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The Future of Psychedelic and Medical Marijuana Research

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MAPS - Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies "Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century" Presented by MAPS in collaboration with: the Heffter Research Institute, The Counsil on Spiritual Practices & The Beckeley Foundation Sponsor a video from Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century and have your name appear here. Andrew Weil M.D. The future of Psychedelic and Medical Marijuana Research Hello, good afternoon and hi to all you folks in far away Rhode Island It's a pleasure to be here. I thought I was gonna be here virtually, but Rick Doblin arranged to get me a ride down from St. Rafael and a ride back to the San Francisco Airport immediately after my talk so I'm happy to be here in person Now, I should say at the beggining that I'm in some ways not the best person to give you any prognostications or thoughts about where things are going because when I did human esperiments with marijuana in 1968 I thought that marijuana would be legalized in ten years I thought it was just a matter of getting truthfull information out to people because the laws and attitudes were based on such wrong assumptions about marijuana and about psychedelics but I quickly learned that's not the case In fact people believe what they wanna believe and don't believe what they don't want to despite what the facts are and what the evidence are and I've seen the same thing again in trying to change the medical paradigm and trying to change medical education there are many people that believe that the way to change things is by doing research and producing data I can tell you in medicine that's not the case we even have very good data showing that doctors don't change their practices based on the results of randomized control trials The Integrative Medicine center that I founded and directed in the Arizona in the University of Arizona College of Medicine is now a center of excellence at the University of Arizona and a world leader in training physicians and health professionals in a new model of medicine I'll talk to you about that in a moment and the reason that we were able to do this was the support of one man Jim Dolan who was the dean of the college of medicine who was the first medical school dean to go out and support something of this kind he retired a few years ago and said that his proudest accomplishment was the Integrative Medicine Center and he also said that, and I think this is a lesson for all of us the way doctors and medical scientists react to new information is more a function of it's source than it's content that if information comes from an unfamiliar source the instinctive reaction is one of defensiveness, exclusion and reaction against it. And the example that he liked to use, which I think is very apt is that the observation that aspirin was an anticoagulant and might be useful on preventing heart attacks was first made on the 1950's by a general practitioner in southern California this was the time when tonsillectomy was universal you couldn't make it through adolescence with your tonsils and adenoids if you were in a middle class family and it was common practice to give kids aspergon to chew, a chewable form of aspirin and this doctor noticed that kids that chewed aspergon had more and longer bleeding than kids who didn't so he though maybe aspirin is a blood thinner and he began taking it himself and noticed that when he cut himself shaving that the cuts bled longer so he gave this to a number of his patients, satisfied himself that this was a reasonable hypothesis, which he published on a journal of general practice with the suggestion that aspirin might be usefull as a preventer for heart attacks it took 30 years for cardiologists to recognize the validity of that hypothesis and test it. The reason was that it was proposed by a general practitioner, not by a cardiologist and was published in a Journal that cardiologists don't think much of now that's within the realm of medicine, imagine when information about these things comes from more distant and more foreign sources like shamans in exotic cultures And I think this is what we really have to understand that the reason that the drugs that we're interested in provokes so much controversy the reason that they've stimulated the kind of backlash that has forded research and clinical use is fundamentally emotional and irrational it's not something you can deal with through argument and scientific information It's a matter of changing the culture and attitudes The problem with marijuana is that it has still not outgrown its associations in this culture with ousiders, deviants, subcultures that are not considered part of the mainstream it entered north american society through two routes through black jazz musicians in the south, New Orleans through mexican migrant workers that came in through the southern border in the 1950's it was associated with beatniks then in the 60's with this massive counterculture that grew up it's those associations of marijuana that cause mainstream America to react against it and this continues to persist I'm delighted to see that there is now opening in the world of psychedelic research I mean something clearly has changed there it hasn't yet changed with marijuana that's unfortunate. I'm very disappointed that our president has not done more to support the change in the medical marijuana list applause but we have an opening at the moment with psychedelics which which is both surprising, welcome, is something we wanna work with and and I'm very pleased to see the kinds of research that have been done I also have to