Psychedelic Drug Research Renaissance: A Comprehensive Review

Originally appearing here. Long demonized, ridiculed, or ignored by the mainstream media, psychedelic drugs are finally seeing the light of day, and new scientific research is confirming the results of older studies, which suggest that these unusual substances have a myriad of useful medical applications. After eighteen years of no clinical studies with psychedelic drugs, there is now an explosion of research occurring all over the world with drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, MDMA, ibogaine, and ketamine. How might these controversial, mind-bending drugs be used as therapeutic healing agents? Award-winning, Santa Cruz science writer David Jay Brown–yours truly–has recently published the only book of its kind that summarizes all of the clinical studies into psychedelic drugs over the past 22 years. Based upon a feature article that I wrote for Scientific American Mind magazine back in 2008, Psychedelic Drug Research: The State of the Field substantially expands, updates, and revises the research summaries, offering a definitive report on the scientific investigations that have taken place since starting anew in 1990. In the new book I explore how MDMA is being studied as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder, how ketamine is being researched as an effective treatment for depression, and how LSD is being explored as a safe medicine to help reduce the anxiety of advanced cancer patients. I review the exciting new functional MRI studies with psilocybin–the psychoactive component of the “magic mushroom”–as well as the research that demonstrates psilocybin’s extraordinary ability to help people have genuine religious experiences that, according to Johns Hopkins researchers, are indistinguishable from those reported by mystics throughout history. There are summaries of fascinating studies with ayahuasca and psychological health, DMT and non-human entity contact, and how the African shrub known as “iboga” may be helpful in curing dangerous drug addictions. Additionally, I explore the future possibilities of psychedelic drug research, when it expands beyond the medical studies to treat illnesses, and begins exploring the frontiers of human potential–creativity, psychic phenomena, and the hidden dimensions of the mind. Here’s what some of the experts had to say about Psychedelic Drug Research: The State of the Field. According to Rick Doblin, Founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, “David Jay Brown’s comprehensive new eBook is a valuable resource that should be read widely by audiences interested in scientific research with psychedelics since the 1990s, when science triumphed over drug war politics, and the FDA lifted the ban on psychedelic research…[A] timely and important book.” Psychologist and researcher Stanley Krippner, Ph.D. had this to say, “Most readers of Psychedelic Drug Research will be surprised at the impressive amount of data collected on LSD and similar substances despite governmental crackdowns, social prejudice, distortions in the media, and the notoriety attached to what could have been a new era of healing, therapy, and unleashing of human potential. Nonetheless, the sections on post-1990 investigations are nicely summarized by David Jay Brown, and make for enlightening and often provocative reading.” Psychologist and researcher Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., added, “David Jay Brown’s summary of research findings on psychedelics and their extraordinary range of therapeutic applications should prove extremely useful in this newly resurgent field of interest–a field touching on vast and poorly understood human potentials.” Surely it’s no accident that the unintended initials for this new book are coincidentally “PDR,” a synchronistic sign that it’s destined to become a model for the new Physician’s Desk Reference. Psychedelic Drug Research: The State of the Field was recently published by Reality Sandwich (ISBN: 978-0-9858741-0-0). It contains beautiful artwork by Sara Huntley, and is currently available in all eBook formats for a mere $2.99. Psychedelic Drug Research Renaissance: A Comprehensive Review, is a new book by author David Jay Brown that summarizes 22 years of clinical research into the medical potential of psychedelics. Drugs such as LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and more have been shown to have medical benefits, and this book is a very detailed resource for these substances and their capability to heal.