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McLean researchers

John H. Halpern: Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry

The Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry, founded in 2008, focuses on the use, abuse, and effects of psychoactive substances in an effort to unlock important new treatments.

Our studies include:

  • The cognitive and general health of religious users of naturally-occurring psychoactive substances. We completed the only such study with members of the Native American Church, whose peyote sacrament contains mescaline. We also published the only evaluation to-date of American members of the Santo Daime Church, whose ayahuasca (“Daime”) sacrament contains DMT (dimethyltryptamine). Our research found no long-term harms.
  • The use of psilocybin and LSD in treating cluster headache, the most painful headache disorder. Our work includes the discovery (and patent) of the use of non-hallucinogenic 2-bromo-LSD for cluster headache.
  • The absence of functional neurocognitive impairments in almost-completely exclusive users of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, “ecstasy”).
  • Combinations of medication and therapy: for example, the evaluation of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat anxiety associated with advanced stage cancer.