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Psychedelics were the subject of serious medical research in the 1940s to the 1960s, when many scientists believed some of the mind-bending compounds held tremendous therapeutic promise for treating a number of conditions including severe mental health problems and alcohol addiction. By the mid-60s, research into psychedelics was shut down for decades.
After the blackout ended, the doctor we have on the podcast today was among the first to initiate a new series of studies on psilocybin—the psychoactive compound in “magic” mushrooms.
On today’s Broken Brain Podcast, our host, Dhru, talks to Dr. Roland Griffiths, a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He has conducted extensive research with sedative-hypnotics, caffeine, and novel mood-altering drugs. In 1999, he initiated a research program at Johns Hopkins investigating the effects of the classic hallucinogen psilocybin that includes studies of psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experiences in healthy volunteers, psilocybin-facilitated treatment of psychological distress in cancer patients, psilocybin-facilitated treatment of cigarette smoking cessation, psilocybin effects in beginning and long-term meditators, and psilocybin effects in religious leaders.
In this episode, Dhru and Dr. Griffiths talk about his extensive research with psilocybin in the treatment of psychological distress in cancer patients and cigarette smoking cessation. They discuss the connection between psilocybin, spirituality, and consciousness. They also talk about psychedelics and their potential for treating conditions ranging from drug and alcohol dependence to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In this episode, we dive into:
- The connection between psychedelics, spirituality, and consciousness (7:48)
- The history of psychedelic research (8:28)
- The reintroduction of psychedelic research by Dr. Roland Griffiths and others (12:27)
- Why research participants rated their psychedelic experience as one of their most meaningful (16:36)
- What is happening in the brain when using psychedelics (23:39)
- How psychedelics can help us understand altered states of consciousness (29:09)
- The therapeutic benefits of psilocybin for the treatment of addiction (40:16)
- How a single dose of psilocybin substantially diminished depression and anxiety in cancer patients (44:52)
- The future of psychedelics (48:07)
- The downside and risks of psychedelics (56:14)
- Learn more about Dr. Roland Griffiths and his work (1:00:24)
I know you’ll love this episode of The Broken Brain Podcast  as much as I did.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
PS – For more on Dr. Roland Griffiths and his research on psychedelics check out his website https://hopkinspsychedelic.org .