The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave
Where Science and Spirit Meet: The Intersection of Psychedelics and Epigenetics
David Rabin, MD, PhD
David Rabin, MD, Ph.D. joins Paul Austin for a riveting conversation about the intersection of science and spirituality in psychedelic medicine.
In this episode, Paul and Dave discuss the first principles of healing trauma, the role psychedelics play in “meaning-making”, and how we can measure healing at the epigenetic level.
- The first principles of healing trauma – and why adaptation is central to every healing process
- What role psychedelics play in making meaning out of life – and why this is critical to healing and transformation
- Dave’s new project – Apollo Neuroscience – which uses vibrations and cutting-edge neuroscience to improve human resilience
Dr. Rabin is the Chief Innovation Officer, Co-Founder, and Co-Inventor at Apollo Neuroscience, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing non-invasive neuroenhancement technology for improving performance and recovery.
Dr. Rabin’s research focus is on the clinical translation of technologies that change the way people regulate thoughts and feelings in response to tactile stimulation and other non-invasive interventions.
In the clinic, Dr. Rabin studies novel therapies for treatment-resistant mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and substance use disorders. He also works to identify new healthcare markets, to evaluate Apollo’s real-world efficacy through clinical trials, and to guide development of the Apollo technology.
0:00:30 Paul Austin: Dr. Dave Rabin joins us on this week’s podcast. Hi, I’m your host Paul Austin, and I brought in Dr. Dave, this week to talk about the intersection of science and spirituality in psychedelic medicine. Dave actually did event with us a couple of months before this interview, an event in late May in San Francisco, he was on a panel that we had about how to hack altered states of consciousness, because he’s created this device which uses vibrations called Apollo on your wrist or on your ankle, to facilitate certain states of being. It’s really fascinating, the research they’re doing is really interesting. I’ve tried it myself, I love it, it works, it’s effective. And so I had to get Dave on the podcast to just go deeper into what plays a role from an epigenetic perspective in helping us to heal and how does the mystical experience help with that healing process.
0:01:36 PA: So we get pretty technical, Dave’s a psychiatrist, he’s very knowledgeable. So we get pretty technical about the serotonin system, but we also talk about Dave’s new project called Modern Spirit, where they’re collaborating with MAPS. It’s Dave, Dr. Joe Tafur and a couple others, who are collaborating with MAPS to carry out the largest epigenetics study to date, and they’re actually raising fundraising for that as well at Modern Spirit. So Dave has two great interesting projects going on, Apollo and Modern Spirit, we’ll include links to both of those on the website, if you wanna check them out.
0:02:13 PA: And this conversation was absolutely riveting. He came over to the place that I was staying at in Berkeley back, I think we recorded this in August and we sat in the back garden with a bunch of bees and just chatted for like an hour, hour and a half about where science and spirituality meet. So without any further ado, I will bring you Dr. Dave Rabin.
0:02:34 PA: Dave, I just wanna welcome you to The Third Wave podcast. Came all the way out here to Berkeley to sit down and talk about Apollo, to talk about the psychedelic epigenetic study that you’re working on, to talk about your personal story. So I’m just excited to really dig in and…
0:02:46 David Rabin: Thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it. This is going to be a lot of fun.
0:02:49 PA: This will be a lot of fun. So let’s just start with you and a little bit about your story, just so our audience has at least some context, the projects that you’re working on right now, one of which is an epigenetic study with MAPS, another of which is a startup that you’re working on called Apollo, which uses vibrations to help synchronize people’s attention and how they’re directing it. What started you on this path? What brought you to this point in time? What are maybe just three key things that have led you to where you are now?
0:03:19 DR: Sure, so I guess… So I’m a psychiatrist and a neuroscientist by training and I’ve spent a lot of time and interest in over the last 12 years studying chronic stress and resilience, and effectively what makes some of us overcome very, very intense stress and be better off for it and then other version… Others of us who have very intense stress or maybe not even as intense stress and don’t recover, don’t grow from it and find themselves being held back by it, and… In physical and in mental health. And so I started looking at that and, in addition, when I was growing up I also was very interested in dreams, and dreams were something that really fascinated me, because I had very, very vivid dreams growing up, so vivid, positive and negative, that sometimes I found myself not being able to recall whether or not it had actually happened. And that really threw me for a loop because everything that everybody was telling me was that the only real world was the world that I saw with my open waking eyes when I was awake, and then I had these experiences that were all together extraordinarily real.
0:04:31 DR: But they happened while I was asleep and nobody could really tell me anything about them, and being naturally inquisitive, because my parents are doctors and researchers and they sort of inculcated this natural sense of curiosity in me from a very young age, I just started thinking about this all the time, and that somehow, over time, led into the study of chronic stress and resilience, and I think partially that was the case, because when you’re stressed out and when you’re having hard times, especially as an adult, we oftentimes know that our dreams change, and we start to have different experiences that manifest in our subconscious at times during the day, but definitely at night. And it can interfere with our sleep and it can interfere with our ability to recover sometimes if they’re recurrent nightmares, but other times when we process what happens in those dreams and talk about it with others or write it down, journal and reflect on it, these are things that actually do have real purpose and meaning in our lives.
0:05:32 DR: They’re there for a reason, especially when they recur. And understanding where they come from and getting them out and just sort of reflecting on the meaning of those things and what they could mean in your life, and by meaning I mean metaphorical meaning, because dreams occur in metaphors and our brain works in metaphors and associations and it’s a sort of rhythm of how we learn things. And so all of this stuff kind of led me into psychedelics, because psychedelics are an incredibly powerful medicine that is really break through for our time and it’s not new to our time. Many of these are discovered in the ’40s and ’50s, but…
0:06:07 PA: And of course, thousands and thousands of years ago.
0:06:09 DR: And thousands of years ago, in the case of plant…
0:06:11 PA: In the first wave of psychedelics.
0:06:12 DR: Right, the first wave.
0:06:14 PA: As I like to call it.
0:06:15 DR: Right. With the case, in the case of ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms and cacti and things like that.
0:06:19 PA: Kykeon as well from Ancient Greece, like Plato and [unclear speech].
0:06:22 DR: Right. Exactly.
0:06:23 PA: Things like that.
0:06:23 DR: Yeah. And that history is incredibly important to understand how these things used to be used, because now oftentimes there’s a stigma in thinking about that when we talk about these medicines, we call them drugs and we talk about them as being used recreationally, which is not the way they were ever intended to be used and for the most part not the way they were ever written about in history. And pretty much when you look through all of human history, these things were used to build connection, build community, and they were used to facilitate healing and trauma, as tools to help us enter states, either individually or with a healer or with one another, to help bring people and communities closer together and get people more on the same page and to help people get through tough times.
0:07:08 DR: And so it’s important to… It’s critically important to remember that history when we look at the way that we’re now, because of MAPS and because of all this hard work Rick Doblin has done and his group, to really pioneer and push things like MDMA, very, very much, push MDMA through these very rigorous FDA clinical trials to make it match the standard of every single other medicine on the market. And he’s doing an amazing job and now it’s in phase 3 and we’re going to see undoubtedly positive results from that and that’s gonna start to change and really usher in I think Third Wave of this, not just a psychedelic revolution, but a revolution in thought and healing, almost like a… I think it’s gonna be another renaissance for humanity. I’m hopeful.
0:07:56 PA: Well, really, and it’s really like a revolution in our relationship to self for pre-agriculture, if we go back that far, right. Yuval Noah Harari wrote Sapiens and sort of tracked this a little bit. It’s like our relationship to self and our ability to cultivate relationship to self was really through like animistic traditions. And then eventually with agriculture, it became more hierarchical. There was mainstream religion and we basically found our relationship to self through a priest or through some sort of bible or through whatever else it might be. And now it feels like there’s this larger pattern happening where it’s more and more up to the individual to develop that relationship to self and what it means. And I think that really tracks on well when you talk about the suffering that people are going through, it feels like, to me, more than anything, it’s an existential sort of suffering, an existential sort of crisis. And now we have these tools that are becoming more and more available, like psychedelics, to help us to regain that connection and re-establish that connection that previously we’ve just been totally cut off from.
