AYAHUASCA - von der indigenen Medizin zum klinischen Prüfpräparat?

FORUM: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHEDELIC SCIENCE
Dr. Dr. med. Milan Scheidegger, MA HPK

Montag, 4. Dezember 2017, 18:15 - 19:45, Universität Zürich,
KOL-F-118

Ayahuasca ist eine Pflanzenzubereitung aus Amazonien, welche bisher in der indigenen Medizin traditionelle Anwendung fand. Neben zahlreichen anekdotischen Berichten sind in den letzten Monaten vermehrt Studien zu Ayahuasca veröffentlicht worden, die klinisch relevante positive Effekte bei der Behandlung von Depressionen, Angststörungen, Suchtdruck oder Traumafolgestörungen nahelegen. Ayahuasca enthält die psychotropen Wirkstoffe Dimethyltryptamin (DMT) und β-Carboline (MAO-Hemmer), welche rasch wirksame Effekte auf das Serotoninsystem zeigen und die Neuroplastizität fördern. Der therapeutische Einsatz dieser psychotroper Substanzen beruht dabei weniger auf einer längerdauernden pharmakologischen Substitution von Neurotransmittern als vielmehr auf der Veränderung von dysfunktionalen neuronalen Regelkreisen. Insofern könnte sich Ayahuasca als Adjuvans zur Psychotherapie in einer stärker transformationsorientierten Behandlungsstrategie als innovative Therapieoption erweisen.

Augmentation of psychotherapy with DMT, ayahuasca, psilocybin and ketamine

WPA World Congress of Psychiatry, Berlin 2017.
10.10.2017 | 08:15 – 09:45 | Hall A3

Beyond classical antidepressants: experimental psychopharmacological interventions to treat social and affective disorders


Only a few innovative psychopharmacological compounds have been developed by big pharmaceutical companies for patients with affective disorders in the recent decade. At the same time, a variety of promising compounds which do not act via monoaminergic neurotransmission are currently being investigated in academic settings. Thus, the aim of the present symposium is the discussion of chances, opportunities and challenges of such compounds. To do so, Franz Vollenweider will give an introduction about currently available psychoactive compounds and will illustrate their clinical, behavioural and neuronal effects using Psilocybin as an example. Afterwards, Simone Grimm will extend the topic by reporting about effects of Ketamine on emotional working memory as well as on functional and structural brain changes in patients with depression and healthy controls. Milan Scheidender will then demonstrate first experiences in the augmentation of psychotherapy with psychoactive compounds such as DMT, Ayahuasca, Psilocybin or Ketamine. Finally, Markus Heinrichs will give insights into his recent findings about differential effects of oxytocin in disorders with disturbed social interactions.

Augmentation of psychotherapy with DMT, ayahuasca, psilocybin and ketamine
Milan Scheidegger, MD, PhD, MA HPK

In the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research we are currently facing a paradigm shift in the understanding of consciousness and psychotherapeutic transformation. While the burden in mental health care is soaring to worldwide epidemic levels, there is an unmet clinical need to investigate novel approaches to combine pharmacology and psychotherapy, and shift the paradigm from pharmacological substitution to transformation-based therapy.

Recently, increased scientific interest in a class of rapid-acting psychoactive compounds (e.g. ketamine, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and dimethyltryptamine - DMT) targeting serotonergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission underscores their potential to facilitate rapid neurobehavioral change within this emerging new treatment paradigm. Rapid-acting serotonergic drugs exert their therapeutic potential by increasing synaptic plasticity and by acutely destabilizing local brain network hubs and global network connectivity, thus providing the occasion for resetting of neurocircuitries that underlie maladaptive behaviors.

In my talk, I will give an overview about how the subjective and clinical effects of psychedelics such as ketamine, psilocybin and ayahuasca can be explained from the perspective of contemporary neuroscience. In particular, advanced neuroimaging technologies provide exciting novel insights into the brain dynamics underlying pharmacologically induced altered states of consciousness. Through enhancing adaptive neuroplasticity, cognitive flexibility and psychological well-being, rapid acting psychoactive drugs may be a missing pharmacological key element towards integrative transformational healthcare.

AYAHUASCA: eine innovative Therapieoption?

SGPP KONGRESS | Freitag 15. September 2017
Dr. Dr. med. Milan Scheidegger, MA HPK

Kursaal Bern | VIVACE 5 | 11:15 – 12:30 Uhr

Ayahuasca ist eine Pflanzenzubereitung aus Amazonien, welche bisher in der indigenen Medizin traditionelle Anwendung fand. Neben zahlreichen anekdotischen Berichten sind in den letzten Monaten vermehrt Studien zu Ayahuasca veröffentlicht worden, die klinisch relevante positive Effekte bei der Behandlung von Angststörungen, Depressionen, Suchtdruck und psychosomatischen Symptomen nahelegen. Ayahuasca enthält die psychotropen Wirkstoffe Dimethyltryptamin (DMT) und β-Carboline (MAO-Hemmer), welche rasch wirksame Effekte auf das Serotoninsystem zeigen und die Neuroplastizität fördern. Der therapeutische Einsatz dieser psychotroper Substanzen beruht dabei weniger auf einer längerdauernden pharmakologischen Substitution von Neurotransmittern als vielmehr auf der Veränderung von dysfunktionalen neuronalen Regelkreisen. Insofern könnte sich Ayahuasca als Adjuvans zur Psychotherapie in einer stärker transformationsorientierten Behandlungsstrategie als innovative Therapieoption erweisen.

