Michael Pollan: recent publications

Key Takeaways About the Future of Psychedelic Treatments for Mental Health Conditions From ‘How to Change Your Mind’

I grew up in the era of the so-called “War on Drugs.” Day after day, we had the dangers of illicit drug use pummeled into our minds both in school and with commercials of frying eggs in a pan standing in for our brains on drugs. All drugs, regardless of any evidence to the contrary, were bad, and they would all render us incompetent human beings… end of story. So, to say that I have been socialized to view drugs with deep skepticism would be an understatement.

It is with this skepticism that I approached the new Netflix documentary series based on the book by the same name, written by Michael Pollan, entitled “How to Change Your Mind.” This series takes a deep dive into four drugs: LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and mescaline — and explores the history of their potential medical applications as well as how they went from being considered useful to becoming illegal. Having witnessed the efficacy of certain schedule one substances, like cannabis, upon many friends with varying ailments and the devastation caused by other completely legal substances upon others, I was keen to gain greater awareness on this topic. While I will mention key takeaways of all four substances included in the documentary, I will focus most intently on the use of MDMA in healing treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as this is the substance most likely poised to obtain FDA approval within the next couple of years and because it is the one that might potentially be a game changer for me personally.

Episode 1: LSD

The word “psychedelic” comes from the Greek “psychos” or “mind,” and “Delos” or “manifestation,” and indeed there is evidence of the use of mind-altering substances as early as the Ancient Greeks and throughout history among

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