Have you ever heard of magic mushrooms? Or, how about consuming the venom of a toad? What about ayahuasca?
Celebrities have long been influenced by psychedelics drugs. Recently, Will Smith, a former NBA player, said that he had experienced ayahuasca in Peru which helped him find happiness. Lamar Odom, a former NBA player, will share his personal experience with psychedelics at Meet Delic, a health, business and wellness event.
Christina Haack, HGTV's star on HGTV, claimed that the hallucinogenic properties a toad venom helped her "kick out years of anxiety" and Megan Fox stated that psychedelic tea helped her in a way "talk therapy or hypnotherapy couldn't."
According to some medical experts, there are legitimate benefits to taking psychedelic drugs in appropriate amounts and in safe settings. However, they warn that following the latest celebrity medical trend could be dangerous.
Except in Oregon, where psychedelic mushrooms were legalized in 2020, it is illegal to use psychedelic drugs in any medical setting in the United States.
Dr. Alex Dimitriu is a specialist in psychiatry, sleep medicine and psychotherapy. However, he does not recommend psychedelic treatment for his patients as they are illegal.
He says that psychedelics can help users "connect loose themes" to experience "improved clarity and memory." However, they should not be taken recreationally.
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Hallucinogens are a well-known topic Hollywood has been discussing for decades. Think back to the Beatles' LSD use. They've seen a slight revival in pop culture, with more celebrities praising their therapeutic benefits.
Chelsea Handler spoke candidly about her Ayahuasca experience with a Shaman on her TV show "Chelsea Does." Lindsay Lohan also shared her experiences with the same psychedelic Tea, saying that it helped her let go of "wreckage" from her past.
Haack, who claimed she had smoked Bufotoad's poison to get the same psychedelic effects earlier in the month, made headlines.
Dr. Sameet, a psychologist who specializes helping people with cancer, grief, or other end-of-life issues, is not surprised by the increasing popularity of psychedelics. Kumar, who doesn't use the treatment for his patients because it is illegal, believes that these "agents to change" can help a person access their subconscious thoughts and address deeply rooted traumas.
Some research suggests that psychedelic therapies may be effective in treating mental disorders. In fact, Johns Hopkins University's 2020 clinical trial found that 71% patients suffering from major depressive disorder had a "clinically meaningful response" to psychedelic treatment treatments.
Kumar warns that ayahuasca is difficult to study. Kumar warns that ayahuasca is a natural medicine and dosage has not been standardized in the U.S. (The Johns Hopkins clinical trial participants received capsules containing psilocybin, a compound found in magic mushrooms. They then engaged in psilocybin assisted therapy.
Dimitriu points out that this research does not mean that psychedelics can have a therapeutic effect for all users.
"Some people report the psychedelic experience in waking dreams. This can be beautiful or terrifying depending on how the setting and mindset is. It is crucial to have strong therapeutic support before, during, and after such an experience.
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Proper use of psychedelics is essential.
Experts warn that celebrities may be raving about their psychedelic experiences. However, it's not a substitute for therapy. Fox stated that Haack hired a spiritual coach to help her through the experience. Fox, however, said that she had prepared hours in advance to make sure she was experiencing ayahuasca properly.
Dimitriu says, "All these psychedelic treatments aren't about giving people a drug and then sitting back." These therapies are a therapeutic process that requires hours of preparation and integration.
Kumar says that "it's dangerous to say there is psychotherapy and psychedelics, that it's one or another."
Both of these things must go hand in hand. He says that psychedelics are a promising treatment because they can "pull someone outside of their comfort zone" (especially for people who are resistant to standard talk therapies).
However, there are serious side effects to using psychedelics. Dimitriu warns that it is possible to cause brain damage. Combining psychedelics and therapy before, during and after use will result in the best results. This provides structure and guidance that allows for better outcomes.
Experts also warn that certain people are more at risk for negative experiences than others, even with the right setting and dosage. They should therefore avoid using psychedelics.
Dimitriu states that those who are experiencing emotional difficulties like loss or trauma more often than those who have a long history of anxiety, depression or psychosis.
These substances should be avoided by anyone with a history of schizophrenia, whether they are a family member or if you have it yourself.
Kumar says, "We don’t want people who are prone to psychosis use psychedelics because there’s an inherent harm but because the research hasn’t been done yet." The same applies to bipolar disorder.
They should be used with caution as they can destabilize mood symptoms.
This article was originally published on USA TODAY. Megan Fox and Will Smith tried ayahuasca, or psychedelics. Here are some facts