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Is Cannabis a Psychedelic?

Is cannabis a psychedelic?

While psychoactive substances like psilocybin and MDMA have taken the spotlight as frontrunners in psychedelic-assisted therapy, the growing impact of cannabis in combating treatment-resistant trauma is becoming undeniable.

Despite Western science largely overlooking the psychedelic potential of cannabis, recent insights from a literature review in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggest that high doses of THC may indeed induce psychedelic effects.

However, the ongoing industry discourse begs the question: Is cannabis truly a psychedelic?

Is cannabis a psychedelic? Cannabis could be key in cracking open dissociation.

Cannabis in Cracking Open Dissociation

Have you ever embarked on a psychedelic experience, anxiously anticipating the arrival of breathing objects and fractal patterns, only to find your visual reality unchanged? Cannabis could be key to unlocking the desired psychedelic effect.

According to psychotherapist and MAPS phase 2 clinical investigator,  Saj Razvi, this phenomenon of lackluster psychedelic experiences could be directly attributed to “dissociation.”

“Generally, mental health is not very good at realizing dissociation — tracking it, working with it,” said Razvi, founder and director of education at the Psychedelic Somatic Institute. “A major component of what we call ‘treatment resistance’ is dissociation.”

In the case of those who don’t feel the anticipated effects of a psychedelic, it’s likely the substance is butting up against dissociation within an individual’s system, thereby suppressing the psychedelic experience.

“This means that we’re secreting endogenous opioids to physically, emotionally, and psychologically numb us out,” he told Psychedelics Today.

Enter cannabis. The plant, Razvi says, seems to work with dissociation faster than any other medicine he has encountered.

Razvi’s clinical work conducted in Amsterdam sheds further light on the role of cannabis in addressing non-responsiveness to classical psychedelics like psilocybin. A percentage of individuals showed no significant response to psilocybin, reporting only subtle perceptual shifts (if anything at all). During their rest period, before their next psilocybin session, Razvi offered participants the opportunity to explore cannabis.

“What we observed was that individuals who were non-responders to psilocybin exhibited a response to cannabis, and what the cannabis targeted was their dissociation.”

Remarkably, after three sessions of cannabis work, participants experienced such a reduction in dissociation that their subsequent psilocybin experiences were drastically different.

“Cannabis is one of the most grossly underestimated and misunderstood medicines in the psychedelic medicine cabinet,’” Micah Stover, a somatic psychedelic therapist trained under Razvi’s PSIP model, told Psychedelics Today. 

“When we talk about psychedelic therapy, we emphasize the importance of set and setting. If we’re not in an optimal set and setting, we often fail to consider it as such. However, when we use (cannabis) within that context, our experience can be wildly impactful,” Stover said.

Is Cannabis Truly Psychedelic? Definitions Matter


But the question remains: despite the potential for cannabis to assist in sparking psychedelic experiences with classic entheogens, is it truly a psychedelic itself?

The recent Journal of Psychopharmacology review concluded that the dosage, set, and settings used within cannabis trials conducted so far may not have been conducive to eliciting psychedelic-like experiences, indicating a need for further research.

On the other hand, evidence has indicated that high doses of THC can lead to mystical-type experiences, one of the key clinical features of classical psychedelics.

According to Razvi, the answer to the question all depends on how you define “psychedelic.”

“In my definition of it, yes. It’s taking us to primary consciousness, it’s giving us a different experience of primary consciousness than classic psychedelics, but it is a psychedelic in that it really shifts where we’re operating from.”

So, what sets cannabis apart from other psychoactive substances and how do its effects on the mind and body differ?

With classic tryptamines, transpersonal experiences are typically felt, like “unity consciousness, and existential reconciliation,” Razvi said. Unlike tryptamines, MDMA and cannabis typically do not induce the same level of transpersonal consciousness.

“Both of those medicines (MDMA and cannabis) are so useful for working with trauma because they’re not transpersonal in nature. They’re very personal, they don’t challenge the fundamental you,” he said. 

Another trait that MDMA and cannabis share with psychedelics is their ability to heighten body awareness and pre-sensate experiences.

“With that sensate reality of our bodies, people notice things at very detailed levels that they don’t normally notice at all,” Razvi told Psychedelics Today.

Another notable ability of cannabis, he says, is how it disrupts executive function. 

“Your capacity to tell a story, your mind’s ability to work in any kind of normal way gets thoroughly disrupted by cannabis. I think it’s one of the reasons why cannabis is so distrusted in mental health — we can’t do traditional talk therapy on it.”

Not only is it helpful to incorporate somatic modalities in cannabis work, it’s necessary, Razvi says. The gift of cannabis is, “it places us in the arena where somatic therapies work.” 

Using cannabis as a psychedelic could open doors to transpersonal states.

Opening Doors to Transpersonal States

Could cannabis then be a valuable entry point to non-ordinary, psychedelic states? Razvi suggests it’s a good idea to reclaim the foundation of your physical being first.

“If your nervous system exists in a state of compromise, meaning there’s a lot of dissociation in your system, you can do transpersonal work, but you’re doing it from a position of a compromised foundation.”

He suggests that individuals dealing with pre-personal biological levels of trauma and compromise in their system may find resolution for those layers working with less transpersonal medicines, such as cannabis and MDMA. 

“Ideally, resolve that layer, then move on to more transpersonal experiences,” he says.

“Something I have observed in clients is how they assimilate new ideas and upgrade their belief systems following a psilocybin experience, which can be beneficial as their old beliefs might have become ineffective,” Stover added.

“However, there’s often a disconnect between their newfound ideas and their physical bodies. So, body and spirit are in different places and this is why somatic work is so hugely important. Cannabis can be a powerful ally — when facilitated in the right process — to sync body and mind.”

The Ritual Use of Cannabis

Turning toward the wisdom of communities who have integrated cannabis within their cultural frameworks: for a rural community in Catalonia called Wonderland (or País de las Maravillas), cannabis has long been woven into ritual contexts.

Research on the ritualistic use of cannabis concluded that the rituals “can even generate beneficial effects for the individual as well as the community by strengthening bonds between community members,” and, “are seen as spiritual or religious practices, as well as forms of self-care and community-care, rather than involving drug dependence or addiction.”

Ultimately, whether within communal or scientific settings, context matters and, much like a classical psychedelic, the outcome of cannabis experiences is highly dependent on the nature in which they are consumed.

Just like psychedelics, the cannabis relationship is important.

Healing Experiences Within a Relational Context

“People should not walk away thinking that if they smoke cannabis, they are going to have deeply restorative psychedelic experiences for their nervous system and trauma,” Stover cautions.

If individuals plan to consume cannabis as part of a ritual or ceremony – just like psychedelics – the relationship matters.

“Arguably, I think that’s true to some degree with all (substances), but certainly, if we’re going to try to leverage cannabis as a healing agent in this way,” she said. 

“I think this is where the gold is, right?” Razvi added. “I think we’re missing out on major therapeutic opportunities when we’re doing more non-relational, sitter models. Human relational wounding requires human relational work.”

Continuing the debate, is cannabis a psychedelic? It appears it would depend on who you ask.

However, whether the psychedelic community chooses to label cannabis a psychedelic, its significance as a valuable therapeutic medicine is undeniable.

One thing remains certain: the true healing power of mind-altering substances comes down to who, what, where, and why we are taking them. In that respect, cannabis has definitely earned a seat at the table.


Eager to learn more about the role of cannabis in ceremony and for personal growth? Consider joining us at U.S. retreats through 2024, where we will explore the healing potential of cannabis, breathwork, and community.

April 28 – May 3, 2024: Psychedelic Cannabis + Transpersonal Breathwork Retreat at Holistic TherapeutiX Center (Agoura Hills, California)

Oct. 20 – 25, 2024: Psychedelic Cannabis + Transpersonal Breathwork Retreat at Holistic TherapeutiX Center (Agoura Hills, California)


The Practitioner’s Guide to Psychedelic Integration Therapy

Psychedelics on their own can’t save people from chronic depression. Therapists alone can’t do it either. However, entheogens can spark the journey toward wholeness, and skilled psychedelic integration therapy can illuminate the path forward.

How is this made possible? The key is to align modern clinical interventions with the transformative experiences psychedelic substances elicit. And to view psychedelic integration therapy through a holistic lens that addresses the interconnectedness of existence.

What is Psychedelic Integration Therapy?

Indigenous communities worldwide have been integrating psychedelic experiences through diets, prayer, song, and communal gatherings for hundreds – and maybe even thousands – of years. However, structured psychedelic integration therapy is a novel practice that Western clinicians are experimenting with in real time. Loosely defined, psychedelic integration therapy is the diverse process where practitioners support patients in their pursuit to transform non-ordinary experiences into positive, lasting change. 

Patients need this support because psychedelics themselves do not cure depression, contrary to conspicuous headlines. More often than not, high-dose psilocybin, ayahuasca, and LSD journeys shine a light on the areas where people are stuck, and shift the brain’s normal functioning in such a way that they can see a road out.

Psychedelic consumption then opens a brief window of neuroplasticity where patients can reframe past traumas and develop new, healthy habits. This period of heightened cognitive flexibility allows therapists to assist clients in harnessing their experiences for enduring transformations, whether simple or challenging. 

Integration therapy’s primary goal is to maximize the benefits of uplifting journeys and minimize harm in distressing journeys.

  • Maximize Benefits: Patients who intentionally consume psychedelics with an open mindset in a safe environment (set and setting) typically have awe-inspiring experiences that radically shift their perspectives. Many people experience an “afterglow” in the days, weeks, and months following. But psychedelic experiences can still become a distant memory, and depression symptoms can reoccur. So, psychedelic integration therapy seeks to engrain the lessons in the patient’s psyche for a lifetime ahead.

  • Minimize Harm: Psychedelics are non-specific amplifiers, which means they intensify thoughts, feelings, and perceptions in unpredictable ways that are highly individual. For some people, the experience is uncomfortable and even re-traumatizing, causing adverse psychological symptoms afterward. In these scenarios, integration therapy’s first goal is to relieve the patient’s distress and prevent long-term damage. Subsequently, therapists can try to help patients reframe their negative perceptions and find nuggets of insight that guide productive exploration.

Key Aspects of Integration

Psychedelic integration encompasses several steps that can vary from one practitioner to the next. However, research indicates the process universally falls into two core subdomains: reflection and application.

The reflection subdomain involves the internal process of contemplating and making sense of the psychedelic experience. It is a period of introspection where clients examine the symbolic, emotional, psychological, and spiritual content. Through reflection, clients connect aspects of their experience with their lives, deriving meaning and understanding from what they have encountered. 

The application subdomain pertains to external actions that incorporate psychedelic insights and lessons into daily life. Application involves changing behavior, lifestyle, and relationships based on newfound understanding and awareness. This can include adopting healthier habits, altering one’s approach to interpersonal relationships, or making career or personal life changes that align more closely with one’s values and aspirations. 

According to the findings, reflection and application hold the same significance for integrating psychedelic experiences as set and setting do for ensuring those experiences are positive.Discover the eight steps of integration in the Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Wellness Practitioners course.

Psychotherapeutic Integration Models

Psychedelic integration does not necessarily require therapeutic intervention. However, clinical psychedelic therapy trials employ models like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and the Accept, Connect, Embody Model (ACE). Many also incorporate mindfulness practices and Internal Family Systems (IFS) to support effective integration. All modalities focus on flexibility, awareness, internal harmony, and channeling unconscious processes into conscious understanding.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

A 2020 psilocybin-assisted therapy paper proposed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for integration due to its efficacy in treating depression and for its alignment with psychedelic experiences. 

