This week we’re joined by Caitlin Thompson, psychedelic activist and founder of the holistic health company EntheoZen. Caitlin describes how her experiences with psychedelics have inspired her holistic view of health, and have helped her improve her personal wellbeing. She tells us how science and spiritual practices can go hand in hand, especially when it comes to healthy living.
Like many in the psychedelic community, Caitlin had her first experiences with psychedelics in a recreational context. She began exploring MDMA in the rave scene, and enjoyed the sense of community it offered her. From here, Caitlin found herself transitioning into the Burning Man community, where she first encountered classic psychedelics. After trying DMT, she was inspired to explore further, and delved into plant medicines like ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT.
During her bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology, Caitlin found herself working more and taking fewer substances. She gradually realised, as she became more anxious and depressed over the course of several weeks, that she had been unknowingly self-medicating herself with psychedelics.
This ‘withdrawal’ period allowed her to delve deeper into emotional childhood and ancestral issues that had left her with chronic fatigue, joint pain, skin problems and food sensitivities. Psychedelics had helped her understand the source of these health problems.
Caitlin’s revelations about her health led her to found EntheoZen, an holistic health company. She firmly believes in the power of holistic medicine – and argues that science is catching up. “There’s this illusion that science and spiritual practices are separate. I actually don’t think that’s true.” Caitlin points towards recent epigenetic evidence that suggests that ancestral trauma is far from myth. She hopes to carry out some preliminary research into how psychedelics can modulate the immune system, which could help explain the miraculous effect they’ve had on her.
Finally, Caitlin discusses the importance of psychedelic entrepreneurship – especially in those with no clinical or academic ties, who don’t have a reputation to protect. Her own efforts to create psychedelic communities in California (with the Aware Project) have been successful in providing people with a space to discuss their own experiences, and start forming local connections.
01:03 Paul Austin: Hey, listeners, and welcome back to The Third Wave Podcast. We have a special guest for you today, Caitlin Thompson. Caitlin, thank you so much for joining us on the show.
01:10 Caitlin Thompson: Thank you so much for having me. It's my pleasure.
01:13 PA: We've coordinated a little bit and had a couple of phone calls. I was supposed to come out to Southern California to do a couple of microdosing events, but those didn't work out, unfortunately. So I'm really glad that we could set aside some time and chat publicly about what you've been up to with the Aware Project in San Diego and EntheoZen and all of the other kind of things that you're involved with.
01:33 CT: Yeah, absolutely. Where should I start? [chuckle]
01:36 PA: Well, let's start with what piqued your interest in psychedelics? Where does this path really start for you?
01:43 CT: Well, I think like many others it started recreationally, which, unbeknownst to me, I was really getting myself into something much more deeper and profound than I knew at the time. I started out as a young adult in the rave scene and started exploring with MDMA, and was really feeling fulfilled and uplifted by the sense of community and human connection that it was bringing to my life. And then as I kind of grew older, I moved on to what I would call the Burning Man scene, and I started using more psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. And then, that kind of evolved into an interest in DMT. And DMT is a very peculiar molecule, and I think just the role it plays in nature and in life and the pineal gland and just all the cross-over of ancient spiritual practices and these visionary states, it started to pique my interest that maybe if there's something deeper to these psychedelic compounds that I'd been exploring with, and that really just started me on a spiritual path.
03:02 CT: And then I started exploring with ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT and other plant medicines, and, yeah, I found... I guess, I also have this interest in holistic health and healing, especially around chronic illnesses, autoimmune conditions, because that's very personal to my life and my journey. And I found that... I went to college for neurobiology; I did my bachelor's in neurobiology, and towards the end of my degree I... All through college, I was kind of going to events, going to Burning Man, going to Peru, doing ayahuasca; I was living a psychedelic rich life, and then as my classes kind of got harder and harder I started to party less and just have... Buckle down on school more, and that inevitably meant that I was using psychedelics less.
04:03 CT: And I had this very interesting observation happen where I found that... Around the seventh to eighth week after my last psychedelic experience, I started to kind of chemically unravel, where I would just become increasingly more anxious and depressed and irritable and imbalanced, and it felt like there was a very potent physiological driver. And it took me about three or four times of observing this to realize that I actually had been effectively medicating a chronic inflammatory neurological psychiatric condition with psychedelics. And once I figured that out, I was like, "Wow." I knew there was a reason that I was feeling drawn to them, and it's 'cause I was unaware at the time, but I was actually effectively medicating myself with regular psychedelic use. And I would say, bringing that into my awareness really was like the seed that grew into a passion for understanding psychedelics more, especially in how they relate to depression, anxiety, psychiatric conditions and, more recently, inflammatory and chronic autoimmune conditions.
05:31 CT: So I think that's kind of what started me on my path, was really feeling into how they were benefiting me in my life and opening up this awareness of this health journey that I would be on for the next several years of my life.
