A ravishing, gold and silver-haired provocateur invents a whole new phase of life: It's all about getting older without growing up. Some find her disgraceful, others delightful, but the best part is, SHE DOESN’T CARE! With one foot in the grave and the other in high school, she has become – with grand style and flip humor – a planetary icon and a tireless champion of "the fairer sex."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Regarding Alzheimer's: Let's blow Big Pharma's mind, and expand our own

I can see for miles and miles.
     Has it ever occurred to you that dementia might be one of the most colorful and liberating phases of your life?  Of course it hasn't -- because you aren't Elderly Girl! Who else would come up with such an outlandish proposition? 
    Certainly not the pharmaceutical companies. Despite hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars, their research has  failed spectacularly to provide any real hope. Their best efforts have not only been ineffective -- they have also come, of course, with terrible side-effects and outrageous price tags. 
    Screw them! We don't need them! We can figure this out ourselves. The remedies have been out there for thousands of years.
    Among other strategies, we will ingest MIND-EXPANDING DRUGS in order to defeat a MIND-SHRINKING DISEASE. Does this not make perfect sense?


     Mirrrors on the ceiling! Pink champagne on ice! We are all just adventurers here, of our own device!    
    Psychoactive substances have been enriching, focusing, augmenting, stimulating and healing the human brain since ancient times. In the U.S., as one would expect, a blend of hypocrisy and puritanism -- with a distinct totalitarian aroma -- has brutally eliminated these medicinals from our midst, and made it totally scary even to visualize the word "psychedelic." The failure to study the value of these drugs has perpetuated the suffering of millions of people.
   "There is something profoundly amazing about LSD and its effects," the New York Times reported in 2010. "Many people who consume hallucinogens gain the ability to access and relive memories and events from the past. Hallucinogens have played a starring role in the lives of writers, artists, visionaries, escapists, spiritualists, the curious and the bored for thousands of years."
    Why are such assessments, shared by neuroscientists around the world, totally ignored? Our culture has remained willfully blind to a resource that could save us all immeasurable heartache if it were conscientiously applied to our Alzheimer's epidemic.
    Potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and many other illnesses are being blocked by anti-drug laws, according to a June 2013 editorial review published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
    Lead author David Nutt, chair of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and his colleagues argue that tight restrictions on research on illegal drugs like marijuana and “legal highs” are hindering progress in neuroscience and deterring drug companies from pursuing important leads in major disorders affecting millions of patients. Nutt lost his job as the top advisor to the British government on drug policy in 2009 for publicizing data showing that ecstasy (MDMA) is less harmful than drinking or horseback riding.

    (Even vitamins and spices have a demonstrably greater impact on the disease than the tortured chemical confabulations being put on the market by the pharmaceutical industry, according to scientific literature. A study reported on May 20, 2013 in Business Week indicates that a simple, 30-cent daily regimen of Vitamins B12, B6 and folic acid slows the loss of gray matter from 5.2 percent per year to 0.6 percent. Nothing produced by Big Pharma has slowed the progression at all.  
     “It’s the first and only disease-modifying treatment that’s worked,” said A. David Smith, professor emeritus of pharmacology at Oxford University in England and senior author of the study. “We have proved the concept that you can modify the disease.” The results were characterized as "staggering" by  the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.) When a guest on the "Dr. Oz Show" described the study and its implications, Dr. Oz said, "Why do we not know this? Why have we not been told? Someone should be shouting it from the rooftops!" 
                                                                by Martes Mariguano
    (The following day, a study published by  Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that two compounds in cinnamon may prevent the formation of the clumps and knots in the brain that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's. “Wouldn’t it be interesting if a small molecule from a spice could have such a profound impact?” lead researcher Nathan Graves asked. Interesting indeed!) (But Big Pharma can't get rich off of vitamins and spices.)
     The same could be said for coffee, which has shown breathtaking potential for staving off dementia and for slowing the progression of mild cognitive impairment, according to studies cited by the New York Times on June 6, 2013. The study results are startling.

