The Netflix Docuseries How to Change your Mind
We are committed to providing useful information about microdosing and psychedelics at Microdose Bros. There are different articles on our blog, all of which are research-based, covering different areas of psychedelics.
You might be wondering why our focus is on psychedelics and microdosing. There’s currently global awareness around the topic, and scientists across the world continue to research these substances. This is because of the amazing benefits that these substances offer, particularly for mental health.
I recently came across a docuseries on Netflix, “How to Change your Mind.” The docuseries has 4 episodes, each of which gives an account of different psychedelics. This article will give you an overview of each episode so you can understand psychedelics even better.
Before we continue, there are a few things to acknowledge. The docuseries comes at a crucial time because the psychedelic movement is advancing rapidly. Also, there are answers to multiple questions in the series. It mostly centers on how to use, regulate, and respect psychedelic substances, even as research continues.
About the How to Change Your Mind Docuseries
This limited series is based on Michael Pollan’s books and covers the promises and history of promises of psychedelics. The series has four episodes; LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and mescaline, with Pollan serving as a narrator to connect each episode.
Alex Gibney, an Oscar-winning documentarian, is among the executive producers of the show. He highlights the potential of psychedelics as game changes for treating mental illnesses like PTSD, OCD, depression, and anxiety.
For people that know these drugs during the drug wars of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, this may be surprising. During those times, psychedelics were considered dangerous and without any medical or health benefits. However, there is evidence to demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics before their criminalization.
Today, research to fully understand these substances continues and explores their full potential. The Netflix series highlights some clinical trials and recent studies results. Most of these results suggest that psychedelics are non-lethal and non-addictive and could improve people’s lives.
With that said, here’s an overview of each episode of the series:
Episode One: LSD
The focus of the first episode was on LSD, which is also called acid. LSD is a substance linked with the hippie culture and the 1960s. The substance has a long history before being criminalized and leaving the lab.
Historical Account in the Series
During the 1930s, Albert Hofman, a chemist in a pharmaceutical company, discovered LSD. The substance was on his shelf for some time while he was trying to further his research on other things. After some years, Hofman accidentally came in contact with the substance, and the effect was unique. This made him realize that LSD has mind-altering and hallucinogenic properties.
LSD was marketed in the 1950s as a psychiatric drug, and researchers had free access to the substance. This was to enhance further research to understand the potential of the substance. Humphry Osmond (a psychiatrist) was one of these researchers, and he came up with the term psychedelic.
Timothy Leary (a psychologist) developed an interest in the substance, and things took a new turn from that moment. According to Leary, individual experience with LSD varies, depending on their internal mindset and external setting. However, there were flaws in his study, and he got fired.
That did not stop change Leary’s interest in LSD. He became a major vocal proponent that believed everyone should take LSD, and this increased its use for recreational purposes. Authorities became concerned about the use of the substance by teenagers and young adults. The media started to demonize LSD after President Richard Nixon spoke against LSD.
By 1970, LSD became classified as a schedule 1 substance, and this ended research on its use for clinical purposes.
In 2006, some scientists wrote an open letter requesting health ministries to allow them to continue research. They got a response from Switzerland alone, but this was enough to let them resume research.
Other Information in the First Episode
The first episode also covers other terms like microdosing. This describes taking LSD in low doses to ease depression and boost creativity. Also, the episode highlights that about 80% of people who try microdosing claim it helps in a different way. The effect is a lot different from antidepressants, and it allows them to feel so much better.
Episode Two: Psilocybin
The focus of the second episode of the How to Change Your Mind series was on psilocybin. Psilocybin is a chemical found in magic mushrooms and is classified as a Schedule 1 substance like LSD. Despite that, the docuseries highlights the belief that psilocybin will revolutionize mental health.
There are multiple studies since the late 1990s that show the therapeutic potential of psilocybin. These studies highlight psilocybin has helped different mental health issues, including anorexia, anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.
One of these studies shows that a single high dose of psilocybin reduces the fear of death in cancer patients. The episode also shows an account of a participant in this study. According to her, she feels a lot better after the study. Before the study, she constantly experiences depression and pain from her cancer.
