psychedelics

Episode 59: Psychedelic Extinction—How Poaching Endangers Some Psychoactive Plants with Dr. Anya Ermakova

Psychedelic drugs are well beyond the quote ‘renaissance’ stage and relatively recently entered a ‘gold rush’ as dozens of companies maneuver themselves to make this nascent industry as profitable as possible for themselves. At least that’s part of their motivation. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword for folks that want to see an end to the drug war, but also don’t want access to these substances available only through doctors and therapists.

While Big Pharma slowly ambles onward to transform psychedelics into the next blockbuster pharmaceutical, the plant medicine decriminalization movement is steadily growing in the United States and more and more people are taking plant-based psychedelics for spiritual, medicinal and yes, even recreational purposes. No judgment here.

The thriving popularity of naturally-occuring entheogens has sparked a lot of concern from some in the psychedelics community, who warn that overuse of these plants for any purpose could drive them to virtual extinction. Imagine if ayahuasca became like Silphium, the ancient contraceptive used by the Greeks and Romans that was consumed to such excess that it is now believed to have vanished from the earth. Could the same happen to psychedelic plants?

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with Dr. Anya Ermakova, a researcher based in London with a very extensive background in conservation, ethnobotany, neuroscience, psychiatry and more, almost all of which relates back to psychedelics in some way. She has a master’s in Conservation Science from Imperial College London, a PhD in Psychiatry from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Edinburgh. She’s worked as a science officer at the Beckley Foundation, and has provided psychedelic welfare and harm reduction services with PsycareUK and Zendo and so much more.

You can read Dr. Anya Ermakova’s research on ResearchGate.

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Some psychedelic plant organizations you can support include The Cactus Conservation Institute and Blessings of the Forest.

That paper on the jaguar trade and ayahuasca is here:
https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.126

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity with Ivan Casselman (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 35: Holding Space — The Values of Trip Sitting with Michelle Janikian
Episode 57: Autism, Acid and the Altered Brain with Aaron Orsini and Justine Lee


Producers: 
Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Kesta “Rekindle”
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Flickr edit: Troy Farah
(**Note: At one point Troy says that Indigenous people are afraid of losing the ‘privilege’ of having access to peyote, when it is more accurately described as a ‘right.’ A non-trivial distinction! We considered rerecording this question, but decided to leave it as is.)

Episode 57: Autism, Acid and the Altered Brain with Aaron Orsini and Justine Lee

For many people, psychedelic drugs like LSD or psilocybin are their first major introduction to a profoundly altered state of consciousness. Mental conditions like autism or ADHD are other forms of consciousness, although they don’t wear off after 12 hours and so-called ‘neurotypical’ people often have misconceptions about these mental arrangements. Many folks with autism don’t see their condition as a defect or something to be fixed, an attitude that has sparked the neurodiversity movement. But, autism does come with its own set of challenges, some especially find difficulty in socializing with others.

A very early body of scientific research suggests that psychedelics could help with some of the challenges of autism. MAPS, for example, has explored using MDMA to treat social anxiety caused by autism. But some folks with autism aren’t waiting for the science to catch up and are trying psychedelics to explore how it can help some of the challenging aspects of autism.

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with Aaron Orsini, author of the book Autism On Acid: How LSD Helped Me Understand, Navigate, Alter & Appreciate My Autistic Perceptions and Justine Lee, a graduate student in pharmacology at UC Irvine with a B.S. in neurobiology.

You can follow Aaron Orsini on Twitter: @AutismOnAcid and order the anthology Autistic Psychedelic here.

Troy also wrote about this in Filter Magazine, so you can read more about the up-to-date science on this topic and how scientists are studying psychedelics with autism.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 35: Holding Space — The Values of Trip Sitting with Michelle Janikian
Episode 17: Using DMT To Contact Aliens

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Vuyvch
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Pixabay edit: Troy Farah

Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity with Ivan Casselman (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)

Most people know salvia as the weird psychedelic drug at head shops that you try once, have a bizarre, uncomfortable experience and never touch it again. But there’s so much more to salvia divinorum, psychedelics and plant medicine in general. Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with Dr. Ivan Casselman, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, who has a Ph.D. in Plant Science, studying their analytical chemistry and genetics and works as the Chief Psychedelics Officer for Havn Life Sciences.

We discuss all things salvia divinorum, including ethnobotany and indigenous use of this plant, its strange effects compared to ‘classic’ psychedelics like LSD, and how to safely use and understand this drug. Plus, we get into Canada’s evolving psychedelic scene and what the future might hold for entheogens in the Great White North.

Follow Dr. Ivan Casselman on Twitter @drivancasselman

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 41: What Does It All Ketamine?
Episode 17: Using DMT To Contact Aliens
Episode 35: Holding Space — The Values of Trip Sitting

Follow Narcotica on Facebook, Twitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Chris Zabriskie
Image: Wikimedia Commons // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 41: What Does It All Ketamine? with Dr. Erica Zelfand

Ketamine is one of the most versatile drugs on Earth, an amazing anesthetic that can relieve pain without the same risk of respiratory failure as opioids (nothing against them, of course.) Overwhelming evidence also suggests ketamine can rapidly reverse suicidal thoughts, making it a potent treatment for PTSD and treatment-resistant depression. 

