Psychedelic (Drugs) Rock - Psych Week


By Mark Falanga

Psychedelic shrine to Timothy Leary. Photo courtesy of Arcadius.

Tie-Dye t-shirts, peace signs, Volkswagen Minibuses, and mind altering drugs. These are all well known symbols for the psychedelic movement. But another item could be applied to the list…medicinal purposes. Yes, those same drugs that caused euphoric colors and transcendental experiences can also serve many beneficial medical purposes.

To elaborate, BTR spoke with Dr. Natale J. Falanga M.D., a doctor with over 25 years medical experience (and, full disclosure, also half the reason I exist at all).

“Every recreational drug has some sort of effect on the body, but the trick is to find out how beneficial it can be,” said Falanga. He also said that some drugs most people would never consider to be beneficial, in fact are, like cocaine.

“About 40 years ago, always in the spring, allergy sufferers would come into doctor’s offices with stuffed noses and fatigue,” said Falanga, “a way to alleviate this was to dip gauze bandages in liquid cocaine and insert them in the nose for about 20 seconds. The cocaine would shrink the membranes, dry up their sinuses, and give them a boost of energy.”

Dr. Falanga further explained that the relief was only temporary, lasting about three hours at the most.

Another drug that most people wouldn’t usually consider as having any real benefits is psilocybin, otherwise known as the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, which have been shown to treat severe cases of depression in cancer patients. This anti-depressant quality in psilocybin was identified by CNN who followed the story of Pamela Sakuda, and how this was the only drug that made her feel somewhat happy. It was even a relief to her husband, who was delighted to see her as her normal self.

In a Fox News story, another patient taking psilocybin, Nicky Edlich, also described her time using the drug as positive. “I think it made me more aware of what was so important,” said Edlich to Fox News, “and what was making me either sad or depressed. I think it was revelatory.”

Other drugs like lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly referred to as LSD, can have the same effect with cancer patients. Studies have shown that it offers a way for the patient to cope with their illness and, to put it simply, make them feel better.

LSD on blotter paper. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Cancer patients aren’t alone in feeling the benefits of psychedelic drugs. Our brave men and women in the armed forces, who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can turn towards these drugs to help them heal the mental wounds of war.

The drug that has shown to deliver the most progress in treating PTSD is the popular club drug known as ecstasy. However, the study did not use pure ecstasy, they used the pure form of the drug called methylenedioxy methylamphetamine, also known as MDMA. What differs between the two is that, while street ecstasy does contain some MDMA, it also contains harmful adulterants.

The study was conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). They used pure MDMA is controlled doses on 21 patients who had PTSD. The sessions were eight to ten hours long and closely monitored. At the conclusion of the study, 15 of the 21 patients reported no or few symptoms. The results of this study impressed the United States Military so much, that they’re now testing MDMA with veterans of previous wars who have PTSD.

MDMA in crystalline form. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

What’s important to emphasize with all of these studies is that they’re done under close supervision by medical professionals, and given specific doses of the drug. Also, different personalities can affect how the drugs work. In some cases, they can produce fear, anxiety, paranoia, while in others cases, a state akin to psychosis. In other words, don’t try this at home.

But the use of psychedelic drugs to alleviate some symptoms of terrible illnesses needs to be explored. In terminal cases, it can allow the patient to enjoy what remaining time they have left, for non-terminal, it allows them to live a productive life. Now that’s really far out, man.