Psychedelic medicines have come virtually out of nowhere in the last few years. They were considered dangerous drugs since the 1960s era of war protests, stoned fans at rock concerts, and reports of bad trips. When proper research resumed, not much more than a decade ago, these medicines were found to have the ability to virtually cure severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Two such psychedelic medicines, psilocybin and MDMA, are considered breakthrough medicines by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration). They are on track to be standard treatment for major depression and PTSD. More psychedelics are being studied and many show promise similar to the two that we mentioned. Is there as best psychedelic medicine? Are they all good? Are there problems to consider?
What Does Research Show About Psychedelics?
The two psychedelic medicines for which the most research has been done and which research has shown the most promise are psilocybin and MDMA. Both of these medicines are undergoing what is the gold standard for testing to show that they are safe and effective to the degree that they can be routinely prescribed to treat depression and PTSD. The US Food and Drug Administration is the agency charged with enforcing drug laws and laws regarding medical devices in the USA.
The standards are that a medicine cannot cause harm when given in the amounts and frequency normally used for treatment. A medicine must not only be shown to help treat the condition or conditions for which it is intended but must do so to a substantially greater degree than a placebo. This rule applies when the drug is used alone in treatment and when it is used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches. In the cases of both MDMA and psilocybin, these medicines are used along with psychotherapy or coaching by trained professionals. The medicines are intended to make the therapy much more effective.
Although other psychedelic medicines are being researched for several purposes, the only two so far to make the grade as potential therapies OK’d by the FDA are MDMA and psilocybin.
Which Other Psychedelics Show Promise?
Many psychedelics work in very similar fashions in the body on a biomolecular level. As such, other psychedelics may well end up being as valuable as MDMA and psilocybin but none has yet been subjected to the same level of scrutiny. One psychedelic that has a long track record is ayahuasca. However, the use of this psychedelic medicine has not been in research studies in North America or Europe. Rather ayahuasca has been used in ceremonial and treatment settings in the Northwest Amazon basin for many centuries.
Because of its long history of use, this psychedelic is known to be relatively safe and to offer therapeutic benefits to those using it. Ayahuasca has been shown to help depression, relieve anxiety, and more.
Can They Make Ayahuasca as a Standard Pill or Liquid?
If this medicine makes it to the level of testing required by the FDA it will need to be shown to be safe and effective in standardized doses. One issue that will need to be resolved is how to package and store this medicine as in the Amazon of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador it is made fresh from plants that grow naturally in the region. Getting this medicine into a pill or liquid form that stores and does not lose its potency may be a challenge for pharmaceutical companies.
How Long Can You Store Ayahuasca?
One can sign up for a tour that takes you to the Amazon basin in Northwestern Brazil or adjacent regions of Ecuador, Colombia, or Peru. You will fly into the region unless you have the time for a three week boat trip both ways. The ayahuasca you will use will be freshly prepared from plants growing naturally in the region. For ayahuasca to be a practical benefit for treating people with PTSD, depression, substance abuse disorders, or any other ailment int needs to be available where these folks live. It needs to be in a form that can be easily stored and transported. And it needs to have a sufficiently long shelf life that it does not lose potency before it is used.
A practical consideration for deciding which is the best psychedelic could well be something as mundane as how long ayahuasca lasts on the shelf compared to MDMA or psilocybin.