05:46 PA: That's a fascinating story, and I feel like it's a story that resonates with probably so many of our listeners where they were probably drawn to... I know this is particularly true for me. They were drawn to psychedelics out of, kind of, in a more of an intuitive feeling, and it was only afterwards upon reflection that they look back. And once they were able to step outside kind of the stigma and taboo that's around psychedelics, they were able to see it for what it actually was, which was a healing process in that experience.
06:13 CT: Yeah. Absolutely.
06:16 PA: And for some people, it is for neurobiological issues, for some people, it's for things like clinical depression, addiction, anxiety, but for other people, it's just... There's just before a psychedelic experience, there's this general sense of discomfort and disconnection, and then we go through this experience, oftentimes when we're in our adolescence, 17, 18, 19, 20, and we have these profound insights and breakthroughs about, "Oh, wow, there is this other way of looking at things, and I don't have to feel kind of out of touch, that, in fact, I can... ". And whether you wanna call it self-medication, or whether you wanna call it exploration, that you can explore different states of consciousness to actually improve your general sense of well-being. And it sounds like you really found your way on that path. Initially, accidental, but upon further reflection, you came to a crystal-clear understanding that psychedelics were responsible for that.
07:11 CT: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the amazing properties of psychedelics are they really do provide this spiritual, uplifting sense of connection and purpose and meaning, and they have very real physiological, measurable effects on things like the immune system or the nervous system or even inflammation in the body. And so I think they're quite unique to other medications such as pharmaceuticals in that they actually heal a lot through the spirit, and that's really what needs to be done. We can treat the physical body, but definitely, from a shamanic approach, the origins of many physical illness are in spiritual blockages or stagnation of the energetic body that festers into these physical illnesses.
08:06 PA: And it's an interesting approach, especially from someone with a more science background. And I know you know Ashley Booth quite well, because you guys have been working on the Aware Project together. And from what I'm gathering, you both almost have a similar story, because Ashley also was... She studied science, I believe marine biology, and then through her own psychedelic experiences, she came to understand this more holistic, spiritual kind of intersection of the mind and the body and the spirit. So I'm curious, how do you understand that juxtaposition between your science framework and background and these less... These kind of trans-rational ways of thinking when we talk about spirit and shamanic practice and this kind of integrated health approach?
08:49 CT: Yeah, I'm definitely not anti-science, I'm a scientist, and I really geek out on the biochemistry of things, especially psychedelics. But I feel that there's this illusion that science and spiritual practices, or spirituality, are separate. And I actually don't think that's true. I think just based on the tools that we have in the existing paradigms of understanding matter and illness and consciousness, we're having trouble integrating the two, because we see them as very separate and mutually exclusive phenomena. And I think it's important to start bridging the gap between science and spirituality, because in my mind, what we kind of disregard as spiritual are actually just things that we haven't figured out a material, scientific explanation for yet.
09:44 CT: And so we kind of push it over into this other category of unexplainable stuff that's spiritual or woo-woo or whatever. And I think as we start to enter this new phase of science, I think consciousness is really going to be the next piece of the puzzle, of even understanding the physical world. Because I don't think consciousness is this separate thing, I think it's deeply embedded in the physical world that is measurable by science. And as we continue to develop tools that we can actually measure and observe these experiences, then we'll start to see that this gap between the science and spirituality, it's really imaginary, it's our own mental blocks, in my opinion.
10:34 PA: And I would totally agree with that. I just interviewed Charles Eisenstein for the podcast, who wrote a book called, Sacred Economics, and he's well known for talking about this transition between stories that we're currently in. And it's kind of this transition between the story of the separate self, which has really dictated and determined kind of Western culture, particularly in our kind of heavily industrialized period where we... It kinda stems from Descartes, and how Descartes basically said that we are separate beings, and then through that separation, we can come to understand the scientific method through an objective framework. And I think in that process, we really became attached to this sense of isolation and separation.
11:15 CT: Right. Mm-hmm.
11:16 PA: And people are now understanding that those old frameworks, while they proved useful to get us to where we are now, that they need to change if we are to evolve as a global species into this next stage of human evolution. And I think, obviously, technology, for example, like personalized medicine will become an increasingly relevant way to measure some of these modalities. And I'm really excited to see how this develops, because I've even been having conversations with friends, much like yourself, where I say I'm totally 100% on board with science, science, the scientific method, is absolutely necessary. However, there's almost an attachment to the scientific method, and this is what many people refer to as scientism where we get...
12:07 CT: Right, it's dogmatic.
12:07 PA: It's dogmatic, where we get so caught up in this reductionist framework that we forget the bigger picture framework, that really what we're experiencing is this inter-subjectivity of consciousness. And that when I interact with other people, or I interact with the ecosystem around me, or I... Whatever it might be, there's always that push and pull, I'm not actually separate. And so I think what's really interesting then, of course, about psychedelics, is they are one of the few tools that help us to come to this understanding of the trans-rational self, really going beyond the ego and seeing that we are just part of this collective consciousness, in a way.
