The Demonization of Psychodelic Drugs

Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychodelic Medicines

Directed by Oliver Hockenhull (2013)

Film Review

Neurons to Nirvana is about the detrimental effects of the War on Drugs on research into the medical and sociological benefits of hallucinogenic drugs.

Psychodelics have been used medicinally and in religious rituals for over 10,000 years. They’ve been used in nearly every culture except our own European culture. Psychodelic plants co-evolved with human beings to enhance our understanding and respect for the interconnectedness of the ecological system that supports our existence. Plants have important investment (to enhance their survival) in interacting with human beings via the chemicals they produce (see How Plants Control Us).

The filmmakers maintain that no brain theory will ever be complete without a complete examination of the the effect of psychodelic drugs. Yet it’s extremely difficult to undertake this type of research in the US or Britain, owing to their archaic drug laws.

Neurons to Nirvana argues the crackdown on psychedelic drugs in the sixties and seventies was motivated mainly by the political threat they pose. This relates in part due to their ability to break down barriers between ethnic groups and social classes and in part due to their ability to disrupt the “consensus trance” created by our constant bombardment with pro-government and pro-corporate propaganda.

The film also makes the point that legalizing psychodelics might be the only solution at this point to breaking through the zombieized mind set that’s destroying our plant. After viewing this documentary, I tend to agree with them.

The documentary divides specific therapeutic effects by drug category:


First discovered in 1943, LSD is the best study because psychiatrist used it in psychotherapy in the fifties and sixties. LSD research would lead to the identification of the neurotransmittser serotonin in 1948. Serotonin pathways play a major role in regulating the speed and scope of neural interconnections. LSD appears to counter the control Serotonin exerts over these interconnections.

With a dose of LSD, patients experience the ability to make new connections. Use in controlled therapeutic settings can enable patients to connect with repressed and suppressed memories and emotions. LSD users commonly report the realization that there is no “other”, ie that all people and things are interconnected.

Research reveals a single dose of LSD to be the most effective treatment for chronic alcoholism.*

Psilocybin (magic mushrooms)

Most psilocybin research has focused on its use in relieving pain and anxiety in terminal cancer patients. Single doses have also been useful in refractory depression.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

The DEA made ecstasy a Schedule 1 drug (effectively banning it) in 1985, despite a DEA administrative law judge’s recommendation that it be designated Schedule 3 (closely controlled but available by prescription). It’s an extremely effective as a rapidly acting, non-sedating, non-addicting anti-anxiety drug. Its best known therapeutic effect is as a catalyst for psychotherapy in veterans with treatment refractory PTSD.

Cannabis (marijuana)

Cannabis has a wide range of medical benefits and has been used to treat a variety of conditions for 4,000 years. Queen Victoria used it for period pain and the pain of childbirth. Senior citizens are the most rapidly growing demographic of marijuana users. They use it mainly to treat cancer, pain and nausea stemming from chemotherapy.

It contains more than 100 compounds with medial benefits, with cannabidiol the most widely studied.


Ayahuasca is a drug used for thousands of years in South American shamanic rituals. It’s primary medical use is in psychotherapy for trauma-related depression.

*Igobaine is another psychedelic effective in treating alcoholism, heroin addiction and PTSD. See Why Are We Sending Veterans to Costa Rica, Canada and Mexico

12 thoughts on “The Demonization of Psychodelic Drugs

  1. A great summary of how these psychedelics can help save peoples lives! The drug laws that the government uses to keep it out of the hands of scientists that could use it to help, are such outdated policies! If you want to read more about how LSD be used to heal others, you should have a look at our blog, here!



  2. I disagree that Psychedelics are not dangerous Scienice is for ever trying to find away to control the mind. in my own research I checked with university of British Columbia on there program to stop Compulsive gambling with funding they would not disclose Opietes used as pain killers are killing people. funny thing the drugs our own body produces are the wonder drugs.


    • Could you elaborate on that? In what way do you feel they’re dangerous? You mention opiates in your comment, which are a totally different class of drug. Opiates are quite dangerous in overdose, in addition to being addictive. Psychodelics are a totally different class of drug. They’re not addictive and it’s virtually impossible to kill yourself with them.


      • Dr maybe your right and i’m caught up demonization of LSD, i have no experience with drugs except Amitriptyline witch works for me. but looking back around 1965 my cousin was treated by MKULTRA Dr. in Weyburn Saskatchewan and she did commit sueaside I also had a friend that was committed to Essondale Mental hospital in BC, day after his release he skinned his Wife alive with a hunting knife I have no proof that LSD was involved but there are stories around that LSD is involved in murders.


        • You’re right, gerry, about the CIA grossly abusing people by administering LSD. I think people greatly reduce their life expectancy by having anything to do with the CIA. The issue for numerous doctors like me is these drugs can be literally life saving when used under medical supervision. It makes no sense to withhold beneficial treatments simply because the CIA has used various substances for nefarious purposes.


  3. The low intensity drug war in Mexico has claimed almost a thousand victims a month in the last decade or so. Half of the cartels income in from marijuana. I say that the President, JCOS, head of the DEA, etc., should pass around a blunt and “inhale deeply”. I think that they would soon make the right decision on legalization of pot.


  4. Pingback: The Demonization of Psychodelic Drugs, Film and Review | Talesfromthelou

  5. Pingback: The Demonization of Psychodelic Drugs | The Tree of Life Foundation Blog

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