Before the backlash on psychedelics in the late 1960s, they weren’t only being used by people looking to “tune in and drop out.” Psychedelics were being studied for the medicinal properties they contained, and were positively changing the lives of countless individuals. Even after they were banned and labeled a Schedule I Substance by the United States Federal Government, there was still research being conducted on the positive medicinal benefits they contained.
This all changed in the mid-1980s, however, when laws became so strict worldwide that the majority of psychedelic studies came to a complete stop. No matter that, in the past, psychedelics had proven to be excellent for treating things such as depression and addiction. Luckily though, this all changed in the early 90s when the global ban on psychedelic research started to loosen. Psychedelic research began to see a resurgence, and today things seem to be moving forward in a much more positive direction–albeit very slowly.
A Brief History of Psychedelic Research
Western drug research on psychedelics, as we know it, began all the way back in 1897 when a German chemist isolated mescaline from the peyote plant. Long used by Native American tribes as a sacred medicinal plant, peyote showed to benefit conditions like depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
LSD came into the psychedelic medical scene in the early 1940s when Albert Hoffman first discovered the psychedelic properties it contained. Psilocybin soon followed and the research on psychedelic medicine marched on. Before 1972, when psychedelics started to get their bad rap, there were more than 700 studies performed on various psychedelic substances.
Therapy involving LSD wasn’t quite the norm, per say, but psychotherapy with the assistance of LSD was actually quite popular at the time. It showed to be amazing for some of the psychiatric disorders that were hard to treat and also showed excellent effects in helping addicts cease their destructive behavior. This LSD-assisted psychotherapy was also extremely beneficial in reducing anxiety in critically-ill patients.
In 1990, DMT was approved to be studied at the University of New Mexico, and a new world of psychedelic research began once again. The political environment was changing and, according to Rick Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies (MAPS), the change was spurred with the help of “open-minded regulators at the FDA” who “decided to put science before politics when it came to psychedelic and medical marijuana research.”
What Does the Future Hold for Psychedelic Medicine?
Without the FDA approval, future research on psychedelics won’t stand a chance. It’s the senior researchers involved in the FDA, influenced by psychedelics in the 1960s, who are beginning to speak up about the positive affects these substances contain. For almost 20 years now there has been a marked resurgence in the study of psychedelic medicine. Respected scientists and researchers worldwide are making their voices heard when it comes to the benefits certain psychedelics substances contain to treat various medical conditions.
In the past few years there have been several studies involving human volunteers in the psychedelic research community. Many people believe that substances such as LSD, DMT, psilocybin, MDMA, Ibogaine, and ketamine all hold significant value when treating various mental conditions which include:
- Cluster Headaches
- Anxiety in Terminally-Ill Patients
The results of these studies shows great promise for a future in psychedelic medicine but are completely dependent on FDA approval. There are many further studies planned for more research on the effects psychedelics may have in regard to various conditions by both MAPS and other private research organizations.
A Brighter Future
It is the hope of many that psychedelics will be seen for the potential they contain, rather than for the wrongful claims and propaganda made against them back in the 1960s and 70s. It’s unfortunate that psychedelics are thought to be as dangerous as heroin and cocaine–with an unsuspecting public heeding the word of the powers that be.
And in a society where the government is run by pharmaceutical companies that would, undoubtedly, lose large amounts of money and power if psychedelics were to be made legal, it’s likely we won’t see any psychedelic medicine used by the mainstream population any time soon. However, with the countless number of people (including respected researchers and scientists) that stand firmly behind psychedelics as medicine, one day this may be reality.
Until then, people will continue to travel to places such as Mexico and Central and South America to receive legal psychedelic treatment. Until laws and public opinion begin to change regarding psychedelics there will be continued research and studies that aim to help those in need, rather than simply give them treatments that often cause further harm. It’s safe to say that psychedelic medicine sits poised to embark on a promising future where it has the potential to help numerous people in need. That is, of course, if outdated policy and opinion can be silenced and the truth of the medicinal power psychedelics contain can be clearly heard.