History of Psychedelic Medicine (And the Future)

History of Psychedelic Medicine


The history of psychedelic medicine…and what might happen in the future:

The prospect of psychedelic medicine is (once again) all the range, particularly its usefulness for various psychiatric conditions. I became interested in psychedelic medicine, because people I knew from my Army days began turning to it to help with things like PTS, depression, anxiety and transitioning from military life to civilian life. In most cases, they came to psychedelic medicine, because other approaches failed them. A few were given so many medications (in their mid-twenties mind you) and they didn’t want to be on all that medication at such a young age, so they gave psychedelics a try too. Most of the stories I’ve heard about psychedelics are anecdotal, but if you have been paying attention lately, there is an explosion in psychedelic medicine. Some are calling this the “third psychedelic medicine revolution”, and one of my latest podcast guests will explain why.

On a recent episode of Causes or Cures, I had the great pleasure of chatting with Dr. David Smith about the history of psychedelic medicine. He will discuss early research on psychedelics (including experiments the CIA ran), the potential health benefits and disorders they may treat, any potential side effects we should worry about, the current state of research, and why he remains cautiously optimistic. He’ll talk about why interest in psychedelic medicine was derailed. Oh…you’ll also hear about some of your favorite bands and how their contributions kept some of the earliest psychedelic clinics open. Grateful Dead, anyone? ;)

Dr. David Smith is one of the founders of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, founded in 1967 during the Summer of Love. He is a recognized national leader in the treatment of addictive disease and the psychopharmacology of drugs. Now in his eighties, he continues to serve as medical director for several medical centers and is chair of addiction medicine for a residential center for teens with substance abuse. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Addiction Medicine and the California Society of Addiction Medicine and founding editor of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

This was one of my favorite podcasts, because Dr. Smith is not only a medical expert on the subject of psychedelic medicine, but he is also a great historian and walks the listener through the history of psychedelic medicine up until present day. While the research has yet to match the current enthusiasm, it’s exciting to consider psychedelics becoming a standard treatment for hard-to-treat mental illnesses, like depression. Hopefully we will allow the research to continue this time!

I hope you listen to the podcast. Please click here to listen.

After you are finished listening to the history of psychedelic medicine, definitely check out some of the other episodes on the podcast. A few are listed and linked below:

A protein in the brain that controls metabolism and might help in the fight against obesity: Listen here.

Doctors’ relationships with Industry: Transparency is Not Enough: Listen here

An Interview with an American Exorcist: Listen here. 


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