Dr. Grob came to see me primarily to brief me about what to check up on and
look out for when visiting Nicaragua and discussing their proposed trial.
MAO inhibitors (commonly used on prescription) can be dangerous if taken
with MDMA - can cause bounding pulse, severe headache and induce a stroke
in people who were are predisposed. People with cardiac arrythma (uneven
heartbeat) particularly at risk. Ayahuasca also has MAOI activity, and so
should not be used with E. There is now a pill made up sold as a synthetic
Yage; if this contains Harmine or Harmaline could be dangerous if used with
MDMA. Dr. Grob has heard of sessions where these two are used together and
so are potentially dangerous.
Asked about liver and kidney damage due to MDMA use as reported by Dr.
Henry, Dr. Grob assumes this was due to impurities as a result of
contaminants resulting from poor quality manufacture.
Asked why use MDMA with cancer patients. Dr. Grob believes that MDMA raises
pain threshold, probably due to its effect on the neurochemical mechanism
of the brain. In addition, it appears that MDMA enhances the effect of
morphine. The second benefit is expected to be emotional: MDMA generally
improves mood and provides patients with a greater sense of being in
His trials are being conducted in a pedantically correct and proper way
with impeccable protocol within the system so as to provide a solid base.
If the results show benefits from MDMA, then no-one will be able to dispute
them. Although this approach was frustratingly slow, he felt it was
worthwhile. He has learned from past experience of people such as Timothy
Leary who ran ahead without protocol, and as a result gave psychedelic
research a bad reputation. In fact, he believes that it was Leary's rash
enthusiasm and uncontrolled trials that resulted in shutting down serious
work on psychedelics for the past 25 years - to fly in the face of the
establishment is counterproductive. However, to be fair to Leary, much
research in the past was conducted in ways that would not now be
Asked about other research, he says that there is very little. There is a
little in Germany and one man in Holland, Dr. Bastious, but he is about to
retire without successor.
Own story. In early 70's dropped out of college and decide that what he
really wanted to do in life was serious work on psychedelics, so spent the
next 7 years studying for qualifications to do so, thinking that by the
time he had qualified their value would have become universally recognised
since in 50's and 60's the use of psychedelics was at the cutting edge of
psychiatric treatment, then abandoned in spite of promising results due to
overreaction to the use of recreational drugs. So it has taken until now
for him to get to the first step.
Dr. Grob also told me about his recent research on Ayahuasca in central
south America (not yet published). He studied 15 long-term users (who were
members of a church based on both Christianity and shamanism who used
Ayahuasca at least twice a month) and 15 controls using structural
psychiatric interviews, and found that the Ayahuasca users scored higher
than controls on every count! He also had the Ayahuasca users use the drug
with catheters in their veins from which blood samples were taken every 30
minutes. Analysis implies the drug has a serotonergic effect which is what
he would have expected. Trials were surprisingly easy to do because the
users seemed to be unusually calm and cooperative, possibly as a result of
their Ayahuasca use.
Dr. Grob has now applied for a grant to do a similar study of Mescaline users.