0:09:02 PA: And it seems like in the past, like the Gnostics, for example, it was always highly stigmatized or the people who did have that individual relationship to self were ostracized or excommunicated or whatever else it might be. And then now it seems like more and more like that is going to become, quote unquote, the thing, or it’s what more and more especially the intelligentsia and business leaders and people in academia and people in medicine, in fact I’d love to even discuss this a little bit, are moving more and more towards like, oh, yeah, spirituality and connection is really quite critical. From your work, having one foot in the science world and one foot in the spirituality world, and just picking up even on what you were talking about before, this relationship between dreams and psychedelics, what… There’s a bee that has just landed on me. This is the great thing about doing live podcasts in random places. We’re in this garden at this Airbnb that I’ve been living in and they have honey bees and the honey bees are 10 feet from us. And there’s dozens and dozens of them, and Dave and I are just…
0:10:10 DR: Hundreds.
0:10:10 PA: Yeah, hundreds. Dave and I are just sitting out here hanging out with the honey bees. Anyway, I got distracted. What’s that relationship between science and spirituality mean to you?
0:10:19 DR: That’s a great question. I think that the relationship is really centered around balance and understanding that we often live in a world of extremes and of where our brains are really, really, really good and finely tuned and honed and practiced at contrast and looking at things as black and white, and looking at things as more different from us than we are similar. And when you really take a step back, especially if you’re just looking at other people, you really take a step back and look at someone and you… When you look at somebody, you can’t help but have an immediate thought that’s based on your past experience about that person, where you’re gonna have a biased, some expectation of that person based on what you, based on something you see or experience around them before you even talk to them, and that’s normal.
0:11:14 DR: But what we can do about that is you can take that opportunity to ask yourself, is this person actually more different than me? Or do we actually have a lot more in common than we do different? And what you’ll realize instantly is that, of course, you have more in common than you do different because we’re all human to start. And that affords us this critical knowledge of one another that is easy to ignore when you don’t think about it that way. But when you think about it that way, because that’s the absolute truth of the matter and you accept that truth going into, and Alan Watts talks a lot about this, and I really admire his work because just as an orator and somebody who’s able to translate ideas, he really expresses this kind of stuff very clearly.
0:12:00 DR: And one of the things that has been talked about in this area is just understanding that when you see somebody else around you or something else that is different from you, and then this goes into the animals, right, thinking about the honey bees, all these animals going all the way back to primordial sea slugs from 300 million years ago, they all have some of these core characteristics that we still have. They all know how to detect the difference between safety and fear and danger, right? Or they wouldn’t be able to survive. And they all understand. They’ve evolved that and they all understand that it’s important to adapt some form of communication between one another and between themselves and the environment that allows them to be able to find food and to sometimes find shelter and build shelter and, in some cases, even with like octopi to build and use tools underwater and things like that, which are really pretty incredible.
0:12:54 DR: When you think about the… Humans really are not that different from those animals in our most fundamental… Like, you know, the stuff that goes on at the center of the emotional brain, in the amygdala, that’s what it’s doing. It’s just doing these very basic reptilian activities that are just replicated all the way through the evolutionary chain. And they expand as they go through, in terms of intricacies and depth and detail and until we get to humans where we have these incredibly complex thinking patterns and minds, and we can think about anything at any time and that things can get totally wild. But in general, the idea is that when you… You can learn an incredible amount from your environment by starting to change the… Reframe the way that you see it as similar, more similar than different. We all… There’s a saying that is a very old saying and it’s escaping me who said it, it might have been Pythagoras. It’s “As above, so below.”
0:13:50 DR: And then the idea is that there are… Nature is not stupid. It is efficient. It is one of the most efficient things that we’ve ever experienced in our whole lives, in our whole existence and nature has purposefully constructed a very complex system that replicates itself on every level. It’s why when you look at the way that cells function and the way that they have to behave to survive, it’s also not that different from the way that humans have to behave to survive. It’s just that we do it on an organism level, composed of billions of cellular things, and they do it on a cellular level, composed of less things. But it goes all the way, all the way down and all the way up, the most fundamental behaviors and that the most fundamental patterns of behavior are still there at the foundation, at the core. And that’s what DNA shows us.
0:14:38 DR: That’s what Francis Crick always talked about is, DNA is like this common thing that binds all living things together in a way that connects us all despite the fact that we have brains that are so good at seeing the disconnections. And… But it’s up to us to practice understanding our connection to ourselves, as you said, to everything else in and around us and so that we can be… Live sustainable, healthy lives that are fulfilling and actually achieving what our full potential is.
0:15:11 PA: Our full potential. So where do psychedelics come into this? Like, what role then do psychedelics play in helping us understand this relationship between science and spirituality?
0:15:22 DR: So psychedelics are critical because they, in general, especially talking about the traditional psychedelics, they come from the earth, ayahuasca and psilocybin and almost all the modern psychedelics, they may be altered by humans, but they come essentially from the earth.
0:15:39 PA: Even LSD is…
0:15:40 DR: Even LSD.
0:15:40 PA: Partially derived from ergot…
0:15:41 DR: Right.
0:15:42 PA: Which is this fungus that grows on rye.
0:15:43 DR: Exactly. And MDMA comes from sassafras originally. And so, almost… One of the only ones that doesn’t, actually, is ketamine.
0:15:51 PA: I was thinking that exactly.
0:15:53 DR: Yeah, and I think almost every other one has very much a plant-derived origin. So where psychedelics fit in is that I think we were talking about meaning earlier and we were talking about how we generate meaning from our environment and from our experiences. Every experience has the potential to be meaningful or not meaningful. Ideally, when we really think about it, we would prefer experiences to be as meaningful as possible, as often as possible. And what that comes from is it… Where we generate meaning, it was actually discovered very recently by Franz Vollenweider, who has done some of the most incredible work in Switzerland on psilocybin and LSD, and what he showed was something that applies well beyond psychedelics and he very well may win the Nobel Prize for this work, because he showed that when you give human subjects psilocybin or LSD, which have incredibly complex effects and we’ve been studying them for over 50 years and we know very little about how they work, but we do know that the effects are huge, right?
0:16:48 DR: Changes in complete ability to sense the world and everything about it and yourself to the point where you can even have ego death and die and then be reborn as a new person, hopefully closer to where you wanted to be before.
0:17:00 PA: Transformation.
0:17:00 DR: Right. Exactly. Yeah. The whole…
0:17:02 PA: Rebirth. Like, the whole Stan Grof thing.
0:17:04 DR: Exactly. Exactly. To that and just to the end point of healing as the ideal goal, these medicines create meaning. Rather they facilitate the body’s ability to perceive meaning from the environment and from ourselves by opening our minds, and in some ways you can think about it, at least from what we know about the neuroscience so far, like a turning off of the default mode network is like a tuning out of the ego frequencies that we typically perceive the world through, the ego filter, and then tuning in to all the other ways your brain could perceive the world.
0:17:44 PA: It’s kinda like when Aldous Huxley spoke about this reducing valve that the brain has, right? In order for us to actually be able to go about our day-to-day business, we need to sort of reduce our consciousness so that we don’t become overwhelmed by all this extrasensory stimuli.
0:18:00 DR: Exactly. Exactly. Which is just a very important survival skill. It’s critical that it’s there. But there should also be a consistent balance, as I was saying earlier, that ties that world very firmly and grounds it in the other world, this spiritual energy, whatever you wanna call it world, the stuff that we don’t necessarily perceive with our limited consciousness. It’s very important to note that psychedelics are just one tool that comes from the earth, traditionally, that allows us or affords us the ability to access these more meaningful states and the work that Franz Vollenweider did that was so breakthrough was that he showed that meaning is incredibly complex.
0:18:40 DR: We have no idea where meaning comes from up until like five years ago, but we do know that psychedelics, like psilocybin and LSD, reliably change the way that we perceive meaning from the environment. So Franz Vollenweider said, “I’m gonna give you guys a drug that’s orally active, that’s non-toxic, but for the period of like the next six hours, it will prevent your 5-HT2A receptors from working, working well.”