Last year, a specialized blend of ketamine called esketamine was approved by the FDA to treat depression, the first new major depression drug in more than 30 years, but its use has proven controversial. Meanwhile, dozens of clinics are popping up across North America, offering off-label use of ketamine to treat a wide range of issues. 

Yet, somehow ketamine is most often conflated with recreational use because it can give an ecstatic, lucid, out-of-body trip known as a dissociative hallucination. According to several surveys, including one published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, ketamine has the highest semantic similarity to a near-death experience. What is it about this intriguing drug that makes it so popular, both clinically and elsewhere?

Our guest is Dr. Erica Zelfand, an integrative and functional medicine physician, who has written about how to get the most of ketamine therapy.

You can follow Dr. Erica Zelfand on Facebook and learn more at https://ericazelfand.com/

Follow Narcotica on Facebook, Twitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Shout-out to one of our longest Patreon supporters, Trystereo, a volunteer-run harm reduction collective in New Orleans that has been one of our earliest fans. They’re doing great work in Louisiana offering overdose prevention tools and free safer drug use and sex supplies. We rely on contributors like Trystereo to keep the lights on and free of corporate influence. Find out more at trystereo.org

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Pictures of the Floating World
Image: louise stockton / edit: Troy Farah
Two clarifications we want to make: In the intro, we say that “no other drug will make you feel like you died and left your body.” We mean *compared to ketamine.* So there’s no room for confusion, we obviously weren’t implying ketamine is the only drug that is like a near-death experience, ketamine is simply the closest, and this semantic similarity is based on a number of surveys, which are not necessarily fully reliable as they are self-reported.

Second, around the 44:00 mark, we used Compass Pathways as an example of a company that is doing psychedelic research, but didn’t mean to also imply that they are opening ketamine clinics. Many psychedelic research companies, including Mind Medicine Inc, Mindbloom, and Field Trip Health, are going this route, but so far Compass is focused solely on psilocybin. We care deeply about accuracy at Narcotica, so this is just for clarity’s sake.


Episode 35: Holding Space — The Values of Trip Sitting with Michelle Janikian

Magic mushrooms are having a bit of a moment. Some scientists are bending over backgrounds investing in psilocybin research, which is getting huge accolades from the FDA, while a decriminalization movement is slowly sweeping the nation. At least two towns have made psilocybin arrests the cops’ lowest priority.

But how do you prevent a mushroom trip from going sour? In this episode with author Michelle Janikian we enter the world of tripsitting, or watching over someone while they take powerful psychedelic drugs, in this case psilocybin mushrooms. Janikian is the author of the new book, “YOUR PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOM COMPANION: An Informative, Easy-to-Use Guide to Understanding Magic Mushrooms.”

**As with all our episodes, this is not medical or legal advice, it’s just a brief intro to the topic, please do your own homework and be safe.

Follow Michelle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/m00shian

Order “Your Psilocybin Companion” here: https://ulyssespress.com/books/your-psilocybin-mushroom-companion/

Some excerpts from the book:
https://doubleblindmag.com/how-to-trip-sit/

https://realitysandwich.com/325410/challenging-trips/

https://www.playboy.com/read/bliss-your-heart

Extra resources:
https://zendoproject.org/training/

https://www.decriminalizenature.org/

Follow Narcotica on Facebook, Twitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more.
Tell your friends about us!


Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel 

Music: Glass Boy / Min Y Llan

Photo: Psilocybe tampanensis via Wikipedia / Edit Troy Farah

 

Episode 17: Using DMT To Contact Aliens with Andrew Gallimore

Psychedelic drugs are weird, but DMT has to be one of the weirdest. Best known as the principle psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca, this drug, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, occurs naturally in many plants and animals. Troy Farah interviews Andrew Gallimore, a computational neurobiologist, pharmacologist and DMT enthusiast, and author of the new book ‘Alien Information Theory.’ With a healthy dose of skepticism, they discuss hyperspace realms and building a machine that makes DMT trips last for hours on end.

DMT is commonly called the quote ’Spirit molecule’ because while tons of psychedelics offer spiritual insight, DMT is in a category all its own. It can allegedly transport you to another dimension, where you will be greeted by vibrating, chattering ‘machine elves,’ as Terrence McKenna commonly called them. The experience is nothing short of life-changing, yet only lasts about 15 minutes. Are they aliens, spiritual beings or just hallucinations? We’ll let you decide.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated!

Find Andrew on Twitter or http://www.buildingalienworlds.com

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy and Aaron Ferguson
Image Credit: Wikipedia / Composite by Troy Farah