Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich, Burghölzli, is located near the city center on Burghölzli Hill. In the neighborhood is a vineyard, and on the other side sheep dog. Here, in the wing of a palace-like building, works as a psychiatrist and neuroscientist Franz Vollenweider.
Vollenweider has been investigating the psilocybin since 1990. Psilocybin is an active ingredient of so-called magical mushrooms and was, as before LSD, isolated by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, 1958. Psilocybin acts on the same brain receptors as LSD, but the inoxicity is shorter, the better for Research is appropriate. This is more practical.
Franz Vollenweider is the first placebo-controlled study in the world with psilocybin to treat depression. The study is mostly funded by state funds. Medical research with psychedelics has been seriously re-taken. In the United States, the drug containing psilocibine was given the status of "breakthrough therapy" by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October, which means that drug development is accelerating.
The FDA has repeatedly been criticized for allowing over-speed therapies due to the pressure of the pharmaceutical lobby. In any case, the product is still intensively explored. Behind the drugs is a Compass company based in London, funded by billionaire Siliconans as the founder of PayPal Peter Thiel.
Healing through magic
Vollenweider looks like a teacher you've always wanted. Gray hair, white mustache, glasses. His silver bracelet somehow signals the need for traveling. He came from psychology to psychedelic research and its effects, and also studied Buddhism and deep meditation, making him a good interlocutor for the subject, blurring the boundaries between biology, metaphysics and philosophy. where everything is going on in the neuroscience framework.
Recent studies at Johns Hopkins University, University of California (UCLA), New York University, and Imperial College in London indicate that psilocibine has the potential to increase the quality of life of terminal ill patients, against alcohol, nicotine and Cocaine addiction, even in depression.
In Switzerland it is forbidden to consume: how do hallucinogenic fungi look. Photo: Keystone
"This was almost a bit of magic for us, as we have seen in studios from America and England," says Franz Vollenweider. "The symptoms of depression are almost zero, and one application has the effect of a few months, never seen it before, but that is the data."
His constant psychoanalysis study includes 60 people with moderate depression. This is in the first trimester, and is already retiring, says Vollenweider, even in Zurich, patients are deeply impressed by the unique experience of psychoanalysis. "It prevents them from experiencing such intense emotions, the connection with the world, it's almost spiritual." He will then conduct a psychoanalysis study on alcoholics, a European co-production. She has already been approved.
The Burghölzliu encounters take place in a small room, which is furnished in a way that are spacious hotel rooms for business travelers: a gray carpet, two armchairs, a small table, a pull out couch. In front of the window are three thin plants on the floor. On the walls hang the pictures: the mountain landscape, the Buddha, the dome of the cathedral, there is something for everyone.
Vollenweider dreams that one day there will be meditation centers where healthy people can benefit from the mystery of the fungi.
Through the windows, looking at a lush green park, passers-by can always be seen again, which goes without saying. During the session the white curtain lights are drawn, but the light remains in the room. After all, here no one will feel separate from the world, but the birds sing loudly.
Everyone gets a quick turn to who gets something
Entities arrive – one by one – at nine o'clock. You should have breakfast, brain needs sugar. They get the bandwidth and headphones through which music is being recorded. Compilations of this music can be found on the Internet. Sounds like it was expected, as if the composer was looking for a long time for the awning lamp.
American author and lecturer Harvard Michael Pollan found these floating sounds so horrific in his own experimentation in the United States that he always brought his own music: Bach's Cello Suite no. 2 in D minor played by Yo-Yo Ma. Both the headphones and the eyebrow ring serve the inner look. Unlike the LSD or mushroom experience people are doing on the beach or in the woods, the outside world should retreat because of its medical effect to make room for exploration of the inner world. The therapist is constantly in the room.
Half of the volunteer gets 18 to 25 mg psilocibins in capsule form, and the other half is placebo. Nobody knows who gets what, but it's always very soon who gets it, says Franz Vollenweider.
You know you dream
Approximately twenty-thirty minutes after swallowing begins, he then feels the first effects of the subject, "maybe the music suddenly experiences differently, maybe the images come, can be imagined as a dream, but who knows that one knows dreams." After one hour reaches The peak of the effect, which lasts about an hour and a half, is then depleted. Two or three hours later, the subject is sober, can pick it up and follow it home.
When Vollenweider talks about the conditions of opiate, sometimes a slight smile plays at the corners of the mouth, as if there is a line that can only figure out who made that experience.
According to his own estimates, Vollenweider treated about 900 psychoanalysts, but never said there was "a trip of horror." "In middle doses, as we give, there are illusions, here in the Buddha room can come out of the picture, the plant pulsates with music or something, but it is not perceived as threatening, but as what is – a sensory perception changed."
And what makes the antidepressive action of all perceptions, what makes people even with the loss of fear of death?
"Man has the feeling that we are one with the environment"
In the brain there is much to be responsible for the autobiographical self, the "Default Mode Network", a group of brain regions in the cortex, responsible for eternal inner never-to-bad monologues, or the typical, circular. Think of depression, but also of time travel, thinking about the past (lost childhood, for example) or worry about the future. Psilocybin, as well as deep meditation, affects this part of the brain.
"There is a breakdown," says Vollenweider, "self-dissolution, unlimited, man has the feeling that we are one with the environment."
This can be perceived as threatening, since we are all exceptionally trained to be identified with our ego. "It is in principle a goal that Buddhists have, self-transcendence, to get into something bigger, add a sense of attachment, so we are one, and that's a good thing, it's a very positive feeling, man re-feels embedded in life, which belongs to the world. The thinking is interrupted, the man has a different perspective on himself and the world, and knowing that it is possible that everything can be differently evaluated seems to be existential in experience.
New links have been created in the brain, the networks dealing with it will be reorganized. In addition, psilocybin facilitates access to depression, restores old feelings, can be experienced again, but with consciousness today. "It relieves the tension, and the power that these feelings have over one, decreases."
In principle, it sounds like turbo psychotherapy, once psilocybin, and you can save years on a couch? "It's not – or," says Vollenweider: "It must be psychotherapeutically embedded." That is why Franz Vollenweider is also not about legalizing psychedelics. More studies are needed, "now you have to show that it works first".
Vollenweider's dream would be that one day there are meditation centers where healthy people under the guidance and safe frame could benefit from the secret that nature hid in mushrooms.
Created on: 03/07/2019, 7:14 PM