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    The Future Of Mental Health: Psychedelic Medicine For Depression, Addiction, Trauma, And More with Dr. Pamela Kryskow

    Prioritizing healing and connection in mental health and substance abuse, with a hope for more mindful and diverse approaches in healthcare systems, aiming to unite people and bridge societal divides.

    enNovember 15, 2023

    About this Episode

    This episode is brought to you by Rupa Health, ButcherBox, Joovv, and ARMRA.


    Mental health problems are the number one driver of indirect healthcare costs, loss of productivity, and diminished quality of life. Yet, we aren’t very successful at treating them with modern medicine. 


    Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I am excited to talk to Dr. Pamela Kryskow about the renaissance of psychedelic medicine and how these compounds are finally being recognized as powerful tools for overcoming hard-to-treat health issues like PTSD, depression, addiction, and more. 

     

    Dr. Pamela Kryskow is a medical doctor and the medical lead of the non-profit Roots To Thrive Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Programs, which treats people with PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance use challenges, and with end-of-life distress. She is a founding board member of the Psychedelic Association of Canada and the medical chair of the Vancouver Island University Post Graduate Certificate in Psychedelic Medicine-assisted Therapy. Her ongoing research includes psilocybin, MDMA, ketamine, microdosing, front-line healthcare workers, and first responder's mental wellness. Prior to studying medicine, she was a City of Coquitlam Firefighter for eight years and a provincial forestry firefighter for four seasons. 


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    Here are more details from our interview (audio version / Apple Subscriber version):

    • The history and resurgence of psychedelic medicine (8:36 / 6:44)
    • Effectiveness and cost savings of psychedelic therapy (10:00 / 8:07)
    • Psilocybin and depression treatment (12:48 / 10:55)
    • How psychedelics work in the brain (18:34 / 16:40)
    • Pamela’s real-world experience providing psychedelic therapy (28:43 / 24:28)
    • Microdosing psychedelics (43:40 / 39:25)
    • Government regulation of psychedelic medicine in Canada (53:11 / 48:56)
    • The future of psychedelic medicine (1:00:51 / 56:37)


    Learn more at rootstothrive.com.



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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • The use of psychedelic medicine offers a groundbreaking approach to treating mental illness by addressing the root causes of trauma, providing hope for those resistant to traditional methods.
    • Psychedelic medicines like LSD and Psilocybin are showing promise in treating various mental health disorders, with high success rates that could lead to significant cost savings for society.
    • Psychedelics like psilocybin, ketamine, and MDMA show promise in treating depression, anxiety, and substance use by addressing root causes rather than just alleviating symptoms, offering hope and connection to those suffering.
    • Psychedelic medicines have the ability to heal our brains by calming our fear center and activating rational thinking, leading to new ways of knowing and improved neuroplasticity.
    • The Roots to Thrive program in Canada utilizes a structured process, including intake, consent, and preparation, combining indigenous and Western approaches to provide a transformative and healing experience for patients.
    • Combining psychedelic medicine with group therapy offers a transformative and effective solution for treating PTSD and improving the quality of life in individuals with end-of-life diagnoses, achieving higher success rates in shorter periods.
    • Psychedelic medicine shows promise in relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety, contributing to improved survival rates in patients with conditions like cancer, and aiding in the reduction of trauma-related symptoms in healthcare and first responder professions.
    • Microdosing shows promise in improving mental health, neurological conditions, and potentially preventing degenerative disorders. Community-based studies suggest positive mood changes, reduced depression and anxiety, and improved reaction time.
    • Microdosing with substances like psilocybin mushrooms shows promise in improving mental health conditions, offering individuals with traditionally difficult-to-treat disorders a chance for improved well-being and more control over their own treatment.
    • Legalization and regulation of psychedelics in Canada can enhance accessibility and safety, creating a more equitable system for accessing high-quality therapy while combating stigma.
    • Prioritizing healing and connection in mental health and substance abuse, with a hope for more mindful and diverse approaches in healthcare systems, aiming to unite people and bridge societal divides.
    • Through psychedelic experiences and therapies, we can tap into ancient practices to heal at a profound level. Despite our differences, we are more alike than we realize, and together we can pave the way for expanded accessibility and a collective journey towards healing and transformation.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Revolutionizing Mental Health Treatment Through Psychedelic Medicine.

