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Concept: Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants

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Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is the prototypical psychedelic drug, but its effects on the human brain have never been studied before with modern neuroimaging. Here, three complementary neuroimaging techniques: arterial spin labeling (ASL), blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) measures, and magnetoencephalography (MEG), implemented during resting state conditions, revealed marked changes in brain activity after LSD that correlated strongly with its characteristic psychological effects. Increased visual cortex cerebral blood flow (CBF), decreased visual cortex alpha power, and a greatly expanded primary visual cortex (V1) functional connectivity profile correlated strongly with ratings of visual hallucinations, implying that intrinsic brain activity exerts greater influence on visual processing in the psychedelic state, thereby defining its hallucinatory quality. LSD’s marked effects on the visual cortex did not significantly correlate with the drug’s other characteristic effects on consciousness, however. Rather, decreased connectivity between the parahippocampus and retrosplenial cortex (RSC) correlated strongly with ratings of “ego-dissolution” and “altered meaning,” implying the importance of this particular circuit for the maintenance of “self” or “ego” and its processing of “meaning.” Strong relationships were also found between the different imaging metrics, enabling firmer inferences to be made about their functional significance. This uniquely comprehensive examination of the LSD state represents an important advance in scientific research with psychedelic drugs at a time of growing interest in their scientific and therapeutic value. The present results contribute important new insights into the characteristic hallucinatory and consciousness-altering properties of psychedelics that inform on how they can model certain pathological states and potentially treat others.

Concepts: Nervous system, Brain, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Timothy Leary

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Use of unauthorized synthetic drugs is a serious, forensic, regulatory and public health issue. In this scenario, consumption of drug-impregnated blotters is very frequent. For decades, blotters have been generally impregnated with the potent hallucinogen known as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); however, since 2013 blotter stamps with N-2 methoxybenzyl-substituted phenylethylamine hallucinogen designated as “NBOMes” have been seized in Chile. To address this issue with readily accessible laboratory equipment, we have developed and validated a new HPTLC method for the identification and quantitation of 25-C-NBOMe in seized blotters and its confirmation by GC-MS. The proposed method was validated according to SWGTOX recommendations and is suitable for routine analysis of seized blotters containing 25-C-NBOMe. With the validated method, we analyzed 15 real samples, in all cases finding 25-C-NBOMe in a wide dosage range (701.0-1943.5 µg per blotter). In this situation, we can assume that NBOMes are replacing LSD as the main hallucinogenic drug consumed in blotters in Chile.

Concepts: Drug, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Ergoline

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The first study of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted therapy for the treatment of social anxiety in autistic adults commenced in the spring of 2014. The search for psychotherapeutic options for autistic individuals is imperative considering the lack of effective conventional treatments for mental health diagnoses that are common in this population. Serious Adverse Events (SAEs) involving administration of MDMA in clinical trials have been rare and non-life threatening. To date, MDMA has been administered to over 1133 individuals for research purposes without the occurrence of unexpected drug-related SAEs that require expedited reporting per FDA regulations. Now that safety parameters for limited use of MDMA in clinical settings have been established, a case can be made to further develop MDMA-assisted therapeutic interventions that could support autistic adults in increasing social adaptability among the typically developing population. As in the case with classic hallucinogens and other psychedelic drugs, MDMA catalyzes shifts towards openness and introspection that do not require ongoing administration to achieve lasting benefits. This infrequent dosing mitigates adverse event frequency and improves the risk/benefit ratio of MDMA, which may provide a significant advantage over medications that require daily dosing. Consequently, clinicians could employ new treatment models for social anxiety or similar types of distress administering MDMA on one to several occasions within the context of a supportive and integrative psychotherapy protocol.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Clinical research, Serotonin, Clinical psychology, Psychotherapy, Adverse event, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants

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Studies have highlighted psychosocial factors associated with drug use among adolescents. Association of specific psychiatric comorbidity with substance use has not been properly established in Brazil. This study aimed to investigate alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use by 15-18-year-old high school Brazilian students and to estimate associations with psychiatric symptoms.

Concepts: The Association, Drug addiction, High school, Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Brazil, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants

28

Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic botanical mixture originating in the Amazon area where it is used ritually, but is now being taken globally. The 2 main constituents of ayahuasca are N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a hallucinogen, and harmine, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) which attenuates the breakdown of DMT, which would otherwise be broken down very quickly after oral consumption. Recent developments in ayahuasca use include the sale of these compounds on the internet and the substitution of related botanical (anahuasca) or synthetic (pharmahuasca) compounds to achieve the same desired hallucinogenic effects. One intriguing result of ayahuasca use appears to be improved mental health and a reduction in recidivism to alternate (alcohol, cocaine) drug use. In this review we discuss the pharmacology of ayahuasca, with a focus on harmine, and suggest pharmacological mechanisms for the putative reduction in recidivism to alcohol and cocaine misuse. These pharmacological mechanisms include MAOI, effects at 5-HT(2A) and imidazoline receptors and inhibition of dual-specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A) and the dopamine transporter. We also speculate on the therapeutic potential of harmine in other CNS conditions.

