Ketamine: A Legal, yet Overlooked Psychedelic

Is ketamine going to be Psychedelic Therapy’s opening act? At medium to large doses, Ketamine evokes colorful visions and mystical type experiences that have been linked to positive treatment outcomes. And—unlike other psychedelics—Ketamine has been readily available at clinics worldwide for 50 years.

Psychedelic effects of ketamine are dose dependent

Psilocybin and MDMA have gotten much attention for their potential efficacy in treating some of the most prevalent psychiatric conditions of our time, such as depression, trauma and anxiety disorders. Phase-3-studies are well underway, effect sizes look promising and therapists around the globe are being trained to bring this new and potentially groundbreaking treatment to the masses. However, clinical approval of psilocybin and MDMA might still be a long way ahead of us. In the meantime, some within the psychedelic community are looking to see whether ketamine may be able to fill the gap.

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We Are Back

We—Sapiensoup authors Nadine and Marlene—were taking a long break. Why? We had more babies! Not together obviously, each of us had one more.

Breaking for Maternity Leave Image Credit: Vivek Kumar

And while we do believe that Having a Baby Sucks at times, we love them so much that we made more. :heart: The break was good for us and our families. Now, we’re back. Stay tuned for new and fresh stories to be released here on Sapiensoup. The next series will be on Ketamine.

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Only small amounts of THC transfer into breast milk

Breastfeeding women have been strongly discouraged from consuming marijuana. This recommendation was primarily based on precaution, rather than data. Now, in April 2018, a new study has been released that provides the most concrete data on THC and breastfeeding in the history of cannabis research. As it turns out, only very small amounts of THC transfer into mothers’ breast milk.

Is marijuana safe during breastfeeding?

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A call for easy bitcoin units

Do you have a gut feeling for numbers denominated in bitcoin? I don’t. How much is a coffee? How much is a haircut? How much is a new phone? Obviously, these numbers change all the time with the price of bitcoin. But that’s only one part of what makes thinking in bitcoin so damn difficult.

Disclaimer: there are incredibly smart people working, thinking and writing about bitcoin. I’m not one of them. I’m just a regular user who wants a simple and convenient solution to this problem:

non-intuitive bitcoin denomination

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Broccoli and why it isn’t enough

In the first post of the sulforaphane series, we covered that consuming sulforaphane can lower inflammation. Now let’s talk about why eating tons of cooked broccoli may have zero effect.

Ok, so I told a white lie in the first post: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage don’t contain actual sulforaphane. What they do contain however is the precursor of sulphoraphane. It’s called glucoraphanin, and it accumulates in the vegetable’s florets and leaves. Only on consumption does it turn into sulforaphane. This requires the help of the enzyme myrosinase.

Myrosinase turns glucoraphanin into sulforaphane

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MDMA-assisted Therapy

Every day, 120 Americans commit suicide; 20 of them are war veterans. “I know without a doubt: MDMA saved my life.” said one war veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental condition which is hard to cure and may lead to further disorders such as anxiety, depression and addiction.

Can MDMA help veterans suffering from PTSD

More than 868,000 US war veterans suffer from PTSD and their families suffer with them. Living with a partner or parent with PTSD means living with their elevated levels of anger or irritability which are often paired with feelings of hopelessness, guilt or depression and all too frequently accompanied with substance abuse. At best, this poses a challenging family life, at worst it can lead to suicide. As dark as this situation may be, a new ray of hope is emerging from—of all things—MDMA: a substance currently deemed an illegal party drug. MDMA-assisted therapy has proven to be far more effective than any other PTSD treatment available today. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a roadmap to legalize the substance for medical use by 2021.

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Eat Your Broccoli

Do you remember when your mom said ‘Eat your broccoli!’? Do you remember how annoying that was? Well, she was right! And the reason is sulforaphane. Sulforaphane in broccoli can greatly reduce your cancer risk, detoxify your system, and even work towards reducing Alzheimer’s.

