Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. on Psilocybin, Psychedelic Therapies & Mystical Experiences

Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. on Psilocybin,  Psychedelic Therapies & Mystical Experiences


[Rhonda]: Hello, folks. Today’s podcast guest is Dr. Roland Griffiths
who is a clinical pharmacologist at Johns Hopkins University. Roland has authored over 300 publications
on mind-altering substances ranging from caffeine to ketamine and their effects on behavior
and brain function, as well as other things. But even more recently, Roland and his colleagues
published a very interesting study that’s made a big splash on the effects of psilocybin
on depressive symptoms and anxiety in patients with late-stage cancer, which I know is very
interesting to a lot of you folks, and this may be outside my usual wheelhouse, but I’m
very excited to talk to Roland today. So, Roland, thank you for allowing me to come
to your lab in your office. Maybe we can start by talking about this new
study that I just got done reading about the effects of psilocybin on depression and anxiety
in patients that were diagnosed with terminal cancer. [Roland]: Yeah. Well, if you don’t mind, let me backup where
I got involved with this research… [Rhonda]: That’ll be great. [Roland]: …and then we’ll move up to the
cancer. So, about 20 years ago…let’s see. I am a psychopharmacologist in the departments
of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. I’ve been doing research with mood-altering
drugs for over 40 years. About 20 years ago, I took up a meditation
practice and that got me very interested in altered states of consciousness, spiritual
experience, the whole idea of personal transformation. And in the course of that, became reacquainted
with this older research with classic psychedelics. These are serotonergically-mediated classic
hallucinogens, LSD, psilocybin in the magic mushroom, DMT, mescaline. And we initiated a study then which was published
about a decade ago in healthy volunteers receiving psilocybin. The very interesting effect from that study
was that psilocybin under conditions in which people are very carefully selected, they’re
supported, they’re prepared, has effects that are deeply and profoundly personally and spiritually
meaningful to people. So there’s a phenomenology that occurs in
these experiences. And what’s interesting with respect to other
mood-altering drugs is these experiences are deeply valued well after the experience has
finished. So, months later, people continue to reflect
back on that experience and opine that it’s among the most personally meaningful and spiritually
significant of their lives. I mean, in the top five if not the single
most, comparing these experiences to that of birth of a firstborn child or death of
a parent. So these are profound experiences. And having worked with many different psychoactive
substances because my research program has been funded primarily by National Institute
on Drug Abuse, so I’m accustomed to giving high doses of mood-altering compounds. In contrast to most drugs that you give, these
effects are much more salient and people ascribe long-term changes in attitudes, moods, and
behavior to them. So, if you give a high dose of morphine, or
cocaine, or a sedative-hypnotic, or any number of other drugs, people will remember it after
it’s done. They may reflect back and have pleasant memories
or unpleasant memories of it, but it’s something that happened long ago. In contrast, these drugs have this kind of
peculiar attribute that people feel as though they have learned something very important
to them personally, and that it has information value for them moving forward in their lives. And so that became absolutely fascinating
to us and provided kind of a focus of our studies now, over at least one area of study,
over the last decade. So what is the quality of that experience
that people have? Well, one thing I should say is that this
is one of the rooms in which these studies are conducted, and that the way the sessions
are run is that volunteers come in and they spend at least eight hours of preparation
with us in which we develop rapport and trust with them so that they can feel safe during
a high dose experience with psilocybin. On the session day, they take a capsule. This is synthesized psilocybin, it’s not mushrooms. And they’re invited to lay down on this couch
with eye shades and headphones through which they listen to a program of music. And then they’re invited to direct their attention
inward on their inner experience. So this isn’t a guided session. There are two people present here who just
provide reassurance if it’s needed, but really are there just for safety purposes and to
make people feel that if anxiety or fear arises, that they can just be reassured that despite
what they may be feeling, they’re 3going to be back to consensual reality by the end of
the day. So this is the context, and it’s very hard
to pin down the specific nature of the experience because it can be really quite varied. There can be autobiographical features of
the experience where people remember issues from childhood or they reflect on relationships
in their own lives. There can be aesthetic experiences where people
get involved with imagery or color or geometric shapes, but there is a component to this experience
that interestingly enough maps on to classically occurring mystical-type experiences that have
been reported by mystics and religious figures over the eons. And as unlikely as it sounds, we actually
have good psychometric measures of those experiences, and they’ve been really well described, and
in the core features of those experiences are the following. The central feature is this sense of the interconnectedness
of all people and things, it’s a sense of unity. And that’s accompanied by a sense of sacredness
or reverence for that experience. There’s something humbling about that experience. And also very important, the experience has
authenticity to it, a truth value to it that people will often say it’s more real and more
true than every day waking consciousness. In addition, there’s a sense of positive moods,
sometimes hard opening or love, transcendence of time and space, the past and the future
collapse into the present moment, and the experiences are said to be ineffable. People, among the first things they say on
coming out of an experience like this is, “I can’t possibly put this experience into
words.” But the feature of that sense of unity, the
interconnectedness of all things, and the truth value of that experience, I think, are
the features that underscore this reorganizational component for many people. And so, it’s not unusual for people to say
months or even years after the experience that they think of this experience almost
every day if not every day. It’s reorganizational to how they hold themselves
and other people in the world. There is a existential component to this that
gets people looking at the mystery of consciousness for lack of a better description. What’s really going on here that we’re conscious
beings, we’re aware? That we’re aware? There’s a huge mystery behind that that is
so inexplicable at many different levels and so profoundly moving, and it’s an experience
for which most people feel deep gratitude when we allow ourselves to reflect on that
because we’re human after all. We get caught up in our life stories. So, we have pursued that line of research. We’ve done several different studies in healthy
volunteers. We’ve looked at dose effects. We’ve had controls for expectancy. We’re absolutely convinced it’s a very robust
and replicable effect. And so, that’s opened up a fantastic number
of really interesting research questions. We can do reductionistic neuroscience. Whether we’re doing brain imaging work, we
can ask questions about pharmacology, we can ask questions about biological and genetic
dispositions or behavioral interactions or set and setting conditions that modulate those
experiences. And to bring this to your question, we can
look at therapeutic effects. And so, one of the first studies that we’ve
conducted looking at therapeutic effects is to look at cancer patients who are experiencing
very significant anxiety or fear in face of a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. And it turns out that this kind of very disquieting
existential anxiety and sometimes depression very often accompanies these life-threatening
cancer diagnoses as you might expect that it would. And our treatment options are quite limited,
so we do have our classic antidepressants and our anxiolytics. And there are different kinds of psychotherapy
approaches, but for many people, these interventions are not very effective and they can really
experience a very degraded quality of life and a sense of hopelessness and depression
that really diminishes their whole experience in the latter parts of their lives. So, it was this population that we were interested
in treating with psilocybin to see whether there would be therapeutic effects. One of the reasons we chose that population
is that there were studies back in the 50s and 60s that produced suggestive evidence
that compounds from this category of the classic hallucinogens like LSD and some other psilocybin
analogs might be effective in this regard, but these trials were not conducted under
the rigorous clinical standards that would be expected today. And just a footnote, of course, work with
these classic hallucinogens really came to a standstill in the late 60s with the psychedelic
movement and the cultural reactivity we had to that which placed these drugs into schedule
one. They became very difficult to obtain. There was no funding that was available, and
the media surrounding the surgeon use of these compounds back in the 60s led people to conclude
incorrectly as it turns out that the risks of exposure to these compounds were greater
than any possible benefits. But functionally, what happened was there
was a period of several decades where no clinical research was done with these compounds. So, people had made observations previously
that there might be a signal here. There had been one pilot study published a
couple years ago with a low dose of psilocybin out of UCLA. And then we undertook our study at Johns Hopkins. A group at NYU ran a somewhat smaller study
and we co-published just this last week, in fact, our results. And the results really were quite striking. They confirmed everything we had seen in the
healthy volunteers that is these very vulnerable cancer patients who had very significant anxiety
or depression experience the same types of…experience is very often classified as this mystical-type
experiences, but they were deeply moved by these experiences. And interestingly, these people experience
very large and sustained decreases in anxiety and depression, and the effects occurred really
quite promptly after the administration of the drug. And although the design of the study was such,
