Psychedelic Medicine News Stories
Below are key excerpts of inspiring news articles on psychedelic medicine from reliable news media sources. If any link fails to function, a paywall blocks full access, or the article is no longer available, try these digital tools.
Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, a research associate in the Centre for Neuropsychopharma-cology at Imperial College, is ... the first person in the UK to have legally administered doses of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to human volunteers since the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. Born in Durham 33 years ago and raised in Bournemouth, he ... is a careful and articulate speaker, but his enthusiasm for his work is evident. "We're at an early, but certainly promising, stage. It's really exciting," he says. The potential scientific benefits of psychedelics ... fall broadly into two categories. They look like being medicinally or therapeutically useful, and they offer an unconventional view of the workings of the human mind, such that the age-old, so-called "hard problem of consciousness" might be made a little easier. Uniquely potent in minute doses, and with what Carhart-Harris calls "a very favourable physiological safety profile" which is to say, it is non-toxic this newly synthesised psychedelic drug opened new doors, in more ways than one. "You could say the birth of the science of psychedelics occurred with the discovery of LSD," says Carhart-Harris. "It was only then that we started to study them systematically." Cary Grant famously used it during his therapy, as did the Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson. Between the 1950s and 1965, when Sandoz withdrew the drug, there were more than 1,000 clinical papers discussing 40,000 patients. A 2012 meta-analysis of six controlled trials from the era found its clinical efficiency for the treatment of alcohol addiction to be as effective as any treatment developed since.
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[There are many] obstacles and frustrations scientists face in trying to study the medical uses of marijuana. Dating back to 1999, the Department of Health and Human Services has indicated it does not see much potential for developing marijuana in smoked form into an approved prescription drug. In guidelines issued that year for research on medical marijuana, the agency quoted from an accompanying report that stated, If there is any future for marijuana as a medicine, it lies in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. Scientists say this position has had a chilling effect on marijuana research. Though more than one million people are thought to use the drug to treat ailments ranging from cancer to seizures to hepatitis C and chronic pain, there are few rigorous studies showing whether the drug is a fruitful treatment for those or any other conditions. A major reason is this: The federal government categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive of five groups established by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Drugs in this category including heroin, LSD, peyote and Ecstasy are considered to have no accepted medical use in the United States and a high potential for abuse, and are subject to tight restrictions on scientific study. In the case of marijuana, those restrictions are even greater than for other controlled substances. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though nearly half the states and the District of Columbia allow its medical use and two, Colorado and Washington, have legalized its recreational use.
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Psychedelic mushrooms can do more than make you see the world in kaleidoscope. Research suggests they may have permanent, positive effects on the human brain. In fact, a mind-altering compound found in some 200 species of mushroom is already being explored as a potential treatment for depression and anxiety. People who consume these mushrooms, after trips that can be a bit scary and unpleasant, report feeling more optimistic, less self-centered, and even happier for months after the fact. But why do these trips change the way people see the world? According to a study published today in Human Brain Mapping, the mushroom compounds could be unlocking brain states usually only experienced when we dream, changes in activity that could help unlock permanent shifts in perspective. The study examined brain activity in those whod received injections of psilocybin, which gives shrooms their psychedelic punch. After injections, the 15 participants were found to have increased brain function in areas associated with emotion and memory. The effect was strikingly similar to a brain in dream sleep, according to Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, a post-doctoral researcher in neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and co-author of the study. Administration of the drug just before or during sleep seemed to promote higher activity levels during Rapid Eye Movement sleep, when dreams occur. An intriguing finding, Carhart-Harris says, given that people tend to describe their experience on psychedelic drugs as being like a waking dream.
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Buried in Februarys $956 billion farm bill is an amendment ... that legally distinguishes industrial hemp from marijuana, after decades of conflation [of the two]. It defines hemp as an agricultural crop rather than a drug and effectively frees American farmers to grow it for the first time in almost 60 years. For 20 years, legislators, farmers, hippies, activists, agency heads and agronomists have worked to recast hemp as a game-changer, an American cash crop that could jump-start the country's next economic revival. Colorado, Vermont and Kentucky wasted no time launching their industrial hemp research and the pilot programs provided for in the farm bill. In an obscure notice dated April 16th, the USDA alerted state and county officials that farmers in states that [approved] hemp production (15 so far) could now include hemp acreage in their crop reports. The floodgates have opened. The current American hemp market is estimated at nearly half a billion dollars, with hemps oil, seed and fiber used in food, carbon-negative building materials, and automobile composites that are already inside millions of cars. Hemp cultivation is ... as old as the country itself. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it, hemp was once legal tender, and several drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper. During WWII, American farmers were paid to grow it, cultivating more than 150 million pounds of industrial hemp to support the American war effort.