    And then there are nicotine patches, which appear to slow the progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study Georgetown professors and other researchers published last year in the journal Neurology. The research indicated that six months of nicotine patch treatment resulted in patients regaining up to 46 percent of normal performance for their age on certain long-term memory tests. The placebo group worsened by 26 percent during that time. A 2010 study had showed that nicotine improves short-term episodic memory-accuracy, and working memory.  
    These are astonishing outcomes. Given the enormity of the Alzheimer's epidemic -- and the devastation it wreaks emotionally and economically -- why aren't our doctors routinely disseminating these data to us? What might happen to the epidemic of brain-ravaging diseases if we all began taking the B vitamins, coffee, cinnamon and nicotine? 
    The pharmaceutical companies would be totally pissed. And our doctors are locked in quite a passionate embrace with Big Pharma. A New York Times article on May 5, 2013, noted that a substantial percentage of doctors receive between tens of thousands and more than a million dollars a year from drug companies, in the forms of various gratuities, "consultation fees," and "peer interactions." Hundreds of millions of dollars are doled out each year to ensure that doctors are tightly bound to the drug industry.

MEDIA IGNORE MAJOR HALLUCINOGEN-SCIENCE EVENT 

    Just last month, the  New Mexico-based Heffter Research Institute co-sponsored the five-day Psychedelic Science 2013 conference in Oakland, Calif., along with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and the world's leading psychedelic research institutes. The Heffter Institute also supports the Heffter Research Center in Z├╝rich, Switzerland, under the direction of Dr. Franz Vollenweider, the world’s foremost expert in clinical studies of psychedelics and related substances.
    Nearly 1,900 people from around the world attended the hundreds of sessions at the Oakland Marriott.

'SO KEEP ON PLAYIN' THE MIND GUERRILLA' / JOHN LENNON 
    More than 100 of the world’s most respected researchers, from 13 countries, presented recent findings  into the therapeutic applications of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, ayahuasca, ibogaine, ketamine, cannabis, and others.
    Doesn't this major conclave seem like something you would expect to learn about from your daily paper, or the evening news? It is vitally important, not just regarding Alzheimer's, but also to an array of common psychological issues. 
                                                         by Jonathan Knowlton
    For all intents and purposes, the vast trove of information that was presented at this gathering was CENSORED from the public.
    American news media uniformly ignored this conference. A minor blog, "Boing, Boing," referred to it but did not cover it. Admirable but relatively small and narrowly focused media such as Reason, Wired and AlterNet did address some of the issues, but didn't provide coverage of the conference's many presentations. How can that be? Surely no person or government agency could have ordered the media to pretend it wasn't happening. Why did they shy away from it? I guess I am naive in believing that this is so important to medical progress.
     (On June 2, an interesting report about the conference appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Thanks to the Chronicle for having some class and social responsibility! http://chronicle.com/article/Psychedelic-Academe/139509/)

PREPARING TO TAKE THE PLUNGE, BIKINI OPTIONAL
     As Elderly Girl contemplates her own likely descent into Alzheimer's, this ancient young lady plans to have one mind-blowing experience after another (and of course, you're all invited) -- a scenario that she is engineering with the assistance of the world's most visionary brain theorists. Their minds are blown already, by her brilliant plan to turn this most heartbreaking reality into the Greatest Bash of All Time, ushering in a sunny flood of flower power, "peace, love and understanding," and some incense and peppermints. 
  
Whoa, man: It's morning already. Or was that tomorrow?
    
    
"THE KANDY-KOLORED TANGERINE FLAKE STREAMLINE BABY'        
   Elderly Girl's  blueprint forges mind-expanding drugs and emerging technologies into a fabulous new realm of consciousness. Alzheimer's, she believes, will some day be regarded as a natural stage of life, like adolescence, only way more fun.

