Transcript: Microdosing: Integrating Psychedelics Into Modern Life – Paul Austin
Please enjoy this transcript of the Aware Project Webinar.
The Aware Project hosts a series of monthly Psychedelic Awareness Salon events in Los Angeles and San Diego. We are creating a connected and educated community that feels passionately about balancing the conversation about psychedelics.
In this webinar we talk about:
- The basics of microdosing, what it is, and how it helps people.
- Why microdosing will be a critical component of increasing psychedelic literacy, thus helping to create a cultural infrastructure for altered states of consciousness.
0:00:01 Ashley Booth: The Aware Project’s aim is to balance the public conversation about psychedelics, spread accurate information, and give a new face to psychedelia. We feel that this change will occur through connection relationship one individual at a time.
0:00:14 AB: We are calling on everyone whose lives have been improved through the mindful use of psychedelics to educate themselves and become ambassadors for the psychedelic experience. Show those around you that people who use psychedelics mindfully cross all social, racial, economic, and political boundaries.
0:00:29 AB: I’m going to introduce Paul. I’m so excited that we finally got him here. It’s been a long time coming, we’ve been talking about this for a really long time. And we also saw each other at Burning Man last week, bumped into each other [unclear speech] at a party and just got to connect on a more personal level after having a lot more logistical conversations.
0:00:56 AB: So Paul is the founder of Third Wave which is an educational platform around microdosing and he also runs a couple of other projects that he’s gonna talk more about. So, I’m really excited to have him here and would you please give him warm welcome.
0:01:29 Paul Austin: So I just… Can you hear me okay? Is the…
0:01:31 AB: Really close.
0:01:33 PA: Really close, really close. Okay, okay, so really close. So, wow, I’m astounded by the turnout. So first and foremost, thank all of you for showing up tonight and for being in the space with us to learn about what is a really important topic in this day and age, psychedelic literacy. But even beyond that, the topic of microdosing and how that is playing a role in transforming our culture alongside the current psychedelic renaissance. So if you could all just give yourselves a round of applause for being here, for being in the space…
0:02:17 PA: Because we do still live in this era of prohibition and because it is rooted in prejudice and it’s rooted in misinformation and it’s rooted in stigma and a lack of science, it takes courage to come to these spaces and to connect with other people who have also had authentic transformative experiences not only with microdosing but also with higher doses of psychedelics.
0:02:43 PA: And that was my own personal experience when I dropped acid for the first time at the age of 19. And that’s more or less where this story gets interesting. And I was joking about this last night when I did the same event in San Diego, but it seems that a lot of good things come from acid.
0:03:09 PA: When used responsibly, when used with purpose, when used with intention, it’s a wonderful tool. In fact, many people would say it’s the Western culture’s psychedelic because of its history tying back to ancient Greece. Where in ancient Greece, people like Plato used to drink a substance called “Kykeon”, which was a beverage that was made from the ergot fungus which is the same thing that LSD is synthesized from.
0:03:42 PA: So there’s this tremendous connection with our roots as a Western culture with psychedelics. And in fact, in this day and age, it’s very non-normative that these substances are prohibited. This is unlike any other time in human history that we’ve had such a suppression of these plant medicines. And in order to heal as a collective society, in order to transform ourselves from the inside out, to be able to exist within the next 100 years, the Earth will be fine, we might be fucked.
0:04:19 PA: It’s really important that we start to build more sustainable systems that are in line with human optimal well-being that are not just based in extractive capitalism and a one-eyed focus on financial benefit, but instead comes at it from a much more holistic perspective of ecological and social well-being as well. And these tools because of what they can do, play a tremendous role in that.
0:04:44 PA: And that’s what inspired me to start Third Wave. So basically, long story short, I started an online business, I lived abroad for a period of time, I had a little bit of extra time and I thought, “Why not start a website about psychedelics?” It seemed like a good idea. There was a legalization of cannabis happening, there was more and more research coming out about psychedelics from institutions like NYU and Johns Hopkins, from nonprofits like MAPS, which has done phenomenal work in this space. Rick Doblin is a true hero for what he’s done over the past 30 years and really building the medical and institutional infrastructure to fully reintegrate psychedelics into not only our medical spectrum but also cultural.
0:05:27 PA: And so with this progress that was being made, there was still something missing. And from my perspective, that was a digital media site that was focused on psychedelic literacy and education that was not presented in a mid-90s aesthetic. We love Erowid, but it’s a little behind the times.
0:05:47 PA: And so in order to present this education in a way that really resonated with people and was more accessible to a mainstream population, we thought it was really important to be able to write accessible information that was rooted in scientific fact and lead with the topic of microdosing because it was an interesting touch point that was hitting all these facets of culture and society.
0:06:07 PA: And so one thing led to another, we were fortunate enough to receive some mainstream press and publication, and before I know it, I found myself in New York City trying to actually build a legitimate organization.
0:06:21 PA: And where that has taken us or where we are in the current here and now, is looking at how we can facilitate research on microdosing to prove some of these benefits that have been talked about anecdotally, to look at how we can build in-person and online community around the topic of not only microdosing but also psychedelics, and then to also look at how can we paint a new perception of psychedelics in a mainstream view or eye. In other words, how do we maybe evolve out of the aesthetic that was presented in the ’60s and truly present psychedelics as tools and technologies that not only people who are maybe more inclined to integrate those ethos from the ’60s, but also people who are just your average, everyday day stay at home mom in suburbia. And because that’s where I come from, I’m from the Midwest, I’m from Michigan, I’m from a small town, and so when I really think about how can we make these substances accessible to not only the Coast, LA and New York, but also the midwest, we really have to look at practical ways to do that.
0:07:28 PA: And because microdosing is so accessible, it’s so non-ego threatening, because it’s being utilized by people with depression, anxiety by people who wanna use it for creativity and peak performance, by bio hackers, by people who are looking at it for neuro-generative restoration as they get older. This is touching all spectrums, which is phenomenal. So I’m gonna take a second and pause, ’cause I’m starting to get excited, and then I go and go and go. So taking a step back, how many of you have microdosed before, by a show of hands? Cool. How many of you have done a psychedelic before by a show of hands? So most of you, maybe 70 to 80%. Now, what’s interesting about microdosing is how it’s acting as a gateway into these more transformative doses of psychedelics. And so before I go any further, I’ll give a brief primer on microdosing, the one to two-minute primer, and then I’ll talk a little bit about its applicability and then our future plans as a non-profit and how we’re going to integrate this to ideally build psychedelic literacy. So microdosing, what is microdosing? Well, I guess, yes. So what is microdosing? Who has a really great description or response of what microdosing is? Yes.
0:09:12 [unknown speaker]: My understanding it’s about 10 to 15 micrograms… My understanding it’s about 10 to 15 micrograms, and I do it every three days.
0:09:28 PA: So 10 to 15 micrograms of LSD is what he’s referring to, twice a week or every three days. So that’s a really good starting point for microdosing. Who else maybe has something they wanna share about what is microdosing?
0:09:42 [unknown speaker]: A small percentage of whatever you’re going to take.
0:09:45 PA: So a small percentage of whatever it is you’re going to take. Yes.
0:09:51 [unknown speaker]: A sub-perceptible dose?
0:09:52 PA: A sub-perceptible dose. So, a sub-perceptible dose of a psychedelic. What else is microdosing? Just kind of… Yes.
0:09:58 [unknown speaker]: [unclear speech] architectural change.