ACT synergizes with psilocybin therapy because both emphasize psychological flexibility and living a conscious life rather than symptom reduction. ACT utilizes six central tenets of psychological flexibility: present-moment focus, acceptance, self-as-context, cognitive defusion, valued direction, and committed action. Psilocybin therapy enhances these processes by facilitating present-moment awareness, surrendering to experiences, fostering ego dissolution, exploring values, and providing a window of opportunity for behavior change during the afterglow period.

As the integration process begins, the ACT frame suggests that therapists patiently listen to clients share their experiences without immediately applying therapeutic techniques. Gradually, therapists identify and draw parallels between the client’s experiences and ACT principles.

Through tools like the Valued Living Questionnaire, clients clarify their values and consider how their lives align with or diverge from them. Using the ACT Matrix, participants plan specific actions to live more by their values, guided by insights from their psychedelic experiences. Follow-up sessions assess changes in psychological flexibility and reinforce ACT concepts, ensuring participants can apply their insights and maintain behavioral changes.

Accept, Connect, Embody Model

The Accept, Connect, Embody Model (ACE) follows a similar structure to ACT but with an intuitive shift.

Dr. Rosalind Watts and Dr. Jason Luoma introduced ACE for integrating psychedelic experiences into therapeutic practice. It is based on clinical experience and data from psilocybin trials, which highlight acceptance and connection as critical components of positive therapeutic outcomes. 

The ACE model utilizes ACT’s six processes of psychological flexibility but reorganizes them into an acceptance triad (defusion, present moment focus, willingness) and a connection triad (self as context, values, committed action). It emphasizes the importance of accepting challenging experiences, connecting to positive aspects, and deeply embodying these experiences through somatic engagement.

ACE helps prepare clients for psychedelics and integrates their experiences afterward in three stages. 

Stage One: Pulling Together the Narrative
Patients share their psychedelic experiences freely while therapists facilitate understanding and validation, fostering trust for a deeper exploration.

Stage Two: Distilling Key Insights
Therapists help patients identify vital lessons from their experiences, linking these insights to personal values and life goals in a structured reflection process.

Stage Three: Supporting Behavior Change
In this proactive phase, therapists guide patients in applying their psychedelic insights to concrete actions, supporting them in navigating challenges and changes.

Mindfulness-Based Interventions

Mindfulness-based interventions are less established than ACE and ACT in psychedelic trials. However, they play a role in nearly all integration frameworks, offering synergies that scientists suggest can inform clinical practice. 

Mindfulness refers to deliberately paying attention to the present moment with curiosity and without judgment. Therapeutic frameworks include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

The synergy between mindfulness and psychedelics lies in their common effects and the unique ways they complement each other in therapeutic settings. Both can increase awareness, interconnectedness, and alterations in the brain’s default mode network

Researchers use the compass and vehicle metaphor to describe the synergy:

“… the Compass of psychedelics may serve to initiate, motivate, and steer the course of mindfulness practice; conversely, the Vehicle of mindfulness may serve to integrate, deepen, generalize, and maintain the novel perspectives and motivation instigated by psychedelics.”

Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is another therapeutic model gaining traction in psychedelic therapy. The approach offers a non-pathologizing, systems-oriented lens for integrating psychedelic experiences. 

Internal Family Systems (IFS) operates on the premise that the mind is naturally multiple and that each person has a core self surrounded by various parts with distinct roles, feelings, and perspectives. According to Nancy L. Morgan, MS, PhD., IFS is particularly effective for psychedelic integration because it acknowledges the complexity and multiplicity of the psyche, mirroring the often multifaceted nature of psychedelic journeys.

For integration therapy, IFS facilitates a process where clients learn to recognize and understand their parts, especially those activated or revealed during a psychedelic experience. The core self is seen as inherently possessing compassion, curiosity, calm, clarity, courage, connectedness, confidence, and creativity. Therapists guide clients to embody these qualities, enabling them to engage with their parts in a healing and constructive manner.

By applying the IFS model to psychedelic integration, therapists provide a structured yet flexible framework that honors the client’s internal diversity.

Psychotherapeutic Limitations

Clinical data and academic inquiry provide useful psychedelic integration theories. However, research doesn’t empirically endorse any single protocol. Additionally, centuries of Indigenous psychedelic use indicate integration is not merely a psychoanalytical, behavioral, or even somatic approach to fixing a specific problem.

A more inclusive view of psychedelic integration reveals that the process can be a way of life. Integration doesn’t occur in distinct phases in Indigenous cultures. It happens through ongoing community rituals to foster harmony and alignment.

Integration, then, is about more than processing the psychedelic experience or overcoming specific difficulties, even if the experience might catalyze healing. It is about bringing peace to one’s whole existence, including physiological, spiritual, and social.

In certain cultures, integration practices encompass shamanic rituals, hypnosis, drumming, and chanting. In the West, they might look like walks in nature, dream journaling, volunteering, asking for help, and gratitude work. 

Regardless of the cultural context, one aspect is clear: integration requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond the therapeutic alliance.

The Synthesized Integration Model

To address the need for a comprehensive psychedelic integration framework, researchers developed the Synthesized Model of Integration. The model draws from holistic, Indigenous, and psychotherapeutic approaches to create a more balanced definition.

This model incorporates six interconnected domains of existence: mind/cognitive/emotional, bodily/somatic, spiritual/existential, natural world, relational/communal, and lifestyle/action. It suggests a balanced approach to integration, where an individual actively engages in practices across these domains to incorporate insights from their psychedelic experiences.

Holistic practices include engaging with nature, joining supportive communities, working with seasoned psychedelic guides, personal contemplation, and physical and spiritual practices — all of which extend beyond the boundaries of integration therapy sessions.

6 Psychedelic Integration Truths Every Practitioner Must Know

Western practitioners who seek to dive into the vast waters of psychedelic integration therapy must absorb an enormous swath of knowledge distilled into six simple truths.

1. Therapists need psychedelic knowledge and meta-skills: Practical integration guidelines indicate that psychedelic therapists must understand psychedelic effects, practice empathy, foster self-awareness, uphold ethics and master complementary techniques. Courses like Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Wellness Practitioners are great places to start, providing psychedelic history, harm reduction, clinical applications, and space-holding skills for healers of all experience levels.

2. Integration is a patient-led experience: The American Psychedelic Practitioner’s Association highlights integration as a process primarily directed by the patient. This approach respects the patient’s autonomy and unique process of making sense of their psychedelic experiences. Therapists facilitate this approach by offering support, resources, and guidance rather than directing it.

3. Patients may not have concrete goals: Practitioners must be comfortable navigating the therapeutic process without concrete goals, acknowledging that the nature of psychedelic experiences and their integration can be fluid and evolving. This flexibility allows for a more organic and meaningful therapeutic journey.

4. Integration is a lifelong practice: Clinical trials may be finite, but psychedelic integration does not have a tangible limit. Therapists must acknowledge that integration is not a one-time event but a continuous process of incorporating insights and changes into one’s life.

5. Success is undefined, but tools exist to help gauge it: Psychedelic integration success is not strictly defined. However, emerging tools, like the Integration Engagement Scale (IES) and the Experienced Integration Scale (EIS), can help therapists evaluate patient progress. Clinicians and clients can use these scales to measure psychological well-being, life satisfaction changes, and specific symptomatology reductions to assess the impact of integration efforts and make changes as necessary.

6. Meaning-making is not confined to therapy settings: The process of constructing meaning from psychedelic experiences extends beyond the therapy room. It involves engaging in activities that reinforce and deepen the insights gained, such as journaling, meditation, and artistic expression. Therapists must encourage clients to engage in these diverse practices.

The Bottom Line

Successful integration is a patient-led, lifelong practice harnessing therapeutic techniques while extending beyond clinical sessions. With intelligent, compassionate integration therapy, psychedelic explorers can resolve mental health concerns while moving toward greater balance in every aspect of life. 

Enhance your professional toolkit with ‘Navigating Psychedelics For Clinicians and Wellness Practitioners‘ from Psychedelics Today.

New Report: The Emerging Psychedelic Workforce

The most culturally significant shift around psychedelics since the 1960s is currently underway. As promising research emerges, societal attitudes shift, and governments around the globe reform drug legislation, psychedelics are poised to radically change healthcare and wellness – forever.

In recent years, many individuals have chosen to pursue a new career – or adapt a current career or practice – to include psychedelics in some form. Specialized training programs like Vital are preparing professionals to enter or enrich the workforce with psychedelic awareness, and support the healing of the world in a time of an unprecedented global mental health crisis.

And as the world watches, many are asking what the future holds for this field, what access to psychedelics will look like, how services will be delivered, and by whom.

But currently, the data on the psychedelic workforce is limited. So over 2022 and 2023, 130 current psychedelic students and past graduates of the Vital program were surveyed to understand:

  • Who will populate the future psychedelic workforce
  • How diversity will be present within the field
  • How workers will be servicing clients, businesses, and communities

The results were analyzed and packaged into a new free report, titled The Emerging Psychedelic Workforce. *Scroll down to download*

Gain insights on the emerging psychedelic workforce in this 24-page special report. Download your complimentary copy below.

Note: While Psychedelics Today acknowledges this sample of respondents does not fully capture the global sum of those engaged in psychedelic work today – including many Indigenous, ceremonial, or underground contexts of psychedelic work – we propose the findings as a reasonable representation of the future global psychedelic workforce of trained individuals.

As a fully remote global training program with many scholarship recipients, underground acceptance, and no advanced licensure requirements, Vital’s student body is highly diverse, and populated by professionals who will service a broad spectrum of communities, in a wide variety of capacities – not limited to psychedelic facilitation.

We offer these findings as a predictive snapshot of the trained psychedelic workforce, who they are, their motivations, and how they will work in the field.

Sample Insights:

  • Working with Marginalized Groups: 81.4% plan to work or are working with unspecified marginalized groups. This points towards a broad understanding and intention to cater to diverse and often underserved communities.
  • Non-Facilitation Specialties: 50.4% are interested in working in areas beyond facilitation and therapy, including media, academia, biotech, cultivation, marketing, and finance, indicating the breadth and diversity of interest in the field.
  • Incorporating into an Existing Career: 47% of students are not switching careers. Instead, they are incorporating psychedelics and altered states into their current career for the first time. This might include therapists or holistic practitioners seeking to integrate these new tools and modalities into their practice.
  • Making Money Isn’t the Goal: A staggering 98.3% of respondents indicate that making a lot of money is not their primary motivation to enter the field.
  • Aware of Risks but Unconcerned: 63.6% acknowledge potential personal and professional risks of arrest, social, family, or license implications, but are undeterred and willing to work in the field regardless. 

Download Your Complimentary Copy

Interested in reading the full report and a shareable infographic? Simply enter your information below, and we’ll send it right to your inbox.

So, You’ve Become a Psychedelic-Informed Practitioner. Now what?

The mental health landscape is undergoing a sea change, in part, due to increased recognition of psychedelic-assisted therapy as a paradigm shift in the field. This new avenue for treatment offers a rare opportunity to address the root cause of trauma – all more quickly than usual approaches primarily oriented to symptoms. As this new territory unfolds, practitioners must navigate a unique set of possibilities and challenges. 