0:19:00 PA: Is that a psychedelic?
0:19:00 DR: No, it’s not at all. It’s probably the opposite of a psychedelic.
0:19:00 PA: Okay, that’s what I thought. It’s the opposite of a psychedelic.
0:19:00 DR: Yeah, and typically it may not make you feel much of anything because it gets cleared pretty quickly but ultimately your… When you take psilocybin or LSD, what he found out was that the people who randomly took ketanserin blocked all of their effects of meaning change in LSD and psilocybin experiences. Which is unbelievable, because that means that one receptor system pathway sits at the top of all the other stuff that’s happening in our bodies when we take these kinds of medicines that changes the way that we perceive our world, and that we interpret meaning from not only the world around us but also from ourselves.
0:19:53 DR: And so then the real question becomes, well, how do we know that that’s not just a fluke finding and that it’s actually consistent with the way that we… That the body works? And the way we know is because we’ve had people taking SSRIs for 50 years almost now. And… Or maybe 40 years. And what do we learn from SSRIs is that the most common side effect that people get is not being able to have orgasms anymore. And…
0:20:14 PA: Really?
0:20:15 DR: Yes. And this is not talked about as much as it should be, but that is the most common side effect that people typically get from taking SSRIs, particularly at the therapeutic dose. And that effect usually happens before they actually see benefit from the medicine. And… But what’s really interesting about SSRIs is that we know how they work because we designed them to work in a certain way. And the way that they work is that they block reuptake of serotonin into the part of the neuron that’s originally releasing it, right? And so, serotonin gets released from the presynaptic terminal to the postsynaptic terminal, pass on the message that the serotonin is providing, and then while serotonin… A whole bunch of serotonin is in the cleft, the area between the two synapses, the cell that release seratonin, so it’s reuptaking the seratonin, because it doesn’t… It wants to keep a balance between what’s in and what’s out.
0:21:03 DR: And so SSRIs, basically, they were designed to work and the way they work is by blocking that reuptake on the presynaptic side, which creates a flooding in… That’s consistent all the time inside the clefts, so the receptors are always more activated. And the most common side effect of that happening is general numbness, which correlates with this whole lack of sex drive. Because not only… People… It’s great at suppressing people’s ability to feel, or decreasing people’s sensation or pain from emotional stress and fear and depression, and things like that. It does work. And anxiety. It does help in a lot of people, but it also numbs the positive, because positive and negative experiences are due to being present and in the environment and getting meaning from those environments, and they’re flooding the serotonin receptors.
0:22:00 DR: And the reason why we get meaning is because of not just consistent activity of those receptors, but bursts of activity of those receptors, which is what LSD and psilocybin are doing. And what present experiences are likely to do, because when you are present in an experience, whether it’s on a medicine that helps facilitate access to that experience, or whether it’s using Apollo, or whether it’s meditating, or deep breathing, or in a flow tank, or whatever it is, you’re getting more meaning out of your experience, which is why they are healing. But those experiences can also be negatively meaningful, which is trauma.
0:22:27 PA: Right, ’cause meaning is somewhat neutral.
0:22:30 DR: Right.
0:22:31 PA: Or it can be in that when you’re opening up your subconscious, your unconscious, your general experience, you’re both getting in touch with these higher states of being, and you’re also getting in touch with these lower states of being.
0:22:47 DR: And this is like strength and vulnerability. And it’s the shadow and the light. It’s this again, getting back to this metaphor of how we exist.
0:22:55 PA: Yeah. So just to take a step back, because what we just spoke about got pretty involved. So from what I understand… And correct me if I’m wrong. But from what I understand, one of the core reasons why psychedelics are so effective is because they activate the 5-HT2A receptor, which is at the “top” of the hierarchy for serotonin receptors.
0:23:18 DR: For meaning making.
0:23:19 PA: For meaning making.
0:23:20 DR: Specifically, not for other serotonin receptors.
0:23:22 PA: But that’s where a lot of the healing comes from. And the transformation is by helping us to generate more meaning from our everyday life.
0:23:30 DR: And see opportunities for new meaning that we did not see the first time.
0:23:35 PA: And what would be an example of that, if we’re seeing the opportunities?
0:23:39 DR: Like in the healing of trauma. For example, one of the… Just one of the most common accounts that I have heard from people who have used psychedelics is that… Particularly ayahuasca and psilocybin in treatment and MDMA is that they feel that they have an opportunity, whether it’s being… Having their hand held by the therapist, or their hand held by the shaman, or their handheld by God, in some cases, they say, and to basically have an opportunity, like in the cartoons when we were kids to go back and see time dilated throughout your whole life, and actually go back and look at your past and see areas of your past which have always been there.
0:24:20 DR: And it’s just things you may have shut out or purposefully forgotten, but they’re always there, because you can’t just forget stuff. It’s just… You can tell yourself that you have, but ultimately these things are always remembered. Every experience is recorded on your DNA in the epigenetics. And so then we know that, because trauma now has been found to be encoded on the DNA. And it was this work pioneered by Rachel Yehuda from Mount Sinai, who did some incredible foundational work about showing that when you… In people who are traumatized… And she… And this started with Holocaust survivors. And you looked at their ancestors and there were the same markings on their DNA, on their DNA. Not in the A, Cs, Ts and Gs, but on the little chemical markers like methyl groups, and acetyl groups, and… Which are these small little tiny molecules that are very common, but when they get attached to certain areas of DNA, what they do is they change the way that DNA is expressed in terms of being more protein, because DNA gets made into proteins… The proteins are the functional outcome of the DNA.
0:25:30 DR: The proteins actually do stuff, and the DNA is the code that tells the proteins how to function. And so if the DNA gets turned up in certain places, or down in certain places, or in some cases off in certain places, then what can happen is you get imbalance and dysregulation and pathology over time, chronic illness, inflammation. The body can be trained to be in an inflamed state because of trauma. And when you practice being traumatized, over time it reinforces that, it likely reinforces that coding on the DNA. And now this has been shown in mice. They actually replicated the experiment in mice and they traumatized the first baby mouse that came out of its mother by I think separating it from its mother and/or exposing it to a cat at a very young age, and it took four generations of safety, of pure safety bred from that mouse down, four generations minimum to get the changes to the trauma genes out.
0:26:28 DR: In humans it looks like increased risk of PTSD, depression, anxiety, hoarding, metabolic disorder, diabetes, it shows all these different ways…
0:26:36 PA: OCD.
0:26:36 DR: OCD.
0:26:36 PA: Potentially.
0:26:37 DR: Chronic stress. Yeah, it shows in all these different ways. In mice it shows like not interacting socially, not mating behavior properly, things like that. Not raising your own pups properly, similar stuff, but then over time it will breed out. But in humans we don’t have the benefit of being raised in a perfectly safe lab environment, right? So we’re always recapitulating trauma and so it’s estimated by some, by some people who work in this, experts in this field that the trauma may actually last in humans for sometimes 14 or more generations. And so it’s critical now for our healing to really bring what we know of Western medicine and behavior training and all of this great stuff that we’ve developed with psychiatry and psychology and psychoanalysis all these years and combine that with what we know of Eastern medicine and spiritual practice to see where we meet eye to eye, which is actually in a lot of places, we’re more similar than we are different.
0:27:29 DR: It’s just that Western medicine is really, really fantastic for treating acute illness and Eastern medicine is really, really fantastic for treating chronic illness, but together you can treat a whole lot more illnesses. So we want to embrace the strengths of one another and try to figure out how to help people recover from these kinds of conditions in a much healthier way that’s more natural. That’s something that they can teach themselves how to do. Because the…
0:27:56 PA: You wanna empower people, you wanna give people agency…
0:27:58 DR: Because the central place for healing is within the self. And this is ultimately now what Western medicine and Eastern medicine are both saying.
