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Psychedelic Medicines of the Future: More Undiscovered Drugs Than Stars in the Sky

There are more than a million billion billion billion billion billion billion new drugs waiting to be discovered.

Billions and billions of new psychedelic drugs are just waiting to be discovered--and what kind of an effect they’ll have on us, and the world, we can only imagine.

According to a recent paper by chemists Jean-Louis Reymond and Mahendra Awale in the journal Chemical Neuroscience, scientists have synthesized barely one tenth of 1 percent of the potential drugs that could be made. 

This eye-opening paper estimates that the actual number of potential “small molecule” medicines could be around 1 novemdecillion--1 million billion billion billion billion billion billion--which is more than some estimates of the number of stars in the universe.

After reading through pharmacologist Alexander (Sasha) and psychotherapist Ann Shulgin’s classic books on the exploration of psychedelic chemistry, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, and after browsing through the designer psychedelic drugs listed on Erowid, one begins to get an idea of the kind of pharmacological possibilities that may be available to us in the near future.

(The book titles, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, are acronyms for “Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved,” and “Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved.” “Phenethylamines” and “tryptamines” are chemical structure types, and most psychedelic drugs fall into one of these two categories.)

For over 30 years, Sasha discretely, yet legally, synthesized many dozens of new psychedelic compounds in his (then government-licensed) research laboratory. 

By tweaking the arrangements of known psychedelic molecules, Sasha created many dozens of new pharmacological keys that unlock different aspects of the brain’s hidden potential. 

Along with his wife, Ann, and a small, brave, and dedicated research group, for many years they sampled each new drug as it was developed. 

Through the cautious escalation of dosage, they discovered and mapped out the range of each new drug’s effects, experimenting with the various aspects of their psychological and spiritual potential. 

This risky, but arguably-needed, underground research is now continuing on a global level.

On Erowid, Bluelight, and other frontier drug-report websites, one can find rare information about many dozens of exotic psychedelic compounds, that not too many people are aware of.

Every day, new psychedelic drug molecules are being designed by underground chemists, and are they’re being tested by a small but brave community of self-described “psychonauts.”

Nobody really knows how safe or dangerous these new, relatively untested compounds are, but a lively, online community is actively exploring their potential, while sharing and discussing their experimental results. 

Erowid and Bluelight are filled with hundreds of reports and discussions about new psychedelic compounds, like “TMA-2,” “4-Acetoxy-DMT” and “4-HO-MET.”

Sasha, as well as the late psychologist Timothy Leary and others, have suggested that in the future, psychedelic drugs will become more and more specific in their effects. 

It is thought, for example, that LSD’s effects are sometimes too generalized for practical use, as it has been described as “a nonspecific brain amplifier” by psychiatric researcher Stanislav Grof.

LSD amplifies all sensory sensations in the body, and it usually lasts for quite a long time. 

Leary said that he thought that LSD was similar to Henry Ford’s Model T, the first automobile, and that much more thoughtfully-designed pharmaceutical technologies would arrive with time.

Many of the new designer psychedelics have effects that are often reported to feel like synergistic combinations of existing compounds, like variations on mixing MDMA-like and psilocybin-like effects.

However, in the future, we’re likely to have shorter-acting or longer-acting drugs, with less unwanted effects, that specifically amplify a particular sensory or mental ability.

For example, we may wish to take a drug that sensitizes our visual perception before spending the afternoon wandering around an extraordinary art exhibit, a cognitive enhancer before studying for a particularly difficult exam, or we may want to pharmacologically improve our hearing before attending a special concert. 

Some psychedelic drugs might be more helpful as therapeutic agents, for healing past traumas or working through psychological difficulties, while others may be more useful as creativity or intelligence enhancers. 

Perhaps even drugs that improve extrasensory perception, psychic abilities, or facilitate mystical experiences or spiritual transformations, could all be developed with more specificity and efficacy over time.

To make the future even more interesting, those million billion billion billion billion billion billion new drugs waiting to be discovered, don’t take into account the potential advances in neuroscience and nanotechnology that may allow us to engineer new brain structures, expand our brain chemistry, and increase the range of our neurological abilities--allowing for even more amazing and incredible states of consciousness to become possible.

When it comes to the future evolution of the human mind, consciousness, and psychedelics, only the sky, and perhaps a lack of imagination, define our limits.

To read Jean-Louis Reymond and Mahendra Awale’s paper “Exploring Chemical Space for Drug Discovery Using the Chemical Universe Database,” which appeared in the journal Chemical Neuroscience,  see: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cn3000422 

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Torrey Peacock July 08, 2012 at 07:49 AM
Yes, its likely Shulgin only scratched the surface of what we could find, and science has already yielded some very impressive psychedelics, such as LSD and MDMA. But I wonder if its worth the bother! Mother Nature has already given us all the entheogenic grace we need, to heal our bodies, free our minds, and live in happiness and harmony with the universe. Plants, mushrooms, cacti, in the jungle, in the forest, on the plains. As natural as wind and rain and sun. Imbued with the guiding intelligence of nature, and protected by powerful and benevolent spirits. DMT, the most powerful psychedelic of them all, is endogenous to the human nervous system. Sometimes I think LSD was God's way of waking us up, in a form we could relate to - a "new discovery", a pharmaceutical drug. Wake us up to see that the psychedelics were here among us, all along. That we should learn the plants. And listen to what they have to say. ♥

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