Successfully integrating psychedelic-assisted therapy into practice can include:

– Building novel skills through training programs like Vital
– Overcoming imposter syndrome
– Successfully applying training theory in the real world
– Adopting new integrative care workflows
– Attracting enough new clients to sustain one’s business

So, where should you begin? As a practitioner, preparing for these challenges and opportunities holistically will set you up for deep client impact, and personal and professional fulfillment.

Psychedelic Therapy as a Bridge Between Modern and Traditional

Overall, modern and traditional medicine traditions diverge across several vectors; there is merit to both modern and traditional approaches, and tremendous value in enabling a complementary relationship between them. Though modern medicine is capable of performing miracles in treating illness, in practice, patients in a Western context primarily seek conventional healthcare when sick. Especially in the case of U.S. healthcare, the system’s design financially rewards providers when they treat illness or injury, not when they help build a healthy lifestyle. The concept of “health” in the West is generally limited to the physical body: whether one’s heart is beating in rhythm, musculature working harmoniously, and they’re free of observable illness. U.S. health insurance companies only started covering mental healthcare broadly 15 years ago – a striking proxy for mental health’s lagging priority – and still don’t do it adequately. At the same time, modern medical innovation is grounded in research data, and only canonized following randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the gold standard of medical research, which ensures conclusions are drawn without bias. The benefit of this approach is that it safeguards the medical field from interventions that are not safe or effective.

Traditional medicines from across the world usually represent a broader and more integrative approach, equally focused on balancing the mind, body, and spirit dimensions to achieve a whole-person health outcome for an individual and community. Functionally speaking this may mean building a mindfulness and embodiment practice, immersing yourself in community, and cultivating a deep relationship with nature and beyond. Harnessing practices that move energy effectively throughout your body can build tremendous resilience, equanimity, and aliveness, which can reflect quantitatively in biomarkers too. While traditional medicine generally lacks the evidence base assembled through RCTs, its many lineages and modalities have gained significant support in recent years, accelerated by a mental health epidemic and tremendous anecdotal impact.

Psychedelic therapy represents a unique bridge between these two worlds. It has descended from long lineages of Indigenous traditions across the world, but legal access in the West will be initially limited to substances approved by the FDA and delivered by clinicians with formal credentials. Whereas traditional talk therapy often centers on distinct sessions, the psychedelic integration process is a continuous therapeutic container, and often incorporates embodied practices like breathwork, yoga, journaling, and meditation, as core agents of change in between sessions where lasting transformation happens. Clients themselves are viewed as the agents of change, empowered to take full ownership of their own healing. The medicine serves as a potent catalyst for this evolution, and the psychedelic practitioner is a space-holder and champion for the client on their journey.

Addressing Imposter Syndrome Among New Practitioners

Given these differences, coupled with traditional rigors of embarking on a major professional change, it isn’t surprising that new practitioners often experience a sense of imposter syndrome. While methods of working through imposter syndrome are well-established, there are practical approaches which new psychedelic practitioners in particular can take.

First, participating in a peer community of diverse types of practitioners can help combat feelings of “stuckness” and isolation. The psychedelic therapy space attracts providers of different backgrounds, mindsets, and worldviews – but this can feel abstract unless providers have ongoing structured opportunities to collaborate as professionals. Peer groups that meet regularly, or broader digital communities (ideally both), can help validate thinking, enrich perspectives, and make the often solitary business of holding space more collaborative and fun. In many cases collaboration can be literal: providers with different specializations often establish referral relationships that prove to be in the best interest of a client. They can also cultivate supervisory or accountability relationships, and they can overcome initial logistical friction points, like feeling comfortable with setting appropriate payment rates.

Second, providers can create structure for ongoing client communication and measurement, helping them progress from intention setting to lasting transformation.  This growth can be charted quantitatively, in the form of anxiety/depression scoring or practitioner’s own “homebrew” assessments, and qualitatively, in the form of collaboratively tracking and focusing on client progress milestones beyond their initial intention. In either case, observing client progress can give providers a sense of organization and confidence in attracting new clients in the future.

The Right Systems to Support Psychedelic Therapy Workflows

New providers stepping into this space may be frustrated with workflows that are not provider-centric and an abundance of outdated or unsupportive technology systems. A recent study by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing suggested that a third of the behavioral health workforce spends more time on admin than actually working with clients. There are many administrative functions necessary to support the modern practice: intake and scheduling, session note-taking, invoicing, and client communication, to name a few. When performed on separate systems, providers are forced to repeatedly context-switch, which depletes energy and pulls them away from their core mission: supporting client growth.

Beyond practice management’s traditional requirements, structuring the preparation and integration container across sessions may look different from traditional therapy workflows. A client’s integration work starts – it doesn’t stop – when a session with their provider ends. As such, many providers are meticulous about sharing and tracking recaps, and guidance and resources between sessions, which can include embodied practice recordings, podcasts or journaling prompts. Seasoned providers end up building out a library of resources to share with clients, as opposed to searching for them ad-hoc, but managing this ever-growing library and sharing via separate communication tools can be onerous. 

Providers creating an on-going digital container often do so across multiple mediums (email, text, Whatsapp), which can quickly become disorganized and lose most of the context; this can lead to struggles maintaining momentum with clients if they’re forced to track down different conversation threads. For clients, provider resource sharing and communication is only as effective as it is utilized, and when spread across different surfaces, clients are less likely to engage in integration resources. On the other hand, using familiar communication channels often means co-locating client communications with personal messages across the chat apps and email. This can be tempting for ease of use, but over the long run proves hard to maintain when personal and professional lives start to bleed into one another.

Existing technologies, such as Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), unfortunately, have not evolved to support the modern client-centric dynamic so critical in this space. An EMR platform fulfills the primary capability of insurance billing and reimbursement, but even the most technologically innovative Patient Portals (the communication module of most EMRs) remain clunky, inflexible, and largely logistically-focused. They haven’t kept up with the rising modern client expectations for a simple, intuitive, and well-designed user experience they take for granted in other areas of their lives.

Attracting New Clients To Your Psychedelic Therapy Practice

We won’t bury the lede here: there is no magic bullet to building a meaningful client panel for your psychedelic-assisted therapy practice, but there are best practices you can follow. For those with the time and means, investing in an attractive website, paying for web traffic to your site, and optimizing how online searches are triaged to your site (SEO), can all be effective for growing your visibility and presence online. There’s also been a proliferation of online directories which can help generate leads, with varied success rates; there’s little downside to joining these, though from a client’s perspective it can be tough to differentiate among providers, and client routing can be opaque. Providers who anticipate a deluge of new clients should temper their expectations.

For psychedelic practitioners, client connection and trust is paramount, so successful providers often establish their own unique niche: a subset of the market with which they will uniquely resonate, and from which they will derive energy. Are you a sex therapist who does your best work helping divorced middle aged men re-discover their intimacy groove? Does your cultural heritage give you a unique perspective on de-colonization and working with intergenerational trauma? Whatever the case, expert providers own their narrative and unique perspective; it’s not bad to be clear and unapologetic in your messaging so that clients know exactly why they’re there.  Counter-intuitively, loosely appealing to everyone typically means you’re not strongly appealing to anyone. Take a stance and communicate your message confidently.

Psychedelic providers can also generate client referrals by investing in peer communities of practice (which, consequently, also benefits from providers inhabiting a specific niche and specialization). In holistic circles, providers tend to create informal “constellations” of care in support of client transformation. Clients might benefit from working variously with a psychedelic therapist, a breathwork facilitator, and a yoga therapist (as an example) to hardwire new behaviors. Optimal client care is, in part, dependent on those providers building personal relationships, understanding each other’s unique approaches, and trusting each other’s work.

Modern Solutions for Modern Practitioner Challenges

Here’s where intuitive tech comes in. Yuriy Blokhin, Founder & CEO of Homecoming shares, “We built Homecoming with the goal of equipping providers who blend both mystical and medical traditions with the tools, content, and community to do their life’s best work. What if, we thought, we could create an all-in-one platform that streamlined into a single place what you need to get best client results with how you learn and grow as professionals?“

Working in direct collaboration with psychedelic practitioners, Homecoming brings all client communication together under one roof, and co-locates it with a customizable library for providers to have everything at their fingertips to support client integration and drive impact. Communications are flexibly sent from an intuitive web dashboard or practitioner mobile app to client’s preferred inbox, whether it’s SMS, email, or a dedicated client mobile app, while letting you see all your client conversations from a single view in Homecoming, so you never “lose the thread” of conversation and can present confidently and professionally. Administrative functions like session note-taking, scheduling, and invoicing, are integrated, so you can reduce time spent away from deep client work.

Holistic practitioners who work with Homecoming are constantly learning and growing through the adoption of new modalities and techniques, which inspired development of the Homecoming content ecosystem. Leading providers across the spectrum of mystical and medical traditions have curated resources for practitioners on Homecoming to discover and further curate their libraries, and are immediately able to share their new findings with clients. The provider community, embedded in the platform, is the ideal place to connect with peers, build professional relationships, and pressure-test new approaches. The vision, Homecoming says, is to build a collaborative network of practitioner factions across different healing traditions, and to serve as an educational bridge for all providers, to the benefit of clients everywhere.

Guiding the Way Forward

As the realm of psychedelic-assisted therapy continues to unfold, practitioners find themselves at the forefront of a transformative approach to healing. For providers to navigate this new paradigm requires them to anticipate and embrace the distinct demands of the field. This means not only developing expertise in this new modality itself, but building familiarity with adjacent holistic approaches, and preparing one’s mindset and systems for a new way of supporting client impact. Psychedelic medicine will never be a panacea, but preparing providers to thrive in this new landscape is an important step in a broader expansion of consciousness and reduction of suffering.

The Ultimate Guide to Psychedelics in Australia

Australia recently achieved a world first, becoming the first country to officially recognise the medicinal and therapeutic uses of psilocybin and MDMA. While this change can seem like it’s come out of nowhere, it’s actually the result of the explosion of activity around psychedelics in Australia over the past decade. Only a short time ago, we were under the radar. Now, we’ll likely be one of the first countries where patients can receive psychedelic-assisted therapy without being part of a clinical trial.

So, whether you’re currently in Australia, or just thinking of moving here, a career in psychedelics is suddenly more of a possibility. If you’re thinking of pursuing this path in Australia, there’s lots you need to know to navigate psychedelics here. What is or isn’t legal? Who are the critical nonprofits and corporations? Which universities are pursuing psychedelic research? 

The short answer: Nowhere, except in minimal circumstances.

In most cases, classic serotonergic psychedelics are classified in the Poisons Standard as Schedule 9 – Prohibited Substances by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Ketamine slides into Schedule 8 – Controlled Substances, due to its extensive medical applications, though it’s worth noting that using it to treat depression is still considered “off-label” here. This off-label use is technically legal, but a 2015 controversy over clinics that allegedly skimped on psychiatric supervision and sent patients home to self-inject their ketamine doses has led to relatively few psychiatrists offering this service.

In February, the TGA announced that psilocybin and MDMA will be added to Schedule 8, permitting their use as Controlled Drugs, but only allowed to be prescribed by specialist psychiatrists under the following conditions: they must have approval from a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), and they must be authorized by the TGA under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme to prescribe the substances for these conditions.

