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“Commentary on: Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance by Griffiths et al”.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 Jul 7.
The article by Griffiths et al. in this issue of Psychopharmacology should make all scientists interested in humanpsychopharmacology sit up and take notice. It is the first well-designed, placebo-controlled, clinical study in more than four decades to examine the psychological consequences of the effects of the hallucinogenic (psychedelic) agent known as psilocybin. In fact, one would be hardpressed to find a single study of psychedelics from any earlier era that was as well-done or as meaningful. Perhaps more importantly, despite the notion by many people that psychedelics are nothing more than troublesome drugs of abuse, the present study convincingly demonstrates that, when used appropriately, these compounds can produce remarkable, possibly beneficial, effects that certainly deserve further study.
Although many people seem to believe that "psychedelics" simply appeared during the turbulent 1960s, in fact the use of these materials spans back through many millennia of human history. Ancient substances with names such as Soma (India), Kykeon (Greece), and Teonanacatl (South America) served for thousands of years as psychopharmacological catalysts in a variety of sacred religious and magical rituals (Nichols 2004; Schultes and Hofmann 1979). Peyote, the ceremonial use of which is now thought by anthropologists to date back at least 5,000 years, is revered as a sacrament by the Native American Church. Ayahuasca, a decoction made from plants that grow in the Amazon basin, is a sacrament used by a syncretic church in Brazil. This church has a small following in the US that has just received a favorable decision by the US Supreme Court allowing them continued use of this material.
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