    Traditional psychiatry has been largely ineffective in treating mental illness, leading to increasing rates of depression, addiction, anxiety, and PTSD. The focus on talk therapy and psychiatric medication has only provided limited relief for some patients. However, there is a growing paradigm shift in the field of psychiatric medicine towards addressing the root causes of trauma rather than just managing symptoms. This includes the use of psychedelic medicine, such as psilocybin, ketamine, and MDMA, which have shown promising results in treating treatment-resistant mental health issues. This revolutionary approach aims to help individuals understand and deal with their traumas, offering a path to freedom from psychiatric diseases. The work of pioneers like Dr. G Mate has played a significant role in challenging the traditional views and opening doors to new pathways of healing.

    The resurgence of psychedelic medicines in modern medicine.

    Psychedelic medicines, such as LSD and Psilocybin, are making a comeback in the field of medicine. These medicines were historically used successfully for alcoholism, substance use, and treatment-resistant depression. However, the war on drugs halted their use. In recent years, certain researchers and their trials have paved the way for the reintroduction of these medicines. Psilocybin has shown promise in treating disorders like depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and tobacco cessation. Compared to traditional treatments, the success rates of psilocybin therapy are considerably higher, with some studies indicating a 70% success rate even years later. This offers hope for individuals suffering from mental health issues and could potentially save society billions of dollars in indirect costs associated with chronic diseases and mental illnesses.

    Exploring the Potential of Psychedelics in Mental Health Treatment

    Traditional medications like SSRIs and SNRIs work well for some people but not for everyone. This is where psychedelics like psilocybin, ketamine, and MDMA come into play. These substances have shown promise in treating not just depression, but also anxiety, substance use, and other self-soothing behaviors. However, it's important to note that most clinical trials have been conducted using synthetic psilocybin, and not the whole mushroom. The results from studies using the whole mushroom could differ significantly. What's exciting is that these treatments are addressing the root causes of mental health issues, such as trauma and feelings of inadequacy, rather than just alleviating symptoms. They have the potential to provide a profound sense of connection, dissolve feelings of separateness, and offer hope and meaning to those suffering from depression and other conditions.

    The Healing Power of Psychedelic Medicines

    These psychedelic medicines, such as LSD, psilocybin, ketamine, and MDMA, have the potential to heal our brains and create new pathways for understanding and interpreting the world. They work by calming down the amygdala, our fear center, and activating the prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for rational thinking. They also help connect different parts of our brains that don't normally communicate, leading to new ways of knowing and neuroplasticity. The specific mechanisms of action vary, with theories including receptor binding, neurotransmitter release, and neurogenesis. Ultimately, these medicines offer a promising alternative to simply treating symptoms, allowing us to heal and transform our brains for a healthier and more fulfilled life.

    Indigenous and Western Approaches Combine for Transformative Psychedelic Therapy Program in Canada

    The Roots to Thrive program, created by a group of healthcare providers in Canada, combines the best of indigenous and Western approaches to create a powerful container for psychedelic therapy. This nonprofit organization utilizes a rigorous and structured process that includes detailed intake, consent, and preparation. The program runs over eight to 12 weeks and involves the use of Psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine, with exemptions obtained from Health Canada. The therapy team consists of interdisciplinary professionals who work collaboratively in a non-hierarchical manner to serve the patients. The program emphasizes the importance of community, connection, and unconditional positive regard, providing a safe space for participants to show up as their full selves. Moreover, the virtual bonding that occurs prior to the on-site psychedelic sessions is surprising and impactful, making participants feel like family and friends, even though they have only known each other for a short time. Together, all these elements contribute to a transformative and healing experience for patients.

    Psychedelic Medicine and Group Therapy: A Revolutionary Approach to PTSD and End-of-Life Diagnoses

    The use of psychedelic medicines, combined with a group therapy model, can significantly improve the resolution of PTSD and provide transformative experiences for those facing end-of-life diagnoses. Traditional psychiatric care often only achieves 30-40% resolution over many years, while the combination of psychedelic medicine and group therapy has shown success rates of up to 92% in just 12 weeks. This approach allows participants to connect, share their stories, and hold each other accountable, creating a healing community. Additionally, the use of psychedelic medicines has shown promising results in improving the quality of life for individuals facing end-of-life diagnoses, allowing them to live more fully even in their final stages.