0:10:01 PA: So it creates an architectural change, it creates ongoing neuro-genesis or neuroplasticity. Yes.
0:10:06 [unknown speaker]: [unclear speech].
0:10:11 PA: Okay, yeah, you macrodosed, you didn’t microdose. Yeah. [chuckle]
0:10:21 [unknown speaker]: [unclear speech].
0:10:23 PA: Get the benefits without all the snakes, the aliens, the vomiting, these pretty nice things. Good, so these are great descriptions. Anything else, anything else to add to that, microdosing? Great. So, it’s a consumption of a sub-perceptible dose, usually two times a week. This is Jim Fadiman’s original protocol who’s the “godfather of microdosing”. And Jim basically started this in 2012, was on the Tim Ferriss podcast in 2015, and then proceeded to kick all that off. And so, it’s consuming a low-dose usually a tenth of a regular dose on a consistent schedule, usually twice a week with a specific intention or purpose. So set and setting is still important with microdosing to facilitate some sort of benefit or outcome, whether that’s a relief from depression, whether that’s entering flow states, whether that’s better coordination on the snowboard because people definitely are doing that. Won’t recommend it necessarily, but there was a really good article published in the MAPS newsletter in 2011 about extreme sport athletes who were microdosing quite a bit in Colorado.
0:11:37 PA: And so people are using it for all different purposes and what they notice at the end of the day, is there seem to be very similar relationships or developments with a protocol of microdosing, as these higher doses of psychedelics. Now, caveat, major caveat, major caveat. We have a lot of extensive clinical research on high doses of psychedelics proving their efficacy without a shadow of a doubt, you could say. Whereas with microdosing much of the reports are still anecdotal. There have been, I believe, three or four studies now published that I’m aware of. There have been no clinical trials, however, from anecdotal reports that people are reporting and from my own personal experience and the personal experience of many people that I’ve spoken to, there seem to be commonalities, and that’s because what people are doing with microdosing, if we look at altered states on a scale of continuum, so on the left we have yoga and meditation, and we have maybe light breath work, float tanks.
0:12:19 PA: As we go a little bit further along, we got your microdosing, maybe some more intense breath work, maybe you’re going out and doing a little survival course for three days in the wilderness. Some people do that. I’ve never tried it, don’t think I will, but it sounds interesting. And then you go further into macrodosing, and what I learned in a very magical way this past week, things like Burning Man, which are more transformative festivals over a week-long period, where you’re fully immersed in this, basically altered state. And so, if we look at that as a continuum, then each of those modalities can facilitate the sense of holistic well-being. And sometimes it’s physical well-being by helping with inflammation in the body. Sometimes it’s emotional well-being by helping with…
0:13:21 PA: Basically developmental trauma and recovering from neglect and some of these things that happened maybe in our childhood. And then it’s also spiritual well-being of answering the question that many of us are wondering about is, why the fuck are we here? And what’s our purpose, what’s our vision? Where is all this going? And I think this is what psychedelics help tremendously with and that’s why they’re so effective as medicines in this day and age, because many of our clinical issues are directly tied to the sense of an existential angst. Of not feeling connected, of not feeling like part of a community, of not feeling like there’s a reason to live. And psychedelics can help with that process of healing and feeling safe and vulnerable, and accepted and loved and all these really beautiful, beautiful feelings and things. So this is where their transformative effect comes in. And it looks like because of that, microdosing might be a great transition point.
0:14:26 PA: The clock is over there, thank you. So where are we taking all of this? So, recently, as I touched on earlier, we are now incorporating as a non-profit at Third Wave with the focus of increasing psychedelic literacy. And in doing that, we’re not only starting the non-profit at Third Wave, but I’m gonna throw another little term. We’re also trying to build a what we’re terming a psychedelic archipelago. So imagine Hawaii and psychedelics. That’s the vibe. And so with this idea of Third Wave, with this collective vision of, How do we change the cultural conversation around psychedelics? By doing three main things. Research. So with Third Wave that’s microdosing research. Community development. We could say online communities. So we have, for example, a microdosing course with the community, we have about 1000 people in that online. And then also starting to do in-person events. Like this, collaborating with societies, like the Aware Project but also starting to do our own events in places like New York and San Francisco.
0:15:38 PA: And then further, the final thing is how do we utilize the popularity of microdosing and do how we utilize our messaging, which seems to be accessible to a wide demographic of people as you’ll notice looking around tonight. Then how do we basically leverage that to be able to increase cultural psychedelic literacy? And so what I mean by psychedelic literacy is that when we do transition, hopefully, fingers crossed, when we do transition from a medicalized psychedelic world, into ideally being able to fully integrate these substances into our cultural framework, this is what we call open access. And open access will require a major push to educate a large populus about the benefits of psychedelics, about the risks of psychedelics, about the contra-indications for psychedelics, about things like set and setting, about things like what’s the difference between LSD and psilocybin and MDMA?
0:16:34 PA: These are all really important topics that I would say most if not all, basically, most people don’t have, which is a shame. It’s an absolute shame because these tools when understood properly are tools of transformation. So that, I wanted to paint a little picture for you of where microdosing is, how it developed, how that led to Third Wave, this larger vision that we have of psychedelic literacy. And not only doing that through the digital media and non-profit but I also co-founded a retreat center in Amsterdam, called Synthesis. And my co-founder will come up and join us in a little bit as well as two other guests for a brief panel, where we now facilitate hands-on retreats for people with psilocybin truffles, which are legal in Amsterdam. And so we can finally within the first western framework, start to look at how we can work hands-on with these substances not in microdoses, but in higher transformative doses as most people are now terming macrodoses.
0:17:34 PA: Or as one of my mentors once said, we really didn’t call macrodoses, macrodoses until there was microdosing so you can just call them doses. You don’t need to… You don’t need to clarify. So with all that being said, I’m going to introduce three people who will come up and join us for a panel. The first one, let’s see if I can find him. Matt, where’s Matt? Great. So the first one is Matt Cooper. I met Matt Cooper about a year ago, interviewed him for my podcast. We’ve been working together on a project, a coaching project to help facilitate optimal well-being with microdosing. And Matt’s going to speak about the intersection of microdosing and physical well-being as well as some of these other elements of emotional and spiritual well-being. So if you could give him a round of applause please, for joining us…
0:18:26 PA: That would be super.
0:18:39 PA: Thank you. So our second panelist tonight is my dear dear friend and someone I’ve known for about a year and a half now. We met in Amsterdam. Actually, the first time I collaborated on doing these microdosing events was with Martijn or as I affectionally call him, Marty. And so, with Marty, we were able to basically facilitate a first workshop about microdosing and everyone at that workshop also got to take a microdose, which was pretty cool, because truffles are legal in the Netherlands. And ever since that point in time, Martijn and I have grown closer. We built Third Wave’s microdosing course together, and then Martijn also co-founded Synthesis with me. So if you could please give Martijn a warm welcome as well.
0:19:31 PA: And our third guest tonight really needs no introduction, because all of you know her, it is Ashley Booth, the founder of the Aware Project and so if you could also give her a warm round of applause.