Psilocybin will be permitted only for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and MDMA will be permitted only for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This means that the therapeutic use of MDMA and psilocybin will remain illegal, unless it’s occurring under the specific circumstances the TGA decision describes. For all other uses, they will remain in Schedule 9 (Prohibited Substances). Therapy using other psychedelics such as LSD, mescaline or novel analogues will remain strictly limited to research trials.

The importation of psychedelics is tightly controlled and only allowed for approved legal research. A range of federal laws for serious drug offenses carry significant custodial sentences. For example, being convicted of trafficking or importing a “marketable quantity” (250 grams – 2 kilograms) of N,N‑Diethyltryptamine (DMT) can result in a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment and/or a fine of around $1.11 million AUD.

Most day-to-day drug law is dealt with at the state/territory level in Australia, which generally reflects federal scheduling. This means using, possessing, growing, manufacturing, and selling psychedelics is generally illegal. The one exception is found within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which recently decriminalized possession of small amounts of most drugs, including most common psychedelics. This doesn’t override federal law, and the federal government could seek to resolve any conflict in the High Court, but are unlikely to in the short term.  

Australian Psychedelic Organizations 

If you want to be across the breadth of psychedelic activity and experience in Australia, you need to start with the organizations in the field: Understanding who they are, how they relate to each other, and what communities they connect with is essential to navigating psychedelics here. 

Psychedelic Charities & Nonprofits 

Australian Psychedelic Society 

Founded in Melbourne in 2017, the Australian Psychedelic Society is a grassroots and community-led not-for-profit. Through events such as picnics, film screenings, integration circles, and workshops, they aim to provide connection, education, and harm-reduction information relevant to psychedelic communities. The Australian Psychedelic Society also advocates for drug law reform, including decriminalization, recently putting their case to the federal Joint Committee on Law Enforcement and planning a range of advocacy activities centered around upcoming elections. 

Entheogenesis Australis (EGA) 

Entheogenesis Australis is a charity using education to help grow the Australian ethnobotanical community and its gardens. EGA hosts various events around entheogenic and psychoactive plant and fungal medicines, most notably the biennial EGA Symposiums, now known as Garden States. Since 2003, they’ve been encouraging knowledge-sharing on botanical research, conservation, medicinal plants, arts, and culture. Attending EGA events is the most effective (and fun) way to connect with the key individuals and organizations in the field here. 

Mind Medicine Australia 

Mind Medicine Australia (known, somewhat confusingly, as MMA) is a charity founded to support clinical research and work towards regulatory-approved and evidence-based psychedelic-assisted therapies. Mind Medicine Australia doesn’t advocate for the recreational or non-clinical use of psychedelics. Nor do they advocate for any changes to the law concerning non-clinical use, including decriminalization.

Through their for-profit subsidiary, Mind Medicine Institute, MMA supplies what was, until recently, Australia’s only training program around psychedelics, the Certificate in Psychedelic Assisted Therapies (CPAT). 

Psychae Institute 

The newest kid on the block, Psychae is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing new psychedelic therapies as approved medical treatments for mental disorders and other diseases, as well as supporting psychological well-being. 

Psychedelic research in Science and Medicine (PRISM) 

Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine (PRISM) is a charity established in 2011 to undertake and support research into the applications of medicinal psychedelics and related therapies. Currently Australia’s leading psychedelic research organization, they partnered with Dr. Margaret Ross at the St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, for an end-of-life psilocybin trial, and are presently involved with Australia’s first MDMA trial

Australian Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Practitioners

The Australian Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Practitioners (AMAPP) was formed in 2023 to be Australia’s peak body for psychedelic-assisted therapy (PAT). AMAPP is working to provide a framework for the safe, ethical, accountable, and effective introduction of PAT, focusing on achieving the best client outcomes. They are also working towards a searchable and verified register of credentialed psychedelic practitioners.

Psychedelic Companies 

New psychedelic-related companies and businesses are emerging in Australia every day. This is just a selection of some of the better-known ones. 

Enosis Therapeutics 

Through their Virtual Reality Psychedelic Psychotherapy (VRPP) protocol, Enosis aims to help therapists guide patients through all stages of their psychedelic healing journeys. Preliminary results suggest that their bespoke VR scenarios are a positive addition to the psychedelic-assisted therapy process, with hopes that these will be confirmed by future clinical trials. 

Little Green Pharma 

Perth-based Little Green Pharma is a cannabis company that’s recently moved into the psychedelic space, announcing in late 2021 that it had received a license from the Western Australian Department of Health to grow psilocybe mushrooms and supply psilocybin for researchers in Australia. It’s also pursuing psilocybin research through its subsidiary, Reset Mind Sciences.

Pyslo 

Using computational chemistry, Psylo is focused on developing next-generation therapeutic psychedelics, including short-acting and sub-perceptual substances. Partnering with UNSW and the CSIRO and having attracted considerable funding, this company is one to watch. 

Psychedelic Institute Australia

Psychedelic Institute Australia (PIA) is a new organization whose mission is to offer the highest quality psychedelic-assisted therapy training and education to therapists and clinicians in Australia. PIA was founded by a team that includes some of Australia’s foremost psychedelic researchers and clinicians, and aims to use their experience working in psychedelic clinical trials to provide theoretical and practical training for practitioners at varying levels of knowledge & development.

Australian Psychedelic Research 

A few years ago, there were barely a handful of psychedelic researchers at universities here. Australia was characterized as “falling behind” international psychedelic research. Now, it would be easier to list the places that don’t have some involvement in psychedelic research.

Notable university researchers include: Dr. Stephen Bright at Edith Cowan University, who is running our first MDMA trial and is founding member of PRISM; Dr. Paul Liknaitzky at Monash University, who is leading investigations into using psilocybin for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and involved in numerous other research projects around the efficacy of MDMA for PTSD; Dr. Vince Polito at Macquarie University who is probably our foremost microdosing researcher and has recently finished a longitudinal study of microdosing psilocybin for mild/moderate depression; and Dr. Monica Barratt at RMIT/NDARC, whose research explores the social and public health implications of digital technologies for people who use illicit and emerging psychoactive drugs.

Those are just the researchers who have a public profile and a longer history of engaging in research that’s directly related to psychedelics or psychedelic communities. In the past 2-3 years, many established psychology or psychiatry researchers around the country have quietly turned their attention to psychedelics, and are now engaging more publicly through high profile publications, large projects, or the formation of research centers. Examples of this are Swinburne University’s upcoming randomized controlled trial of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, led by Professor Susan Rossell, and the University of Melbourne’s formation of its Medicinal Psychedelics Research Network (MPRN).

Searching the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry for psychedelic-focussed clinical trials that are currently recruiting does not produce a huge number of results, but what is listed is illuminating, with hospitals playing a key role in these investigations across diverse areas including tolerability studies of Field Trip’s FT-104 molecule and a pilot study into psilocybin-facilitated treatment for methamphetamine use disorder.

How can I take part in psychedelic research in Australia? 

Besides word of mouth or being lucky enough to see the right ad on Facebook, you can check out the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry. Trial matching services such as HealthMatch may also be helpful. 

The Underground 

Organizations and researchers are great, but they’re not the beating heart of psychedelics in Australia. That would be the people and communities who use psychedelics, and many people involved in above-ground psychedelic activities are also long-time & active members of underground communities. 

What Psychedelics are common in Australia? 

While psychedelic use in Australia is relatively rare, it is on a steep upward trend. In 2019, 10.4% of the population had used psychedelics in their lifetime, and 1.6% had used psychedelics in the past year. That 1.6% might not sound like much, but that’s up from 1% in 2016!

The 2019 National Household Drug Survey found that the most used psychedelic in Australia is LSD, followed by psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, and mescaline. Official surveys don’t get into fine detail, but anecdotally, there’s a bit more nuance. Mushroom use splits somewhat geographically, with Psilocybe cubensis being more common in warmer areas than the native P.subaeruginosa. DMT is used as vaporized crystal, smoked as Changa, or imbibed in local Ayahuasca analogs, with Acacia often replacing Chacruna leaves as the DMT component. Peyote is rarely used, with San Pedro (Trichocereus pachanoi) or Bolivian Torch (Trichocereus brigesii) cactus being the most common sources of mescaline. 

Sure, but what’s the scene really like? 

It’s hard to generalize what psychedelic use and communities are like here. Many psychonauts are growing obscure plants and pursuing arcane knowledge, loosely bound by social media and the occasional camping trip, bush doof, or picnic in a local botanic garden. For the uninitiated, bush doofs are outdoor dance parties that emerged in Australia in the 90s and have become a significant part of the country’s alternative subculture. Typically held in remote areas of the bush, these events are often characterized by an eclectic mix of electronic music (especially psytrance), psychedelic art, and drug use. From humble and unsanctioned beginnings, the doof is now often incarnated as large outdoor multi-day dance festivals such as Rainbow Serpent and remains a cornerstone of the enduring relationship between psychedelics, rave culture, and music.

Compared to a few years ago, many more people are aware of the potential benefits of psychedelics. So, there’s a sense that this isn’t a wholly countercultural thing anymore. Anyone you meet could use or be interested in psychedelics – you never know!

People are facilitating psychedelic experiences all over the country (more, in my opinion, than there used to be.) This can be one-on-one or in groups. Many of these facilitators and guides have extensive experience and skill in serving and holding space for the people in their care. It could be smoother sailing, though. Allegations of facilitators having inappropriate relationships with ceremony participants or following unsafe dosing practices (e.g., dosing people with MDMA too soon after Ayahuasca, thus risking serotonin toxicity) are not uncommon. While most of these alleged incidents never make it to court, a Queensland man has been charged with the sexual assault of four women who had participated in his “spiritual healing” Ayahuasca ceremonies.

Community concerns around ethics and standards of care have driven engagement with international efforts such as the Ethical Psychedelic International Community (EPIC). EPIC is a group of ethicists, facilitators, and community organizers who are dedicated to creating safe and ethical psychedelic spaces, specializing in supporting and advising individuals, communities, and organizations within the psychedelic and plant medicine world who are navigating challenging ethical situations. The same concerns independently led to local community members founding the Psychedelically Aware Talking Circle Hub (PATCH.) PATCH is a space that supports people who’ve experienced harm in psychedelic contexts, and aims to leverage community discussions of harm minimisation to produce processes and resources that will allow communities to address issues around safety and ethics as they arise.

Regardless of setting, and whoever they’re with, lots of people are using psychedelics and want to talk about their experiences. There is high demand for both community-led integration circles and professional integration therapy. 

The Future of Psychedelics in Australia 

Where we go from here is difficult to predict. Australia has taken the first step towards clinical access for psychedelic-assisted therapy. How widespread and accessible will this be? That depends on patient advocates overcoming the conservative stance of the TGA, health officials, politicians, and the psychiatric establishment.

It’s pleasant to imagine that acceptance of therapeutic psychedelics will lead to broader legal reform, as medical cannabis has in much of the US. But our medical cannabis system here is much more restrictive and heavily regulated. Every single patient who is prescribed cannabis is processed through a federally administered access scheme and there are no legal walk-in dispensaries. Doctors and cannabis companies aren’t even supposed to advertise their services or products (though they regularly bend these laws.) We’ve technically had medical cannabis since 2016, and there is little indication that this will automatically lead to adult recreational legalization.

