How COVID-19 Opened the Door to a New Era in Psychedelic Medicine

Within the next few years, we could see psychedelic therapies prescribed for refractory depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or used in palliative care among those facing a life-limiting illness. But first we need to more deeply understand the benefits of psychedelic treatments. Right now, we are in the perfect storm to accelerate continued study—and health care workers are on the front lines.

How COVID-19 Opened the Door to a New Era in Psychedelic Medicine
this is your brain on drugs” era, it’s hard to let go of stigma—and the mental image of an egg sizzling on a hot pan. But as a growing number of states and cities move to decriminalize drugs, and investors flock to an emerging market for psychedelic health care, substances like psilocybin, ketamine and LSD are edging into mainstream culture—and setting the stage for a paradigm shift in modern medicine.

Within the next few years, we could see psychedelic therapies prescribed for refractory depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or used in palliative care among those facing a life-limiting illness. But first we need to more deeply understand the benefits of psychedelic treatments. Right now, we are in the perfect storm to accelerate continued study—and health care workers are on the front lines.
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It’s no coincidence that psychedelics are entering the conversation at the moment we most sorely need new ideas in mental health care. The world is experiencing mass trauma from COVID-19. It’ll take years for us to truly understand the magnitude of the pandemic’s toll on our collective mental health, but on the front lines, the picture is much clearer. In a recent survey of more than 20,000 frontline medical workers, 38% reported experiencing anxiety or depression during the pandemic, and 49% suffered burnout. Another survey found nearly one-quarter of all health care workers showed signs of probable PTSD.

When the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses surveyed 6,000 of their members this year, 66% said they had considered leaving their jobs because of the pandemic. “No amount of money could convince me to stay on as a bedside ICU nurse right now,” a Seattle-area nurse wrote in a resignation note posted on Twitter. “I can’t continue to live with the toll on my body and mind. Even weekly therapy has not been enough to dilute the horrors I carry with me from this past year and a half.”

Among health care workers, the prolonged battle against COVID-19 has intensified a long smoldering problem. Facing a fragmented medical sytem with frequently misaligned incentives, health care workers have been grappling with anxiety and depression—even before COVID, the suicide rate among doctors was more than twice that of the general public. From support groups and training to apps that monitor mental health, there are a number of programs that aim to solve and treat the problems leading to clinician burnout. But most have barely scratched the surface, and the prevalence of burnout during the pandemic has led researchers to explore alternative solutions—including psychedelic therapies.

A new study at the University of Washington is evaluating the efficacy of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy using psilocybin for frontline health care workers experiencing COVID-related distress. “The situations that frontline doctors and nurses are facing is unprecedented,” says Dr. Anthony Back, who’s leading the study. “The symptoms of depression, burnout and moral injury call out for research that looks at whether psychedelics can play a role in healing the healers.” The U.S. is not alone in seeking alternative therapies for the growing number of health care workers in crisis: at Vancouver Island University in Canada, the Roots to Thrive ketamine-assisted therapy program treats health care providers and first responders with PTSD, depression, anxiety and addiction.

Realizing the potential of psychedelic-assisted therapy with health care workers is not without its challenges. For medical professionals, there’s a culture of perfectionism that makes asking for help a sign of weakness. Not only do health care workers seeking psychedelic-assisted therapy face the stigma associated with the use of these medicines, but there’s a stigma around seeking help in the first place.

Just past these barriers and stigmas, however, there’s enormous potential. If these studies and programs are successful, they have the potential to alleviate the symptoms of stress, burnout and depression that health care workers are feeling. They may even stop medical professionals from leaving the workforce at an alarming rate and avert the looming disaster of a worldwide health care worker shortage. The halo effect could be enormous and offer the possibility of treating others in high-stress fields.

Healing the healers is a win-win, and everyone can potentially benefit from better health care outcomes. The pandemic’s toll on health care workers affects the level of care that they’re able to provide—and you probably don’t need the World Health Organization’s official definition of burnout to tell you that it’s characterized by reduced effectiveness at work.

If psychedelic treatments have the potential to alleviate any person’s suffering, they are worth studying. But because they have the potential to alleviate a great many peoples’ suffering—both directly and indirectly by improving the mental health of our frontline clinicians—we need to invest in studying them further and faster.

Source : Time More   

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The secret to healthy holidays? Plan ahead

With the season of merry-making just around the corner, don't fret—just follow these top tips to keep your health in check.

The secret to healthy holidays? Plan ahead
If you have a say in the holiday meal plans, give ample space to dishes that incorporate fruits and vegetables. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

As fall gets underway, it signals the approach of seasonal festivities. Halloween and Thanksgiving are on the horizon—and winter holidays aren’t far behind.

With all that fun comes plenty of great food. And that means sweets, treats and savory eats.

If you’re worried about your diet going off the rails amid the temptation, consider these ideas to keep you on track.

Eat healthy foods first

Filling up on healthy foods at mealtime is a great way to set yourself up to enjoy the other delicious foods last. When you fill up on foods that contribute best to your health, you leave less room—but room nonetheless—for your favorite holiday treats.

Distance yourself

At mealtime, sit where the less healthy foods are out of sight or out of reach. When you’re in close proximity to those junk foods, it makes it hard to resist to them.

Make half your plate veggies

You may have heard this piece of advice before as part of the MyPlate initiative. When veggies take up 50% of the space on your plate, you consume more food rich in vitamins and minerals—as opposed to foods high in sugar and saturated fat.

Exercise before the party

A 30-minute workout before your event can help set the mood for your diet. After you’ve exercised, you’ll hopefully feel less inclined to spoil your hard work by eating food that’s high in calories.

Plan ahead

If possible, be involved in the planning process for your holiday event. If the host is someone you know, consider helping them plan the meals. This way, you could have some control over the healthfulness of the foods served at the function.

Set fruits and veggies at center stage

Make fruit-based desserts and vegetable-based appetizers. Holiday foods that keep fruits and vegetables in mind will leave less room for the not-so-healthy ingredients, while still serving up delicious treats for guests.

Recipes abound on the internet, so try to find something you and your partygoers will all enjoy.

Drink plenty of water

To help curb your appetite, drink eight to 10 ounces of water before the party and sip on water during the event. Even if you make a path straight to the desserts, you may feel less inclined to binge on them if you’ve already filled up on water.

Eat healthy ahead of time

By eating something healthy before you leave for the event, you’re filling up on things that are good for you—before you go anywhere near the sweets and treats.

Involve your kids

If you have little ones, have them participate in the party planning. When they have a say in what gets served at the holiday parties and mealtimes, it sets them up for healthy choices now and into the future.

Be kind to yourself

If you fall short of your plans to stay healthy, don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all human and we make mistakes sometimes.

When things don’t go your way, don’t give up on your health goals. Continue to treat your body as well as possible—because the next day is another great opportunity to get back on track.

Keep in mind you don’t have to follow all these tips. Just pick the ones you think will work best for you as you set out to combat the temptation to overindulge.

Source : Health Beat More   

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