Psychedelic drugs are
psychoactive drugs whose primary action is to alter the thought processes of the brain and perception of the mind. The term is derived from the Greek words ψυχή ("psyche", "mind") and δηλείν ("delein", "to manifest"), translating to "mind-manifesting." The implication is that the psychedelic drugs can access and develop unused potentials of the human mind." [A. Weil, W. Rosen (1993), "From Chocolate To Morphine:Everything You Need To Know About Mind-Altering Drugs".New York, Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 93] Psychedelic drugs are part of a wider class sometimes known as the hallucinogens, which also includes related substances such as dissociatives and deliriants. Unlike other psychoactive drugs such as stimulants and opioids, the psychedelics do not merely induce familiar states of mind but rather shift the focus of experiences so that they are qualitatively different from those of ordinary consciousness. The psychedelic experienceis often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance, meditation, and dreams.
Many psychedelic drugs are thought to disable filters which keep signals unrelated to everyday functions from reaching the
conscious mind. These signals are presumed to originate in several other functions of the brain, including but not limited to the senses, emotions, memories, and the unconscious (or subconscious) mind. [Aldus Huxley, "The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell". ISBN 0-0605951-8-3] This effect is sometimes referred to as "mind expanding", or "consciousness expanding", for the conscious mind becomes aware of things normally inaccessible to it.
A definition that more clearly sets apart a "classic" or "true" psychedelic is offered by
Lester Grinspoon: “a psychedelic drug is one which has small likelihood of causing physical addiction, craving, major physiological disturbances, delirium, disorientation, or amnesia, produces thought, mood, and perceptual changes otherwise rarely experienced except perhaps in dreams, contemplative and religious exaltation, flashes of vivid involuntary memory and acute psychoses”. [L. Grinspoon, J. Bakalar (1979), "Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered". p. 9. ISBN 0-9641568-5-7]
Over the decades, the term has been expanded to include far more substances than originally intended. Many pharmacologists define psychedelic drugs as chemicals that have an
LSD- or mescaline-like action on certain serotoninreceptors. In essence, this means tryptaminesand phenethylamines, as no psychedelics from other chemical families have been discovered, with the possible exception of piperazinesand benzodifuranyls. Many people have applied the term psychedelic to other drugs including dissociative NMDA receptor antagonists such as PCP and ketamine, tropane deliriants such as atropine, other psychoactives such as Amanita muscariaand Salvia divinorum. However, these should be considered as separate groups. In the medical literature, they are often grouped together as hallucinogensor antidepressants(both of which are, in general, considered separate from stimulants). A treatment model was devised in the 1990's which divided all psychedelic drugs into one of three groups depending on pharmacological treatment intervention. While working for the US Information Agency at the US Department of State, Dr. A. James Giannini devised a system of specific treatment strategies for various European medical centers. [ AJ Giannini. Un modello biopsychiatrico per riconoscere le tossicomania. ("A biopsychiatric model for diagnosing types of addiction and abuse"). Ricerca e Salute (Italy), 2(3):4-11, 1990.] . The groups were organized according to the major receptor site involved in the clinical expression of acute symptom formation. These include serotonergic, cholinergic and and NMDAreceptors. Most psychedelics act on the serotonergic receptor sites. These include LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, borneol, saffrol, geraniol, DMT, ibogaine, ecstacyand PMA, Cholinergic psychedelic agents include belladonna, Jimson weed, asthmador(lobelia), mandrake, datura, thornapple and brugmansia. Drugs operating at the NMDA receptor site include: PCP, PHP and ketamine. Chronic abuse of serotonergic psychedelics can be treated with the SSRI, fluoxetine. [ AJ Giannini, RQ Quinones, BS Sullivan. Fluoxetine reverses post lysergic acid (LSD)symptoms. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 28:938,1988. ] Low dose ingestion of atropinics require minimal intervention, high dose ingestion can be treated with physostigminesalicylate. [. AJ Giannini. An approach to drug abuse, intoxication and withdrawal. American Family Physician. 61(9):2763-2772, 200. ] NMDA psychedelics have been reported to be suuccessfully treated with haloperidol. [ AJ Giannini, RH Loiselle, MC Giannini, WA Price. Phencyclidine and the dissociatives. Psychiatric Medicine. 3(3):197-207, 1985. ]
Psychedelics have a long history of traditional use in medicine and religion, where they are prized for their perceived ability to promote physical and mental healing. In this context, they are often known as
entheogens. Native American practitioners using peyotehave reported success against alcoholism, and Mazatecpractitioners routinely use psilocybin mushroomsfor divination and healing. Ayahuasca, a psychotropic drug, is still used in Peru for religious festivals [Posner, 2006] . Link: [http://www.walrusmagazine.com/u/register/?ref=anthropology-plants-with-soul]
Classic psychedelics include
LSD, psilocybin(main active principle of ' magic mushrooms'), mescaline(active principle of peyoteand the San Pedro cactus), LSA ( Hawaiian Baby Woodroseand Morning Glory Seeds) and also Ayahuasca(known in Beatnik literature as yajé), a traditional shamanic tea brewed from plants containing dimethyltryptamineand harmineor harmaline. Some newer synthetics such as MDMA(ecstasy), 2C-B(nexus), DOM (STP), and 5-MeO-DIPT(Foxy Methoxy) have also enjoyed some popularity. Cannabis, one of the most widely used psychoactive drugs in the world, produces effects similar to a low dose of a classic psychedelic, as well as a fairly prominent generally 'inebriated' feeling.
