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Optimal Health, Nutrition, and Psychedelic Drugs

Good nutritional support is important if one is planning to undergo a psychedelic journey.

A large part of my writing career, and two of my previous books, have been dedicated to reporting on health science, alternative medicine, medical breakthroughs, and increasing longevity. 

I think that maintaining optimal health is an absolute necessity if one is going to embark on psychedelic journeys throughout one’s life.

Eating well, exercising, meditating, avoiding toxins, and taking a good blend of quality nutritional supplements is important for everyone’s health. 

However, for aspiring shamans and curious mind explorers who are interested in experimenting with psychedelic drugs, taking proper care of one’s health is especially important.

In general, the more healthy that one’s body and mind are, the more that one will benefit from a psychedelic experience, and some psychedelics can deplete the body of important nutrients.

For starter’s, a good diet, along with a quality multivitamin and multi-mineral formula, plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory herbs, omega fatty acids, and fresh vegetable juices should be consumed beforehand, or before one begins to fast, if that’s preferable.

There’s also a number of herbs that can be used to alter, modulate, or amplify aspects of  a psychedelic experience.

Many people report that the sexually-enhancing herbs yohimbe (for men) and damiana (for women) go great with LSD, if you’d like to focus a lot of the psychedelic energy through sexual channels, but yohimbe should never be mixed with harmaline, MDMA, ketamine, DXM, MXE, and a number of other drugs.

Other people report that the herbs Kava, Valerian, Skullcap, and Holy Basil can significantly reduce anxiety if a psychedelic experience becomes agitating or difficult, sometimes almost as well as valium. 

The amino acids L-tryptophan and L-theanine can also be quite helpful in reducing psychedelic anxiety. Ashwagandha can help to elevate one’s mood, if one becomes depressed or feels sad while tripping.

Several hundred milligrams of Niacin (vitamin B-3) will reliably terminate an LSD trip in around 30 minutes for most people, and in cases of severe psychedelic anxiety physicians report that valium or ativan appears to work best, if all else fails.

To learn how to deal with a psychedelic emergency, I would recommend watching the educational film that the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies made on this subject entitled “Psychedelic Crisis,” which can be viewed on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aBjoARwlOY

Taking MDMA (i.e. “ecstasy”) can be riskier than the classical psychedelics. It’s far more toxic and there is some controversy about it possibly causing some lasting brain damage. Unlike marijuana, LSD, and psilocybin, just several times the effective dose of MDMA can be deadly. 

There’s also some concern that when MDMA is absorbed into nerve terminals it causes lasting damage to the dendrites, or connecting fibers with other brain cells--particularly “serotonergic dendrites,” which release the calming neurotransmitter (brain chemical) serotonin. 

Research indicates that MDMA doesn’t kill brain cells, but some animals studies suggest that there may be some lasting or temporary damage.

Research by pharmacologist David E. Nichols at Purdue University demonstrated that taking a single dose of the SSRI antidepressant drug Prozac at the right time can completely prevent this neural damage. The Prozac needs to be taken within six hours of the initial dose of MDMA for this to be effective. 

Here’s why. MDMA binds to serotonin receptors in the brain, and this causes a part of the brain cells, called the “serotonin transporters,” to work in reverse. 

That is, for around five or six hours, instead of pumping serotonin back into the nerve terminal, as they normally do, the serotonin transporters start pumping serotonin out of the neurons, into the synapse, where it stimulates neighboring cells and produces the desired psychoactive effects. 

After around six hours, the serotonin transporters begin pumping serotonin back into the nerve terminals again--and the MDMA is carried along with the neurotransmitters into the nerve terminal, where it may cause lasting damage. 

Prozac binds to the same receptor sites in the brain as MDMA, only much more aggressively, and it knocks the MDMA molecules off of the receptors before they can be absorbed, so they are safely removed from the body before causing any damage.

Additional studies have shown that large doses of vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid can also prevent any observable damage to serotonergic dendrites from the drug. 

MDMA is also thought to deplete the body of the important minerals calcium and magnesium--which causes the commonly-experienced jaw-clenching--and, of course, it also depletes the body of serotonin, so L-tryptophan or 5-HTP supplements are also recommended at the end of the experience.

Some people report that drinking grapefruit juice before ingesting cannabis will amplify the high and extend the duration of its effects, due to the fact that a chemical constituent in grapefruit juice called “naringin” inhibits a metabolism enzyme called “CYP3A4” around four hours after drinking the grapefruit juice. 

The inhibition of the CYP3A4 may increase serum levels of THC or extend the duration of the cannabinoid’s effects.

Nitrous oxide use depletes the body of vitamin B-12, so if one is doing large amounts of this giggly gas, it would probably be wise to place a sublingual vitamin B-12 supplement under his or her tongue while inhaling the gas.

As long as one maintains proper nutritional support, and deep spiritual respect, one should have a good foundation for beginning a psychedelic journey. 

Also, there are more than a few people who consider psychedelic plants and shamanic chemicals to be nutritional supplements themselves, necessary for a healthy sense of spiritual and ecological awareness.

To learn more about how to plan a safe, healing, and inspiring psychedelic journey see psychologist James Fadiman’s definitive book on the subject: The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys (Park Street Press, 2011).

This information in this column is provided for educational purposes only, and in no way does the author condone any illegal activity.

If you enjoy my column, and want to learn more about psychedelic and cannabis culture, “like” my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/David-Jay-Brown/115740098445882?ref=ts

and follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/DavidJayBrown

Selina Reddan September 19, 2012 at 11:16 PM
great information. This one is a keeper. Thank you David.
Mimi Peleg September 20, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Hi Dave, just wondering if you can please site some evidence that:MDMA depletes calcium and magnesium? Thanks for all the things you make us think about!
eric reho September 20, 2012 at 06:43 PM
http://a8f82blcmv5koyasq94b1zbl3z.hop.clickbank.net/ Check this out for more information on Skull Cap as an anti-anxiety remedy.
David Jay Brown September 20, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Mimi. MDMA is thought to deplete the body of calcium and magnesium largely because calcium and magnesium supplements reportedly reduce the symptoms of jaw-clenching in MDMA and amphetamine users. Also, because MDMA is chemically related to amphetamines, which alter the magnesium/calcium ratios in the body, it is thought that these substances may deplete the body of these important minerals, because amphetamine use leads to an increase in intracellular calcium concentrations. (See: www.aapsj.org/view.asp?art=aapsj080238) But there aren't any studies that I could find which support this notion with MDMA, that it actually leeches calcium and magnesium from the body--and there are substantial pharmacological differences between MDMA and amphetamines, so this is research that is badly needed, as teeth grinding and tooth cracking can be a real problem for some people on MDMA. Here's a link to MAPS report on the subject: www.maps.org/old_forum/2000/msg00195.html However, the reason that I suspect that this is true is from personal experience. In my experience, taking a good calcium/magnesium supplement always reduced the muscle-clenching or cramping that sometimes accompanies an MDMA session, which can be a symptom of calcium deficiency.
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Chris Turner September 25, 2012 at 02:22 AM
You state that "L-tryptophan [...] can also be quite helpful in reducing psychedelic anxiety" but an article (http://www.supplements-and-health.com/tryptophan-side-effects.html) showed that it invokes a number of physiological events that might lead to an INCREASE of anxiety.
fdfd September 26, 2012 at 04:40 AM
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