Chances are, you’ve heard the term “medical marijuana”. It’s also pretty likely that you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal. However, only 22 years ago, this wasn’t the case. Clearly, there is currently a shift in perception of illegal drugs and what their role can be in a healthcare setting. And while it’s still as important as ever to say “no” to any drugs that are not legal or regulated, new evidence indicates that certain illicit substances – when used in controlled settings and with controlled dosing – may actually have beneficial medical effects. In the case of medical marijuana, it is reported that it can help with cancer-associated pain, can help reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and can relieve symptoms in those suffering from multiple sclerosis.
There are also a number of other drugs you may or may not have heard of which have been shown to have positive health effects. It is important to point out that studies of these drugs are somewhat limited since there is an ethical question about whether the drugs are safe to use and whether it is legal to study illegal drugs. Nonetheless, here’s what some of the research in the past few years has shown:
Ketamine (Special K)
On the street, ketamine is known as a dissociative agent, making users feel detached from their environment. However, ketamine has long been known to the medical world and is frequently used as a sedative in hospital settings. In fact, anesthesiologists even use it on children. Additionally, emerging research shows that ketamine’s benefits go beyond this. Studies show that it can be used to treat certain kinds of depression when other medications do not work, and it can also help treat PTSD.
On the street, LSD is known as a powerful hallucinogen. And in clinical studies, it has been shown to have positive effects, especially for certain mental conditions. Taking LSD increases positive mood overall, and it can also be effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and addiction. For instance, one 2012 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed it could help in the treatment of alcoholism.
Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms or Shrooms)
Like LSD, on the street, psilocybin is known as a powerful hallucinogen. And similarly to LSD, studies have shown that psilocybin can have anti-depressive, anti-anxiety, and anti-addictive effects. A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry also showed that it could increase people’s recall of certain events.
MDMA (Ecstacy or Molly)
On the street, MDMA is known to give users a feeling of boundless energy and connection with others. And the FDA has taken notice that it may have positive effects. Approved by the FDA, studies have advanced to Phase 3 clinical trials to determine if MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can be effective for the treatment of PTSD. It will be interesting to follow-up on these studies and see what they determine.
While all of this is very exciting, remember that these drugs have only been shown to have these effects in limited, controlled settings. As of now, it is still not safe for you to seek out or use any of these drugs on your own. Short-term and long-term use of any illegal drug can cause serious side effects. If you do use an illegal drug and want to know more about how it is affecting you, consult with your doctor.