The findings from another study on people who have never taken psychedelics were different. These participants were given a high dose of psilocybin, and their experience was mystical. About 30% of the participant claim it was the most spiritual experience of their lives. Also, the study associates mystical experiences with positive outcomes.
Participants with more mystical experiences were able to maintain positive outcomes for more than a year. This includes positive changes in behavior, attitudes, and mood.
In the second episode, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris states that mental illnesses are usually defensive reactions that depend on certain uncertainties. A mental health disorder like substance use disorder or eating disorder can be an attempt to restore life balance. However, this is a dysfunctional strategy, but with psilocybin, we can easily see things from a different perspective.
Robin Carhart-Harris, a neuropsychopharmacologist, discovered the working mechanism of psilocybin, which is on the brain’s default mode network. This is the part of the brain that helps us understand ourselves better.
Episode Three: MDMA
In the third episode of the How to Change Your Mind series, the focus was on MDMA. MDMA is popularly known as molly or ecstasy, and it was widely used as a recreational drug in the 1980s. The DEA had to pay attention to the substance, which led to its ban in 1985 because it’s neurotoxic.
Before the ban on the substance, many people were already experimenting with it, especially in the 1970s. During this period, Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, a chemist, suggested that MDMA has therapeutic uses. Today, the substance is close to becoming legal again, but only for medicinal purposes.
This is a result of the works of Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He spent many years researching MDMA and became an advocate for the medicinal use of the substance. The episode took time to explore all his work on MDMA.
Exploring MAPs Research in the How to Change Your Mind Series
Part of MAPS research was on exploring the potential of MDMA for treating trauma. The results from this research are promising. In their clinical trial, they were able to explore the impact of MDMA psychotherapy on MDMA patients. Also, each session of the trial was under the supervision of a doctor and therapist.
MAPS studies highlight that with only three doses, patients can enjoy significant improvement in their mental health condition. A large proportion of participants in their first clinical trial no longer experienced PTSD after taking MDMA.
In the series, Pollan was able to show the differences between MDMA and psilocybin or LSD. MDMA does not cause hallucination but facilitates the release of serotonin to the brain. This serotonin release triggers the feeling of loving connection and openness. MDMA also triggers the release of oxytocin, which elevates the feeling of connectivity and empathy.
MDMA helps to create a motivational component that people need to stick to in their therapy. This is the aspect that’s vital for PTSD patients. It’s worth mentioning that the amygdala mediates flight or fight responses and is hyperactive in PTSD. Also, in PTSD, the part of the brain that mediates rationalization is less active. MDMA changes this and allows patients to recover quickly.
Episode Four: Mescaline
The final episode of the How to Change Your Mind series focuses on mescaline, which is also a psychoactive substance. Mescaline is the active ingredient in peyote. This episode takes a different approach compared to the other episodes above. The reason for this is that peyote is important to Native Americans. Also, the substance makes up the cornerstone of some religions. Most of the Native Americans in the episode don’t support the use of peyote by others.
Their reasons for these use restrictions are valid because it has been a part of their religious heritage for years. This was long before the Europeans started to settle in North America. There are two kinds of cacti that produce mescaline which are:
- The peyote cactus that grows on the Mexican and American sides of the Rio Grande River
- San Pedro Cactus that grows in the Andes
Native Americans mostly harvest the peyote cactus for mescaline. In 1492, the conquistadors started learning about peyote, including its ability to enable communication with God. This was a threat to the Catholic priesthood, and attempts were made to eliminate and suppress it. However, that did not change anything. Today Native Americans still use peyote for its benefit in treating generational trauma.
There are many attempts to eliminate the substance, and in the 1970s and 1980s, it was listed as a Schedule 1 substance. However, new laws in 1994 came out, permitting the use of the substance for religious purposes.
Peyote currently faces newer threats today, including bad harvesting practices, road creation, wind turbines, construction mines, and more. This is a concern for Native Americans because peyote is endangered in Mexico and America. It’s worth noting that it takes up to 15 years for the plant to grow.
At the end of the series, Pollan concludes that since he’s not a Native American, he shouldn’t try peyote. However, his opinion is that we can use the Native American religion as an example to understand how psychedelic helps in solving problems.
Risks of Psychedelics
One of the first things you’ll notice when you watch the series is the warning at the beginning. This warning advises viewers that the series is entertaining and informative, not considered medical advice.
