This week’s Psychedelic News Roundup covers the somber news of Dr. Roland Griffiths’ death. Dr. Griffiths was a renowned and highly esteemed researcher responsible for reinvigorating psychedelic research, particularly that of psilocybin. Other news includes a generous gift to Harvard University to be used for psychedelic research. As well as new psychedelic studies, and the possibility that psychedelic could be used as preventative medication in psychiatric care.

University of Michigan Explores Psilocybin’s Potential to Alleviate Fibromyalgia Symptoms

University of Michigan

In an article from WXYZ Detroit, researchers from the University of Michigan have embarked on a novel study exploring the potential of psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, as a treatment for fibromyalgia—a disorder characterized by widespread chronic pain. Spearheaded by the Michigan Psychedelic Center (M-PsyC), under the guidance of Dr. George Mashour, this investigation marks a significant stride in the burgeoning field of psychedelic research for diverse medical treatments. The study aims to assess the safety and efficacy of TRP-8802, combined with psychotherapy, in alleviating fibromyalgia symptoms.

The investigation, designated as a Phase IIa, open-label pilot study, calls for volunteers aged 25 to 54 from various racial and ethnic backgrounds currently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and willing to modify their medication regimen. The study entails 15 visits over several months, including four full-day visits, with participants receiving two doses of psilocybin in a controlled setting.

Dr. Kevin Boehnke, the principal investigator, posits that psilocybin, coupled with talk therapy, might offer a fresh perspective for patients, aiding them in reframing their pain and breaking free from debilitating behavioral loops. This study epitomizes the broader psychedelic renaissance embraced by the M-PsyC, aimed at unraveling the mysteries of consciousness and exploring psychedelics’ potential in treating psychiatric ailments. By embarking on this meticulous research journey, the University of Michigan joins a growing cadre of institutions delving into the therapeutic vistas opened up by psychedelic substances, thereby contributing to a paradigm shift in mental healthcare and pain management.(1)

A Luminary Lost: Reflecting on Dr. Roland Griffiths’ Psychedelic Legacy”

Roland Griffiths

The psychedelic realm is in mourning, as we discussed in depth earlier this week, with the passing of Dr. Roland Griffiths, a venerated neuroscientist and psychopharmacologist from Johns Hopkins University. His demise leaves a void in the psychedelic community, where he was revered for rekindling psilocybin research. Dr. Griffiths’ life was dedicated to unearthing the therapeutic treasure housed within psychedelics, especially psilocybin found in magic mushrooms. His monumental efforts revolutionized the understanding of psychedelics and reinstated them into the scientific dialogue after long-standing societal and regulatory censure.

Dr. Griffiths’ psychedelic odyssey commenced in 1999 with a seminal clinical trial on psilocybin, a bold and pioneering venture. This trial, meticulously crafted to uphold scientific and ethical rigor, laid the cornerstone for modern psychedelic research. The profound impact of psilocybin sessions on participants’ mental and emotional fabric sparked a renaissance in psychedelic inquiry. The insights yielded from this study were a catalyst for an upsurge in scientific engagement with psychedelics, investigating their potential to alleviate mental health afflictions, addiction, and existential despair.

As the psychedelic community commemorates Dr. Roland R. Griffiths, his indelible imprint is evident in the burgeoning field of psychedelic research, the shifting societal attitudes towards these substances, and the promise they hold in alleviating human suffering. His lifetime of dedicated and rigorous exploration has paved a sturdy pathway for the ongoing and forthcoming ventures into the psychedelic frontier. Through the continued endeavors of the researchers he mentored and the broader psychedelic community, Dr. Griffiths’ legacy is destined to resonate through the annals of psychedelic and neurological research, inspiring and guiding the quest for understanding the intricacies of human consciousness and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.(2)

Harvard University Initiates Comprehensive Study on Psychedelics’ Societal and Cultural Implications

Harvard University Initiates Comprehensive Study on Psychedelics

On October 16, 2023, the Harvard University Gazette announced the establishment of a dedicated Study on Psychedelics in Society and Culture, generously funded by the Gracias Family Foundation. This interdisciplinary initiative will span the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Divinity School, aiming to revolutionize psychedelic research. The initiative intends to deliver groundbreaking scholarship while fostering a collaborative environment for faculty, students, and experts to deliberate on the extensive implications of psychedelics.

This $16 million endowment underpins an endowed professorship focusing broadly on human health and provides resources for research across the university. The momentum behind this initiative aligns with the growing intrigue within scientific and academic circles toward psychedelics, especially in light of their potential therapeutic benefits for disorders like PTSD, depression, and addiction. In 2021, Harvard’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics pioneered its Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR), scrutinizing the ethical, legal, and societal aspects of psychedelic use in research, commerce, and therapy.

The Study of Psychedelics in Society and Culture is set to explore a plethora of humanistic and social scientific perspectives encompassing law, policy, ethics, religion, spirituality, consciousness, and nature, along with art and literature. Several entities, including the Mahindra Humanities Center, the Center for the Study of World Religions, and Petrie-Flom, are slated to organize seminars, public events, and a world-class conference to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue. Additionally, the gift will bolster existing programs and establish new fellowships at the Center for the Study of World Religions and the Mahindra Humanities Center, engaging researchers in cross-disciplinary endeavors between Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley.

