In this episode, Joe interviews Dana Lerman, MD: a decade-long infectious disease consultant who has since been trained in psychedelic-assisted therapy, ecotherapy, and Internal Family Systems, and is the Co-Founder of Skylight Psychedelics, where she prescribes IM ketamine and trains therapists who work with it.
Lerman tells her story: how working with kids with cancer made her want to learn medicine, what it was like working as an infectious disease expert during COVID, and how fascinating it has been to start with modern medicine and then fully embrace the traditional frameworks of ayahuasca ceremonies. She has realized that part of her role is to bring that intention, ceremony, and inner healing intelligence to modern medicine – that that will greatly benefit patients as well as clinicians who naturally want to be healers but are burnt out by the bureaucracy and distractions of the faulty container they find themselves in. Skylight Psychedelics is working on opening a clinical research division, researching psychedelics for Long COVID, and bringing in-person psychedelic peer support services to emergency rooms.
She also discusses intergenerational trauma and how psychedelics have affected her parenting; the impossibility of informed consent in psychedelics and why there should be disclaimers as well as instructions; accessibility, the need for insurance to cover psychedelic-assisted therapy, and why the price of these expensive treatments actually makes sense; why we should be sharing stories of mistakes and things going wrong during ceremonies; and why one of the biggest things we can do to further the cause is to educate our children and parents about psychedelics.
“What’s come to me recently in ayahuasca ceremony is that part of my role in this space is really to bring intention and to bring ceremony and the inner healing intelligence and that concept to the modern medicine space. I mean, there’s so many places for improvement in modern medicine, like even: We have a few minutes for a timeout so you can check to make sure that’s the right patient [and] it’s the right limb you’re going to amputate, but we don’t have a moment to talk about who this person is and the intention of this surgery and what we want for this person. We just have this disconnect, and this disconnect; obviously, it’s not just in medicine. It’s in everywhere. It’s our food. It’s our community. All systems.”
“I have three small children. A lot of why I went to ayahuasca was because I knew [beside wanting] to heal myself of all the stuff that I’ve been carrying around, I wanted to shift my parenting and to be a better parent, and I felt that if I carried my anxiety, my control, all the stuff: It just keeps getting passed down because the kids are just learning from us. But if you can address that, if you can address where does that come from, what is the work that has to be done around it, and do that work, your kids see it. My daughter: When I came home from ayahuasca (she was probably seven); she looked to me and she said, ‘Why didn’t you go there sooner?’”
“Anytime people are using these medicines, I think: There’s a huge disclaimer that should be coming with these medicines, like: ‘Your life will be changed forever. You will never look at anything the same way again, and there’s a possibility that you enter into a space where you are experiencing the vastness of the universe, and that may be very overwhelming for you when the journey is over. You need someone to talk about it with.’ The whole concept of integration is so important.”
In this episode, Joe interviews neuroscientist, board-certified psychiatrist, health tech entrepreneur, inventor, and Co-Founder & Chief Medical Officer at Apollo Neuro: Dr. Dave Rabin, MD, Ph.D.
He talks about his path to psychiatry; his realization that trauma and chronic stress were primary themes at the root of most mental illness; and the creation, research and implementation of the Apollo wearable: the first scientifically-validated wearable technology designed to improve energy, focus, and relaxation based on touch therapy. The idea was born from Rabin asking himself: If we’re all starved for touch and constantly feeling unsafe, our bodies prefer a calm, soothed state, and MDMA seems to work by amplifying feelings of safety and essentially telling our brains, “you’re safe enough to heal now,” could a rhythmic vibration programmed to stimulate touch receptors and put our bodies into a meditative state fool our brains into the same perceived feeling of safety – especially if that stimulation is constant? Would our nervous systems be able to tell the difference? So far, the data seems to prove that this technology works.
He discusses what they learned from initial research about how people were using their Apollo wearables; heart rate variability and what changes it; MAPS’ Phase III MDMA-assisted psychotherapy results; the idea of the inner healer; using the Apollo in conjunction with ketamine and other psychedelics to ease pre-experience anxiety; and the concept of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as reverse trauma, the reality that it could stop epigenetic memory, and the question of whether or not the Apollo can do this on its own.
Apollo Neuro is continuing their research by running 14 different trials right now, and if you ever participated in a MAPS trial, you’re eligible for a free wearable. If you’re just curious about trying the Apollo, you can receive $50 off using this link.