tell you that over the years as I've looked at the potentials and dangers of psychedelic drugs and their possibilities for clinical applications I've been somewhat puzzled by several things about it first of all, in purely medical terms these drugs, specially the indol psychedelics have probably the least toxicity of any pharmacological agents that we now as you know, there have been no deaths reported with LSD, directly caused by it's pharmacological action, except in one elephant. I'm sure most of you know that horrible story if not you can look it up The striking absence of toxicity of these agents combined with their tremendous power to alter perception, and the mind-body access certainly recommends them for research in clinical use but I have to tell you that I've been puzzled, by the way I should say that the other category of psychedelics, the phenetilamines, have somewhat greater toxicity because of their adrenergic stimulant properties that puts them into a somewhat different class, but still these are quite safe agents compared to most of the drugs that are routinely prescribed in medicine today What puzzles me about psychedelic research over the years in contrast with my own experience with them is that almost all of it has focused on psychological potentials initially with things like helping people with end-of-life issues, or with PTSD my interest has always been in what we call the psychosomatic potential of these drugs that is their potential to change bodily processes and physical disease as a result of, or taking advantage of the mind-body connection so, let me say a word about integrative medicine and the philosophy of medicine that I teach and have always practiced in the popular mind integrative medicine is the intelligent combination of conventional and alternative medicine, but really that's a very narrow definition of it, the much broader way of looking at it which I firmly believe represents the future of medicine and a solution to our current health-care crisis it's working fore some very big changes in conventional medical thinking the first is to restore the focus of medicine on the health and healing and to acknowledge, respect and take advantage of the human organism tremendous potential for self-diagnosis and self-regulation, regeneration, repair, adaptation to me that's the most wonderful feature of human biology, that our bodies have the ability to know when they have suffered injury or damage to repair themselves, and this is not mystical, this is biology you can observe this on any level of biological organization, from DNA on up the DNA is a huge macromolecule that's on the border between life and non-life has the potential within it to know when it has been injured by an ultraviolet ray and immediately begins to elaborate specific repair enzimes to repair the damage and that same potential you can see whetter you look to organeles, cells, tissues, organs and the whole organism, and that's where good medicine should start The second broad principle of integrative medicine is our insistence that human beings are more than physical bodies we are also mental-emotional beings spiritual entities, community members those other dimensions of human life are incredibly relevant to understanding health and illness if you cut them of and only look at the physical body not only do you cut yourself of from an understanding of the real causes of health and illness but you also limit your treatment interventions to those directed at the physical body which are the ones that tend to be most expensive and most invasive and most productive of harm and often quite limited in their ability to change physical conditions. The third principle of integrative medicine is that we pay attention to all aspects of lifestyle to understand health and illness and I think this is where integrative medicine really shines in delivering true preventive care and health promotion, something that's very relevant to the health-care debate that we're looking through and also integrative medicine places great emphasis in the practitioner-patient relationship which has suffered horribly in the present era for-profit medicine throughout history and in most cultures that relationship has been recognized as special, even sacred something magical can happen when a medically trained person sits with a patient and simply allows that person to tell their story that alone can initiate a healing response before any specific treatment suggestions are given and also over the years that has been the source of the greatest emotional reward of practicing medicine and it's complete undermining in the era of manage caring for-profit medicine is one reason why so many physicians today are unhappy and so many are leaving or have left the practice of medicine and then finally integrative medicine is willing to look at all therapeutic options out there specially those that don't cause harm and show reasonable evidence of efficacy there's so much that's not even on our radar screen of conventional medicine that we can bring in among them the targeted use of psychedelic therapy Now, what has puzzled me in looking at this focus of psychedelic research on the psychological and the omission of the physical is that in my own experience, both in my personal life and working with patients and discussing this with great many users of psychedelics I have observed, seen, experienced, collected many individual case reports of quite spectacular healing reactions of serious diseases and these healing reactions were catalysed by a change in perception that was triggered by a psychedelic experience, sometimes deliberately by a therapist who guided the session in a certain direction sometimes quite fortuitously and I'll just give you a couple of examples