Note: Hemp is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, which also produces marijuana. For news on mind altering substances, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The explosion of dance music culture during the late '80s and early '90s conferred fame on some unlikely people, but few were quite as unlikely as Alexander Shulgin, who died on 2 June at his home in California at the age of 88. He was nearly 70 by the time he became known as the Godfather of Ecstasy, a title that made it sound like he had invented MDMA, which he hadn't: Shulgin had only introduced the drug to west coast psychotherapists in the late 70s. But, he had created more than 200 psychoactive compounds in his home laboratory, tested them all on himself and his wife and written about them in a 1991 book titled Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved. The combination of the book, his association with ecstasy, and that drug's burgeoning popularity made him a hugely celebrated figure. Shulgin thought all drugs should be legalised, but he seemed about as far removed from the bug-eyed psychedelic proselyte of popular myth as it was possible to get. His writing was measured, calm and witty. He did not court the attention of the rave generation. If anything, he seemed faintly exasperated by the way MDMA was being used. "Go banging about with a psychedelic drug for a Saturday night turn-on, and you can get into a really bad place, psychologically," he had warned. Later he was to lament that MDMA had been "sidetracked into the Yahoo generation". None of the drugs Shulgin invented became as famous as the one he didn't. In the late '90s, there was talk that a compound called 2CB was "the new ecstasy" but it never attained the ubiquity of E. Nevertheless, Shulgin's legend was assured.
Note: To see Shulgin's fun and iconoclastic character, watch this fun four-minute video. Explore major media articles showing breakthroughs in therapy from an excellent compilation of news articles on mind altering drugs. And read the personal journey to healing of courageous CNN reporter Amber Lyon using these "medicines."
On [March 4], The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease is posting online results from the first controlled trial of LSD in more than 40 years. The study, conducted in the office of a Swiss psychiatrist near Bern, tested the effects of the drug as a complement to talk therapy for 12 people nearing the end of life. Most of the subjects had terminal cancer, and several died within a year after the trial but not before having a mental adventure that appeared to have eased the existential gloom of their last days. Their anxiety went down and stayed down, said Dr. Peter Gasser, who conducted the therapy and followed up with his patients a year after the trial concluded. The new publication marks the latest in a series of baby steps by a loose coalition of researchers and fund-raisers who are working to bring hallucinogens back into the fold of mainstream psychiatry. Before research was effectively banned in 1966 in the United States, doctors tested LSDs effect for a variety of conditions, including end-of-life anxiety. But in the past few years, psychiatrists in the United States and abroad working with state regulators as well as ethics boards have tested Ecstasy-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress; and other trials with hallucinogens are in the works. The effort is both political and scientific, said Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a foundation that has financed many of the studies. We want to break these substances out of the mold of the counterculture and bring them back to the lab.
Note: For more on mind altering drugs, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A video [that went viral] featured footage of a mid-1950s housewife on an acid trip during an LSD experiment. In the film, a researcher, Dr. Sidney Cohen, is shown interviewing, and then dosing, a volunteer at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Los Angeles. The woman, who is identified only as the wife of a hospital employee, is in her late 20s or early 30s and appears fairly typical of her time. LSD was a legal pharmaceutical drug until 1966. Journalist Don Lattin says he came across the video in the archives of philosopher Gerald Heard while researching a group biography on him, the British writer Aldous Huxley, and Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the video that Lattin posted online, [the housewife] is clearly under the influence and appears to be rather enjoying it. She says: "Everything is alive. This is reality. I wish you could see it. I wish I could talk in technicolor." "This shows that very early on in the 1950s, researchers were aware that there were possible beneficial uses, rather than military or more nefarious uses," he says. In the early 1950s and into the '60s the Army and CIA secretly funded a lot of research to see if LSD could be used as a chemical weapon or a truth serum, says Lattin. But Cohen and his ilk were pursuing a different line of study. They wanted to understand how it works, how the mind works and the connection between the psychotic state and a spiritually enlightened state." Indeed, Wilson, the AA co-founder, did a fair amount of LSD in the 50s , says Lattin. "This surprises people, but he wasn't doing it to get high," he adds. "It was to achieve that spiritual awakening."
Over the last year, I [CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta] have been working on a new documentary called "Weed." The title "Weed" may sound cavalier, but the content is not. I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning. Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot." Well, I am here to apologize. I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now. I didn't look far enough. I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have "no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse." They didn't have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.