it was a crossover design so people were crossed over between essentially an inactive dose
of psilocybin to an active dose or vice-versa. So the strongest conclusion we can make comparing
our placebo condition and our active condition is this effect lasted out to five weeks, but
in fact, we followed people out to six months and there was no evidence that there was any
significant rate of relapse over that period of time. So, in other words, most people who demonstrated
a large therapeutic effect remained having low levels of anxiety or depression out to
six months. So there’s suggestive evidence that there’s
a long duration of that… [Rhonda]: After one treatment. [Roland]: …after one treatment, yeah. [Rhonda]: That’s pretty amazing. I have so many questions to ask you, but just
something that I’m very interested in is depression and the effects of the immune system on depression,
inflammation on depression, and vice versa, depression also affects the immune system. And knowing what we know about how the immune
system is also important for cancer, I’m just kind of curious if any of these patients,
if there’s any information on their actual cancer prognosis, whether or not, I mean,
indirectly or directly, psilocybin may be affecting the immune system via making…I
mean, if you’re feeling better, if you’re not as anxious, then surely, your immune system
is going to be…stress depresses the immune system, anxiety depresses the immune system. So it would be very interesting to see whether
or not there’s actually a direct or an indirect effect on the immune system, and possibly
on their cancer progression. [Roland]: I mean, it’s a very interesting
and important question. We did not collect data that specifically
addressed it, and we were very reluctant to imply in any sense to these individuals that
this was a cure for their cancer because we don’t know the answer to that and we thought
that that would be misleading if that were implied within the trial. But you’re absolutely right. There are fascinating interactions between
depression and immune function. And so that is a story that remains to be
determined. However, we had a number of volunteers whose
disease progression continued, and certainly, this is not a cure for cancer. Whether some people had significant benefits
or not, we just can’t say. But to get back to the whole question about
psilocybin and depression, that’s another area that we’re interested in. A group from the UK published this summer
uncontrolled pilot study in, I think, it was 15 volunteers with treatment-resistant depression
in which they gave psilocybin. And they showed large effects and sustained
effects out to at least a couple of months. And so we actually now have a proposal in
front of the FDA as we speak and are going to launch a trial next year to look at treatment
resistant depression as a target. And so in addition to this depression anxiety
syndrome associated with life-threatening illness, we think that that’s a interesting
target and it remains to be seen what happens. [Rhonda]: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Really fantastic. I may have come across, I think I may have
seen that study in the media or something like that because it sounds very familiar. And as you mentioned, psilocybin is a serotonergic
agonist. So it activates, as far as I know, the 5-HT2A
receptors and maybe others as well which obviously, serotonin is a pharmacological target of many
different antidepressants. It seems to be very different because what
you’re talking about, from what I understand at least, is that you’re talking about a single
dose in some cases which that’s not the case with anything that I’ve seen out there that’s
classically used to treat depression: SSRIs, etc. But it would be very interesting to see what,
if any, long-term effects on the 5-HT2A receptors, and I know probably that maybe somewhere,
someone’s doing that research, but it seems to be hard to get funding. And whether or not that there’s some sort
of long-term effects on those receptors remediating this, or also something else, and you may
have seen this work. Is there a group in France doing…maybe it’s
the UK. [Roland]: No, in Switzerland, there’s… [Rhonda]: Switzerland. Okay. I think it was somewhere abroad, but it was
in animals, it was in mice. And they showed that administering psilocybin,
I don’t remember the dose, increased neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus region of the brain,
and also caused fear extinction. And this was really interesting because I
had read another study that was not on psilocybin, but it was on how growing new brain cells
on how neurogenesis was helping treat PTSD because of this like new mechanism that was
coming out where when you grow a new neuron, when you grow new neurons, actually, you have
to break a connection between an old neuron to form a new connection. And so for some reason, there seem to be some
sort of selective breaking of the traumatic type of connections. So that would be very interesting to see,
if possibly, because neurogenesis is a long-term effect. If you’re able to grow new brain cells, that
could be a possible…I mean, I’m sure we could sit here and speculate a million different
things, I like doing that kind of stuff, but at least, it’s something that would be very
interesting to see if the effects on neurogenesis may be somehow… [Roland]: So there’s some work going on right
now, and I think it’s unpublished from Barcelona, that is examining classic hallucinogens and
neurogenesis. And I think we’re going to hear shortly that
there’s a very interesting signal there. So that’s a very interesting area to look
at. In terms of mechanisms of action of these
effects, psilocybin and the classic hallucinogens do bind serotonin 2A and 2C. The effects are bleed from antagonism studies
to be mediated primarily through 2A, but it’s very likely and I think our current hypotheses
would suggest that the major effects that we see are downstream and probably are glutamate-mediated
which links this whole thing about psilocybin and depression into this unfolding story about
ketamine and depression. So ketamine… [Rhonda]: You’ve done some research on that
as well, right? [Roland]: Well, we’ve done a little work with
ketamine. We haven’t looked at that with depression,
but there may be a glutamate modulation of this system and ketamine, as I’m sure you
know, has been shown to actually have very significant antidepressant effects and treatment-resistant
depressed patients, at least a subtype of them. Those effects are immediate. They’re pretty profound but they’re very short-lived. And so it’s become a real target of interest
for the pharmaceutical industry to investigate this as a mechanism of antidepressant action. And it could be that we’re going to have a
convergence of some kind of mechanistic thing in common with the classic hallucinogens. [Rhonda]: Do people experience mystical experiences
on ketamine? [Roland]: Well, that’s a good and debated
question. So interestingly, of course, ketamine is a
dissociative anesthetic, but phenomenologically, it’s sometimes considered to be a psychedelic. Its mechanism is entirely different. Its pharmacology is going to be different,
but they do have these kind of common downstream effects on the glutamate system. And some people describe the experience of
going under ketamine anesthesia to have some psychedelic-like qualities. Whether or not those subjective effects are
necessary for the antidepressant effects is unclear. And one of the puzzling things too about psilocybin
and its effects is, of course, these are brain-mediated effects, and that’s why, in some ways, as
a neuroscientist, it’s embarrassing to say that these effects appear highly correlated
with and possibly mediated by this mystical type experience. I mean, it just sounds on the surface of it
to be an anti-scientific statement. But if you think of it as just a correlation
with the underlying neuroscience, it makes sense, but there’s something…there’s a lot
that we don’t know about the nature of those experiences. There’s a little bit known about the immediate
effects of psilocybin. Certainly, we know that psilocybin binds serotonin
2A. We know different areas of brains that are
activated and deactivated. We know something about the default mode network. [Rhonda]: I wanted to ask you about that. It’s very interesting. [Roland]: Yeah. And so work from the UK and additional work
now is showing that at least acutely, psilocybin appears to decrease activity within the default
mode network. [Rhonda]: So from my understanding, because
I don’t know much about this and this is all from neuroimaging studies you’re talking about
which I’m sourced in. The default mode network, is that something
that’s active like when you’re ruminating on something, like when you’re thinking about
something that you…? So rumination which is associated with depression,
and ruminating on the future or the past or… [Roland]: Exactly. [Rhonda]: That’s it, right? [Roland]: Yeah, that’s it. And so activity in the default mode network
is actually increased in depression, and here, a couple of the hubs are prefrontal cortex
and posterior cingulate. And the connectivity and activity in those
regions are decreased. Now, the interesting thing about the default
mode network is it is associated with rumination. It’s sometimes thought to be responsible for
what’s called self-referential processing as… [Rhonda]: What’s that? [Roland]: Ideas that relate to a sense of
self, and that’s kind of what rumination is. Woe is me…yeah. So that’s increased in depression, and interestingly,
activity in the default mode network is decreased in long-term meditators. [Rhonda]: Oh, that’s interesting. [Roland]: Yes, yeah. And that fits, if you think about it, with
this whole story about goals of meditation being to bring you into the present moment,
to drop the ego, to surrender a sense of self, if you will. So the curious thing now is that psilocybin
looks very much like meditation in that regard. So that decreases in the default mode network,
and that kind of fits with this story we can tell in terms of the phenomenology that one
thing that people are encouraged to do when they have this experience is surrender a sense
of egoic holding. That is kind of get out of the way of the
experience and just be present in the present moment, and that’s the thing that I…one
of the qualities of that experience where you get out of past and future and your present
and you’re present in a way that it untangles you from this hell sense of self and constraining. But these, of course, are all kind of words
we don’t have their descriptive ways of putting a framework around psychological processes,
but they fall short of kind of the empirical hard science that we would like to have. So it’s kind of frustrating. We’re dealing a lot in metaphor at this point
in terms of descriptive framework for how these experiences might affect people. [Rhonda]: Well, I mean, at least you know