The situation isn’t all doom and gloom, though. The number of people aware of psychedelics and their potential has grown astronomically in recent years. The number of people who have had psychedelic experiences has grown just as rapidly. So, I hope we can expect political and regulatory progress to follow the social changes we’re currently experiencing.

My prediction is that non-clinical psychedelic access will be community-based, with more nonprofit psychedelic social clubs rather than neon-lit dispensaries. The medical use of psychedelics will evolve but remain heavily regulated until the medical model itself changes.

Whatever happens, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in psychedelics in Australia.

Have you been considering getting involved in the burgeoning psychedelic field in Australia? Spaces in Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Wellness Practitioners: Australia are open for registration until Sept. 25. Don’t miss out on your chance to make history in Australia and enter a new paradigm of mental healthcare. Seats are limited – register here.

Bridging Dimensions: Understanding the Mystical Experience

Throughout history, mankind has been drawn to the profound realm of mystical experiences. Psychedelics have long been used to generate these experiences. Recent research suggests that when psychedelics are used to treat illnesses such as depression, addiction, or end-of-life anxiety in relation to cancer and other terminal illnesses, people who have mystical experiences during the treatment session have more positive outcomes.

Mystical experiences were fundamental to man’s religious experience in both the East and the West. They have informed speculations about the true nature of reality. The psychedelic space has been guided by the wisdom of Indigenous peoples, and central to their journey is the embracing of the mystical as used by shamans and healers.

Understanding mystical experiences can be approached in two ways:

1. Naturalistic Approach: Using science and logic to understand the inherent laws by which the universe runs. This approach might be taken by those who see the nature of the world as explainable by cause and effect relating to the laws of science.

2. Transcendent Approach: Based on the assumption of a universe run by a higher intelligence and not subject to inherent laws. A transcendental approach may be seen to be more compatible with religion and spirituality.

Core Features of the Mystical Experience

Much of the basis for this discussion of what is traditionally considered the core features of the mystical experience, comes from philosopher Walter Stace’s work Mysticism and Philosophy and philosopher and psychologist William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience.

The core features of a mystical experience include:

1. A Non-Ordinary State of Consciousness 

A non-ordinary state of consciousness is profoundly different from the ordinary, mundane everyday experience. It generates a sense of timelessness and a loosening of the sense of relatedness to the outside world occurs — a blurring of what’s inside and what’s outside. There can be a loss of one’s sense of self — ego dissolution or ego death are commonly used terms to describe this.

Mystical experiences can occur in religious as well as non-religious circumstances, coming unbidden in the midst of everyday life. They can happen as a part of meditation, as a result of practices such as sensory deprivation, holotropic breathwork, and of course as a result of taking psychedelics.

Mystical experiences may also occur in moments of deep intimacy in relations between two people. For instance, as might take place in a psychotherapy relationship during a session. The psychoanalyst Alice Bar Ness has discussed the possibility that a mutually occurring mystical experience might be generated by the therapist and client in a psychoanalytic therapy. Recognizing this type of experience can be of great value in therapy.

2. Feeling of Connectedness

One core feature of the mystical experience has been described as that of an interconnectedness between all persons and things in the universe. Feelings of beneficence and love often but not always predominate. There is often a feeling of a deep connection to nature. In a more religious context, there can be a sense of connectedness with God or with some aspect of the Divine. William James described it as “becoming one with the Absolute.” Stace describes this form of “looking outward through the senses” as an extrovertive mystical experience.

An introvertive mystical experience, on the other hand, occurs when one looks inward, into the mind. Rather than becoming one with all that is out in the world, mystical unity occurs as a dissolution of one’s sense of personal identity. This can result in what has been described as a ‘pure consciousness experience’ in which there are no longer thoughts, memories or perceptions but yet one is still somehow aware. This state is a common goal of eastern religious meditative experience.

It should be noted that there is controversy about the existence of a pure consciousness experience. “Consciousness is always consciousness of something to a subject […]. Thus, […] there can be no experiences free of any content.” 

3. Ineffability

Mystical experiences, often described as ineffable, reflect a reality that transcends words and logic. As per William James, they are deeply emotional and cannot be transferred, and must be experienced directly. They can’t be put into words and communicated to another. Both transcendent and naturalistic viewpoints acknowledge ineffability as a crucial part of the mystical experience and despite being indescribable, humans naturally seek to express these profound emotions, leading to the creation of myth, poetry, and art.

4. Transformative Revelation

People having had these experiences have a sense of having received a deep and transformative knowledge about the most profound nature of reality. As James said, “They are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance…” The term used to describe this type of knowledge is noetic. It is important to understand the idea that the received knowledge is not obtained by use of the rational intellect or by logical thinking. Noesis rather involves a sudden, intuitive flash of insight, a revelation about the deepest truth. This is a consistent feature of some Eastern traditions—Zen ‘satori’ being one example and of course revelation is an integral feature of Abrahamic religion.

5. Paradox

Mystical experiences often entail paradox, situations where opposing statements both appear to be true and yet exclusive of one another. As an example, consider, as discussed above, that mystical experience can involve receiving a deep and transformative knowledge as a result of an encounter with the Absolute (which is paradoxically said to be ‘beyond knowing‘). Contemplation of paradox is a common feature of Eastern tradition. The Zen koan is an example. 

Some Naturalistic Approaches to Understanding the Mystical State

1. Depth Psychology

Traditionally, psychology has used a naturalistic approach in trying to understand mystical experience. This field is notably associated with Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis, despite Freud’s denial of the mystical. Depth psychology explores the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. Speculation about the nature of the unconscious goes back well before modern-day psychology and has been addressed by every human civilization both East and West. Psychoanalysis is one form of depth psychology. It is, of course, notably associated with Sigmund Freud although, in most of his work, he denied the significance of the mystical.

The connection between mystical experience and psychoanalysis, both from a theoretical and clinical standpoint has however, been fruitfully taken up by some modern psychoanalytic thinkers.

There are a group of psychoanalysts known as the psychoanalytic mystics. One of the most prominent is Michael Eigen who regards the mystical process as a model for psychotherapeutic change.

Eigen and others have looked at traditional psychoanalytic concepts through the lens of mystical tradition. One such concept is the idea of very early infantile experience with the mother as a fundamental cause of the development of the ‘self’.

Some conceive of the infant’s experience at this stage of development of the self as including states of blissful union with the mother during nursing, alternating with feelings of terror and rage when hungry or cold or alone and then again blissful union when again cuddled and fed.

Disagreeing with early psychoanalysts who pathologize mystical experience as regression, Eigen sees these early, ‘primordial’ experiences of consciousness of self as an equivalent of the mystical experience per se.

This description of the infant’s experience has been seen by Eigen and others as “the prototype of the death-and-rebirth process.”Eigen correlates this with the recurrent mythical theme of death and rebirth as described by for example Joseph Campbell.

Alice Bar Ness has used Martin Buber’s concept of the I-Thou relationship as a basis for the idea that both therapist and client might undergo a mystical experience during a psychotherapy session. Buber considered the I-Thou relationship as a deep, meaningful experience occurring between two people such as might occur in a person’s experience of the divine. These experiences can be ineffable, noetic and transformative and so can be considered mystical. They can be utilized to great advantage in a psychedelic therapy setting where the material which arises during these moments of mystical communion can resonate with the client’s experiences which might have arisen while in the psychedelic state.

2. The Jungian Perspective

The psychedelic space has made much reference to Carl Jung’s theories, notably his concept of archetypes. There are differing views as to the exact nature of archetypes however, they are commonly seen as symbolic representations of biological instincts manifest as images occurring in dreams and fantasies. Jungian James Hillman described these images as having autonomous personalities. His  descriptions seem at times similar to the often-described psychedelic entities encountered during DMT experiences.

3. Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology

The relationship between the mind and the brain has long been discussed by philosophers and theologians. Neuroscience and cognitive psychology have tried to answer this question, also termed as “the hard problem” – can mind function be reduced to neural activity?  Seen through the lens of naturalism, it has been taken up by neuroscience and cognitive psychology using modern technology.

Neuroscientists, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), can generate images of changing brain activity during meditation and after dosing with a psychedelic substance. Cognitive science has developed a series of psychometric tools such as the Mystical Experience Questionnaire which, using mystical experience criteria as outlined by Walter Stace, can reliably determine the occurrence of these experiences in subjects involving studies of psychedelics and meditation.

Research on the neural correlates of the mystical experience explores the effect of psychedelics and meditation on neural networks in the brain. Neural networks are webs of neurons which carry out specific, information processing functions. Individual networks can be widespread or ‘large-scale’, that is, a connection between groups of neurons located within the brain at a longer distance from each other. Networks can also be more localized or ‘small-scale’, consisting of interconnected neurons which are spatially adjacent. The often-mentioned default mode network is an example of a large-scale network. Other large-scale networks include the salience network and the dorsal attention network. Together, neural networks interact in complex ways to create our experience of the world including one’s sense of self as well as the boundaries of this self. Psychedelics  break down existing connectivity within both local and large-scale networks and increase connectivity between networks not previously connected.

As a result of these changes, the brain is able to respond to stimuli in a more diverse and adaptable way. This translates into the distinctive sensory and cognitive phenomena commonly described during the psychedelic experience and may result in loss of sense of self and of one’s place in time and space – all elements of the mystical experience.

A Transcendental Approach to Understanding the Mystical State

Some Jungians and the transpersonal movement view the mystical experience as arising from higher states of consciousness and spiritual realms, not explainable by using rational, scientific concepts. In this view, “reality consists of multiple levels which mirror each other” in some way, commonly referred to as “correspondence.” Connections between these multiple levels are animated by a universal force which underlies the cosmos, also referred to as cosmic consciousness.

Correspondence between ‘multiple levels of reality’ gives rise to the idea that the universe or heavens (macrocosm) is reflected in the essential makeup of the human being (microcosm). Furthermore, this connection may influence interactions between different levels of reality. These concepts can be used to explain the core experiences and underlying nature of the mystical experiences. Additionally, they provide a “theoretical basis for astrology, alchemy and magic.”

These concepts can be illustrated by examples from the Western Esoteric tradition. For instance, the German mystic Jacob Boehme [1575-1624] describes the key to wisdom about God comes about by “looking within one’s self-consciousness, gazing upon, knowing and feeling all that formerly was [conceived of] as beyond.” Here, the mystical experience arises when contemplating the existence of the divine within – a connection between the macrocosm and the microcosm. This can be considered a form of interoceptive mystical experience. 

The writer and composer Hildegard of Bingen [1098–1179] wrote about her mystical visions throughout her life. She described a vision in which “my soul rises up high into the vault of heaven and into the changing sky and spreads itself out among different peoples, although they are far away from me in distant lands and places.”. Here is an example of exteroceptive mystical experience.

The Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia developed a form of meditation involving repetitive utterance of Hebrew letters signifying the divine names of God. This enabled him to enter a higher state of consciousness in which souls “return to their origin which is one without duality… towards the original unity.”

Carl Jung’s [1875-1961] mystical visions are described at length in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections and in The Red Book. While Jung’s work can be seen naturalistically and transcendentally, his personal experiences are considered to be of a transcendent nature. In fact, Jung himself considered his writings to be of a transcendent nature. 

A better understanding of the mystical experience can be beneficial to the psychedelic space. While the two approaches discussed here may appear to be fundamentally incompatible, they both offer valuable insights and can complement each other.

