What is psychedelics?
So the word psychedelics takes its root in the Greek words ‘psyche’ which means soul or mind, and ‘delein’ which means to manifest. So psychedelics are soul manifesting substances that give you an altered state of consciousness. This has to do with stripping off of your own concept of self and reality. So many of you might have at some point question your reality. What is the bedrock of reality? How do you define the way we perceive the world as human beings… Is reality the outside, our inner world, or both, or beyond? And that’s what we call-think out of the box, without any restriction which of course can be problematic in regard to the actual society we live in- a confined system we are integrated from birth, which is why psychedelics like LSD, Psilocybin, and DMT are illegal.
Psychedelics came into the limelight long before. Remember the Summer of Love? Yes, I’m talking about the summer of 1967 where tens of thousands of young people headed to San Francisco to support a movement that valued peace, love, and psychedelic drugs like LSD also known as acid. This counterculture drew its inspiration from the American psychologist and psychedelics advocator- Timothy Leary who boldly stated that ‘ the kids taking LSD aren’t gonna fight your wars, they are not going to join your cooperations.’’ Obviously, that seems to be like a threat to the capitalist system reliant on a non-resistant, and disciplined workforce.
While this is quite understandable yet the movement went a little bit too far, since LSD was taken as a recreational drug which is totally incorrect.
In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act made LSD a schedule 1 drug which is the class of dangerous substances with high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Now the question which triggers everyone is why psychedelics like LSD, DMT, and psilocybin are illegal and abuse substances like alcohol are made available to the public?
Let’s get a little deeper with the psychedelics…
Generally speaking, psychedelics basically change your perception of reality, and this happens when they activate the subtype of serotonin receptor-the 2A receptor in your brain. Serotonin is a crucial chemical and neurotransmitter present in the human body. It is usually touted as the happy chemical which is responsible for regulating mood, social behavior, sleep, memory, just to mention a few. Though serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter, it is mostly found in the digestive tract. Serotonin is made up of the essential amino acid tryptophan. Now tryptophan serves important functions like nitrogen balance in the human body, the creation of the neurotransmitter serotonin of course, and growth in infants. Professor Rick Strassman claims that ‘ the fact that all organisms have tryptophan (amino acids) and have two key enzymes that lead to the synthesis of DMT, theoretically anything can synthesize DMT.
DMT or Dimethyl-tryptamine got much attention from the film documentary- DMT: The Spirit Molecule and by the book of Dr. Rick Strassman who was the first person in the United States to carry clinical trial of DMT on humans. In the 2013 scientific journal Biomedical Chromatography, Dr. Strassman published a paper outlining unequivocal evidence that DMT was found to naturally occur in the pineal gland of live rats. This supports his hypothesis that humans produce DMT naturally as well and likely in greater amounts during spiritual practices such as chanting, prayer, meditation, and even during the birth and death processes.
DMT has been present in human civilization for a very long time. And this can be traced to the prehistoric caves where there are paintings done by hunter-gathers who would go in an altered state of consciousness by whether ingesting psychedelic plants or fasting or drumming. DMT is also present in the indigenous culture of the Amazon, where natives especially the shamans know a great deal about this hallucinogen. They use DMT through the sacred brew known as ayahuasca used to heal the human body and psyche.
Because of its profound beneficial impact on the human body, ayahuasca has attracted many tourists around the world suffering from depression, anxiety, and cancer to heal themselves with ayahuasca. But some of them wanted to explore their inner world. That gave rise to the ayahuasca tourism where certainly the brew is not administered by genuine shamans. Normally there is a strict regimen to follow before taking ayahuasca.
What’s interesting about psychedelics is the fact that they have a profound effect on the Default Mode Network (DMN) which is largely responsible for human consciousness and perception. It is situated in the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cortex. Volunteers have claimed that they felt a sense of oneness while taking psychedelics. There is a loss of the concept of time, there is no ego, and they feel connected to nature and to a much larger realm of possibilities. They experience a deep spiritual understanding. And they tend to become more creative.
For travelers who see psychedelics drugs as something fun is definitely not the right angle to take. Cause psychedelic substances like DMT are something you don’t want to kid with. There are many plastic shamans out there who are always present and claim that they know everything best for you.
As a responsible traveler, there’s a lot of research work to do before choosing an experience of going into an altered state of consciousness. Though it is interesting to note that psychedelics are not the only path to seek ‘enlightenment’ or nirvana as many call it. There are many who are starting to consider spiritual methods like meditation to get the psychedelic effect which is indeed a challenge in itself but very rewarding.
Music: DMT Music Journey
References: Psychedelics and Conscious Travelers