0:28:06 PA: Well, it gets back to what we were just talking about earlier the podcast, which is the meeting points of science and spirituality. So even though we were talking about how yes, we have a relationship to the animals, we have this kind of evolutionary spiral of consciousness, and how etcetera, etcetera. But even what you’re talking about now it’s like this beautiful marriage that we’re now seeing between Western science, which is more reductionist in nature, which really tries to get to things at an atomized level, to Eastern. I won’t even say Eastern science, it’s just like an Eastern way of being which really looks at the…
0:28:39 DR: Philosophy.
0:28:39 PA: The holistic self.
0:28:40 DR: Yeah.
0:28:41 PA: Mind, body, spirit. What’s our relationship to self? How can we heal our relationship to self? I was reading a book that Gandhi wrote, like his kind of annotated biography, and this is something that he emphasized was the Bhagavad Gita was his text, it was basically how he built his life was around the wisdom that’s rooted in that tradition, in that knowledge. And that to me…
0:29:09 DR: And it’s our responsibility to pass that on to each other.
0:29:11 PA: Exactly.
0:29:12 DR: And so many things have been automated in our lives with technology, and technology is moving so fast that in some ways we have actually forgotten our responsibility to pass this information on to each other. This knowledge, it’s not information, it’s knowledge and wisdom, it’s organized information. Wisdom being organized knowledge times time, right? All of these things are important things that are inherent to us, but if we’re not taught how to find them, or that they don’t exist or how to seek that knowledge and learn it, then we’re not gonna learn and we’re gonna continue to make the same dumb decisions, over and over and over again. It’s that simple.
0:29:48 PA: So a question came up for me and I wanna… ‘Cause I love this. It’s so great to chat like this.
0:29:54 DR: Yeah. This is great, I’m so glad we get to hang out.
0:29:57 PA: Me too. I’m really glad we get to hang out. Are you familiar with the concept of first principles?
0:30:01 DR: I’ve heard a bit about it, remind me.
0:30:03 PA: So first principles are like the fundamental things that you should master or understand if you want to solve a problem, if you want to become great at a skill, if you wanna build a really successful business. So a couple of examples for you. I attended this fantastic movement workshop. So after I did a bunch of ayahuasca beginning of this year I really got into movement because… I refer to Ken Wilber’s work when I talk about this. Ken Wilber really talks about the next step of development being feeling awareness, developing feeling awareness, where it’s like this beautiful, again, marriage combination between intuition and cognition. And that’s the next stage of growth and development is when your decisions and your initial kind of things are informed by intuition and then you go to the brain afterwards to really, “Is this the right decision?”
0:30:46 DR: Right.
0:30:47 PA: Ayahuasca really allowed me to drop into my body to understand it really well, to feel into it. And so I started doing rolfing. You’re familiar with Rolfing? Structural integration. And the guy who was my rolfer who I need to get on the podcast, Dera, who’s fantastic. If you ever go to New York I need to connect you two ’cause you would hit it off.
0:31:07 DR: Thank you.
0:31:07 PA: He’s a rolfer and he introduced me to movement stuff. And from a couple friends who I had spoken to in the months previous they had turned me on to Ido Portal’s stuff, and then this guy turned me into something called Fighting Monkey. And it’s led by a guy named Joseph, Jozef, and he basically, he was on the National Olympic basketball team for the Czech Republic, his wife is Greek and is a nationally renowned dancer and basically what he’s done to understand movement between dance and athletics and martial arts and a number of other practices, what are the first principles of moving your feet and of… So that would be one example. What’s the shared footwork between boxing and basketball and dance? And so these are some things that we can boil it down to learn things faster and quicker.
0:31:56 DR: Right.
0:31:56 PA: So my question for you as a psychiatrist and as a neuroscientist, what to you are the first principles of healing trauma?
0:31:56 DR: So that’s a really good question. I think the first principles of healing trauma are actually things that we’ve talked about for a long time as a culture, as a human culture. And they have surfaced in lots of different ways and lots of different cultures that have not communicated with each other, but somehow shared or found the same principles. And I think, and Jeremy Narby talks about this a lot, which is really, really interesting, where he’s traveled the world and seen that many cultures seem to resonate with these same guidelines that they collect or learn from having what they describe in their art or in their writings as spiritual experiences that come, that would be better assisted with use of tribal medicine or not, in some cases, and they all center around these generally four things, and there’s some others also that get added in.
0:33:01 DR: But the four main ones are gratitude, forgiveness, compassion and self love. And the idea being that, it’s fine, it’s really great to think about these things for other, towards other people and… But the whole idea of the four… And they’re called the four pillars because they’re the pillars that form the foundation of trust in yourself. And so the idea is to practice them towards yourself, because we oftentimes spend too much time thinking about practicing for other people to gain love or favor from others.
0:33:37 PA: Transactional.
0:33:38 DR: Transactional, right. Transactional giving or whatever you wanna call it. And of course, that’s natural in a lot of ways. At the same time, it’s not even close to as effective as it could be if you haven’t practiced and mastered those things, those four pillars for yourself. Because once you master those things for yourself and you truly are grateful for yourself and for waking up every day and just having another opportunity to try to make the most of the day and you are able to forgive yourself for the mistakes you make and be compassionate for yourself and approach yourself as your best friend when something bad happens rather than as your worst enemy or self critic. And then able to manifest all of that in this idea of loving yourself like you would love your partner or expect your partner to love you.
0:34:29 DR: And giving that to yourself on a ideally moment to moment basis. And the more that you spend time practicing those things just by thinking about them, they start to embed themselves in your consciousness and, like our moms always said, “Practice makes perfect.” If you do something for a long enough time, just like thinking about an idea for a long enough time, you train those synapses and those neural connections in your brain, just like we were talking about earlier, to build stronger connections so that you don’t have to think about it anymore, it just becomes part of your life.
0:34:58 PA: Yeah, you teach yourself and you not only train the synapses, you also train the gut, and you train…
0:35:05 DR: Everything. Yeah, the whole body.
0:35:07 PA: The muscle memory, you train… I mean, this is, when I read Your Body Keeps the Score. That’s why that book was so impactful. And like, it’s like anyone who’s doing anything professionally in this work, psychedelics, and healing trauma, like that is I think a must read because it really, it’s kind of like what you were saying earlier. It’s like everything that happens to us we remember.
0:35:27 DR: Even if it’s not conscious memory, it’s in there somewhere.
0:35:29 PA: Exactly, because the deeper wisdom that we’ve… Again, talking about science and spirituality, this evolutionary pattern of life, the deeper wisdom within us is in our body because the mind is much more new. The mind is much more recent in terms of its development.
0:35:42 DR: Well, I think there’s a balance between that too, right? There’s a duality and there’s also a singularity. And there is a place where the mind and the body meet together where we’re all one unified organism, and sometimes we almost overly separate the two when we talk about it, but the language that we use is really important. And the way we describe ourselves should be accurate, which is that when we talk about the body, it should include the mind, it should include…
0:36:09 PA: Spirit.
0:36:09 DR: It should include our spirit, it should include the psychological, physical and emotional components and spiritual components of how, who we are. It should, in fact, not be limited by words at all, it should just be you, right? Because when you talk about you without attaching any other words to it, you could be anything. And that’s the part that everybody seems to be missing, because I think going back to something we were talking about earlier, is that the rhythms in our life are like, we’re disconnected from the natural rhythms that we used to follow when we weren’t surrounded by phones and TVs and bright lights all the time, and cars and the internet and all these things that distract us, weren’t always there.
0:36:52 DR: And when humans used to live, they lived by listening to the rhythms of the wind and the water and the earth through the seasons and the sunlight and the moonlight, and all these things were tracked over time and catalogue into all of these different disciplines. So one of them being astrology and another being all these tribal culture traditions, and the Aztecs and the Mayans had their rich traditions of this stuff. And these were like really important ways that were interfaces between science and spirit, between us and the environment were found and maintained, and there used to be a critical importance to those rhythms in nurturing us as a people, because our survival is dependent on the survival of our environment. There is no, there is and should be, never be a doubt that that is true.
0:37:41 PA: Yeah. There’s no separation.
