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    Dr. Paddo - Thursday 23 February 2024

    Can we consider psychedelics as medicines?

    Anyone who has ever tripped knows that psychedelics can have special effects, but can we also consider these substances as medicines? More and more research is being done into the possibilities of mind-altering drugs for mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. In this blog we explore whether you can really see these remedies as medicine.


    Medications to treat a condition

    A few years ago there was still quite a taboo on psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms or cannabis, but fortunately this is becoming less and less. Scientists and users recognize that mind-altering substances can also be used therapeutically. But can we also call them a medicine? To find out, we first have to figure out what the word medicine actually means.


    The word medicine stands for a substance that has a certain property. It can prevent, treat or cure a disease or condition. This also means that a medicine is only used if there is a problem (a disease). So you don't just take such a drug without needing it. A medicine can even be dangerous if you take it without having a condition.


    The meaning of the term psychedelics

    Next, we look at psychedelics and how they differ from medications. Psychedelics are drugs that have specific effects on the brain. The term consists of words that come from Greek. Psykhe means mind and deloun means reveal. Psychedelics are therefore substances that can reveal your mind, that can make visible what is hidden.


    What has also become increasingly clear in recent years is that psychedelics can give you more insight into your inner world. Natural peoples have been using these remedies for this reason for a long time. They are perfect for breaking down the ego and clarifying who you really are, what you really want and what you find important. That process is called ego death and mainly occurs at very high doses.


    During a trip, hallucinations, auditory and visual effects also occur, where your senses process stimuli differently. This makes you see, hear and feel things that are not there. This also contributes to the unique effects of psychedelics, allowing them to increase your insight into yourself and the world around you. But can you therefore also consider psychedelics as medicines? Can they provide healing?

    Are psychedelics a type of medicine?

    The point is that for many people psychedelics are nothing more than a trip that they can enjoy. Although that is of course important, it is not the same as what a medicine offers. Actually, psychedelics have much more to offer. Medicines are purely intended to heal the body or mind and return you to a normal state. They counteract the negative symptoms of a disease, so that you can have as normal a life as possible.


    Psychedelics actually do the opposite, they take you out of your normal state. They change the functioning of your brain and your senses, to break through ingrained patterns. Even if you have no complaints, you can benefit enormously from a trip and enjoy it. Psychedelics will almost always enrich your life and that is something that medications do not do (although it will certainly contribute to the quality of life if medications help reduce your complaints).


    In fact, we are saying that medicines are purely intended to combat complaints and have no added value for life itself. You can use psychedelics when you are healthy and satisfied, they offer pleasure and more insight into yourself. So they are not used directly to provide healing. Yet psychedelics can certainly be used in a similar way to medicines.


    When can you use psychedelics as medicine?

    There are various studies showing that psychedelics can also be used to treat certain diseases. This concerns mental disorders, such as depression or addiction.

    Mind-altering drugs for addiction

    Psychedelics may be able to help with addiction problems. Their power probably lies in promoting neuroplasticity. This is the brain's ability to form new connections. In addition, the effects one experiences during a trip, such as an increased sense of connection and deep insights into ingrained behavioral patterns, are also important. This may allow people to change their attitudes towards addictive substances.

    Psychedelics for depressive complaints

    Psychedelics can also be of great help in the case of depression. A research from Johns Hopkins University involved 27 people with major depression. They were treated with two doses of psilocybin and therapy. After 12 months they still experienced the antidepressant effects of these doses. Unfortunately, this was only a small-scale study and more research is needed to gain more clarity about the effects of psilocybin.


    It seems that in depression the positive effects of psychedelics are also caused by being able to let go of stuck patterns, feeling emotions more deeply and being able to face problems. Neuroplasticity also seems to play an important role. In England a larger-scale research conducted, in which several patients with resistant depression were completely cured or in remission three weeks after treatment with psilocybin. Mind-altering substances therefore actually seem to have properties that can be compared to medicines.


    The unique effects of psychedelics

    What is the conclusion now, can psychedelics be regarded as medicines or are they something else? Mind-altering drugs are unique, they are not actually drugs because they do much more than just heal. They can take you on an intensive trip, which you can do purely for fun, but which can also put you on a path to healing. That is something you cannot do with medication.


    Medications have a single purpose and that is to heal physically or mentally or to reduce complaints. In that respect, psychedelics can do even more: they deepen and enrich your life, they give you a new zest for life and a profound insight into yourself and how you approach life. They therefore clearly form their own class of substances, with very different possibilities than those of medicines.

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