Dr. Liara Covert

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« 7 Tips to realize the impossible | Main | Interview with Jaan Sanaam (Jerabek) »

Interview with Rick Strassman

Dr Rick Strassman, is a medical physician, clinical researcher, visionary, and author of the seminal work, DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2000).  He also co-authored Inner Paths to Outer Space (2008) and more recently, is author of DMT and the Soul of Prophecy (2014) ebook & paperback.

His related documentary also receives widespread acclaim. You might say his cutting edge work prompts inner shifts, inviting us to envision and take steps to create a new kind of conscious future.

Intuition guides me to connect with specific people with perfect timing. Interviews that arise empower readers to see a bigger picture unfolding. At one stage of life, I engaged in psycho-pharmacology research, gained insight into the grant-writing process as well as politics of drug research trends.  It reflects shifts in collective consciousness, points to where we are heading.   

Thank you Dr. Strassman, for the presentations about mystical experience & spiritual scripture (@Horizons Perspectives on psychedelics), other work you do, and making yourself available for this dialogue. Interest in the effects of psychedelics (literally, "mind-manifesting") on consciousness is growing.

Due to your books and work, what is your view of changing public interest, understanding and receptiveness to new uses of hallucinogens? 

I’m glad to see that psychedelics are returning to the arena of public discourse. So far, however, there really are no “new” uses of psychedelics in the research environment. Rather, these new studies are confirming and extending older data that was generated during the first wave of human research. Perhaps the newer uses that you are referring to concern religious applications, which include both indigenous and more Western-religion-oriented type settings. By these, I’m referring to the ayahuasca churches and indigenous ayahuasca use.

Yes. New Yorker magazine recognizes a huge ayahuasca boom in the U.S. Well-intentioned researchers like yourself, aim to bring ayahuasca as ancient medicine, into the light of science.  The prospect of a fast track to awakening draws western travellers to the Amazon in droves. (For anyone considering it, invite doing soul-work first and read: things I wish I knew before drinking ayahuasca).  How do you feel about these social trends involving hallucinogens? 

It’s important not to prematurely close the door on with these drugs can do. That is the temptation I see people indulging in regarding a type of fundamentalism. Either these drugs “occasion mystical experiences,” “mimic psychosis,” “increase brain connectivity,” etc., as their means of producing their effects. We don’t really know what they do to exert their effects.

When do you see them being clinically legalized for therapeutic healing?

In the US, there are movements to place MDMA and psilocybin into less restrictive drug categories. These efforts are using the tools of normal pharmaceutical companies to get a drug into the clinical pipeline. Phase I, II, and III—safety and tolerability in normals, small-scale studies in patients, and then large-scale studies in patients.

That is encouraging.  It shows people are growing more open-minded, even legalizing certain drugs for public benefit. The view of cannabis, for instance, has shifted dramatically. Although marijuana is not a hallucinogen, it can have hallucinogenic properties.  

Business Insider (Mar 2018) says 29 U.S. states have legalized medical cannabis.  This article notes 23 health benefits, including, slowing the spread of cancer, reducing anxiety, and slowing the progression of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  What stands out is cannabis offers huge pain relief and facilitates natural healing.  Civilized Life is presenting the World Cannabis Congress in June 2018. The widespread legalisation of cannabis reflects a shift in acceptable drug use.

In this light, Australian private insurers offer partial reimbursements for some alternative health treatments. In the Netherlands, various drugs can be obtained in cafes without prescription.  What is your feeling about the evolution of psychedelic drug use in the Western world?

We still don’t have the optimal setting worked out for the optimal use of psychedelics. What will probably turn out to be the case is that because of the wide range of effects of psychedelics, there will be various optimal settings for various desired uses: religious, medical, creativity, and so on.

Your research popularized the notion DMT is produced during dreams and near physical death. Both the general public and other researchers are interested in this. Please expand.