The Gracias Family Foundation believes Harvard provides the perfect organizational strengths to explore psychedelics from fresh perspectives and to devise a framework for lawful, safe, and appropriate medical use. This initiative embodies a significant stride toward advancing the understanding and discourse surrounding psychedelics, melding diverse fields of study to explore their potential and implications comprehensively.(3)

Psilocybin Shows Promise in Alleviating Trauma-Induced Psychological Distress

Psilocybin  in Trauma-Induced Distress

Coming to us from Marijuana Moment, a new study examines the therapeutic effects of psilocybin, a psychedelic drug, demonstrating its potential to ease psychological distress among individuals who endured adverse childhood experiences. The study engaged 1,249 Canadian participants aged 16 and over who completed a questionnaire evaluating their childhood trauma experiences alongside their psilocybin use. The findings highlighted that those who had used psilocybin exhibited lower effects of adverse childhood experiences on their psychological distress than non-users, suggesting psilocybin’s therapeutic potential in treating psychological repercussions of childhood adversity.

The authors aligned their results with other existing research, including a study of over 213,000 U.S. adults, which identified a correlation between lifetime psilocybin use and decreased likelihood of experiencing a major depressive episode in the past year. The report accentuates the positive therapeutic potential of psilocybin, even outside therapeutic settings. Among the respondents, nearly half utilized psilocybin frequently to tackle mental health or emotional challenges, with those scoring high for adverse childhood experiences being significantly more inclined to use psilocybin for mental health purposes.

Furthermore, the researchers observed a dose-response effect, where increased psychedelic exposure correlated with enhanced psychological effects and well-being improvements. The study noted psilocybin’s good safety profile and low addiction potential, especially at low doses. However, it cautioned against using psilocybin outside a healthcare provider’s supervision due to potential adverse experiences like psychotic episodes or anxiety-ridden bad trips. This research, conducted by various reputable universities and published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, contributes to the growing evidence supporting psilocybin and other entheogens in treating a spectrum of mental health conditions, thus broadening the horizon of psychedelic-assisted therapy.(4)

The Untapped Preventative Potential of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

Potential of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

A story from MedCityNews details how psychedelic-assisted therapy, currently a ray of hope for severe mental health conditions, may harbor preventative capabilities. This notion was brought forth by Sherry Rais, CEO and co-founder of Enthea, at the HLTH 2023 conference. While the treatment focuses now on severe mental health ailments, Rais suggests that the preventative aspect of psychedelic therapies could be a powerful avenue worth exploring. The discussion primarily centers around the potential of psychedelics in averting the escalation of mental health conditions to severe stages, an area that currently lacks substantial evidence but has some anecdotal support.

Ketamine is the sole FDA-approved psychedelic for conditions like major depressive disorder and PTSD, with MDMA and psilocybin mushrooms trailing toward approval. Anecdotal instances of individuals microdosing psychedelics to enhance productivity and creativity have sparked inquiries from employers regarding the feasibility of such practices for their workforce. Rais emphasized the need to investigate the role of psychedelics in early intervention, potentially halting the progression of conditions like depression and anxiety before they morph into treatment-resistant or life-threatening stages.

The call for a deeper exploration into psychedelics’ preventative potential isn’t confined to mental health. Rais highlighted emerging evidence suggesting psychedelics could address physical ailments such as migraines, chronic pain, and post-stroke issues. However, the journey towards unlocking the preventative potential of psychedelics necessitates battling the stigma surrounding psychedelic-assisted therapy. Enthea, alongside others in the sector, strives to educate the public and employers about psychedelics, making strides by promoting the term “ketamine-assisted therapy” due to its FDA-approved status. This exploration into preventative applications forms a crucial part of the broader narrative and warrants more research to understand and utilize the spectrum of benefits psychedelics may offer.(5)

The psychedelic industry is amidst an exhilarating phase of resurgence and discovery, each week ushering new, exciting prospects. This week, however, is veiled in a melancholy haze as we bid goodbye to Dr. Roland Griffiths, a visionary whose pioneering strides emboldened the scientific voyage into psychedelic medicine. His indelible legacy will continue to fuel psychedelic exploration, propelling the community towards uncharted territories with a spirit of rigor and inquiry that Dr. Griffiths epitomized. 

On a parallel note, the generous endowment to Harvard University signifies a burgeoning academic interest and a well-spring of resources directed towards unraveling the myriad societal and cultural dimensions of psychedelics. The new studies shedding light on the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, whether for trauma-induced psychological distress or fibromyalgia, herald a promising horizon where the entwined mysteries of mind, brain, and psychedelics might offer solace to the myriad human sufferings. 

This material is not intended as a replacement or substitute for any legal or medical advice. Always consult a medical professional about your health needs. Psychedelics are widely illegal in the United States, and readers should always be informed about local, state, and federal regulations regarding psychedelics or other drugs.
  1. U-M study investigating if magic mushrooms can help fibromyalgia. (2023, October 18). WXYZ 7 Action News Detroit.
  2. Psychedelia Says Goodbye to Psychonaut and Esteemed Researcher Roland Griffiths. (2023, October 17).
  3. Harvard launches a new Study of Psychedelics in Society and Culture. (2023, October 16). Harvard Gazette.
  4. Adlin, B. (2023, October 18). Psilocybin Eases Psychological Distress In People Who Experienced Childhood Trauma, Study Suggests. Marijuana Moment.
  5. Plescia, M. (2023, October 17). Can Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Be Used for Prevention? MedCity News.