Mindfulness meditation enhances positive effects of psilocybin: study Options
#1 Posted : 12/1/2019 3:45:50 AM

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This may be pretty obvious to people, but thought it may be of interest to some people here all the same...the research suggests that psilocybin can enhance measures of mindfulness and psychosocial functioning at four month follow up post experience when administered at a five day mindfulness retreat, and that meditation itself enhances the psilocybin experience.

Smigielski, L. Kometer, M., Scheidegger, M., Krähenmann, R., Huber, T. & Vollenweider, F.X. (2019) Characterization and prediction of acute and sustained response to psychedelic psilocybin in a mindfulness group retreat. Scientific Reports, 9, 14914.

Full paper:


Meditation and psychedelics have played key roles in humankind’s search for self-transcendence and personal change. However, neither their possible synergistic effects, nor related state and trait predictors have been experimentally studied. To elucidate these issues, we administered double-blind the model psychedelic drug psilocybin (315 μg/kg PO) or placebo to meditators (n = 39) during a 5-day mindfulness group retreat. Psilocybin increased meditation depth and incidence of positively experienced self-dissolution along the perception-hallucination continuum, without concomitant anxiety. Openness, optimism, and emotional reappraisal were predictors of the acute response. Compared with placebo, psilocybin enhanced post-intervention mindfulness and produced larger positive changes in psychosocial functioning at a 4-month follow-up, which were corroborated by external ratings, and associated with magnitude of acute self-dissolution experience. Meditation seems to enhance psilocybin’s positive effects while counteracting possible dysphoric responses. These findings highlight the interactions between non-pharmacological and pharmacological factors, and the role of emotion/attention regulation in shaping the experiential quality of psychedelic states, as well as the experience of selflessness as a modulator of behavior and attitudes. A better comprehension of mechanisms underlying most beneficial psychedelic experiences may guide therapeutic interventions across numerous mental conditions in the form of psychedelic-assisted applications.


Mindfulness meditation enhances positive effects of psilocybin: study

Recent years have seen a renewed interest in the clinical application of classic psychedelics in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Researchers of the University of Zurich have now shown that mindfulness meditation can enhance the positive long-term effects of a single dose of psilocybin, which is found in certain mushrooms.

Hallucinogens such as LSD or psilocybin, the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," alter the perception of those who take them. The boundaries between the self and the world begin to dissolve and feelings of bliss and unity are triggered. Such experiences of self-transcendence and reduced self-focus are similar to those induced by mindfulness meditation. They can reduce stress, prompt feelings of enduring happiness and increase empathy and altruism. In contrast, exaggerated self-focus, recurring negative thoughts and emotions about oneself, and impaired social interactions are characteristic features of psychiatric disorders such as depression.

Enhanced experience of self-transcendence

Researchers at the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich have now, for the first time, examined the potential synergistic effects of combining mindfulness meditation and psilocybin. The scientists recruited 40 meditation experts who were taking part in a five-day mindfulness retreat. In the double-blind study, the participants were administered either a single dose of psilocybin or a placebo on the fourth day of the group retreat.

Using various psychometric and neurocognitive measurements, the researchers were able to show that mindfulness meditation increased the positive effects of psilocybin while counteracting possible dysphoric responses to the psychedelic experience. "Psilocybin markedly increased the incidence and intensity of self-transcendence virtually without inducing any anxiety compared to participants who received the placebo," says first author Lukasz Smigielski, who conducted the study directed by UZH professor of psychiatry Franz Vollenweider.

Sustained beneficial effects

At the four-month follow-up, the meditation experts who had been given psilocybin demonstrated more beneficial changes in psychosocial functioning, better self-acceptance and more empathy than the placebo control group. According to Vollenweider, the intensity of self-transcendence experienced during the retreat played a key role for these enduring changes. In a previously published study, he and his team used magnetic resonance imaging to show that experiences of self-transcendence result in lasting changes to neural connections in the brain, and more specifically in the regions that are active when we think about ourselves.

The research group found that besides meditation depth, the participants' openness and optimism were conducive to a positive response to psilocybin. "These factors can help us predict a positive response," says Vollenweider. At the same time, skills that are trained during mindfulness meditation, such as regulating attention and reappraising emotions, seem to buffer potential negative reactions to psilocybin.

Potential for treating affective disorders

"Our findings shed light on the interplay between pharmacological and extra-pharmacological factors in psychedelic states of mind," says Vollenweider. "They indicate that mindfulness training enhances the positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin, and can increase empathy and permanently reduce egocentricity. This opens up new therapeutic avenues, for example for the treatment of depression, which is often accompanied by increased self-focus and social deficits."

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#2 Posted : 12/1/2019 7:32:37 AM

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I remember when i started practicing mindfullness after a deep mushroom experience, and i often had the same feelings of awe and amazement that i experienced on that mushroom journey.

Particularly when being out in nature, i sometimes get realy euphoric when i manage to silence my thinking machinery for a while. It is the same kind of euphoria that i get on psychedelics.

A very deep sort of contentment with the world, that transcends my entire being. You know the feeling. Big grin
#3 Posted : 12/1/2019 8:49:54 PM

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Very interesting, thanks!

Can someone explain what this means: "315 μg/kg PO"? I mean, I assume they weren't doing microdosing, since the article mentions the psychedelic experience. In that case, a control group getting a placebo is a problematic thing - unless they come up with something really clever, most people will be able to tell whether they got psilocybin or not Big grin .

#4 Posted : 12/1/2019 10:09:13 PM


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315 micrograms per kilogram of body weight

So a 70 kg adult would get 70 * 315 = 22050 micograms, or about 22 mg of psilocybin.

When the John's Hopkins team did their study in experienced meditators, many of the subjects had very profound experiences and were convinced they got the psilocybin.

...Until they got the actual psilocybin. Shocked Laughing
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#5 Posted : 12/2/2019 11:07:59 PM

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Thanks for the info!

That's really fascinating to know. I mean, what you describe doesn't surprise me at all when I think about it. The mind is a crazy thing, and placebo (nocebo) effects can be so immensely powerful. Still fascinating that they actually believed it!

The whole thing reminds me about what I read concerning studies about meditation in general. It's important to have active control groups. Some of the effects observed in meditators were also present when active control groups did workouts, for example. But many were not! So it's good to know the difference.
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