of what I mean the first one is something that I have published some years ago 60 minutes did an in-depth piece on me which was supposed to be friendly and wasn't and I told the interviewer this story which was incidental and in three days of interviewing about integrative medicine and they sent out a press release with this as the headline, this was the story that they used so and the story was that Dr. Weil claims that LSD cured his cat allergies all right it did, and here's the story I was very allergic as a kid, in all sorts of ways, I had hay fever, I've got hives in response to various drugs and things I was allergic for a lot of my life, and one of the allergies I had was to cats and whenever a cat got near me my eyes would itch, my nose would run, if I touched the cat it's got much worse and if a cat licked me I've got hives where it licked me I had in my mind a mindset that I was allergic to cats and therefore I didn't want them in my presence, and if a cat came near me I would either push it away or withdraw myself, so there was a deep ingrained defensiveness in my interactions with cats one day, when I was 28, and was making a lot of changes in my life I took LSD with some friends, I was living in a countryside in Virginia, it was beautiful springday I was in a terrific space, everything was wonderful, the world was magical everything was alive, and into this scene a cat bounded and jumped in my lap and I had a split-second of the habitual reaction and suddenly I decided this was silly, why did I have to do this? so I started petting the cat, playing with the cat, the cat licked me, I had no reaction to the cat I have never had a reaction with cats since! and that was almost fourty years ago applause Now, that's pretty spectacular As a physician I would love to know what happened there and I would love to know how to make that happen in another people Anyway, I'll tell you one that's even more spectacular which I haven't written about and this was roughly in the same time period. Another mindset that I had grown up with all my life was that I had fair skin and that I couldn't get tann and I was always told this, you have fair skin so, whenever I went to the beach my experience was a second degree sunburn completely red and then going home and putting nazimo all over my body and then sheets of skin would peel off several days later that was how I reacted to the sun and I had accepted in my mind this is the way I react to the sun so also in this same period when I was doing this experiments, I guess I was also 28 and this was also in Virginia and another time I took LSD and there was a wonderful space and I was running around without any clothes on and I was decided that it was such a nice day I was going to lie out in the sun, and I remember thinking why should I think that the sun is my enemy? why can't I simply enjoy the sun and be in it I got tann instantly! and I have ever since I now live in southern Arizona, I've spent 30 years in the desert I develop wonderful tanns, I've never had sunburns like that. An instant change in a pattern that had lasted 28 years, that's pretty spectacular How did that happen? What's the mechanism of this? I don't think this is magic, it's wonderful, but there has to be a physiological mechanism for that which is in some ways, to me, a little more interesting and harder to understand than the disappearance of an allergic reaction Allergies come and go and I've always taught patients that allergies are learned reactions and anything that's learned can be unlearned and that to me is the most interesting thing about allergies There's very interesting stuff in the mind-body literature about allergies you can show a person who has a strong allergic reaction to roses a plastic rose and they'll have an allergic reaction so that shows that the higher brain is involved in this process and there may be many ways to produce these changes or to break that but the potential for psychedelics to be used in this way are great I can imagine in some era when psychedelics are available for medical use maybe you can open an allergy clinic and you can have ten structured sessions an on the first session a person would take an ordinary dose of one of these things and if necessary they could come back and each time the dose would be cut down until at the last session they wouldn't take anything but the pill would look like the same. And then you tell them they're not taking anything active and they go without the allergy Now, even extending this further, I've also collected over the years some very dramatic cases in sum that I have been personally involved people with chronic autoimmune disorders, specially rheumathoid arthrithis, also lupus, also multiple sclerosis, in which the same kinds of things have happened, where there was a dramatic shift related to the psychedelic experience sometimes a single use, sometimes a multiple use in which the condition disappeared it seems to me, and I just can't imagine anything of greater interest and that puzzles me that researchers have not looked at this aspect of psychedelics and one thing that would be useful would be try to collect case reports of this kind So one thing that I would ask you and for you to ask your friends, if you know anyone that has had experiences of this sort, send them at MAPS for example, so we could begin to collect this kind of information in a systematic fashion and if we had a body of this kind of information it might inspire researchers in this area to begin thinking how they might set up experiments to do this That principle of integrative medicine that I've talked about we're not just physical bodies, we're also mental emotional beings, and spiritual entities and community members the meaning of that is that