0:19:47 PA: Okay, do you wanna… I’ll stand. Ashley and I met at Psychedelic Science last year in person for the first time, very briefly, I think right after you helped with Jim Fadiman’s introducing them and that whole thing, and then as she mentioned, we’ve been having phone calls the past year, year and a half, and then finally, I got a chance to connect at the Burn and then again, here in LA. So thank you for hosting this space, thank you for putting on this event, thank you for all the work that you’ve done, and I’m really excited to dig further into it about the community element because that’s also one of these pillars that will be really important in building cultural psychedelic literacy, is facilitating communities that are engaged in this work so that not only can we just come around and talk about drugs for an hour, hour and a half, but that this can actually turn into something productive that leads to a change in, for example, local policy, that leads to a change in how for example, medical institutions might perceive this and so that’s all really important.
0:20:50 PA: So Martijn, I’d love to start with you, because you’re furthest away from me and I’d love to hear a little bit about your experience microdosing with plant medicines, things like maybe ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin as well, I would love to hear, and then it’d be also great if you could illuminate a little bit about what we’re doing with Synthesis and the differences that you’ve seen between microdoses and macrodoses with people that we’ve worked with, so I’d love to hear that from you.
0:21:28 Martijn: Hey everyone, my name is Martijn and I am from the Netherlands, I’m Dutch. Closer? Can everybody hear me, everybody in the back as well?
0:21:39 [unknown speaker]: Can you stand up?
0:21:40 Martijn: Stand up? Alright. Hey everyone, my name Martijn, I’m Dutch, I’m from the Netherlands. There’s a little bit of accent in my voice. Thank you, Paul, for the wonderful introduction, I love you. We just spent an amazing Burn together and I’m still a little bit in two worlds. Thank you all for coming tonight. My experience with plant medicine. So I first started microdosing, I think it was around 2013 when a iboga shaman told me I should take a spoonful of iboga bark three days in a row and then four days off, three months before my iboga journey. And it was quite an interesting experience because I was… Does anybody know iboga here, iboga bark?
0:22:38 Martijn: So 10-20%. So it’s a root that from Gabon, Africa, it has tryptamine ibogaine in it. It’s a very, very complex psychedelic that does a lot of things to the brain. And it stays in your blood for around 30 to 40 hours. So if you take it one day and you take it another day and the third day it starts to stack up, and by the third day you’re constantly in this in-between state and I really liked it. [chuckle] It was a lot of fun. My dreams became more interesting and my insights became more refined. What iboga does, it kinda downplays part of the brain that’s connected with craving. So I didn’t feel as much craving to check my emails, to eat my junk food or whatever and I felt that it really helped with my meditation practice, it made me really present. And I was like, “Oh this is interesting. I can just do psychedelics and not have to really alter my set and setting to take a day off, I could just continue working, I could do whatever I wanted to do, but also have that psychedelic awareness”. About half a year later, I came across James Fadiman’s book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, and I was like, “Oh, this is interesting, there’s actually people doing this in different set and settings.” And so, I started microdosing…
0:24:14 PA: So you did it, you did it before it was cool, was that…
0:24:16 Martijn: I did it before it was cool.
0:24:17 PA: Yeah, that’s what you’re saying, okay.
0:24:18 Martijn: Yeah.
0:24:18 PA: I just wanted, I just wanted to know, alright, alright.
0:24:20 Martijn: So I wrote my first article on it in 2014.
0:24:22 PA: Yeah, in fact, when we published our first microdosing infographic, I… When I published this first microdosing infographic, I pretty much, we can say borrowed a lot of the information from this original article that Martijn had published, which was fantastic.
0:24:38 Martijn: Thank you, yeah, this is better, yeah. I borrowed this from a lot of other places too, so…
0:24:45 PA: It’s co-creation.
0:24:48 Martijn: Co-creation.
0:24:48 PA: Right, co-creation.
0:24:49 Martijn: It’s continuing this conversation about the integration of psychedelics. And then I started microdosing mushrooms, and I felt that my emotional awareness improved, that I… It would be easier to stay present with things that I didn’t like with… So to feedback, for example when people would turn their heads away, I would be more perceptive and more in tune with that and I was like, “Oh, this is interesting.” So I started the journal and on the days I was microdosing, I had a better time, I had more growth, I had more insights and so I started to write this article about it which really took off until Third Wave came online and they kinda stole all my traffic.
0:25:27 PA: Yeah, that happened, totally. And to continue that, how did that lead then to our relationship and then, what has been developing with microdosing and transitioning into Synthesis with these higher doses?
0:25:57 Martijn: So we met at this panel in Amsterdam where everybody was microdosing, which was really cool to do, and we started to hang out and talk about like, “Hey, this is pretty cool, but can we actually offer people a psychedelic experience?” And luckily enough, I’m Dutch, and there’s this little loophole in the law that says that the truffles don’t fall under the opium law, but under the food law. So normal shops can just sell it and we can actually offer this as a treat to eat and guide people through these experiences. And the big difference I think what you just asked between the micro and a macro is the amount of transformation. Is the intensity of it. And a with a micro, you can kind of direct things, like strong, intense experiences are not likely on a microdose, unless you combine it with strong yoga practice or breath work, but on a microdose, it’s quite common to have at these moments that you’re completely overwhelmed, that things come up that are very challenging and it’s often recommended, especially if you don’t have any experience to have guidance with that.
0:27:19 Martijn: And so, people would come up to us on events where we talked about microdosing, like, “Hey, where can I do this? How do I access this?” And that’s one of the big problems right now with it being banned that people don’t have access, that the barriers to actually having these experiences are so high and so we started to offer these retreats that have been amazing because we’ve seen amazing transformations of one or two doses per person of high dose of psilocybin and people that maybe drink too much don’t tell the truth to their spouse, they are stuck with these habits or thought patterns of depression, anxiety. Everybody has some of this, but they come out of it and they feel refreshed, they feel reset, they feel reborn. And that has been affected… Psychedelics have been on me when I’ve been stuck or I’ve been dealing with a problem. And that’s what we’ve been seeing as well with other people, is they’re…
0:28:30 PA: Great, yeah, and I think one thing to add to Martijn’s description for Synthesis is this ties into this larger narrative or this larger growth of psychedelic literacy is, how do you make these experiences accessible for people not only in microdoses but higher doses? Whereas, you know, I’m sure many of you have heard of ayahuasca and ayahuasca retreats and you can go to Peru and Brazil and some of these elements, and we notice that the shamanistic approach to psychedelics while rooted in indigenous traditions is still quite too esoteric for a more mainstream population. So we asked, “How could we build a retreat that is more based in Western principles and values while still utilizing some of the historical knowledge that we have of set and setting and ceremony?” And this has been the big thing that we’ve been in development with and asking about how we can create that for Synthesis.
0:29:37 Martijn: And to add to that, this is what I believe, one of the very few places in the world right now where it’s medical supervised, we have trained facilitators and we do more research to actually see like, “Hey, we have all this clinical data and how does that matches with actually going on a retreat with a group of people, and not necessarily with trained therapists, but actually having that experience, like how do people come out?” And the preliminary data shows well-being goes up, anxiety goes down, depression goes down, nature connectedness goes up, people have mystical experiences, deeply meaningful realizations about themselves, their families, what they wanna do in life, and it seems to work and for those who raised their hand that had a deep psychedelic experience, you know what I’m talking about.
0:30:30 PA: Yeah, we really load them up. We really, really load them up.
0:30:34 Martijn: We really load them up, yeah.