you’ve got a measurable effect. It’s been repeated. You’ve done randomized controlled trials. You’ve measured the same effect. So you start there and then start to try to
tease apart like the mechanisms and understand how this is happening which is always infinitely
more difficult. But the meditation thing affecting…because
the meditation thing affecting the default mode network, why it’s also so interesting
is also because the mystical experiences that people claim to experience also with some
forms of meditation. And so, again, which links back to the psilocybin
as well. Have there been neuroimaging studies? So with the psilocybin, what I read with the
default mode network from papers you sent me was that blood flow is reduced to that
part of the brain and that’s how it reduces activity. So with meditation, do you know if that’s
something similar where it’s like you’re reducing blood flow to that region of the brain? [Roland]: Well, it’s more than just blood
flow. So connectivity among the hubs of…there’s
something very interesting going on with respect to brain activity above and beyond blood flow,
but blood flow is often considered a marker for level of activity, but the connectivity
is an important…and there’re also different imaging methodologies that have been used
including pretty sophisticated EEG approaches that all seem to hone in on a similar kind
of conclusion. So it appears to be a fairly robust conclusion,
but it’s…and it has face validity. And so it’s really attractive, but I guess
the thing that I really want to underscore is how primitive our understanding is of the
nature of conscious experience. I know we have this thing called the hard
problem of consciousness, and that’s, why are we conscious? What is it and is it explicable? Is it reducible in the extreme? That hypothesis questions whether it’s even
reducible to neuro-physiological process. As a neuroscientist, we go in with the assumption
that’s got to be true because otherwise, we couldn’t do our job when we come in in the
morning, but that’s an open question for some people. But the point is, in fact, that it’s open,
is that the complexity of consciousness is so daunting that we’re nowhere near beginning
to scratch the surface. I mean, there are going to be emergent network
properties. The complexities of this are just overwhelming. So I don’t expect that we’re going to have
any answers soon to very colored and complex experiences such as the mystical experience
that appears to be reorganizational at some level about the way people think and hold
and perceive themselves in the world that has to have neural correlates, but where to
look for those neural correlates is anyone’s guess. So we’re a long ways from explaining these
phenomena, but I would say as a scientist, that makes this really, really interesting. So, we have these phenomena of the biology
of…or the replicability of these reorganizational experiences that we know occur in humans spontaneously
or naturally, these mystical-type experiences. And sometimes they’re called epiphanies. Very often in the religious literature, they’re
considered conversion experiences or openings, but since time immemorial, we have descriptions
of people going through such experiences and radically changing how they hold themselves
in the world, and some of their underlying beliefs about the world. Those are often linked with religious and
theological systems, but they needn’t be. But we know that this is part of the human
condition. It’s occurred so erratically and so unpredictably
that it hasn’t been amenable to science up to now. And so here, we have a model if you will and
that’s the psilocybin given under these conditions in which we can quite reliably produce these
effects in most people that we study. And so that opens up the prospect of doing
prospective scientific investigation of these reorganizational experiences that we’re gifted
with through our evolutionary biology, the purpose of which we don’t understand, and
there’s a huge…and it relates kind of to this core sense of existential awareness. I mean, it’s part and parcel to the question
about, what are we doing here? What’s what happens when we die? What’s the meaning
of life? Those are the deepest questions that I know
of, and now we have a model system that can at least produce some of that phenomenology
and we can investigate it. And so, as a scientist, it’s just really exciting. [Rhonda]: Really exciting. When you keep saying these reorganizational
experiences, in my limited neuroscience, what keeps coming to my mind is neuroplasticity
and the ability to change the connections in your brain which happen…well, as we age,
that becomes worse and worse, we’re unable to do that, but is that something that’s also
affected by psilocybin? Do we know if that part of the neuroplasticity
is all effective? [Roland]: I mean, it has to be, right? [Rhonda]: Yeah, it has to be. [Roland]: By definition. So yeah, they’re going to be complex neuroplastic
changes and… [Rhonda]: How do you measure that? Can you measure that in people? I know you can measure them in rats, probably,
but… [Roland]: I don’t know. It’s a question of where to look. [Rhonda]: Where to look. [Roland]: Where the locus of those changes
are going to occur. And so if you go into the phenomenology of
it, people describe this altered sense of self and this touchstone experience and they
have now seen and experienced the interconnectedness of all things. And so they hold themselves differently in
the world, and that affects their belief systems. And that’s the way they describe it, but that’s
just their description. And so what we don’t know is surely, there
must be corresponding changes that are occurring and neuroplastic changes. [Rhonda]: There has to be, yeah. And this has to also relate to some of your
other research that you’ve done on like addiction, like smoking cessation, right? [Roland]: Mm-hmm. [Rhonda]: I mean, to be able to like change
the way you see yourself and change your personality in a way, I guess, I don’t know if that’s
even accurate, but it’s not common. It’s not something that commonly happens at
least after, I don’t know, adolescence or early 20s or something. I don’t know what the actual age is, but… [Roland]: Yeah. Well, that phenomena is showing us, after
these mystical-type experiences, they are enduring changes in the personality dimension
of openness. And so that’s just reflecting some kind of
dispositional characteristic that would correlate with people. If you ask them how they’ve been changed,
they’d say, “I’m more open. I’m free.” And so there is a change in what’s considered
core personality or these dispositional characteristics. And personality theorists would tell you that
doesn’t happen. Those personality characteristics are locked
in kind of from mid-20s. And if anything, openness decreases then across
the lifetime. And here you see an increase in openness. So something interesting is happening there. And then in terms of kind of the radical reorganization
that occurs, there are these other potential therapeutic applications, and so one of them
is the addictions. And so we’ve done a pilot study in cigarette
smokers, 15 smokers. We embedded the psilocybin manipulation in
the context of a cognitive behavior therapy for smoking cessation. And remarkably, we had 80% abstinence rates
at 6 months which in the smoking world is just completely unheard of. [Rhonda]: Completely, yeah. [Roland]: The varenicline which is probably
our best treatment for smoking, 20% to 30%, now that’s an…what we don’t have is a controlled
group for that trial so we’re running a controlled trial now. We’re doing neuroimaging pre and post. We’re working with Elliot Stein at the National
Institute on Drug Abuse who’s done very sophisticated work at looking at brain centers responsible
for addiction to and an abstinence from cigarette smoking. So we’re kind of probing into that. But the point here is that these kinds of
reorganizational experiences, it may be possible to embed them within different treatment contexts
for different disorders like the psychosocial distress of cancer patients, and in this case,
for addictions. There’s work going on at NYU in alcoholism. There’s some work going on at University of
Alabama on cocaine dependence. And so I think this is potentially promising,
but we don’t want to get ahead of the data. But my guess would be that there is something
about the nature of these reorganizational experiences, the opportunity for plasticity
and change that can be embedded within intention and context that could have a variety of positive
therapeutic applications. [Rhonda]: Right. And possibly even things like PTSD, OCD. [Roland]: PTSD, OCD, eating disorders, other
types of… [Rhonda]: What about just…I mean, you’re
talking about in the context of someone who’s diagnosed with terminally ill cancer and they’re
facing death soon. But we’re all kind of facing death at some
point, and there is a background underlying fear. I experience. I have a fear of death. I’m sure I’m not the only human being on this
planet that experiences that. So it seems as though this…there may even
be even broader potential therapeutic implications, but… [Roland]: But certainly beyond cancer. I mean, the cancer patients, of course, are…I
mean, it’s clear and we can all empathize with someone who has a life-threatening cancer
diagnosis and maybe reasonably young and is looking at the potential endgame of their
life. And we can all empathize with that, but we’re
all terminal. We’re all going to die of something. And so ultimately, this kind of intervention
may be relevant for end-of-life care generally, and again, it’s probing that existential dimension
of meaning that is so potentially important. But for our immediate therapeutic target,
it’s cancer and it’s this depression and anxiety associated with cancer. Wherein the groups that I’m working with are
in very early stages of communicating with FDA about undertaking a phase three clinical
trial which would be the necessary next step, and if efficacy were demonstrated, then there’s
the potential for approvability of psilocybin as a medication. [Rhonda]: Wow. That was going to be my next question. [Roland]: And were to be approved, we would
see it approved under very constrained conditions. Perhaps the drug would be held by a central
pharmacy. It would be dispensed to clinics that offer
this kind of therapy with clinicians who know how to deliver this therapy because it is
this interaction of context and pharmacology. This is not just an effective of psilocybin. And in fact, there are risks associated with
just taking psilocybin that we really shouldn’t minimize. Those are some of the risks that resulted
in the deep cultural misunderstanding of these compounds and ultimately the removal of them
from clinical research for decades, but we just, actually very recently, completed and
published a large survey study of people who…this was about 2000 people, and we asked them,
have you ever had a bad trip after taking psilocybin mushrooms? And then we asked them to describe their very