12:07 CT: Yeah, absolutely.
12:07 PA: So I wanna dig a little bit more into your story, because you kinda... You grazed over it a little bit, what was it that you were struggling with? And then, you know, what transformations did you see as a result of, like you said, your self-medication with psychedelics?
13:14 CT: Yeah. So, at the time, I didn't really know. All I knew was that I felt depressed and anxious. And then looking back at my childhood, I'd always had chronic fatigue, sleeping 12-plus hours a day, not able to really stay awake during the day. I always had a lot of joint pain. I always had a lot of skin problems, eczema, and I would eat, eat, eat and eat and I was just skinny as a rail. So, I had malabsorption.
13:46 CT: At the time, I was just experiencing the depression symptoms. And then as I just started to explore more and more with psychedelic medicines and nutrition and other healing modalities, and I'm still on my healing journey even years later, but short story, I just basically discovered that I had Lyme disease, I had some gut and central nervous system infections. I had what you would call a leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability. And I had all these food sensitivities that I wasn't aware of and just a massively dysregulated immune system. My body was just on fire, chronically inflamed. And then I also had lived in a moldy house for almost five years. And my dog actually got really sick as well, so I do think that was a big part of it. And we're still recovering but we're doing quite well. We fought really hard to heal.
14:47 CT: And there was also some childhood trauma that I didn't have an awareness of until actually recently, and I believe that that was actually really the core of a lot of it was I had a lot of EEG worked on, brain mapping, neuro feedback training. If you take an EEG of my brain, you could diagnose me as having PTSD. And I started to think, "Well, why am I traumatized? Where did I get PTSD from? Why is my brain behaving in this way?" And as I started to do the neuro-feedback, I started having... Basically, my brain was running so fast in the alpha state as a distraction and coping mechanism for basically suppressing childhood memories, so I didn't remember that anything had happened. And as I started to train down the alpha and slow the brain down a little bit, all of this deeper stuff started bubbling up to my awareness, and it was kind of difficult and disturbing at times, but it really showed me that there was something deeply embedded that at a young age really put my nervous system in this chronic sympathetic stress response, which I believe primed my physical body to be kind of a sitting duck for infectious organisms like Lyme disease and mold.
16:14 CT: And so I've really started to, as much as I really am into actually addressing the physical issues like clearing out the infections and rebuilding the microbiome and reducing inflammation with herb, blah, blah, blah, what I realized from my own journey was that so many people that are chronically ill, they actually have an emotional trauma usually from childhood that has put their nervous system in this chronic stress response. And this is also very scientifically measurable and it has been measured. The nervous system really runs the show. It controls inflammatory processes, it controls immunomodulation, it sends messages to the gut which will influence the environments of the gut, which will dictate what type of micro-organisms live there. And for you, or any of the viewers, the microbiome and the implications of your gut flora in psychiatric and brain health is huge. It's a hot, hot topic right now.
17:21 CT: So, this is a very reductionist sort of scientifically provable concept and they have done studies where they look at trauma basically increasing the likelihood of developing a chronic illness. Almost anybody you meet with a chronic illness, you can feel that they have unresolved trauma even if it's ancestral. Sometimes, it doesn't even have to belong to that person. It can be from a parent that's been kind of spiritually propagated or even epigenetically propagated down the lineage and causing diseases in future generations to come.
17:58 CT: So, for me, I realized that a lot of my physical problems were because of a nervous system that was traumatized and never really truly learned to feel safe and bring back down to this parasympathetic or a more relaxing response. And so I did find psychedelics very helpful in digging deeper into the childhood traumas and resolving them and allowing the nervous system to be retrained and feel safe and be nourished by the resources that I have now, and releasing whatever was stored in my physical body, in my nervous system that was creating an environment that was opportunistic for organisms to run amok and cause a bunch of problems.
18:49 PA: And I really, I wanna touch on one of the points you made, which is this sense of not only childhood trauma but also ancestral trauma, lineage. Because I think just creating more of a context for our listeners to understand that, this is really about what transpersonal psychology is about, which is a field of study that was really developed by Stanislav Grof, who did a lot of LSD research in the '60s in the Czech Republic and then invented holotropic breath work to be able to access altered states of consciousness and so do similar work.
19:07 PA: And also by James Fadiman, who is now kind of known as the father of microdosing, who wrote The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide. And so those were two of the really big pioneers in this understanding of transpersonal psychology. I think that kind of brings us back to an earlier point in our conversation, which is that in the past we haven't really had the proper tools to be able to actually understand how past trauma worked. We were so focused on the individual self that any modality that explored the continuation of life and how trauma is passed down from generation to generation was basically dubbed as pseudoscience. And so this is what, we talk about when we're going beyond the science that we currently know is it's not doing and kind of getting rid of our current methods and our current methodology, but instead it's looking at how we can help that to evolve, to understand that as humans we don't exist as this separate self, but we exist as part of this larger web in time and space and in our ecosystem. All of those things.
