On the Use of Psychedelics for Psychiatry

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We tend to associate psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary and rock music, but there's an emerging evidence-based movement to (re)incorporate them into psychiatric practice. Science blogger Vaughan Bell describes his own experience and the science of ayahuasca.

Psychedelic drugs, mental health and brain science have traditionally made for a heated combination, but a recent scientific article, published in September's Nature Reviews Neuroscience, has attempted to more coolly assess the growing research on the potential of hallucinogens to treat depression and anxiety.

Lab studies and medical trials form a small but robust body of knowledge that reveal reliable benefits and promising future avenues. The dissociative anaesthetic ketamine has been found to lift mood - even in cases of severe of depression - while psilocybin, present across the world in mushrooms and fungi, has been shown to have anxiety reducing properties.

But while no serious bad reactions have happened during the trials, the full range of potential risks is still not fully understood, meaning the treatments remain firmly in the lab.

Read the full story at Mind Hacks.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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