“What we’ve learned through the study of all the work that came before us was that the body actually likes to be in that state. It likes to be in this calm, soothed state, and it’s just overwhelmed and overstimulated a lot of the time and that’s why it’s not in that state. So then the research question was: If we deliver the rhythm that our bodies like to breathe at when they’re at rest (which is like five to seven breaths per minute when we’re normally breathing at 12 to 24 breaths per minute, which is stress breathing), then would the body start to automatically breathe at its ideal rhythm on its own simply by receiving the right rhythm? Is that enough? Like, if you play the right dance beat, will people start dancing on their own or will they just sit in the chair?”
“The word ‘hallucination’ implies that what you’re experiencing is not real, and I hesitate to use that word in the context of psychedelic work because ‘psychedelic’ means to reveal the mind. And so, if we put out the understanding that the revelation of what’s underneath the surface of our consciousness in our minds is not real or hallucinatory, then we might be missing a lot of the meaning of what’s actually underneath the surface.”
“If we are able to show that other safety-based treatments, whether it’s MDMA or traditional ceremonial ayahuasca or other things, or ketamine therapy, or Apollo, or soothing touch: If any of these things are inducing similar changes to cortisol receptors that we saw in that MDMA trial, then we know it’s not the drug that is inducing the healing state. It’s the safety that is amplified by the drug that produces the healing response. And that will be really, really helpful to us as a field to understand what we actually need to heal. I think the theory is [that] we need to feel safe enough to heal. This would actually prove that.”
She shares childhood memories of growing up on her Grandparents’ farm, where she developed a deep appreciation for nature, staring at the stars, and the beauty in stillness, and how coming back to that stillness has been key in her life and psychedelic journeys. The conversation then shifts to all that she’s learned through her work with children on the autism spectrum: the problems of putting people into boxes; how autism affects everyone; the different ways people learn; the connection between autism and the gut microbiome; and how she has learned more from some of these children than any book could teach her – culminating in a story of discovering that a very challenged child people were ready to give up on could actually read and comprehend everything he was hearing.
She discusses her favorite adaptogens; the art of stacking adaptogens and different modalities; her multi-day coaching sessions; Internal Family Systems; quantum biofeedback; the use of supplements in microdosing; and Brilliant Blends, which sells blends of supplements designed to provide benefits as close to what psilocybin can provide (but legally) – inspired by the unique needs of autistic individuals. PT listeners can receive 10% off all purchases with code: PT10.
“If we look at Western medicine, we are masters at saving lives. We’re not so great at quality of life. And looking more toward Eastern medicine, European medicine: where body, mind and soul [is] more brought into play – healing, working on the mind, the emotional, the mind and the body for a complete healing… So that was really why I chose the path of natural integrative medicine because I did see that everything has a place. Everybody brings a talent to the table. …We, many times, need a village for healing.”
“I’ve had some wonderful mentors along the way, but being on the ground, so to speak – not just in a laboratory, formulating things – being hands-on with those children on a day-to-day basis: that was the greatest teacher of: how is this herb working? How is this adaptogen working? So when I went to formulate Brilliant Blends, I just knew it had to honor them because I was using that knowledge base. I use it on a daily basis with everyone. …Autistic children have taught us what we know from autism, and what we know from autism applies to everyone.”
“That’s the end game. That’s the bottom line in all of this work that we’re doing. That’s where the transformation and freedom is: to realize that this medicine is in all of us. Maybe we’re just using psychedelics to open that door to reveal it and show us the path how to anchor it, but this medicine is in all of us and always was. So if we can use these different pathways, these different approaches to lead us back home, then bravo.”
Neurology physician Dr. Burton Tabaac’s interest in psychedelics began almost by accident. He happened upon the topic through a 2019 presentation during his fellowship training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine – and may not have pursued a dedicated interest in the field if he hadn’t attended.
“… In four years of medical school and four years of residency training, psychedelics were not mentioned – not even once as part of a comprehensive allopathic education,” Tabaac told Psychedelics Today.
The Hopkins lecture inspired the physician down a non-typical path for those in his profession: research on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in treating mental health diseases. Today, he explores psychedelics beyond their traditional association with mental health. Entities inclusive of Parkinson’s disease, dementia, stroke, and traumatic brain injury are of particular intrigue with potential for psychedelics to promote healing, Tabaac shares.
Exploring Psychedelics’ Versatility
In his recently appointed role for the Mckenna Academy of Natural Philosophy, founded by Dennis McKenna, Dr. Tabaac serves as an advisor for educational pursuits and evidence-based methodology. Through this collaboration, he is dedicated to investigating the possible role of psychedelics beyond their use in the mental health realm, and is passionate about exploring whether these substances could help with functional neurological and neurodegenerative diseases.
