Mind-Altering Drugs News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Mind-Altering Drugs News Articles in Media
Edward Maa did not plan to become a marijuana researcher. But a few years ago, when the neurologist and epilepsy specialist surveyed his patients about their use of alternative medicines, he discovered that more than a third had turned to marijuana to try to control their seizures. According to the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado, the widely reported case of Charlotte Figi, a child whose nearly constant seizures were dramatically curtailed with cannabidiol, a marijuana ingredient, has helped trigger an influx of families from around the U.S. [into Colorado] seeking similar treatment for their children with seizure disorders. Maa wants to move beyond anecdote and into data. He is monitoring 150 epilepsy patients who all take a product derived from the same strain of marijuana that Figi used, provided by the same source. Although the federal government still lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, a class “with no currently accepted medical use,” a body of recent research suggests that cannabinoids, which are the active ingredients in marijuana, may have medicinal uses even beyond the approved ones. They might protect the brain from the effects of trauma, ease the spasms of multiple sclerosis and reduce epileptic seizures. Further preliminary work indicates that the chemicals may slow the growth of tumors and reduce brain damage in Alzheimer's disease. Before World War II, marijuana was listed as a medicine in the country's encyclopedia of drugs, the United States Pharmacopeia.
Note: Read a summary of a CNN News story that describes how marijuana helped stem the seizures of 6 year old Jayden. Colorado has become the first U.S. state to directly fund medical marijuana research.
Colorado will spend more than $8 million researching marijuana's medical potential. The grants awarded by the Colorado Board of Health will go to studies on whether marijuana helps treat epilepsy, brain tumors, Parkinson's disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of the studies still need federal approval. Though the awards are relatively small, researchers say they're a big step forward. While several other federal studies currently in the works look at marijuana's health effects, all the Colorado studies are focused on whether marijuana actually helps. "This is the first time we've had government money to look at the efficacy of marijuana, not the harms of marijuana," said Dr. Suzanne Sisley, a Scottsdale, Arizona, psychiatrist who will help run a study on marijuana for veterans with PTSD. Federal approval to study marijuana's medical potential requires permission of the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and either the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Health and Human Services. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., allow marijuana use by people with various medical conditions. But under federal law, pot is considered a drug with no medical use and doctors cannot prescribe it. Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado's Chief Medical Officer, says the lack of research on marijuana's medical value leaves sick people guessing about how pot may help them and what doses to take.
Note: For more on the proven benefits from many mind-altering drugs, see these deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources.
'Absurd' laws dealing with magic mushrooms, ecstasy and cannabis are hindering medical research, according to a former government drugs adviser. Prof David Nutt says he has funding to research the use of the chemical psilocybin - found in fungi known as "magic mushrooms" to treat depression. But he says "insane" regulations mean he cannot get hold of the drug. The Home Office said there was "no evidence" that regulations were a barrier to research. It is not the first time Prof Nutt has been at odds with government policy. He was sacked as an adviser over views that ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol. Earlier research at Imperial College London showed that injections of psilocybin could calm a region of the brain which is overactive in depression. The UK's Medical Research Council has given the lab a Ł550,000 grant to test the idea - in 30 patients who have not responded to at least two other therapies. They have also been given ethical approval. However, there are more stringent regulations for testing the drug as a treatment than in earlier experiments. As a potential medicine it must meet Good Manufacturing Practice requirements set out by the EU. "It hasn't started yet because the big problem is getting hold of the drug," said Prof Nutt. He said finding a company to provide a clinical-grade psilocybin had "yet proved impossible" as none was prepared to "go through the regulatory hoops". He told the BBC: "We have regulations which are 50 years old, have never been reviewed and they are holding us back, they're stopping us doing the science and I think it's a disgrace actually."
Note: Watch an informative three-minute BBC news clip of an interview with Prof. Nutt. Another good five-minute BBC interview is available here. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources. See also the website of MAPS, and excellent organization supporting scientific study of the healing powers of these drugs.
Research into ... Schedule I drugs like MDMA (ecstasy), LSD and magic mushrooms ... requires not only a high level of security, but also that the institutions involved buy a licence costing several thousand pounds not required for researching other drugs. Paradoxically, the other schedules include more harmful substances such as heroin. Funders often shy away from such research because of the red tape, associated higher costs, and the perception that it is possible to be stigmatised for supporting such work. Research into a Schedule I drug like MDMA has potential both to help our understanding of how drugs affect the brain, and provide those who take them with better harm-reduction information. It also helps us understand how we can make drugs work normally, advancing our treatment of brain disorders. Some Schedule I drugs have huge potential for serious conditions where treatment is currently inadequate, including addiction and depression. Frustratingly, almost no research has been carried out since current regulations came into force in 1971. And the situation is about to get worse; the government's new temporary drug control orders ... automatically puts new substances under Schedule I for the year that they are controlled. The likelihood of the drug then being downgraded is very remote, given that research will be practically impossible, especially within the year's timeframe.
