Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Vancouver needs a ketamine - addiction study for 2012

Vancouver needs a ketamine – addiction study and Dr. Gabor Mate should be the one to lead it. 

Dr. Mate had been leading ayahuasca (DMT + harmaline) sessions for two years before Heath Canada finally made him stop, which is somewhat hypocritical given that they exempted a Montreal DMT cult from the drug-laws so that they could use the hallucinogenic tea in their quasi-Christian biweekly ceremonies.  The risk of an “adverse reaction” as we say in the psychedelic therapy biz i.e. (flashbacks, significant worsening of, or the development of totally new, functionally significant symptoms, Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD), prolonged reaction – over 48 hours ) is obviously considered to be virtually zero by Health Canada when ayahuasca (DMT + harmaline) in used in the religious context.

Which makes the two DMT religions Santo Daime and O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal (UDV) seem like groups of wise Indians administering an ancient religion thousands of years old – a romantic notion but UDV began in 1961 and Santo Daime began sometime in the 1930s.  Although the use of DMT drugs probably goes back 3 000 – 10 000 years these South American cultural exports were invented by spiritually ambitious twentieth century visionaries.  Brazil conducted two studies and concluded the churches were safe and impacted their communities positively and they have enjoyed fully legal status there since the early 1990s – the shamanic use of the tea, which does go back uninterrupted for thousands of years they outlawed.   Conversely all the psychedelic religions, from Timothy Leary’s League for Spiritual Discovery (1967) to the ibogaine (1890s), peyote (1880s) and DMT religions are all less than 150 years old.   In contrast to Brazil, Peru is investing big time in this Shamanic hallucinogenic technology, which is after all something they and their Amazonian psychedelic colleagues in many other central and South American countries invented and developed over the millennia.  

Curiously the plants with the DMT like mimosa bark and the plants with the harmaline like the yage or ayahuasca vine grow in vastly different parts of the jungle.  If taken orally the stomach naturally destroys DMT so harmaline, a compound known as a Monoamine Oxidase Reuptake Inhibitor (MAOI) is added to make the world’s most potent hallucinogen orally active and provide a tea that can be used for psychotherapy and ritual and communion with the spirits.  When ayahuasceros are asked how their ancestors thousands of years ago were able to figure this out they answer simply “the spirits told them.”

Ironically if Mate had joined one of the churches he could have attended the ceremonies with his patients indefinitely and all had brains chemically imprinted with the particular religious orientation of the church.   Which to me puts the cart before the horse – the psychedelic should be taken and then the revelation revealed – anyone’s religion should be based purely on hir own experience.

Don’t try to beat the shamans at their own game – let them have DMT – because fortunately in 1965 Parke Davis Pharmaceuticals of New Jersey developed ketamine from phencyclidine (PCP), a drug that when smoked produces effects in humans characterized by pharmacologists as “naked and running unless proven otherwise”.  Ketamine however seems to be one apple that does fall far from the tree and produces what are considered by some the twin Holy Grails of non-ordinary states of consciousness the Out of Body Experience (OBE) and the Near Death Experience (NDE).

Whereas DMT is a classic serotonin hallucinogen ketamine is called an NMDA antagonist (decreaser) that slows done another neurotransmitter (brain chemical messenger) called glutamate that is the most common neurotransmitter in the brain and reducing its action to levels of anesthesia with ketamine does not suppress the heart and lungs like other anesthetics do.  Imagine their surprise when people started tripping balls as the drug wore of and the “ghost in the shell” found hirself in a very strange world of “emergent phenomena”.

Nitrous oxide, Dextromethorphan (DXM) common in cough medicine, phencyclidine (PCP) are also NMDA antagonists that produce valued entheogenic states and totally dissociated destructive chaos apparently in the case of smoking PCP.   From Ketamine’s introduction in 1965 until 1973 it’s uses were strictly limited to anesthesia but in 1973 some Iranian Psychiatrists gave it to 100 patients with varying diagnoses of neurosis.    http://www.eleusis.us/resource-center/references/useofketamine.php

Thus began the career of another drug for “abreactive” psychotherapy along with LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, ether and barbiturates.   Despite the promising Iranian results it was not until some Soviet era Psychiatrists began experimenting with the drug in the 1980s that ketamine psychedelic therapy (KPT) came into its own.  From the mid 1980s to the mid 2000s many papers were published extolling the results obtained with heroin addicts and alcoholics -http://www.maps.org/research/ketamine/krupitsky_2002.pdf and in Florida now a clinic called Eleusis offers this treatment for opiate and alcohol addiction.

Dr. John Lilly, D. M. Turner and Marcia Moore all wrote books extolling the virtues of the drug and all became horribly addicted with the latter two both dying from overdoses.  Certainly these strange states of consciousness can become a dangerous siren song and in fact ketamine is by far the most addictive of the psychedelics.  Subjects addicted to this drug will have to be given the one drug without a single addict – ibogaine – but that’s for another post.  

The most important virtues ketamine has – it was born in an American laboratory and is enjoying a contemporary renaissance in the treatment of pain, depression, bipolar disorder and basic research.  In the U.S. ketamine is only schedule III but in Canada it’s in the most restrictive Schedule I – however given its north American pedigree, popularity in medicine and the recent approval of a study into MDMA (ecstasy) in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Dr. Mate will clear the legal hurdles easily.

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