Episode: 037: Dr. Sarah Mennenga from NYU Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory on Using Psilocybin to Treat Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients


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037: Dr. Sarah Mennenga from NYU Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory on Using Psilocybin to Treat Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients

This is Entheogen. Talk about tools for generating the divine within.

Today is December 18, 2016, and we are discussing the recent publication of studies from NYU and Johns Hopkins showing that psilocybin can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients, and we’re pleased to be joined by Dr. Sarah Mennenga from the NYU Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory.

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Topics:

  • We are grateful to be joined by Dr. Sarah Mennenga, Doctor of Neuroscience, NYU Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory

  • NYU and Johns Hopkins just released studies showing that psilocybin can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients

  • 80 percent of participants showed significant reduction of anxiety and depression

  • “One theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking that is so pronounced in depressed people, making way for a mystical experience of selfless unity” i.e. interrupting or disrupting the Default Mode Network?

  • What is the neurological basis for the geometric shapes and auditory effects that characterize the psilocybin experience. What part does suggestibility play in the experience?

  • The “intensity of the mystical experience described by patients correlated with the degree to which their depression and anxiety decreased” – Why is that? What is it about the nature of the psychedelic or mystical experience that does this?

    • Octavian Mihai “saw black smoke rising from my body”

    • Kevin, a participant in the Johns Hopkins study saw “spirals of iridescent spheres that folded in on themselves”. “But you have to approach the session with the right intentions of why you’re doing it. Because you’re going to meet yourself.”

  • Study protocols, and the unique considerations for psychedelic session
    • “seven-hour music playlists.[...] N.Y.U. leaned toward New Age and world music — Brian Eno; sitars; didgeridoos. Johns Hopkins favored Western classical.”

    • Chalice

    • Buddha statue

  • Collaboration among the few institutions doing psychedelic research
  • Criticism from the academic/scientific community?
  • Political concerns; safety concerns around legalization

  • Stigma in the academic community?

  • fMRI scanning during a psychedelic experience?

  • NYU seeking participants in two upcoming studies:

  • NYU seeking $10 million funding for center to study psychedelics

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