Are we coming or going? Is this entropy or ecstasy?
    As the '70s rock band Jefferson Airplane might counsel the newly demented:


When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
Remember what the doormouse said;
"Feed YOUR HEAD...
Feed your head"


ELDERLY GIRL FLIPS DREAD INTO PLEASANT ANTICIPATION

   Feed it, indeed! Psychotropic drugs can be chicken soup for the brain. We can and must liberate ourselves from the Tyranny of the Uptight so we can join the vast majority of people around the world, who freely make use of these analgesics.
    What better time is there to pull a rabbit out of your hat and see if you feel ten feet tall? What better time to join Lucy in the sky, with all those diamonds? 
    Especially at a time when drugs like Special K, the horse tranquilizer and FDA-approved anesthesia that has been used for years as a popular hallucinogenic party drug -- is proving to be the most promising treatment for depression in years (if not ever). Ketamine helps restore the dysfunctional communication between nerve cells, which makes me wonder: Isn't this relevant to Alzheimer's? 
    It also works on brain receptors, promotes the growth of  synapses, and lets the brain heal itself, according to . Upon further investigation, I learned that because of these associations with neuroplasticity, researchers are indeed beginning to look into the effect of ketamine on Alzheimer’s.
 
    Ironically, those in nursing homes are already being drugged out of their minds, for the convenience of their keepers. Those opiates and barbituates actually expedite patients'  cognitive decline.  There was no informed consent here. These people are being quietly, relentlessly erased (and shut up) by their profiteering overlords.
   
     Even so, I am acutely aware of the inappropriateness of administering controversial treatments without the informed consent of patients. I am also very uncomfortable with the use of these drugs in patients whose disease is advanced, until and unless we can determine -- by fMRI imaging perhaps -- that "they" are still in there. If Alzheimer's has thoroughly taken over and destroyed their minds and erased their selves, of course we should not be using them as living cadavers for research purposes. 
   For the time being, I believe we must develop a standardized form that will enable those of us who are currently of sound mind to authorize such "mind expanding" therapies if and when we develop dementia. It should be part of our Health Care Directives and living wills.
    In the meantime, it seems reasonable for those who hold medical powers of attorney to be allowed to make decisions that could add years of relative comfort, clarity and joy to their loved ones' lives. After all, those who have Alzheimer's didn't give their consent to be virtually erased from Earthly existence with the opiates and barbituates they're currently being fed by the spoonful. If they could just smoke a joint instead, they might actually have a pleasant morning. And they wouldn't get constipated!

OPEN UP YOUR MIND, AND DAMN: YOU'RE FREE 
    There is clear and compelling evidence that mind-altering drugs have the potential to treat the many dementias, including Alzheimer's, and that they can also provide stimulation, pleasure and comfort to those who are suffering. Many of these substances -- most of which are plant-based -- have been used for thousands of years in celebratory, ritual and spiritual realms. Some have been as much a part of daily life as our caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
    Elderly Girl would be perfectly happy to flout the law and experiment with these "illicit" substances immediately, but she can't expect others to share in her heedlessness. 
    So she's mobilizing scientists to mount a forceful campaign to make research into these medicinals not only legal but also well-funded. The NIH alone is handing out $500 million a year in Alzheimer's research funds to pharmaceutical companies (who of course hope to make billions if they ever figure this whole thing out). Other agencies are also heaping funds on these global conglomerates.
    Even the most awesome drugs will unlikely be adequate to provide optimal results in our efforts to harness Alzheimer's.  Elderly Girl is also coordinating the development of groundbreaking technologies that can upload and download memories, electrically revive buried memories, and enrapture us in virtual realities that will beat back Alzheimer's with their neuronal excitations. The research that is currently being performed in these areas has not gotten the support it needs, but it is truly exhilarating, as we will describe in our next post.

FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY
    Wikipedia offers excellent summaries of "taboo" substances -- virtually all of them found in nature and many with an ancient heritage -- that are inherently interesting, but also strikingly relevant to addressing the Alzheimer's-ravaged mind. I will quote extensively from this material while Elderly Girl tries to decide which ones to try, and in what order:
You've come a long way, baby: Out of the very distant past.
     From Wikipedia: "An entheogen ("generating the divine within") is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Entheogens can supplement many diverse practices for transcendence, and revelation, including meditation, psychonautics, psychedelic and visionary art, psychedelic therapy, and magic. Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years; their religious significance is well established in anthropological and modern evidences. Examples of traditional entheogens include: peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, uncured tobacco, cannabis, ayahuasca, Salvia divinorum, Tabernanthe iboga, Ipomoea tricolor, and Amanita muscaria.....More broadly, the term entheogen is used to refer to any psychoactive substances when used for their religious or spiritual effects...Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition."
 
    (The reference to uncured tobacco is interesting, given our previous reference to nicotine patches. There is also evidence that increased concentrations of acetylcholine in the brain, which can be achieved by taking simple cholinesterase inhibitors, can lead in some patients to increase communication between nerve cells and may temporarily improve or stabilize the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Grape seed-derived polyphenolics—similar to those in red wine—significantly reduced Alzheimer’s disease-type cognitive deterioration in a study reported in the journal Neuroscience. Are any of these therapies being used in nursing homes or recommended by their Pharma-pal doctors? I don't think so! They're still feeding patients Lortab by the spoonful.)

"Transcendence" by  VUCETIC Ivo
OUT OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE
     Elderly Girl is determined to blast open the pathetically small (and small-minded) (and profit-obsessed) armamentarium of weapons against Alzheimer's to include substances such as entheogens and other banned chemicals. How cruel and criminal that this work didn't begin long ago.
    Dozens of other substances that are characterized as psychedelic (thus forbidden, for being too much fun), are also described by Wikipedia:
    "The psychedelic experience is often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance, meditation, yoga, religious fervor, dreaming and even extremely moving and reassuring near-death experiences.....

   
The peace between the states. (art by desexign)
  
    "First, sensory perceptions become especially brilliant and intense...The emotional effects are even more profound than the perceptual ones. The drug taker becomes unusually sensitive to faces, gestures, and small changes in the environment. As everything in the field of consciousness assumes unusual importance, feelings become magnified....In some cases the culmination is a mystical ecstasy in which for an eternal moment all contradictions seem reconciled, all questions answered, all wants irrelevant or satisfied, all existence encompassed by an experience that is felt to define the ultimate reality, boundless, timeless, and ineffable....."
    Doesn't this sound worthwhile as an antidote to Alzheimer's, among other things? 
  
GRAND THEFT AUTONOMIC
     And does it not sound like an excellent adventure?
    There are also the "nootropic" drugs, which have shown great promise in treating memory-related disorders. 
    Once again quoting Wikipedia: "Nootropics, also referred to as smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers, are drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that purportedly improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration."

Bringing a golden glow back to darkened, harrowed minds.
    The scholarly data on substances such as memantine, piracetam, vasopressin and hydergine show extraordinary promise in providing relief from a variety of medical conditions, particularly those pertaining to perception, learning, alertness, reasoning, improving memory and even reversing memory loss. They are being widely studied overseas, and some are even available over the counter, but they remain in a repressive legal vise in the U.S., except when drug companies try to tweak them into patentable products.
    (Why is the U.S. so backward when it comes to issues such as these -- including social justice, climate change, banning harmful chemicals, personal liberties, etc.? Low literacy rates, high incarceration rates, mass murders, income inequality, political gridlock, etc.? We need drugs more than anyone, just to chill out in the face of all this absurdity.)