Sulforaphane protects against depression, cancer and Alzheimer's

It all comes down to the fact that inflammation eventually kills you and sulforaphane can help fight inflammation. No matter how healthy you try to live, you will have inflammation going on somewhere in your body—whether it’s a reaction to pollutants you breathed in, from sunlight, as a reaction to diet and even exercise, or simply aging—there is no way to escape inflammation. Mostly, our bodies do quite a good job of keeping everything under control but given the high exposure to the toxins of a modern world, it makes sense to support our bodies in fighting inflammation. Precisely that’s what sulforaphane does—and very effectively.

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Microdosing LSD: Smart Drug or Placebo?

Microdosing LSD promises to act like a mix of Adderall and Prozac but without the side effects. Sounds too good to be true; is it? Some swear by microdosing while others call it a placebo effect. We researched the scientific explanations why microdosing might actually work, the risks involved and evaluated the evidence as of today. Here is what we found.

Biohackers love microdosing

Microdosing gained currency in Silicon Valley in late 2015 and is spreading like wildfire across the rest of the world. Software developers microdose to enhance their problem-solving capabilities. Biohackers microdose to boost their productivity. People with mood disorders microdose to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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Psychedelics and Mental Health

“When you take psilocybin, it’s like taking onboard your own psychotherapist.” said a study participant about his psychedelic experience. A widespread belief about psychedelic drugs is that they can turn users mentally ill; what the data shows, however, is that psychedelics can achieve quite the opposite effect: they afford patients a relief of symptoms. Indeed, a growing body of evidence supports that psychedelic drugs may be extraordinarily effective in treating mood disorder and addiction.

Psychedelics effective in mental disorders

Depression. Anxiety. Addiction. Most everyone of us knows somebody who is battling such a condition. Talk therapies may help, but sometimes they don’t. Antidepressants may help, but sometimes they don’t. Some patients are of the opinion that antidepressants are like “Band-Aids” in the way that they never really tackle the underlying issues of their problems.

I haven’t yet heard psychedelics getting described as “Band-Aids”. What I have heard from users is that psychedelics do something like the opposite: they confront you with your greatest vulnerabilities and help you come to peace with them.

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Your Brain on Psychedelic Drugs

“During my LSD sessions, I would learn a great deal” said Cary Grant about the 100 acid trips he dropped in the search of his true self. “And the result was a rebirth. I finally got where I wanted to go”. Steve Jobs described taking LSD as “a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life”. How is it that we never hear such grand endorsements about heroin, alcohol or cigarettes? What is it about psychedelics that has the power to change lives for the better? The answer might lie in the unique ways that psychedelics interact with the brain. In this post we’ll go deep on the molecular level—in a fun way.

Self-Reflected by Greg A. DunnThis and more stunning artwork is available on

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The Psychedelic Experience

For someone who has never taken a psychedelic drug it can be difficult to imagine what it’s like. You’ve probably heard of melting walls, tasting colors or kaleidoscopic vision. Such pronounced hallucinations are typically the outcome of high doses of LSD or psilocybin. In moderate doses, however, the effects are more subtle. Colors appear more vivid and patterns may morph slightly, but users usually don’t see things that aren’t actually there.

On TV and in movies, psychedelic experiences are often misrepresented or exaggerated. Looking for more realistic examples of common dose effects I found this photo depicting what someone might see while looking at an otherwise normal patch of grass.

Hallucinogenic vision example Hallucinogenic vision by Chelsea Morgan

It’s still grass, but the colors are amplified and the individual blades of grass seem to compose geometric shapes, maybe you can even detect objects or faces.

The higher the dose, the more intense the hallucinations. The following image demonstrates a visual experience one may get from a slightly higher dose of LSD:

Visual acuity enhancement by StingrayZ

In any case, visual effects are just one aspect of the psychedelic experience. Psychedelic drugs create an altered state of consciousness that I like to describe as interpreting reality in a different way. Others have described it as seeing the world through the unbiased eyes of a child. But if you ask ten other people, you’ll get ten other answers. So, let’s hold the subjective descriptions aside for a moment and look at a quantified model of altered states of consciousness.

