Friday, March 24, 2023

7 Women Advancing Research and Advocacy for Psychedelics


As demand soars for alternative mental health treatments, psychedelics continue to bubble to the surface. These women are advancing modern research, treatment, and advocacy.

The world is facing a mental health crisis, with millions of people struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health disorders. Despite advancements in modern medicine, traditional treatments like antidepressants and therapy have proven to be insufficient for many people. This has led to a growing interest in alternative treatments, including psychedelics. And women are leading the charge.

Psychedelics have been used for centuries in spiritual and healing practices and revered by Indigenous communities around the world. They were criminalized throughout developed countries in the mid-20th century due to their association with the counterculture movement. However, in recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelics as a potential treatment for mental health disorders.

woman with mushroom
Can psychedelics improve your mental health? Courtesy Vinícius Müller | Unsplash

Studies have shown that psychedelics can have profound therapeutic effects, with some patients experiencing long-lasting improvements in symptoms after just a few sessions. Research has also suggested that psychedelics may help to reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood and creativity, and enhance feelings of connection and empathy.

Despite the promising results, the field of psychedelic research and therapy is still relatively new, and there are many questions that remain unanswered. But that’s where women come in; women are playing an increasingly important role in the development of psychedelic research, policy, and business.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and more than 800,000 people die by suicide each year. The covid pandemic has also taken a toll on mental health, with surveys showing that rates of anxiety and depression have increased significantly since the start of the pandemic.

Traditional treatments like antidepressants and therapy have limited success rates, with studies showing that up to 30 percent of patients do not respond to these treatments. In contrast, early studies have shown that psychedelics have much higher success rates, with up to 80 percent of patients experiencing significant reductions in symptoms.

Despite the promising results, there is still much research that needs to be done in order to fully understand the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. Additionally, the legal and regulatory landscape around psychedelics is complex, with many challenges facing researchers and entrepreneurs in the field.

Women in psychedelics

As research and interest in psychedelics grow, women are taking a leadership role in the movement. From research to business to advocacy, women are playing an important role in shaping the future of psychedelic medicine. Here are some of the category’s biggest changemakers.

1. Dr. Rosalind Watts

Dr. Rosalind Watts is a clinical psychologist and researcher at Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research. Her work focuses on using psychedelics to treat depression and anxiety, and she was a lead therapist in the landmark psilocybin for depression study.

Rachel Yehuda
Rachel Yehuda, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York | Courtesy

2. Dr. Rachel Yehuda

A professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, Dr. Rachel Yehuda’s work focuses on using psychedelics to treat PTSD, and she has conducted some of the earliest studies on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.

3. Saima Khan

Saima Khan is co-founder and CEO of CaaMTech, a psychedelic drug discovery and development company. The company is focused on developing new psychedelic compounds that have therapeutic potential, and they are currently working on developing a new class of non-hallucinogenic psychedelics.

4. Veronica Hernandez

Co-founder and executive director of the Plant Medicine Coalition, Veronica Hernandez is an advocate for safe and equitable access to plant medicines. Her organization focuses on education, advocacy, and harm reduction, and aims to ensure that all people have access to safe and effective plant medicine treatments.

Monnica Williams
Monnica Williams is advancing psychedelics and race | Courtesy

5. Dr. Monnica Williams

Dr. Monnica Williams is a clinical psychologist and researcher at the University of Kentucky, and is one of the leading experts on the intersection of race and psychedelics. Her work focuses on the potential for psychedelics to address racial trauma and reduce racial biases.

6. Elena Argento

A postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, Elena Argento studies the use of psychedelic medicines for addiction treatment. Her research focuses on the potential for psychedelics to help individuals overcome addiction and reduce relapse rates.

7. Katherine MacLean

Through research and education, Katherine MacLean is studying the effects of psychedelic medicines on consciousness and the brain. She is also the founder of the Psychedelic Education and Continuing Care Program, which provides support and education for individuals who have had psychedelic experiences.

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