0:37:42 DR: There’s no separation. If you start separating the mind and the body, you start separating us and them and then all of a sudden it becomes very easy to doubt everything. And what you really, what we really need to do is practice retraining our brains to use these, to find opportunities to see similarity rather than difference. And that is what Apollo, in a lot of ways, operationalizes, is… So Apollo is a technology that we developed at the University of Pittsburgh. Is it alright if I talk about this?
0:38:06 PA: Yeah. Let’s go with it.
0:38:07 DR: And so Apollo, we developed it because we know that music helps people feel better. And we know that touch helps people feel better. And we know that those things help people feel better, even if they have some of the worst clinical diagnoses, physical or mental. And those that, when people are given certain kinds of music and certain kinds of touch, it just changes the way that their symptoms express themselves and the way that they say they feel and even to the point where it changes their physiology in some points or their resting heart rate and their breathing rate and all these things. And so we know this to be true.
0:38:44 DR: And we as… In our background, many of us were musicians growing up or we’ve been huge music fans. We know that music made us feel different emotionally, energetically. I use different music to study than I do to fall sleep, for instance. And so… And so we basically said, well, can we create something that we can give, originally, to our patients when they left the office, so that in between the therapeutic sessions where we did a ton of work, they could still feel safe by wearing something that delivered frequencies to their body that helped them be more present and helped them feel more safe by activating the safety signals in the brain through the touch receptor system, just as if somebody was there holding your hand when you’re having a bad day.
0:39:24 DR: And having that be able to be with you all the time in such a way that it can train you and teach you the way we should have been taught by our parents and our communities how to cope with stress in a way that we grow from it, rather than letting it get us down. Stress is… And bad things are gonna happen. It’s just the way it is, guys.
0:39:46 PA: Right, yeah.
0:39:47 DR: But, you can change the way you think about it from thinking, “Why me,” to, “This is another challenge I have to overcome in a successful way or as successful as I can to grow and learn from how the hell do I get myself here and never to get myself here again?”
0:40:04 PA: Yeah.
0:40:04 DR: You know, there’s a whole… Critical learning processes to have…
0:40:07 PA: At least if you try not to personalize it.
0:40:09 DR: Right.
0:40:09 PA: Like, the personal self can… It’s funny, we’ve been talking about meaning this whole time, the personal self can, in fact, attach too much meaning to that, at least to the experience itself.
0:40:21 DR: Right.
0:40:21 PA: The thing to attach meaning to is the larger purpose, it’s the larger vision, it’s the larger arc, it’s this kind of concept of the hero story, and oftentimes… ‘Cause what I wanna emphasize with what you’re talking about as well it’s oftentimes just as necessary to go into the pain and feel that and experience that as it is to then go, “Okay, well, now what else can I do so that I don’t ever experience that state of lowness again?”
0:40:46 DR: Yeah, I mean, when you… To think about another way, to use a metaphor, since that’s how our brains work, it would be like every time something hard comes around, you have the opportunity to put all of your faculties, all of your mental and physical faculties into solving that problem and figuring it out, or you could literally drag yourself through it kicking and screaming. You know? And most of the time we choose kicking and screaming.
0:41:08 PA: Well, yeah, we numb ourselves to it.
0:41:09 DR: And we distract ourselves from it, because sometimes it’s easier to just be like, “Oh, I’ll just put it off ’cause I don’t wanna do that, ’cause I have all the other things to do.” And then you do it and you do it half-assed and you have to do it again. Ultimately, that’s usually what happens to all of us. I make this mistake all the time.
0:41:23 PA: Yeah, well, it’s always two steps forward and one step… One step forward and two steps back.
0:41:27 DR: But the… Right, but the point is that every time you have one of these experiences or any experience, you just try to learn as much as you can from it any time, don’t… You know, not that you look at it from the standpoint of why me, or please God end this so that I can go on and do something else, you look at it from the standpoint of, I’m here, this is the situation, I might as well accept it, so that I can get as much from it as possible. And that is what Apollo is, it’s a way… It’s the way that we use sound and vibration to help facilitate your body to get into the state that allows you to do that as much as possible.
0:42:01 PA: Agency.
0:42:02 DR: Right. And I thought what you said was very poignant, actually, on stage, because it’s something that has been joked around just before, when you first tried it, do you remember what you said?
0:42:12 PA: No.
0:42:12 DR: You said this is like wearable drugs. And on one hand, I was thinking, wow…
0:42:18 PA: I did say that, yeah.
0:42:19 DR: That’s a great way to describe it from a general consumer marketing perspective…
0:42:25 PA: Right?
0:42:25 DR: Because it’s catchy and it makes sense. Like…
0:42:27 PA: Wearable drugs.
0:42:27 DR: People… People are wear…
0:42:29 PA: Apollo, wearable drugs.
0:42:30 DR: Will people…
0:42:31 PA: We got it, I could see your… I could see your logo right now, your brand.
0:42:34 DR: At the same time, though, I wanna make sure that people understand the language, in that this is not a drug, and this is not a substitute for drugs, people, it is wearable medicine, right? This is a medicine tool that we developed from all of our knowledge of Eastern and Western medicine and doing tons and tons of literature reviews over the last five years to put together something that we learned… That uses everything we learned to actually give people something that makes their lives better and helps them see opportunities to access their true potential and that’s what… That’s what Apollo really does.
0:43:15 PA: You know what you gotta do with Apollo?
0:43:17 DR: What?
0:43:17 PA: You gotta bring in a Bauhaus designer, like a dope German industrial designer, like just. It’s like, just make a really cool like front arm cover or like, I don’t know.
0:43:31 DR: Next version, next version.
0:43:32 PA: You could like… There would be some dope things that you could do with wearable products like this.
0:43:37 DR: Right.
0:43:38 PA: That are vibration-oriented, I can imagine like a calf sleeve, you know? That’s like the vibration is spread completely. Or, I mean, of course it would, depending… But there’s like… And then I was thinking, “Okay, not wearable drugs, but maybe wearable psychedelics,” right? You catalyze, you kinda jump on this trend, because psychedelics are about to become very trendy. They are in fact…
0:44:00 DR: It’s happening already.
0:44:00 PA: At the moment.
0:44:00 DR: It’s happening.
0:44:00 PA: And I don’t think we’ve reached peak trend yet.
0:44:02 DR: For sure, not.
0:44:03 PA: No.
0:44:03 DR: Yeah, but…
0:44:05 PA: But it’s also not a trend, because this is something, this is always the both/and paradox, it also is a wisdom and a lineage that we’ve held for tens of thousands of years.
0:44:13 DR: Right, it’s something…
0:44:14 PA: So, it’s trendy and it’s definitely not trendy.
0:44:16 DR: It will come in phases, right? And this may not be…
0:44:19 PA: Like mushrooms.
0:44:20 DR: Yeah, this may not… Exactly. Exactly, like things that grow in the seasons, right, there will be a cycle and it will… You know, what will happen this time around will happen and then hopefully it just continues to grow in our sense of knowledge and wisdom and ways to provide better lives for each other and ourselves and continues to gain, you know, to become… To give us fulfilling experiences, but I think the main idea to take home about psychedelics and all the tools that we have access to, Apollo and all these other things, meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, float tanks, is that these are all really incredible tools for helping us to access states of higher meaning, but they have to be used properly.
0:45:02 DR: They will not always be guaranteed to give you overwhelmingly positive experiences if they are misused and some of these are extremely powerful medicines. And one thing I admire about the work you’ve done, Paul, is that you put together this incredible database for people to actually access information that’s, you know, from scientific peer-reviewed journals about… And as much as you could get in there, that explains to people the origins of these medicines and where they come from and why they’ve been used the way they’re used, and in a lot of cases, how to use them properly. And that’s so important that people understand that these are powerful medicines that need to be used correctly. Using them at a rave, as fun as it might be for some people, can also be a terrifying experience.
0:45:42 PA: There’s a lot more risk.
