the moment.

If you think of a neuron like a tree, then its dendrites would be the large branches, and its dendritic spines — which receive signals from other neurons — would be the small branches. Some of these small branches might have leaves, or synapses in the case of a neuron. In fact, neuroscientists often use terms like “arbor” and “pruning” much like a horticulturist would. When we grew neurons in a dish — which is not unlike growing a plant in a pot — and fed them psychedelic compounds, the neurons sprouted more dendritic branches, grew more dendritic spines, and formed more connections with neighboring neurons."

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Nelson Vergel

I am concerned self-administration of ketamine could lead to addiction. Here is a study with encouraging results.

Study Shows Fast-Acting Benefits of Ketamine for Depression and Suicidality

A nasal spray formulation of ketamine shows promise in the rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study published online today in The American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP).

The double-blind study compared the standard treatment plus an intranasal formulation of esketamine, part of the ketamine molecule, to standard treatment plus a placebo for rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression, including suicidality, among individuals at imminent suicide risk. The study involved 68 participants randomly assigned to one of two groups - either receiving esketamine or placebo twice a week for four weeks. All participants continued to receive treatment with antidepressants throughout. The researchers looked at effects at four hours after first treatment, at 24 hours and at 25 days.

The study was conducted by researchers at Janssen Research and Development and Janssen Scientific Affairs, Titusville, N.J., and San Diego, and the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. They found a significant improvement in depression scores and decreased suicidal ideation in the esketamine group compared to the placebo group at four hours and at 24 hours. The esketamine effects were not greater than the placebo at 25 days. The measurement of suicide risk took into consideration both the patient's and clinician's perspectives.

The results of the study support nasal spray esketamine as a possible effective rapid treatment for depressive symptoms in patients assessed to be at imminent risk for suicide, according to the authors. Esketamine could be an important treatment to bridge the gap that exists because of the delayed effect of most common antidepressants. Most antidepressants take four to six weeks to become fully effective.

This study was a proof-of-concept, phase 2, study for esketamine; it must still go through a phase 3 study before possible FDA approval. It was funded by Janssen Research and Development, LLC.

The authors caution that more research is needed on the potential for abuse of ketamine. That caution is also the focus of an accompanying AJP editorial also published online today. In the editorial, AJP Editor Robert Freedman, M.D., along with members of the AJP Editorial Board, note the known potential for abuse and existing reports of abuse of prescribed ketamine. They discuss the need for additional research relating to the abuse potential of ketamine during phase 3 trials, such as monitoring of patients' craving and potential ketamine use from other sources.

While it is the responsibility of physicians to provide a suicidal patient with the fullest range of effective interventions, the AJP Editor's note, "protection of the public's health is part of our responsibility as well, and as physicians, we are responsible for preventing new drug epidemics." The Editors suggest the need for broad input in the development of effective controls on the distribution and use of ketamine.

Freedman and colleagues argue that steps to control the use of ketamine would not be aimed at preventing its use for beneficial purposes but would allow for treatment to "continue to be available to those with need, while the population that is at-risk for abuse is protected from an epidemic of misuse."

SOURCE: American Psychiatric Association


Fascinating topic. If I could change careers this is the direction I would go. Interesting to me how much brain chemistry controls mood, depression, behavior, addiction. People who have low serotonin or dopamine can have such a rough time through no fault of their own.

Nelson Vergel

I am reading this book and it is amazing. He researched all the data we have been compiling since the 40's.

I tried psilocybin, ketamine IV and peyote (all supervised) and I can say that stuff works for detaching oneself from the ego that controls us all the time. This detachment is the source of all insights and breakthroughs that are impossible to attain with therapy alone. The results can be long-lasting.

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Nelson Vergel

Trying ketamine in about a week
IV, I hope. The nasal delivery system is not as effective. Make sure you have someone to talk to afterward. Most K clinics do not offer counseling services and that is a huge missed opportunity.

Music is super important, so good headphones are a must. Here is my ketamine playlist on Spotify with chants from different parts of the world. Very trippy!


Nelson Vergel


MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy We are studying whether MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can help heal the psychological and emotional damage caused by sexual assault, war, violent crime, and other traumas. We are also studying MDMA-assisted therapy for autistic adults with social anxiety and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for people with anxiety related to life-threatening illnesses.
Medical Marijuana MAPS has received regulatory approval to conduct a study of smoked marijuana for symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans of war.
LSD-Assisted Psychotherapy MAPS has completed the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the therapeutic use of LSD in human beings since the early 1970s.
Ibogaine-Assisted Treatment We are studying the long-term effects of ibogaine treatment on patients presently undergoing therapy at independent ibogaine treatment centers in Mexico and New Zealand.
Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy MAPS supports research into the safety and effectiveness of ayahuasca-assisted treatment for drug addiction and PTSD. We also support conferences, meetings, and publications about the scientific, therapeutic, sustainable, and spiritual uses of ayahuasca.
Other Psychedelic Research Read about psychedelic research around the world not sponsored by MAPS.
Participate in Research MAPS is recruiting subjects for clinical trials. Please check back periodically to see if we are in need of new subjects for other studies.



Psilocybin study

Eligibility: age 50+, Long term survivors stress syndrome HIV AIDS, 6 hour intake will test your ability to give consistent responses. Successful participants will be able to ferret out questions the researcher has designed as disqualifying and give the appropriate response. This study seeks to empower individual by honing their skills. It is not psychotherapy. Revealing cognitive conditions that interfere with day to functioning, for example, could be disqualifying.

Where: UCSF San Francisco Parnassus

10 week study is accepting applications
I was looking around for some info on ketamine and found this web site started by ketamine patients.
"The Ketamine Advocacy Network was founded at the National Institutes of Health in 2012 by ketamine clinical trial volunteers. They personally experienced the power ketamine has to rapidly relieve the excruciating pain of refractory depression."
A TON of info.
The "LEARN" TAB has a number of sections that cover this subject from "A to Z" in a detailed and informative nature.
I found the "The Infusion Experience" and the "The Relief Experience" to be VERY enlightening.... Not to mention an informative discussion on the "COST" of treatments.....
Home Page
Looks like data is good till around 2016 then?
I have sent and email to see if the site is still being maintained, but the info that is still available is impressive....
The "Discussion Forums" are still up.
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Nelson Vergel

FDA Approves Study for Magic Mushrooms For Treating Depression

The move follows an expansion of magnetic pulse therapies. But this one is a little more psychedelic.
The Food and Drug Administration has taken an active role in approving new therapies to treat depression this week. On August 23, the Inquisitr reported that the FDA approved a new form of transcranial magnetic stimulation to help ease treatment-resistant depression. The new TMS treatment cuts down the number of treatments needed as well as significantly reduces the time for treatment from more than a half an hour to just three minutes.
On August 22, a company called Compass Pathways announced that the FDA had given them the green light for a new treatment for depression involving psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms.” Compass Pathways is a life sciences company founded in London, England, in 2016. They are developing a clinical trial using psilocybin therapy for European and North American patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Nelson Vergel

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to psilocybin-assisted therapy from Compass Pathways for patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), the manufacturer reports.

This lays the groundwork for an upcoming multicountry study that will assess the safety and efficacy of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in psychedelic or "magic" mushrooms.

Robin Carhart-Harris, PhD, head of the psychedelic research group, Imperial College London, United Kingdom, noted in a press release that he and a group of investigators "found promising signals of efficacy and safety as treatment" for refractory depression in their 2015 study.

Medscape: Medscape Access

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