Jun 20, 2011

Psychedelic psychotherapy

For those that remember my post on DMT, here's some interesting news on one of its close relatives:
Here's something a little offbeat for a Friday morning. A team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has recently documented a safe, long-lasting way of improving both your life and your personal feelings of well-being: shrooms. [...]
Notably, 61% of volunteers considered the psilocybin experience during either or both the [highest dosage] sessions to have been the single most spiritually significant of their lives, with 83% rating it in their top five. Consistent with this, 94% and 89% of volunteers, respectively, indicated that the experiences on those same sessions increased their well-being or life satisfaction and positively changed their behavior at least moderately.

....One month after sessions at either or both the two highest dose sessions, 94% of volunteers endorsed that the experience increased their sense of well-being or life satisfaction moderately or very much, and 89% rated moderate or higher changes in positive behavior. At the 14-month follow-up, these ratings remained high. The types of behavior change most frequently cited by volunteers were better social relationships with family and others, increased physical and psychological self-care, and increased spiritual practice (Table 6). Ratings by community observers before and after the study as well as ratings by study monitors after the study were consistent with the persisting positive changes in behavior and attitudes claimed by the volunteers.

This replicates the results of earlier studies, and it's worth noting that, Eminem songs aside, there have been no recorded cases of death from psilocybin alone, ever.  Here's the structure:


Like heroin, psilocybin is not actually a drug. Rather it is a prodrug, meaning it is metabolized to an actual drug in the body. In this case, psilocybin is processed into psilocin via dephosphorlyation, meaning your nips off that honkin phosphoryl group up on the top left.  Psilocin is doing the actual psychedelic lifting.


If you'll recall my DMT post, this structure is remarkably similar.  It always astonishes me that substances like psilocin and DMT, with widely varying effects, often differ by only a couple of atoms.  Get rid of that hydroxyl group (the OH on the top left), and you've got DMT.

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