However, after watching the How to Change Your Mind series and learning about the potential of each psychedelic substance, some viewers might use these substances. Many people suffer mental health illnesses today and might be happy to try these substances for their conditions.
The key thing to keep in mind is that psychedelics also have their risks, although these risks are minor. One of the main risks is the potential for a bad trip. A bad trip can cause anxiety, paranoia, and fear. However, bad trips are short-lived, and you don’t need to take a drug to treat a bad trip.
Another key thing is that all the clinical trials and studies in the series were under controlled conditions and settings. Protocols were in place to ensure the proper handling of adverse effects. This implies that when the use of psychedelics to treat mental health conditions requires proper supervision.
Myths and Facts about Psychedelics
Here are some myths and facts about psychedelics:
Myth 1: Psychedelics are Addictive
According to a review in the Journal of Pharmacological Reviews, misusing psychedelic substances does not lead to addiction or dependence. There are studies in the journal that shows that these substances give the opposite effect. These studies highlight that these psychedelic substances help people overcome nicotine and alcohol addiction.
Also, there are reports in the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that warns about the potential for tolerance development. A psychedelic with this tendency is LSD, implying that users might need to take higher doses for the same effect. This is dangerous since some of these effects are not predictable.
Myth 2: There Isn’t Much Research on Psychedelics
Contrary to popular opinion, there is much research on psychedelics, and here are some notable examples.
- MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study
- Effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy on major depressive disorder
- Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial
- Safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases
Myth 3: Psychedelics will drive you Crazy
Psychedelics induce hallucinations and people who take them sense or see images that are not real. However, they don’t produce this effect after the treatment session. When people get intoxicated with psychedelics, they are likely to feel like they are losing their minds. However, the intoxicating effect wears when the substance is fully eliminated or metabolized.
In addition, the doses used for scientific studies are very small, unlike recreational doses. Also, the effects of these little doses are a lot different. In rare cases, the substance can trigger psychosis in people with risk factors like a history of mental illnesses.
Myth 4: Psychedelics will Permanently Fry your Brain
Contrary to popular belief, these substances can change the brain, but the effect is not permanent. A 2017 study suggests that LSD remains in certain brain parts for hours, with effect after complete elimination. According to the research, the effects of LSD can remain for many hours even after its clearance from the bloodstream.
This implies a window period, during which people still experience an enhanced ability to think or learn things. However, these effects are not permanent.
Myth 5: Psychedelics Can Help Everyone
In the Netflix docuseries How to Change your Mind, Pollan highlights his experiments with different psychedelics. However, these substances may not be helpful or suitable for everyone.
People who are prone to psychotic disorders should not take these substances. Also, people with high blood pressure should avoid the substances.
Myth 6: Psychedelics are Party Drugs
Even though people use them a lot for recreational purposes, these substances won’t produce any therapeutic effect this way. Also, taking psychedelics recreationally can be dangerous.
The administration of psychedelics in controlled clinical settings mostly treats certain conditions. This includes PTSD, anxiety, and depression. In some cases, the therapy may be alongside psychotherapy and also give many health benefits.
Myth 7: Psychedelic Medicines Don’t Have Risks
Taking psychedelics in a well-controlled environment is without risks. However, these substances can still cause certain risks. These risks include nausea, dry mouth, sleep issues, excessive sweating, increased blood pressure, fast heart rate, psychosis, and anxiety.
Myth 8: Psychedelics Are the Endgame for Mental Health
Even though psychedelics’ research and development are exciting for the medical sector, they remain a stepping stone to more treatment options. These substances will help form the basis for developing new psychiatric medications.
There are so many interesting things that one can learn from the How to Change Your Mind Netflix docuseries. What’s certain is that the series is bound to change your perception of psychedelics in general. Also, psilocybin remains a very promising psychedelic, and there are multiple research findings to support this.
On our Blog, you’ll find different articles with a focus on the health benefits of psilocybin, according to research. From its use for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and alcohol disorders, you’ll find different articles on Microdose Bros.
In addition, you can also check our Microdose Bros store. We have different strains of magic truffles that you can get. We also ship discreetly in Europe. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have.