Psychoanalysis has much to offer when seen through the lens of mysticism but also in a more straightforward consideration of its basic theory and clinical practice. As an example, psychoanalysis has long considered the problem of boundary crossings and violations as they occur in the analytic relationship. This has significant relevance to attempts at harm reduction in psychedelic therapy. 

Finally, the examples of transcendent experiences are taken from writings that are part of the Western Esoteric tradition. A greater understanding of the history of these traditions as related to mystical experience would greatly benefit the psychedelic community.


Opening Critical Periods with Psychedelics

Neuroplasticity, a term that has quickly become a buzzword in the psychedelic space and beyond, refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections or altering existing ones. Although it’s at its highest during early childhood, neuroplasticity persists throughout life and is central to our ability to learn from our experiences, adapt to new environments, and heal from our injuries.

Studies have consistently found that psychedelics significantly amplify neuroplasticity, thereby acting as potential catalysts for lasting changes in neural circuitry and behavior.

The neuroplasticity induced by psychedelics, which persists beyond the psychedelic experience itself, is thought to be central to the lasting positive benefits of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

Recently, striking findings published in Nature have shed further light on the pro-plasticity effects of psychedelics. In brief, this study – led by Dr. Romain Nardou within the lab of Dr. Gul Dolen at Johns Hopkins University – revealed that psychedelics can re-open plasticity in certain parts of the brain in a manner that’s usually only possible in the first couple months after birth. In scientific terms, psychedelics were found to open the “social reward learning critical period”. This is a highly significant finding, with huge implications for the therapeutic mechanisms of psychedelics. Let’s dive into what this all really means.

What are Critical Periods?

In order to understand the significance of opening a critical period, we need to know what a critical period is. In a nutshell, a critical period is a window of time during the development of the brain where it’s extremely receptive to specific kinds of environmental stimuli. That is, it’s a period of time in which being exposed to certain stimuli is critical for proper brain development. The development of different functions in our brains – whether it’s vision, sense of touch, or our social tendencies – have different, but typically overlapping, critical periods. During a given critical period, experiences can have a lasting – and typically irreversible – impact on particular neural circuits and, consequently, certain aspects of our perception, thinking, and/or behavior. 

Some notable examples come from the classical experiments conducted by the neuroscientists (and, later, Nobel laureates) David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel in the 1950s/60s on the development of the visual system in cats. In some ethically questionable experiments, they investigated how controlling the types of visual inputs a cat receives during early development impacts their vision perception throughout their lifetime. In particular, they raised newborn cats in a completely enclosed room where all they ever saw were vertical lines. Researchers found if this was done during a particular period of time (the critical period) the cats never developed the ability to see horizontal lines. These cats would consistently walk right into objects that featured horizontal surfaces, such as tables, and no amount of horizontal line exposure after the critical period allowed them to see horizontal lines. This illustrates how experiences that occur during a critical period early in development can lead to lasting changes in neural circuitry throughout the lifespan.

Critical Period Reopening with Psychedelics

In the Nature study with psychedelics, the researchers assessed a different kind of critical period, this time in rodents, pertaining to the ability to learn social rewards. This type of learning is assessed using the Social Conditioned Place Preference (SCPP) paradigm. SCPP is a way to measure a rodent’s natural preference for a location that has been previously associated with social interactions. In this paradigm, the rodent is placed in a cage that features two distinct rooms, and they are only exposed to social interactions with other rodent friends in one of the rooms. After this exposure, researchers put the rodent into the cage by itself and assess the proportion of time it chooses to spend in the room that they had social interactions in, relative to the one where they were always alone.

Social reward learning, therefore, refers to the extent to which an animal is able to learn to associate a specific environment with the rewarding aspects of social engagement. Interestingly, research has found that this ability is at its highest at around 20-50 days after birth in rodents, after which it steeply drops off and becomes negligible. In other words, there is a clear critical period during which positive social engagement is necessary for rodents to learn that social environments are desirable to seek out. 

As you might be anticipating by now, the Nature study found that psychedelics – including the serotonergic psychedelics psilocybin and LSD, the atypical psychedelic ibogaine, and the quasi-psychedelics ketamine and MDMA – all have the capacity to reopen this social reward learning critical period in adult mice. In fact, they restored social reward learning to an extent that matched or went beyond the maximum that occurred during their critical period.

In addition, they intriguingly found that the duration of this reopening was proportional to the length of the drug’s acute subjective effects in humans. For instance, ketamine-induced reopening only lasted for 48 hours, while it was two and three weeks for psilocybin and LSD, respectively. Ibogaine-induced critical period reopening was found to last the longest, at four weeks. For the neuropharmacology nerds out there, this raises interesting questions on how the lasting neurobiological effects of these drugs may be fine-tuned based on their pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. It also has clear implications for psychedelic psychotherapy and optimal integration practices – which we will get to in a moment. Before that, there’s one more finding from this study worth highlighting.

In particular, the researchers found that this critical period reopening was mediated by increases in a specific kind of neuroplasticity called ‘metaplasticity’. Metaplasticity refers to the general ability for the brain to neuroplastically mold itself – it’s essentially the “plasticity of plasticity”. It can be contrasted with “hyperplasticity”, which refers to the targeted changes in specific sets of connections between neurons (as opposed to a generalized increased ability to do so). The study specifically found that restoring oxytocin-mediated plasticity in the reward system of the brain – in a region called the nucleus accumbens – mediated the observed re-opening. What this suggests is that psychedelics may, in certain brain regions, remove the “brakes” on adult neuroplasticity, thereby inducing a neuroplastic state similar to early childhood. As such, during the psychedelic experience, and in the days and weeks immediately after, we may have a unique ability to make deep changes to our neural circuitry and tendencies in thought and action – to an extent that was not available since childhood.

Interested in learning more about psychedelic neuroscience? Reserve your seat in Psychedelic Neuroscience Demystified: How Psychedelics Alter Consciousness and Produce Therapeutic Effects. Classes begin Oct. 4 – limited seats available.

Implications for Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy

The ability of psychedelics to reopen social critical periods and induce metaplastic changes has profound implications for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. It provides a neurobiological framework that could help explain the long-lasting therapeutic effects observed in the treatment of disorders such as depression and PTSD. It highlights that re-learning positive social associations may be a core part of therapy – an idea consistent with recent work highlighting how the quality of the therapist-client relationship is a core mediator of positive outcomes. It also underscores the importance of community-embedment and the quality of one’s interpersonal relationships following a psychedelic journey.

Moreover, the finding of increased metaplasticity provides direct neurobiological support for the importance of psychotherapy and other interventions following a psychedelic journey. This is because metaplasticity might allow the brain to be more able to mold itself in response to such interventions. Strictly speaking though, this remains speculative, since we do not know whether these metaplastic changes extend beyond social reward learning specifically. However, we are very much in the early stages of this research and there is so much yet to be studied and discovered.

The ability of psychedelics to reopen social critical periods and induce metaplasticity offers a compelling avenue for future research and therapeutic applications. These findings could revolutionize our understanding of how psychedelics work at a neural level and how they can be effectively incorporated into psychotherapeutic frameworks. As we continue to decipher their intricate and multifaceted neurobiological mechanisms, the horizon looks promising for the application of psychedelics in treating a wide range of psychiatric disorders.

Psychedelic Retreats: The Ultimate Working Vacation

Have you been thinking about where your next trip might take you? Why not make it a journey within?

Psychedelic retreats are the ultimate working vacation: a chance to unwind, connect with the earth, and to devote time to what’s truly most important – your well-being.

Here are a few ways psychedelics retreats can help people create meaningful changes in their lives:

  1. Enhanced self-awareness: Retreat participants often come out with new insights about their behaviors, thought patterns, relationships, and past experiences.
  2. Trauma healing: when delivered in a supportive container, retreats can help people process and overcome trauma.
  3. Ego dissolution: the erosion of the ego during a powerful psychedelic experience can lead to a greater sense of unity with others and the universe, as well as a reduction in the feelings of separation or isolation.
  4. Connection with nature: Many retreats are in natural settings, which can amplify the sense of connection to the natural world.
  5. Sense of meaning and purpose: Some people come away from psychedelic retreats with a renewed sense of purpose or understanding of their place in the world.
  6. Breaking addictive patterns: Preliminary studies, especially with substances like psilocybin and ayahuasca, have indicated potential in breaking addictive behaviors, including smoking and alcohol dependence.
  7. Professional guidance: Psychedelic retreats usually provide experienced guides or facilitators who help participants navigate their experiences, making it safer and more therapeutic than using psychedelics without guidance.
  8. Structured setting: The set (mindset) and setting (environment) play crucial roles in influencing the nature of a psychedelic experience. Retreats offer a structured, safe, and supportive environment which can lead to more positive and therapeutic outcomes.
  9. Community: Sharing experiences with others in a retreat setting can create a sense of community and understanding. It can be therapeutic to process experiences with others who have gone through similar journeys.
  10. Integration: Many retreats emphasize not just the psychedelic experience itself but the importance of integrating the insights and revelations into daily life. This can lead to lasting personal growth and transformation.

But how should you choose what kind of retreat is right for you? Domestic or international? Would you prefer to start with breathwork, or dive right into a psychedelic substance? Would it be better for you to share accommodations or have solo time in a private room? There can be a lot of options to choose from, and when it comes to retreats, no one size fits all. 

That’s why we’ve created opportunities for our community to experience some of the most transformative in-person retreats on the planet, and anyone who feels called is welcome to join us. Here’s everything you need to know at-a-glance to choose the best retreat for you: 

Netherlands: Psilocybin – Sept. 6 – 11, 2023

Journey highlights/what’s included:
– 7 days/6 nights accommodation at Land van Yemaya
– 1 psychedelic journey as journeyer / 1 psychedelic journey as sitter
– 1 on 1 consultations with a facilitator before, during, and after the retreat 
– Preparation & Integration (2 group calls, support manuals)
– Daily somatic practices
– Self-inquiry and creative integration workshops
– Unique soundscapes for the journey
– Nourishing vegan meals
– Holistic practices including yoga, movement, somatic & sound work, art, and embodiment practices
– Shuttle from Amsterdam to the venue and back

What’s not included:
– All flights 
– Any transportation outside of the scheduled group transportation
– Travel insurance

Tuition:
– $3,750 – $4,050 USD w/ shared and private room options
– $45 Euros (for truffles to be purchased on arrival)

Learn more and register here.

Jamaica: Psilocybin – Sept. 20 – 25, 2023 or Sept. 28 – Oct. 3, 2023

Journey highlights/what’s included:
– 6 days/5 nights accommodation at Atman Retreat in Montego Bay
– A ​​psilocybin journey with a dose tailored to your intentions, preferences, and experience
– The opportunity to practice holding space for another member of your training group while they journey
– Comprehensive preparation and integration
– Group movement and meditation
– Abundant indoor and outdoor space at a beachfront villa, access to private beach and swimming pool
– Transport to and from Montego Bay International Airport

What’s not included:
– All flights 
– Any transportation outside of the scheduled group transportation
– Travel insurance

Tuition:
– $1,495 to $4,695 w/ comfortable accommodations including camping, quad, triple, double, and single room options.

