The Mayan Day | International | Astrid Sanchez

Although in the United States since the 1980s the use of psychedelic drugs has been demonized and criminalized, some scientists have begun to discover the benefits of their controlled consumption for mental health.

Researchers from the Wu Tsai Institute of Neurosciences in Stanford, in California, have begun the first clinical trials to verify the efficacy of drugs such as MDMA or ketamine in treating post-traumatic stress or clinical depression, and the results have been positive.

These studies suggest that MDMA—colloquially known as ecstasy—helps patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to confront conflicting memories. Ketamine has been effective in reducing suicidal thoughts, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviors, and clinical depression, while psilocybin—present in hallucinogenic mushrooms—also helps with intractable depression.

Related note: ‘Magic’ mushrooms, an aid against depression and anxiety

However, according to information from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), scientists are still looking for ways to use these substances therapeutically, especially to avoid addiction and excessive consumption.

To do this, scientists analyze the mechanisms behind these drugs so that they are functional as a medical treatment. That is, what they seek is to decipher which substances work for certain disorders and rule out those that are not useful.

Psychedelic therapy takes place in several sessions and the process consists of consuming the drug accompanied by music and sunglasses. The patient waits for the psychedelic substance to act on his brain while the therapist records the changes.

Being a treatment that requires the intervention of neuroscientists, psychiatrists and a multidisciplinary team, it is, at the moment, an expensive option and difficult to expand.

However, the scientists point out that if psychedelic therapy materializes, it could be a therapeutic process that would even reduce the consumption of drugs that usually have side effects.

Keep reading: Canada approves psychedelic drugs to treat mental health

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