How can illegal drugs help our brains | David Nutt | TEDxBrussels

How can illegal drugs help our brains | David Nutt | TEDxBrussels


Translator: Elise LECAMP
Reviewer: Denise RQ Thank you. The last talk was about electronic technology
and enhancing the brain. My talk’s about an old technology
enhancing the brain; an old technology
that of course, you all know and love, and that’s called drugs. But I’ll come to that in a minute. I’m going to start with the brain because it’s the most complex
and evolved element in the whole universe. It’s what got you here today,
and hopefully, will get you home tonight. A single mouse brain has
more computing power than all the computers on Earth today. Your brains are at least
a million times more powerful. But unfortunately, it can go wrong. Over the last few years, we’ve discovered the scale of problems
that brain disorders produce. The sum total of illness and cost
to society from brain disorders is greater than that from cancer, cardio-vascular disease,
and diabetes put together. You see on the graph there it’s the equivalent each year
to nearly 800 billion euros. It is if we’re paying off
the Greek debt every year in the burden of illness
produced by brain disorders. We know that investment in these disorders
is not matching the enormous burden. Here, you can see
on the left hand graph, the red circle; ‘brain disorders’ are way outside
the predicted line of investment. They’re the largest disability, and the investment is
disproportionately low. On the right-hand side, you can see
one of the reasons for this. You can see the attrition rate for drugs that go through discovery
into development. Look at the second cylinder there. You can see that from
200 Alzheimer’s drugs in development, only one reaches the clinic. The brain is
a very difficult organ to treat. Why does the brain go wrong? It goes wrong
because of external influences: malnutrition, still a big problem; parental and other abuse
– psychological and physical -; toxins – particularly alcohol. These are images of my own research
showing a normal brain at the top and a brain severely damaged
by alcohol misuse lower down. Infections such as meningitis,
encephalitis are still common, and trauma is a massive problem in terms of leading
to long-term brain damage particularly in young men. And then, there are internal aspects
of the brain development that can go wrong:
related conditions like autism. You can have acquired
abnormalities like epilepsy and there are age-related changes
such as dementia. But the real focus of my talk today
is how the brain limits itself and how we can perhaps expand its capacity
or take away the limit it puts on itself. Your brain is most flexible
when you’re a baby. Some people would argue that the whole process of education
is about taking away flexibility and forcing every one of you
to think and behave in the same way. It’s about getting conformity of process which of course is useful if you’re trying to speak a language
the same way as other people, but may not be useful if it limits how you can deal with
other things such as problems. And also, the constraining of the brain
in itself can lead to problems; if there is not enough of it
in the right place, you get disorders
such as ADHD and schizophrenia. If you get excessive constraints, you can end up with disorders
like OCD and addiction. And also the resilience
in the brain can be impaired, and that will lead to disorders
such as anxiety and depression. The core of my talk really is showing you
how we can now understand the limitations that the brain
constrains the mind with through using drugs. This research really goes back
to the 1950s and the personal experience
of this man, Aldous Huxley, who used peyote and used
LSD, psychedelic drugs, to understand his mind. He wrote about it in the book
“The Doors of Perception,” and he used this quote from William Blake to explain how these drugs
changed his mind. He said, “If the doors
of perception were cleansed, everything would appear
to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up till he sees all things through
narrow chinks of his cavern.” And Huxley realized
that what psychedelics do is take away this phenomenon
that he inferred which is that “the brain is
an instrument for focusing the mind.” Modern neuroscience
has shown they were right. Because, what we now know is that the brain creates
what the mind thinks it’s doing. Here is an example of vision. You might be looking out
at a glorious sunset, but in reality, the light rays
go into your retina and are transformed
into a series of electrical impulses which pass into parts in your brain. And those parts of the brain
reconstruct an image that they think you’re seeing. And that image, in the words of Blake, is seeing through the constraints,
the chinks of the cavern that your brain puts on it. And if you have mental illness
– for instance, depression or addiction – then what you see is also
constrained by your brain. So depressed people don’t see
even the brightness of the sky. They see a dull grey. And of course, people with addiction when they see through
the chinks of their cavern, they simply see the drugs
that they’re addicted to. Psychedelic drugs
take away that limitation. They allow the mind to work
in a much more flexible way. This is our research using psilocybin
in magic mushroom juice. Those two images contain
the same number of connections. But on the left-hand image, under placebo, you see that most of the connections
are around the edge. The brain talks to itself
in regional ways. But under psilocybin, there’s a massive cross-talk,
much more integration; parts of the brain which haven’t talk
to each other since you were children are able to engage. And that’s how people can get new insights and also, potentially overcome damage
of dysfunction of the brain. Here is another study using LSD
showing essentially the same thing. On the left-hand side, you see the visual cortex is
normally very local in how it works. But under LSD,
when people have their eyes closed, they can see enormously vivid,
interesting sets of images. And that’s because the brain is
much more interconnected under LSD than normal. Here you see that the visual cortex connects to most of the rest
of the brain in that state. We’ve been able to utilize this liberation
of processing of the brain, produced by psychedelics, to treat people with depression. Here is a study published last year where we took people with depression who failed two previous
anti-depressive treatments, and also had failed psychotherapy. They were given
a single dose of psilocybin, and you can see there, that a week later, all of them had recovered to some extend, and half of them were now
in a state of remission. They were in the yellow bar there, which shows that their depression
has actually gone away. And that’s not the first evidence that psychedelics have therapy
or have therapeutic uses. We also have evidence
from around the world that psilocybin can be useful in helping
people deal with alcohol dependence, with smoking dependence,
with obsessive compulsive disorder. And most recently, two major studies showing
it can help people come to terms with the anxiety and the depression which almost always accompany
a diagnosis of a terminal illness. So, these drugs can have
potentially enormous opportunities for helping people deal
with mental distress. It’s not just psychedelics
that can have that potential. Many illegal drugs have medical uses. So for non-psychedelics
such as MDMA, ecstasy, where there is good evidence
in post-traumatic stress disorder and also some studies
going on in addiction. And of course, there is cannabis where we have a range
of different disorders from pain, spasticity, cancer, epilepsy, inflammatory diseases,
and also sleep disorders. All of these, potentially, are amenable
to treatment with cannabis. So, why don’t we use these drugs? That’s because the WHL and the UN
have said they are too dangerous, which is certainly untrue. I can tell you categorically none of our patients died
in the experiments we did on them. Most of our governments
perpetuate this lie. And many of us – hopefully, not you –
have closed minds. We do not want to believe
that these might have therapeutic utility. So I want to say to you now, surely now: you, if not everyone, should accept the fact that these drugs potentially
could be very important medicines. For the sake of the millions of people
in the world who could be helped, it’s time to say there should be no limits to the therapeutic research
we do with these drugs. Thank you. (Applause)