Unfortunately, those were educated speculations rather than objective data. Nevertheless, those ideas have spurred on bona fide research and we are closing in on the role of DMT in the dying process. 

Your research inspires other researchers to go deeper, conduct further studies.   Recent neuro-pharmacology studies begin to touch on dreams and psychedelics. One article states, "The broad overlap between dreaming and psychedelic states supports the notion that psychedelics acutely induce dreamlike subjective experiences which may have long-term beneficial effects on psychosocial functioning and well-being." Researches also envision more clinical studies.

Progress is being made.  We don’t have information about dreams yet though.

Existing computed tomography (CT) research proposes a calcified pineal may relate to aging and the onset of Alzheimer's. Current theories suggest DMT is produced naturally during waking states in the pineal.  Yet, calcification of the pineal appears to inhibit DMT production. Why?  

The pineal gland appears to make DMT both in humans and lower animals. We don’t know whether calcification has any effect one way or the other.

David Attenborough reminds us, “We only know a tiny proportion about the complexity of the natural world. Wherever you look, there are still things we don’t know about and don’t understand." As you and he imply, new information is available to be discovered and examined. 

Research shows calcification prevents the pineal gland from functioning. Fluoride accumulates in the pineal more than any other organ. Fluoride exposure in animal studies has found to decrease melatonin and lead to accelerated sexual development in females.  When our pineal gland is calcified, one view is humans are out of balance with nature, impeding proper biological functioning. How do you sense this relates to DMT?

I don’t know how fluoride ties into the DMT scenario.

What do you envision happening as the pineal is de-calcified in more people?

I know of no way to decalcify the pineal gland.

Considering over one million people have watched DMT and the mysteries of the pineal gland, and huge audiences are focusing attention in this direction, this certainly warrants new attention.  How would you build on your  previous work in an international study if you could today? (I already know a few people who are ready and willing to volunteer)

There is one DMT study taking place in London right now. This is a brain imaging project. There are plans to actualize a continuous infusion study of DMT, wherein it is possible to maintain the state longer than is the case when it is given as a single bolus or smoked one time. There are ayahuasca studies taking place now in Spain and Brazil. Unfortunately none in the US or Commonwealth countries.

Traditionally, tribal shamans use plant substances to connect with spirit worlds and for healing. Shamanic schools now exist in different parts of the world, including the U.S. Shamanic healers offer services not covered under Medicaid or other insurance. When do you envision U.S. shamanic clinics emerging for the general population?

This relates to what kind of clinical models emerge for using psychedelics. While certainly not around the corner, I can see at some point “shamanic” use of psychedelics being considered “indigenous healing” which could be reimbursed. This is the case with, for example, certain indigenous healing practices of Native Americans and Hispanic cultures in New Mexico that at least one of the major insurers reimburses.

Your remark here echoes new changes in the air and echoes changes in collective consciousness. Helen Keller reminds us that the heresy in one Age becomes orthodoxy in another. George Bernard Shaw agrees. He echoes "all evolution in thought and conduct must first appear as heresy and misconduct.

How else do you imagine shamanic healing (DMT, ayahusca and other drugs) growing more accessible in the U.S. like medical opiates and marijuana? What about legalizing psychedelics for conscious tourism as is done in Costa Rica, South America and other part of the world?

This again relates to setting up environments in which people can take psychedelics for various reasons. The settings where there is direct benefit provided to patients for whom more traditional practices have failed are more likely to get off the ground first.

What does this echo on the state of collective consciousness and nature's harmonizing influence?

My late Zen teacher used to say that the balance between good and evil is always 51:49.

Midwives, health and well-ness practitioners such as chiropractors, naturopaths, ayurvedic doctors and others, are revolutionizing and changing the way people view health care services, integrative medicine and self-healing. What inspired your pioneering DMT research?

I was interested in the biology of spiritual experience. To the extent that psychedelics could bring about states of consciousness resembling those that occurred in non-drug religious states, I believed that there were common underlying biological denominators. The presence of endogenous DMT and its psychoactive effects made it a strong candidate for such a mediator.

