Research, Treatment

A Quick Guide to the Many Types of Psychedelic Therapy

March 15, 2021 10:39 am ET
A Quick Guide to the Many Types of Psychedelic Therapy

Note: Veriheal does not support illegally consuming alternative therapeutic substances but acknowledges that it transpires because of the current illicit status, which we strive to change by advocating for research, legal access, and responsible consumption. Always consult a physician before attempting psychedelic therapy.

A recent wave of interest in psychedelics has shaken things up as recent research begins to reveal their therapeutic potential. While it is too early to use the research to argue for rescheduling, it provides hope for an alternative to the negative risks of man-made pharmaceuticals, where some are arguably worse than many psychedelics. In light of the new wave, let’s have a look at which psychedelics are currently being researched for their potential to be used in the therapeutic process.

What is Psychedelic Therapy?

Psychedelic therapy, or psychedelic-assisted therapy, is a technique that involves the use of psychedelic, or hallucinogenic, substances in order to aid in the therapeutic process. This process involves the interaction between professionals and clients. Psychedelic therapy may have gained a lot of attention in recent years, but it has been used as part of holistic medicine and religious purposes for thousands of years

The hallucinogenic properties of LSD were discovered in the 1940s, which is when researchers began to look at such psychedelic substances for therapeutic potential. During the 50s and 60s, the psychedelic compounds known as lysergic acid, diethylamide, LSD, and psilocybin were being examined for their therapeutic potential, which includes being studied as a potential treatment for alcoholism. However, these substances were made illegal in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which means that the research had to stop. Under their illegal status, the psychedelics were considered to possess “significant potential for abuse and dependence” while also having “no recognized medical value”. However, their medical value, or therapeutic potential, has motivated the continued use of these substances, despite their illegal status. 

Types of Psychedelic Therapy

  • Ayahuasca

    Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew, like a tea, which is made from Amazonian plants. The word ‘ayahuasca’ means the “vine of the spirits” according to Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The substance is used in guided rituals by shamans, who are believed to be able to contact the dead. The brew’s psychoactive ingredient is believed to be DMT, which is a molecule with a similar structure to the brain’s serotonin chemical, with another active ingredient being ꞵ-carboline.

    • Therapeutic Properties: Research suggests the following therapeutic properties can be expected.  Neuroprotection, neurorestorative, blocks neurodegeneration, regulates the production of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, boosts memory, protects the brain cells from damage caused by a lack of oxygen levels as well as increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which promotes nerve cell survival.
    • Legal Locations treatments: Soltara Healing Center in Costa Rica and Niwe Rao Xobo in Peru. 
  • Ibogaine

    According to the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance (GITA), ibogaine is a psychoactive substance that can naturally be found in plants, typically those belonging to a plant family called Apocynaceae. Like ayahuasca, ibogaine is used in rituals and ceremonies as well as for medicine. It has been recorded to be used for fever, influenza, swine flu, high blood pressure, drug abuse, HIV/Aids as well as nerve disorders.

    • Therapeutic Properties: The GITA explains that the following therapeutic properties can be expected. Simulation, increased energy, induces oneirogenic effects- which means to be in a dream-like state while being awake, retrieval of repressed memories, facilitates closure of unresolved emotional conflicts, interrupts physiological dependence on drugs, curbs cravings as well as eliminates withdrawal symptoms.
    • Legal Locations treatments: Panģea Biomedics in Mexico and Clear Sky Recovery in Mexico
  • Psilocybin

    Psilocybin is the hallucinogenic active compound found in certain mushrooms. These ‘magic mushrooms’ are also used in ceremonies and spiritual practices. While psilocybin has the potential to induce visual or auditory hallucinations, it more commonly alters one’s perceptions. Psilocybin is receiving a lot of potential for its therapeutic properties as it is showing promise, and can even be used in combination with cannabis.

    • Therapeutic Properties: Current studies say that psilocybin can promote mood balance and alleviates depression, assisting with stopping to smoke, and assists conquering addiction. It can also sustainably improve the quality of life, alleviates anxiety, induces a sense of awe and inspiration, heroic doses can temporarily dissolve the ego (ego death), boosts memory and focus, and boosts the immune system.
    • Legal Locations treatments: Synthesis in the Netherlands
  • Ketamine

    Ketamine is a hallucinogenic substance that is used by medical practitioners and veterinarians as an anesthetic. It can produce psychedelic effects which include seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, or tasting things unrealistically or imaginatively. Ketamine is showing great promise for depression, despite generally being used as an anesthetic.

    • Therapeutic Properties: Research states the following benefits can be expected from ketamine. Alleviates pain and decreases the need for narcotic painkillers, anesthetic,  antidepressant as well as being used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, Bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
    • Legal Locations treatments: Will Siu in California, Ember Health in New York, Wholeness Centre in Colorado, Craig Salerno Counseling in Colorado, and Marcela Ot’alora G. in Colorado.
  • LSD

    LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is a semi-synthetic drug that notoriously “blurs the line between perception and imagination” according to Medical News Today. The drug is derived from ergot which is a fungus along with a man-made substance called diethylamide.

    • Therapeutic Properties: According to Frontiers in Psychiatry, the following benefits can be expected from LSD. Antidepressant, alleviated anxiety, assists in combating addiction, assists in combating psychosomatic diseases (which are conditions involving both the mind and body), reduces psychiatric symptomatology mainly related to alcoholism,
    • Legal Locations treatments: No legal locations at this time.

Psychedelics are illegal in most countries, so it is absolutely important for one to confirm that the therapy is happening under legal conditions. 

The Importance of Set and Setting In Psychedelic Therapy

The conditions where-in psychedelics are consumed can influence the experiences one would have on the substance. The psychedelics can leave you vulnerable and open to potential harm, which is why consumption of psychedelics should only happen in controlled and secure environments, preferably with a professional. 

Additionally, the ceremonies involved in psychedelic therapies have been specifically designed and structured to minimize adverse influence over the experience. Professionals at psychedelic retreats and institutions have taken great care to ensure that your experience takes place in a safe and peaceful environment as well as taking measures to ensure your mindset is ready for a positive experience. A good psychedelic therapy program should involve a thorough medical screening, an in-depth application process, emotional and psychological integration work as well as safe and peaceful settings under the guidance or facilitation of a professional. 

While psychedelics remain largely illegal, they can be beneficial therapeutics and are worth investigating. Granted that consumption happens in legal locations so that you do not run the risk of getting into trouble with the law. Your safety is of the utmost importance, which is why we do not recommend that you self-medicate with psychedelics but rather seek out professional assistance. 

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