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  1. enquirewithin
    <DIV =storyCap>
    <DIV =pgTitle><A =skiplinks name=content></A>
    <H1 =lg>Peyote Won't Rot Your Brain </H1>By Randy Dotinga</DIV></DIV>
    02:00 AM Nov. 04, 2005 PT
    <DIV =storyTxt>


    In the first study of its kind, researchers have found that peyote -- for now, the only legal hallucinogenic drug in the United States -- doesn't rob regular users of brain power over time.


    While the findings don't directly indicate anything about the safety of psychedelic drugs like LSD and mushrooms, they do suggest that at least one hallucinogen is OK to use for months or even years.
    <DIV =adMsg>"We really weren't able to find any (mental) deficits," said Dr. John Halpern, associate director of substance abuse research at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and co-author of the study, released today in the Nov. 4 issue of the journal <CITE>Biological Psychiatry</CITE>. Hallucinogenic drugs have long fascinated researchers, who are now studying whether they hold the potential to treat mental illnesses like depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. </DIV>


    But little is known about the long-term effects of hallucinogenic use. Part of the problem is that many users -- such as LSD aficionados -- take a variety of other drugs, so it's hard to tease out the specific effects of psychedelic drugs.


    Enter peyote, currently the only hallucinogenic drug legally allowed for use outside research labs (although that may change). Compared with LSD and mushrooms, peyote is a bit obscure, with its use -- at least legally -- limited to the sacramental rites of the Native American Church, which has as many as 300,000 members. Many peyote users don't take other drugs, making them ideal subjects for hallucinogenic research.


    Peyote comes from the crowns of a cactus that grows in northern Mexico and parts of Texas. Harvesters cut off the crown, dry it and sell it in "buttons," Halpern said. Generally, users eat the buttons whole or grind them up into a powder that can be mixed into food or brewed into a tea.


    When enough peyote is eaten, users enter a hallucinogenic state thanks to its active ingredient, the chemical mescaline. Halpern and colleagues recruited three groups of Navajos -- 61 members of the Native American Church who regularly ate peyote, 36 alcoholics who have been dry for at least two months and 79 people who reported little or no use of alcohol or drugs. The researchers then gave mental-health and cognitive tests to the subjects.


    Only the alcoholics showed signs of brain problems. On the psychological front, Native American peyote users were actually in better shape emotionally than those who didn't use the drug.


    Why? For one thing, the church provides plenty of emotional support to members, said Dennis J. McKenna, senior lecturer at the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing. For another, Native American users are careful about how they use peyote. "The context of the use is a really important thing," McKenna said. "Most people using mushrooms or LSD in a recreational way don't really have a context for this type of use," such as an emphasis on setting, à la psychedelic guru Timothy Leary.


    By contrast, both alcohol and marijuana are considered bad for the brain if overused. Although there's still plenty of debate, some research suggests heavy pot use can harm memory for days after the last toke. And, of course, there's the anecdotal evidence of brain damage from everyone who's known a Jeff Spicoli-type stoner.


    Marijuana damage seems to be temporary, while alcohol-related damage appears to be more permanent, said study co-author Dr. Harrison Pope Jr., director of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory at McLean Hospital. The jury's still out, he said, on what damage LSD does to the brain, if any, and for how long.


    Both researchers cautioned that the peyote findings shouldn't make anyone think LSD and mushrooms are safe.


    The drugs are chemically different and appear to work differently too. Neither Pope nor Halpern, for example, has ever heard of a peyote user having a flashback. Even a person with memory impairment would likely remember that. </DIV>

Comments

  1. polloloco001
    excellent. although i already knew this, maybe some retards who didnt
    will catch on now. too bad factual evidence doesnt play a role in drug
    scheduling though.
  2. transit
    The most important part of this is not so much the findings
    of the study, but the fact that they are being presented in the so-called mainstream
    media. </span>Just did a search on google news
    and found 187 different links to versions of this story. </span>
  3. enquirewithin
    The Najavo knew it too, but they were pleased with the results too.



    I've Googled the story as well. You cant't read the whole article which was the source, but this is an extract:



    Prepublication Article Abstract</span>
    from </span>Biological Psychiatry</span>





    Psychological and Cognitive Effects of Long-Term Peyote Use Among Native Americans</span>





    John H. Halpern, Andrea R. Sherwood, James I. Hudson, Deborah Yurgelun-Todd and Harrison G. Pope, Jr.


    Accepted 06/30/2005





    Abstract


    Background: Hallucinogens are widely used, both by drug abusers and by
    peoples of traditional cultures who ingest these substances for
    religious or healing purposes. However, the long-term residual
    psychological and cognitive effects of hallucinogens remain poorly
    understood.




    Methods: We recruited three groups of Navajo Native Americans, age
    18-45: 1) 61 Native American Church members who regularly ingested
    peyote, a hallucinogen-containing cactus; 2) 36 individuals with past
    alcohol dependence, but currently sober at least 2 months; and 3) 79
    individuals reporting minimal use of peyote, alcohol, or other
    substances. We administered a screening interview, the Rand Mental
    Health Inventory (RMHI), and ten standard neuropsychological tests of
    memory and attentional/executive functions.




    Results: Compared to Navajos with minimal substance use, the peyote
    group showed no significant deficits on the RMHI or any
    neuropsychological measures, whereas the former alcoholic group showed
    significant deficits (p&lt;0.05) on every scale of the RMHI and on two
    neuropsychological measures. Within the peyote group, total lifetime
    peyote use was not significantly associated with neuropsychological
    performance.