91 thoughts on “How can illegal drugs help our brains | David Nutt | TEDxBrussels

  1. The best part about emotional problems is that you can sell the patient just about anything, they won't know any better.

  2. I think I smoked weed aggressively enough after turning 40 to make many of the synapse connections permanent to the point where I felt I completely had conquered weed at any dose, it had lost its ability to confuse my brain (get me high). I felt I could do the same with the hallucinogenics and so when offered 3 tabs of 600 mu each LSD, I took all 3 at once for the mental challenge of it (although I wasn't fighting it, but hoping to feel something) but as I had actually predicted to several friends, it had Very little affect on me. I've only had LSD once more and mushrooms twice since and despite similarly relatively heavy doses, almost zero effects. I think I smoked my way to a cross hallucinogenic tolerance. I believe I have already made those synapse connections permanent thanks to weed, and so now with weed or with the hallucinogenics, they don't have the capability to add many new connections and therefore aren't capable of confusing my brain. Wild psychedelic mushroom season is coming soon and I plan to really give shrooms their fair opportunity, and I am trying to connect for some ayahuasca as well, but I have virtually zero confidence in their ability to get me high in any measurable (negatively) way. My last time on mushrooms, I was the only one that consumed any intoxicants and my friends tested me intellectually and with physical tests and we concluded they weren't sure I wasn't performance enhanced on every level they could notice. hehe I think these are brain-building and we need to legalize and study them now, even more so because of the opioid epidemic. Also, new interneuronal synapse connections are new perspectives and add to our ability to feel empathy in a time when the world needs an empathy revolution.

  3. Is this the same person (Prof. Nutt) who is working on developing a substance ( like alcohol) that gets you drunk but gives you No Hangover? I read about it in a free paper called "Valley Advocate" but it gave no first name. It does seem like he is interested in the same, but I have no way of knowing it is the same person or not. It was published on October 12, 2017. I will try to look into it.

  4. I wish you would have presented that better. I've found all that and more to be true, but this would not have convinced me.

  5. Please remember that cannabis is a psychedelic drug. The great fallacy that propels the con of "medicinal" cannabis is that it functions like a pharmaceutical drug. It doesn't: it opens areas of consciousness enabling degrees of quantum self-healing to occur

    It is good to hear Nutt supporting Huxley. Of course I can't forget that it was the outrage by his predecessors towards Leary that created the illegality in the first place, preventing people like Janov and Laing from making further advances with psychedelic therapy

  6. Please remember that cannabis is a psychedelic drug. The great fallacy that propels the con of "medicinal" cannabis is that it functions like a pharmaceutical drug. It doesn't: it opens areas of consciousness enabling degrees of quantum self-healing to occur

    It is good to hear Nutt supporting Huxley. Of course I can't forget that it was the outrage by his predecessors towards Leary that created the illegality in the first place, preventing people like Janov and Laing from making further advances with psychedelic therapy

  7. So much left out in these talks about the potential negative consequences of using these substances . There is no free lunch … there is no panaceas.

