“Molecules of mysticism” are chemical substances that are able to induce mystical experience, increasing the feeling of closeness to the god (entheogens) or to other people (empathogens). It is quite likely, that every mystical experience is mediated chemically, either by some substances of external origin or by endogenous molecules produced directly in the brain. There are plenty of chemical structures, associated with entheogenic and empathogenic properties, and their action involves the release of other neurotransmitters, binding to many brain receptors (5-HT2a, 5-HT2c, 5-HT1a, CB1, NMDA, mAChR, etc.) followed by activation of several signal transduction pathways and alterations in gene transcription profile. Additionally, the mechanisms of several adverse effects for entheogens and empathogens have been elucidated during the last years. Considering that “molecules of mysticism” works not only and not so much on the body level, but mainly on consciousness and behaviour, and given the intrinsic difficulties associated with lab-based studies of scheduled substances on human beings, the methods of social anthropology (observation during fieldwork, surveys, interviews, and analysis of reports) might be used to supplement the classical pharmacological methodology. Web2.0 approach, based on content generated by users (like forums, wikis, online-based databanks of “trip reports”, multimedia-sharing services etc.), also may serve as a valuable tool and information source to study the relationship between drugs and humans.
About Konstantin Kuteykin-Teplyakov
Konstantin Kuteykin-Teplyakov, PhD, investigates the relationship between human beings and chemical substances by combining the methods of pharmacology and anthropology, with a special focus on Web 2.0 technologies. During his work as a researcher in Russia and Germany, he studied the molecular mechanism of brain function, as well as the implication of progress in pharmacology for modern society.