Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Roland Griffiths at Psychedelic Science 2013 on the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin studies

A video of Roland Griffiths presenting from the Psychedelic Science 2013, "Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project: Studies of Mystical Experience and Meditation in Healthy Volunteers, and Palliative Effects in Cancer Patients".

The video covers pretty much all the ground that has been covered in the Johns Hopkins research since 1999.  It has no specific information on the cancer studies.

I was very interested to see the initial research on meditation and psilocybin, this starts around 32 minutes in.  There was frustratingly little information about results, as the study is not complete.  The design for beginning meditators includes 2-3 sessions of psilocybin over 6-7 months and looks at low (1mg) and high (20-30mg) dose and low and standard meditation support.  Initial results seem to be dose related psilocybin effects as opposed to meditation effects (or some combination), but it was teased that the final 3 months of data may prove more interesting.

Also disappointing that in various parts of the video, the graphics were not updated, apparently because these were ongoing studies.

The plan for studies of long term meditators and psilocybin will include fMRI and there will be some time for sitting meditation in the sessions.

Also covered were the web based survey studies, one based on psilocybin dervied mystical experiences as well as the study on difficult experiences.

From the mystical experience survey, analysis revealed 4 factors
  • unity, noetic quality & sacredness
  • positive mood
  • transcending space & time
  • ineffability
From the difficult experience survey, most people found even these challenging experiences to be mostly meaningful and beneficial, with longer difficult experiences less so.  Least effective means of dealing with such a challenge was doing another drug.

Griffiths felt that psychiatrists with largely negative impressions of psilocybin and the related research were essentially biased by their exposure to bad outcomes as part of their work, they were not seeing the overall results of the drug.  As he emphasized, overall negative effects are rare with good set and setting.

Future research ideas include
  • what factors effect the likelihood of a genuine mystical experience
  • what pharmacological and neuronal pathways are activated
  • possible therapeutic applications (addiction, depression, fear of dying)
Roland described the research as a "wedge" into understanding the human impulses to compasssion, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment