The University of Texas at Austin recently established a Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy. This comes months after the state’s governor signed a proposal that instructs the state to conduct research on the benefits and risks of ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin for veterans. Prof. Charles B. Nemeroff, the center’s co-lead, stated that the center would bring more scientific expertise and rigor to study psychedelic therapy. Nemeroff is also the chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Psychiatry at the Dell Medical School.
The center, which is the first of its kind in the state, will allow researchers to carry out clinical studies that explore the potential for psychedelic-assisted therapy in treating PTSD, anxiety and depression, using psychedelic substances including ayahuasca, ibogaine, MDMA and psilocybin. The initial research focus will be on veterans with PTSD as the state has the second biggest veteran population with roughly 1.6 million military veterans.
A not-for-profit organization known as the Heroic Hearts Project will be one of the first partners of the center, together with a clinical psychedelic retreat provider known as the Mission Within. The Heroic Hearts Project has been carrying out a psilocybin research program that treats veterans with traumatic brain injuries using psychedelics. On the other hand, the Mission Within creates specialized treatments for anxiety, depression, mild traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and personal growth.
Assistant professor of behavioral sciences and psychiatry Greg Fonzo is the psychedelic center’s co-lead. Fonzo plans to conduct research on how transcranial magnetic stimulation and psilocybin combine efforts to offer relief to patients with stress-related anxiety and depression.
Fonzo explained that the ability of psychedelic therapies to enhance neural plasticity could be a crucial factor in how those substances promoted mental health, adding that this ability combined with brain modulation therapies could promote maximum benefit. Neural plasticity refers to the process that enables an individual’s brain to adapt to new experiences.
He added that the possible implications for these therapies were extensive for the future of mental health care and treatment as well as for individuals living with these conditions and their families. This psychedelic research center is one of several that have been established in the country as the interest in psychedelic substances and the potential they hold grows.
Studies on psychedelics in Western medicine began in the 1950s, receiving mainstream attention. However, after the Controlled Substances Act came into effect in 1971, research on the substances was prohibited until now. And as research into these substances recommences, we are seeing many companies such as Mydecine Innovations Group Inc. (NEO: MYCO) (OTC: MYCOF) working to bring to market therapeutic products from various psychedelic compounds.
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