20:23 PA: So I think what I love about us having this conversation about right now is some of this sounds like fringe and some of the sounds a bit out there, but at the same time, what you're doing a really, really excellent job of, is rooting this in terminology and understanding that is actually has a fairly rigorous framework from a scientific perspective. So I think... And that's one of the challenges about talking about this right now, is we don't have the proper tools, but I think we're in the process of developing them.
20:53 CT: Well, yeah, and part of it too is that we actually do have rigorous scientific studies that imply that some of these things are possible or are true, it's just that they haven't quite been accepted by the masses yet. Like you look at the research with epigenetics, that's not new. That's been going on for 20 years, but now it's becoming a little bit more mainstream and there's plenty of rigorous solid science that looks at epigenetic changes regarding trauma, especially in mice models, rat models. And some mysterious things like, I know in one study they exposed a rat mother to cherry blossom scent and every time that she would smell the scent they would shock her with a electric shock, and so they conditioned the rat to basically become fearful of this cherry blossom scent because they learned to associate it with a painful shock. And then they bred the rat and the offspring, even though they had never been treated with an electric shock, they had a fear, an aversion to the cherry blossom smell, simply through epigenetic DNA tags, without ever receiving any conditioning.
22:15 PA: Let's kinda take that framework, then. And what do you think that means for human health and human well-being, especially like at the crossroads of psychedelic healing?
22:25 CT: Well, I think we're starting to move away from this paradigm of, "Oh, you're born with your genes. And that is how... They're expressed a certain way and there's nothing you can do about it." I think we're realizing that physical things like nutrients and foods, and even spiritual elements of things, even social connection, we're finding that almost everything is affecting epigenetic expression in one way or another, which is really shifting our understanding of human beings as more of a versatile being. 'Cause so many people will use the excuse of, "Oh, well, it's in my genetics. I have depression, 'cause it's genetic." But that's kind of a cop-out. And I think psychedelics, who knows what's going on epigenetically with them. And I think that's a really interesting area of research that will hopefully be investigated in the near future, because even meditation has epigenetic changes and you could argue that that's... There's no exogenous chemical there, it's just the mind. So it's a really powerful concept to even explore.
23:37 PA: It definitely is, all of these kind of modalities that we utilize to increase cross-connectivity in the brain, which is kinda getting into flow states where we can induce these states of flow, which I actually interviewed someone a couple podcasts ago, Steven Kotler, about this. And I think that is really one of the keys to healing is looking at how we can induce flow states and then through those flow states accelerate the healing process. And that might be meditation, it might be something to do with neurofeedback, it obviously might be with microdosing or higher doses of psychedelics. There are many, many ways that we can actually start to change the way the brain communicates, so that basically it can heal itself and through that process, it can heal the body and I think the spirit as well.
24:26 CT: Right. Yeah, I feel like the body really has all of the intelligence that it needs. A lot of times it just needs the resources or the space to let those processes naturally play out. That the body wants to heal and it wants to be in homeostasis but we're depleted in nutrients, or we're depleted in love or just in this chronic stress state. Then we're not able to provide the body with the raw ingredients it needs to actually facilitate these healing processes.
25:05 PA: Hey, listeners, this is your host, Paul. Just some quick announcements and pieces of new before we get back to the interview. Last week we mentioned the Pineapple Fund's generous contribution to MAPS. They have now offered a $4 million matching grant for any money donated to MAPS before March this year. And what this does, it enables MAPS to meet their stage three fundraising goal of approximately $27 million so that they can finalize that process and make sure that stage three gets finished for MDMA for PTSD. So if you feel so compelled, go ahead and go over to MAPS's website to donate before March this year.
25:50 PA: New research from Imperial College, London shows that psychedelics might treat depression in a completely opposite way to typical anti-depressants. The research and collaboration with the Beckley Foundation shows that a dose of psilocybin mushrooms boosts the emotional responsiveness of depressed patients, unlike typical anti-depressants which work by numbing emotional responses. And we're going to have an article on this subject written by Dr. Alex O'Bryan-Tear, a scientist working for the Beckley Foundation.
26:19 PA: One last thing, we are now opening our Third Wave Microdosing Course for ongoing enrollments. So if you're interested in joining our premium community and taking not only your microdosing but also your psychedelic use to a more intentional, measured, purposeful direction, then we highly recommend checking that out. You can find the link on our website, that's for our microdosing course. So let's now get back to the interview with Caitlin Thompson and remember, if you enjoy the podcast, please leave a review on iTunes and do not forget to send us your questions on Twitter or Facebook, which we will answer at the end of the episode.
26:54 PA: What I would like to get more into is I'd like to now in transition into basically how you're now integrating this framework that we're talking about in your day-to-day existence. So what psychedelic projects are you working on? Let's start there, yeah. What projects do you have going on in the psychedelic experience?