Pharmacological classes and effects
Serotonergic psychedelics( serotonin 5-HT2A receptoragonists)
This class of psychedelics includes the major hallucinogens, including
tryptamine-based compounds like LSDand psilocybin, and phenethylamine-based compounds like mescalineand 2C-B. Many of the tryptamines and phenethylamines cause remarkably similar effects, despite their different chemical structure. However, most users report that the two families have subjectively different qualities in the "feel" of the experience, which are difficult to describe. At lower doses, these include sensory distortions, such as the warping of surfaces, shape suggestibility, and color variations. Users often report intense colors that they have not previously experienced, and repetitive geometric shapes are common. Higher doses often cause intense and fundamental distortions of sensory perception, such as synesthesiaor the experience of additional spatial or temporal dimensions. Some compounds, such as 2C-B, have extremely tight "dose curves", meaning the difference between a non-event and an overwhelming disconnection from reality can be very slight. There can be very substantial differences between the drugs, however - for instance, 5-MeO-DMTrarely produces the visual effects typical of other psychedelics. Some drugs, such as the β-carbolines, produce very different effects from the more standard types of psychedelics.
=Empathogens and/or entactogens (
The empathogens are phenethylamines such as
MDMA, MDE, and similar drugs, the effects of which are characterized by feelings of openness, euphoria, empathy, love, and heightened self-awareness, but not by visual hallucinations. Their initial adoption by the dance club sub-culture is probably due to the enhancement of the overall social and musical experience. MDA is atypical to this experience, often causing hallucinations and psychedelic effects in equal profundity, but with substantially less mental involvement, to the "feel" of the more "typical" psychedelics in the phenethylaminefamily such as 2C-Band DOM, and is possibly both a serotonin releaser and also a partial serotonin agonist; giving the user, subjectively, the "best of both worlds". MDA (like MDMA) has also proven to be neurotoxic, however, so caution with its use must be practiced. Cannabinoids(CB-1 cannabinoid receptor agonists)
Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) and related compounds are capable of activating the body's endogenous cannabinoid system. Some effects may include: general change in consciousness, mild euphoria, feelings of general well-being, relaxation or stress reduction, increased appreciation of humor, music and other art, joviality, metacognition and introspection, enhanced recollection of episodic memory, increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, creative or philosophical thinking, disruption of linear memory, paranoia, agitation, and anxiety, potentiation of other psychedelics, increased awareness of patterns and color.
The effects of
myristicinand elemicin(found in nutmeg) are reported are similar to that of cannabis, more so of the cannabidiolcomponent rather than THC, but with a much longer duration, slow onset, and undesirable side-effects. Cryogenine(Vertine) is the active constituent of sinicuichi. Although vertine has anticholinergicproperties, use of sinicuichi tends to produce psychedelic effects rather than that of a deliriant (this could possibly be dose related). The primary noted effects include auditory distortions, improved memory and relaxation. Salvia divinorumis an atypical psychedelic. The main ingredient, Salvinorin A, is a kappa opioid receptor agonist, working on a part of the brain that deals with pain. Phenylethylamineis reported to have psychedelic effects when taken with an MAO inhibitoror by itself in high doses, with up to several grams required to produce significant effects if no MAO inhibitor is used.
Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants
Freedom of thought
List of psychedelic drugs
Roberts, Thomas B. (2006). "Psychedelic Horizons: Snow White, Immune System, Multistate Mind, New Learning" Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic.
* Stafford, Peter. (2003). "Psychedlics". Ronin Publishing, Oakland, California. ISBN 0-914171-18-6.
Winkelman, Michael, and Roberts, Thomas B. (editors) (2007) "Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogens as Treatments" 2 Vols. Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood.
* [http://ahp.yorku.ca/?p=98 Scholarly bibliography on psychedelic drug use in the history of psychology]
* [http://www.maps.org/sys/w3pb.pl WWW Psychedelic Bibliography] - A searchable database with full text of many scientific articles on psychedelics
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