worst experience with psilocybin mushrooms. So we don’t have any denominator to know what
the frequency of this sort of thing is, but the results of that are sobering. So if you ask these people what were the consequences
of their worst experience, we have about 10% who say that they may have put themselves
or others at risk of physical harm during the experience. And there’s some percentage of people who
say that they have enduring psychological problems for which they are seeking out psychological
or psychiatric help with a year after the experience. So it suggests that there can be immediate
dangers and we know that, to exposure to psilocybin. People can put themselves at risk. And most often, that occurs in fear or anxiety
responses, but under conditions where people take the compound and they don’t know what
they’re doing, they don’t know what dose they’re getting, they’re not supported, and then people
can end up dying. And so there’s that risk. And then there’s the potential risk of vulnerable
populations, people who may already have pre-existing vulnerabilities to psychotic disorder or to…they
might have personality disorders or some other mood…pre-existing disposition toward mood
disorders that may make them unusually sensitive to potential negative effects of psilocybin. So we really need to footnote all this work
and make sure that the take-home message is, “Great, everybody should take psilocybin mushrooms.” No, there are going to be some people who
are going to truly be hurt and we need to do everything we can to protect people, particularly
young and vulnerable people. [Rhonda]: Yeah. So it sounds like both the context of we’re
taking this drug and also potential genetic interactions, people that are predisposed
to other brain dysfunctional disorders, those are the two major…what seems to be, at least
what we know now, things that predispose people having a negative effect. When you’re selecting your sample population,
so how do…you said you spend eight hours with the person. Is that like part of the selection process
or how do you figure out the…? [Roland]: Well, let’s see. So just in terms of screening people into
our protocol, we do extensive medical screening and then history screening. And so people are screened out if they have
any even second degree relative with history of psychotic disorder or bipolar disorder. So we’re conservative in that regard, but
we’re concerned with that as a vulnerability. In terms of whether people had difficult experiences,
we can’t protect against that. So even under our conditions where many people
have these greatly valued experiences of transcendence, some of those same people may have experiences
that would…our classic bad trips that are experiences that are among the most challenging
and difficult of their lives. The difference in this context is that we
can support people through those experiences, and sometimes, those experiences can be a
very short duration. Sometimes they can open into experiences of
great insight or transcendence. And for some people, the very fact that they’ve
had components of that difficult experience makes their overall experience more meaningful,
but we have about 30% of our volunteers who will describe, at least for some duration
of time, experiences of significant fear or anxiety come up. So we have not learned how to eliminate those. We don’t even know whether they should be
eliminated because we don’t understand the processes that are underlying the nature of
these experiences that seem to be so important. And furthermore, I can say that our ability
to predict who is going to have a difficult experience or not is almost zero. I mean, so in spite of the fact we get to
know these volunteers really well, and at this point, we have treated over 260 people
with psilocybin, we have experience of over 570 sessions with psilocybin. So we have a lot of experience. But if we ask the clinicians that are closest
to the volunteers to rate the probability of difficult experiences, their ability to
predict that is almost none at all. So we don’t really understand. [Rhonda]: What about dose? Does dose play a role? [Roland]: Dose plays an important role. We know these effects are dose-dependent. [Rhonda]: All the effects including so like
the mystical experiences? [Roland]: Yeah. So we’ve gone up to…our highest dose is
30 milligrams per 70 kilograms which is a… [Rhonda]: A bodyweight? [Roland]: Yeah. High dose of psilocybin. And the phenomenology of the types of things
that’ll occur with psilocybin or as you might imagine, dose-related, we’ve gone down to
doses of 5 milligrams and I suspect that there are threshold effects lower than that. And the probability of mystical-type experiences
and challenging experiences also increase as a function of dose. What’s kind of interesting is that the probability
of the very difficult experiences increase pretty significantly between 20 and 30 milligrams
per 70 kilogram. So if we dose people at about 20 milligrams
for 70 kilogram, we’re much less likely to have the very challenging experiences. And with the cancer study, for instance, the
dose that we used most often in that was 22 milligrams per 70 kilogram. So we were holding it back from our full-on
dose. [Rhonda]: Yeah. I would imagine that having a really stressful
experience like being diagnosed with cancer, but also the stress that you’re experiencing,
obviously, that’s what you’re partially trying to treat, but would also maybe shape the experience
you’re going to have in a way. [Roland]: Well, that was one of our questions
going into that study. In spite of the fact that there was previous
data suggesting efficacy, I was concerned frankly that this is a vulnerable population. I mean, they’re depressed. They’re anxious. They’re facing the big existential question. And I was concerned that perhaps some of these
deep experiences of the existential emptiness and fullness might end up potentially traumatizing
some at least subset of those people. Maybe they would come out worse for it, and
I was concerned about that. Happily, the answer is that we have no indication
that happened. In the 51 volunteers we treated, and the 29
that were treated at NYU, we have no indication that people were harmed by these experiences,
but that was a concern initially and it led us to want to give a somewhat lower dose,
and that dose, as it turns out, worked just fine. [Rhonda]: And for your placebo, you actually
gave a really low dose. [Roland]: We did. And one of the dilemmas in doing research
with any psychoactive drug but in particular the hallucinogens is that these doses, of
course, are discriminable. People, they produce marked changes in consciousness
and conscious experience. And so then the question becomes, so how do
you run a double-blind study under these conditions? And the issue that relates to that is that
we know that these experiences can be driven or very much affected by expectation, but
the set and the setting under which people take the drug. So if they have strong expectations, that
can also drive the experience. And so we’ve been very interested in trying
to unpack to what extent these experiences are simply expectancy effects versus reflective
of real pharmacology. And the answer to that is both. These kinds of effects are driven in part
by expectancy, but expectancy does not account for the full effects, and we’ve run different
controls in different studies. Our first study, we actually gave a pretty
high dose of methylphenidate or Ritalin as a control substance, and these were people
who had never had a hallucinogen before. And furthermore, they were told that they
could get 11 different kinds of psychoactive compounds. So they didn’t even know what signal that
they were looking for or what constituted an experience of a classic psychedelic… [Rhonda]: So you were trying to like eliminate
the placebo response in a way? [Roland]: Yes. What we were trying to do was throw in controls
that would maximize expectancy and produce some confusion. And what happens under those conditions as
well as conditions under which we run something like a low dose condition is some people will
have full-on mystical experiences. So if you get the set and setting conditions
right, and we should expect this. I mean, that’s what happens in meditation. When you set your intentionality and you’re
told, “Go for it, this is going to be great.” So you have people having transformative experiences. The percentage of people that have those experiences
is tiny relative to when you give psilocybin. We’ve actually had people in our long-term
meditators study in which they’re…now, these are people who are deeply familiar with different
states of consciousness brought on by meditation. They know a lot about the workings of their
mind, and we think they’re actually unique in being able to navigate these experiences
because they have spent so much time examining the nature of mind. But in that study, we have a real placebo
versus active psilocybin dose. And we’ve had a couple volunteers who have
come out of that experience, of course, they’re meditating during this experience, have come
out absolutely convinced that they got psilocybin, and so convinced that they convinced us that
they must have been. Of course, were blinded, that they must have
gotten psilocybin because they had these experiences unlike anything they had ever had. And then it was not until two months later
when we break the blind and we say, “You know what? You didn’t get psilocybin. You need to come back in because this is a
study that if they didn’t get it, they come back in.” So the power of suggestion is really large,
really salient, but it does not account for the extent of the changes that occur with
psilocybin. And for those people who thought they had
gotten psilocybin previously, when they finally did get psilocybin and then they’re asked,
“Okay, was that like the other one?” And they go, “Well, no. No, that was something else. This is…” But we lack the vocabulary to even describe
what the nature of these changes are. [Rhonda]: So what were you looking at in that
study? What was…? [Roland]: Well, the study in long-term meditators
is something that’s…it’s near and dear to my heart because I’m a long-term meditator
now. [Rhonda]: Define a long-term meditator. [Roland]: Well, these are people by and large
that have a daily meditation practice for, very often, decades, and have done a number
of prolonged silent meditation retreats. So these are people who have spend a lot of
time… [Rhonda]: Vipassana or something, that it’s
called? Something like that? [Roland]: Exactly. A lot of it is mindfulness. We have overrepresentation from Buddhist traditions
and vipassana could be one of those traditions. And so during that study, people come into
our session room. We have them do series of meditations throughout
the day. And when they get psilocybin, so we’re very
interested in how the phenomenology of those experiences change. We’re comparing it to placebo. We’re looking at pre and post neuroimaging