all disease, like all health is a matter of all of these factors being involved, and in any medical condition there is a possibility of using the mind-body connection, the emotional connection to change a disease process for the better We have lots of potential interventions to do that, there's hypnosis, there's guided imagery there are various forms of mindfulness meditation there's a whole fascinating area of neuroscience that's just come into being with the result of being able to visualize living brains an a lot of this have been inspired by the Dalai Lama and a new generation of neuroscientists who are looking at tibetan meditators and showing actual changes in brain activity and then thinking how can this be taught to other people I see this as a great horizon and frontier of medical research I've always taught that all diseases are psychosomatic but the problem is that word is so loaded that when we talk about psychosomatic conditions most people, specially patients, think you're telling them their diseases are unreal and that's not what psychosomatic means, the word just mean mind-body I've suggested maybe we should use the word somatopsychic, which doesn't have the same connotation but the fact is that's how it is and with many conditions we can totally neglect the possibility of trying to change things by manipulating the psychic compartment the psychedelic drugs, specially, are incredible tools for doing so now I think one of the great obstacles to psychedelic research in the past that complicated things, is that, as I'm sure all of you know the experiences people have with psychedelics are exquisitely dependent on non pharmacological factors they're dependent on people's expectations, set, and on the environment, in the broader sense the setting in which drugs are taken the initial people who did research with psychedelics and showed very positive changes, like Stan Grof, like Walter Pahnke these were people who understood from their own experiences the nature of these drugs, and their dependence on set and setting Their belief system and the way that they were able to structure the settings, the laboratory settings in which they did research shaped experiences in a certain direction other researches who did not have those experiences did not have that understanding, read the results of the research tried to reproduce them and didn't get the same results because they thought the drugs were magic bullets that the drug contains the experience that would automatically do the thing that's reported in the literature and when the results didn't come back that way, they said well, the drugs aren't any good So, apart from all the moralistic stuff and all the cultural irrationality that forded psychedelic research I think this is in a way even a greater stomping block because these drugs don't work in the way that the pharmacological agents most of researchers work with do The magic potential is not entirely in the pharmacological action and unless researchers understand this the likelihood of producing the kinds of positive changes that will get more people interested and may lead to a cultural change about the potential benefits of these drugs, this is not gonna be realised I wanna also say some words about marijuana, which is a very different beast form psychedelics this is not related chemically or pharmacologically to the psychedelics although it often travels with them in the same company but it's a completely different thing and it has it's own problems and difficulties cannabinoid chemistry is unique in nature, these substances are unlike really any other chemicals that we are familiar with one of the things that sets them apart from most drugs, both medical and psychoactive that we know is that they're fat soluble not water soluble that is a big problem, that means these drugs are not absorbed and distributed in the body in ways that we are familiar with. It's not easy to predict their metabolic fate and their pathways around the body because of their fat solubility another problem with marijuana is that there is extreme variation in individual sensitivity to it and that is very confounding for people who are looking for substances that produce predictable effects on a practical level, in looking at what's happening with medical marijuana around the country I think until there's a way of cleanly separating medical use from recreational use that it's going to be very difficult to have the medical profession accept marijuana as a therapeutic agent the way that marijuana is currently being dispensed in California and the way that most medical marijuana is being used there's a very fuzzy boundary between that and recreational use also I can't imagine most of my medical colleagues being comfortable with recommending a therapeutic agent that has to be consumed in the form of smoke to be inhaled That just doesn't work I would love to see a whole extract of cannabis that was available for medical use in a form that was more familiar to physicians and to pharmacists as I'm sure you may know there is such a form available in the UK called Sativex, this is a whole cannabis extract to be sprayed into the mouth under the tongue, it's an oral spray it looks like a medical preparation, it's packaged like a medical preparation, it would be accepted as a medical preparation, it's very annoying that it's not available here and this would be a great thing for people working in the area of medical marijuana to concentrate on an to work to make it available here. I think that would go a long way to increase acceptance of this agent with marijuana also the tremendous advantage of it and the reason for investigating it's clinical potentials is it's almost complete abscence of toxicity you can't kill people with marijuana