0:30:36 PA: So, we have a nice… So, basically, Martijn and I don’t, neither of us have medical backgrounds. I’m an entrepreneur and I hold space at these retreats, but because we don’t have that medical background we make sure to screen out any participants who come with clinical conditions and we mostly work with people who are interested in elevated states of being. And then the last thing I’d love to hear you just two or three minutes about, what’s the vision? For Synthesis, where is this going, how is this developing? I’d love to hear you talk about that.
0:31:07 Martijn: So the vision we have is we wanna legalize this, we want to create an institute or a place to go in every big city, starting in Amsterdam, starting all of the Netherlands, because the legal climate is more favorable but then exporting that all over Europe, so people have actually have an option to go and feel safe and be guided properly to have these experiences that are so deeply valuable to us as human beings. And more research, more combination with other modalities like coaching, like spiritual practices, maybe VR. There’s so much potential that I think we’re just scratching the surface of what we can do with psychedelic experiences. I’ve seen some shit [unclear speech] and so [chuckle] I got a lot of inspiration to actually build something that people can come in reliably and know the quality they can expect. ‘Cause we have modern hospitals everywhere and those practices are standardized. We don’t have that with psychedelics yet and that’s an issue because a lot of people could benefit from it. So the vision is to make sure it’s available and accessible to everyone who needs it.
0:32:32 PA: Great, thank you.
0:32:40 PA: And Coop, I’d love to hear from you about first off, this intersection between microdosing and well-being, starting maybe with physical well-being and then some of these other emotional and spiritual, and then I think we’d also love to hear about within that what’s your background, what’s your experience with microdosing and then how does this play out with the client work that you do when coaching people with these substances?
0:33:07 Matt Cooper: You guys want me to stand up?
0:33:09 [unknown speaker]: Yes, yeah.
0:33:11 MC: Alright, I appreciate you guys being here. Just fix my shirt, psychedelics still don’t fix everything, including goofiness. So yeah, I would say that our work… My name is Matt Cooper. Our work mainly is focused on using psychedelics and literature and research on the biological tie in of the brain and the nervous system to help reprogram the mind-body interface. And so sometimes that can mean something simple like how to do some neurophysiologic tuning with the nervous system to actually better co-enable your psychedelic experience, whether that’s microdosing or macrodosing. In addition to that, sometimes we actually will use psychedelics as a part of a wholistic perspective or panoramic view, if you will, in a biopsychosocial model for health, personal well-being, fitness, and peak performance, and then sometimes also for restoring health as well.
0:34:08 MC: In addition to that, I actually believe psychedelics, including a biological pine, if you will, actually have a position for using our knowledge of the nervous system to actually unpack emotional trauma and to be able to not have our nervous system limit us in our potential in life. And I think that segues nicely into where I come from and I if I grew up today, a little bit about me, I probably would have been somewhere on the OCD, ADHD autism spectrum. I kinda just never really fit in and I didn’t realize at the time how much my own nervous system, emotional trauma that I’d basically endured when I was younger actually was really sort of tattooing me and having kind of a hold on not just my health in and of itself, and making me kind of more or less sick all the time, but also in really who I was. And when I would try to reach outside of myself to play on a higher field if you will, I would find that I would just light up in a neuromuscular way. And quite by accident, I actually discovered psychedelics. And so my own personal transformation that inspires sort of a want to pay it forward, if you will, and so I’ll unpack that a little bit if you… This will probably confuse people.
0:35:27 PA: Well, I think before you get into that, I’d love to just hear a little bit more about your background, so what is it… How did you come to psychedelic professionally? What is that background? What do you do in terms of your work?
0:35:39 MC: Right, so in conjunction with Third Wave, Paul, my friend Derek and then in my own private practice I actually for a long time was focused on helping people with a holistic health nutrition performance model. And then kind of a collection of health issues, the aforementioned issues befell me and then I discovered a lot of tools, not just psychedelics to be fair for personal development and personal transformation. They say we change out of inspiration or desperation, I was definitely the latter at that point. And so that really cracked me wide open since I don’t come from a family that’s really open to these kind of things and at that point it led to the psychedelics one way or another. And then in my own practice, I’ll help people basically starting with the most important thing and that’s unpacking the biological effect of trauma, I’ll actually help people use psychedelics and then other therapies to really move past these kind of things.
0:36:41 MC: And the way it works in effect, and Stanislav Grof even talked about this, he called them COEX Systems if you wanna look that up, but in a nutshell, when something traumatic happens to us, and it doesn’t have to be a capital T trauma like a rape or a molestation or something like that, it can be something as simple as a car accident, it can be a birth trauma, it could be getting picked last in the playground or a number of other things, it actually gets stored in a way in our nervous system because we don’t have the emotional equipment or maturity upstairs to really deal with it at that point. And then when that happens, it kind of permanently tattoos your nervous system and from there, you’re left in a state of either low-level fight or flight perpetually, think PTSD, and potentially you’re also left with a… You’re almost left with this nervous system that’s activated in a low-level fight or flight perpetually. And it can be triggered by a number of different things usually related back to your trauma, and it’s not always linear.
0:37:43 MC: And so when that happens, what you’ll find is that when your nervous system is lit up like that time and time and time again in that fight or flight state, it’s really depleting at the cellular level. Have you guys heard of Mitochondria before? So it’s like the little cellular energy batteries that power everything that we do. And so when you get depleted at that level from the trauma, again, your nervous system can get activated in a way that it thinks a 300 pound tiger is chasing you, it doesn’t necessarily know that you’re just stressed about work emails or that you really need to have that conversation and unpack that truth with your significant other, but you just can’t. And so what I’ll do from there is identify what aspect of health that it’s actually creating issues in downstream, sometimes it’s a lack of neurotransmitters, sometimes it’s shooting your hormones in the wrong direction, and then I’ll work with people to repair that on a nutritional level and other interconnected means, sleep so on and so forth. And then I’ll actually use somatic experiencing exercises. Do people know what that is here? Yeah, raise your hand, please.
0:38:45 MC: So there’s a number of them, but in a way it’s a way to discharge at the neurological level these neural ghosts in the machine that aren’t really there anymore. And so when you do that and you combine it with something like psychedelics and also, to be fair, breath work and meditation, you can actually reprogram that mind-body interface. Now, sometimes that just means getting yourself healthier. But other times it can mean when you go in for that big job interview or when you quit your job and wanna become an entrepreneur and start Third Wave or maybe when you wanna be better at talking to the opposite sex. When you try to reach out of yourself, your nervous system will sabotage you in the same way that that trauma or traumas affected you. In my case, I had sexual shaming at one point as well. And so I would get lit up in a certain way in intimate settings. And so through actually…
0:39:35 MC: Through this work, a constellated effect, I was able to undo these sort of tattoos on my nervous system and then now when I get encountered with a situation where I’m sort of leveling up in life in a very positive way or a familiar situation, instead of having my nervous system cause all these triggers that make me not show up to do whatever I wanna do as myself, I can… You can bypass in some ways, by pass things like stress, anxiety. And you can let the somatic version of your nervous system, that five-year-old kid we all have inside, catch up to that upstairs intellectual version. And so our work is really centered around… This branch of your work and my work is really centered around helping people move past these things that limit us in life. And in addition to that too, creating a biopsychosocial model for health that truly creates a holistic perspective, not just in the Eastern sense, while still respecting that, but also creates a bit more of a western mechanistic understanding of it as well.
