FoundMyFitness Podcast Summary | Dr. Rhonda Patrick | Roland Griffiths Ph. D. on Psilocybin, Psychedelic Therapies & Mystical Experiences (Part 4)

45:34 – Large survey study of 2000 people who have taken psilocybin, looking at the consequences. The subjects were asked to describe their “bad trips” and worst experiences with psilocybin. 10% say that they may have put themselves or others at risk. There was a small percentage of people who looked for psychiatric help after taking psilocybin; Dr. Griffiths speculates that there may be a small percentage of people who have a phycological disposition that makes them very sensitive to the drug. This vulnerability can mean trouble for the individual.

48:21 – Dr. Griffiths’s studies: screening for things that may predispose people to have a negative experience after taking psilocybin. There is extensive medical history screening; people are screened out if they have any relation to a psychotic disorder. There always, however, exists a possibility that anyone can have a bad experience while on the drug – so much so that some have claimed it was the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do. This is the proverbial “bad trip”. The best that the researchers can do to avoid this is to provide support during the experience. Roughly 30% of the subjects in these studies have expressed some sort of feeling of fear or anxiety. Researchers also have no accuracy when it comes to trying to predict how someone will feel about their trip before they administer the drug.

51:45 – Dosage. A lot of these effects are dose dependent. The highest dose was 30mg/70kg of bodyweight. 5mg/70kg is the lowest administered dose and Dr. Griffiths suspects that there are still effects felt at doses lower than that. The probability of having a mystical or challenging experience increases as a function of dose. The probability of a very difficult experience increases significantly between 20-30mg/70kg. There was a concern that the deep experience of the existential emptiness and fullness might end up traumatizing the subjects – there was no indication of this in the 80 subjects that Dr. Griffiths worked with [I assume these 80 subjects were part of high dose studies – because he claimed to work with more than 80 volunteers].

55:17 – How do we run double blind studies when the task at hand involves determining if something that happens is a result of pharmacological intervention or the mind playing tricks? Dr. Griffiths informs us that there are always a few subject-expectancy effects (getting the result you expect because you expect it). However, these subject-expectancy effects are never the cause for the full blown psychedelic effects that some would describe as challenging, profound, or life altering. They know this because there have been many control trials testing just this.

57:48 – Even people who are very familiar with the workings of their mind and can navigate their mind “better” than most people can sometimes play tricks on themselves without knowing it. There have been people who were convinced that they were given psilocybin and not a placebo during the study. Keep in mind these are people who have dedicated much of their life to becoming versed in the workings of their own mind. It turns out that 2 months later, when the blind is broken, those same well versed individuals were understood to have been given a placebo. The power of suggestion is salient. It still however does not account for the extent of the changes that occur with psilocybin.

59:27 – People who thought they received psilocybin but instead were given a placebo were given actual psilocybin and were prompted with a question asking if this was different from the last thing administered. The subjects claim that this new thing (actual psilocybin) is much different.

1:02:05 – People who meditate undergo an “investigation of the mind”. Often they, in effect, gain control and change the repertoire with which the brain is activated. They can watch thoughts come up and release thoughts that someone who has not practiced as much is much less likely to do.

Dr. Griffiths believes that psilocybin is a “convergent methodology” for investigation of the nature of the mind. He considers it “meditation on steroids” because there is a such an abrupt shift in the nature of consciousness that it wakes people up to the extent that they question their normative cognitive processes. Some people become aware that the way they hold reality is just one way they do so – there can be something shocking about the realization that there may be more.

1:03:33 – Psilocybin is not a substitution for meditation because it doesn’t lead to any stability towards understanding the nature of the mind and being aware. Psilocybin is the “crash course version of meditation” according to Griffiths.

1:04:17 – First five minutes of meditation has shown to activate hundreds of genes and express many different things. Things like telomere length have been shown to benefit from occasional meditation sessions.

1:06:43 – Dr. Patrick discusses the dynorphin pathway. The pathway partially responsible for feeling good after something discomforting like exercise or heat stress. Dynorphin plays a role in cooling the body down. Large amounts of dynorphin can up regulate endorphin sensitive µ-opioid receptors – making us more sensitive to feeling good and less stressed.


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