there was I remember years ago seeing some experiments in cats which if you could extrapolate to humans would suggest that the letal dose might be a pound and a half of marijuana consumed orally at one time in pharmacology and medicine you calculate the safety of a drug with a quantity called the therapeutic ratio which is the ratio of the dose that begins to produce toxicicity to the dose that you want and for many drugs that we use in clinical practice that ratio is not that high two to three or four or five times the dose that is used to produce a therapeutic effect is enough to begin to cause toxicity. You can't calculate the therapeutic ratio for marijuana it's not calculable. So just for that reason alone we should be looking for ways to use it let alone the fact that throughout history there have been many people who have testified to benefits that they received for using marijuana for various conditions Personally I think the frontier of cannabis research that to me is most exciting is the possibility at looking to these strange molecules, these cannabinoids an specially looking at analogs of them that may be developed in the future that can be used both as tools for brain research, for understanding how the brain receives and interprets information, because to me this is one of the most interesting things about cannabis how it changes perception, how it can make ordinary experiences appear novel how it can change focus of attention. I can see great potential here in using these drugs as tools in mind-brain research. I think the other area that fascinates me is looking at these compounds or analogs yet to be developed for manipulating appetite, and for pain perception I think these are two areas in which the therapeutic potential of cannabis looks very powerful to me the appetite stuff, there has been some efforts in this direction at the moment which are certainly not there yet, but this is probably the greatest public health-care crisis facing us in this day and age is the obesity epidemic that we are seeing the root of this is the nature in which we have changed food I was just on a panel yesterday with Dr. David Kessler, former head of the FDA he's written a book called "The end of overeating" and his main argument is that the foods that we have today are designed to activate the brain and that we're helpless in face of this. That food has been manipulated in ways that cause brain activation and that this is what seems to give it so much power over us so I don't know, maybe we're doomed in this regard. I think that's certainly an argument for totally banning advertising of these kinds of foods applause but you know, another area of possible research is finding ways to increase the brain's defensiveness against that kind of reactive activation in response to the kinds of food that are out there now and I think there is potential in the cannabinoids to do something of that sort and the other area is, as I said, is the modulation of pain perception There already is a great deal of interesting research showing that cannabis can enhance the effects of opioids, so that people with chronic pain may be able to take lower doses of opioids which has great advantage because there are many side effects of derivatives of opium that are not desirable, among them mental clouding, and to be able to find ways chronic pain is such an enormous problem in clinical medicine today it absorbs so many health-care dollars, it's so frustrating to manage that any new tools that we can get in that area would be extremely welcome, and as I said I think there is great potential with cannabis to do that So, I guess in summing up and looking back on all this although I have not been actively involved in either psychedelic research or marijuana research for many years I continue to be struck by the incredible positive potential of these agents not just for manipulation of moods and emotional states but for dealing with and changing very real, very severe chronic medical ilness through changing the way that people interpret or perceive the symptoms of illness that they experience and that by doing so free up, or unlock or unblock the body's healing potential I think the fact that we've got this opening at the moment is terrific I think we should be careful in the way that we design experiments, the way they're publicized but I think that looking at conditions which are not responsive to other methods which involve lots of people, which are very costly and cause human suffering that there is a great possibility now for getting support for doing this and to begin to change this very very outdated and unhelpful cultural perception that we've lived with for far too long So thank you I'm gonna stop there and I'm gonna continue with you asking some questions applause I think that the whole field of mind-body research and mind-body medicine is coming into it's own in a way that it never has before - there's a novel lot of close it? Ok right. Bye That was very satisfying You know, I have a friend and colleague who is now in his 80's who was a very eminent endocrinologist and who was one of the founders and main movers of the field of psychosomatic medicine in the 1950's and 1960's and he said to me that he looks back and wonders why that field never went anywhere. Now there's all this tremendous amount of research being done, what happened to field of psychosomatic medicine? and I said to him, I think the time was wrong, it was ahead of it's time and things were not ready, the ground had not been laid to the acceptance of that and I think that's all being completely swept aside by this new field of mind-body medicine which is getting very strong support from the neurosciences. I think the ability to visualize living brains has done