"A good trip might look like this." DiscoveryHealth: Datacraft/Getty Images via DiscoveryHealth LSD, magic mushrooms, ketamine... We thought they died out with Timothy Leary.
But Swiss researchers now want to break the restriction on studying
these psychedelic drugs because they believe that the drugs may be therapeutic in treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Franz Vollenweide and Michael Kometer, colleagues at the Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging unit at Zurich's University Hospital of Psychiatry, believe that these drugs "can give patients a new perspective -- particularly when things like suppressed memories come up -- and then they can work with that experience." The pair just published a paper on the topic in Nature Neuroscience.
The scientists point out that many people who have symptoms of psychiatric disease do not respond to traditional drugs like Prozac or Paxil. If introduced to low doses of mind altering drugs for a limited period of time, and as part of a therapy session, the drugs could act as a catalyst helping persons to reduce psychiatric symptoms. They could help patients alter their perception of problems or pain levels and then be able to tackle them in new ways.
Previous studies have suggested that psychedelic drugs act on brain circuits and neurotransmitter systems that are altered by anxiety and depression. Recently, a U.S. study found that ketamine can help patients with severe bipolar disease by lifting their moods within minutes.
Mental illnesses are a growing and serious health problem, say Vollenweider and Kometer. "These are serious, debilitating,
life-shortening illnesses, and as the currently available treatments
have high failure rates, psychedelics might offer alternative treatment
strategies that could improve the well-being of patients and the
associated economic burden on patients and society," they wrote.