0:45:43 DR: There’s a lot of risk and people don’t talk about that because it’s all about… For a lot of people, the recreational side, it’s all about escape and it’s about…
0:45:53 PA: Even if it isn’t, even if clubbing is this ritual or this experience… But I get your… I totally get your point. ‘Cause that’s there perception, even if it’s not necessarily the reality. Although in some cases, it is.
0:46:05 DR: Right. And there are people… I know… Look, I like to dance as much as the next guy and my wife and I will go out and we will dance as therapy.
0:46:13 PA: Have you been to Burning Man?
0:46:14 DR: We have not been to Burning Man yet. But we have some amazing dance clubs in Pittsburgh with incredible house music and we will go out when we have time, which is rare but it does happen. And we’ll just dance for four hours to house music, funky house music. And it is so therapeutic and it just gets so much energy out that sometimes it’s hard to get out in other ways.
0:46:34 PA: I tried 5Rhythms the other day…
0:46:36 DR: But that is an altered state experience…
0:46:37 PA: It is.
0:46:38 DR: For us.
0:46:38 PA: Absolutely, it is, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:46:41 DR: So you can access these things in lots of different ways.
0:46:44 PA: Expanded states of consciousness. Sweat lodges are another one. Breath work, float tanks. This is also what I’ve been thinking more and more about is, we opened Synthesis last year, this retreat center in the Netherlands, which for our listeners, go there, go check it out, it’s awesome. So we worked on that project last year and really the vision for that was, what does the future center look like that does mind, body, spirit healing? So, what are… Not only what does that specific center look like, meaning there’s a float tank in it, meaning there’s comfortable individual rooms to do therapy, meaning there’s a couple group rooms, one for smaller sessions, 10-12 people, one for larger sessions, 30-40 people.
0:47:21 PA: You probably have dope ambient lighting, surround sound, Sonos surround sound. The place that we have in the Netherlands is in an old church built in 1928, renovated, and it’s fucking awesome, dude. So this is what the future of those looks like and then what industry grows out of that, that’s as well what we’ve been thinking about. It’s like, before the 1960s, personal trainers weren’t a thing because most people didn’t go to gyms. And then Arnold Schwarzenegger came around and gyms became a thing. And now, the personal training industry is a $15 billion a year industry.
0:47:51 DR: Right. And the stuff we’re talking about it’s exactly like that, that’s a great analogy. This… What we’re talking about is fitness training for your brain and your emotions and your spirit.
0:48:00 PA: Yeah.
0:48:01 DR: It is body building for the other parts of the body that we have been taught to ignore or just forgotten about for a long time. And…
0:48:09 PA: Soul retrieval.
0:48:11 DR: That’s one way to start it.
0:48:12 DR: That’s a little intense for me, actually, but I…
0:48:15 PA: My business partner and I joke around about how we’re… It’s gonna be Third Wave. We’ve been trying to think of a slogan. “Third Wave,” “The Soul Retrievers”.
0:48:24 PA: Something like that.
0:48:25 DR: That’s deep.
0:48:28 PA: It’s gotta be, I know.
0:48:28 DR: That’s very deep.
0:48:28 PA: What is soul retrieval? We just kinda… It’s one of those… To me, one of those words that you read on CIIS’ website where you go…
0:48:36 PA: Anyway.
0:48:38 DR: When I thought… When I think about it in the context of MDMA, I think… MDMA therapy, the one that’s currently in trials for… Phase 3 trials for PTSD with the FDA, is that trauma can lead us when we’re not… And the real tragedy of trauma oftentimes is not actually the trauma itself, it’s the support we have after. And that’s when the trauma really has an opportunity to either… To be grieved over properly and allow healing to occur very, very rapidly in that first couple of months after it happens. And if that’s not done or there’s the opposite, which is neglect or people blaming the victim for what happened, which happens all the time, then you get this PTSD effect.
0:49:16 DR: But the PTSD effect is very complicated and affects a lot of parts of our lives. Because in large part, what it is is a chronic stress state that’s caused by us shutting out and parts of ourselves that we believe don’t service anymore, whole chunks of ourselves. Positive and negative. Chunks of our personality. Imagine, something that you did or thought that was a part of your personality you identified with being kind and giving and being a good listener. Those skills led you to be traumatized as a child time and time again by your parents, right? And then what happens is you decide one day that you’re just… Those parts have only led to pain for the last few years. You haven’t learned to talk to those parts of my personality. I’m not going to value those skills anymore.
0:50:07 DR: And so, you effectively shut out those parts of who you are. And in some cases, people forget how to use those skills except for the purpose of survival. They basically forget how to empathize with other people, how to be compassionate for themselves, how to be loving and caring with others. And then that cycle of trauma just continues to repeat itself because they treat somebody else like crap as a result, totally unintentionally. And we see it all the time in our patients. And it’s totally avoidable because once you work with somebody and give them the opportunity… Everybody wants to heal from this, everybody is in pain with this who has it, people are in pain every single day of their lives. Emotional pain in the brain is almost completely indistinguishable from physical pain. These are the same thing. And these emotional wounds fester for years and years and years. In the case of the MDMA study which makes it so incredible, the average person who had PTSD in the study had it for 17 years.
0:51:08 PA: I know, it’s fucking nuts.
0:51:09 DR: And then five years later, something like 60% of them are still symptom-free with just three doses. With just three doses, they’re still symptom-free.
0:51:16 PA: And major psychotherapy.
0:51:17 DR: Major psychotherapy for 12 weeks, but not necessarily much afterwards.
0:51:21 PA: Really?
0:51:21 DR: A lot of those people did not have a ton of therapy afterwards and they did not take medicine, they did not go back to taking medicine.
0:51:25 PA: No?
0:51:25 DR: No. They’d learned skills from that intensive 12-week session… Or 12-week protocol. With just three doses, they ingrained and retrained their brain through this work with skilled integration therapists to take knowledge from that and actually continue to integrate it in their lives over time, such that a year after… Two years after the study finished more people were symptom-free than were a year before. Why? You never expect that with somebody stopping a treatment in Western medicine traditionally, but the reason that happens is because we’ve actually taught these people some skills. We’ve gotten them into a state of mind where they’ve reinvigorated a sense of complete self-empowerment and an openness of human potential. And going back to the idea that you are just you and you’re not the emotional, complex, moody version of you that everybody else may see you as, or you see you as, because you were taught to see yourself that way. You were just you.
0:52:21 PA: The whole focus of integration is wholeness.
0:52:23 DR: Right. And creating new patterns, you know. When you hear the word default mode network, does that sounds like something that you want to be in?
0:52:32 PA: No. You don’t wanna be in a default, you don’t wanna be on autopilot.
0:52:35 DR: Why would you ever wanna be in… Right? Unless you have to be there to do something.
0:52:38 PA: Sometimes it’s necessary, there’s a reason that mechanism developed, but what I’ve noticed is when I’ve been in a really good state of being, like mental well-being, which hasn’t been often in my life. I would say for most of my early years, I was until I was probably 11 or 12, and then I was probably depressed from the age of 12 or 13, until I was 21 or 22.
0:52:58 DR: Yeah, that’s really common.
0:53:00 PA: Which is I think quite…
0:53:01 DR: Unfortunately.
0:53:01 PA: Hard of course for most… Especially most more like emotional feminine men who grew up in the ’90s, early 2000s. There’s a lot of…
0:53:10 DR: Sensitive, just being a sensitive…
0:53:11 PA: Sensitive, it’s being sensitive.
0:53:12 DR: Man or a man who values feminine traits in any way, God forbid we value the balance of our masculine and feminine traits, but yeah, we were punished for that.
0:53:23 PA: Yeah.
0:53:23 DR: Unfortunately.
0:53:24 PA: Just stigmatized and a lot of shame. But then I started working with psychedelics in, I would say, a somewhat recreational capacity, but also I was also someone who I read voraciously throughout my childhood, I was always quite reflective, I was always… I recognize patterns, I played soccer for most of my life. I could just see things and anticipate things before they happen, right? So I did a lot of work on myself with that, but at the same time, at some point I just reached this limit where it’s like, I don’t now have the capacity to do this on my own. This is why I now feel the need to reach out to a therapist and to reach out to mentors and to reach out to coaches who can then take me farther along this process. And I think that’s an important element then of healing and transformation and general development.
