OPEN Foundation

Day: 1 September 2017

Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors

Abstract

Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences with participant-attributed increases in well-being. However, little research has examined enduring changes in traits. This study administered psilocybin to participants who undertook a program of meditation/spiritual practices. Healthy participants were randomized to three groups (25 each): (1) very low-dose (1 mg/70 kg on sessions 1 and 2) with moderate-level (“standard”) support for spiritual-practice (LD-SS); (2) high-dose (20 and 30 mg/70 kg on sessions 1 and 2, respectively) with standard support (HD-SS); and (3) high-dose (20 and 30 mg/70kg on sessions 1 and 2, respectively) with high support for spiritual practice (HD-HS). Psilocybin was administered double-blind and instructions to participants/staff minimized expectancy confounds. Psilocybin was administered 1 and 2 months after spiritual-practice initiation. Outcomes at 6 months included rates of spiritual practice and persisting effects of psilocybin. Compared with low-dose, high-dose psilocybin produced greater acute and persisting effects. At 6 months, compared with LD-SS, both high-dose groups showed large significant positive changes on longitudinal measures of interpersonal closeness, gratitude, life meaning/purpose, forgiveness, death transcendence, daily spiritual experiences, religious faith and coping, and community observer ratings. Determinants of enduring effects were psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience and rates of meditation/spiritual practices. Psilocybin can occasion enduring trait-level increases in prosocial attitudes/behaviors and in healthy psychological functioning.
Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., Jesse, R., MacLean, K. A., … & Klinedinst, M. A. (2017). Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881117731279.
Link to full text

First Time View on Human Metabolome Changes after a Single Intake of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine in Healthy Placebo-Controlled Subjects

Abstract

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; “ecstasy”) is widely consumed recreationally. Little is known about its effects on the human metabolome. Mapping biochemical changes after drug exposure can complement traditional approaches by revealing potential biomarkers of organ toxicity or discovering new metabolomic features in a time- and dose-dependent manner. We aimed to analyze for the first time plasma samples from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study in healthy adults to explore changes in endogenous plasma metabolites following a single intake of MDMA. Plasma samples from 15 subjects taken at four different time points were analyzed with the commercially available AbsoluteIDQ kit (Biocrates). Time series analysis revealed a total of nine metabolites, which showed a significant concentration change after MDMA administration compared with placebo. Paired t tests of the single time points showed statistically significant concentration changes mainly of glycerophospholipids and the metabolic ratio of methionine-sulfoxide over methionine. Changes of this metabolic ratio may be indicative for changes in systemic oxidative stress levels, and the increased amount of glycerophospholipids could be interpreted as an upregulation of energy production. Baseline samples within the experimental study design were crucial for evaluation of metabolomics data as interday individuality within subjects was high otherwise resulting in overestimations of the findings.
Boxler, M. I., Liechti, M. E., Schmid, Y., Kraemer, T., & Steuer, A. E. (2017). First Time View on Human Metabolome Changes after a Single Intake of 3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine in Healthy Placebo-Controlled Subjects. Journal of proteome research16(9), 3310-3320. 10.1021/acs.jproteome.7b00294
Link to full text

Developing Guidelines and Competencies for the Training of Psychedelic Therapists

Research since the 1950s has shown that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has had significant positive effects in reductions of specific clinical symptoms and increases in quality of life as measured on a variety of indices. The intensity of focus on evidence-based outcomes, however, has resulted in a paucity of active discussions and research on the core competencies of the therapists themselves. The context of the history of psychedelic research reveals how this neglect of therapist variables occurred. With current discussions of Phase 3 and expanded access research programs for psilocybin-assisted and MDMA-assisted psychotherapies, there will be a great need for competent therapists trained in this clinical specialty. This is particularly the case if less restricted, legal medical use is approved within the next 6 to 10 years. This article is the first review and compilation of psychedelic therapist competencies derived from the psychedelic literature. These six therapist competencies are empathetic abiding presence; trust enhancement; spiritual intelligence; knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of psychedelics; therapist self-awareness and ethical integrity; and proficiency in complementary techniques. A further contribution of this review is a delineation of the 12 fundamental curricular domains of study for the training and development of these therapist competencies. As current legal restrictions evolve, aspects of these training guidelines will develop accordingly.
Phelps, J. (2017). Developing Guidelines and Competencies for the Training of Psychedelic Therapists. Journal of Humanistic Psychology57(5), 450-487. 10.1177/0022167817711304
Link to full text