Note: This article was authored by CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. For more on the proven benefits from many mind-altering drugs, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
$452 million: That's the value of retail products containing imported hemp that were sold in the United States in 2011. While a cousin of marijuana, the plant can't get you high. Instead, it can be used to make clothes, horse bedding, auto parts, soap and even concrete. But thanks to it being classified like all cannabis plants as a Schedule I substance - the same as heroin - the U.S. hemp crop is precisely zero. If you want to grow hemp and avoid a jail sentence, you need a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Note: Many have suspected that hemp was outlawed along with marijuana to block competition with lumber and other industries. To see a 1938 Popular Mechanics article touting hemp as the "new billion dollar crop," click here.
More than 7 million Americans suffer from PTSD, and by most estimates, only half of them -- at best -- are ever cured. A decade ago, the widely acknowledged need for better treatments opened the door to [South Carolina psychiatrist Dr. Michael] Mithoefer and his unconventional approach. By ... February 2005, the soft-spoken, ponytailed Mithoefer had managed to convince the Drug Enforcement Administration to green-light a study of Ecstasy as an adjunct to psychotherapy. He'd gotten the 3,4-methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine (MDMA) -- the chemical name for pure Ecstasy -- from Rick Doblin, the founder of a MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The group's stated purpose is to develop "medical, legal and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana." It wants to turn mind-altering drugs like Ecstasy into prescription medicine. To win broader acceptance for MDMA -- and for cousins like LSD and psilocybin, the mind-altering compound in so-called magic mushrooms -- "the medical route was the only route. Everything else was blocked." That meant a formal plan for drug development: study protocols, institutional review boards and the rest. Mithoefer, a University of Virginia-trained clinician who specializes in trauma and had a long-running interest in MDMA, was the perfect partner.
Note: To watch a CNN video clip on this showing remarkable success in treating PTSD, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on beneficial mind-altering drugs, click here.
Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it. The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and 90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes. In a paper posted online ... by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Michael and Ann Mithoefer, the husband-and-wife team offering the treatment which combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA write that they found 15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today. The Mithoefers he is a psychiatrist and she is a nurse collaborated on the study with researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The patients in this group included mostly rape victims, and experts familiar with the work cautioned that it was preliminary, based on small numbers, and its applicability to war trauma entirely unknown.
Note: For the paper on this remarkable study published published online in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on beneficial mind-altering drugs, click here.
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 marijuanas 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 centers 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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Until recently, prescribing Ecstasy, mescaline or magic mushrooms has been a guaranteed way for a psychiatrist to lose his research funding, his job or even his liberty. But now, scientists are beginning to suspect that such illegal drugs may be the key to treating a range of intractable illnesses, from post-traumatic stress disorder to depression. These chemicals [include] the psychedelic drugs psilocybin, derived from magic mushrooms, and LSD, as well as Ecstasy. A series of studies performed in Britain and the US is beginning to tease out their potential benefits. People become very emotionally tender on Ecstasy, which makes you more responsive to psychotherapy, explains Dr Robin Carhart-Harris. [In] volunteers given the ... drug, the area of their brain involved in positive memories became more active, while another processing negative memories was damped down. We think this would make it easier for patients to revisit a traumatic memory and overwrite or control it, says Carhart-Harris. Earlier studies have made surprising discoveries about what psilocybin, a class-A drug in Britain, was doing in the brain. These in turn could lead to new treatments for depression and agonising cluster headaches. This may all sound radical, or even dangerous yet half a century ago, research into the effects of psychedelic drugs was widespread and respectable. More than 1,000 papers were published looking at ways that psychiatrists could help patients with hallucinogenic chemicals.
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Mounting evidence shows cannabinoids in marijuana slow cancer growth, inhibit formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor, and help manage pain, fatigue, nausea, and other side effects. Peer-reviewed studies in several countries ... show that THC and other marijuana-derived compounds, known as cannabinoids, are effective not only for cancer-symptom management (nausea, pain, loss of appetite, fatigue), they also confer a direct antitumoral effect. A team of Spanish scientists led by Manuel Guzman conducted the first clinical trial assessing the antitumoral action of THC on human beings. THC treatment was associated with significantly reduced tumor cell proliferation in every test subject. Harvard University scientists reported that THC slows tumor growth in common lung cancer and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread. Whats more ... THC selectively targets and destroys tumor cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed. Conventional chemotherapy drugs, by contrast, are highly toxic; they indiscriminately damage the brain and body. There is mounting evidence ... that cannabinoids represent a new class of anticancer drugs that retard cancer growth, inhibit angiogenesis [the formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor] and the metastatic spreading of cancer cells. Within the medical science community, the discovery that cannabinoids have anti-tumoral properties is increasingly recognized as a seminal advancement in cancer therapeutics.