“There are specific indications that I feel warrant additional study and funding to assess and discover,” he says. “There has already been a lot of research and literature published dedicated to psychedelics for treating depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD; I’m very eager to partner in pushing the frontier further to investigate what else psychedelics may have the potential to address.”
In the current landscape of psychedelic research, this alliance highlights the evolving role of physicians stepping beyond traditional methods to investigate alternative solutions. The demand for more research signifies a promising future for psychedelic research, with the potential of extending the possibilities of these substances in treating various conditions.
Obstacles to Holistic Approaches
In the healthcare world, it isn’t uncommon to find that many doctors tend to favor Western medicine while overlooking holistic approaches. Doctors don’t typically embrace integrative routes, because the current medical system is guided primarily by evidence-based research, Tabaac says. Treatments typically require strong evidence of their efficacy before they are widely adopted, which doesn’t bode well for most federally scheduled psychedelics in relative nascent stages of research.
“I also think that having psychedelics as a restricted Schedule I class of drugs prohibits a lot of providers from even being able to offer these therapeutics off-label,” he says. “When you look at where the medical/legal field is heading, there’s a lot of promise with the Phase 3 trial that MAPS has presented demonstrating the potential for MDMA to treat PTSD.”
PTSD patients in the MAPS study received three doses of MDMA, supplemented with psychotherapy. The trial results yielded 50 per cent of participants no longer meeting the criteria for PTSD. One year later, without any additional MDMA doses, the number of patients no longer meeting the criteria increased to 70 per cent, “showing that there is some underlying effect on the brain that is sustainable,” Tabaac said.
The MAPS study highlights the transformative impact that psychedelics – combined with psychotherapy – can have on mental health disorders like PTSD, Tabaac says. As more research emerges, it is expected that the medical community will gradually embrace these alternative treatments and integrate them into mainstream healthcare, ultimately empowering physicians to treat patients with greater efficacy and enriching the field of allopathic medicine.
The Power of Virtual Community for Doctors
Back in December 2021, Tabaac stumbled across the Psychedelics Anonymous(PA)platform, a web3 community that shared his enthusiasm for the potential of NFTs to bridge communities of like minded individuals. PA offers a secure environment where members can connect without revealing their identities, utilizing avatars to engage in discussions about psychedelics, and exchange personal or professional experiences.
Membership in Psychedelics Anonymous brought with it additional perks, Tabaac said, offering access to educational opportunities such as a plant medicine course at Cornell and participation in the recent Psychedelic Science 2023 conference in Denver. The project has also established a podcast, The Zero Hour, where Tabaac interviews the top minds in the psychedelic space. The most valuable aspect, Tabaac says, was the connections made with fellow colleagues. He connected with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and researchers who were curious about psychedelic medicine and established this virtual space where they could openly discuss without stigma, judgment, or fear of retribution.
“I attribute a lot of my own development and personal growth and passion for the space to the Psychedelics Anonymous project, because prior to getting involved in that community, there was trepidation over being judged by friends and by society at large, as a lot of the negative press and stigma still remains, dating back to Nixon’s War on Drugs,” he says. Psychedelics Anonymous also catalyzed Tabaac’s passion in the field to present a TEDx talk discussing Mental Health Meets Psychedelics. In this talk listeners are challenged to question their preconceived notions and judgements as it pertains to the group of restricted therapeutics in the psychedelic class. Tabaac asks if this class of drugs can serve as a paradigm shift in the way mindfulness therapy and mental health is approached.
Balancing Passion and Clinical Practice
Dr. Tabaac recognizes the difference between his passion for advancing psychedelic medicine and his commitment to ethics. “I infrequently discuss psychedelics with my patient population, exceptions including clinical trial offerings if inclusion criteria is met. Doctors and health practitioners are constrained by the limits of their medical licensure, and must remain patient until FDA approval is achieved,” Tabaac says. “I think it’s still premature and out of my scope to offer psychedelics to my patients. My mission and my role is better served in pushing clinical research forward, commiting patient enrollment in trials, and inviting speakers who are experts in the psychedelic space to present on my podcast I incorporate teachings on psychedelics to the medical students that rotate with me as it is the only space where they have exposure to learning about these modalities. The enthusiasm and interest among the next generation of physicians is encouraging.”
