What is Psychedelics?

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Driven by surge in global trials and low success rate of current medications in treating mental health problems, researchers call for home-grown clinical trials of psychedelic drugs.

About Psychedelics:

  • These are drugs that induce states of altered perception, behaviour, consciousness and thought, often with increased awareness of the senses.
  • The term ‘psychedelic’ comes from two Greek words denoting mind or soul and manifesting. It is a subset of psychotropic substances that can alter a person’s thoughts and perceptions, and elicit intense hallucinations.
  • These are categorised into two broad categories
    • Classical psychedelics: These are thought to trigger hallucinations by activating a receptor called serotonin 5-HT, which is widely present in the human body, from the gastrointestinal tract to platelets to the nervous system. Examples: LSD, psilocybin and DMT
    • Nonclassical psychedelics: These psychedelics bind to varied receptors. Examples: ketamine and MDMA
  • Globally, about five psychedelics are the subject of clinical research for use in treating mental health problems: psilocybin; lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine (MDMA); ketamine and N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
  • Most psychedelics work by increasing the availability of serotonin—a mood stabilising hormone—in the brain by binding to serotonin receptors (a molecule on the cell surface that binds to a specific chemical, causing a specific effect).

The United Nations’ Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971, lists about 200 psychotropic substances under four schedules, with schedule I substances having the most potential for abuse. The Convention does not specify which substances, or how many, are psychedelics.

Q1: What is serotonin?

Serotonin is a chemical that carries messages between nerve cells in the brain and throughout your body. Serotonin plays a key role in such body functions as mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting and sexual desire. Serotonin levels that are too low or too high can cause physical and psychological health problems.

Source: A psychedelic high