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Eat yourself happy

The neurotransmitter serotonin is deeply involved in regulating mood and anxiety. If your brain is low on serotonin, you might feel depressed or irritable. So, what can you do to keep up a steady supply of serotonin? Step number one: eat right.

nutrients in food influence happiness through serotonin in brain

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Psychedelic Drugs and the Serotonergic System

Most of us know someone who has taken antidepressants. But psychedelic drugs? Not so much. Many people believe they are illegitimate and dangerous. You might be surprised to hear that psychedelic drugs like MDMA and LSD have a lot in common with antidepressants. They both work with the same neurotransmitter in the brain: serotonin.

And indeed, antidepressants and psychedelic drugs promise to heal similar mental illnesses and can also have similar side effects. Do you know how they work in the brain? No? Good! That’s exactly what this article is about. Before we can talk about your brain on these drugs, though, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the brain and its serotonergic system. Don’t worry, it’s super fascinating stuff, and easy as 1-2-3:

You can't understand psychedelic drugs and antidepressants without understanding the serotonergic system in the brain first

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Medical benefits of psychedelic drugs

“Psychedelic drugs are poised to be the next major breakthrough in mental health care” writes Scientific American. Dropping acid to treat depression—seriously…?!

Psychedelic drugs proven effective against mental disorders like depression

Psychedelic drugs can seem pretty scary at first. At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard stories about LSD causing schizophrenia, triggering flashbacks, or even making people jump out of windows because they think they can fly.

Some of these stories contain a kernel of truth, while others are simply urban legends. I’ll go into detail about these concerns in later posts—including what the latest scientific research tells us about them.

But for now, try to set aside any horror stories you may have heard. A large and growing body of evidence supports that psychedelic drugs have an acceptable risk-benefit ratio and are worth a closer look.

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Kalbfreundliche Milch aus Österreich

Was Milchproduzenten verschweigen: Kälber werden nach der Geburt von der Mutterkuh getrennt.

Egal ob Biobauernhof oder konventionelle Viehhaltung: Kälber von Milchkühen werden innerhalb der ersten Lebenswoche von ihrer Mutter getrennt, häufig innerhalb weniger Stunden nach der Geburt.

Kühe haben enge Beziehung zu ihrem Kalb

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Having a baby sucks

I’m dead serious—you’re signing up for two years of misery. And nobody is talking about it. Here is my story.

baby doesn't stop crying

Having a baby is worse than the death of your spouse?

Imagine your spouse or partner, the most important person in the world died. Horrible, right? Well, according to a 2015 study having a baby is worse. In numbers, it’s 50 percent worse than the death of your partner or being unemployed. The birth of your first child is almost three times as bad as a divorce.

relative loss of happiness after child birth, unemployment, divorce of death of partner

There you have it: Having a baby sucks.

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The Skeptic's Guide to Embracing Homeopathy

You know homeopathy is bogus; but your child doesn’t! The Power of Placebo: How you and your family can get a great deal out of homeopathy without actually believing in it.

argument if homeopathy works

My mom and I have had this conversation a gazillion times. Then, last Christmas, we got into a full-blown fight.

fight about efficacy of homeopathy

Study after study shows, that homeopathy has no effect beyond placebo. Same is true for acupuncture, cupping and some other types of so called complementary medicine. The placebo effect however is powerful and worth further investigation.

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Deodorants Don't Cause Breast Cancer

Many people believe that antiperspirants cause breast cancer, especially if applied after shaving. Here is why you can happily use your antiperspirant and why you might want to throw it out anyway.

does aluminum cause cancer

I have tried very hard to stay away from antiperspirants for the last few years because someone told me that the aluminum in them causes breast cancer. Back then, I googled this claim and found plenty of posts agreeing with this statement and thus believed it. It was pretty difficult to make the switch from antiperspirants to deodorants at the beginning, but I’ve simply gotten used to it 5 years down the line, although for eventful/stressful occasions I still bring out my very effective bottle of antiperspirant. I decided it was time to investigate sweating, deodorants and antiperspirants and whether there was any truth to this lifestyle change. Turns out, there isn’t much. But there’s a lot we should all be aware of.

