History of Psychedelics

April 5, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Top points

  • Since ancient times, psychedelics have been used for medicinal healing, rituals, and spiritual enlightenment.
  • In the past, restrictions on the use and study of psychedelics led to misunderstanding and misuse.
  • Research now shows that psychedelics such as ketamine can effectively treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions.

The use of psychedelic drugs can be dated back to ancient civilizations — there is proof that people would use them to relieve pain, heal wounds, and further their religious or spiritual journeys or pilgrimages.

Today these types of drugs have taken on a new meaning. While certain psychedelics are still largely used for recreational purposes, others, like ketamine, have been groundbreaking for mental illness treatment.

Nue Life is here with your complete guide to the history of psychedelics and what psychedelics are used for today.

What Are Psychedelics?

Psychedelics are a group of substances that produce psychoactive experiences and changes in consciousness. These experiences can include changes in things like cognitive function, overall mood, and perception of the world around the user.

These drugs, also referred to as hallucinogens, can come in all shapes and sizes. Some grow on vines or in trees, while others may be found in leaves, seeds, or fungi. While many occur naturally in the wild, some are made by chemists. Here are some of the more commonly seen psychedelic drugs:

  • LSD
  • DMT
  • Mescaline
  • Psilocybin
  • MDMA
  • Ketamine

What Do Psychedelics Do?

As mentioned above, psychedelics alter natural functions of the body such as mood, cognitive function, and perception to produce a psychedelic experience. The specific effects a person will experience depend greatly on personal aspects like height, weight, age, and the dose of psychedelic — but what exactly does this mean?

After taking a psychedelic drug, you may experience hallucinations of sensory input like taste, touch, sound, and sight, leading to a realistic dream-like state. Psychedelics can also alter how you perceive your senses. For example, you may be able to hear colors or feel different sounds due to new doors of perception.

Some people experience extreme comfort, relaxation, and drowsiness, while others may notice an elevated heart rate and the inability to understand time or direction.

Perhaps one of the most common effects of hallucinogens is detachment. Many will feel as if they have left their physical body and are now perceiving the world from a physically elevated standpoint. This, like all other psychedelic effects, can present itself in many different ways for many different people.

What Is the History of Psychedelics?

The use of psychedelic plants dates back to ancient times as a useful part of medicinal healing, religious ceremonies and rituals, spiritual journeys, and recreational use. From there, it continued to the modern-day as chemists and doctors researched and tested their potential.

In 1938 Albert Hofmann synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), bringing psychedelic research into the laboratory.

The growth of the psychedelic industry for medicinal use eventually came to a screeching halt during the drug prohibition as the war on drugs set in. In an effort to make the world a safer place, the U.S. government began making many of these drugs illegal. While this hindered the ability to research and find education about psychedelics, it did not stop the medical community from pursuing them for future use.

Ancient Times

It is believed that psychedelics could be the oldest class of psychopharmacological drugs the world has ever known. Evidence of these can be found in ancient Indian hymns in praise of a substance known as Soma.

An ancient city on the outskirts of Athens, Greece held an annual celebration for hundreds of years in which they would enjoy a hallucinogenic drink and stay up all night. They believed that one could find new insight and wisdom through their experiences during this night.

There is more evidence in many other cultures of similar celebrations and uses of psychedelics in search of wisdom, healing, and spiritual enlightenment.

During Prohibition

During the early 1900s, the U.S. began banning drug use and alcohol use nationwide. By 1914, the government had completely banned the use of cocaine and opioids via the Harrison Act. Shortly after came the prohibition of alcohol in 1920. Even though America was a dry nation, this did not completely stop psychedelic research.

The War on Drugs

During the prohibition, people like Albert Hofmann continued studying these drugs to see what could be done with them. In 1938 he invented lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD. A few years later, he became the first person to ever ingest it and experience its effects.

This sparked great interest in the use and education of psychedelic drugs among scientists, doctors, and recreational users. With growing knowledge of these drugs came the growth of abuse.