Emerging technologies can record what the experiencer is sensing in altered states.  This is used for dream research, to track the brain in meditative states, channelling mediums and others. How do you see this, along with DMT, perhaps validating connections to the spirit world (i.e. higher vibrational states)?

First one needs to define “spirit world.” This needs to be done with more rigor than simply alluding to their having a higher vibrational state. I have more or less glibly wondered about dark matter cameras that could image those things that are comprised of it.

Agreed. John Chavez, who interviewed you before, suggests, we also need a clear idea of what Science means. Often people can be conversing about Science and spirituality and not be clear, and not be on the same page.

If the spirit worlds reside in normally invisible planes of existence, perhaps that type of imaging device could capture images of things existing in those planes. Then, one might compare those images with what one sees on DMT and related substances.

Many people are familliar with the psychedelics in the movies. Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Ridley Scott's original Bladerunner , Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey, are examples. Actor Jim Carrey took DMT and says his consciousness shifted dramatically as the result. How do you see the DMT experience is important for breaking through the matrix of individual and collective consciousness?

The existence of “things” in parallel, objectively verifiable, self-existent alternate planes of reality would be of great interest. However, simply establishing their existence without some goal in mind would only be tinkering rather than automatically being useful for the world.

In your Other Worlds, and your books, you suggest psychoactive substances like DMT allow the brain to bypass our five basic senses to unlock multi-dimensional realm of existence where other-worldly communication occurs.

This, of course, is only an hypothesis.

How do you account for the phenomena of synaesthesia, clairvoyance, and individuals with selectively magnified subtle senses, who do not ingest DMT yet access multi-dimensional realms spontaneously and at will?

It makes sense that nondrug states that resemble those brought on by giving DMT may be mediated by the same processes that are called into action when DMT is administered.

Also in Other Worlds documentary, you suggest the external search for alien life-forms is mis-directed.  Is our collective attention mis-guided when popular visionary sci-fi stories with aliens are the focus rather than the inner space world of our minds? 

Not necessarily mis-directed, but not the entire story.

Alien encounters are perhaps the most highly documented events yet are also the most downplayed. Sheer numbers of common stories, reports, and apparent abductions would, if on another subject, be substantial enough to make a huge statement in a traditional judicial system. That aside, if you view this from the perspective of your research with DMT, would this imply increasing numbers of people are expanding consciousness and producing DMT to access inner worlds of the mind?

We don’t know if endogenous DMT levels rise in states that resemble those brought on by giving DMT. Don’t gild the lily. Psychedelics can be used for terrible purposes. Just look at Charles Manson who used LSD to cement malignant beliefs and goals of his followers.

Why or why not? What other explanation could you suppose?

Humans are always living on the edge of disaster, the closer to the edge—that is, the more extreme the situation—the more extreme the potential solutions. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that LSD was discovered around the same time that the atomic bomb was developed.

Do you foresee DMT or related psychotropics being used more as a divination tool to gain greater insights into downloading visions for greater holistic technologies, mathematical and quantum understandings, as a think tank under controlled experimental conditions to improve upon the human condition?

There were some early studies using psychedelics to enhance creativity. This is an area that needs to be revisited.

Great composers and creative minds tune into the wide universe to download their masterpieces. What kind of world do you imagine as more people ingest DMT for clinical trials, healing or produce it naturally, to tap into conscious dream worlds? Would more of us get clarity faster and manifest our divine gifts?

It depends. I think that psychedelics provide a cementing of beliefs that previously were more or less conscious or about which people were more or less certain. This has to do with my notion of psychedelics as super placebos. Not wanting to beat a dead horse, it would be of use if you read the book about Manson and his use of LSD in his followers: Helter Skelter. It’s a sobering account.

It is suggested Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were aiming to contact the Afterlife with their emerging technologies. Tesla is known for saying the secrets of consciousness require an understanding of energy, frequency and vibration. He also said, “My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.” Which connections do you see emerging related to your work with DMT?

