Is the Psychedelic Therapy Bubble About to Burst? Pipa News


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In April 2021, a widely anticipated article in the field of psychedelics dropped. The study was a small trial conducted at Imperial College London. this New England Journal of Medicineinvestigated the use of psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, in the treatment of depression. Research led by Robin Carhart-Harris, director of the Department of Neuroscape Psychedelics at the University of California, San Francisco, compared psilocybin to a standard antidepressant. The findings were somewhat lackluster: it found that psychedelic was only marginally better at relieving depression than conventional treatments.

In 2017, Rosalind Watts, author of this article and former clinical leader of the trial at Imperial, gave a TEDx talk about the power of psilocybin to treat depression, encouraged by her time spent on the study. In the talk, he shared his belief that psilocybin “could revolutionize mental health care.” But in February of this year Watts published a Medium article in which he expressed regret for his initial unbridled enthusiasm. “I can’t help feeling as if I’ve unknowingly contributed to a simple and potentially dangerous narrative about psychedelics; It’s a narrative I’m trying to fix,” she wrote.

Today I thought about how I got caught up in black and white like, “This is awesome stuff,” she says. “Now I have passed this trial… I am much more neutral and agnostic.”

We are in the midst of a psychedelic renaissance, where substances long considered recreational drugs such as psilocybin, LSD and MDMA are being reassessed as potential treatments for a range of mental health conditions. At the same time, the legislation and stigma surrounding psychedelics has slowly started to loosen in recent years, and it looks like it could gradually shake off completely. “Over the past year, the pendulum has suddenly turned the other way,” says David Yaden, an assistant professor who studies the subjective effects of psychedelics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

But Yaden thinks the field is in danger of overcorrection. In a new opinion piece published in the journal Journal of the American Medical Association, Yaden – with co-authors Roland Griffiths and James Potash, two experts in psychedelic and psychiatry, respectively – argues that if we don’t step carefully, psychedelic research may be back where it started: being treated with deep suspicion if not completely illegal. . “I don’t want to be a wet blanket,” Yaden says. “I think there is a real reason for excitement. But I think that’s a really important message to get out.”

To monitor the potential future of psychedelics, Yaden, Griffiths and Potash looked at a model called the Gartner Hype Cycle that could be used to characterize the trend cycle of new technologies such as virtual reality or 4D printing. The model went something like this: psychedelics, which had been banned for decades, have in recent years begun to resurface from fringe underground communities and in laboratories as potential revolutionary treatments for mental illness. Then in 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted psilocybin the status of “breakthrough treatment” for depression, giving the treatment the fastest possible path to approval. The media jumped into it and startups emerged, followed by the obsessive patenting of psychedelic compounds.

But Yaden argues that what started as a welcome beacon of hope for new ways to treat mental illness (although the trial results so far are undeniably psychedelic, even if the trial results have been modest) has turned into true misinformation. Claims began to emerge, ranging from the unconfirmed to the bizarre: psychedelics could “cure” mental illness, solve major social problems, and create a “psychedelic utopia.” We’re in the middle of what Yaden and his co-authors call the psychedelic hype bubble. And they argue that scientists should blow it up.