    The Potential of Psychedelic Medicine in Mental Health Treatment and Beyond

    Psychedelic medicine shows promise in relieving symptoms of depression, anxiety, and existential stress. Patients who have undergone psilocybin or ketamine-assisted therapy have reported a lifting of depression and anxiety, allowing their bodies to move forward in other biological processes without the burden of inflammation caused by these mental health conditions. The long-term effects of psychedelic medicine are still being studied, but there is evidence to suggest that it may contribute to improved survival rates in patients with conditions such as cancer. Additionally, the use of psychedelics in healthcare and first responder professions has shown promising results, aiding in the reduction of trauma-related nightmares and hyper-vigilance. Exploring the potential of psychedelic therapies before entering these professions could help individuals develop resilience and a healthier mindset.

    Exploring the Potential of Microdosing: Promising Results and Personalized Therapy

    Microdosing, although still in need of further clinical trials for confirmation, shows promising results in various areas such as mental health, neurological conditions, and even as a potential preventive treatment for degenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Through a community-based study with over 25,000 participants, researchers have been able to track the behaviors, habits, and outcomes of microdosing using an app. The data collected so far suggests that microdosing can lead to positive mood changes, reduced depression and anxiety, improved reaction time, and potential benefits for neurological conditions. Microdosing may offer a personalized and intermittent therapy approach for individuals seeking alternative treatments for a range of ailments and conditions.

    The Potential Benefits of Microdosing with Psilocybin for Mental Health

    Microdosing with substances like psilocybin mushrooms may have a positive impact on mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Observational scientists have noticed that individuals who engage in microdosing report improvements in their mood and well-being. This is especially intriguing as some of these individuals have conditions that are traditionally difficult to treat, such as cerebellar ataxia. Additionally, microdosing has allowed people to have more agency in their own treatment, as they can adjust their dosage as needed. While more research is needed, there is growing interest and support for the therapeutic use of substances like psilocybin in Canada, with medical professionals and researchers exploring its potential benefits.

    Decriminalization of Psychedelic Substances in Canada: Improving Access and Ensuring Safety

    Psilocybin and MDMA have been decriminalized in certain cities in Canada, allowing for greater accessibility. However, there are limitations in terms of medical professionals being able to provide these substances to patients. The debate revolves around ensuring safety and proper guidance for individuals who want to explore these medicines. Legalization and regulatory measures could help establish quality standards and appropriate therapeutic settings. The current two-tiered system, where those with more resources can access controlled environments while others may obtain substances of uncertain quality, is not ideal. Ultimately, the goal is to provide high-quality therapy and give individuals the right to their own consciousness, while addressing the long-standing stigma surrounding these substances.

    Recognizing Trauma, Connection, and Love in Mental Health and Substance Abuse

    There is a growing recognition of the importance of trauma, connection, and love in mental health and substance abuse issues. The conversation highlights the need for healing and a desire to feel better and more connected. It is hoped that in the future, healthcare systems in Canada and the United States will lead the way in adopting more mindful and thoughtful approaches to psychiatric medicine, learning from and improving upon each other's efforts. There will likely be a range of options available, from pharmaceutical interventions to ceremonies or spiritual practices, allowing individuals to choose the approach that suits them best. The aim is to create a circle of availability and provide diverse avenues for healing. Ultimately, the key is to bring people together and bridge the divides that currently exist in society.

    Healing and Connection: Coming Together for Transformation

    Healing and connection can only happen when we come together as a collective. Despite our differences, we are more alike than we realize, and our disagreements are often trivial in the grand scheme of things. Through psychedelic experiences and therapies, we have the opportunity to heal at a profound level, tapping into ancient practices that have been used by indigenous cultures for centuries. It is a return to ourselves, a rediscovery of the healing power that has always been within us. While accessibility to these therapies may be limited at the moment, there is hope for future approval and expanded availability. Ultimately, it is a team effort, with each individual playing a vital role in the journey towards healing and transformation.

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