  8. if somehow greatness would arise from brain inquisition, they would he quick to " jump-in." The state is perfect, the identical repacement of an obtuse monarchy or the sheer force brute (Leviathans are perfect too)….lol

  9. Stay away from modafinil! I got really into it a few years ago – it was such a bad experience and couldn't deal with the side-effects. I now use brainzyme, and it's much much better!

  10. minor quibble with his categorisation of autism being solely a developmental disorder – we don't know precisely what (or what group of things) 'causes' it, so that's an unfair claim.

    other than that, totally agree with his point – we should not be letting anti scientific prejudice get in the way of research. This doesn't mean that automatically LSD and weed are good for you – but that there are indications that they, or some compound in them might have a use in medicine for improving quality of life. The reason we don't know how is because for the most part we're banned with experimenting with them, and without that we can't do a whole lot of research, so it's kind of like saying "you, scientist person, go find something to numb my pain, but you're not allowed to go near anything like the opium poppy, or experiment with propionic acid" and then moaning why we don't have any good pain killers or anti inflammatories.
    Just leave us to do our jobs eh? That's why scientists are scientist, and politicians are politicians (these days if we're lucky some of them might actually follow the directives of political science hah.

  11. Intravenous (I.V) injection's are downright dangerous if left to under-qualified-or-un-qualified people/person's enema's are grotesque and dangerous and insufflation or nasal inhalation is grotesque and dangerous leaving only ingestion or eating/drinking tablet's/capsules oral inhalation such as and specifically the practice of smoking such as and specifically the practice of herbal vaping such as and specifically the practice of liquid vaping and such as and specifically the practice of dabbing and topical administration through-and-under patches or ointment's but regularly whether you chain use/consume partially orally inhale or fully orally inhale associate/affiliate with certain personalities-and-psychologies/mind-set's specifically problem personalities-and-psychologies/mind-set's or socialise/network and the age you start-and-finish and the time you begin to the time you end are all relevant social-cultural/socio-cultural aspect's or nurture aspect's versus nature or environment versus biological-chemistry/bio-chemistry

  12. Best medical practitioner I've ever had the pleasure of seeing also a highly interesting man to talk to shame I was only 19 when I saw him

  13. Sorry , but how does he know that the human brain is the only most complex and evolved element in the blah blah……this cosmos can hold 10,0000…n ; million supernova explosions in a split second, that's how large it is , that's how colossal it is……….

  14. Direct, straightforward information from someone who knows what he's talking about. Thanks Mr. Nutt.

  15. Ouch. Audio gone haywire, half the slides not direct loaded to video…
    The talk is okay, but this video has… ehrm, let's say… "room for improvement."

  16. The last thing the government wants is a free thinking population who have realised that there is only love and they do not require being told what they can and can not do.

  17. Terrence McKenna should be a house hold name. My God. Take back your minds culture is not our Freind. Take Suboxone not iboga. Take lythium not silocybin. Let your children become brainwashed by technology not nature. WAKE UP WAKE UP. FORGET FOOTBALL AND FACEBOOK. GO BECOME ONE WITH NATURE AND GODS CREATIONS THAT COME FROM MOTHER EARTHS LOVING GARDEN.ITS A THREAT TO EXPAND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS WITH THESE NATURAL GROWING PLANTS ITS VERY DISRUPTIVE TO THE DOMINATORS THAT SPILL OUR BLOOD DAY AND NIGHT. WAKE UP

  18. Take the chance and live without fear. No fear. No regrets. Love not hate. Think with your heart feel with your gut and control your mind.

  19. Informative video, but what about dependence on LCD, if u stop use, You'll be miserable again? Or you won't be able to sleep If you don't use canabis?

  20. Its a wonder you tube and government has not banned these types of talks, business as usual going down the same destructive road.

  21. Hi guys . Please tell me it now can help Bipolar 1…? According to Dr Fadiman (2018) ,you can use shrooms in a
    “depressed state.” But not recommended for use in manic states. Does ecstasy help bipolar? I had my first manic episode at age 37. Then diagnosed as bipolar and ptsd. I WISH I only had ptsd cause then I would take shrooms or lsd. I’ve been in a low state so Micro-dosed .5 grams every 3 days for a month. I felt great for about 3 months . I want to do it again but not sure what studies/ data show in 2019.

  22. Im 17 and live in sweden, I was arrested for cannabis possesion and am getting prosecuted despite never bothering a soul while the Police are to undermanned to investigate murders and rapes. What a world

  23. So why dont we use these drugs?
    Thats because the WHL and the UN have said they are too dangerous.
    Which is certainly untrue.
    ….. none of our patients died in the experiments we did on them.
    Most of our governments perpetuate this lie.

    Clear evidence here to defy the morons that run our countries.
    Its high time for a revolution, thank you David Nutt, your work is an incredible catalyst.

  24. You know what else acid or mushrooms can do? It can send someone into a state of panic that causes them to have a anxiety disorder for years. This is bad fuckin advice for anyone unless the patient’s life is in danger.

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