I have a predilection for the medieval Jewish philosophers. They suggest, based on Aristotle’s early work, that there exists an “Active Intellect” in which resides all past, present, and potential future information and events. The philosophers believe it is possible to “conjoin with” that information depending on one’s particular state—in particular, the state of one’s “intellect” and “imagination.” I think psychedelics stimulate the imagination, and to the extent that a more perfect imagination allows one to conjoin with the Active Intellect, there may be a little for them in tapping into what Tesla refers to as the “core.”

Indeed. Tesla's work still inspires shifts in what Science originally taught us to believe is impossible. Look at the electric car, free enegy and other technologies. Albert  Einstein also echoes, “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” 

Why do you sense the origin and function of the DMT- Spirit molecule frustrates many scientists?  

Most scientists are limited to what they can see, measure, observe externally. The properties of DMT are a little trickier to subsume in this way. For example, DMT is actively transported into the brain across the blood brain barrier using energy. This is something that the brain does only for required substances like sugar and certain amino acids. This indicates that DMT is necessary for normal brain function, and normal brain function translates into normal consciousness. In addition, the DMT synthetic machinery is active in retina. Thus, both general consciousness and visual consciousness in particular may be mediated by the maintenance of a homeostatic level of DMT. This is too mind blowing a notion for most of us.

As DMT production in the pineal is clincally proven in rodents, what can you add about human DMT production?

New data hone in more carefully on how DMT is produced in the pineal, and extends findings to the human.

What do you imagine is required for the assumed boundary between science and spirituality to dissolve?

It will never dissolve, but might become more porous. Even then, people believe what they want to believe.

One of your theories is that DMT may function as a type of cross species Esperanto, in that it allows communication among any organisms. If everything could tune into the same frequency at the same moment, what are the implications?

It might make people more compassionate. It also might open up a can of worms regarding mind control, loss of privacy, etc.

Your theory of Theo-neurology suggests God designed the brain for us to connect with the divine. Does your DMT research corroborate the idea the human body is a system of bio-circuitry?

My research didn’t address that.

Would you suggest the human body is like a radio dial and the level of DMT determines the channels or frequencies we tune into?

I speculate about this.

If so, do you suppose we regulate DMT release to change channels?

We don’t know anything about endogenous DMT levels in humans and their relationship to non-drug altered states. The “changing channels” notion is a metaphor, hopefully useful.

Many famous geniuses have drugs of choice. Graham Hancock's research led him to consume ayahuasca and he explains his journey on youtube. One thing he concludes is:“It may be that DMT makes us able to perceive what the physicist call "dark matter" - the 95 per cent of the universe's mass that is known to exist but that at present remains invisible to our senses and instruments.”  

Terrence McKenna and David Icke also advocate of the use of psychedelics to open the mind. Which ones have you or would you like to consume? What do you notice about your own shifts in consciousness with or without psychedelics?

I don’t talk about my drug use or non-use.

Terrence McKenna says “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.” Please comment.

Psychedelics are illegal because of their adverse effects. I think it’s a counter-productive myth to point to their putative mind expanding effects as reasons for their illegality. There are enormously powerful drugs that can be misused and cause major problems. Thus, strict regulation is more helpful than not over the long run. I would rather fewer people with more supervision take psychedelics than more people with less supervision.

If you could leave a piece of advice for our readers, what would you share?

Psychedelics are not panaceas. One big trip may be all that you need, provide enough of a push for the rest of your life. After that, the rest is commentary.

Thanks again Dr. Strassman, for offering food for reflection about the ongoing shifts in collective consciousness. It is clear dialogue is ongoing in scientific, government and public spheres.  The jury may still be out on the best or most appropriate uses of psychedelics, but growing interest exists in exploring and testing out new possibilities.

Encourage visitors to check out Dr. Strassman's  books, Youtube presentations and to visit his blog. His visionary approach to psychedelic research is a sign of the times.

