The journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology has published a review of what is known about psychedelic drugs’ biochemical effects in the human brain, their physical side effects, and their psychotherapeutic applications. “Hallucinogens have been part of spiritual practice for millennia, but controversy surrounding their mind-manifesting effects led to their proscription by the mid-20th century, largely without evidence of harm or toxicity and despite nascent data suggesting therapeutic utility in treating depressive illnesses,” writes a team of Kings College London psychiatrists.
“Depression causes a profound burden on society. These drugs offer at least the potential of better understanding the neurobiology of depression, and of providing novel therapeutic agents,” conclude the authors. “The weight of clinical need must overcome any weight of political hesitancy.”
Classical hallucinogens as antidepressants? A review of pharmacodynamics and putative clinical roles (Baumeister, David et al. Thorapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. August 2014. doi: 10.1177/2045125314527985)