Plant medicines and psychedelics, used in thoughtful and intentional ways, can be incredibly life changing and transformative. They offer the potential for profound spiritual experiences and deep healing. But these experiences can also be very challenging, difficult, dark, or painful. This is especially true when the person is unprepared for the magnitude of what they experience. Even people going through positive transformative journeys with psychedelics can find themselves struggling to come to terms with what happened or return to a balanced state. It is not always a smooth process.
With the incredible amount of public attention being showered upon psychedelic research, and a growing acceptance in mainstream psychiatry, it is a good time to take a step-back and examine the current state of the research as 2018 gets underway.
Much has been made of the so-called “psychedelic renaissance,” which has emerged following a 30-year drought in psychedelics research and above-board therapeutic uses. Coupled with a surge in interest in plant medicines like ayahuasca and the recent popularization of micro-dosing psychedelics for both mental health and productivity, its safe to say that psychedelics have again penetrated mainstream consciousness.
The gut microbiome has become one of the most exciting fields of medical inquiry of the last decade. Much of the research began as an effort to understand and address a variety of chronic stomach ailments that have come into popular focus over the last 25 years, conditions such as Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcerative colitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Psychotherapists and psychologists have long postulated a connection between psychological ailments, psychosocial stressors, and stomach disorders. For example, 61% of people with IBS also have a DSM-diagnosed anxiety disorder. The classic understanding posits that high stress levels and anxious tendencies can cause disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract, including high stomach acid levels and hyper-reactive bowels, that may lead to various GI disorders.
There has been a lot of attention on the Amazonian plant medicine Ayahuasca over the last few years, especially for its therapeutic potential. But, frankly, there has also been a lot of hype. Statements such as “its 10 years of therapy in 1 night” get bandied about regularly. And the psychedelic press makes big proclamations like “A Single Session Of Ayahuasca Defeats Depression” when new research is released. Meanwhile, the mainstream press relishes in the ayahuasca tragedy stories or overly sensational stories about the visions or the purging. In the end it creates a cloud of misinformation and confusion about what ayahuasca is and what it can do.
Most people look at exercise as a something you do solely for your body. Specifically, many people look at exercising as simply a calorie destruction mechanism to be engaged in so that that they don’t get fat. Much of our current attitude around exercise comes from 1980s fitness concepts such as the the carlorie-in/calorie-out complex. Doing something to avoid something else is usually a very poor motivator for humans. As a result exercise often falls into the basket of “things I should do” that while enthusiastically embraced right around New Years, eventually ends up being discarded by the time spring cleaning rolls around.