to see…looking for brain changes, and preliminarily, we’re seeing day-after changes which is exciting
and gets to this whole issue of neuroplasticity. And we also have a condition in which we actually
administer psilocybin to people in the scanner. So we’re looking at meditation when people
are on, in this case, a pretty low dose of psilocybin. And our interest there in meditation is that
we think of meditation as kind of the tried-and-true path for exploration of the nature of mind. I mean, that’s really what it is, is that
this is methodology that’s been developed over thousands of years to turn the attention
inward and watch one’s own mental processes and become familiar with the way mind works,
how it’s constructed, and then through that process, very often, people…I hesitate to
say gain control, but in effect, they can change the repertoire with which the brain
is activated. They can watch thoughts come up. They can release thoughts in a way that someone
who’s unpracticed with meditation is much less likely to be able to do so. So it’s an investigation of the nature of
mine. And similarly, I’ve come to think of psilocybin
as also a convergent methodology for investigation of the nature of mind. It’s the meditation on steroids, if you will
because there’s such abrupt shift of the nature of consciousness that it wakes people up to
the extent to which kind of their normative cognitive processes or the normative way they
hold reality is just one way of holding reality. And so there can be something shockingly interesting
about that. However, psilocybin is not a substitution
for meditation because it doesn’t lead to any stability of the awareness state. So we would say that meditation is kind of
the tried-and-true way of stabilizing the nature of awareness and coming to understand
mind, and psilocybin might be the crash course in that. [Rhonda]: And you say you practice meditation. Is that something that you do every day? [Roland]: I do. [Rhonda]: You do? How long do you meditate? [Roland]: I’d rather not get into the details
around meditation practice, but yeah, I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years. [Rhonda]: Wow. I’d read a study showing that there were gene
expression changes that occurred after like the first five minutes of meditation. There was like 500 different genes were changing
their gene expression, which to me is very phenomenal that you can actually just…just
by actually stopping the rumination and sitting there and whatever it is that you’re thinking
in the present moment or there’s lots of different types of meditation, but that you can actually
just change the way so many different genes are working, many of those in the brain, of
course. [Roland]: Yeah, and there’re long-term consequences
to meditation. And there’s work suggesting effects on telomeres. [Rhonda]: Yes, I was forgetting. Elizabeth Blackburn show that annotation and
Elissa Epel, I think, that meditators had longer telomeres than age-matched control. Which makes sense because stress does the
opposite. Stress accelerates telomere shortening. I mean, that’s all not such a surprise, but
just one other thing I wanted to talk to you about was I know you’ve done a little bit
of work on Salvinorin A, and it’s not something I’m so familiar with so much as the kappa-opioid
pathway. A good friend of mine, Sheba Meucci [SP],
had told me a little bit about the Salvinorin A pathway. He was doing some literature reading on it
some years ago for whatever reason, and so how it came into my awareness. And he was telling me about how agonism of
the kappa-opioid receptor had a feedback loop effect where it actually caused mu-opioid
receptors which bind to beta-endorphins to become more sensitized to the endorphins. And so I read up on this, checked the literature
and references, and found that indeed the agonism of it does actually cause mu-opioid
receptors to become sensitized to endorphins and I thought that was very interesting. Around the same time, I started getting into
using the sauna, so heat stress. And I started to notice…so when I was in
graduate school, I was very stressed out, lots of pressure, failed experiments, and
exams. And so I started using the sauna a lot before
I’d go into the lab and I noticed that there was a very profound effect on my brain because
I started to be able to handle stress better. My anxiety was lower. I felt good, and these were lasting effects. I felt good days later. And so I started reading about what’s going
on here. I started reading about heat stress, and I
came across the dynorphin pathway which is an endogenous opioid that we make in our brains,
sort of the counter to endorphin because it sort of makes you feel dysphoric rather than
euphoric. And then I started reading about how dynorphin
actually is a part of the…both endorphin and dynorphin are part of the thermoregulatory
pathway. So dynorphin actually cools the body down. And when your body heats up, you increase
dynorphin to cool it down. It’s sort of a response mechanism. So when you’re sitting in a hot sauna or when
you’re working out really vigorously and you feel that sort of uncomfortable heat where
you’re like, “Oh, I want to stop. I feel…” I think that’s probably dynorphin. So dynorphin binds to the kappa-opioid receptor
which then sensitizes the mu-opioid receptors. So now, I was thinking, well, maybe some of
these lasting effects from the sauna were mediated through that. Of course, that’s all anecdotal. I mean, I know some of the biochemistry is
out there, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily been shown, but that’s how I became really
interested in that pathway, my sort of personal story. And then I started reading somewhere, someone
sent me some article about people that were addicted to…I think it was opioid, prescription
opioid. They were being treated by giving them the
sauna as a detox, “detox,” which I don’t know if that’s actually legitimate. But I started thinking about possible, maybe
there’s some truth to it by resetting the mu-opioid receptor pathway or something. So I just thought that was something very
interesting that maybe I could send you some of the studies if you’re interested in seeing
some of those. [Roland]: Yeah, yeah. I’d be interested in that. We got interested in the Salvinorin just as
a model system because it does produce dissociative and it’s roughly classified as short-acting
hallucinogen. Excuse me. So is roughly classified as a short-acting
hallucinogen, but its phenomenology is very different than the classic hallucinogens. [Rhonda]: Do people get a mystical experience
from that? [Roland]: People generally do not get a mystical
experience. They do have a profound experience of being
in some kind of altered reality, sometimes with other entities present. Generally, people don’t particularly enjoy
the experience which would be consistent with dynorphin. It’s a unique perturbation of consciousness,
but it doesn’t look like it has the kind of reorganizational meaning that appears to come
out of the classic hallucinogens. [Rhonda]: Have you ever looked at any long-term
effects like…? [Roland]: We have. [Rhonda]: Let’s just say hypothetically, if
it was somehow sensitizing the mu-opioid receptor, then possibly, days or weeks later, I don’t
know how long those effects last, but if they maybe felt better. The next time they released beta-endorphin
from hugging their loved one or whatever it is that causes a person to release endorphin,
maybe they feel a little better from it than they would have. [Roland]: Yeah. We haven’t looked at that. The effects of Salvinorin, this was inhaled
Salvinorin, are very short-lived. [Rhonda]: How short? [Roland]: Less than 10 minutes. [Rhonda]: Oh wow. [Roland]: So it’s a very rapid onset and people
are completely back to baseline within 20 minutes, but most of the effects have resolved
much quicker than that. [Rhonda]: That’s kind of like the dimethyltryptamine,
right? [Roland]: Yes. [Rhonda]: But that’s a serotonergic agonist. [Roland]: So dimethyltryptamine, DMT, is a
very short-acting classic hallucinogen of the serotonin type, and its phenomenology
is distinct from Salvinorin. [Rhonda]: Is its phenomenology similar to
psilocybin, though? [Roland]: Well, that gets complex because
it’s so short-acting that it’s hard to compare. And DMT is also the active ingredient in Ayahuasca
which is the brew that’s consumed mostly in South America, and by some of these syncretic
religions. And that’s when the DMT is combined with an
MAO inhibitor that slows down the metabolism in gut. And so it changes the duration of action and
makes it more like psilocybin, and under those cases, those effects certainly looked more
like psilocybin than just smoked DMT. But direct comparative pharmacology studies
haven’t been done with any of these compounds. So we have yet to tease apart the real differences
and similarities. [Rhonda]: And there’s a lot of the indigenous
populations that use some of these hallucinogens like psilocybin, I think, too, because… [Roland]: Oh sure. So psilocybin has been used for hundreds of
years in Mexico, and Ayahuasca DMT in the form of snuffs or as this brew have been used
for as far back as documentation allows in South America. Of course, we have peyote which is mescaline
which is another serotonergic 2A agonist used by the American-Indian. There’s evidence of probably almost 200 species
of psilocybin mushrooms and those are used…have been used around the world. So there’s plenty of indigenous use of these
compounds. Interestingly, for the most part, if a culture
has historical use of these compounds, it’s done in a highly controlled cultural context,
in general, for religious or healing purposes or for divination, but they’re not used casually. [Rhonda]: Okay. So I guess people are obviously using it for
other cultural reasons and have been doing so for quite a long time. [Roland]: Yes. And it’s very, very likely that the use has
been enculturated in a context in which the meaningfulness of the emergent experiences
has been thought to be a value to that culture. [Rhonda]: It makes sense if you’re having
a mystical experience that’s often, and hand in hand, goes with some sort of religious. Sometimes, a lot of people in religions have
mystical experiences when they’re…for whatever reason, they talk to some higher power that
they believe in or something. So kind of all makes sense, but this has all
been super fascinating, Roland. Really, thanks a lot for talking with me and
I learned a lot today. I know that you don’t really have a website
or anything, and if people want to find more about you, they can just google Roland Griffiths
and they can find your TEDMED talk, your TEDx talk, and you do have websites out there,
and I’m sure there’s lots of other articles that have been written on you and interviews
that they can find. [Roland]: They can track me down. [Rhonda]: Yeah, exactly. So I think… [Roland]: Okay, pleasure talking
to you.