27:20 CT: Yeah, I have quite a few. So you mentioned Ashley Booth earlier and she started the Aware Project up in Los Angeles about two-and-a-half years ago. And she basically wanted to create a community setting where people could have a safe space to dialogue about psychedelics and their experiences and to provide unbiased information where people could truly learn the facts. And so about a year ago, her and I got together and decided to bring it to San Diego. So I've been producing the San Diego Aware Project events, and there are basically once a month speaking salons. We have a different speaker every month, and it's been a really fun way to cultivate community and discussion about all these things. I see it being a really good thing for this movement. So that's one project.
28:23 CT: And then you mentioned earlier my business, EntheoZen. So EntheoZen, obviously it's a very psychedelic name. And it's actually a nutritional supplement company, which is kind of funny, but I'm trying to marry my passions of nutrition and holistic health with psychedelics. And I actually, I do think they're related. I just think we're still building that connection of holistic wellness and finding psychedelics' place in that.
28:53 CT: But yeah, I specialize in mood disorders now and autoimmune conditions, because luckily, I have this scientific background and let's face it, Western medicine was failing me personally and so many others with chronic complex illnesses. And it was really up to me to figure out what was going on with me and how to heal myself and thank God, I could read scientific papers and understand them. And so I just learned as much as I could and I still continue to learn as much as I can. And I just went to seminars and conferences, and online courses and textbooks and papers and articles. And I just kind of ravaged the internet for all the scientific literature that I could to understand how to heal myself. And the shamanic path is often the shaman has to heal themself to really understand how to help support others in their healing. And I actually see it as a blessing that I was given this challenge, this health challenge to go on, because now I have so much useful information that so many other people might not be capable of discovering on their own and I'm able to share it now with others.
30:11 CT: So in going on my own journey, I became kind of an accidental expert on the pathology of mood disorders and psychiatric illnesses. And I realized that nutrition was a huge part of the piece. And so I developed a line of nutritional supplements geared towards brain and mood health. And I also created a party recovery supplement called Weekend Warrior. And with EntheoZen, my goal is to use the company as a platform to share information and tools that will empower people to achieve optimal mental wellness. And so whether that's them buying my supplements or sharing information about psychedelic medicines or other modalities, such as breathwork or the microbiome, gut stuff, and how diet is crucial to healing the brain, that's kind of where I'm at with EntheoZen. I want it to be more than just a business, I want it to be almost like an organization and a center-point for people to receive information that will allow them to take the steps forward and create their own health and wellness.
31:31 CT: And I do have kind of dreams in the future of actually maybe funding or producing scientific research through EntheoZen, or maybe that's a separate thing, I don't know. I worked for a year on a microdosing EEG project with somebody, and that kind of made me remember that I am very scientific and I do... Being an entrepreneur is great, but I also have this craving for conducting rigorous science. So I do have plans in the near future to link up with some people and hopefully produce some research, at least something preliminary that can maybe set the stage for more expensive and grandiose studies with placebo, double-blind controls and such. But I'm really interested in looking at psychedelics for immune modulation and inflammation, because obviously that's something that's very pertinent to me in my chronic wellness journey.
32:18 CT: And I think that psychedelics could actually be untapped tool for chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, and there's basically no research yet on that. But there is little bits of evidence that they can be immune modulating and anti-inflammatory. And even some of them show antiviral and antibiotic properties, and a lot of times we see chronic infections implicated in these diseases and illnesses. So, yeah, I'm really excited to, in the future, maybe create some research, some published paper or something on that as a concept and start to look at very preliminary things like simply maybe, some blood work and look at inflammatory cytokines or something very simple to start with, 'cause the research field of psychedelics is so untapped at this point.
33:41 CT: You could kinda throw a rock anywhere and be doing something novel in the field, which is actually really exciting. And yeah, aside from doing scientific research, I continue to develop new products with EntheoZen. I actually have a a psychobiotic coming out soon, which I'm really excited about. It's basically a probiotic for brain and mood health and it's already formulated and everything. I'm just taking the steps forward to get it manufactured, hopefully in the new year. And it's got clinically studied strains that have been shown to affect brain chemistry or the HPA axis, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and just basically strains that are implicated in brain health and have shown to reduce maybe anxiety and depression behaviors in rats and stuff of that sort. I'm hoping that I can use the business as something to lift up more psychedelic projects because again, I do feel that mental wellness and psychedelics, they're very interrelated, and it would be nice if EntheoZen could turn into a real powerhouse to propel the psychedelic movement forward.
35:00 PA: Yeah, I wanna touch on a couple of points there 'cause I'm in complete agreement with you on that last point and I wanna really dig into that a little bit deeper, but I first wanna hit on a smaller point, and that is I was doing a workshop event at The Alchemist's Kitchen the other evening with Fundamental and also Brett Greene from Psymposia. And Brett was talking about how he had been microdosing ayahuasca to help with his immunosuppressant issues and that basically when he was microdosing ayahuasca, something was going on in the gut biome that was helping him to feel significantly better on days that he was microdosing.
