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Psychedelics for Eating Disorders with Reid Robison

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This first episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast in 2021 features a conversation with Dr. Reid Robison, discussing the potentials of using psychedelics to treat eating disorders. Dr. Robison is a board-certified psychiatrist and the chief medical officer at Novamind. He is also the co-founder of Cedar Psychiatry, founder of the Polizzi Free Clinic, and adjunct faculty at the University of Utah. Dr. Robison serves as the medical director of Center for Change—a top eating disorder treatment center—and he is currently the coordinating investigator for the upcoming MAPS study looking at the potential for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for eating disorders. In this conversation, Dr. Robison dissects the intricacies of various eating disorders and shares his experience using ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. At Center for Change, Dr. Robison conducted an IRB-approved study looking at the use of ketamine as a potential treatment for eating disorders. In the study, participants were regularly administered ketamine in a small group setting with therapeutic and integration work happening between sessions. Dr. Robison shares some anecdotal reports as well as the objective data from the study, both of which show promising results. In particular, Dr. Robison notes how ketamine can promote a sense of embodiment for individuals struggling with eating disorders, helping them return to a more intuitive connection with food and eating. Additionally, Dr. Robison discusses topics such as neuroplasticity and the default mode network as potential key factors explaining why this type of treatment could be effective. Since compounds such as ketamine can promote neuroplasticity and downregulate the default mode network, this gives the therapist a window to do particularly effective work with the patient, as they are in a more malleable state and less burdened by routines and habitual thought patterns. Dr. Robison closes with a discussion of the upcoming MAPS study which will look at the possible efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anorexia and binge eating disorders. In this episode: Dr. Robison's study of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for eating disorders The therapeutic modalities Dr. Robison's team uses alongside ketamine for addressing eating disorders Psycholytic vs transformative applications of ketamine in psychotherapy The co-occurrence of eating disorders and conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD Details of the upcoming MAPS study on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anorexia and binge eating disorder. Quotes: “If you look at eating disorders, they're pretty underfunded and there are no FDA approved medicine treatment options for anorexia, for example.” [3:25] “Ketamine and other psychedelic medicines are therapy aids, therapy boosters, accelerators, or catalysts to the therapeutic process.” [10:42] “But I do believe that there are lasting benefits, especially when you pair it with the psychotherapy—when you have this window of opportunity of neuroplasticity to do some deeper work.” [21:07] “Healing can be disruptive sometimes and you do feel worse before you feel better in some cases.” [25:23] “Downregulation of the default mode is such a powerful and welcome break from the day-to-day patterns in these conditions.” [37:43] Links: Novamind Cedar Psychiatry Center for Change Upcoming MAPS study on MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for Eating Disorders Psychedelic Medicine Association Porangui