A Brief History of Psychedelic Therapy
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We take you on a psychedelic journey back through time. Revealing how microdosing mushrooms have become relevant today, and how they got here.
Consider the word, ‘psychedelic’. While hallucinogen is often used interchangeably, particularly in reference to modern mushroom use- it doesn’t actually adequately describe the experience one has when using psilocybin. It’s unlikely you’ll be overtaken by a stampede of purple elephants, or see babies crawl across your ceiling with shrooms. So “hallucinogen” isn’t really right, is it? As anyone that has taken magic mushrooms can tell you- it’s a much more difficult experience to describe. Much less tangible, and much more spiritual.
Which is exactly why psychedelic is often a much more appropriate term. Coming from Greek origins, psyche meaning “soul”, and del meaning “to reveal”. Speaking of something not only more genuinely representative of the experience itself- but also something that can help explain why psychedelics have been of interest to the scientific communities for so long. If this is just one fascinating tidbit that a deeper look into microdosing guides offers, what else can history tell us?
Microdosing Psilocybin: Modern History
While the history of psychedelics being used as an adjunct to treating stubborn mental health issues stretches back as far as the 1950s, it’s pretty apparent that there seems to be a Renaissance going on, or a bit of a revival, particularly within the last few years. Psychedelics are regaining speed as a sound alternative to legacy pharmaceuticals and psychotherapies. Particularly as people are self-administering and finding favorable results. In some cases, even more so than the benefits they’ve gained from traditional treatments. Microdosing psilocybin in particular has an extremely popular option in modern times, both with the relaxing laws regarding psilocybin itself, the continued availability of the online shroom dispensary, and the dissemination of information regarding microdosing guides and schedules.
Currently, interest in psychedelic therapies can be closely tied to healthcare disparities, increases in mental health disorders, and a drive to find better and more natural options for treating what ails us. This can be seen mostly in the caparison of use, as microdosing rarely fits a profile of drug culture, as everyday people, with normal, adult schedules are using microdosing as a way to enhance their state of being, as opposed to spending weekends and stretches of days down various rabbit holes of recreation. Microdosing psilocybin can reasonably be looked at in the next evolutionary step towards better and more accessible mental healthcare.
Microdosing? Mushrooms and LSD Take Center Stage, 1950s as UK and Canada Head Research
In 1951, the use of psychedelics as a form of therapy was born, well before the times of microdosing. Canada would become the birthplace of these types of therapies, propelled forward by Dr. Humphrey Osmond, a psychiatrist. Within the first year of Osmond taking a post as Deputy Director of Psychiatry at a mental hospital in Saskatchewan, Canada- his use of psychedelics rocked the world of mental health sciences. In a time where electro-shock therapy and lobotomies were still in high fashion (knowing now that they’re more tortuous than effective), Osmond pushed for something better. Using large doses of LSD to treat patients with chronic alcoholism, Osmond and team members found some pretty incredible results. By the 1960’s Osmond had treated over 2,000 patients with psychedelic therapy, with nearly 45% of them completely rehabilitated and without relapse for a year or more.
The UK also presented their own pro-psychedelic physician, Dr. Ronald Sandison. Consulting as a psychiatrist in a hospital near Worcester, Sandison began to introduce psychedelic therapy after meeting one of Dr. Osmond colleagues in Switzerland, in 1952. After years of clinical trials, Sandison found similar results to the teams in Canada, and then opened one of the world’s first psychedelic treatment centers. Sandison would soon become The Godfather of microdosing, Canada brought forth studies in large dose psychedelics, where the UK and Sandison created a schedule of small doses that incrementally increased over time. Between the 1950s and mid-1960s, over 40,000 patients had been treated with psychedelics. Thousands of research papers were produced, and the system began creating real momentum in the scientific community.
A Changing Tide: Microdosing Psilocybin and the Stigma of Drug Culture
However, starting in 1962, America passed a number of anti-drug laws, and began to put pressure on many other countries to follow suit. Shortly following the stringent new laws, LSD hit mainstream recreation and created an entirely new cultural subgroup. By 1967, “hippie” counterculture gave rise to extreme negative stigma associated with the use of psychedelics, making them altogether impossible to research. By the end of the 1960’s psychedelics had become synonymous with abuse and misuse, as well as riots and- in general, bad, anti-social behavior. Throughout the coming decades, the US would wage a “war on drugs” that would influence the world, and almost entirely retard the scientific inquiry of psychedelics.
As science and technology flourished, so too did our collective understanding of the effects of psychedelics on the brain itself. By the 1990s inquiry into psychedelic therapy began to once again gain widespread interest. Despite still having a stubborn stain on most public opinion, psychedelics once again began to worm their way back into the interest of the scientists who dedicate their lives to improving our mental comforts. By the late 2010s, research was once again being devoted to study the neurological effects of these substances. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists are beginning to better understand how these substances, particularly psilocybin, may help to “reboot” our cognitive processes. How microdosing mushrooms could reasonably provide a widely accessible and highly effective treatment for the depression and anxiety that continues to take hold of our populations. Helping not only governments, but the citizens themselves to further separate the stigma of drug culture with the fiscally and physiologically useful applications of microdosing psilocybin. Where science and personal experimentation is poised to take us from here is a difficult guess to make- but with a growing number of people suffering from the negative effects of mental illness, and a healthcare industry that is not built to withstand a mental crisis, we are in need of the therapeutic powers of mushrooms. Now more than ever.
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