Note: Yet treatment with cannabinoids continues to be largely illegal in the US. For an informative 15-minute documentary on the health benefits of juicing raw cannabis, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on promising cancer-cure research, click here.
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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Three and a half years ago, on my 62nd birthday, doctors discovered a mass on my pancreas. It turned out to be Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. I was told I would be dead in four to six months. Today I am in that rare coterie of people who have survived this long with the disease. But I did not foresee that after having dedicated myself for 40 years to a life of the law, including more than two decades as a New York State judge, my quest for ameliorative and palliative care would lead me to marijuana. My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery. Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep. The oral synthetic substitute, Marinol, prescribed by my doctors, was useless. Rather than watch the agony of my suffering, friends have chosen, at some personal risk, to provide the substance. I find a few puffs of marijuana before dinner gives me ammunition in the battle to eat. A few more puffs at bedtime permits desperately needed sleep. This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy.
Note: The author is Gustin L. Reichbach, who is a justice of the New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. For lots more from reliable sources on the benefits of many mind-altering drugs, click here.
Since the 1960s a disparate group of scientists and former drug addicts have been advocating a radical treatment for addiction - a hallucinogen called ibogaine, derived from an African plant, that in some cases seems to obliterate withdrawal symptoms from heroin, cocaine and alcohol. So why isn't it widely used? The drug, derived from the root of a central African plant called iboga, had been used for centuries by the Bwiti people of Gabon and Cameroon, as part of a tribal initiation ceremony. But it wasn't until 1962, when a young heroin addict called Howard Lotsof stumbled upon ibogaine, that its value as an addiction treatment was uncovered. Lotsof took it to get high but when the hallucinogenic effects wore off, he realised he no longer had the compulsion to take heroin. He became convinced that he had found the solution to addiction and dedicated much of his life to promoting ibogaine as a treatment. Ibogaine affects the brain in two distinct ways. The first is metabolic. It creates a protein that blocks receptors in the brain that trigger cravings, stopping the symptoms of withdrawal. With normal detox this process can take months. Its second effect is much less understood. It seems to inspire a dream-like state that is intensely introspective, allowing addicts to address issues in their life that they use alcohol or drugs to suppress.
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Recent studies at Harvard, U.C.L.A. [and] John Hopkins have now made it plain that doctors should [soon] be free to offer illicit drugs to patients who are terminally ill, in order to ease their emotional suffering. At Harvard, Dr. John Halpern ... tested MDMA (the street drug Ecstasy) to determine if it would ease the anxieties in two patients with terminal cancer. At U.C.L.A. and Hopkins, Drs. Charles Grob and Roland Griffiths used psilocybin (the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms) to help cancer patients past their paralyzing, debilitating fears. The results are reportedly consistently good. In many cases, patients are able to cope with their physical pain and psychological turmoil better than before. Some, no doubt, feel the drugs opened doors of perception previously closed to them, allowing them to make peace with their lives and the impending end of their lives. Recent data also show that low doses of the street drug Special K (ketamine), when slowly infused via IV, can instantly [relieve] major depression ... in many patients. And opiates like oxycodone ... are also extremely useful for those patients who ... suffer with unwieldy anxiety that cannot be addressed ... in any other way.
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Charles Grob [is] a psychiatrist and researcher at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center who [has administered] psilocybin an active component of magic mushrooms to end-stage cancer patients to see if it could reduce their fear of death. When the research was completed in 2008 ... the results showed that administering psilocybin to terminally ill subjects could be done safely while reducing the subjects anxiety and depression about their impending deaths. Grobs interest in the power of psychedelics to mitigate mortalitys sting is not just the obsession of one lone researcher. Dr. John Halpern, head of the Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Belmont Mass., a psychiatric training hospital for Harvard Medical School, used MDMA also known as ecstasy in an effort to ease end-of-life anxieties in two patients with Stage 4 cancer. And there are two ongoing studies using psilocybin with terminal patients, one at New York Universitys medical school, led by Stephen Ross, and another at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where Roland Griffiths has administered psilocybin to 22 cancer patients and is aiming for a sample size of 44. This research is in its very early stages, Grob told me earlier this month, but were getting consistently good results. Grob and his colleagues are part of a resurgence of scientific interest in the healing power of psychedelics.
Note: For fascinating reports from major media sources on the beneficial uses of psychedelics, click here.
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."
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