Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Venoms are “heap big medicine” – be it BEE venom or scorpion venom and now the toad is helping out!
‘Toad Venom’ Psychedelic May Rapidly Improve Depression, Anxiety
Batya Swift Yasgur, MA, LSW
March 28, 2019
A little-known psychedelic drug may improve depression and anxiety when administered in a structured group setting, new research suggests.
Investigators studied over 350 adults who took 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) — a rapid-acting synthetic psychedelic derived from toad venom with short duration of psychedelic effects — in a group ceremonial environment.
Of the study participants, roughly 80% reported improvements in anxiety and depression, related to acute “mystical” effects during their experience, as well an increased sense of meaning and anticipated improvements in enduring well-being and life satisfaction.
“When administered in a naturalistic group setting, 5-MeO-DMT appears to be associated with spontaneous and unintended improvements in self-reported depression and anxiety,” lead author Alan Davis, PhD, CCDC, clinical psychologist and postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, told Medscape Medical News.
“Psychedelics continue to show promise for possibly helping with mental health problems; we should continue to study them, and 5-MeO-DMT may be a worthwhile drug to consider,” he said.
Emerging research is examining the “possible psychotherapeutic action of classic psychedelics as an adjunct to psychotherapy” for patients with depression and anxiety, the authors note.
Previous studies have shown psilocybin, a hallucinogenic chemical obtained from certain types of fresh and dried mushrooms, is effective in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression when administered as an adjunct to structured supportive psychotherapy.
One of the obstacles for wider use of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy is that drug administration sessions consist of a 7- to 10-hour day, with two therapist guides and a medical monitor, “which may be difficult to implement in traditional outpatient mental health settings,” the authors note.
For this reason, short-acting psychedelics may “warrant examination as potential therapeutics in order to overcome these barriers,” the investigators suggest.
5-MeO-DMT is a short-acting (60-90 minutes) tryptamine found in the venom and skin of Buffo alvarius toads (Colorado River toad), and can also be synthetically produced. The Colorado River toad is the largest native toad in the United States.
Previous epidemiological findings suggest that it is “infrequently” used for spiritual exploration and has a “safe profile of use and low potential for psychiatric or biomedical consequences, and might have psychotherapeutic effects,” the authors state
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