more to make studies of consciousness and altered states of consciousness valid and real than any amount of argument about it now you can show that people in certain states of consciousness that brain function is different and you can find specific localities in the brain where function is different even in an area that I've been most interested in, the placebo responses there's a whole new, more juice going into that because there's been studies showing that in the placebo responses there are particular areas of the brain that seems to mediate this so I think we're on the threshold of a whole new era of mind-body studies in which psychoneuroimmunology, psychoendocrinology, this is all part of that knife and there is potential for psychedelics to be welcomed as tools to facilitate that research Thank you so much for your presentation, I enjoyed tremendously One thing, you were talking about pain and different ways to minimize the pain physical pain, I studied a lot of mind-body connection, especially the spiritual aspects of it and I've had tremendous results, resolving spiritual issues and how it affects you physically how I had a horrible pain and I did this meditation, it's ending the pain meditation and at the end you connect to your higher self and I could not believe the results how just my neck pain that was horrendous got so much better but basically the studies that I have been really interested in, it's a guy called Luz Ares and I don't know if you're familiar with the work of Louis Hay where basically Luz Ares says that a lot of the different pains in the different parts of the body it's like coded messages from your higher consciousness that are there to teach and to guide you in such a direction where you need healing so he talks about regular doctors as opposed to alternative doctors and he says that a lot of times alternative doctors essentialy do the same thing, they just go after eliminating symptom and, so I guess my question is, sorry, have you thought about the spiritual meaning of pain and actually resolving it like you were saying at the beginning, how much matters resolving it through the mind rather than looking just to physical resolution I have thought about that, there's a lot written about the spiritual meaning of pain and the ways that people in chronic pain can learn to reinterpret it, or listen to it or see what it has to teach them. Mindfulness based stress reduction training has proven very valuable in working with patients in chronic pain, but again I have to tell you since I'm really into the somatopsychics of things, the experiences that most interest me are not just subjective perception but changes in body reaction so, and this is another experience and I think this one I've also written about and this is with MDMA that frequently I've had the experience of, in the MDMA state, total relax, walking barefoot on sharp stones that would normally hurt, it doesn't hurt. OK, that part it's easy for me to explain but what's hard to explain is why there are no impressions on my foot normally there would be dense on my foot but there aren't in that state so what's happening there? I mean, I can hypothesize about it but I think that when the mind leaves the body alone that muscles can very precisely respond to things so if there's a point of a rock pressing there the muscle right there can press back to neutralize it That stuff really interest me, how you can change reactions, like insects things or or being hit by something or being burned, not only does the pain change but the body's reactions change and that's something that can be learned, and it seems to me that the commonality here is dropping some sort of defensive stands toward the universe, that's the act of defending oneself that in some way leads to some sort of rigidity or freezing of body's responses that causes injury or allows injury to occur. That's the area that I would love to see research on Dr. Weil I'm always in love with what you have to say, I just have one question How do we get the ball rolling on legitimizing psychedelics and treatment modalities for people with real pain and suffering? I mean, must of the knowledge has been there form the 70's, the 60's there has to be some kind of tipping point in society, some point in the structure where the power shifts a little bit and I'm wondering how we as ants, worker ants, army ants, little people what we can do to see a brighter day? In some ways as gloomy as things look out there in some ways, I think the energy of the 60's and the energy of that period really has diffused through the culture and it is working it's way and it seems to me that in casual conversation today I interacted with a wide range of people talking in many different locations, I think those attitudes are changing, that there is a greater acceptance of this and I think the ways of specially with this kind of, look at the little bit of reports I've seen around this conference or the reports I've seen on recent articles about the therapeutic use of psychedelics, there's a different tone than was before I see Rick's nodding his head. I think that's true, so I am optimistic. I don't know if we're at a tipping point but I think we're moving in the direction of it Andrew, I used to know you years ago back in the days of hemperalism in front of the LA federal building And in honor of Jack Herer's death yesterday, I wanna to Yes I just heard that he died yesterday morning yes he died yesterday morning at 11 a.m. and in honor of that I wanna to ask you your opinion of Rick Simpson cancer treatment oil as well as Dr. Malamides research on using THC for reduction of tumor cells as well as protecting healthy cells Actually I did not mention that in the things I talked about, the areas of promising research