Psychedelic Press UK

psypress coverThe very excellent Psyspress UK anthology is on sale, with one of my articles in it. This excellent publication brings together various mind-bending writers, among them:

– Andy Roberts (historian and Fortean Times writer) on the history of the Welsh Psilocybin festival.

– Casey William Hardison (one-time underground chemist) on his bust, incarceration.

– Dr Ben Sessa (psychiatrist and co-founder of Breaking Convention) on medical cannabis.

– Simon G. Powell (author and film-maker) on psilocybin and natural intelligence.


My article is called Taboo from the Jungle to the Clinic,
and this is an excerpt:

Food taboos, for example, are almost universally maintained by curanderos, and often their patients; but the only clear guideline from the scientific community on what to avoid concerns the class of anti-depressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Consequently, despite the fact that ayahuasca and other psychedelics[i] seem to combat depression, newcomers to ceremonies are invariably interviewed about anti-depressants, and those taking Zoloft, Prozac and other SSRI’s (i.e. roughly 1 in 10 Americans[ii]) will not be admitted. This is a theoretical objection, however, which has absolutely no empirical evidence supporting it. One psychiatrist, whose SSRI patients have been safely drinking ayahuasca for years, comments that despite widespread use of SSRIs in the West and Brazil, “there is no single report of any death or doubtless case of serotonin syndrome that could be attributable to ayahuasca and SSRIs.”[iii]

Psychiatrist Ede Frecska, who describes the objection as “an overprotective but necessary warning”[iv], comments that “the traditional ayahuasca diet… [recommends plantain,] a type of banana, which theoretically would be prohibited by the MAOI-safety diet.” He also notes that the diet “may serve a very rational function: to increase brain serotonin by tryptophan intake.”[v] So why have 15 years passed since the theory was first suggested,[vi] without a single study taking place? Surely autopsies of rats given both, or surveys of long term drinkers, might generate interesting data?

The scientific community widely publicizes a theoretical objection from its own camp, despite a total lack of supporting evidence; meanwhile it stays silent about traditional recommendations, and neither tests them nor consider them to be important. One excellent study of therapeutic effects, for example, notes that “specific cautions regarding diet and the possibly harmful combination of medications were frequently taken”, but records nothing about the specifics or the effects of the diets.[vii]

Ever since first contact, when Columbus misnamed New World natives as ‘Indians’, we have been jumping to conclusions about the indigenous world. We have come a long way, however, and today, as Kenneth Tupper notes, “cultural globalization opens pathways for the movement of ideas, beliefs and practices multi-directionally”.[viii] But if pathways are open, what keeps traditional ideas from breaching the ivory towers of the academy?

To read on, I’m afraid you’re going to have to buy it here – available as a book or on Kindle



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