WE WILL (WE WILL) ROCK YOU 
    European journals describe ways in which such substances can "open up the mind," and "bring light into darkened and damaged areas." Our health-care system is perfectly content to "tip-toe through the tulips," blithely standing by while the brains of its patients become ever darker and more damaged  
Tiptoe.
     The Heffter Research Institute in Zurich "promotes research of the highest scientific quality with the classical hallucinogens and related compounds (sometimes called psychedelics) in order to contribute to a greater understanding of the mind leading to the improvement of the human condition, and to alleviate suffering," according to its web site. It has aided scientists in the U.S. and elsewhere in providing data on what has worked in previous trials, and it provides a peer-review process for proposals. If their protocol is approved, the organization seeks private funding for it. 
   
THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST 

    Certain classes of drugs denoted as psychedelic seem particularly interesting as possible treatments for Alzheimer's. 
    The effect of empathogen-entactogens, Wikipedia says, is "characterized by feelings of openness, euphoria, empathy, love, and heightened self-awareness." Wikipedia lists 20 of these substances, which include MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy. Although Ecstasy is widely known as a "club drug," and can be dangerous if irresponsibly dosed, it has shown promise as an adjunct to psychotherapy.
   
In controlled settings, Ecstasy has been effective in treating anxiety disorders.  
     The effects of cannabinoids (found in marijuana) "may include a general change in consciousness, mild euphoria, feelings of general well-being, relaxation or stress reduction, enhanced recollection of episodic memory, hunger, increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, and creative or philosophical thinking," according to Wikipedia. Doesn't it seem far more humane to offer patients a "special" brownie than to numb their minds and dull their senses with central nervous system depressants?
    Also according to Wikipedia, a clinical study of rats at the University of Saskatchewan in 2005, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed regeneration of nerve cells in the hippocampus (the brain's memory center) following the administration of cannabis. Studies have shown that a synthetic drug resembling THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, provides some protection against brain inflammation, which might result in better memory at an older age.
     But marijuana is evil, right? 
    One of numerous natural substances that seem to offer substantial hope for Alzheimer's  patients is Salvia divinorum, a powerful hallucinogen, which has become a popular street drug in recent years, providing widespread joy and intensity to our nation's young people -- quite disgraceful, of course. It has been used for centuries in Mexico during healing sessions and to create visionary states.


BRAINS COULD BE 'BRIGHTENED' IF WE WERE MORE ENLIGHTENED
   Doctors hope further studies of salvia will unlock treatments for a variety of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and illnesses that cause chronic pain.
   Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital concluded in 2011 that salvia may indeed "brighten" the brains of those with Alzheimer's. 
    How can we continue to suppress evidence such as this while people are suffering so profoundly?
Elderly Girl looks forward to riding bareback through new worlds.
    "Salvia is unlike anything that exists," according to Dr. Matthew Johnson, lead study researcher, psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. Test subjects had a feeling of "leaving this reality completely and going to other worlds or dimensions and interacting with compassionate entities," Johnson told ABC News.  
    It seems reasonable to assume that psychedelic drugs in general should be studied to see if they can expand, enliven, comfort, entertain and/or help preserve the cognitive function of Alzheimer's patients. 
    As a class, these drugs enable a state of "unconstrained cognition," according to scientists in the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit at Imperial College London. 
"And she's climbing a stairway to heaven." (Led Zeppelin)
     Doesn't that sound quite pertinent? 
   

A NEW WORLD SYMPHONY
    Here's another good example: As part of a study at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, psilocybin (a "psychedelic" mushroom) was given to emotionally stable individuals who had never taken hallucinogens before. More than a year later, two thirds of the subjects, ages 24 to 64, said the experience was one of the most meaningful and spiritual experiences of their entire lives. Many of them compared it to the birth of a child or the death of a parent in its emotional impact.  
PET scan shows brain regions affected by psilocybin.
    Psilocybin can stimulate and protect areas of the brain that might otherwise be succumbing to Alzheimers, the researchers said. 