0:40:33 PA: So can you explain what a biopsychosocial… What that is just a little bit? We could call it BPS for short…
0:40:40 MC: BPS alright. So it basically acknowledges the fact that we’re not… Our health and our quality of life. Everything is related in a way. And so we’re not just… When we wanna focus on personal transformation or health transformations, we need to focus on the social tribal aspect. We need to focus on the interpersonal aspect and what limiters in our own hero’s journey we’re going through both personally, and the biological consequence from that. And how emotions and physiology is really truly a feedback loop, if you will. And again, there are some people who come to us simply wanting to tune their nervous system to be hyper-receptive to their mystic experience, or their microdosing. And also finding out what’s best for them. ‘Cause we do know that microdosing sometimes causes anxiety in people. And so sometimes that can mean you have an imbalance of brain chemicals, neurotransmitters. So you might consider trying a different one, if that makes sense.
0:41:37 PA: Great. And if you could maybe just for two or three minutes, talk about then what are some of the modalities that could be used when it comes to physical well-being and microdosing, and emotional well-being and microdosing? So in other words, how do those intersect and overlap to facilitate elevated states, to facilitate healing or whatever else it might be?
0:41:57 MC: Okay. So a little more of pragmatic advice now. Yeah. So for example, what I’ve done before and in my work, I’ll work with someone to optimize their fat ratio like Omega three to six. Everybody has heard of Omega three fish oil, things like that. So for example, doing that will actually help program your psychedelic experience a lot better, especially if you’re somebody who’s really, really, really hyper intolerant. In terms of personal healing, using psychedelics in conjunction with certain things like GABA for example, can actually help really truly relax the nervous system and allow some of these changes to take shape. And this is on a personal level now, not necessarily just tactical fitness or medical, if you will.
0:42:40 PA: And I think that element, that personalized medicine element is a really, really interesting aspect of how we can customize then psychedelic protocols in combination with other modalities like breath work and meditation and yoga, things maybe like EMDR or… Just obviously with what they’re doing with talk therapy as well with the MAPS trials and MDMA. There are various overlaps between these different modalities that facilitate holistic well-being. And I think a huge potential in the next 10 years is to look at, “Okay, if we’re doing MDMA therapy” for example like MAPS system which actually we’ll speak about in a minute. In phase two trials, I believe 69% or 70% of people were cured from PTSD, and on average they had treatment-resistant PTSD for 17.8 years.
0:43:26 PA: And 70% of those people were cured in the phase two trial. Which is why MAPS has now received breakthrough therapy status. But what if we could even increase that number further. What if we can customize psychedelic protocol, so that what you give to a person who’s 100 pounds and comes from maybe a background of sexual assault trauma… And that’s going to be much different from someone who is, for example, 230 pounds and comes from a background of maybe war trauma. And so even these small differences could facilitate then different modalities to be fully useful and we can start to use things like big data to be able to track and measure that efficacy. And then I could throw in… And we could also use blockchain and we could… There are a few more buzz words, but I’ll just minimize those as much as possible. So the personalized medicine element is really interesting. Anything final to add about psychedelics and well-being?
0:44:22 MC: I really just think that it comes down to taking a truly panoramic approach, whether you’re trying to change something that’s a little bit more physiological in nature, or whether it’s trying to change something a little bit more interpersonal as well. And so I think that if you think in terms of the fact that everything is related, you’re more likely to come up with a solution and a solution that sticks at that, rather than a quick fix. I also think adding in a layer of personalization is absolutely necessary. And that’s why Paul and I along with our friend Derrick actually chose to start up the coaching component of Third Wave. Thank you guys.
0:44:43 PA: Thank you.
0:45:03 PA: And Ashley, we’d love to hear from you about your work with the Aware Project. As I mentioned earlier, it’s my strong belief and I think also your strong belief that to go from a medical, strictly medical model, which we appear to be entering, to something that’s more integrated culturally, community is a really important element of that. So we’d love to hear from you about what inspired you to start the Aware Project, what have been some of the challenges along the way but also maybe some of the beautiful moments, and where do you see not only the Aware Project developing, but just with your panorama of your work with MAPS, how might community involvement facilitate eventual adoption of psychedelics?
0:45:52 AB: Sure. Hi everyone. I’ll start a little bit about with my background. I worked as a marine biologist and oceanographer for nine years until I had a very profound experience with 5-MeO-DMT that completely shifted my whole perspective and really activated me in to use the words that you said before, is kinda a sense of wanting to pass it forward. And so three and a half years ago, I felt called to find where all the other people that are doing psychedelics and doing research and all sorts of things, and I was seeing that there was a lot going on in San Francisco. There’s psychedelics studies, Bicycle Day events, all sorts of things. And looking down here in Los Angeles and there was just nothing happening and it’s like this is a huge, huge city with a very diverse population, why is there no group of people doing this?
0:46:51 AB: So we started off by doing a Bicycle Day event in celebration of the discovery of LSD by Dr. Albert Hofmann and leading up to that event to try and get a little bit more excitement going for the Bicycle Day event. We started doing these salon events and our first speaker was Kathleen Wert and she used to hold these Friday night dinners once a month at her house for 10 years where the local psychedelic community would gather in secrecy and have little chats, and she would do this in Venice out of her house, and this was in the late ’90s to early 2000s. It was really great to have her come and be our first speaker to hear about this era and how different it was in the culture of… ‘Cause they were very… Anyone who smoked pot outside the house was banned from the event because it was really, really… Everyone was very much more paranoid because of the culture.
0:47:57 AB: So it’s just interesting to see how things have opened up a lot more now to be able to create events and for people to feel safe enough to share their stories and being able to online have platforms to be able to do so as well. I highly recommend checking that out, all of our talks are on YouTube. So started these events, and then have been doing them for three and a half years now. Through that process I was feeling more and more, my heart wasn’t in the oceanography work that I was doing anymore. I still feel very strongly about the oceans and the animals, but I had this insight, I suppose, that we’re not gonna save the animals and the planets and the oceans until we kill people.
0:48:45 AB: And so, I’m definitely a systems-based person and an efficiency-minded person and so I always like to go to the root of the issue. If we can use psychedelics to help us go to the root of our problems as an individual portal, and then also to create a collective healing together as we all support each other, and so kinda jumping in… Well, I guess I’ll finish my bio. So as I was leaving my job with doing oceanography, I started working as a psycho-spiritual retreat leader at Crossroads Treatment Center in Tijuana, supporting people as they went through… I began experiences and the 5-MeO-DMT experience, both of those are unscheduled in Mexico. And then Crossroads closed about a year ago, and just at that time, I got hired by MAPS and I am now the study coordinator for the MAPS clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD here in Los Angeles. So now I’d be able to combine both of my favorite things, which is research and psychedelics.
0:50:02 AB: And I’m also in grad school right now to become a therapist and will be very shortly, probably in the next year, be able to be one of the therapists participating in the clinical trial. It’s been quite a journey.
0:50:24 AB: I feel very blessed to be here and very… The more and more that I say yes to this path, the more and more flow I see in my life. And so there’s gotta be something here to be able to see the support that I’ve gotten from the people around me, but then also just the flow of life coming through and being able to bestow so many beautiful gifts.
0:50:53 PA: Great, and could you… I’d love to hear more about the phase three trials. I think that would be a really a great thing to just for our audience, to know a little bit more about.
0:50:58 AB: Sure. Yeah, so MAPS, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is a non-profit organization, a very unique situation where they’re a non-profit pharmaceutical company. They’ve been gathering private funds for over 30 years to legalize certain types of psychedelic medicines. Right now, we’re really focusing on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD. It’s the one that’s the furthest along right now, so the clinical trial process… For anything to become a medicine, it has to go through these clinical phases from zero to four.