So, even though the medical world was finding very little harm and great use when appropriately dosed, throughout the 1950s and 1960s the government decided to crack down on the distribution and study of these drugs.

The 60s

Throughout the ‘60s, the war on drugs prevailed. The government maintained strict rules on its use, recreational users continued to get more and more of the drugs illegally for redistribution and use, and the medical world kept advocating for the medicinal void that the psychedelic drugs could fill.

Late 20th Century

During the late twentieth century, the potential for using psychedelics for psychotherapy became a real possibility. People discovered that smaller doses of these psychedelic drugs often counteracted mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

This discovery sparked a movement of research on the use of LSD and ketamine in a controlled setting.

How Does Western Use of Psychedelics Differ From Other Areas?

Eastern cultures have used psychedelics in the form of plants since ancient times for medicinal and spiritual purposes. In the present day, some religious groups still use these plants to further their spiritual journey.

While spiritual pilgrimage is a common use for psychedelics in eastern culture, the western side of the world mainly uses these drugs for medicinal purposes.

How Are Psychedelics Relevant Today?

Today psychedelics are still being used for spiritual enlightenment and perspective-changing experiences and as a groundbreaking treatment for those who suffer from mental health issues, alcoholism, PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, social anxiety, and depression.

Psychiatry and Medicine

In recent years it has been discovered that psychedelic drugs like ketamine can replace antidepressant drugs like SSRIs and SNRIs. While these antidepressants can be effective, they only tend to work for a third of those who try them. They also come with a plethora of side effects, including counterproductive symptoms of depression.

Psychedelics have proven to come with fewer risks when taken in small, controlled amounts. They also work for a higher percentage of the people who try them, and take effect quicker than other anti-depression medications.

Ketamine treatment with Nue Life is unlike any other ketamine therapy available. Nue Life offers at-home ketamine experiences with a simple oral pill and virtual supervision so that you can enjoy your session in the comfort of your own home.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a psychedelic drug that got its medicinal start as a dissociative anesthetic for soldiers on the battlefront. After several years of use in the medical world as an anesthetic, recreational users found that it can provide an enjoyable, out-of-body sensation.

In recent years, it has been rediscovered as a groundbreaking medicine for those who suffer from mental health issues, mainly regarding depression and anxiety.

How Can Ketamine Be Used?

While ketamine can be used inappropriately in a recreational setting, it can also be administered safely and medicinally by health care professionals in a clinical setting. Even though it has only been FDA-approved for anesthetic use, many doctors now recommend it as an off-label medication to treat depression and help those with addictions.

You can get started with ketamine therapy with Nue Life by booking a free evaluation so we can determine the best program for your needs.

What Is Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine therapy is a series of events that utilize the psychedelic drug to improve one’s perception, relieve depressive symptoms, and provide long-lasting effects that keep the symptoms away. Many clinics only offer time-consuming and painful IV infusions, but Nue Life offers ketamine in the form of a simple oral pill.

At Nue Life, we have two main program offerings: one with six ketamine sessions and one with 18.

Many report feeling improvements in their symptoms within just 24 hours of their first ketamine experience, making this a fast and effective means of relief.

Who Should Try Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine therapy is not recommended for children sixteen or under, or older adults with pre-existing liver, heart, or kidney conditions.

Aside from those groups of people, anyone who believes that ketamine therapy could help their current situation in any way should talk to a healthcare professional and discuss if ketamine therapy would be right for them.

Ketamine can negatively interact with other drugs and cause unwanted problems and side effects. Thus, you should ensure your healthcare provider is aware of any and all medications you are currently taking.

How Is Ketamine Therapy Administered?

Ketamine therapy is typically administered by way of infusion or tablet. However, infusions can be extremely time-consuming, especially when you factor in travel time to a clinic.

IV infusions can also be extremely expensive. That’s why Nue Life offers sublingual ketamine instead. With sublingual ketamine, you can take the oral pill right at home, eliminating the travel time to and from a clinic. Sublingual ketamine also comes at lower costs, making it more accessible to those who need it most.