AND WE'LL LIVE BENEATH THE WAVES IN OUR YELLOW SUBMARINE
    We have allowed so many of our dear ones with Alzheimer's to deteriorate to a state of paranoia, aversion and catatonia, even though it was widely known that these dozens of nonconventional treatments offered tremendous promise. It is unforgivable. Elderly Girl is determined to bring these people back, to whatever degree is possible, and she is ready to provide them with the substances that will return to them some measure of peace and clarity BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.  Get ready, all you DEA storm troopers. We can't sit by and let this insane repression continue.
    We will be liberators, even if we have to create a new Underground Railroad to sneak these helpless people past the DEA goons and into one of our top-secret castles, which will be fabulous retreats, filled with federally prohibited love and stimulation, sunlight and companionship.

Kronstantinople will be the first of many Alzheimer's World residences.
     Normal brain chemistry is based on chemicals. If we are unable to reason with the Establishment about the medical and moral validity of treating dysfunctional brain chemistry (dementia) with therapeutic chemicals, which directly address the dysfunction, then we will simply have to break the law, preferably on a grand scale.
    It may turn into quite a war. If it does, it will be the first "good war" we've had in quite some time.  



ELDERLY GIRL HUNGERS FOR A CHANGE OF SCENERY
    Elderly Girl is champing at the bit to see things she has never seen before, with a depth, significance and vitality she's never imagined. She expects hours, days, weeks of immersion in a succession of entirely new worlds, in which she will be treated to exquisite sensory escapades that engorge her brain with a fullness that no stupid disease can kill! 
    And she will invite all those millions of ghostly, wracked, forgotten Alzheimer's patients  to come along with her. Their eyes will finally open again, and the sun will rise in there. Elderly Girl would never accept the moniker of "savior," of course, but she is going to save those people. They are still people, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

DAY TRIPPER
    She and her wild-haired, paisley-clad posse of the so-called "cognitively impaired" will pop a little pill -- or snort, or puff, or shoot up, or whatever -- and fly through the cosmos, passing scenes of inexpressible beauty. They will be "Space Oddities," a la David Bowie ("Ground control to Master Tom"), reveling in the blueness of Planet Earth and the technicolor dreamworld beyond.
The monumental Carina Nebula will help their brains whack all that plaque.
     They will be washed over with endless varieties of ecstasy, explosive excitement  and comforting reassurance. Elderly Girl  has never been the slightest bit spiritual, but she expects that she will at last be enticed into that realm, with its infinite beauty and wisdom. 


The brain feels rinsed and rhapsodic! Art by Storm Thurgerson, RIP.
    When she is feeling more secular, she will haul out her high-tech tools (to be described in the next post), and then close her eyes and be drawn into delightful getaways: adventures in thrilling exploration and luxury vacation, adventures in gluttonous dining and boozing, without fear of calories or hangovers, adventures in Xtreme sports (she'll fnallly get to surf the Big One, leap off Kilimanjaro to glide through the canyons, take a curve with Danica at 400 mph), adventures in celebrity (she can star in any book or movie she pleases), adventures in men, if she wants, but really: She's had plenty! You other ladies can take your pick!
Or, we could fly through Dubai. (Klassieker)
    Her Anonymous Foundation will compile a nice big catalog so you can choose to be and do and feel anything you want.  No charge, dear friends! You deserve it! 

THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR IS COMING TO TAKE YOU AWAY

    Elderly Girl is delighted that she is finally going to do drugs, man! She's always been too busy, and frankly too damn scared, but before long, Alzheimer's will chivalrously open the door for her. 
    There are only four extremely expensive FDA-approved drugs to treat AD, according to the Cleveland Clinic, and all they can do (at best) is improve or delay the worsening of symptoms for an average of 6-12 months. 
     It sounds pretty pointless and fiscally irresponsible. It sounds unimaginative and thoroughly tight-assed. Big Pharma needs to get some freaks and geeks in there to mix things up and stimulate some creative thinking.
     If you've been scared to experiment with these intriguing substances in the past, doesn't Alzheimer's provide the perfect rationale? What do you have to lose? Alzheimer's is already altering that mind of yours in a cruel and twisted way. Why not thwart its creepy machinations with some nights in white satin? Let's all take one toke over the line, sweet Jesus, and go for a magic carpet ride.
It's a good time to take a twirl through a less-elderly mode of perception.
   