100 Replies to “Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. on Psilocybin, Psychedelic Therapies & Mystical Experiences”

  1. Both of you need to get together with the Gr8 mycologist Paul Stamets. He will put the science into your mysterious occurrences using these mushrooms.

  2. Thank you both for providing such meaningful research/information/truth in this area! It's helping to give hope for people like me who are disabled from mental illness and have exhausted all other resources! Psychedelics have helped me tremendously and yet they remain in the same drug classification as heroin and crack cocaine: (

  3. Dr. Griffiths speaks of the "hard problem of consciousness". Viewed superficially, it is incredible that the mental state , where we have our own personal feelings and particular sense of self, can arise from a bunch of nerves, but really it is simply a consequence of there having been sufficient development of nerves' ability to understand cause and effect. Yes, consciousness is amazing but it is simply a result of memory (nerve based learning system) which allows us to understand cause and effect. In the same light, it is amazing that 92 elements operating under the law of Negative Entropy could give rise to all the amazing variety and complexity of life that we see around us, but it has. Learn more about the nature of consciousness as code for the "human condition", what the true meaning of life and existence is, why humans have become fully conscious, while other animals have not and many more truths by visiting the work of Jeremy Griffith at www.HumanCondition.com.

  4. Great podcast, soooo interesting! I got really excited when you asked him about his meditation practice but then NOOOOO he didn't want to talk about it….was really hoping for the magic number in terms of duration given he has such experience with long term meditators. Teh apps are all around 10 minutes, TF says 15+ is essential…. so curious as to why he didn't want to discuss it! Maybe he has a meditation costume! :))

  5. Love your vids and have been following for a while now. Would be really helpful if you could make a video or a pdf that describes your daily regime regarding your diet and supplements. Something that could be updated from time to time. Best, from France.

  6. Roland Griffiths doing an important work, he is rediscovering the plants that people used for a long time, before big pharma became powerful.
    At some point the dam of prohibition is going to break. The mentioned substances will be in legal pills with micro-doses for daily use. Like happy pills that can set the mood, just like coffee or tea.