35:41 PA: I think you're right and I know he's not the first one that has reported that. I know I've seen a number of people send me emails about again particularly microdosing and how it's helped them with immunosuppressant issues. And I know that there have also been breakthroughs even with higher doses of ayahuasca and psilocybin and psychedelics in general that can help with that. I'd be curious to see more research. And I think like you said, as personalized medicine becomes more available, it becomes cheaper, more widely available, then doing things like genomic work and looking at biomarkers and blood tests and saliva tests will get cheaper and cheaper, meaning it's much easier then to understand the impact of certain healing modalities on your stress or on your immune system or whatever it might be. I'm excited to see that happen.
36:28 PA: And I think then the larger point I wanted to make again gets back to what you said at the end, which is that you really wanna utilize EntheoZen as a way to build up the psychedelic community and movement. And I think this is a point that I've touched on briefly before in the podcast, but I think I will go into it in a little bit more depth right now and in particular because just recently, I had an interesting conversation on Facebook with a number of people in the psychedelic space about entrepreneurship and money and microdosing. And I think there's a really unfortunate stigma and pushback from a lot of people in the psychedelic space against entrepreneurial projects. And I think that is true for a couple of reasons.
37:11 PA: I think one of the first reasons that's true is because a lot of the people who got involved in the psychedelic movement over the past 10-15 years have largely been based in academia and research, so by and large, their salaries are not paid for by the... They're basically paid for by an external institution and that in itself lends itself to taking less risks. And I think also because of the nature of the psychedelic experience, they're obviously people who are hesitant to look at entrepreneurship and money as a viable way of making a living and talking about psychedelics.
37:46 PA: And I think that's unfortunate because it is not only rooted in idealism, but it also takes away from the eventual mainstreaming of psychedelics, because regardless of what many idealists want in the psychedelic space, the fact is there will be an economy around psychedelics. And that if and when that economy occurs, it's important that it's rooted in social well-being and community well-being. What we're doing at Third Wave, for example, very similar to what you envision with EntheoZen, is we're some of the first entrepreneurs who are really looking at how we can accelerate and push forward the dialogue around psychedelics by being conscious about where our money comes from. And I think the more people who have entrepreneurial projects in the psychedelic space, the more people who are making a living from talking about psychedelics or educating about psychedelics or even doing things that are more external, like with EntheoZen, which is more like a supplement thing that helps with holistic health, the better off the psychedelic movement will be, because it creates sustainability in the long term, because frankly the institutions, a lot of the institutions that support psychedelic science and a lot of the psychedelic movement right now will likely not be viable in the next 10 years as more and more disruptive technology becomes integrated into our societal framework.
39:13 PA: And so I think it's important now more than ever that we build a framework of social entrepreneurship to make sure that people can provide for themselves by being involved in the psychedelic space. And so I think anyone who's listening to this, I'd be curious to hear the listeners' thoughts as well as like, what do you perceive as being the intersection between psychedelics and entrepreneurship and what do entrepreneurs in the psychedelic space have to be conscious of as more and more get involved? Because I personally have received criticism and blowback from people within the psychedelic space for some of the work that I've done, which I find to be... I wouldn't go so far as to say that I would find it funny, but I find it to be ironic, because the fact is it's much better to have someone's ear and have someone be integrated in the psychedelic space right now, then what will likely happen in the future, which if people within the psychedelic subculture don't take this responsibility of building infrastructure for the future, then it is likely that that will happen by people who have no actual involvement in the psychedelic space, and don't necessarily come from the same core principles and values as those who have had this transformative psychedelic experience.
40:39 PA: So I think that's just... It's something for people to think about. But it's definitely a topic that's very close to my heart, as I've had a number of people tell me that basically I'm the first psychedelic entrepreneur that they've met. And I think that's unfortunate and it kind of reflects on how idealistic the psychedelic movement tends to be. So those are just my thoughts on that.
41:03 CT: Yeah. And it creates a bit of a rift and a disconnect if all you have is the general public and rigorous scientists who are receiving millions of dollars of funding, there's not a lot in between. And so I actually think that psychedelic entrepreneurship is really important because for one, like you stated earlier, we don't have the risk of losing our tenure and we don't have to protect our prestigious university titles or whatnot. And so I think we are in a better position to, like you said, take those risks and really push the edge and push the forefront, which someone has to do that. And there's a lot of really noble scientists that have definitely jeopardized their reputation for the sake of pushing this whole movement forward. But we need more than just scientists on board. If we wanna really integrate psychedelics into our culture, into our society, into how we relate to each other and ourselves, we need regular people who aren't scientists at universities to also help integrate psychedelics as a concept. So yeah, I totally agree with you.
