Dr. Rick Strassman – Career and History
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Dr. Rick Strassman has written many books including the best-seller, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which he co-edited into a documentary film in 2010. Dr. Strassman has spent the major part of his career conducting medical research on how psychoactive chemicals work on the brain.
Rick Strassman was born in Los Angeles, California in 1952. Strassman studied zoology at Pomona College in Claremont, California before transferring to Stanford University to study biological science in 1973. He was rewarded high honors upon receiving his undergraduate degree.
During his stay at the university, Strassman worked for Redken laboratory creating cosmetic makeups and hair dyes. A breakthrough came when Strassman supplemented the school laboratory with never before documented research on the nervous system of chicken embryos. It was during this research that he would discover non-random patterned growth at the edges of the cells of the embryo.
Rick Strassman went on to take residency at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center in Sacramento, California, and received the Sandoz Award for his outstanding graduate term in psychiatric study. After graduating, Strassman continued his study in Fairbanks, Alaska, working in mental health sectors and private psychiatric practices.
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In 1982-83, Strassman became fascinated by the mysteries of altered states of consciousness. His interest drew him to seek the foreign plant chemicals, namely DMT, which was a psychedelic compound. Not only was Strassman interested in how these states could be achieved, he wanted to know what effects they would have on the body and mind. Strassman’s research on the psychedelic project would begin in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine, where he held a tenure tract as a professor of the psychiatric practice. During this time Strassman becomes interested in how the pineal gland and consciousness work together.
Dr. Rick Strassman’s clinical research of the brain led him to discover that the pineal gland produced melatonin. Strassman studies melatonin’s significance and functions, making the first scientific discovery of its role in humans.
Strassman concluded that in big doses the pineal hormone melatonin didn’t induce psychedelic responses. He states that its main effect was to make people sedated or sleepy. The U.S. government would go on to approve Dr. Strassman’s later work and funded him for the first psychedelic clinical research in 20 years. This research is known as Psychopharmacology, the study of how drugs affect moods, sensations, thinking, and behavior. During Strassman’s research, studies are conducted on both human and animal species. Strassman found that the drug interactions were activated in central and peripheral serotonin receptors. Also during the lab testing, more than half of Strassman’s volunteers reported having interactions with nonhuman beings while in the visionary state of the psychedelic experiment.
Strassman’s team published articles on the psychological effects and created a measuring system known as the HRS (Hallucinogen Rating Scale) which has become well known in the scientific community and measures the psychological effects of many psychedelic variations.
Strassman has produced dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers and has reviewed many psychiatric research journals. Strassman has also worked with US Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Drug Abuse, Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Social Security Administration, and holds agency with these and other groups due to his studies on brain and chemical psychological affect.
In 2007, Dr. Rick Strassman helped found the Cottonwood Research Foundation, among partners Steve Barker PhD, and Andrew Stone.
The Cottonwood Research Foundation supports hallucinogenic research on the absorption, distribution, and the metabolism of these drugs, and how they are cleared from the body, as well as their actions and role as naturally occurring neurological hormones within it. These studies are characterized by how neurological pathways are affected by hallucinogens and how they work in regulating perception and cognition in health and in disease.
Studies have concluded that DMT exists in the pineal glands of live rodents and further research is being done to find DMT in the cerebrospinal fluid of animal and humans alike in order to show that there is a correlation between the gland and consciousness. Strassman believes that the human pineal gland produces DMT upon near death experiences and dream-like trance, further suggesting that this induces the altered states of consciousness some report during these experiences. No completed proof has been made on this account other than reported claims of those with near death experiences. However, these effects do appear to be synonymous with users who are administered psychedelic drugs.
In his more modern studies, Strassman has also conducted research with Psilocybin mushrooms and has administered doses as great as 1.1 mg more than the dose in which one would reach typical psychedelic effect.
- Brandon Petty
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