0:54:13 DR: You mean mentors?
0:54:14 PA: It’s mentors…
0:54:14 DR: Role models.
0:54:14 PA: And people… Elders, right? So the way that it’s often talked about in the psychedelics space is elders…
0:54:19 DR: In the science space it’s mentors, they mean the same thing, basically.
0:54:21 PA: Right, right. So it’s just, it’s now how do we build and develop that ecosystem, what does that look like, what’s the actual infrastructure that needs to be developed to create this new world, this new story. I love the way that Charles Eisenstein puts it, he talks about this concept of the new story of humanity, right? Like what does it look like to build a world where we recognize that the separation of the self is an illusion and that we are in fact, deeply connected to everything around us and because of that, we have the responsibility, the requirement to take care of that, to treat not only ourselves with compassion, forgiveness, self-love, but also to treat those around us in our environment. And you know like, someone put it to me really recently, like how can you just serve the moment, every moment? What does that look like? How does that manifest? And just be mindful of that, like, we’re serving the moment every moment.
0:55:15 DR: Right.
0:55:17 PA: And that’s again where this practice comes in. The ritual, the technology you’re building with Apollo, micro-dosing, mindfulness meditation, it’s bringing us back to the here and now, it’s bringing us back to the sense of wholeness, the sense of enough, the sense of completion in a way.
0:55:29 DR: Yeah.
0:55:30 PA: Where it’s like, we don’t need to continue to grasp things outside of our true self to feel complete or whole or… And oftentimes, of course, with our lifestyles, it’s been bullshit that we don’t need physical, literal, like materialists.
0:55:45 DR: Right. And yeah, you make a lot of good points. I think that… And it’s a big question, I can’t answer… It’s hard for me to answer that question as a whole… On the whole, but I think what I can do is I can talk about how… What we’re trying to do practically right now to answer that question on our own way.
0:56:04 PA: Yeah, what would be your perspective on the question?
0:56:07 DR: So I think for me, all… You know, the way I… As above, so below, as the things that happen in the past repeat themselves, and the patterns of history oftentimes are, you know, they’re very commonly repeated. And so, it’s important for us to see those patterns. If we don’t see the patterns, we’re missing the whole point of learning history and the purpose of observation, right? And so we see the patterns, we learn from the patterns, we make better decisions because of the patterns. And so ultimately those patterns, we know from the trauma work of Rachel Yehuda, we know that when those patterns are more traumatizing than not, they get encoded on the DNA, in the epigenetics, right?
0:56:50 DR: And ultimately, going… I’m sorry, I should go back, the part of the reason why this stuff is important, is because doctors are trained, physicians in the Western world are trained to recognize patterns, that’s what we do. That’s diagnosis, right there, clear and simple, really, really complicated decision trees, that’s what we do as doctors, that’s what we’re trained to do, for all the years that we’re in training, and that’s what makes us good. When we get good at that, we get really, really good at being diagnosticians and executing the right treatment within a timely fashion, and that’s what saves lives.
0:57:30 DR: However, that… Those doctors in our culture serve, not… They don’t necessarily realize it, but we as doctors serve in an elder role for our society. So there aren’t elders anymore the way that the tribal people used to see it on a world level, or on a national level, but there are doctors. Doctors who swear on an oath to take care of people and do what’s right for the world, and for their patients, and for humankind. Nobody else has to take that oath, pretty much. And so, because of that oath, and because the way that doctors have…
0:58:10 PA: The Hippocratic Oath.
0:58:11 DR: The Hippocratic Oath, yeah, which could probably use a little bit of an updating, but, you know, we’ll get back to that.
0:58:15 PA: Generally what’s the gist of the Hippocratic Oath?
0:58:18 DR: So the Hippocratic Oath is beneficence, always doing things with your patient’s best interests at heart, autonomy, making sure that your patient has the autonomy and ultimately informed consent to be able to make decisions on their own and respecting that autonomy. And then I think one of the most important parts is non-maleficence, which is, do not harm. And that’s a part that we’ve really forgotten the most in our culture, because we forget the way that harm can be conveyed to a patient, we forget how important language is. When you diagnose somebody with a chronic illness and there’s a chance that illness could get better if they change something, maybe you don’t know what that is. But if there is any chance that that could get better and you tell that person when they respect you as much as they do, they have something that’s never gonna get better. You best believe that they’re gonna trust you.
0:59:13 PA: Yeah.
0:59:13 DR: And they’re gonna give up.
0:59:15 PA: Yeah.
0:59:16 DR: They’re just going to give up. And when you as a doctor hand somebody an opioid narcotic and you don’t educate them properly as to how that medicine is supposed to be used, which is for acute pain only for the first week after treatment, and then you throw those things out afterwards, you don’t use them regularly. If you don’t educate somebody about that and they go home and they get addicted to that stuff ’cause they don’t know how it works because they saw you in a white coat handing them that pills prescription, that’s your bad.
0:59:46 PA: Yeah.
0:59:46 DR: That’s doing harm, guys. Everything from the words to the way that we interact with people is doing harm. And so we need to change the way that we see health and public health, all the way down to the words that we use when we interact with people in a healthcare setting. Healthcare is not a capitalist business, it is a common good that we all want, we all need for survival, unfortunately, and it needs to be available. And all the most successful countries in the world have it for a reason. It’s no surprise, it’s just something that we need to have available so that we can feel safe in our own skin, in our own country, in our community, and not be worried all the time about whether or not we’re gonna get hurt, or… It just adds to the chronic stress of everything. And so what that comes down to is ultimately that the trauma that was studied in these studies we talked about earlier, there is a connection between the elders of the past and the doctors of now, in that they have a dramatic way to influence society and how we behave on a public health level.
1:00:56 DR: It hasn’t been tapped yet because all the doctors and healthcare professionals are very divided in their own segmented groups and they don’t talk that much but ultimately, we have the capacity to do it. And so it’s about bridging the gap between mind, body and spirit, and for me on a science level, it’s about figuring… The way we do that is we figure out by working with doctors and working with Eastern medicine practitioners and tribal medicine practitioners, looking at how psychedelics work on the level of epigenetics.
1:01:29 DR: Because trauma is a very powerful, negative meaningful experience and MDMA and ayahuasca and psilocybin, all these psychedelics are very, very powerful positive experiences, both of them are present experiences that facilitate the recording of intense amounts of meaning onto the DNA that could be positive or negative or neutral, but it’s all part of the same kind of experience, it’s part of the pattern. And so we’re doing with MAPS and my colleague Ben Kelmendi at Yale, and Rael Cahn at USC, and Joe Tafur. Who’s one of the leading ayahuasca experts, everyone’s… We have three psychiatrists and Joe, a family med doc who’s also an ayahuasca expert…
1:02:07 PA: Joe [unclear speech].
1:02:07 DR: And yeah, and Joe’s had incredible experiences and helped a ton of people with this stuff. And so we all got together and we had shared this common vision that it is likely the epigenetic change that is caused by trauma is being reversed by the positive meaningful experiences people have with psychedelics. And we can actually measure it with psychedelics because people who use psychedelics sometimes just one time, will have benefit that lasts years. And for that to occur, that means that there has to be some recorded change in the body somewhere on a DNA level or a protein level, because nothing else lasts in the body for that long, everything else gets turned over.
1:02:45 PA: Sure.
1:02:46 DR: And we know that’s how memories are formed, thanks to Eric Kandel’s work, is on the protein level. And so we just took it one step further and went back to the DNA, and on the DNA which is constantly changing all the time, thanks to Rachel’s work. And now we know that, we have good evidence to believe that when we start sampling these people who are going through the MDMA treatment for PTSD before and after, and we start sampling their DNA for people who are going through psilocybin, for depression and OCD, and people who are going through ayahuasca in traditional Shipibo ayahuasca ceremony. And when we start to sample all these different groups with different psychedelics, what we’re gonna see is very… We hypothesize, and we have good reason to believe what we’re gonna see is that there’s gonna be similar changes to the DNA in all situations. Why? Because when you really get down to it, all these psychedelic medicines, they all basically work the same way, and they all… When they really help people, are focused on treating trauma and trauma is encoded on the epigenetic code.