BACK TO THE FUTURE: AN OVERVIEW OF U.S. DRUG HISTORY
    You are probably too old or too young to remember those glorious years when the consciousnesss-expanding potential of various substances -- herbal, fungal, botanical and synthetic -- was becoming known within popular culture. In those days, it was not surprising for a lovely waif with flowers in her hair to approach you and remark, "I had too much to dream last night. I can see for miles! I am the walrus!"
 "Soul Purpose" by Krystleyez
     Our moralistic, corporate culture -- which so loves its booze, and its uppers and downers (thoughtfully synthesized and profitized by Big Pharma) -- criminalized not only mind-expanding drugs but also legitimate, university-based scientific research into their potential to treat depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD and many other conditions
    The Big Panic began with the widely publicized studies of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) at Harvard by Professor of Psychology Timothy Leary, who fervently believed the chemical had great potential for use in psychiatry. His radical lifestyle and "turn on, tune in, drop out" attitude had President Richard Nixon calling him "the most dangerous man in America." In 1970, Nixon passed the Controlled Substances Act, which grouped the psychedelics and marijuana with heroin as drugs that had no medical value and had a high potential for abuse.

PURPLE HAZE
    Leary, his lifestyle and his philosophies freaked out The Establishment. It was clear that LSD has the potential for negative outcomes, as does pretty much any drug, and "bad trips" were wildly sensationalized in the media. Even though LSD showed great promise as a therapeutic agent when it was introduced by Sandoz Laboratories in 1947, the recreational use of the drug during the 1960s led to its iron-fisted prohibition. Sandoz had found that the drug produced synergistic excitation in the cerebral cortex, affecting serotonin, glutamate and dopamine, long before pharmaceutical companies began marketing antidepressants that did the same thing.
    For the next thirty-five years research with hallucinogens assumed pariah status within academic psychiatry, virtually putting an end to formal dialogue and debate, according to Charles S. Grob, M.D., professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine.
"Flouricide" by keepstillkeepquiet
     And not much has changed, although Elderly Girl is forging a movement to smash these restrictions. Grob was one of the first researchers to get FDA approval to conduct a research study on the therapeutic effects of psychedelics since research had slowed to a halt. He showed that psilocybin could safely relieve end-of-life anxieties, according to the April 2013 issue of PopSci. 
    LSD and its close cousin lysergic acid have been under lock and key for decades, strictly regulated by both federal and state laws. 
    "There's real agents in suits with guns and when we get it, we have to sign it out, and there is a two-key mechanism to open the cabinet that has the lysergic acid. They don't mess around," Harvard Medical School graduate Edwin Jake Wintermute told NPR station WGBH in 2011. New drugs could come from an LSD-related compound — drugs that open up the brain, improving circulation in the brain and enhancing clarity, he said. 
                                                                    by Martina Hoffman

    But there continue to be seemingly endless bureaucratic hurdles that deter this vital research -- one layer of scrutiny and skepticism after another. "It takes years to get all the approvals," as Grob says. Both ongoing prejudice against hallucinogens and the machinations of Big Pharma thwart progress.
    Fortunately, according to The Economist, things are much more free in Zurich, where Franz Vollenweider, of the Heffter Research Institute is scanning people's brains to try to understand how hallucinogenic drugs cause changes in consciousness.
    And biotechnology may lead to a new generation of hallucinogenic drugs. Wintermute and his colleagues at Harvard have engineered yeast cells to carry out two of six steps in the pathway needed to make lysergic acid, the precursor of LSD. They hope to add the other four shortly. Once the pathway has been created, it can be tweaked. That might result in LSD-like drugs that are better than the original.

