- Mental health advocate Deepak Chopra wants the world to learn about the healing power of psychedelic drugs.
- Chopra told Insider he had his first psychedelic trip in 1965 while in medical school. It was part of an experiment.
- Recent research suggests psychedelics like psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA can reduce mental health symptoms like depression.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
But Chopra’s passion for a healthy mind-body connection started in an unlikely place: A science lab in India, where he had LSD for the first time. Chopra told Insider the experience left him with a feeling of overwhelming compassion and “a desire to alleviate suffering.”
Inspired and forever changed by his first psychedelic trip in 1965, Chopra went on to work as an endocrinologist and studied meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the creator of transcendental meditation.
Now, the famed alternative-medicine advocate is coming full circle with a partnership between his Chopra Foundation and Mind Medicine, a clinical-stage psychedelic medicine company. Together, the organizations will increase education and research opportunities on psychedelics and mental health, Chopra said.
“My interest now is not recreational use of psychedelics. My only interest is to expand the education and the public awareness of what’s happening in the field, because what’s happening to the field is very dramatic right now,” Chopra told Insider.
Indeed, the latest research suggests psychedelic drugs including psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms, LSD, and MDMA have the ability to alter the mind and reduce depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms, Insider previously reported.
Chopra stared at a Mother Teresa poster while high on LSD
Chopra first had the opportunity to try psychedelics while in medical school in India.
He was 18 at the time, and Harvard researchers came to campus, asking for volunteers to participate in a controlled LSD experiment. LSD, also known colloquially as “acid,” is a synthetically-produced psychedelic that comes in thin paper tabs placed on the tongue.
“It was the talk of the town, and I was privy to participation in a psychedelic experience,” Chopra said.
So he took the drug and, as instructed, sat in front of a poster of Mother Teresa with the other participants. Chopra said he sat there for “hours” and started to feel his consciousness shift.
“I was filled with a deep, deep compassion and desire to alleviate suffering, which never left me, by the way,” he said.
Though Chopra moved on to become an endocrinologist, he remained curious about human consciousness and the inner workings of the brain.
He’s also tried ayahuasca and observed others’ psychedelic trips
Twenty years ago, Chopra took ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic drug that contains DMT and is typically consumed in beverage form, during a ceremony in Peru. Once again, he noticed healing effects. Over the last five years, Chopra shadowed a handful of psychedelic facilitators, people who provide support and guidance while someone is on a drug trip.
When he observed people who took psychedelics to cope with chronic and deadly illnesses, he found they came out on the other side of their trips feeling more settled and at peace.
“I’ve seen a lot of people feel liberated from the experience and that fear [of death] goes away,” Chopra said.
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