Concepts: Drug, Serotonin, Dopamine, Monoamine oxidase, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Dimethyltryptamine, Ayahuasca

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Datura stramonium is an herbaceous annual plant. All parts of the plant contain tropane alkaloids such as atropine and scopolamine. We report the case of a 22-year-old man admitted to a general hospital for visual and aural hallucinations. One week after his admission, as the hallucinations remained, the patient was transferred to a psychiatric hospital. Neither blood nor urine was conserved during his hospitalization, so a hair analysis was requested in order to identify a possible consumption of a Datura seed infusion.

Concepts: Hospital, Atropine, Psychiatric hospital, Perennial plant, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Hyoscyamine, Datura, Datura stramonium

28

Salvia divinorum (Salvia) is an increasingly popular recreational drug amongst adolescents and young adults. Its primary active ingredient, Salvinorin A (SA)-a highly selective agonist at the κ opiate receptor-is believed to be one of the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogens. However, there is little experimental data on the effects of SA in humans.

Concepts: Opioid, Morphine, Psychoactive drug, Recreational drug use, Salvia divinorum, Salvinorin A, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Entheogen

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Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is rarely encountered in clinical settings. It is described as a re-experiencing of some perceptual distortions induced while intoxicated and suggested to subsequently cause functional impairment or anxiety. Two forms exist: Type 1, which are brief “flashbacks,” and Type 2 claimed to be chronic, waxing, and waning over months to years. A review of HPPD is presented. In addition, data from a comprehensive survey of 20 subjects reporting Type-2 HPPD-like symptoms are presented and evaluated. Dissociative Symptoms are consistently associated with HPPD. Results of the survey suggest that HPPD is in most cases due to a subtle over-activation of predominantly neural visual pathways that worsens anxiety after ingestion of arousal-altering drugs, including non-hallucinogenic substances. Individual or family histories of anxiety and pre-drug use complaints of tinnitus, eye floaters, and concentration problems may predict vulnerability for HPPD. Future research should take a broader outlook as many perceptual symptoms reported were not first experienced while intoxicated and are partially associated with pre-existing psychiatric comorbidity.

Concepts: Psychology, Visual system, Sense, Concepts in metaphysics, Mental disorder, Mental illness diagnosis by DSM and ICD, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder

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Abuse of the hallucinogenic drug ketamine promotes the development of lower urinary tract symptoms that resemble interstitial cystitis. The pathophysiology of ketamine-induced cystitis (KC) is largely unknown and effective therapies are lacking. Here, using a KC rat model, we show the therapeutic effects of human umbilical cord-blood (UCB)-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Daily injection of ketamine to Sprague-Dawley rats for 2-weeks resulted in defective bladder function, indicated by irregular voiding frequency, increased maximum contraction pressure, and decreased intercontraction intervals and bladder capacity. KC bladders were characterized by severe mast-cell infiltration, tissue fibrosis, apoptosis, upregulation of transforming growth factor-β signaling related genes, and phosphorylation of Smad2 and Smad3 proteins. A single administration of MSCs (1 × 10(6)) into bladder tissue not only significantly ameliorated the aforementioned bladder voiding parameters, but also reversed the characteristic histological and gene-expression alterations of KC bladder. Treatment with the antifibrotic compound N-acetylcysteine also alleviated the symptoms and pathological characteristics of KC bladder, indicating that the antifibrotic capacity of MSC therapy underlies its benefits. Thus, this study for the first-time shows that MSC therapy might help to cure KC by protecting against tissue fibrosis in a KC animal model and provides a foundation for clinical trials of MSC therapy.

Concepts: Blood, Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bone marrow, Therapy, Urinary bladder, Ketamine, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants

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Psychedelic drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) were used extensively in psychiatry in the past and their therapeutic potential is beginning to be re-examined today. Psychedelic psychotherapy typically involves a patient lying with their eyes-closed during peak drug effects, while listening to music and being supervised by trained psychotherapists. In this context, music is considered to be a key element in the therapeutic model; working in synergy with the drug to evoke therapeutically meaningful thoughts, emotions and imagery. The underlying mechanisms involved in this process have, however, never been formally investigated. Here we studied the interaction between LSD and music-listening on eyes-closed imagery by means of a placebo-controlled, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. Twelve healthy volunteers received intravenously administered LSD (75µg) and, on a separate occasion, placebo, before being scanned under eyes-closed resting conditions with and without music-listening. The parahippocampal cortex (PHC) has previously been linked with (1) music-evoked emotion, (2) the action of psychedelics, and (3) mental imagery. Imaging analyses therefore focused on changes in the connectivity profile of this particular structure. Results revealed increased PHC-visual cortex (VC) functional connectivity and PHC to VC information flow in the interaction between music and LSD. This latter result correlated positively with ratings of enhanced eyes-closed visual imagery, including imagery of an autobiographical nature. These findings suggest a plausible mechanism by which LSD works in combination with music listening to enhance certain subjective experiences that may be useful in a therapeutic context.

Concepts: Brain, Magnetic resonance imaging, Psychiatry, Emotion, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Timothy Leary