By Gabriel García July 21, 2023
What do the mayor of Minneapolis, a group of war veterans and an Amazonian tribe have in common? They have all experienced the benefits of psychedelics in improving their mental health, well-being and connection to nature.
Psychedelics are substances that alter perception, thought and consciousness, producing profound and revelatory experiences that can change people’s lives. For decades, these substances have been banned and stigmatised by the authorities, but in recent years they have made a strong comeback thanks to scientific research and social activism.
In this article we tell you how psychedelics can help you improve your mental health, overcome trauma, explore your mind and connect with the world around you. We also recommend the Psychonaut’s Guides book series, a three-volume series that gives you all the essential information on the psychedelic renaissance, the therapeutic uses of psychedelics and how the brain works with psychedelics.
The psychedelic renaissance
The term psychedelic renaissance refers to the resurgence of scientific, medical, cultural and legal interest in psychedelic substances that has occurred in recent decades. After an era of prohibition and repression that began in the 1960s, psychedelics have returned to laboratories and clinics, demonstrating their potential to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction.
In addition, psychedelics have gained popularity among people seeking to improve their quality of life, creativity, spirituality and relationship with the environment. Some examples of this phenomenon are the ceremonial use of ayahuasca in South America, psychedelic tourism in countries such as Holland or Jamaica, the movement of microdoses of substances such as psilocybin or LSD, or the legalisation of magic mushrooms in some cities in the United States.
If you want to know all the essentials about the history, neuroscience, legality, therapeutic applications and harm reduction of the most promising psychedelic drugs for science, we recommend the book Essential Guide to the Psychedelic Renaissance, the first volume of the Psychonaut’s Guides collection.
The therapeutic uses of psychedelics
Psychedelics are revolutionary tools for neuroplasticity and mental health. These substances promote profoundly revelatory mental states capable of restructuring our internal models of the world, reconsolidating traumatic memories and improving our social relationships.
Scientific studies have shown that classic psychedelics (such as psilocybin, DMT or LSD) and empathogens (such as MDMA) have positive effects in the treatment of various mental health conditions, such as treatment-resistant major depression, existential anxiety associated with terminal cancer, chronic PTSD or addictions to tobacco or alcohol.
These effects are due to the fact that psychedelics facilitate therapeutic processes such as emotional catharsis, cognitive reappraisal, traumatic integration or interpersonal connection. In addition, psychedelics induce mystical or spiritual experiences that are associated with a greater sense of purpose, greater satisfaction with life and greater openness to change.
If you want to learn about the therapeutic uses of classic psychedelics and empathogens as revolutionary tools for mental health, we recommend the book Psychedelics and Mental Health, the second volume of the Psychonaut’s Guides collection.
How the brain works with psychedelics
Psychedelics are substances that act on the brain, modifying its activity, structure and functioning. These substances bind to specific neurotransmitter receptors such as serotonin, dopamine or noradrenaline, altering the chemical balance of the brain and causing significant changes in the processes of perception, thought and consciousness.
Psychedelics affect various brain regions and networks, such as the prefrontal cortex, the thalamus, the hippocampus and the limbic system. These changes result in effects such as cognitive disinhibition, expanded consciousness, ego-dissolution, synaesthesia, hallucinations and brain hyperconnectivity.
Psychedelics also have long-term effects on the brain, promoting neurogenesis, neuroplasticity and neuroprotection. These effects may explain the therapeutic and personal benefits of psychedelics, as well as the potential risks involved.
If you want to learn about the pharmacology of psychedelics and get to the forefront of scientific research on the impact of psilocybin, MDMA, DMT, mescaline and LSD on the brain, we recommend the book Your Brain on Psychedelics, the third volume in the Psychonaut’s Guide collection.
Psychedelics are substances that can change your life. Whether it is to improve your mental health, to explore your mind, or to connect with the world around you, psychedelics offer a unique opportunity for profound and revealing experiences that can transform the way you see things.
But psychedelics are also substances that require responsible, informed and safe use. Therefore, we encourage you to be well informed before using them, and to do so with caution and respect.
To this end, we recommend that you read the Psychonaut’s Guide series of books, a three-volume series that provides you with all the essential information on the psychedelic renaissance, the therapeutic uses of psychedelics and how the brain works with psychedelics. These books are written by experts in the field and are based on the latest scientific evidence.