Learn more and register here. (For Sept. 20 – 25 retreat)
Learn more and register here. (For Sept. 27 – Oct. 3 retreat)

Portugal: Transpersonal Breathwork – Oct. 21 – 27, 2023

Journey highlights/what’s included:
– 7 days/6 nights accommodation at Monte de Orada
– 4 Transpersonal Breathwork sessions (two as a breather, two as a sitter)
– 3 fresh, vegan, farm-to-table meals/day
– Access to walking trails, the biopool, floating on the irrigation canal, and the sauna
– Daily yoga, intuitive movement, and CrossFit practices
– Free wifi
– Group airport transfer from LIS (around 2 hrs.)
– Taxes and gratuities

What’s not included:
– All flights (R/T flight to LIS)
– Any transportation outside of the scheduled group transport option
– Optional massage treatments available on request
– Travel insurance (We recommend World Nomads)

Tuition:
– $2,700- $4,500 w/dorm, quad, triple, double, and single options

Learn more and register here.

Costa Rica: Transpersonal Breathwork – Jan. 6 – 13, 2024

Journey Highlights/what’s included:
– 8 days/7 nights accommodations at Blue Osa
– 4 Transpersonal Breathwork sessions (two as a breather, two as a sitter)
– 3 fresh, farm-to-table meals/day
– $50 gift certificate to the luxurious Blue Osa Spa
– Gorgeous chemical-free pool
– Access to miles of secluded jungle beach
– Daily yoga, Intuitive movement and CrossFit practices
– Free wifi and internet access
– Group airport transfer from PJM to Blue Osa (around 30 min.)
– Taxes and gratuities

What’s not included:
– All flights (R/T flight SJO and R/T flight from SJO to PIM)
– Spa treatments
– Optional adventures on free days
– Travel insurance

Tuition:
$3,325- $4,900 w/ triple, double, and King Deluxe options

Learn more and register here.

Are you feeling called to invest in yourself? We can’t wait to journey with you on an upcoming retreat. Need more info? Connect with us at info@psychedelicstoday.com.


We’re in Our Mushroom Era

Peace signs reigned in the 70s. Yin yangs were the symbol of the 90s. And today? Mushrooms have become the token of our generation.

Mushrooms. Are. Everywhere. You’ll find them on and in everything, from home decor to health foods, festival campgrounds, and your morning beverage. Our ancestors used mushrooms for thousands of years, so why did fungi fever hit so suddenly in the 2020s?

Trend or Truthsayer?

Civilization is at a turning point. Climate activists fear the worst, mental health issues are at an all-time high, and the political landscape seems more tumultuous than ever. With fear and uncertainty all around us, our collective whole-body and societal health is suffering, and people are desperate for solutions. 

It’s no secret that the Western healthcare model wasn’t designed to cure the root of  illnesses, but instead, to address their symptoms. While pharmaceuticals can be lifesaving, they’re not a sustainable treatment for long-term use for many illnesses, with side effects that sometimes cause more harm than the initial diagnosis. Patients may be better served by combining the cutting-edge science of Western practices alongside the ancient wisdom of Eastern modalities. Enter the mushroom. 

Therapists, practitioners, and doctors have begun to take a holistic approach to caregiving by incorporating plant medicines into their protocols. Innovators and entrepreneurs are taking action too, developing mushroom-based products to enhance the body’s natural ability to protect itself from toxins, stressors, and ultimately, to heal itself. Canada-based Mind Mend carries a full line of capsules, gummies, and fruiting bodies they say were designed to address the current health crisis.

“People are turning to psilocybin in their search for alternatives to traditional mental health treatments,” Mind Mend founder Matt Smith told Psychedelics Today. “They’re disheartened by the side effects and potential dependence associated with pharmaceuticals, and we provide access to the healing benefits of mushrooms – a natural, plant-based solution.”

“We encounter a prevalent myth: that psilocybin mushrooms are solely recreational or even harmful. We’re here to challenge that. We see psilocybin as a valuable tool for mental health, capable of therapeutic wonders when used responsibly,” Smith continued. “It’s not solely a substance for supporting creativity and freedom, but a potential lifeline for those struggling with mental health issues.”

*While psilocybin has shown promise for improving mental health or performance, it’s strongly advised that those curious about utilizing them, magical or otherwise, do personal research and seek resources that are vetted by community and/or industry professionals.

Form & Fungtion

There are over 50,000 (!) species of mushrooms, and many have various benefits including boosting immunity, increasing energy levels, aiding in digestion, improving sleep, and enhancing cognitive performance. Functional mushrooms, or adaptogenic mushrooms, are non-psychedelic fungi that contain biologically active compounds that have been used for thousands of years due to their superfood characteristics.

The most popular include reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, cordyceps, tremella, and turkey tail, and even non-mushroom lovers can reap their rewards. Functional mushroom company Fungies offers three delicious, vegan gummy blends which include lion’s mane for brain health, cordyceps for energy and performance, and reishi for immunity and stress. And this conscious company also gives back with every purchase.

Rob Kaufman, Fungies co-founder explains, “After the birth of my son I realized how important proper nutrition was for both expecting mothers and children. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Vitamin Angels to help provide women and children with the nutritional support they need to build the foundation for a healthy life. For every bottle of Fungies sold, we make a 1-for-1 donation to provide a pregnant woman or child with life-changing nutritional support around the world and here at home. We’re helping to build a healthier world, one gummy at a time.”

In addition to the tangible health benefits of functional mushrooms, psilocybin-bearing mushrooms have more abstract, yet deeply impactful advantages. Psilocybin can heighten our sensory perceptions and awareness of self. Research is also showing promise in treating end-of-life depression, suicidal ideation, addiction, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and more. Psilocybin can conjure feelings of wholeness and connectedness within those partaking, and those perspectives may remain even after the trip fades.

Are you interested in using psilocybin for personal exploration? Join us in Jamaica this fall, with two retreats in an idyllic island location to choose from. Learn more and secure your space today! https://psychedelicstoday.com/events/


Similar to cannabis, different strains and types of mushrooms offer various benefits and they can be consumed in many forms. Take Brain Flow honey for example, by Haj Botanics. Their proprietary microdosing honey formula combines the innate antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of raw honey with their specially cultivated Shakti psilocybin mushroom blend, designed to help unlock creative potential, enhance mental clarity, and offer relief from anxiety and ADHD symptoms. Their Brain Buzz line is an adaptogenic, non-psychedelic blend formulated to bolster energy, enhance skin and heart health, and improve cognitive function. All of their lines are available both as infused honey and vegan capsules, ensuring accessibility for diverse dietary preferences. 

Mushrooms have served as agents of transformation and healing in the lives of Haj Botanics’ founders, Hayley and Taj. Hayley is a courageous sex trafficking survivor whose journey to recovery led her to mushrooms. Their ability to provide not just temporary relief, but enduring, deep-seated healing, brought about profound change in her life and opened her eyes to their power and effectiveness. Taj, who once struggled with ADHD and the complexities of racial identity, found solace and understanding through his work with mushrooms. His personal experiences of enhanced focus, calm, and emotional resilience through microdosing illuminated a path towards holistic mental wellness that was not previously clear to him.

Honey and gummies are just the tip of the shroom-berg. Coffee replacements, beverage elixirs, tinctures, teas, and chocolates are inundating our IG feeds and DMs. But in addition to mushroom-infused consumables, mushroom experiences are gaining popularity, too.
With the rise in demand for psychedelic therapists and coaches, it’s essential that clinicians be practically trained with professional guides to safely provide sessions to those in need. Psychedelics Today is working alongside Kiyumi Retreats to offer legal opportunities in the Netherlands for practitioners to work with psilocybin in a group setting. We’re not only holding a container for personal healing, but our Vital students are able to work with the medicine and be a facilitator for their colleagues. So regardless of psychedelic comfort level, mushrooms in all their beautiful forms are becoming more accessible by the minute.

Mycelium Breakdown

Not only are mushrooms valuable in enhancing the human experience in mind, body, and spirit, but they have superpower-like abilities in remediating environmental distress. Unlike plants that get their energy from the sun, mushrooms thrive by decomposing organic matter like plants, animals, and other substances potentially toxic to humans. Organizations like Corenewal are actively conducting mycoremediation projects on sites damaged by oil spills, chemical leaching, and wildfires; they are researching how fungi can clean contaminated waterways and soils polluted with heavy metals – mushrooms are not a phase, but our future!

Maybe the best part about them is that they are able to be grown anywhere and even in the comfort of our homes. From home-grow companies like Wonderbags, you can purchase a kit today and learn how to cultivate your favorite strains.

Zach Dorsett, Wonderbags founder says, “Mushrooms are a model for our society. In the mycelium, individual cells connect with each other, work together, and share resources for the benefit of all of the cells. They recycle waste into resources for growth and elevate one another to higher purposes. Mushrooms can greatly impact physical health, provide food security and sustainability to local economies. Many mushrooms are not only nutritious, but in some cases, give us access to superfoods that can only be found in them. Lions mane, for instance, is the only known source for Hericenones and Erinacines which have been shown to have powerful neurogenic and neuro-regenerative properties. I have a lot of gratitude for the community of Indigenous people that paved the way for us to heal with mushrooms.”

Join us from Sept. 6. – 11 in the tranquil Dutch countryside for a unique psilocybin retreat. Shared and private rooms available, and a few spaces remain. Secure your spot and learn more today. https://psychedelicstoday.com/events/

Shroom Bloom or Gloom?

While we support the exploration of psilocybin (and other mushrooms) for their healing potential, it’s worth acknowledging that there is no quick fix for mental illness or centuries of humanity’s planetary impact. Doing deep work is essential to discovering the source of our dis-ease in order to heal ourselves, our society, and the environment. 

So while the explosion of the mushroom market is promising, remain cautious about  companies claiming to cure this and solve that. Education is paramount, understanding topics like personal dosing, legality, set and setting, and mental health history, can make or break an experience. There is still much work to be done to heal our culture, but a future with more mushrooms may be a brighter one for humanity. If we can learn anything from them, it’s that symbiosis is key – we are all interconnected and the health of one is the health of all.

Featured products and discounts:

https://www.wonder-bags.com/Use code PSTODAY for 25% off
https://www.mindmend.co/Use code MEND10 for 10% off (Canadians only)
https://eatfungies.com/Use code TODAY20 for 20% off
https://www.hajbotanics.com/ – Use code honeydrip10 for 10% off



Maximizing Mushrooms: How to Make a Little Psilocybin Go a Long Way

Psilocybin-containing mushrooms grow wild on every continent except Antarctica. Over 200 species of fungi contain psilocybin, so our planet is unlikely to be in short supply anytime soon.

Nevertheless, we sometimes find ourselves in situations where we don’t have enough mushroom medicine. This could be because our access is limited, or because we’re dancing around legal limits on dosing.

Thankfully, there are some simple hacks we can use to get the most potency out of the medicine we have available.

The Role of Psilocin in Trips

Psilocybin is a pro-drug – a pharmacologically inactive substance when ingested. Upon consumption, it is metabolized into the compound psilocin – the active component responsible for your trip.

Stomach acid is essential for metabolizing the mushrooms into psilocin. It can take an hour or longer after eating the mushrooms for the trip to begin, as it takes time for the hydrochloric acid of the stomach to sufficiently break down the mushrooms and metabolize the psilocybin.

Unfortunately, many people nowadays have low levels of stomach acid. These include our seniors (hydrochloric acid production decreases with age), people on conventional reflux medications (which decrease stomach acid production), individuals with hypothyroidism (who have slower metabolisms), those with Helicobacter pylori infection (it damages the stomach lining and reduces acid production), and people with some other medical conditions.