The demand for alternative mental health solutions continues to increase. Organizations like the Psychedelic Medicine Association, dedicated to providing ketamine treatments and with whom Tabaac is affiliated, are addressing the needs of individuals seeking non-traditional routes. While certain prescriptions may fall beyond the scope of some physicians, adopting a holistic approach becomes crucial. With physicians like Tabaac considering various facets of a person’s well-being, such as sleep, lifestyle, nutrition, social support, mindfulness practices and physical health, individuals can benefit from more comprehensive and personalized mental health care. This avenue goes beyond medications, recognizing the broader needs of patients. It underscores the importance of tending to various dimensions of a person’s life to foster holistic well-being and empowers individuals to explore diverse modalities for emotional harmony. Tabaac emphasizes the moniker of focusing “mental health as part of whole health.”
The Future of Psychedelic Medicine
For physicians like Tabaac, exploring the uncharted waters of psychedelic medicine opens up new possibilities for patient treatment and professional development. It provides access to innovative therapies, nurtures professional growth, and enables them to explore new frontiers beyond the constraints of conventional methods. By breaking stigma, advancing the field, and advocating for holistic modalities, physicians have the opportunity to play a pivotal role in enhancing the field of mental health and allopathy, offering new hope and potential healing pathways to patients. A new era in Western medicine, where evidence-based methodologies, holistic approaches, and comprehensive care intersect, holds the potential for a transformative landscape on the healthcare horizon.
In this episode, Joe interviews one of the world’s leading experts on human performance: New York Times bestselling author and Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective, Steven Kotler.
Kotler’s work explores the neurobiology of peak human performance, flow states, and aging, and the concept of getting our biology to work for us rather than against us in our later years, by using the parts of our brains that expand in our 50s, combined with neuroplasticity, learning by play, and the biggest factor: working toward a very difficult – but not impossible – task. His 30-year exploration of the neurobiology behind people accomplishing ‘impossible’ feats led him to test his theories by teaching himself to park ski at 53 with resounding success, then using his protocol with people up to 70 years old the next season. The story is told in his newest book about challenging tired concepts of aging, Gnar Country.
He discusses the power of flow states and how much flow actually amplifies productivity, motivation, wisdom, empathy, and more; why dynamic motion is a key activity for greater longevity and why skiing and similar action sports are some of the best examples; why dynamic activity in novel environments is even better; why changing one’s mindset may be the biggest factor toward change; why corporations are looking at flow training and where these concepts could go in the future; and of course, how this all relates to psychedelics.
“If you study flow science, it turns out that flow is really great at helping us go from zero up to Superman. It’s also really great at helping us go from seriously subpar, ‘I’m completely broken and sick’ back to normal. And it turns out this combination is phenomenal in the second half of our lives. And flow sits at the heart of peak performance aging.”
“The only way I can go [from] A to B with this is to take everything I know about flow science and peak performance and see if I can use it to accomplish this so-called impossible task. So that’s what the book is. And yes, I was obviously very successful. I went 0 to 60, as I said, in a single season. It was the fastest I’ve ever actually learned anything.”
“The place you’ve got to begin is mindset. The mind-body connection gets tighter and tighter and tighter over time, and it plays a significant role in aging and peak performance aging. Mindset is the greatest example. …A positive mindset towards aging – ‘I am thrilled with the second half of my life; my best days are ahead of me’ – translates to an additional eight years of healthy longevity. It’s wild. …You could be morbidly obese and have a shitty mindset towards aging. Change your mindset, you’ll live longer. Don’t lose weight. Change your mindset. It’s more important. In fact, changing your mindset is more important than quitting smoking for healthy longevity.”
In this episode, Joe interviews Oliver Carlin, Founder of Curative Mushrooms, a grow kit solution company designed to produce mushrooms of one’s choosing within 30 days with little effort and no growing experience.
Carlin tells his personal story of 20 years in the Navy to a 7g psilocybin journey and the work of perfecting these grow bags; how a grow bag works; how easy it can be to grow your own mushrooms; the advantages of growing your own mushrooms vs. buying them; the legalities of grow kits and how he has been able to do this; steps growers can take to reduce their legal risks; the variety of people benefitting from mushrooms (especially in the veteran community); and how growing your own mushrooms seems to make the experience more curated and special.
Curative Mushrooms recently hired someone to create new strains for them every month, they do bimonthly live Q&As for people interested in growing, and they ship a bonus mycology book with each kit that shows how to study spores. They offer growing kits for Lion’s Mane, Turkey Tail, and Shiitake mushrooms, but his most popular option is the “All-in-One Happy Mushrooms for Sad People” kit.