42:26 PA: Yeah. I think it's kind of the... For me, it's talking about the next evolution in this third wave of psychedelics where like you emphasized, the work that for example, people like Roland Griffiths, Robin Carhart-Harris, Charles Grob, Rick Strassman, researchers from NYU, Anthony Bossis, what they've done is so incredibly important. And that doesn't even go into other names obviously like Jim Fadiman and Dennis McKenna, and obviously Rick Doblin, who's not a scientist, but he's a thought leader. The work that they've done is so critical, but I think one of my biggest concerns is a lot of the leaders in the psychedelic space right now are in their 60s and 70s, and they're based in conservative institutions oftentimes. And I think because of that they're slightly out of touch with millennials, people in their 20s and 30s, which are the individuals who are actually going to be exploring concepts and ideas for the reintegration of psychedelics over the next 10 to 20 years. And so I think to really develop the necessary infrastructure we need more people in their 20s and 30s to step up, to take on responsibility and have the courage to openly talk about these substances.
43:40 PA: And not only talk about them, but take leadership positions to develop new concepts and frameworks in which we can build bridges with other mainstream institutions. There seems to be this fear in the psychedelic space of growth. There seems to be this fear of going out into the unknown. And I think that's largely based in human nature. But it's like we gotta stop preaching to the choir. It's fine to cultivate the space that we have, but we need to create new space. Psychedelics will never become mainstream, they'll never become really legitimized on a cultural perspective, unless courageous work is done by people who are building bridges with mental health institutions, and the mental health framework institutions, and the supplement and nutritional industry institutions, and the psychiatric... And also a lot of the work that I've done has been with tech and entrepreneurship because from my perspective these people in the tech space are literally creating a new worlds in which we live. While that used to be up to this centralized bureaucratic federal government, it's becoming increasingly clear that with more and more technology that encourages decentralization, that more and more of the responsibility is going to fall on people who fall outside the scope of what we think of as traditional kind of government structures.
45:09 PA: And I think if those people have gone through the psychedelic experience, then it's much more likely... Again, because of what we were talking about earlier, this trans-rational. Like you were saying, when you dig in to that human trauma, when that feeling really comes up, then that intuition is really developed and that creates a much more kind of nurturing culture and community. And we won't be able to create that until the people who are really having an inordinate amount of influence in developing our culture have also gone through those transcendent ego experiences. And so I'm always extremely skeptical of when people criticize, for example, microdosing in the workplace, because from my perspective it's clear that they have a very immature understanding of the larger implications of what that means. Instead they're often projecting their own fear and their own trauma of having been raised in a capitalist society, onto these people who are actually looking for healing themselves. Because I think from my perspective, it's no coincidence that a lot of people in Silicon Valley and tech spaces are getting into microdosing because it's an anti-depressant.
46:06 PA: And it's well known that depression is rampant in Silicon Valley. And so while there's this public perception of, "Oh, it's productivity, it's efficiency." It's really about feeling better. And I think that gets lost. It gets lost in translation and for that reason there's a lot of unfortunate dialogue in idealist psychedelic circles.
46:06 CT: Yeah. Well, oftentimes people have the most resistance to the things that they probably need the most. [chuckle]
47:05 PA: This is true to some degree, but that's just my little tangent and that is, I've been personally affected by it in the last 24 to 48 hours which is why I'm now speaking more about it on the podcast. I normally don't take this liberty, so I would like to continue to get into your story a little bit with just kind of a few final questions, Caitlin, so let's dig into that. I'm curious just from your perspective what do you see as being... You're running the Aware Project down in San Diego, what usefulness, what utility, what value do you think that local psychedelics communities will have in helping to legitimize psychedelics on a more cultural level?
47:47 CT: Well, I think the key is to start in local small little pockets around the world, that's the best way to kind of sweep through in a thorough manner, and certainly in a small scale, I see it bringing a lot of value to even in a handful of individuals' lives and it just takes a couple of seeds planted, say, 30 people come to an event and oftentimes they're very curious and they kind of heard about psychedelics but maybe haven't tried them or perhaps they've had a psychedelic experience and they don't know how to process it and they can't relate to other people in their lives and they feel really isolated and it seems to bring a lot of healing and resources to people that are naturally gravitating towards these medicines anyways, and I think it also provides a place where people can feel safe and not judged for speaking about their experiences.
48:54 CT: And one of the things that I think is really crucial for the psychedelic movement is for functional, successful, healthy, happy, amazing people to share their experiences with the world about psychedelics, because so many people still see psychedelics as this drug and they believe that all drugs are an escape from people really dealing with the underlying stuff. That certainly seems to be the case oftentimes with alcohol abuse or heroin use, methamphetamine, cocaine. There's plenty of drugs that people do use to escape their pain and I just think that they have this misconception about psychedelics belonging in that category, and I'm not saying that they can't be used, misused in that way, I've definitely seen it, but I think the more really functional and successful people that share that they did these medicines and talk about the positive benefit of their experience will shake up the paradigms and shake up the stigma and the stereotypes that people have developed around these compounds and that's where we start making a change.
