Psychedelic medicines are very effective in helping treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse disorders. A new study indicates that there is cognitive improvement with psychedelics that goes beyond these known effects. This evidence comes from treatment of U.S. special forces veterans who sought care in Mexico. The drugs involved were ibogaine hydrochloride and 5-MeO-DMT. The results that attracted the attention of Ohio State university researchers was this. Cognitive impairment from traumatic brain syndrome got better after just one dose of each of these psychedelic medicines.
Unexpected Psychedelic Benefit
Because psychedelics are schedule one drugs in the USA, many individuals with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder seek treatment at clinics in Mexico where these medicines are legal. In this instance, individuals involved were veterans of US special forces. They went for treatment of depression and PTSD. The combination of two psychedelics improved depression and anxiety. It also improved their thinking! Individuals being treated had also suffered from cognitive impairment due to traumatic brain injury.
Special Forces Cluster of Treatment Challenges
People develop PTSD after a single traumatic incident. They also get PTSD when exposed to repeated, low level, trauma. Special forces veterans are unique in that they have repeated exposure to highly traumatic experiences, day in and day out, as part of their jobs. The end result is a combination of PTSD, depression, and traumatic brain injury. A surprising result of treatment of the special forces veterans with two psychedelics was the improvement in cognitive functioning that had been impaired by their traumatic brain injury.
Specifics of Treatment With Two Psychedelics
The individuals whose treatment results surprised researchers were on active duty after 9/11. They suffered from depression, anxiety, PTSD, anger, fatigue, problems sleeping, and memory problems. They complained of irritability, ringing in the ears, sleep difficulties, and trouble remembering things. The study included 86 veterans who answered questionnaires regarding anger levels, suicidality, and degree of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with life. Each veteran received psychedelics on separate days. The ibogaine was given by mouth and 5-MeO-DMT via three inhalations. Individuals were interviewed both before and after treatment.
Results of Treatment With Two Psychedelics
The veterans who received this treatment had follow-ups at one, three, and six months. They reported significant improvements in depression, anger, insomnia, PTSD symptoms and their overall quality of life. In addition, post-concussive, traumatic brain syndrome symptoms improved and the improvements lasted. Individuals reported better cognitive functioning (thinking) and psychological flexibility. Researchers say that the improvement in thinking could have come directly from biological effects of the medicines or indirectly from the individuals’ improved mental health. This would be good to sort out.
Psychological Flexibility and Better Thinking
A previously known result of taking psychedelics is that areas of the brain communicate better with each other. This manifests itself as greater psychological flexibility. This psychological flexibility commonly results in better mental health. In the case of the veterans who received a 2 psychedelic drug regimen, they reported changes in behaviors, relationships, and attitudes that were useful and desirable. Insight and spirituality both increased in these individuals.
Treating the Person and Not Just the Disease
It is important for any caregiver to treat the whole person and not just the specific condition that brings them for care. People seek care because they don’t feel well, their lives are not working, and they need help. The folks who went to Mexico for treatment had more than just one mental health or physical ailment. The person is depressed, suffers from PTSD, or any other of a host of mental health and physical conditions there are two issues. What it has to do with the specific symptoms caused by their conditions. The other has to do with being able to accomplish things in their day to day lives. It is often possible to simply soldier through one’s life problems and go to work, take care of the family, and pay the bills. Other times the cognitive decline associated with one’s ailments makes these tasks of day to day life impossible. Here is where the results of the Mexico two psychedelic medicine study are significant. Treatment not only made folks feel better. It made them more able to cope with day to day life and to deal with the unique aspects of their mental health conditions.