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Traditional antidepressants like Prozac work on a group of chemical messengers in the brain called the serotonin system. Researchers once thought that a lack of serotonin was the cause of depression, and that these drugs worked simply by boosting serotonin levels. Recent research suggests a more complicated explanation. Serotonin drugs work by stimulating the birth of new neurons, which eventually form new connections in the brain. Ketamine, in contrast, activates a different chemical system in the brain – the glutamate system. Researcher Ron Duman at Yale thinks ketamine rapidly increases the communication among existing neurons by creating new connections. This is a quicker process than waiting for new neurons to form and accomplishes the same goal of enhancing brain circuit activity. Ketamine has been used for decades as an anesthetic. It also has become a wildly popular but illegal club drug known as "Special K." Mental health researchers got interested in ketamine because of reports that it could make depression vanish almost instantly. Carlos Zarate ... does ketamine research at the NIH. Zarate says patients typically say, "'I feel that something's lifted or feel that I've never been depressed in my life. I feel I can work. I feel I can contribute to society.' And it was a different experience from feeling high. This was feeling that something has been removed."
Note: For many inspiring potential treatment breakthroughs in health issues, click here.
Scientists are exploring the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD to treat a range of ailments from depression to cluster headaches and obsessive compulsive disorder. The first clinical trial using LSD since the 1970s began in Switzerland in June. It aims to use "psychedelic psychotherapy" to help patients with terminal illnesses come to terms with their imminent mortality and so improve their quality of life. Another psychedelic substance, psilocybin, has shown promising results in trials for treating symptoms of terminal cancer patients. In the Swiss trial eight subjects will receive a dose of 200 microgrammes of LSD. This is enough to induce a powerful psychedelic experience. A further four subjects will receive a dose of 20 microgrammes. Every participant will know they have received some LSD, but neither the subjects nor the researchers observing them will know for certain who received the full dose. During the course of therapy researchers will assess the patients' anxiety levels, quality of life and pain levels. Before hallucinogenic drugs became popular with the counter culture, they were at the forefront of brain science. They were used to help scientists understand the nature of consciousness and how the brain works and as treatments for a range of conditions. Dr Rick Doblin is president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in California, a nonprofit organisation which funds clinical studies into psychedelic drugs, including the Swiss LSD trial. "These drugs, these experiences are not for the mystic who wants to sit on the mountain top and meditate. They are not for the counter-culture rebel. They are for everybody," he said.
Albert Hofmann, the mystical Swiss chemist who gave the world LSD, the most powerful psychotropic substance known, died ... at his hilltop home near Basel, Switzerland. He was 102. Dr. Hofmann first synthesized the compound lysergic acid diethylamide in 1938 but did not discover its psychopharmacological effects until five years later, when he accidentally ingested the substance that became known to the 1960s counterculture as acid. More important to him than the pleasures of the psychedelic experience was the drug’s value as a revelatory aid for contemplating and understanding what he saw as humanity’s oneness with nature. He earned his Ph.D. ... in 1929, when he was just 23. It was during his work on the ergot fungus, which grows in rye kernels, that he stumbled on LSD, accidentally ingesting a trace of the compound one ... afternoon in April 1943. Dr. Hofmann’s work produced other important drugs, including methergine, used to treat postpartum hemorrhaging, the leading cause of death from childbirth. But it was LSD that shaped both his career and his spiritual quest. “Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom,” Dr. Hofmann told the psychiatrist Stanislav Grof during an interview in 1984. “I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us.” Dr. Hofmann became an impassioned advocate for the environment and argued that LSD, besides being a valuable tool for psychiatry, could be used to awaken a deeper awareness of mankind’s place in nature and help curb society’s ultimately self-destructive degradation of the natural world.
Massachusetts voters in 2˝ weeks will consider becoming the 18th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Individual doctors and patient advocacy groups, including the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts and the state chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, have endorsed the ballot question, saying marijuana can help patients and is available now. To study marijuana, researchers must be licensed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration and get access to marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi, which contracts with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to produce the only federally sanctioned supply. That process can prove onerous, if not impossible, acting as a deterrent for those who might want to study marijuana’s benefits, some researchers said. In 2000, the University of California created the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, with $9 million from the state. Dr. Igor Grant, the center’s director, ... and colleagues have completed the most comprehensive research to date of the effects of marijuana in patients, including studies that were randomized and double-blind, gold standards in research. Four studies found the drug to be useful in treating pain. Three were in patients with HIV who had pain resulting from damage to their nervous system. Another study found that marijuana reduced muscle stiffness in patients with multiple sclerosis.
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