0:51:39 AB: So, right now, it took several decades to get through the phase one, phase two phases. And just like Paul was mentioning earlier, in those phase two trials, we were seeing that between 60-80% of people with chronic treatment-resistant depression no longer were diagnosable with PTSD, after three treatments with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Really amazing, yeah.
0:52:11 AB: We don’t like to say cured, [chuckle] but sustained remission. But we do do longer term follow-ups with people, and we’ve had a couple of people that have gone through those trials, that come to previous Aware Project events, so I believe one of them is here tonight. And so, you can also go on to our YouTube channel to check those out, it’s really interesting. So, the phase that we’re moving into now, so we finished phase two, and we are just moving into phase three. Literally, in the next couple of weeks, we’re gonna be starting phase three, which means that this is the last phase of the process. It’s broken up into two trials, map one and map two. Each trial will have about 100 people, and those people are gonna be spread across 14 different sites across the… In the US, Canada and Israel. And the idea is to take the protocol that was developed in phase two and bring it out to all these other different sites, with new therapists, new locations and see, “Does the protocol still work?” So, this is a testing.
0:53:16 AB: And what’s really fascinating is that the FDA was so surprised that we were only doing 200 people, because most clinical trial studies pick thousands of people, because they’re trying to see a very small effect size, but because our effect size is so big, [chuckle] we’re having people that had chronic treatment PTSD to not being diagnosable anymore, you don’t really need that many people to be able to show its statistical significance. So, we are gonna be applying for breakthrough status, we don’t have it quite yet, but we will be collecting the data at an interim portion of the trial, to be able to see if the numbers are essentially looking like they did in phase two. And if they are, then we’ll go move into an open access, which means that, ethically, if we have a treatment that is better than any other treatment on the market for a particular diagnosis, it is ethically unsound for us to hold it back while we wait for the rest of the bureaucratic process to finish the process towards making it into a medicine. So, if things look as good as phase two, which I don’t see why there should be any reason that they should not, in the next year, year and a half, we will be able to legally give the public MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. So… Really, really good.
0:54:55 AB: Yeah, it’s very, very exciting. And what’s gonna be really interesting about this point is that, once MDMA gets rescheduled from schedule one to schedule three, all that research… So, when if you’re in a schedule one category, it’s very hard to get research money. You can’t get research funding from the government. As soon as it’s schedule three, you can apply for federal grants, and so the research is gonna be able to blossom, because all this new money that doesn’t have to be painfully raised by MAPS or other organizations to be able to do the research. So, at that point, we’ll be able to see, “Okay, what else is MDMA-assisted psychotherapy good for?” Could it be used in group therapy? Could it be used with other types of modalities? Could it be used for couples therapy? Could it be used for… I think there’s treating social anxiety. All sorts of things. So, that’s when we’re really gonna see this research blossom, and this is gonna be a way for the public to be able to start to warm up to the idea of the transformational effects of non-ordinary states of consciousness. So, it’s very exciting.
0:56:03 PA: And they also gave MDMA to an octopus.
0:56:05 AB: Oh, yeah. [chuckle]
0:56:06 PA: That’s not…
0:56:07 AB: I know, I was like, “Why am I not part of that study?” It’s like… [chuckle]
0:56:09 PA: Imagine how cool it would be.
0:56:11 AB: The Venn diagrams are fitting together, finally, in my career. [chuckle]
0:56:14 PA: Exactly.
0:56:16 AB: I used to study a squid, so… [chuckle] That was my thing. Apparently, the octopuses got more social.
0:56:23 PA: Pro-social, imagine that. I’m all into that.
0:56:25 AB: Which is interesting, ’cause… Right, right. Eight arms for hugging [chuckle]
0:56:33 AB: [chuckle] They’re normally pretty reclusive characters, so… Yeah, so having them hang out a little bit more, that was really fun. [chuckle]
0:56:41 PA: Great, well thank you so much, Ashley, and thank you so much for your work.
0:56:44 AB: Oh, do you want me to talk to…
0:56:45 PA: And… We’ll probably get into questions, and then we’ll get into that. Yeah, so if you could all give Ashley a big round of applause for all of her work. [unclear speech].
0:56:58 PA: So, what I’d love to do now is move into questions, so we’ll do Q&A for anywhere from 25 to 30 minutes. We have until 10 o’clock to be here, so we’ll probably do questions till 9:30. And, basically, do we have someone who could volunteer with maybe passing around the mic? Yeah, could you do that, Lana? And then, we’ll just share that mic.
0:57:29 PA: Okay, question number one. I saw you in the glasses back there first, so please.
0:57:38 [unknown speaker]: Hi, guys. Thank you very much for sharing this, it’s a brave thing to do. Matt, my question is for you. I was really touched by what you were saying, and it resonates a lot with something that I’m working on, and I thought… If it seems valuable to everyone, I could share a little something of what I’m hearing from you, and I wanted to know if it’s the same thing. The way I sort of frame it in my mind is that I’ve done a lot of work on psychological things that have happened, and I feel like the beliefs that fed a lot of that unhealthy psychology, as a result of a lot of the things growing up, and all of that, are sort of healed. I don’t believe certain things about myself anymore. But I find myself still being triggered. It feels like, neurologically, to behave as if I still believe those things. And is that what you’re talking about? Is what you do the sort of facing that specifically?
0:58:38 MC: Yeah. So when I say essentially reprogramming the mind-body interface… There we go.
0:58:46 MC: So when I say that, that’s exactly what I mean. There is a biological tie in for this too, but that being said, someone mentioned talk therapy as well. Is that…
0:58:55 [unknown speaker]: Hypnotherapy.
0:58:56 MC: Oh hypno. Okay. I’m sorry. That being said, there is a broad brushstroke here. There’s an immense tool kit from which to work from, and there are… It’s not just psychedelics, right? There are some foods we might wanna talk about impacting too, that are actually excitotoxins. Could actually kinda fry your nervous system and cause you to be over-agro as well. So there are… But that being said, there might be some hidden gifts in what you’re going through right now, too. For me, I was always this bound up ball of energy, this fast twitch athlete on the basketball court, which helped a ton. And I always really got stuff done, but I had a lot of difficulties relaxing too. So the idea is to strike a balance.
0:59:36 MC: And there’s actually tie ins for addiction here as well. And again, the hypnotherapy is a big time, a huge tool in the toolkit too, because sometimes what you might need to do, without recommending anything specifically because… Don’t try this at home. A lot of positive work gets done through not running from this, but actually going through and reliving it, kind of reactivating those same things, but with new neurological feelings, potentially good ones from MDMA or a number of other options as well. And again, yeah, sometimes the tools are medical, sometimes they’re techno-biological, kind of almost like a techno shaman, if you will. Sometimes they’re gonna be nutritional and holistic as well. But I hope that sort of elucidates a little bit without getting too far in the weeds. There is a biological tie in and it’s probably neurological as well.
