And the faithless still cant get there. Sad.. truly sad.
"Magic" mushrooms blow many minds By Maggie Fox, Health and Science
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "Magic mushrooms," used by Native Americans and hippies to alter consciousness, appear to have similar mystical effects on many people, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.
More than 60 percent of volunteers given capsules of psilocybin derived from mushrooms said they had a "full mystical experience."
"Many of the volunteers in our study reported, in one way or another, a direct, personal experience of the 'beyond,"' said Roland Griffiths, a professor of neuroscience and psychiatry and behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who led the study.
A third said the experience was the single most spiritually significant of their lifetimes. Many likened it to the birth of their first child or the death of a parent.
And the effects lingered.
Two months after getting the drug, 79 percent of the volunteers said they felt a moderately or greatly increased well-being or life satisfaction, according to the report published in the journal Psychopharmacology.
Griffiths said the drug might be used to treat addiction as well as severe pain or depression.
Griffiths and colleagues tested 36 healthy, educated volunteers who all reported they had active spiritual lives, the idea being that spiritual people would be less troubled by the drug's effects.
Griffiths said he did not want to be accused of working like Timothy Leary, the former Harvard University psychologist best known for his 1960s experiments with LSD, another mind-altering drug.
NOT TURNING ON AND TUNING IN
"We are conducting rigorous, systematic research with psilocybin under carefully monitored conditions, a route which Dr. Leary abandoned in the early 1960s," Griffiths said.
"Even in this study, where we greatly controlled conditions to minimize adverse effects, about a third of subjects reported significant fear, with some also reporting transient feelings of paranoia," he added.
"Under unmonitored conditions, it's not hard to imagine those emotions escalating to panic and dangerous behavior."
Psilocybin, which is nontoxic and not addictive, acts like a message-carrying chemical called serotonin on brain cells. Serotonin is linked with mood.
To ensure that people did not imagine their experiences, each volunteer got either psilocybin or methylphenidate, a stimulant best known for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Psilocybin is taken from several species of mushrooms native to the Americas. Under U.S. law it is a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance, on a par with drugs such as heroin.
But its use in medical experiments is approved by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration, and one team led by Dr. Charles Grob at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California is testing the drug on patients with end-stage cancer.
"Our specific aim is to learn whether this psychoactive drug, psilocybin, might be effective in reducing anxiety, depression and physical pain, and therefore improving your quality of life," the researchers say on their Web site.
Dr. Solomon Snyder, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins who says he has experimented with LSD himself, said the experiment might lead to a way to find the "locus of religion" and the biological basis of consciousness in the brain.
But Griffiths said such study would be purely scientific.
"We're not entering into 'Does God exist or not exist.' This work can't and won't go there," he said.
Date: Jul 12, 2006 12:25 AM
Subject: Mystic mushrooms spawn magic event
Body: Findings could lead to treatments for addiction, depression
NEW YORK (AP) -- People who took an illegal drug made from mushrooms reported profound mystical experiences that led to behavior changes lasting for weeks -- all part of an experiment that recalls the psychedelic '60s.
Many of the 36 volunteers rated their reaction to a single dose of the drug, called psilocybin, as one of the most meaningful or spiritually significant experiences of their lives. Some compared it to the birth of a child or the death of a parent.
Such comments "just seemed unbelievable," said Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, the study's lead author.
But don't try this at home, he warned. "Absolutely don't."
Almost a third of the research participants found the drug experience frightening even in the very controlled setting. That suggests people experimenting with the illicit drug on their own could be harmed, Griffiths said.
Viewed by some as a landmark, the study is one of the few rigorous looks in the past 40 years at a hallucinogen's effects. The researchers suggest the drug someday may help drug addicts kick their habit or aid terminally ill patients struggling with anxiety and depression.
It may also provide a way to study what happens in the brain during intense spiritual experiences, the scientists said.
Funded in part by the federal government, the research was published online Tuesday by the journal Psychopharmacology.
Psilocybin has been used for centuries in religious practices, and its ability to produce a mystical experience is no surprise. But the new work demonstrates it more clearly than before, Griffiths said.
Even two months after taking the drug, pronounced SILL-oh-SY-bin, most of the volunteers said the experience had changed them in beneficial ways, such as making them more compassionate, loving, optimistic and patient. Family members and friends said they noticed a difference, too.
Charles Schuster, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and a former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, called the work a landmark.
"I believe this is one of the most rigorously well-controlled studies ever done" to evaluate psilocybin or similar substances for their potential to increase self-awareness and a sense of spirituality, he said. He did not participate in the research.
Psilocybin, like LSD or mescaline, is one of a class of drugs called hallucinogens or psychedelics. While they have been studied by scientists in the past, research was largely shut down after widespread recreational abuse of the drugs during the 1960s, Griffiths said. Some work resumed in the 1990s.
"We've lost 40 years of (potential) research experience with this whole class of compounds," he said. Now, with modern-day scientific methods, "I think it's time to pick up this research field."
The study volunteers had an average age of 46, had never used hallucinogens, and participated to some degree in religious or spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, discussion groups or religious services. Each tried psilocybin during one visit to the lab and the stimulant methylphenidate (better known as Ritalin) on one or two other visits. Only six of the volunteers knew when they were getting psilocybin.
Each visit lasted eight hours. The volunteers lay on a couch in a living-room-like setting, wearing an eye mask and listening to classical music. They were encouraged to focus their attention inward.
Psilocybin's effects lasted for up to six hours, Griffiths said. Twenty-two of the 36 volunteers reported having a "complete" mystical experience, compared with four of those getting methylphenidate.
That experience included such things as a sense of pure awareness and a merging with ultimate reality, a transcendence of time and space, a feeling of sacredness or awe, and deeply felt positive mood like joy, peace and love. People say "they can't possibly put it into words," Griffiths said.
Two months later, 24 of the participants filled out a questionnaire. Two-thirds called their reaction to psilocybin one of the five top most meaningful experiences of their lives. On another measure, one-third called it the most spiritually significant experience of their lives, with another 40 percent ranking it in the top five.
About 80 percent said that because of the psilocybin experience, they still had a sense of well-being or life satisfaction that was raised either "moderately" or "very much."
Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/07/10/ps ... index.html
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