Psilocybin Enhances Mindfulness-Related Capabilities in a Meditation Retreat Setting: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled fMRI Study

Breaking Convention 2017, London, UK.
Milan Scheidegger, MD, PhD, MA HPK | Neuroscience Track | Saturday July 1st, 9:00 AM

Under supportive conditions, psychedelics induce transformational experiences that resemble states reached in deep meditation. Likewise, improvements in mindfulness-related capabilities may not only be enhanced by meditation but also through distinctive features of the psychedelic experience.

Here we present findings from an fMRI study with psilocybin in experienced meditators in a meditation retreat setting. We found that psilocybin-assisted meditation increased both self-reported meditation depth and post-retreat levels of mindfulness. Notably, psilocybin also changed functional brain connectivity in self-referential information processing networks that subserve the process of meditation.

We conclude that psilocybin has the potential to facilitate transformational experiences within a meditation retreat framework, which underscores the importance of set and setting to facilitate beneficial outcomes of psychedelic experiences. Through enhancing neuroplasticity, mindfulness-related capabilities and well-being, psilocybin may have promising therapeutic impact for transformational healthcare.

Transformational Psychotherapy: Converging roles of mindfulness and psychedelics for mental health care

DUP39.cz | Charvátova 39 | Prague, Czech Republic.
Wednesday May 31st, 2017, 19:00 - 21:30

SAPAS Conference | Psychiatrická nemocnica Philippa Pinela | Pezinok, Slovakia.
Friday June 2nd, 2017, 08:30 - 20:00 |
http://sapas.sk

In the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research we are currently facing a paradigm shift in the understanding of consciousness and psychotherapeutic transformation. As Freuds dream theory deepened the psychoanalytic understanding of the unconscious, psychedelics could nowadays serve as the via regia for the scientific exploration of the human mind. In particular, advanced neuroimaging technologies provide exciting novel insights into the brain dynamics underlying pharmacologically induced altered states of consciousness. Beyond that, psychedelics also raise profound philosophical and existential questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in the universe.


In my talk, I will give an overview about how the subjective and clinical effects of psychedelics such as ketamine, psilocybin and ayahuasca can be explained from the perspective of contemporary neuroscience. Next, I will discuss the potential of psychedelics to shift the paradigm from substitution to transformation-based psychotherapy. As both rapid-acting and sustainable catalysts, psychedelics offer new avenues for therapeutic transformation by targeting various levels of disconnection in modern societies and restoring the sense of connectedness to ourselves and our environment.

Finally, under supportive conditions, psychedelics can induce personally meaningful and profound mystical-type experiences that share a striking resemblance to states reached in very deep meditation. Indeed, our recent studies show that psilocybin has the potential to facilitate mindfulness in experienced meditators in a meditation retreat setting. This underscores the converging roles of psychedelics and mindfulness for integrative transformational healthcare.

Psilocybin Enhances Mindfulness-Related Capabilities in a Meditation Retreat Setting

Psychedelic Science Conference 2017, Oakland CA, USA.
Milan Scheidegger, MD, PhD, MA HPK | Interdisciplinary Track | Friday April 21st, 5:00 PM

Under supportive conditions, psychedelics can induce personally meaningful and profound psychospiritual experiences with a striking resemblance to mystical experiences reached in very deep meditation. Likewise, improvements in mindfulness-related capabilities may not only be enhanced by meditation practices but also through distinctive features of the psychedelic experience.

In order to investigate the neurobiology of expanded states of consciousness and the potential of psilocybin to facilitate mindfulness-related capabilities, we conducted a neuroimaging study with long-term meditators in a meditation retreat setting. We present findings about psilocybin-induced altered states of consciousness during meditation including self-reported meditation depth and post-retreat levels of mindfulness. In addition, we discuss psilocybin-related changes in functional brain connectivity as modulations of self-referential information processing networks that subserve the process of meditation.

We conclude that psilocybin has the potential to facilitate profound and personally meaningful experiences within a meditation retreat framework, which underscores the importance of set and setting and the conjunctive role of mindful stance to facilitate beneficial outcomes of psychedelic experiences. Through enhancing mindfulness-related capabilities and well-being, psilocybin may have promising therapeutic impact for integrative transformational healthcare.