1:00:44 [unknown speaker]: Hi. Can you hear me? It has to be very close, doesn’t it? Okay. Thanks to all of you for your work and for being here. It’s such an exciting, I think, category to help reveal all the talents of the human brain. I’m really intrigued by the, I think, the layers of trauma, not only from maybe emotional traumas in childhood and whatnot, but also physical trauma. And in terms of TBIs, brain injuries from soccer, or falling off a horse, mountain bike, car crash, whatever. There’s so many people in the population that have brain injuries, anything from minor to major. I’ve had several. And I’m curious if there was any studies being done about rebuilding physical pathways when there’s… We all know brains are incredibly able to recover with the plasticity, but rebuilding from concussions and head trauma. And then also, my second question, maybe not related, how do you figure out which plant medicine to use from the three different categories, I guess, for any given treatment modality? Yeah, Coop, I guess, or whoever is…
1:02:00 PA: I’ll start with the first question. So what I’m hearing… And then I’d love for you to take the… Would you wanna… You wanna take the first question?
1:02:12 PA: Okay. So the difference between LSD, psilocybin, and maybe ayahuasca, I think those are three good… And maybe with ayahuasca, something like microdosing iboga or ibogaine. LSD, a lot of people who were microdosing LSD seemed to be doing more so for cognitive development, for creativity, for brainstorming. I think that’s why we saw a lot of… That’s one of the reasons why we saw a lot of interest in Silicon Valley with the whole birth thing of this microdosing. Steve Jobs is also, I think, largely responsible for that because of his biography that came out in 2011 saying LSD was amazing. So I think that played a big role. And I think that’s because LSD is slightly more dopaminergic than the others, so it has that ability to help stimulate the cognitive creativity and development.
1:03:00 PA: Whereas mushrooms, at least what I’ve noticed, and I think I heard this in what Martijn said as well, is they seem to be more oriented towards feeling and emotional development and resonance, and… However there’s also obviously clear impacts on the brain because psilocybin and LSD, in particular, activates something called the 5-HT2A receptor, which has been tied to neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Ayahuasca, in terms of microdosing it, I don’t have anything so much to say about that. Martijn, can you speak a little bit to that? Yeah. Okay. Martijn hasn’t done it apparently, so… But I know Martijn has spent a lot of time in the rainforest with Amazonian shamans about microdosing ayahuasca.
1:03:48 Martijn: So I spent some time with the sequoia in the Amazon in Ecuador, and they’re actually against microdosing. We talked about that. They say it creates sorcerers. And my modern interpretation of that is that you get the insights, but not the whack in the face. It’s not necessarily a humbling experience. And so you feel like you’ve gained something, but it hasn’t really fully sinked in on all levels of your being, and so it might create some incongruency where you maybe change your belief system but your body is still acting the old way. And so they are actually against it, which I found very interesting to find out.
1:04:29 MC: I think there’s also an element of spiritual bypassing that comes with that too, in which you can be logically, as you put actually, okay with things upstairs. And so things like that where you actually do get whacked and do… Take a mystic dose, if you will, can maybe have a little bit more of a profound impact on that too.
1:04:49 MC: With respect to changing neuro-motor pathways for the purpose of self development as well, what I would also say is it’s important to know that certain areas of the brain like the amygdala and the xiphoid nucleus, there’s some phenomenal work being done at Huberman Lab in Stanford that shows that these parts of the brain actually light up during states of fear and/or high arousal. And so what’s interesting is that what we do know is that psychedelics have a role in the melting down of the default mode network. This sort of segregational aspects of the brain that actually are responsible for us not having that inner dialogue with ourselves as easily and/or sort of freezing up and protecting ourselves. And what’s really interesting to me is that you could have an experience where those fear factor parts of your brains get lit up and the worst part of it, after that your fore-brain, which is responsible for projecting meaning on to experience gets lit up as well.
1:05:41 MC: What does that mean? It means that if something bad happens to you that’s traumatic, you will forever have that imprinted as, “Oh, I am a loser” or this or that. It could be positive too. And so when you encounter that same situation in the future, that same neural combination lights up because that’s how you survived last time and it’s trying to protect you and really it’s hindering your performance. ‘Cause the brain works on a protect to perform continuum in effect. And so a lot of the promising effects on a biological level from psychedelics come from really undoing that, so you can truly start self-authoring your own story and/or architect your health better.
1:06:20 PA: And in terms of research studies, I don’t know of any that are undergoing at the moment, about this relationship between psychedelics and concussion or recovering from traumatic brain injury. I know… I did the same event in Portland about a year and a half ago, we had a woman who was microdosing after a traumatic brain injury, a car crash. And it was really helpful within that process. We also had a team member on Third Wave who got into a really bad car crash, who’s been microdosing and it’s really helped with that recovery as well. But I don’t think there’s any clinical research currently being done on that. Other questions? Let’s see, right here.
1:06:56 [unknown speaker]: Hi. So I saw the “DMT Molecule” documentary on Netflix and it talked about how people naturally have some DMT in their brain. And when I was a baby I would do this thing where I’d rub my eyes and I had these psychedelic experiences that I later had when I first tried LSD and I also went into altered states where I saw things that I couldn’t have possibly known about as a baby. So it’s fascinating to me is that’s what got me interested in psychedelics later, to try to recreate that. But I’m wondering, is there a way of recreating that initial thing that, whatever I had as a baby without the psychedelics? If we have it in our brain, is there a way to activate that in some way without even having to take a substance? Or is that just gone forever?
1:07:51 AB: I’ll start up with a couple of things, but… Yeah, I mean there are some people that talk about endo tripping which is where you’ve learned how to release whatever it is in your brain that can cause a psychedelic like experience. Also people that do dark retreats, where you spend almost like a week in complete pitch dark and your brain starts to create chemicals on its own and people can have visionary states from that. And basic meditation, a lot of people… And especially having activated your brain in a particular sorts of way with psychedelics, when you bring that back to that kind of directionality to your meditation from the psychedelic experience, those meditative states can become a lot more rich because you’re kinda tapping into that state. And it might be much more of a somatic based experience and maybe not as visual, but again, there’s a lot more… That’s as much as I know about it. Maybe you guys have some other things?
1:08:56 PA: I think what Ashley is speaking to into your question when we look at broader… I’ll kinda zoom out and a broader question that a lot of people ask is, “What is that relationship then between microdosing and other complementary practices?” Which is somewhat what Ashley is talking about with the dark room, with meditation, with yoga, basically how do we facilitate in some ways altered states without substances? And there’s an excellent book. I won’t go too deep into it, I’ll just recommend a book in the interest of time. But there’s an excellent book called “Stealing Fire”, by Steven Kotler. And he goes deep into how, for example, individuals like the Navy Seals, people in Silicon Valley, so entrepreneurs, extreme sports, other individuals who are really performing at a really, really high level, professional athletes, how they’re utilizing altered states and many of them are not drug-induced. Many of them are using other ways to facilitate that awakening or opening up of going beyond the ego and kinda seeing things from a different perspective and angle. So “Stealing Fire”, great book. Let’s do maybe someone further back. Yes.
1:10:24 [unknown speaker]: Hi. I’m just curious to hear what you guys think in terms of, as things evolve with the role of traditional therapists, psychotherapists, social workers. How that role is going to evolve with the use of psychedelics? How you differentiate when it’s actually necessary to have the expertise and when it’s not necessary and that people can do it with just a guide or a sitter?
1:10:50 AB: Yeah. I’m deeply interested in this question because there are certain things that we really do need a more professional touch with. Especially when people have more extreme personality disorders, other types of issues that they’re dealing with. There’s some really interesting research from early on with psychedelics, where they were treating people with these really extreme disorders with psychedelics and seeing some really interesting results, but it’s gonna be a while before we get to start to see those again. But one of the things that I would like to see as we move into a legalized world, is to be able to… How can we create spaces where we all know how to hold space? ‘Cause right now and in this transitional phase where we have a predominantly psychedelic naive culture, having guides and facilitators, I think, is extremely important from a guidance perspective but also from an educational perspective.