How Many Sessions Will I Need?

How many sessions you will need will depend on your assessed tolerance to ketamine, age, weight, height, and other personal factors that contribute to whole-person care. The average amount of sessions is six, but you may need anywhere from one to ten.

Some people will only need the initial six sessions, and may be relieved of symptoms for the rest of their lives. However, others may require follow-up sessions to keep depressive symptoms away. The program that is right for you is based completely on personal needs.

How Long Does Ketamine Last?

During supervised ketamine therapy, a psychedelic trip will last around thirty minutes total. As for the longer-term effects of this type of therapy, it depends on the individual. Some people can experience an afterglow for a few days, while others can experience it for a few weeks.

Even still, the positive effects of a ketamine experience could linger for the rest of the individual’s life. In other cases, the effects may not last much longer than the afterglow, leading to a need for more frequent follow-ups. No two people are the same. That’s why Nue Life is committed to personalized care and 360 degrees of wellness.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Ketamine Therapy?

Just like any other type of medication or treatment, ketamine therapy does come with pros and cons.

Knowing the potential side effects and precautions before starting treatment can help you understand what to expect and what you should do to prepare.

Precautions To Take

Keeping an open dialogue with your healthcare professional is crucial to having a safe and effective experience with ketamine. Here are a few things to know and keep in mind while you and your doctor try to determine if ketamine therapy is the right choice for you.

As mentioned before, ketamine can negatively interact with various drugs. So, your doctor and clinician need to know about every medication you take day by day.

Be sure that your doctor also knows about any allergies you may have. Also, familiarize yourself with all of the possible side effects and allergic reactions you could have to ketamine so that you will quickly recognize it if you begin to display any of them.

Possible Side Effects

Ketamine does have the potential to cause certain side effects, though these are generally mild. Some common, mild side effects include the following, but you should seek medical attention if they last longer than a few days:

  • Nausea
  • Pain at the infusion site
  • Appetite loss
  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Irregular eye movement
  • Any unwanted continuation of a dream-like state of mind

There are also some more rare side effects that may be cause for concern, or may indicate an allergic reaction. Here is a list of serious side effects that may require medical attention.

  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Itching
  • Hives or rashes
  • Cough
  • Irritated bladder
  • Uncontrollable emotions
  • Labored breathing
  • Fainting
  • Discomfort or difficulty with urination
  • Irregular heartbeat

How Do I Get Started With Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine therapy is virtually just a call or a click away. You can get started with Nue Life today by booking your free evaluation.

Nue Life values whole-person care, bringing you personalized ketamine treatment and after-treatment care involving Integration Group Sessions and health coaching. This evidence-based treatment can help catalyze growth and positive change in your life. Consider ketamine to help you achieve mental wellness. It may be the healing you’ve been looking for.

The Bottom Line

Psychedelics are not new. Humans have been using this type of drug since before they even fully knew what it was. Since ancient times it’s been used as an agent for spiritual enlightenment and medicinal help.

Throughout the years as knowledge about it increased, the misuse of it has also increased. This eventually led to the nationwide prohibition of these types of drugs.

Even though psychedelic drugs were prohibited, chemists and doctors continued studying them and eventually discovered how powerful they could be for the medical world. They discovered that ketamine is a fast-acting treatment for mental illnesses like depression and anxiety when given in small doses.

These years of research ultimately resulted in clinics dedicated solely to ketamine therapy for mental illnesses. Psychedelic drugs have opened up a world of hope and healing for those who have tried every other medication with no improvement. The ancient people of the world were truly on to something great. Psychedelic drugs could help hundreds of thousands of people when in the right hands.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment. What happens after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain, and help you discover the real insights that lead to real relief.


Psychedelics | NCBI

The Past and Future of Psychedelic Science: An Introduction to This Issue | National Library of Medicine

The Therapeutic Potential of Psychedelic Drugs: Past, Present, and Future | NCBI

How New Ketamine Drug Helps with Depression | Yale Medicine

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