Many hacks for speeding up the trip onset and making the mushrooms come on stronger are rooted in increasing hydrochloric acid levels and imitating the acidic environment of the stomach.

Light Eating for Quick Tripping

Eating a big meal before taking mushrooms slows the body’s metabolism of psilocybin to psilocin. That’s because the mushrooms you eat after a large meal go to the end of the line for processing. After the stomach is done churning out hydrochloric acid to bust up that double bacon cheeseburger, it’ll see what it can do for that last course of mushrooms.

Having less food in the stomach helps the digestive system get to the task of breaking down the psilocybin in the mushrooms, getting the trip started faster. It can also reduce the risk of nausea and vomiting.

Note: if you tend to get hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), then eating a little something to stabilize your blood sugar levels before, during, and after the trip is a good idea.

The Hidden Cost of Acid Inhibitors

Omeprazole, a medication that reduces stomach reflux, is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the developed world nowadays. Sold as “the little purple pill” under the brand name Prilosec in the States, omeprazole temporarily alleviates the symptoms of acid reflux by inhibiting the stomach’s secretion of hydrochloric acid. Omeprazole and calcium carbonate tablets like TUMS should not be used for longer than two weeks at a time, but most people use them for months, and even years, not realizing the harm they’re doing to their health.

We need hydrochloric acid to properly digest our food and pull the nutrients out of what we eat. Without enough hydrochloric acid, we’re more likely to develop low bone density and dementia later in life. We’re also more likely to experience bloating, gas, and other digestive ailments because we can’t properly digest our food. To learn more about the risks of conventional reflux treatments and healthier alternatives, check out my article on TUMS and Prilosec.

Note: Even if you want to stay on your acid-suppressing medications, you might want to skip them on the days you trip.

Acidic Shortcut to Psilocybin Conversion, aka. the Lemon Tek

Lemon juice, lime juice, and vinegar mimic the acidic environment of the stomach, thus beginning the conversion of psilocybin into psilocin outside of the body before you ingest mushrooms. To prepare a lemon tek, simply chop up the mushrooms or grind them in a coffee grinder and let them soak in an acidic juice for about 15 minutes, then drink up.

This preparation is a great option for folks on antacid medications, the elderly, and those who tend to feel nauseous from mushrooms. It’s also a handy remedy for people who know that it takes a long time and a lot of mushrooms for them to start tripping.

Don’t leave the mixture to soak beyond 20 minutes, however, as more time can cause the psilocin to degrade. It’s crucial to note that lemon tekking is not permitted in Oregon’s psilocybin service centers, but luckily there are things you can do to increase your stomach acid levels at home before you head to the service center.

Naturally Increase Stomach Acid Levels

A variety of natural remedies can help increase the stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid. Here are some tried and true remedies, all of which you can do at home.

Drink lemon juice: Squeeze the juice of half of a fresh lemon into a small amount of water and drink it, ideally on an empty stomach, at least 15 minutes before taking psilocybin.

Apple cider vinegar: Drink one-fourth to one-half a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar diluted in a little water, ideally on an empty stomach, at least 15 minutes before taking psilocybin.

Kale: Chew on a little piece of raw (uncooked) kale, chard, or dandelion greens at least 15 minutes before taking psilocybin.

Herbal bitters: Herbal bitters can commonly be found in the health food store. My personal favorites include gentian, wormwood, and skullcap. As the name implies, bitter formulas taste bitter! They can be purchased in liquid or capsule format. While both work, I find that the liquid works better than the capsules. Bitter flavors on the tongue trigger the stomach to reflexively make more hydrochloric acid. Note that liquid bitters products are usually extracted in alcohol, so if you’re sensitive to alcohol, go for a glycerin preparation or capsules.

Betaine HCl: Betaine is the closest thing we have in pill form to what the stomach produces. This supplement is best used under the guidance of a naturopathic physician (ND) or herbalist. The gist to using HCl is this: start with one capsule at mealtime. At every meal, increase the dose by one more capsule (with breakfast take, one capsule; with lunch, take two; with dinner, take three). When you hit the dose that causes heat or burning in the throat or upper chest, stop. Reduce the dose by one capsule at mealtimes, and by two capsules on the day you take the mushrooms. For example, if you find that five capsules at mealtime cause burning and nausea, then take four capsules at all meals to help you digest your food. Then, on the day you trip, take three capsules on an empty stomach around the time of your mushroom dose. 

On Antidepressants

Individuals on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) also sometimes need higher doses of psilocybin before they reach optimal effects. It’s worth noting that some professionals urge caution around combining antidepressants with psilocybin, but many of my patients have healed on mushrooms while on an SSRI without any adverse effects. 

More research is clearly warranted on this topic. 

The Role of Cannabis

Cannabis is an interesting (and controversial) adjuvant to psilocybin treatment, and one that doesn’t increase stomach acid levels.

Typically the way that cannabis is used in this context is to eat the mushrooms first, and then wait. If after an hour not much has happened, you can use cannabis to help you “launch.”

During my work in Jamaica, I saw many times that just a couple of puffs of marijuana helped people fully “take off” into their trip. The downside to using cannabis is that it can cause dry eyes, dry mouth, and dopiness – especially in people who don’t regularly use it. If you know that you need more than five grams of mushrooms to achieve your desired effect, then you may hit a glass ceiling at an Oregon service center. While the facilitator isn’t supposed to allow clients to take a hit of weed after they consume the mushrooms, what individuals do prior to entering the center is a matter of personal discretion.

Utilizing Breathwork to Amplify Psilocybin

Working with a practitioner who is trained in techniques like Holotropic, Reichian, or other types of breathwork can also help catalyze a psychedelic experience. Mushrooms pair nicely with “getting high on your own supply,” as the saying goes. Seriously: don’t underestimate the power of breath work. Even without a single milligram of psilocybin, breathwork alone is enough to send people into powerful, transformative trips.

Preparatory Sessions

The deeper you’re able to go in healing before taking psilocybin, the more you’re likely to get from the trip. In my own practice, I’ve found that the patients who do a couple of counseling appointments prior to tripping are the ones who have the most healing psychedelic experiences. There are many paths to “thinning the veil,” as I call it. People who are guarded – or have an iron curtain around their subconscious – need more medicine to help them “break through” their defenses. Patients who have a “thinner veil,” however, often just need a little bit of medicine to start the work.

On a recent retreat, we had a guest who wasn’t at dinner on the first night. When I went to check on her I found her in her room, sobbing. “I don’t know why I’m crying,” she moaned, “but I’ve just felt so sad ever since I unpacked my suitcase!”

The way I understood it, this guest’s healing had already begun. Just by arriving at the retreat site, the part of her subconscious that was holding things together had softened, allowing the dam of tears to break. Her veil, in other words, was thin. This guest took very little psilocybin in the days that followed, yet she went deep in her work.
If you don’t have a counselor to work with, then you can experiment with journaling, talking to friends, doing guided meditations, writing letters, or engaging in other practices to start letting repressed thoughts and feelings arise. I highly recommend the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which offers deceptively simple prompts for journaling and reflection. These practices will likely help you get more mileage from your psychedelic trip. Or, as one of my friends often says, “the medicine is just part of the medicine.”

The Less-is-More Approach to Psychedelics

While we often glorify heroic doses, it’s important to remember that plenty of learning, growth, and healing can happen with small amounts of psilocybin, too. Personally, the most life-changing trip I ever had was on just one gram. On my last retreat, one woman cleaned childhood trauma out of her cells on just 2.5 grams, and in research settings, people report some of their most spiritually significant experiences on the equivalent of 3.5 grams of mushrooms. More isn’t always better, and, in fact, dosing medicine too high can increase the risk of throwing too much at the nervous system, which can be destabilizing and can cause more harm than good.

So, if you find yourself with less psilocybin than you initially thought you needed, try some of the hacks above. But even if you don’t, you’ll probably learn something.

Considering a Career in Psychedelics? Here’s How to Get Started.

So, you’re thinking about starting a career in psychedelics. Maybe you’ve experienced your own breakthroughs. Maybe you’ve watched others transform. Or maybe you’ve noticed the massive groundswell of political, industry, and community support around psychedelics in recent years, and just want to be part of something colossal.

Luckily, there is no shortage of options for talented individuals looking to get involved, from roles in psychedelic media to biotech, education, coaching, and integration.

But where should you start?

While there are psychedelic-focused job boards to peruse, building your own professional network and acquiring experience through education could set you apart from the pack of applicants – especially as the demand for trained, career-ready individuals grows.

And the demand is growing – fast. As more states, including Oregon and (with any luck) Colorado, look to develop psychedelic facilitation programs, and with FDA approval looming over MDMA therapy, there could be a real need for over 100,000 psychedelic facilitators in the coming years.

And while the need is there and growing, some say the practitioner bottleneck may be one of the biggest supply chain barriers in delivering treatment to the multitude of people who want to receive it. Wait lists for conventional therapy alone are months long in some parts of the world today, and the growing demand for mental health services and support has resulted in a significant caregiver shortage.

“When you consider all that people have been through over the last few years with the pandemic, and the stigma around mental health thankfully eroding, it’s no wonder many are looking for support. The mental health crisis is real, and it isn’t going away on its own,” said Kyle Buller, Psychedelics Today’s Vice President of Education and Training. “We need compassionate people to answer the call to support their fellow human beings.”

At Psychedelics Today, we’re doing our part to educate people who are curious about taking part in this seismic shift. From regular free webinars, to our 12-month intensive practitioner training program, Vital, to over a dozen courses on various topics in our Psychedelic Education Center, we’ve designed options for all levels of learners to expand their personal and professional psychedelic acumen and build their professional networks.

If you’re taking the first steps in your journey, consider Navigating Psychedelics. This popular, nine-week program combines the history and foundations of psychedelics with essential knowledge required to work with clients, including legal and ethical considerations, harm reduction tips, job opportunities available today, and new avenues to explore.

Not just for clinicians or therapists, the program offers a springboard into a range of career options, including retreat facilitation, ketamine clinic administration, integration coaching, and more – two students even went on to work for Psychedelics Today after graduation!

To learn more about where Navigating Psychedelics has taken students, we recently surveyed past graduates. Here’s what they told us:

50% of students chose the course to increase their knowledge to establish a psychedelic career, while 25% used the lessons to enhance an existing practice.

75% went on to successful careers in psychedelic therapy.

25% of students surveyed indicated they simply took the course to increase their general psychedelic knowledge and did not pursue a career after.

100% would recommend Navigating Psychedelics to someone looking to expand their psychedelic knowledge.

One past student said, “​​I found this course extremely helpful in preparing for a career in psychedelics. The live (sessions) were extremely practical and thought about how to keep ourselves safe, reputationally, in the work. The experience of the course helped me to plot out a path for myself in the field of psychedelic work and the encouragement of the facilitators was brilliant!”

Eager to learn more? Check out our program page and download the course curriculum to decide if Navigating Psychedelics is right for you. CE credits, financial assistance for students, and discounts for past Psychedelic Education Center students are available. The next live cohort begins July 12th, 2023, and space is limited, so don’t delay.

Wherever you are in your psychedelic career path, we are thrilled you are here. The question you may want to ask yourself is: where do you want to go next?

Since the live class isn’t always in session, did you know that Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Wellness Practitioners is available as a self-paced, take-at-your-own-time course as well? Check it out in the Psychedelic Education Center!