  7. This is valuable information. Probably the most comprehensive video on the matter of Psychedelic research and the study of Psilocybin on the brain, available anywhere right now. Very proud of you Dr. Rhonda 👍

  8. At least personally I can say that ketamine does produce a mystical experience, it is very different from the mystical experience produced from the classical psychedelics, but I would say checks all the boxes he listed in this video as criteria for a mystical experience. Do you have a link to the study that looked at selective breaking of traumatic bonds in the brain?

  9. I thought overdose is chemically impossible, so when he says people die from a bad trip (47:18), I assume he means it's not from the psilocybin itself, but from acting out? BTW, kinda strange that he doesn't want to answer how long he meditates for.

    Also aren't DMT and psilocybin trips totally different experiences.. or do they both just operate on the serotonin receptor 2a? Incidentally, I've read DMT is produced by the pineal gland, the same gland responsible for converting serotonin to melatonin, but I've also heard DMT is produced by the lungs. Any thoughts?

    Regarding the 30mg/150lb heroic dose, how much active psilocybin is in a medium size mushroom? What about differences across strains (Psilocybe cubensis / baeocystis / semilanceata / pelliculosa weak etc).

    Would have been interesting to hear his thoughts on Tim Ferriss' CrowdRise campaign for a Research Fund for the Treatment of Major Depression using psilocybin.

  10. Me personally I have used psilocybin (magic mushrooms) to overcome several challenges I have had through out my years on this earth do to a repressed and blocked childhood. My childhood resulted in high social anxiety and pretty significant depression through out high school/early 20's. I used to consume them relatively consistently, every 6 months to a year or so. It gave me a lot of, as my cousin likes to call it, the "ah ha" moments. I have found they allow me to truly put myself in to others shoes, change my perspective on situations, and allow me to analyze my reactions and actions to those around me. I have always told people that were interested in doing them that they first need to do their research, as well as, be around those you trusted. Not only trusted but truly were willing to put your life in those peoples hands. Remove all technology, found being in nature, forest, campsite, etc as one of the most comfortable and productive settings. You also need to make sure your mindset is right. Positive feelings, little to no unexplained anxiety, and being very comfortable with where you are at. In the past I have tried to explain how they had helped me to those who had never gone on a "journey" as it were usually to serious looks of doubt and just a denial of my thoughts. Glad to see that there are people in the scientific world doing studies on this and possibly in the future having an alternative "cure" as it were to those on the medically acceptable drugs used to treat anxiety and depression in people. Loved listening to this podcast and learning about their thoughts on the use of psilocybin. Much love.

  11. I wonder if studies have been done on indigenous populations that would reflect a decrease in serious mental health issues for those groups that actively use psychoactive substances such as psilocybin and ayahuasca ?

  12. One of the best most informative videos on psychedelics out there. Not only an insightful conversation with two learned people one of them being a veteran in the field of psychedelic research. Also a a complete referential overview of the conversation. We need more videos like this to change the public's opinion instead of the flakey rants by people you see online who aren't well versed on the topic.

  13. Western medicine needs to explore more of the eastern medicine. Understanding EMF fields I believe could be the key to radically changing they way we think about health and medicine.

  14. Has she published/outlined a general diet? I'm trying to turn my life around and I need help with my diet. She has a lot of information out there and I don't necessarily have the time to go through it.

  15. Interesting research. My personal experience is that I witnessed 'ego-death' on psilocybin. This ego-death comes with a feeling of a connection with the collective consciousness. This type of connection is lost for humans in which ego is completely taken over. The ego, which is most like the cause of all mental diseases.

  16. FYI the two most common types of meditation considered are Vipassana and Samatha. They are different in practice, and produce different effects. There is also a less commonly known practice called "Silent Illumination" which combines them together, which is considered difficult but producing a third effect. Silent illumination comes from the integrated practice of samatha (calming the mind) and vipassana (insightful contemplation) called yuganaddha (union), and was the hallmark of the Chinese Caodong school of Ch'an. It therefore means one is practicing with both a calm mind and "questioning observation."

    I can tell you from experience that it is very difficult, as the mind tends to gravitate towards either observation or calming. To do both requires almost "tripping over the solution" over and over. It does produce a much different effect.. a deeper sense of awareness and experience which seems fundamentally different from deep states of either practiced in isolation.

  17. Well done on extending your comfort zone Rhonda, This area of research needs your brain power to get the message out! Ride that butterfly effect! Peace.

  18. I came to this channel after doing research while waiting for my 23andme data, and this sort of information is also fascinating. Check out the maps organization http://www.maps.org. I definitely think it is an area that needs to be studied more.

  19. My psychiatrist knows from me that I am adamant about getting better treatment for depression and anxiety
    but she's afraid to even discuss it because it is illegal!
    Why are all these natural substances still illegal?
    Psylocibin, Dmt peyote and mescaline, etc.?
    how do we change the laws and get out of this quagmire (sorry glen)?
    I'm getting to old for this shit, I've done all these things including Lsd
    and so has half the world. Psychedelics in micro-doses in a safe environment
    are better than xanax and antidepressants IMHO.

  20. Is that a stone penis quietly engorging itself behind the couch ? A-ha ! He's using the same format that Captain Al Hubbard used with the lysergic back in the 50's….

  21. I have a lot of past experience with ketamine…and some other hallucinations and I can tell you the ketamine is highly mystical with prolonged use. initial use can be pretty disorienting but in my case with more and more sessions I was able to "master the K-hole" and pretty much control my entire experience

  22. Albert Ellis pointed out how are Cognitive Appraisal influences our interactive model (feelings, thoughts, actions/behavior). he points out, it's our underlying philosophy or our underlying beliefs that allow us to appraise what things mean to us and better sort out appropriate reactions and actions. It's the foundation of how we assess our experiences. " A wise man is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him."-Brinkly. "there are no problems only solutions"-J Lennon. "..There are no limits, only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."-B Lee

    By the way, the central pharmacy is your front lawn, you cultivate the 'holy bread' and build a relationship that yields more meaning than the one your pharmacy will break off and portion for you. learn yourself. BTW how many deaths have been reported that are caused by these mushroom compounds. Why does he say "people could die"!!!!!? how many grams does it take to cause hetapitic toxicity? more than we could eat…. why does he not have facts to back up that BIG FEAR statement that allows him to evolve as the authority over peoples relation to this substance, these organisms. How dictatorial. Are your 570 sessions supposed to outweigh the thousands and thousands of circumstances that have occurred outside of the clinical microscope? Cant the science community open its eyes to something without attempting to claim authority over it?
    You're looking at my finger and I'm pointing at the moon, Don't miss all the heavenly glory above" -B Lee

    He lacks the vocabulary. Not 'we' …the word is… re-'cognize' we recognize when we have these experiences we change our cognizance, our range or scope of perspective. The mind changes focus like a lens focuses to render an image, we recognize ideas, change our focus and render renewed ideas. A mental Paradigm. Satori. Something about listening to a psychologist talk about ethnobotanical origins gives me a bad feeling about where its going.
    in principle… this train of re-search could be a step back or a step ahead. trees have been commodified. water commodified, air is in the works with carbon taxes being rallied. now commodify the mushrooms… hmm? As if that's going to help individual or collective consciences ? Law of the Land, law of the forest. somewhere around the Magna Carta in Liber Lexi Logo land

  23. Sad that this treatment won't go mainstream in our ifetime. The FDA, politicians and society won't allow it.

  24. Do you think these tactics (meditation, exercise, psilocybin) can replace antidepressants for depression? Or something from trauma such as PTSD?

    Lately I've tried sauna along with meditation (using Calm app) and exercise (wrestling, boxing, gymnastics). I notice I still have panic followed by depressive symptoms (diagnosed with ptsd).

    I'll consult with my psychiatrist and therapist but I'd really appreciate your opinion. Or if you have other resources. Thank you.