    Conclusions: We found no evidence of psychological or cognitive
    deficits among Native Americans using peyote regularly in a religious
    setting. It should be recognized, however, that these findings may not
    generalize to illicit hallucinogen users.</span>
  4. mopsie
    Study: Sacred peyote use safe



    November 8, 2005


    BOSTON - A study of the effects of peyote on American Indians found no evidence that the hallucinogenic cactus caused brain damage or psychological problems among people who used it frequently in religious ceremonies.

    In fact, researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found that members of the Native American Church performed better on some psychological tests than other Navajos who did not regularly use peyote.
    A 1994 federal law allows roughly 300,000 members of the Native American Church to use peyote as a religious sacrament. The five-year study set out to find scientific proof for the Navajos' belief that the substance, which contains the hallucinogen mescaline, is not hazardous to their health even when used frequently.

    The study was conducted among Navajos in the Southwest by McLean psychiatrist John Halpern. It compared test results for 60 church members who have used peyote at least 100 times against those for 79 Navajos who do not regularly use peyote and 36 tribe members with a history of alcohol abuse but minimal peyote use.

    Those who had abused alcohol fared worse on the tests than the church members, according to the study.

    Church members believe peyote offers them spiritual and physical healing, but researchers could not say with certainty that peyote's pharmacological effects were responsible for their test results.

    "It's hard to know how much of it is the sense of community they get [from the religion] and how much of it is the actual experience of using the medication itself," said Harrison Pope, the study's senior author and director of the biological psychology laboratory at the hospital near Boston.

    The researchers argue that their findings should offer "reassurance" to the 10,000 Native American Church members serving in the military who were barred from using peyote before new guidelines were adopted in 1997.

    "We find no evidence that a history of peyote use would compromise the psychological or cognitive abilities of these individuals," the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the Nov. 4 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

    They note their study draws a clear distinction between illicit and religious use of peyote. They did not rule out the possibility that other hallucinogens, such as LSD, may be harmful.

    "In comparison to LSD, mescaline is described as more sensual and perceptual and less altering of thought and sense of self," they wrote, adding that peyote does not seem to produce "flashbacks" the same way that LSD apparently does.

    The project was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An institute spokeswoman would not comment on the study.

    Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor who was not involved in the research, said the study lends scientific weight to a long-held belief that peyote is not harmful. </DIV>
    <DIV id=text></DIV>
  5. Cretination
    Yeah, I have been waiting for this study to come out. Still
    nothing too significant though, we need to know more about mescaline's
    pharmacology and exactly how it can increase performance on
    "psychological tests."
  6. jaguarangel
    It is interesting that the Huichol indians of Mexico start taking the medicine as small children and live there lives with no harmful effects from the sacrament. San Pedro also has this reputation.
  7. RealGanjaMan
    Religious peyote use causes no damage

    Religious peyote use causes no damage

    -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

    BOSTON - A study of the effects of peyote
    on American Indians found no evidence that the hallucinogenic cactus caused brain damage or psychological problems among people who used it frequently in religious ceremonies.

    In fact, researchers from Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found that members of the Native American Church performed better on some psychological tests than other Navajos who did not regularly use peyote.

    A 1994 federal law allows roughly 300,000 members of the Native American Church to use peyote as a religious sacrament. The five-year study set out to find scientific proof for the Navajos’ belief that the substance, which contains the hallucinogen mescaline, is not hazardous to their health even when used frequently.

    The study was conducted among Navajos in the Southwest by McLean psychiatrist John Halpern. It compared test results for 60 church members who have used peyote at least 100 times against those for 79 Navajos who do not regularly use peyote and 36 tribe members with a history of alcohol abuse but minimal peyote use.

    Those who had abused alcohol fared worse on the tests than the church members, according to the study.

    Church members believe peyote offers them spiritual and physical healing, but the researchers could not say with any certainty that peyote’s pharmacological effects were responsible for their test results.

    “It’s hard to know how much of it is the sense of community they get (from the religion) and how much of it is the actual experience of using the medication itself,” said Harrison Pope, the study’s senior author and director of the biological psychology laboratory at the hospital near Boston.

    ‘Reassurance’ for religious users
    The researchers argue that their findings should offer “reassurance” to the 10,000 Native American Church members serving in the military who were barred from using peyote before new guidelines were adopted in 1997.

    “We find no evidence that a history of peyote use would compromise the psychological or cognitive abilities of these individuals,” they wrote in their paper published in the Nov. 4 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

    The researchers note that their study draws a clear distinction between illicit and religious use of peyote. They did not rule out the possibility that other hallucinogens, such as LSD, may be harmful.

    No ‘flashbacks’ observed

    “In comparison to LSD, mescaline is described as more sensual and perceptual and less altering of thought and sense of self,” they wrote, adding that peyote does not seem to produce “flashbacks” the same way that LSD apparently does.

    The project was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A NIDA spokeswoman would not comment on the study.

    Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor who was not involved in the research, said the study lends scientific weight to a long-held belief that peyote is not harmful.

    “The thing that excites me most about the paper is that the study was actually done,” he said. “The U.S. government — and NIDA, in particular — has been rather balky about allowing studies of psychedelic drugs of any kind.”

    -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

    The U.S. government — and NIDA, in particular — has been rather balky about allowing studies of psychedelic drugs of any kind.
    Hmm, I wonder why :rolleyes:

    Interesting article, none-the-less.

    Source: [MSNBC News]

    -RGM
  8. Alfa
    Yes, it is. Both this article from 2005 and the study itself have been posted here.
  9. RealGanjaMan
    Oh, sorry.

    I searched "peyote use causes no damage" and it came up with a bunch of un-related threads...
    I will look harder next time ;)


    -RGM

    [EDIT] I just went back and searched harder, and I found it.
    I should've done that from the begginging, my bad.
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