1:11:54 AB: So moving as we become more literate in psychedelic world, I see that the people that are looking for a little bit more life optimization rather than maybe really deep healing, they could do those kinds of things in a much more casual space holding of a community and as we can… And what I’d like to be able to see is that as moving towards a community model, so maybe we have these psychedelic community centers in different parts of the city that serve different communities. And so, and maybe you’ve got your psychiatrists and therapists and people that are also part of that for people that need deeper healing work, but maybe there is group work together where people can just come and share their own experiences. And I was just speaking with someone recently who went through an MDMA-assisted psychotherapy experience in the underground and they were looking more from a life optimization perspective, and they didn’t really see anything that was like too over like over-the-top that…
1:13:07 AB: But I was thinking… I wonder if having more of like MDMA in a group setting where you can have these social interactions and kind of heal your social wounding through a social welcoming and good health well held space in that kind of model. So I think as a culture, we need to learn how to hold space before… But in the meantime, we need these guides and these therapists to be able to teach us how to do that.
1:13:39 PA: And just as a question of clarification. When you… When… Just for my purpose and I think maybe some of the other audience. When you say holding space, what does that mean?
1:13:52 AB: Yeah, I guess the way I would define holding space is being able to be present with someone through whatever it is that they’re experiencing while holding a loving neutral container. So you’re not presenting or putting your personality all over their experience, or trying to comfort them or save them from their discomfort. It’s being able to be with someone while they’re in a space of discomfort and allowing them to feel like they’re not alone, that they’re safe. It’s like being able to hold someone’s hand without having to like pet it or tap it. It’s like you can just hold it there and just let them know that you’re aware with them without having to try and comfort them. It’s not that complicated but it’s I think it’s a type of meditation that’s just a lot of loving presence and being a good listener.
1:14:56 [unknown speaker]: Thank you.
1:15:04 [unknown speaker]: Hi. I’d like to know what we know about SSRIs and psychedelics. Do they go together, do they inhibit, how does that work?
1:15:15 PA: So I will refer you to Jim Fadiman’s website who is the godfather of microdosing: Microdosingpsychedelics.com. On that website, he has a list of substances, pharmaceuticals that people have used while microdosing and there’s shown to be no contraindication with that process. Beyond that, I can tell you that there are people who are microdosing while on SSRIs. That they… People who are interested in this really should check with a doctor or psychiatrist beforehand, and there are more and more psychiatrists particularly in the LA area who are starting to learn about microdosing. So I think having that medical advice is really critical. That’s about all I feel comfortable saying on the topic. Anything that you wanna say any… Are there any medical doctors or psychiatrists here tonight or people who have some sort of background knowledge who can better go into that? Yes. No. Yeah, so that’s probably the best that we can say, you wanna…
1:16:36 MC: Yes. I’m not giving advice explicitly here, but there are things that you have to consider and that’s why it is difficult to give one broad brushstroke answer. And some of that comes down to genetic predispositions, which thankfully now, we can take a look at. Like there are some genes that for example that encode for warrior versus worrier and they’re really highly common in both combat sports athletes as well as people who suffer from anxiety and users of SSRIs. And so unpacking that as well as some medical testing will give you a pretty good, along with a good therapist and doctor again, will give you a pretty good idea of where your neurotransmitter levels are at right now. And the reality is that things like anti-anxieties and antidepressants have been shown to reprogram your permanent… Your baseline level of neurotransmitters.
1:17:25 MC: And so it’s difficult to say what your experience is gonna be like with a certain psychedelic beyond knowing that. For example, if you have a big-time excess of dopamine or acetylcholine or some of these more energetic high-strung type neurotransmitters, you’re probably gonna have certain almost like anxiety like effects from certain psychedelics, whereas others might highly relax you because they’re recalibrating a balance of maybe some of the more relaxatory ones like serotonin and GABA. So I know that wasn’t a… That was kind of a politician’s answer, but I just wanted to give you some trees to bark up. I hope… You know.
1:17:29 Martijn: To add to that, there’s a very interesting article that came out, that made the difference between passive coping and active coping, where passive coping kinda numbs down the triggers of your emotional system and active coping helps you to actually cope with them, actually change your brain, so you can actively more cope with that. So if you Google that, that might be an interesting framework to deal with how psychedelics can help you with the things you’re dealing with.
1:18:31 [unknown speaker]: What do I Google?
1:18:33 Martijn: Active versus passive coping in psychedelics.
1:18:36 [unknown speaker]: Thank you.
1:18:39 PA: And to clarify, what Martijn is saying is SSRIs are often tied to passive coping, in that they blunt the initial emotional response, but don’t allow you to actually deal with the stuff that’s underneath it. So they’re effective in the short term, it looks like, whereas psychedelics are active coping because they activate the 5-HT2A receptor, a lot of these SSRIs activate the 5-HT1A, which is tied to passive, 5-HT2A is tied to active coping which basically is why it’s effective at helping to deal with emotional trauma when used within a container. So we have time for one more question and then we’ll wrap up. Yep. Yep.
1:19:29 [unknown speaker]: I’m really glad you differentiated between cure and a state of no longer being diagnosable. So I’m wondering for this phase three study that you have, is it a dose escalation? Is it an observational? And are you taking a look at long-term adverse events? How is that working?
1:19:47 AB: Yeah, so it’s a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. We are tracking for adverse events during the whole thing. The three experiences that they have with the medicine, they have three preparatory sessions and a medicine session within a month then three more prep sessions then another, a month later, so that the experimental sessions are one month apart. And then we have a one month follow-up, and then I think some of the phase two trials had had follow-ups that were two to three years later. So… Did that answer your question?
1:20:23 [unknown speaker]: Yes.
1:20:23 AB: Yeah, okay.
1:20:27 PA: So we will wrap up now because it’s approaching 9:30, we wanna give everyone a chance to mingle a little bit afterwards and talk, so if we could just give one more round of applause to our wonderful panelists.
1:20:43 PA: And then before I go off the mic, I think I actually want to say one more thing, but before I go off the mic, I just wanna thank all of you for being here, for showing up, for remaining attentive and engaged, for your questions, for your presence. As I emphasized at the beginning I think being able to come together in a space like this and talk about those funny experiences we had or may have whether in microdoses or higher doses acts as a vehicle for cultural evolution. And so based on the topic that was tonight which was microdosing, I want to point you to some further resources that you can engage with after this process. One of which is, we have an online microdosing course, which is basically walks you through the microdosing process.
1:21:34 PA: And so if you’re interested in that, the course and community, then we also have a 50% off coupon which is Aware Project, if you want access to that. And because we are non-profit, all of this goes to supporting the team that we have, we have about 16 members who are working on Third Wave trying to basically amplify psychedelic literacy through the elements that I mentioned before. In addition to that, if you want to further discuss our mission, our vision, we are currently fundraising to basically give ourselves a vehicle for the next six months to run with. And so if there are any of you interested in engaging in that conversation with me, it would be great to either connect after this event, or please send me an email [email protected] and that’s about it. So that’s all I have. So again, thank you so much for your attention and all your energy guys.
1:22:34 AB: So you guys can mingle and make friends and thank you so much for all… You all for coming.