“I do believe there’s always going to be a market for growers, because it’s just fun. And you can create your own strains of mushrooms if you really get into it. I mean, you can even name strains after yourself. And plus, isn’t it cool to grow your own, because now you have super fresh mushrooms, you know exactly what it is, how fresh, it’s going to be the most potent because you just grew it, and I’ll be honest, when you grow your own, it feels like the mushrooms were, like, grown specifically for you. I don’t know, there’s something special about them.”
“I didn’t take mushrooms because I was specifically doing it to overcome depression or anything like that. The reason I took mushrooms was: it was like answering questions about the world that I’ve always wanted to know. I’ve always had a problem with everything I’ve been told, and this was my opportunity to finally get some type of an answer for things that I didn’t understand. And that was my reason. And it completely changed my life.”
In this episode, Alexa interviews Rachel Clark: Education Manager for DanceSafe, a public health nonprofit specializing in serving people who use drugs and their communities.
As we move into the prime festival season, more people are going to be doing drugs, and the importance of harm reduction and drug testing becomes even more central to the experience. She discusses the complications of drug testing and how it’s more of an act of ruling substances out rather than determining purity; the fentanyl problem and its surrounding myths; how to identify and treat an overdose (and what not to do); Philadelphia’s struggles with Xylazine highlighting the problem with regional cross contamination; and DanceSafe’s “We Love Consent” and “Healing is Power” campaigns, which aim to open up the dialogue of true harm reduction and safe spaces outside of the substance alone.
“You’re looking for red flags and not green lights. You’re not looking for confirmation that something is in your substance, you’re looking for a red flag about whether something is obviously or potentially not what you expected.” “The three major symptoms of opioid overdose are very, very slow, shallow, and or stopped breathing, reduced or absent consciousness, and pinpoint/constricted pupils. And I want everyone to understand that the cause of opioid overdose is when your respiration, your breathing slows to the point that your tissues are not being oxygenated and perfused and your heart stops. That is the sequence. …If people understood that this is about a lack of oxygen because your breathing is too slow, I think that the public understanding of fentanyl overdose and opioid overdose would change a lot, because that, in and of itself, gives you a lot of information when you’re looking at someone and evaluating if an opioid could be involved.”
“Always communicate the limitations of what you know. Assume that you are missing information, because you are. And when you are reporting on something that you witnessed, share only what you saw and what you did, including timelines. This is a major, major note for anybody, especially people who work in EMS, because there have been a lot of very well-intentioned folks who have ended up spreading misinformation like wildfire by saying things as certainties instead of sharing observations.”
Planning on hitting a festival this summer? You’re not alone. With COVID restrictions and cancellations now a thing of the past, many music lovers are heading back into the wild and hitting summer concerts and festivals all around the world with renewed energy, making up for lost time with their psychedelic communities and their favorite artists.
But with the freedom and joy that comes along with dancing, hugging, and partying with thousands of strangers until the sun comes up, also comes the potential for mishaps, and at worst, serious harm to you and your friends.
Gathered from our team at Psychedelics Today – who have decades of festival experience between them – here are some tips to help you stay safe and get the most out of your party time during this psychedelic summer.
Pre-Purchase Your Substances and Test Them
In 2023, there is no excuse for having to resort to taking whatever substances you can get your hands on at a festival. While it’s possible (and likely!) you’ll be offered psychedelics at festivals, never take anything from someone you don’t know. Should you choose to take psychedelics (or any other substances), acquire them ahead of time from sources you trust and test them before consuming any. Groups like DanceSafe, Qtests, Bunk Police, and Test Kit Plus offer a wide variety of regent testing kits to give you a better understanding of what is (and isn’t) in your substances, including fentanyl. And if you’re in Canada, you can send a sample of your substance to getyourdrugstested.com for a free analysis. You can also browse their results catalog to get a sense of what’s going around in your area, and what the lab results reveal. Many festivals partner with harm reduction groups to provide substance testing on-site, so if you can’t test ahead of time, check to see if your festival offers on-site testing – and use it.
Plan Your Transportation Ahead
Figuring out how you’re getting to – and perhaps, more importantly – from the festival grounds ahead of time is crucial. This may include public transportation, shuttle services, or carpooling, so determine which option suits your needs and budget. Assign a designated driver, don’t get in a vehicle with someone who might be intoxicated, don’t drive if you’ve been consuming, and avoid walking or biking on poorly lit roads or paths. And when in doubt, call your parents – even if you’re 35, chances are they’ll be happy to give you a safe ride home (and they might even make you breakfast).