1:03:47 DR: So if we can see anything similar between any of these compounds, then what it will show for the first time scientifically proven in a clinically validated controlled study of a ton of people is that it’s not the drug, guys, it’s the fact that you curated a ceremony of intention and belief and used the drug to flip on and catalyze that experience of building new meaning.
1:04:14 PA: The drug is basically bringing them into expanded state, you’re bringing them into a state where there could be more meaning derived from. Just like the lower states, like you were saying with trauma, when you… For example, trauma at war, but that’s gonna be so intense it will encode. And basically what we’re doing with psychedelics is we’re trying to flip the switch so that instead of it being a really negative intensity, it’s a very positive intensity. And as a result of that it helps us to feel safe, helps us to feel secure, helps us to feel present.
1:04:46 DR: We’re talking about the epigenetic study and really looking at the interface between science and spirit by understanding the impact of medicine and the power of belief and intention in your healing experiences, and the idea that the relationship with your doctor has now been shown to be extraordinarily important for people to recover from things like depression and anxiety disorders and other disorders as well. Because when your doctor smiles at you and looks you in the eye and actually gives you the impression that they’re giving you the presence of the moment to interact with you, the presence of time of their very, very busy schedule to sit there, even if it’s just for five minutes and they’re making eye contact when they’re looking at you like they care, you leave there feeling so much better than you do if he’s sitting there looking or she is sitting there looking and writing in a notebook the entire time.
1:05:33 DR: And that’s just the way it is, even if they give you… And what’s amazing is even if they give you the right treatment when they’re looking in the notebook and they give you a placebo and they look you in the eye, you do better when they look you in the eye and give you a placebo.
1:05:45 PA: Really.
1:05:45 DR: For depression. Yeah.
1:05:48 DR: And this is a study done at Austen Riggs, an incredible study. But this is known. So we should be changing our behavior and learning from things like psychedelics and Apollo as tools and adapting because that’s… When you really break it down, adaptation is our single biggest strength as humans.
1:06:01 PA: First principles.
1:06:02 DR: Yes.
1:06:03 DR: First principles is…
1:06:03 PA: Adaptation.
1:06:04 DR: We are adapters. We were evolved to the adapters. Look at where we sit in the food chain. Look at where we sit in the world today. Look at everything and how magnificent it is, what we’ve built for good and for bad. This is incredible. It’s an incredible time for us. The technology is incredible. Our potential is completely unknown. And we need to remember always, that we were born to adapt for positive, for the survival of humanity and of the earth, as a single entity. A single organism that works. That all parts require each other for survival in the way that it is now. So we have to remember that we are more similar than we are different and work together to survive with the earth, with each other.
1:06:49 PA: Gaia.
1:06:50 DR: With ourselves. It’s all part of it. That’s… Look at Judeo-Christian religion. Our key word in Judaism is one. One is everything. One is not one God outside of ourselves. One is one. It’s oneness within ourselves and within everything that balances the duality of everything else that seems to appear all the time. These things have to balance each other to give you this, like you said, default mode is good for some things, not good for wanting to expand your consciousness. What if we could train ourselves to turn that default mode network on or off at any moment? That’s what the most skilled meditators do.
1:07:30 PA: Yeah.
1:07:31 DR: You can see it with an EEG brain wave scanner now. You can see their brains change within minutes, sometimes sooner. They’ve just trained themselves to do it. We can all do that.
1:07:43 PA: We can all do that and that gives us agency that empowers us, that feels like there’s not something happening to us, but that we’re really manifesting and we’re creating meaning in the world.
1:07:51 DR: Exactly.
1:07:51 PA: Right? We’re moving with forward progress. That’s the human condition, to remain present and to struggle while still striving for greater.
1:08:00 DR: Yeah. But we gotta keep trying because you don’t…
1:08:02 PA: Keep trying. It’s a game.
1:08:02 DR: Yeah, if you don’t keep trying, you don’t keep practicing, you’re never gonna get good at it. And you’re going to get good at some other stuff that doesn’t really matter. And that’s really what it comes down to.
1:08:08 PA: Or that doesn’t lead to a higher quality of life.
1:08:10 DR: Right, that doesn’t get you to your goal. And when I say “matter,” I’m not trying to demean and anything like that, but just the idea that everybody has their goals and everybody has the things that they care about, and if you’re doing stuff and spending your time thinking or feeling or doing things physically that are things that are not giving you that goal, they’re not getting you closer to where you want to be, that’s a sign that you should be doing it in a different way. It doesn’t mean that your goal is wrong. It means that you’re receiving information that’s telling you that maybe you need a different approach. Listen to the signs. The signs will guide you along your path to your goal and to manifest what you are, what you are seeking, but you have to practice and you have to be patient. And that’s actually one of the most important parts about those four pillars we were talking about earlier. First, for the first rules that gratitude, forgiveness and compassion, self-love. People forget that compassion is patience first. That is one of the most difficult things to master.
1:09:07 PA: It is, yeah.
1:09:08 DR: Is patience for yourself, just to allow things to unfold at the speed with which they will and give it a little boost when you can, but also understand that you’re not in control of everything. You’re in control of the things you’re in control of, which is a constant… It’s another part of our path to identify those things, and then to give it a little boost when we can and help things move along when we can, and facilitate the goal.
1:09:34 PA: But don’t get burned out. Don’t take it too serious.
1:09:37 DR: Yeah. I mean, don’t spend all your time resisting what’s actually… What actually matters and what actually is trying to get you to your goal. We spend so much time just getting distracted by all these other things like money and cars and houses and we’ve forgotten about the things that really matter, like having meals together and friendship and having opportunities when you can hang with your friends and family and just talk. Like really like what we’re talking right now, honestly and openly, about how you feel about something without worrying about being judged for who you are because you feel bad about something.
1:10:12 DR: Or you feel really good about something, you wanna share that experience. We should be… That was the community that we had in the ancient days that’s unfortunately been lost over time. And we’ve forgotten because we’ve automated a lot of the things that we thought we needed, we’ve forgotten how to connect with each other on that level. And so it’s really important. Those skills are always there. They’re natural. When somebody gives you a hug, you always feel good, pretty much. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t had a hug in 50 years.
1:10:37 PA: Right.
1:10:37 DR: It probably feels a whole lot better if you hadn’t had a hug in 50 years.
1:10:40 PA: I imagine.
1:10:40 PA: And so it’s important to nurture, recognize and not deny, but really truly nurture these parts of ourselves that are there for a reason, evolutionarily. And when we nurture them, what we find is that we tap into and awaken that opportunity to start to realize what we actually can be and who we can be as people.
1:11:01 PA: That’s a good way to end things. Dr. Dave Rabin, where can we find out more information about you…
1:11:05 DR: Umm…
1:11:06 PA: Websites?
1:11:07 DR: You can always go to my LinkedIn or you can go to… I’m on Twitter @DaveRabin. But if you wanna find out, the most exciting stuff about what we’re doing is on Apolloneuroscience.com or Apolloneuro.com. And you can also check out more information on the epigenetics study that we’re doing with MAPS at modernspirit.org. Modern Spirit is a not-for-profit organization and we collaborate with the multi-disciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, which is also not-for-profit, to raise money, to study these medicines for the good of humanity and to try to help people heal in new ways. And if anybody listening has ever fundraised or anything like this, it’s always difficult. So, we appreciate anything that you can do to help support this cause, as big or small, they are tax-deductible donations, and we do this to help support our understanding of how to use these medicines in better ways to heal ourselves and to heal the world, so we appreciate it.
1:12:00 PA: Great. Well, thanks for joining us, Dave. What a beautiful interview, what a beautiful day to do it.
1:12:04 DR: It is such a beautiful day.
1:12:05 PA: This has been a great conversation. I’ve really enjoyed this, Dave.
1:12:07 DR: Likewise. Thanks, Paul.