INSTANT KARMA
    Even if that does not happen, making lysergic acid in yeast is still a good idea, The Economist reports. The chemical is used as the starting point for other drugs, including nicergoline, a treatment for senile dementia. The current process for manufacturing it is a rather messy one involving ergot, a parasite of rye.
    MAPS founder and executive director, Rick Doblin, has spent 20 years wrangling with America's blindly anti-psychedelic drug apparatus to gain approval for responsible testing.
    The nonprofit is trying to get drugs like psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA approved for medical use. It has already sponsored small clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, first in survivors of sexual abuse and assault, and now in military veterans, police, and firefighters. It is working directly with the Pentagon.
    MAPS is undertaking a 10-year, $15 million plan to make MDMA into an FDA-approved prescription medicine, and is currently the only organization in the world funding clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. 
    MDMA, of course, is more commonly known as Ecstasy. Wouldn't it be cool if we could bring ecstasy to Alzheimer's? And all of the other radiance that can be had from other "banned" drugs? 

DIDN'T I BLOW YOUR MIND THIS TIME?
    "Elderly Girl has singlehandedly changed our perspective on all of the dementias, and I am frankly embarrassed that it took an outsider to do it," a Russian neuropsychopharmacologist said. "While each of us has been focused for our entire careers on some miniscule element of this massively complex organism, she had the wisdom to step back, and contemplate it as a whole, and to perceive its vast capacity for adaptation. It took her innocent, unjaded eyes to help us see the true genius of the brain." 
    Men are such babies! If they'd started collaborating thirty years ago, instead of doing their top-secret work in isolation, we'd almost certainly be able to prevent and cure Alzheimer's by now. 
    Instead, we have millions of our very sweetest, most valiant people hidden away -- in dark rooms, with vacant eyes, in a fetal position -- while their minds are being totally trashed by this disease. Nobody snuggles with them, or kisses their cheeks, or brushes their hair. As soon as somebody's Grandma starts talking a bit of nonsense, or wanders around, or leaves a burner on, we dump her into a nursing home and tell the aide to send us a text message when she's dead. As far as we're concerned, she already is.
    On top of that, more than 15 million family members are having their lives and health devastated by providing care for their loved ones at home. 
    The resources and the suffering that are being devoted to maintaining people in a vegetative state is monumental. And it's really pretty much a waste. If we can't do any better than this, things would be better all around if we just killed them.

  

POSTSCRIPT: In mid-June, Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) terminated a mid-stage clinical trial of an experimental Alzheimer's disease drug, according to the Wall Street Journal. "The halted study is the latest in a series of Alzheimer's research setbacks for Lilly. In 2010, Lilly stopped development of a different kind of Alzheimer's drug, semagacestat, after studies showed it worsened patients' conditions and was associated with an increased risk of skin cancer," the Journal reported.
     "Last year, Lilly said another drug, solanezumab, didn't meet goals for improving cognition and function in two late-stage studies of patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease. Lilly hasn't given up hope on that drug, however, citing an analysis suggesting the drug helped slow cognitive decline in patients with mild Alzheimer's. Other companies have experienced setbacks in developing new Alzheimer's therapies, including Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Baxter International Inc. (BAX). Merck & Co. (MRK) is developing its own BACE inhibitor, MK-8931. The company started a study of the drug last year, and it's expected to run until 2017," the Journal added.
    OBVIOUSLY, we need to look elsewhere for effective and affordable therapies.

     
COMING NEXT: We bring together the many pertinent breakthroughs in neuroscience, technology (artificial intelligence, virtual reality, etc.), and experiential/interpersonal strategies to transform the world of Alzheimer's. The findings have been so profound, the treatments so effective, we demand to know why scientists expect "many years" of trials and regulatory review before we can have access to them. We want them now! It might get to be so much fun that we'll all be wearing neon T-shirts saying "Why would I want to live in YOUR reality?" Can dementia really be dynamic, and devil-may-care? We think it's possible.