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Cannabis Assisted Psychotherapy with Dr. Mark Braunstein

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This episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast features a conversation with Dr. Mark Braunstein discussing the potentials of cannabis-assisted psychotherapy. Dr. Braunstein is a whole-health psychiatrist with 22 years of clinical experience. He is the medical director for multiple mental health and psychedelic psychotherapy clinics in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah and he also runs in-patient and out-patient programs for addiction. In his own practice as a psychiatrist, Dr. Braunstein employs both cannabis and ketamine to meet the individual needs of his patients. Dr. Braunstein stresses how he came to these modalities after becoming disillusioned with the predominant model of psychiatry and its emphasis on treating symptoms with pharmaceuticals without much consideration for the patient as an individual. With cannabis-assisted psychotherapy, Dr. Braunstein started to notice real changes in his patients, allowing them to begin living more fulfilling lives. In this conversation, Dr. Braunstein discusses many of the intricacies of using cannabis in his practice as a psychiatrist, giving particular attention to the intake process he uses to determine which method of ingestion and what dosage would be appropriate for a particular patient given their specific condition and history. Dr. Braunstein also distinguishes between psycholytic and psychedelic applications of cannabis, explaining that the low dose, psycholytic approach is suited to the context of talk therapy, where cannabis helps encourage new insights without being too disorienting, whereas the psychedelic modality uses higher doses to allow the patient to explore their psyche on their own within a safe, supportive context. In this episode: How wilderness therapy made Dr. Braunstein reevaluate his understanding of psychiatry Psycholytic vs psychedelic uses of cannabis for therapeutic purposes How Dr. Braunstein approaches patients as unique individuals when considering treatment options Using cannabis to help patients encounter buried traumas in a safe, therapeutic setting Contradictions for cannabis-assisted psychotherapy Quotes: “It increases someone's ability to be more productive in psychotherapy-you're able to talk, see things in a different way, have different perceptions.” [13:15] “Cannabis is so readily accessible for so many people and they can safely do it in the comfort of their home while they engage in teletherapy.” [14:40] “We want to put people into categories of usage to help come up with a protocol of what dose we're going to start them on.” [19:18] “Sometimes we'll actually do some cannabis-assisted psychotherapy first to help them process and move through some of the trauma, and then we'll move on to the ketamine to work on the depression.” [26:20] “Yes, guidelines are important, but I think that having well-educated physicians, having extensive, well-educated conversations with our patients, and making the right decisions is the best way to go.” [34:08] Links: Reconscious Medical Psychedelic Medicine Association Porangui