Why we sweat at all
How deodorants and antiperspirants work
Can aluminum in antiperspirants cause cancer?
Brand-new approach to odors

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Cannabis and Breastfeeding. The Facts.

How much THC makes it into breast milk? Can it get a baby “high”? What are the long-term effects on the child?

Update: also check out our latest post on this topic: Only small amounts of THC transfer into breast milk, that includes most recent scientific findings from April, 2018.

I nursed my daughter for almost two years. You bet, I had a glass of wine from time to time. I knew how long it would take my body to clear the alcohol so that—after a couple of hours—I could feed again without exposing my child to any risk. But with cannabis, nursing mothers are pretty much groping in the dark.

With cannabis, nursing mothers are pretty much groping in the dark.

Marijuana is legal in half of the States in the US and legal-ish in 16 other countries around the world. And mothers out there are wondering under which circumstances medical or recreational cannabis use is safe while breastfeeding.

The official guideline is that breastfeeding women should not use cannabis. This is because not enough is known about the topic to state “safe amounts” to mothers. I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so I kept on digging. Here, I’ll present an overview of the scientific facts, so that you can make up your own mind.

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Human Metabolism of THC

It’s widely-known that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in cannabis and the reason people experience a psychological high. Less widely-known, however, is what happens to THC in the body and how that impacts the psychological high.


This post presents a summary of scientific research on the human metabolism of THC—visualized and explained in simple language.

Originally, my goal was to write on the effect of cannabis in breast milk (update: which I now did) but as I got deeper into the subject matter I became fascinated with the metabolic pathway of THC and what that means for its psychological effect. I learned why—also on a molecular level—cannabis turns into a different kind of drug when it is eaten vs. smoked, why it has such a long half-life in the body and how inhalation technique greatly impacts bioavailability. I spent two months reading my way through scientific papers not freely available to the public, analyzing original data and making sense of it all. The majority of sources for this post are from scientific journals and occasionally from Wikipedia for definition purposes.

I was surprised that I couldn’t find any infographics on the subject. So after collecting all this data, I decided to create an infographic myself that sums up the human metabolism of THC. Enjoy and feel free to share it. I encourage you however, to read the post as well, since it contains additional information that goes beyond the infographic.

To understand the pathway of THC in the human body, you must first understand what THC does when it hits your body. You might find the biochemistry part at the beginning challenging. I certainly did when I started applying myself to the topic. Believe me, it’s worth it—I promise the reading gets easier and incredibly interesting further on.

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What Zika is and how to avoid it

Why should we care about Zika? News of the Zika virus is all around, but how dangerous is it really? And is Zika relevant for people who are not intending to have kids? Here’s my four-part journey on what we actually know and don’t know about the Zika virus to date.

Part 1: What is Zika and why is it in the news?
Part 2: What diseases does Zika cause? How do I know if I have Zika?
Part 3: How do I avoid getting Zika?
Part 4: What’s the future of the Zika virus?

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Sind Bio-Kühe glücklich?

Ich esse gerne Rindfleisch. Bilder von industrieller Tierhaltung fahren mir aber durch Mark und Bein. Deswegen verbringe ich gefühlte Stunden vor dem Kühlregal im Supermarkt und vergleiche Etiketten auf Frischfleisch.

Wenn ich im Schnitt 70% mehr Geld für Bio-Rindfleisch ausgebe, möchte ich zwei Dinge wissen: erstens, auf welche Bio-Siegel kann ich mich verlassen? Und zweitens, ist eine Bio-Kuh auch wirklich glücklich?

Bio Logos Österreich

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