Nikola Tesla is right on point as he echoes, many people, much like Dr. Strassman, are doing research, and proposing theories that point the way in which humanity and collective consciousness is heading.  Invite you to tune into the vibe.

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Reader Comments (5)

Life as we live it and perceive it is essentially based on the expansion of art and inspiration. Learning facts for most is not an exciting endeavor but creates a foundation or a deadened structure for those in society to contribute around. Facts are hard wired for those with limited vision to climb and see from pillars of knowledge that have been contributed to understand the bigger picture. The facts themselves are not the essential components of the bigger picture but are a means to rise above uncertainty and emotional chaos to get a neutralized footing in our understanding of where we fit into the cosmos. From the position of a scientific observer, one can let down their guarded positions to enjoy the vibrational artistic dance of energy in movement that moves us and sweeps us away into the loving arms of greater creativity. DMT is the spirit molecule for many reasons. It can get through any lines of defense to instill new spirit into any lack luster situation. It freely crosses the blood brain barrier to offer a sense of knowing through direct experience with whatever it is that requires our attention to finally get through to us for positive integration. It allows those who are stuck with closed minds to accept the vision and spirit of the moment as a means of growth to greater well being. It provides for insights that spirits humanity into greater levels of feeling connected with the world that surrounds us and which wants to play with our uniquely limited perception. Reality is a blending game of unique points of view whose flexibility allows for new life and forms of seeing to be given birth to. It makes conscious those connections that have always been there in dormancy waiting for the light of day to jump start their quantum nature. Science! Take down those walls built with empty facts that surrounds your hearts! Let in that which inspires you to connect with vitality and the true essence and therefore real and valued meaning in life.
April 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBern
Hi Bern, Science is often seen to have limited or reductionist views of reality by those who see a more expansive picture. Yet, the nature and growing popular interest in psychedelics is changing this. More people inside and outside scientific spheres opening the mind about things they used to avoid, fear or misunderstand. Growing public interest is not simply based on having a short-term drug trip, but rather, is branching out to include recognized benefits in healing and shifts in wider consciousness.
April 18, 2018 | Registered CommenterLiara Covert
As a herbalist, I enjoy this article. Changes are happening in mainstream Science. I find that the legalization of some plant medicines is encouraging yet, this does not prevent people from benefiting from other lesser known plant substances to re-balance health and expand consciousness. People find healers who know about Dale Pendell, his Pharmako-Poeia, other Ethno-botanists and shamans. Everyone invites into their lives what they need and are ready to accept or explore.
April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterE.S.
All psychedelic substances have been shown to activate the pineal gland. This includes LSD, cannabis and others. Direct experience enables one to see through the self-created veils to transform perception. Not everyone feels comfortable openly talking about taking illicit drugs or why asking deep questions about they are considered illegal. As consciousness opens, all questions are answered without the desire for external proof. Look what is emerging in wider public spheres outside control structures.
June 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeter
McKenna feels more people otta be open to ingesting DMT for themselves and stop speculating.
Love this quote by Terrence McKenna about his smoking DMT experience:

"Once smoked, the onset of the experience begins in about fifteen seconds. One falls immediately into a trance. One’s eyes are closed and one hears a sound like ripping cellophane…An ascending tone is heard. Also present is the normal hallucinogenic modality, a shifting geometric surface of migrating and changing colored forms. At the synaptic site of activity, all available bond sites are being occupied, and one experiences the mode shift occurring over a period of thirty seconds. At that point one arrives in a place that defies description, a space that has a feeling of being underground, or somehow insulated and domed. In Finnegan’s Wake such a space is called the “merry go raum”, from the German word raum, for “space.” The room is actually going around, and in that space one feels like a child, though one has come out somewhere in eternity."

Read his stuff. Its good. Better still, be open yourself to what people like Dale Pendell and other ethno-botanists discover through direct experience with psychedelics...

July 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBob

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