Monday, June 17, 2013

'Neurons to Nirvana' Makes the Case for Deeper Scientific Research Into Psychedelics


For seven months in 1953, William S. Burroughs journeyed through South American jungles on an expedition to find the near-mythical drug ayahuasca ("yage," as he preferred to call it). Burroughs, hoping to kick junk, but also experience the substance's so-called "space-time travel" and telepathic qualities, documented a great deal of his adventures and misadventures in letters to Allen Ginsberg. The letters, written in Burroughs typical meandering style, would later be published as The Yage Letters by City Lights.

One could almost say that Burroughs was the first American ayahuasca tourist. Always on an ultimately fruitless journey to kick heroin, Burroughs sought out any substances that could help—apomorphine being one of them. Though none worked, Burroughs seems to have been on to something with yage. Because in the last several years, scientific research now suggests that ayahuasca and other psychedelic substances can help in the treatment of addiction. 

Enter director Oliver Hockenhull, who has been quietly making a documentary on the subject of psychdelics as medicines for the last several years. When Giancarlo Canavesio, founder of Mangusta Productions and discovered that Hockenhull was pursuing the project, he offered to help out. Canavesio is helping with distribution, getting the film into festivals and theaters, while producer Mikki Willis of Elevate films is helping with the editing process.

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