Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dose Response for Psilocybin

I took some of the data from the paper "Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects" and put it into a spreadsheet to get some graphs.  A lot of the effects were surprisingly linear.  I normalized the data so that the 5mg amount for all effects was 1.0.  Overall I find the second graph more interesting in terms of effects measured and the fact that there was an acceleration from 10mg to 20mg, perhaps similar to going from 1.7 to 3.3 grams of dried mushrooms.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Optimal dosing for Psilocybin

'Magic Mushrooms' Can Improve Psychological Health Long Term references the famous John Hopkins study on psilocybin, as well as a new study by Griffiths that apparently discusses optimal dosing for the drug.

I found it interesting that they seem to be finding that lower doses, or at least starting with lower doses, leads to better outcomes.  Makes a certain amount of sense, getting familiar with the territory.  On the other hand, the work Stanislav Grof described in LSD Psychotherapy led him to the opposite conclusion.  He found that low doses often brought up anxieties, while higher doses allowed for breakthroughs, a dissolving of the ego that would get one past said anxieties.  Grof's approach was to dive in as opposed to getting one's feet wet.

Although I have tremendous respect for Grof as a pioneer, I suspect the Griffiths research is more robust.  I would also have to say that I certainly seemed to have fared pretty well starting at the lower end of the psychedelic dosage range and working my way up.

I was disappointed that I couldn't locate a copy of the actual paper, I'd like to see the actual conclusions and dosing recommendations.


OK, I found the paper I was looking for here:
Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects

Participants were randomized into 2 groups that were given successive ascending or descending doses at one month intervals.  The doses used were 0, 5, 10, 20 & 30 mg of psilocybin, which would equate to roughly 0.0, 0.8, 1.7, 3.3 & 5.0 grams dried psilocybe cubensis fungi.

Basically no big problems were seen up to the 1.7 gram level, although some anxiety was seen even at low levels.  A surprising amount of effect could be attained at the low dose, but if you are going for mystical experience clearly the higher the better.

Subjects definitely seemed better off working their way up to higher doses:

And another couple of cool graphs.  I'm personally very interested in the effects on the come-up from about 60 minutes to 120 minutes:

The conclusion I would draw from the research is that it would probably be reasonable to start someone out with 1-2 grams of dried mushrooms and work up a gram at a time.

Trip Report #3: Psilocybin + EEG Biofeedback

This time I bumped the dose up to 5 grams of dried fungi, a 43% increase over the last time, to the so-called "heroic" dose mentioned by Terence McKenna.  Somewhat to my surprise the trip was fairly uneventful and relatively un-insightful as compared to previous journeys.  It actually struck me as very matter of fact.  I wonder if I have now become jaded to relatively strong doses of hallucinogens?

Overall visual and audio distortion was probably less than with the previous 3.5 gram dose, although I did have some fun as things were winding down watching the surface of my thigh continually changing and morphing.  Kind of a lesson in impermanence.  Watching the foliage in the backyard dancing, shimmering, living.  And then there's the moment when you see yourself objectively as some kind of strange animal, with strange arms that come from outside the visual field, and its strange flesh-claw holding a refreshing drink that is moving towards your mouth, and it all seems both perfectly strange, and strangely perfect.

The peak phase seemed short again, with a bit less of the face melting stuff.  The face melting moments strike me at a very subjective level as a working through of blockages.  And again, these moments seem very similar to moments I have experienced in vipassana.  I have the sense, or maybe it's just wishful thinking, that there seems to be some kind of healing or positive effect stemming from negotiating these more intense or challenging moments with mindfulness and equanimity.

Maybe I'm just more familiar with the terrain.  There have been moments in the past where I had more resistance or difficulty, this time around, similar to last time, it was all okay.  In fact, that might be one of the clearer insights, a strong sense that everything is okay.

Spent a fair amount of time after the peak lying down with my electric guitar, making weird noises.  It would be interesting, maybe, to hear what that sounded like.  I had very little concern for playing anything in a melodic sense, I was just making noise, and the guitar felt very very strange.

I did change one thing, I lowered the EEG feedback range from 8-12 Hz down to 7-11 Hz.  The dominant alpha that is all over my head is fairly slowed, to around 8.3 Hz, and I wanted to emphasize that range a bit more.  I have a larger peak alpha around 11 Hz, but it is only around the parietals (probably was all over the head at one point, before slowing occurred).  Actually, because of that slowed alpha, I have experimented with regular feedback in the 6-10 range, which would make some sense for me, as that would put my dominant alpha right in the sweet spot, but subjectively that hasn't worked as well for me as feedback in the 8-10 range.  Seems to be important, at least for me, to emphasize the 8-10 range.

Although I didn't feel that there were clear insights, there did seem to be a fair amount of material dealing with identity, scenarios where I was losing track of exactly who I was, seeing roles played out from different points of view.  Difficult to put into words this time.  Perhaps seeing a bit into the impersonal characteristic of life.

Couple of things I want to try in the future, one is going back to a lower dose.  And I'm still a bit curious about experimenting again with Theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation (the original reason I tried it) but in this context it may be more important as a possible MAO inhibitor, which would intensify the trip.  It is possible that is what made Trip #1 take off like it did.  Another thing I'd like to try is moving the feedback sites from C3-C4 down to T3-T4, emphasizing the temporal lobes a la James Austin.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weird Gamma Delta Correlation

I was training alpha at O1 & O2 this morning and the session graph showed an interesting correlation between delta and gamma.  It was somewhat rare these days for me to be doing biofeedback at all, as I usually reserve it for special occasions, preferring to simply meditate instead.  Although I should mention I've put in well over 500 hours of alpha training in the past.

I had seen this pattern before, a kind of alternating between two amplitude levels, relatively often actually, in gamma, but this was the first time I had seen it in delta, and it was highly correlated with the gamma as well.  The bursts are approximately 30 seconds in length.  It would at first glance appear to be some kind of artifact, but I assure you the other bands (theta, alpha, and beta) were completely normal .

If anyone has thoughts on this, I'd appreciate it.  Delta (0.5 - 4.0 Hz) in purple, gamma (37 - 43 Hz) in orange.  These are the 30 second averages of the sums of amplitude at O1 & O2.

Subsequent sessions at P3-P4 and C3-C4 show that the pattern is primarily at the occipitals. It exists elsewhere, but is so weak I never would have noticed it without seeing the dramatic correlation at O1-O2.