Assessing the psychedelic "after-glow" in ayahuasca users: post-acute neurometabolic and functional connectivity changes are associated with enhanced mindfulness capacities

Abstract

Background:

Ayahuasca is a plant tea containing the psychedelic 5-HT2A agonist N,N-dimethyltryptamine and harmala monoamine-oxidase inhibitors. Acute administration leads to neurophysiological modifications in brain regions of the default mode network, purportedly through a glutamatergic mechanism. Post-acutely, ayahuasca potentiates mindfulness capacities in volunteers and induces rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in treatment-resistant patients. However, the mechanisms underlying these fast and maintained effects are poorly understood. Here, we investigated in an open-label uncontrolled study in 16 healthy volunteers ayahuasca-induced post-acute neurometabolic and connectivity modifications and their association with mindfulness measures.

Methods:

Using 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy and functional connectivity, we compared baseline and post-acute neurometabolites and seed-to-voxel connectivity in the posterior and anterior cingulate cortex after a single ayahuasca dose.

Results:

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed post-acute reductions in glutamate+glutamine, creatine, and N-acetylaspartate+N-acetylaspartylglutamate in the posterior cingulate cortex. Connectivity was increased between the posterior cingulate cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, and between the anterior cingulate cortex and limbic structures in the right medial temporal lobe. Glutamate+glutamine reductions correlated with increases in the “nonjudging” subscale of the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire. Increased anterior cingulate cortex-medial temporal lobe connectivity correlated with increased scores on the self-compassion questionnaire. Post-acute neural changes predicted sustained elevations in nonjudging 2 months later.

Conclusions:

These results support the involvement of glutamate neurotransmission in the effects of psychedelics in humans. They further suggest that neurometabolic changes in the posterior cingulate cortex, a key region within the default mode network, and increased connectivity between the anterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobe structures involved in emotion and memory potentially underlie the post-acute psychological effects of ayahuasca. Sampedro, F., de la Fuente Revenga, M., Valle, M., Roberto, N., Domínguez-Clavé, E., Elices, M., … & Friedlander, P. (2017). Assessing the psychedelic “after-glow” in ayahuasca users: post-acute neurometabolic and functional connectivity changes are associated with enhanced mindfulness capacities. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 10.1093/ijnp/pyx036

Assessing the psychedelic “after-glow” in ayahuasca users: post-acute neurometabolic and functional connectivity changes are associated with enhanced mindfulness capacities

Abstract

BACKGROUND:
Ayahuasca is a plant tea containing the psychedelic 5-HT2A agonist N,N-dimethyltryptamine and harmala monoamine-oxidase inhibitors. Acute administration leads to neurophysiological modifications in brain regions of the default mode network, purportedly through a glutamatergic mechanism. Post-acutely, ayahuasca potentiates mindfulness capacities in volunteers and induces rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in treatment-resistant patients. However, the mechanisms underlying these fast and maintained effects are poorly understood. Here, we investigated in an open-label uncontrolled study in 16 healthy volunteers ayahuasca-induced post-acute neurometabolic and connectivity modifications and their association with mindfulness measures.
METHODS:
Using 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy and functional connectivity, we compared baseline and post-acute neurometabolites and seed-to-voxel connectivity in the posterior and anterior cingulate cortex after a single ayahuasca dose.
RESULTS:
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed post-acute reductions in glutamate+glutamine, creatine, and N-acetylaspartate+N-acetylaspartylglutamate in the posterior cingulate cortex. Connectivity was increased between the posterior cingulate cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, and between the anterior cingulate cortex and limbic structures in the right medial temporal lobe. Glutamate+glutamine reductions correlated with increases in the “nonjudging” subscale of the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire. Increased anterior cingulate cortex-medial temporal lobe connectivity correlated with increased scores on the self-compassion questionnaire. Post-acute neural changes predicted sustained elevations in nonjudging 2 months later.
CONCLUSIONS:
These results support the involvement of glutamate neurotransmission in the effects of psychedelics in humans. They further suggest that neurometabolic changes in the posterior cingulate cortex, a key region within the default mode network, and increased connectivity between the anterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobe structures involved in emotion and memory potentially underlie the post-acute psychological effects of ayahuasca.
Sampedro, F., de la Fuente Revenga, M., Valle, M., Roberto, N., Domínguez-Clavé, E., Elices, M., … & Friedlander, P. (2017). Assessing the psychedelic “after-glow” in ayahuasca users: post-acute neurometabolic and functional connectivity changes are associated with enhanced mindfulness capacities. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 10.1093/ijnp/pyx036
Link to full text