I think the other great interesting area with cannabinoids is the possibility of both preventing and treating cancer and that's something that's completely unexpected. These are recent findings and even protective against lung cancer and serious forms of cancer as well as by the way protection against dementia and memory loss Who would had ever thought? But there it is, so again, these are novel interesting, unexpected potentials of cannabinoids that certainly should be explored I wanna thank you for your speech You've mentioned that psychedelics can have psychosomatic effects on real physical problems for the body, such as multiple sclerosis. I was wondering if you could enumerate those psychedelics and explain a little bit more about how they have those kinds of effects All I can tell you is at the moment I have case reports, these are people that I knew, that were patients of mine, people that I have met, heard from in which I am satisfied of the validity of the reports, and this is something that should be studied with the autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, the agents that were used were variable but typically they were LSD, I think the most common, sometimes MDMA, sometimes mushrooms sometimes the change happened instantaneously, as with my cat allergy or the sun tann thing sometimes it was a change that happened after, over a period of weeks or months sometimes with repeated use of the agent, but it seems as if you know, I don't know the mechanism, I can only speculate but I think that the ways that the mind interacts with the body are infinite, complex, wonderful, that there are common ways in which the habitual patterns of the mind or the habitual patterns of the perception, get in the way of that healing mechanism that I talked about in the beginning of the talk Hello Doctor it's great to have you here My question is, you said there is so much focus on the healing aspects of these medicines, but very little to the preventive aspects of it Also, going beyond it, to a health optimization a lot of people I know who are using psychedelics are yoguis, movement specialists, who are some of the healthiest people I know Albert Hofmann for example, lived over a 100 and attributed that to regular use of LSD That's probably something we should not be widely talking about at the time when we are trying to produce a cultural change I agree with you, I think that's true, I think we all have seen that, we all know people that use psychedelics that way I think that many people that I know who have been involved in the psychedelic world feel that way. I'm concerned about advertising that widely. I think at the moment we should concentrate more on the therapeutic potentials that I talked about but I think that's tremendously interesting. I don't think that this culture is yet ready to hear about health optimization through regular use of psychedelics What prompted you to discover a weilii? What prompted you to discover a weilii? I did not discover the Psilocybe weilii It was discovered by a man in Georgia and the mushroom was named for me by my friend Paul Stamets So you don't name things for yourself in science and I was very delighted by that but I had nothing to do with this discovery, but I'm very happy. By the way, I don't know if you know that the word psilocybe in greek it means bald head, so that seems appropriate Dr. Weil, I read an article maybe in Psychopharmacology in some time the past 12 months which was concerning the existence of a polymorphism for the protein which produces monoaminoxidase and, stated briefly, two forms of MAO one of which is more active than the other Individuals who have the less active form are significantly more susceptible to the placebo effect An what I'm wondering is whetter the use of monoaminoxidase inhibition in ayahuasca is in some way modulating one's susceptibility to the placebo effect I'm not familiar with that research, I'll look it up, that's interesting and if so, what you say is certainly a possibility, very interesting I am a great believer in biochemical individuality and that's something that's absolutely ignored in conventional pharmacotherapeutics and something that people that use drugs, people that dispense drugs to others should be very aware of These wide range reactions, some of which is based on differential ability to metabolize pharmacological agents. Very nice idea, I'll check it out Dr., this is a question that comes from a little bit of personal experience are you aware of any studies regarding the use of tryptamine psychedelics or cannabinoids causing physical pain in people who take these compounds Acutely at the time that they take them or over time? During the session, for example the personal experience I had was that I took LSD and this is a few months after a joint surgery and I sort of had that same feeling of pain that my shoulder was dislocating - Ah - and even though, according to my ortho doctor it's completely stable, but I could saw the same exact pain sensation of it's sliding out of it's socket but it never actually happened I have seen occasional people who have experiences like that but I'm not sure how I would interpret them. Whether that's just that you became aware of a body memory and I think one of the potentials of psychedelics is to help people bring into consciousness memories, often painful memories, that have been stored in the musculature of the body so that's a possibility So, my question comes from second hand experience. It's about friends who are suffering from prolonged persistence state of disorder of hallucinations Hum-hum I've read that the best treatment that is know of is reassuring the person because it can go away, but they think they're still experiencing it, than it becomes a