This is a brand new Renegade Podcast and discussion with a Renegade Doctor, Dr Alex Pardhy on the current evidence for the use of psychedelics as potentially life saving medicines.

Medical Use Of Psychedelics: A Discussion With Dr Alex Pardhy

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Let’s Talk about Psychedelics
by Dr Alex Pardhy

There’s no doubt in anyones mind. Psychedelics are a hot topic right now. And for good reason.

With success rates that are blowing conventional Western Medical treatments out of the water, they can no longer be ignored… From improving smoking cessation rates from 35% to 80% at 6 month follow up in one pilot study (1) to allaying apathy, anxiety and hopelessness in those with terminal Cancer diagnoses (2); psilocybin, the psychoactive constituent of magic mushrooms, is just what the Doctor ordered.

In the last 5 years it is apparent that we have been emerging into a third wave of Psychedelic resurgence. From the Soma of mythical Vedic, legend to the free-loving 60´s, this third wave has been gathering momentum for the best part of half a century. And about time! We have been waiting since the American Governments´ “Just say no” campaign in response to the lack of willing man power for the Vietnam War. Back then, it was pretty clear that psychedelics were a powerful force. Certainly one that had the potential to threaten Economic stability regardless of their more esoteric qualities. As a result legal research was abruptly ceased, behind an impenetrable curtain of propaganda and scheduling laws.

Thankfully we have arrived at the present epoch! Adrift in a sea of burgeoning research as UCL, John Hopkins, NYU, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and The HEFTER Institute diligently continue their studies into these incredible substances.

So how did I come to care about Psychedelics?

Due to the most unexpected and life changing healing I have experienced from them, namely Ayahuasca. It was as a Medical Doctor and staunchly reductionist rationalist at the beginning of 2013, that I first stumbled across this healing concoction during my travels through Mexico.

I felt no fear as I accepted an invitation to the upcoming Ceremony. I had no idea as to the profound healing I was about to have. To say “Ayahuasca changed my life” (a rather cringey meme these days!) would be 100% true.

A classic ´high-functioning anxiety´ stereotype until the age of 27, what I was shown by this plant was nothing short of revelatory. These first few meetings with Ayahuasca went on to impact every aspect of my life… The change was noticeable to anyone who had known me previously. Gone was the concern of what others thought, the hypervigilance, the interminable need to have it all, right, NOW. A much more harmonious life, aligned to my deepest purpose, has naturally evolved.

Let’s take a deeper look at why the time is so ripe for psychedelics right now…

Have you ever heard the phrase “It´s all about mindset”? Yes, me too, and there is good reason this phrase is so regularly bandied about. Monks of time gone by understood the

power of meditation in ways Science is just catching up with. Of controlling the “Monkey mind” for the alleviation of human suffering.

Fast forward to the modern day and Mental Health has been identified as the leading cause of disability worldwide with more than 300million people estimated to be affected (3). The truth is we are currently facing a massive pandemic with economic implications to rival any post War flower power movement. The humanitarian argument alone is enough to begin earnest research into anything that can turn this tide, now.

The issues of anxiety, depression, OCD, body dysmorphia, addictions (to cocaine and opiates primarily) etc. are both a cause and a symptom of the World we have created… If you hadn’t noticed, we´re facing an ecological crisis not unrelated to a complete disconnect from ourselves and the natural world. Combine this with a completely random obsession with material success (a calculated intentional push by Western governments to keep economies growing post WW2) and we´re in a dangerous spot.

How interesting then, that commonly reported psychedelic phenomena include: connection to nature, a sense of unity and oneness with all; and a realisation that simplicity and loving connections are the foundations of happiness…

A recent survey by American Psychologist and Author James Fadiman, found that 1,367 people working with sub-perceptual quantities (microdose) of magic mushrooms showed statistically significant improvements in the areas of determination, a sense of achievement, more energy and enthusiasm with notable decreases in guilt, depression, fear and sadness… (4) One could say, the perfect recipe for treating Mental Health issues.

I believe for us to seriously implement change at the greater global level we have to be feeling enthused, inspired and energised. A depressed person is none of these things as I am sure you may have experienced, either yourself or with your loved ones. This alone is enough to excite me to support research into Psychedelics.

As an ex ER Physician, I have seen enough Dis-ease stemming from the failings of a disconnected and overburdened Health Care system. From my research, both personally and looking at the present literature, psychedelics seem a lot more effective with notably fewer side effects than most antidepressants on offer.

Psychedelics: Pros and Cons

On that note, please do not confuse my enthusiasm for evangelism. I am not saying that we should all be taking large trip doses for existential exploration. Not everyone is an avid psychonaught, or as keenly excited to plunder the depths of their subconscious mind… For many, options like microdosing are much more suitable. Or plain old fashioned exercise, meditation and counselling. Start with the basics!

Given the wrong mindset or environment, large dose psychedelics have the potential to become traumatising or dangerous experiences. The vanishingly rare but potential Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) occasionally occurs too. There are space holders/therapists/Guides who are not of adequate integrity. In those predisposed to manic states, overuse of psychedelics can actually trigger a psychotic episode.

On the other hand, due to the strong anti-drug propaganda and intense stigmatisation, there are many myths going around about Psychedelics that are simply not true. They do not ´fry your receptors’; are not highly addictive and it is not ‘bleeding in the brain’ that causes the hallucinations. Looking at the research this could not be further from the truth. Did you ever hear of a person who was addicted to Mushrooms? No, I didn’t think so. Psychedelics are on a spectrum, MDMA and Ketamine being those with the most addictive potential (See David Nutt’s harm assessment of 20 popular drugs Published in The Lancet, 2010) (5).

Ketamine, the most likely to be abused due to its fast acting anti-depressive qualities, is now being administered by Anaesthetists in day clinics around the US for those looking for short term (days to weeks) remission from Depression. How does it do this?

In recent research at the University of California they found that serotonergic psychedelics (mushrooms, LSD, Ayahuasca) actually cause our brain cells to grow more connecting branches and receptor sites for neurotransmitters like serotonin (natural feel good chemicals) to attach to. See image below (6).  

I paint both sides of the story so that seekers are fully informed and stay as safe as possible. This is about allowing those who have found no respite using Western Medicines to take empowered decisions for themselves. Speaking of which…

The Bigger Picture

It is clear that psychedelics have the potential to help many people who are in great need. At this point I believe it is all about de-stigmatising these substances by being open and honest about our experiences with them. It is easiest to start with ourselves and our immediate communities. Never underestimate the power of the voice.

It is well known within Healing circles that the throat chakra is often where the energy gets stuck. Even within my own healing practice in the past month I have had 3 clients with blocks around this area, creating issues with speaking their truth. So many of us were told to “be quiet” or “shut up” as children.. this has contributed to many of us simply not speaking our truth when we know we should.

A way to work through this blockage it to be more authentic. Be real about who you are. Especially in the context of Psychedelics. I am not asking you to run down the streets shouting to the high heavens, “I take psychedelics, so should you!!” or to chat to your boss about it after the morning meeting. What I am inviting you to contemplate is coming out of the psychedelic closet to your nearest and dearest. To share the transformation you have experienced through them. And importantly, to remind people that they don’t always have to take large hallucinatory doses of these substances to receive profound and long-lasting, life-changing results.

Stigma has kept these Medicines under wraps for too long. I believe the time to speak up is now. This movement needs as much support as possible so that those in need feel they can ask questions, so that research can continue and so that we never have to experience the 4th wave of Psychedelics.


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(3) Depression leading cause of disability worldwide:

(4) Fadiman & Korb Research:

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