What Is Psychedelic Therapy?

Psychedelic therapy is a technique that involves the use of psychedelic substances to aid the therapeutic process. Hallucinogenic substances have been used in holistic medicine and for spiritual practices by various cultures for thousands of years.

Research on the use of psychedelics flourished during the 1950s and 1960s until such substances were made illegal in the United States. While psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin are still illegal in the U.S., they are believed to have the potential to treat a range of conditions including anxiety, depression, and addiction.

Over the last two decades, researchers have gotten approval from authorities to conduct trials on the use of these substances to treat various conditions. For example, researchers have found that psilocybin is not only safe but that it can produce significant positive effects on well-being.1

When utilized under supervision in a carefully controlled setting, research shows that some psychedelic substances can produce lasting and significant psychological and behavioral changes.7 Examples of Hallucinogenic Drugs

Types of Psychedelic Therapy

There are a number of different types of substances that can have psychedelic effects. Some common psychedelic substance and their uses

  • Ayahuasca: This brew originating in South America is purported to help with addiction, anxiety, and depression. Possible side effects of Ayahuasca include serotonin syndrome and medication interactions. 
  • LSD: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) can lead to altered mood, perception, and consciousness. Potential uses include the treatment of addiction and anxiety. 
  • Psilocybin: Like LSD, psilocybin alters consciousness, mood, and perceptions. It is being studied for its use in the treatment of addiction, anxiety, and depression.
  • MDMA (ecstasy): While not a classic psychedelic substance, MDMA  (also known as ecstasy) is a drug that produces “psychedelic effects” including feelings of euphoria, altered perceptions, increased arousal, and increased sociability. Research suggests it has therapeutic potential in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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