vicious cycle Are there any new developments in that? Besides antipsychosis drugs? I'm really not the person to ask about that. If you're talking about the general category of flashbacks I think the less attention paid to it the better, and then they tend to go away These are normal experiences that people have If the drug experience was associated with anxiety, then having a memory of it can trigger anxiety and then if you hear that this indicates brain damage you can imagine that being a vicious cycle of anxiety So, I always doubted that by just reassuring people that these are not significant will make it go away on their own Thanks very much for your enthusiasm and commonness, and I think part of the commonness, you sound sort of apolitical but I invite you for a minute to consider the politics, let's say of the possibility of California in the legalization of Marijuana It almost is because the taxation issue is almost, this could be a possibility and we might have legalized marijuana here before we have legal gameness or single pair healthcare, amazing it, no? Amazing I have not been apolitical in my writings or speaking and those of you who know my book "From chocolate to morphine" The first sentence of that book is that wars against drugs are always lost and the strong argument of it is that the criminal law is not an effective and appropriate way to try to influence people's consumption of psychoactive drugs That's the bottom line. If we have to - applause - How we get ourselves away from that, I don't know. There has to be a commitment from back away from dependence on criminal law as the method of dealing with this and that whole superstructure of law has to be dismantled and I would imagine that has to be done in a peace meal fashion over time. Starting with the decriminalization of marijuana or the legalization of it in appropriate amounts and finding other ways to regulate it and eventually extending that to all other substances, and it doesn't work, it creates immense damage, and another change that's happening in the world today maybe correlated with this opening that we are seeing with psychedelic research it's very interesting that there have been heads of state who have said the call for legalization of all drugs because that they see that the damage to our societies and current system is too great So, it's no just here in California, it's also in Mexico and some south-american countries so it will be very interesting to watch that trend I wanna to ask actually about the defensive education of our castes in the food industry I think that it's been difficult to implement a ban let alone the legal issues however I have noticed that heightened awareness and increased sensation of taste has helped educate me a great deal about food I've been a huge fan of the core of your work from way back to the present day could you talk more about the connection between drug to food and medicinal diet in general? That's a big question but just looking at the food issue, we are in big trouble with food in this country and the only way that we're gonna get out of it is if there is a collective effort to change things And that means that the government, private sector and individuals all have to take responsibility here you cannot have a government telling us that we should eat better and at the same time insuring that the cheapest calories out there are all the horrible stuff made with refined soy bean oil and corn syrup, and it's cheap because the federal government artificially drives down the prices of those ingredients by subsidizing corn And there are no subsidies for fruits and vegetables which are the most expensive things you find in stores applause and are full of health protective elements and are simply out of the reach of most people who are poor in this country, including on indian reservations and the inner cities You cannot have these big food manufacturers go around freely making these products attractive to kids through advertising So if we're serious about that it's gonna take changes in those areas I think it's a huge problem and something we're gonna be forced to come to grips with because the obesity epidemic and the type II diabetes epidemic coming right up behind it have the potential to just take us down as a society Thank you very much for coming In some of your writings you describe the natural form of MDMA and I can't remember what dose herbs were, and they were a molecule off and I wonder if you could say I don't think there is a natural form of MDMA. It's a semisynthetic compound and there are various starting materials that can be used, one is a compound called safrol, which is a natural constituent of sassafraz root MDMA has a peculiar chemical structure called a methylene dioxide bridge which is a nightmare to synthesize. And so, when chemists wanna make a structure that the synthesis of which would be way too costly, time consuming you look in nature to try to find that structure and you build on it I remember a synthetic chemist once telling me when you want a methylene dioxide bridge you go to god So, these plants that contains starting materials that have that are really not psychoactive So, I don't know anything out there in the natural world or herbal world that I would call natural MDMA Andy, on behalf of all the psychedelic science we appreciate you coming out today My pleasure applause

Video Details

Duration: 56 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: MAPS
Views: 1,808
Posted by: eduardoschenberg on Jun 15, 2010

Andrew Weil's (M.D.) talk during the Psychedelic Science in the 21st century conference in California, April 2010. Organizaed by MAPS, CSP, Heffter Research Institute and Beckeley Foundation

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