Get Familiar With the Festival Grounds
Upon arriving at the festival, get a map of the grounds and familiarize yourself with its layout. Locate important areas such as the first aid tent, water stations, restrooms, camping area, and stages. Knowing where these facilities are will save you time and effort when you need them most. Pay attention to emergency exit points as well, ensuring you have a plan in case of an emergency.
Pack Smart: Essentials for a Comfortable Experience
Preparing a well-thought-out festival survival kit will make your experience much more enjoyable. Some essential items to consider packing include:
Energy bars or nutrient-dense snacks: these will provide quick bursts of energy to keep you going during long sets.
Toiletries: pack travel-sized toiletries to keep your body clean. Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, and tissues are particularly useful in festival environments where you can get real grimy, real fast.
Changes of clothes and socks: staying fresh and dry is crucial in preventing discomfort, blisters, and skin irritation.
SPF protection: apply sunscreen liberally to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Pain relievers: bring some over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol in case of headaches or injuries.
Upset stomach relief: bring TUMS or Pepto in case of heartburn or indigestion.
Phone charger or battery pack: keep your phone charged at all times to stay connected with friends and have access to emergency services if needed.
Sunglasses: shield your eyes from the sun and prevent eye strain caused by bright lights or lasers during performances.
Set Your Intention
Just like you might with a ceremony, or guided psychedelic journey, ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve before you dose. Is it a greater connection with your friends and community? Is it a deeper exploration of your inner mind and heart? Is it appreciation for the musicians, artists, or to experience the music more intensely? Or is it simply celebration, unwinding, and feeling good? Whatever it is, big or small, it’s ok! Just try to define it, and go into your experience knowing what you hope to achieve. It also helps to tell your friends what your plan is for the evening or weekend (both the substances you plan to consume and your goals). Added transparency can help you with your psychedelic integration, but can also help mitigate any potential harms, if your friends are watching your back and know your consumption plans.
Stay with Your Friends: Safety in Numbers
Attending a festival with good friends is not only more fun, but helps keep you safe. Try to make sure you always have a sightline to your friends in the crowd, but develop a plan to find each other in case you get separated (which can happen easily). Pre-designate a central meeting point to wait for your friends if you get separated, just in case there’s no cell service or one of your devices dies. If you’re attending alone, consider joining or creating a meet-up group to connect with other people, so you’ll have at least a few festival friends. Whatever you do, don’t leave the event with strangers – even if they seem nice, or you’re hoping to hook up – you really don’t know who you’re going home with. Grab that number, and hit up the person in a few days instead.
Hydrate: The Key to Beat the Heat
Summer festivals often take place under the scorching sun, and staying hydrated is paramount to keep the good times flowing. Dehydration can occur a lot more easily than you might think, and can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and even heatstroke – a potentially life-threatening condition. Make it a priority to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Carry a refillable water bottle and take advantage of water stations if available at the festival grounds, and consider bringing electrolyte-rich drinks, or drink powders to replenish essential minerals lost through sweat. Pro tip: Bring an extra bottle cap with you. Refillable water stations aren’t always available and venues usually sell water bottles without caps. Being able to seal your water can make all the difference in the world.
Take Breaks From the Dance Floor
When you’re really feeling the vibe, it’s tempting to dance non-stop. However, it’s crucial to give your body regular breaks. Even though you might feel like you have the stamina to go all day or night, dancing for hours on end can exhaust you physically and mentally – and you might not realize it until it’s too late. Take short breaks between sets in shaded areas to rest and recharge. Find a spot where you can sit down and relax while enjoying the music from a distance. Taking regular breaks will pay off – it ensures that you can last throughout the festival without feeling completely drained by the end of the first day.
Pace Your Consumption
And speaking of completely wrecking yourself the first day – you don’t want to be that guy. You the one we mean – the guy who’s rolling around naked in the mud a couple of hours after the gates open. Not only is it not a great look, but if you go too hard, too fast, you could spend the rest of the weekend feeling like shit in your tent and miss out on all the great acts you wanted to see. Finally getting to that big event you’ve been waiting for feels incredible, and the urge to go completely off the rails is real (we’ve all been there!) but the best festivals are a marathon – never a sprint.
Remember to Eat
Amidst all the sets and activities, it can be easy to forget about eating, especially when substances are involved that suppress appetite. And sometimes, eating is inconvenient – vendors might run out of food before the event ends, or pricing for simple snacks or bottled water can cost a lot. However, proper nutrition is essential for maintaining your energy levels. Try to pack a variety of portable snacks like granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, or energy bars. Incorporate water-rich foods into your diet, like watermelon, oranges, or berries to help you stay hydrated while providing essential vitamins and minerals. And if you eat from the food carts, look for options that offer a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables to keep your energy levels stable.