50:17 CT: We have to break up the old stagnant thought patterns that we have around these substances, and when people start to see that people took LSD and they didn't go to jail, they didn't steal a bunch of money, they didn't become a drug addict, they might reconsider how tightly they should hold on to those stereotypes and beliefs, because it really challenges what people thought was true, and I think that's really how you change people's minds, is you disrupt their understanding of what they thought was true and show them real people with real stories that actually got a lot of benefit from exploring with a psychedelic.
51:07 PA: And I think that resonates with the topics and the subjects that we talk about so often on this podcast and so it's nice to hear that perspective from you, because I think it shows that leadership for these local communities is really coming to fruition, it's really coming to bear, and I think that's so, so important, getting back to an earlier part of our conversation that we definitely need larger cultural leaders and scientists and people who are pushing the forefront of what we know from a scientific perspective, but it's just as important that we have people in leadership positions in local communities who can curate that space so that people feel welcome, they feel accepted and they feel comfortable openly talking about these psychedelic experiences, because I think one of the keys to obviously destigmatizating them is to humanize psychedelics and that's what talking about their experiences does.
52:10 CT: Yeah, I feel the whole coming out of the psychedelic closet campaign that Psymposia has ran is just brilliant, I think, and that's really what we need to all do is to come out of the psychedelic closet and not be ashamed, not feel guilty, not be in fear of judgment, because we have nothing to be ashamed about and we have nothing to feel guilty about and those that judge us need to hear our experiences more than anyone else.
52:40 PA: Agree 100%, and I think that's a great way to finish up this podcast, it puts a really nice cherry, a good feeling cherry on top after a bit of my skepticism and maybe even whining, so it was such a pleasure to have you on the podcast and get into all of these things, Caitlin, and just a final word, if people wanna learn more about you and your work where can they find you?
53:03 CT: Yeah, so you can go to my website, it's www.entheozen.com and it's spelled E-N-T-H-E-O-Z-E-N, just like the word entheogen but EntheoZen, and I have YouTube channels and recorded lectures that I've done and articles and products for those that are interested in nourishing their brain. And you're always welcome to get in contact with me, I really enjoy when people reach out. And feel free to email me, call me, Facebook message, whatever you feel compelled to share with me. I really invite anybody to reach out.
53:50 PA: Great, well, thank you again so much for your time, Caitlin. Thank you for joining us on The Third Wave podcast, it was really a pleasure to speak with you for the last hour.
54:00 CT: Yeah, it was my pleasure as well, and I hope the listeners enjoyed this and got some valuable information. [chuckle] Thank you.
54:07 PA: Thank you.
54:16 PA: So now we're back with the questions for the end of this episode. The first question comes from Richard E, "Are mushrooms good or bad for people with schizophrenia?" So here's the thing, we're not medical professionals and so we would advise anyone with any sort of mental health condition to seek medical advice before microdosing or taking recreational doses of psychedelics. There are no comprehensive studies on the use of psychedelics on people with schizophrenia; however, we would advise caution as we know that people prone to psychosis or mania can have their symptoms exacerbated by a dose of psychedelics.
54:52 PA: The other question, "Are psychedelics a unique method to achieve a totally alien state of mind or do they simply amplify an endogenous state?" That's an excellent question and I'm gonna kind of give a few perspectives on that. I think one is... We interviewed Steven Kotler, co-author of Stealing Fire, which has now been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. And Steven talks about other non-dual modalities to initiate flow states. So, that's meditation, extreme sports, sex, fasting. There are a number of ways that we can initiate trans-states or flow states with non-drug methods. So from that perspective, I think psychedelics are like other modalities, in that they can help us access this non-dual awareness, which other things can as well. At the same time, I would say that certain psychedelics, for example, when you smoke DMT, that is definitely creating some sort of unique perspective or unique state of mind, alien state of mind, in many cases.
56:00 PA: It depends, I think, on the context, depends on how much you're taking, it depends on the specific psychedelic that you're taking, whether it's ibogaine or peyote or mushrooms or LSD. That alien state of mind might be initiated as a result of really high doses of some of these substances. I hope that gives some context. I'm not necessarily an expert in that, but I'd be curious if anyone listening to this has a better answer, to go ahead and write us about it.
56:27 PA: Just as a sneak peak for next week, we have Ryan LeCompte on for next week, who founded VET, Veterans for Entheogenic Therapy. Ryan and I talk about his own story with ayahuasca and PTSD and what his hope is in helping veterans heal from the trauma of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So, till next week, adios!
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New research from Imperial College London shows that psychedelics might treat depression in a completely opposite way to typical antidepressants. Keep an eye out on our blog page for an upcoming article on this topic by a Beckley Foundation researcher.
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