Dr. Weil's Perspective

Dr. Andrew Weil studied biology with a concentration in ethnobotany at Harvard and later completed his medical degree there, in 1968. In 1994, he founded what is now the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. Dr. Weil has been open about his interest and experimentation with psychedelics and is excited to see the depth of research that has come about with this new renaissance, exploring the therapeutic value of various psychedelics. The following are some of his responses to questions related to this topic. Individual video clips can be found throughout this toolkit's pages.

  1. Social and Political Change 62
  2. Most Promising Psychedelics 86
  3. Potential of Psychedelics and Health 159
  4. Next Steps for the Field of Therapeutic Psychedelics 30
  5. Traditional, Recreational, and Clinical Use of Psychedelics 166
  6. Microdosing - Not Enough Research 48
  7. Risk of Negative Experiences 75
  8. Risk and Safety 71

What is a psychedelic medicine?

Psychedelics are a class of psychoactive substances that can produce altered states of consciousness characterized by major alterations in thought, mood, and perception. In clinical medicine, this large class of psychoactive substances was previously referred to as hallucinogens, as they may induce hallucinations. From the Greek, psychedelic has been translated as mind manifesting, but it can also be translated as soul (psyche) manifesting. There are many naturally occurring psychedelic substances that can be prepared from plant, fungal, and animal sources, some of which have been used traditionally for centuries and even, in some cases, for millennia.

Traditionally, psychedelics included two subgroups of compounds (although these categories continue to evolve): the phenethylamines and the tryptamines. The psychedelic phenethylamines include, for example, mescaline and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). The psychedelic tryptamines (closely related to Serotonin/5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine) include LSD, psilocybin derived from psilocybin mushrooms, and DMT (N, N-dimethyltryptamine) derived from plant sources and produced endogenously. The "hallucinogenic” activity of these substances is mediated by the serotonin-2A receptor in the brain . Continued research is further elucidating related neuroscientific mechanisms. For example, we are still learning about the mechanisms involved in the psychedelic effects of the disassociative anesthetic ketamine or the plant-derived tryptamine ibogaine.