Remember: This Too Shall Pass
Sometimes, the combination of psychedelics and an intense festival environment can be extremely overwhelming. Should you find yourself in an uncomfortable headspace, surround yourself with people you trust, breathe through the emotions, and just remember – it won’t last forever. If a friend is going through a tough time, sit with them, let them know you’re there for them, and remain calm, and hold space. However, there is a difference between a challenging psychedelic experience, and a serious medical issue, so ALWAYS keep a watchful eye out for signs of drug toxicity in yourself and others (nausea, difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness, etc.) and seek out medical attention if necessary. When in doubt, a trip to the medical tent is never a bad idea.
Stretch It Out
Dancing and standing for long periods of time can strain your muscles and lead to discomfort. Take breaks to stretch and release tension. Stretching exercises can improve circulation, prevent muscle cramps, and help you stay flexible. Consider incorporating gentle yoga poses or basic stretching routines into your festival experience to keep you limber and feeling good on the dance floor.
Find Quiet Places: Retreat From the Chaos
Finding moments of tranquility from all the festival stimuli can be crucial for recharging and regaining focus. Seek out quiet places within the festival grounds:
Chill-out areas: many festivals have designated chill-out zones where you can relax and escape the noise. These areas may feature comfortable seating, hammocks, or shaded spaces. Take advantage of these spaces to unwind, socialize with other festival-goers, or simply enjoy a moment of solitude.
Natural surroundings: if the festival grounds allow, explore nearby natural areas. Find a serene spot under a tree, by a lake, or on a hilltop to enjoy some peace and connect with nature. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and can provide a much-needed break from the intensity of the festival atmosphere.
Silent disco or acoustic sets: some festivals offer silent discos or acoustic sets, where you can enjoy music with headphones or experience stripped-down performances. These intimate settings provide a break from the overwhelming sound levels of main stages while still allowing you to enjoy live music.
And for the Love of God – Sleep
Unpopular opinion: acting on the phrase ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’ is, while kind of true, a really great way to ruin your festival experience. Adequate sleep is crucial for recharging your body and mind, so try to establish a sleep routine if you’re on a multi-day trip. Find a quiet and comfortable place to rest, whether it’s in your tent or a designated camping area. Invest in earplugs, an eye mask, some CBD (visit our friends at HempLucid for 10% off all products with code PSYCHEDELICS10) or noise-canceling headphones to create a peaceful sleeping environment, and get some shuteye – even just for a few hours.
What are some of your top tips for staying safe and having a great time at festivals? Join in the conversation on our socials, and tell us how you make the most out of your trips.
In the second episode of our special, two-part series, the Psychedelic Morning Show, Joe Moore and Anne Philippi are live once again bright and early from Psychedelic Science 2023 in Denver. Listen to this podcast as they interview four guests working on the front lines of psychedelic research, law, and the treatment of chronic pain.
Guests for this episode include:
Tommaso Barba – PhD candidate at Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London
Allison Hoots – Attorney at Hoots Law Practice and advocate; President of Sacred Plant Alliance
Psychedelics Today is reporting live this week from the industry event of the year, Psychedelic Science 2023 in Denver. Listen in to this podcast as our co-founder, Joe Moore, and New Health Club founder Anne Philippi hit the conference floor bright and early in the first episode of a special two-part series, the Psychedelic Morning Show.
In this limited series, Joe and Anne chat in real-time with guests working in all corners of the psychedelic ecosystem, from advocacy, law and finance, to research and therapy.
Guests for this episode include:
Dr. Julie Holland – Psychiatrist, psychedelic researcher, author and medical advisor for MAPS
Daniel Goldberg – Co-Founder and Principal at Bridge Investments & Palo Santo
Hadas Alterman – Director of Government Affairs | American Psychedelic Practitioners Association
Melissa Lavasani – Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Psychedelic Medicine Coalition, Founder and President of Psychedelic Medicine PAC
In this episode, Joe interviews Priyanka Wali, MD: board-certified practicing physician in Internal Medicine, MAPS-trained psychedelic facilitator, comedian, and co-host (with Sean Hayes of “Will & Grace” fame) of the HypochondriActor podcast, where they discuss interesting medical issues in a funny (and hopefully uplifting) way.
She talks about recognizing and protecting the humanity of healthcare professionals, and how medical school is creating a cycle of hurt people trying to help other hurt people. She believes we need to become more holistic, especially in embracing Indigenous ways of thinking, as their frameworks may be the only way to explain phenomena with which Western science can’t yet come to terms.