  25. I'm sure the clinical experience is good but they should really take some patients out in nature, like a peaceful forest or a quiet beach at night and try it again. Become one with nature and or the universe.

  26. That was great! Would love to see you talk to Aaron Alexander regarding health, functional movement, and how psy enhances intuitive dynamism. Thank you for the excellent work you do!

  27. cool couch, but a trip in nature is much better.
    Dr. Griphithts hit the jackpot, get stoned & payed at the same time….. by the way the "entities" that one can see could be also demons manifesting themselves. watch out, playng with fire. meeting Jesus is an entirely different experience that is lifechanging. … bibliography: try to find "LSD my troublesome child" by Albert? Hoffmann, the guy who first syntethised L S D in the thirties…… Big danger Dr……. big pharma weaponises the psychoactive compounds, so that uncle Sam can have soldiers that can see around the corners. Cheers

  28. Does the cancer patient get a benefit that moves him/her toward a better place that the "normal" volunteer is already at OR do they both end up at a similar uplifted level, which would translate to a bigger change for the cancer patient?

  29. Griffiths needs to partake in a few properly set up ayahuasca ceremonies. Contrary to his intimation that ayahuasca is used by 'religious' groups (which just shows that he doesn't seem to have any idea that ayahuasca has been used for thousands of years in the entire Amazon basin and that each indigenous tribe has its OWN ayahuasca brewing tradition), ayahuasca is considered the Master Plant Teacher and healer. All the other psychedelic substances are but derivations of Mother Ayahuasca. And to try and compare smoked DMT with the real ayahuasca brew is like trying to compare packaged dry soup with a properly cooked stew. Ayahuasca is a real healing plant brew – that is what he's left out conveniently and she is the most powerful transformative psychoactive substance there is.

    And as an experienced meditator, nothing comes close to ayahuasca. I have had great experiences with meditation but ayahuasca healed me in ways that meditation never managed in over 20 years of meditating because she works with you on the physical, mental, emotional, psychic and physiological level and she has her own Spirit.

  30. Bad trips present you with weaknesses of your mind and character. Need to learn how to use to your advantage. Not easy at all 🤓🤔

  31. My shroom trip made me go from dabbing/smoking weed multiple times a day every day to completely quitting. Most life changing experience of my life.

  32. Psilocybin is among the last substances which should be illegal. It does not cause dangerous lack of inhibition and coordination like alcohol, is not even remotely addictive, and has proven beneficial effects for certain people for whom it can help.

  33. I remember reading a study on NCBI which suggested smaller doses of psilocybin were neurogenic while larger were actually neurodegenerative.

  34. This is probably the most interesting interview I've seen of yours. And you look really nice too! What an amazing researcher Dr Griffiths is

  35. i like when she talks to an older slower quest like this one….. sometimes i put the video speed to .75 because she talks with so much enthusiasm. my brain can't keep up.

  36. Maybe my calculations are off but Roland explains that a high dose is 30mg psilocybin/70kg body weight which equates to 0.03 grams psilocybin /154.324 lbs body weight. I feel this dosage is a "microdose" to most individuals who use psilocybin. Maybe my calculations are wrong, or the potency or concentration of the psilocybin varies from my understanding, but I find it hard to believe that people were reaching "mystical" experiences at this dosage, especially when Roland explains that this was the highest dosage they used during research. Any thoughts?

  37. Dr Patrick's focus on glutamate pathway activation as the mechanism of psychedelic therapy is scientism. It doesn't acknowledge that those undergoing psychedelic therapy will experience a very different reality – one that invokes awe and wonder, and makes nonsense of the petty concerns of our everyday lives. If that's the same thing as glutamate pathway activation, well… bite me.

  38. I have never heard of this girl before. I am 15 minutes in and she looks bored. She does not participate in the conversation. He is saying some really profound stuff and she is blank. Seems like she doesn't get it.

  39. Why people have so much dificulty with consciousness, today we have the science behind it. The Proof of though, intention= consciousness alter matter as we are the science. Many studies have shown subtle effect of the healers upon hydrogen bonding and infrared absorption of water. None of these scientific studies can compare with the beauty and clear message shown by Dr. Emoto’s elegant work. The impact of though and beauty has never been demonstrated so well….Half earth is water, our body is three-quarters water. Water represents the interface between the 4th dimension in which we live and the 5th dimension sphere of our soul….This is all about consciousness!

  40. In the academic world 90% or reality is missing so is very difficult to undertand the beauty of nature, and what is spirit mind body and the reality of the soul.

  41. My experiences with psilocybin helped me with my anger issues. I’m still high energy but not when it comes to situations that would blow a short fuse. I don’t hold grudges anymore either. Life is too short to be angry.

  42. Profoundly educational. This is one of your best podcasts among some absolutely stunning work on deep topics.

    I particularly love the way you bring definitions in for the more salient and complex language. By eliminating the pause and look up for many of the morphological and scientific reference terms, you drastically increase engagement. Thank you thank you Rhonda 🙂

  43. I’m certainly not a neuro biologist , but regarding “where to look“ in the brain for this location of mystical experiences- somewhere in the right hemisphere based on Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s experience of having a stroke on the left side of her brain. She is describes that when her left brain was shut down, her right brain took over and she experienced a non-dualism, peace and love and connection. Check out her Ted talk.

  44. Need to see Dolores cannon about her special deep hypnotherapy technique developed through 40 years practice, really deep and enlightening, don t think psilocybin needed…connect to the self is a very strong experience…awakening…being aware of being aware the collapse of body bind…AS St FRancis told to its disciple, where you are looking for is what you are looking for, Rupert spira has a good approach to…so many of them out there teaching different ways to reconnect to reality….ultimate reality….

  45. Very good insight.
    However, I do think that the interviewer is immature and to some degree uninformed to be able to handle such an interaction.

  46. If you really enjoyed this like I did, check out the videos on the MAPS.org channel. Fascinating stuff. Thanks Dr. Rhonda

  47. I love this! I want to know more! Rhonda, do you know anything about fibromyalgia, and could you interview any specialist about it? Thank you.

  48. Thank You VERY MUCH For Making This Presentation Available……AND ESPECIALLY The Explanations/Definitions Provided!!! With Respect To "Fear Of Dying", I Viewed The Attached Presentation a couple + days ago and thought to send it to You…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMYhgTgE6MU&index=33&list=PLsegG2Vfn0RTrh7g-2Eenr-sdi-8sxzk1 Wishing You MUCH SUCCESS, Both Personally and Professionally!!!! Thank You Again, VERY MUCH!!!! From Istanbul Turkey, Daniel Patrick Young.

  49. Links to articles mentioned: https://www.pnas.org/content/109/6/2138 , https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3144981/ , https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529365/ , https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24485481 , https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21035949

  50. You should read Stanislav Grof's litterature to answer several questions you let without answer. You'll be able to drive your experiments in a clear map of possibles experiences and their psychic origins.

  51. Really enjoyed this. Connected many dots surrounding earlier experiences using psychoactive drugs. Fascinating topic. Deep dive. Thank you both!

  52. This guy sounds like what I imagine every single church camp counselor sounds like….cool studies though. Lol

  53. I wonder if Dr Griffiths has read "Mushrooms and Mankind" My personal n=1 experimentation in the 70's-80's corresponds with his findings 🙂

  54. Those drugs are the passwords to the programming of the DNA.  It's nothing new.  It's just tthat the medical industry is so overpopulated with personnel that they need to do everything in petri dishes/etc  instead of turning on the body's "compiler'(computer jargon). to do the job.   Nobody seems to want to work on the same sheet of music.

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