They talk a lot about ancient psychedelic use: the use of a soma described in the Rigveda; Egyptian culture and mushrooms observed in statues; Plato; the work of Brian Muraresku and Graham Hancock; and Vedic chants, Kashmiri Bhajans, and how singing (especially in a group) can be especially healing to the nervous system. And as Wali experienced first-hand the Kashmiri Pandit genocide of 1990, she discusses how much colonialism has changed cultures, and how much our cycles of oppression relate to our collective inability to experience pain and fear.
They discuss the psychological impact of living through major catastrophes; the special and hard-to-describe feeling of returning to your home (especially in a world changed by colonization and constant conflict); the sad case of Ignaz Semmelweis and hand washing; ghosts of Japan’s 2011 tsunami, the concept of ‘future primitive,’ and more.
“We’re only thinking about it from a certain perspective. And this is where you think about principles of colonization come in: looking at things only from one perspective. If you start to bring in Indigenous systems [and] Indigenous ways of looking at data, then suddenly, we do actually have ways to account for these other phenomenon that can’t be objectively tabulated.”
“In traditional Kashmiri culture, it was routine to gather together and sing together. We humans: we’re supposed to gather around the fire and dance and chant. There’s actually something very healing for our bodies. And let’s not forget how our nervous systems regulate with each other, so being physically together as a group, as a collective, singing, using our bodies: it’s actually very healing for the nervous system. We need more of that.”
“I think the next shift in consciousness is recognizing that we experience fear as part of the human experience, but we can choose not to give into it. We can be with it, we can allow it to be there, we can even honor it, but we don’t have to act on it. And we can, instead, choose the path of peace or love, or not even choose those paths, but just choose not to do anything with the fear; choose not to oppress someone, judge someone, lash it out, [or] numb it. …Unless we, in the present day, begin to start being with our fear, we will continue to perpetuate these cycles of oppression.”
In this episode, David interviews two of the founding members of Fireside Project: activist, healing justice practitioner, musician, and Chief Ambassador, Hanifa Nayo Washington; and lawyer, aspiring researcher, and Executive Director, Joshua White, Esq.
Fireside Project was created after White volunteered for a help line for years and realized a few things: that follow-up calls made a big difference; that the state of mental health in the U.S. was a disaster (he was talking to some of the same people for years); and that while psychedelics were becoming popular, they would likely only be accessible to the wealthy. Alongside Washington, they realized the most effective thing they could do would be creating a free help line where people could call for peer support during a psychedelic experience, and receive support in integrating that experience afterward. They’ve focused on finding volunteers who may be marginalized or who have been persecuted from the war on drugs, but most importantly, have real experience and true compassion (rather than letters after their name proving their credentials). They are on track to receive 10,000 calls over their first two years.
They discuss Fireside’s Burning Man origin story; the serendipity they’ve seen in the organization’s beginnings and so many calls; where the name came from; how they prepare volunteers; what true equity looks like; and how, while it’s a common challenge for therapists and facilitators to hold back and not try to fix a problem, that may be even more important here.
Fireside Project takes calls every day from 11am – 11pm PST, and while there is an app you can download, they recommend saving their number in your phone for when you need it (62-FIRESIDE). And to destroy the notion of being afraid to ask for help, they encourage everyone to share their stories on social media: the times that you’ve used Fireside Project or the times you had a challenging experience and wish you had known about them. Many newcomers have no idea this support exists, and it could truly be life-changing for them.
“What’s revolutionary about what we’re doing in this idea of democratizing care is that these are volunteers, and they come as peers. They come to the experiences having had their own experiences, and desiring to hold space for others as they navigate their experiences and navigate their processing afterwards. …They’re not doing therapy. They’re not diagnosing. They’re really with the person (the caller, the texter) as somebody who gets it.” -Hanifa
“I think some of the most powerful moments on the line come when we say absolutely nothing at all, when we just allow the silence to become almost palpable, to really feel that ember. I think silence has led to so many of the most beautiful moments that I’ve been lucky enough to see on the line.” -Josh
“By being able to create a safe and non-judgmental space for people by phone, then yes, that absolutely can reduce the risks of their psychedelic experiences. And I think there’s kind of a yin and yang here, which is that when a person is in a space of non-judgment, and when they do feel deeply seen and heard and listened to, then that not only reduces the risks, but it also allows someone to really turn towards their psychedelic experience and to unwrap the gift that’s before them.” -Josh