Blog Posts

How to Minimize Negative Side Effects (like Nausea, Vasoconstriction, and Anxiety) when Using Psychedelics

Secrets of using biohacking and research-backed insights to have a more pleasant trip

 

 

[References to this Article]

 

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, don’t want to be a richer man

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, just gonna have to be a different man

Time may change me

But I can’t trace time”

-David Bowie

Psychedelic Trance: (EVERYTHING Eventually Changes)

Our view on psychedelics is evolving rapidly as they continue down their path to decriminalization and eventually legalization.

The obvious question is not if, but when.

Soon enough, being treated by a medical doctor with psychedelics will not be considered an unusual treatment.

And with ketamine experiencing medical use, only time will tell when the rest follow.

We are looking at psychedelics as medicines, as their multi-purpose use becomes more and more apparent.

And with this, and into the far distance, the stigma continues fading away.

With this great awakening, we will continue to mature as more “humane” “human-beings”, pursuing the highest and best patient interventions, most especially with the most treatment-resistant conditions such as PTSD, major depression, now physical pain, and beyond.

Inevitably, we find ourselves more accepting, embracing this role of psychedelics with their legitimate place in today’s modern world.

And as more and more research studies confirm the therapeutic value of psychedelics, with millions of dollars pouring into their research, it’s time to look at their side effects and how biohacking may lead us to more positive outcomes.

It is my utmost greater sense of hope and possibility more medical professionals, including medical doctors and more, will sooner rather than later accept the reality psychedelics are not going away.

Instead, they will only grow and grow in acceptance as more and more scientific studies continue to find their way onto their desks because of the truth, it always rises.

Body Load: The Psychedelic Experience

“Body load” is the blanket term explaining the discomfort or uneasiness in the body arising from the psychedelic experience.

The three types of body load are nausea, anxiety, and vasoconstriction.

Psychedeliccauses of body load are most likely because of their actions as partial serotonin agonists.

This means they work by mimicking the structure of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain and increasing its availability.

The direct causes of body load are unknown but are most likely found within the serotonin receptors in the gut.

While we know serotonergic 5-HT2A receptors produce the classical psychedelic effects, we theorize body load is because of 5-HT3 receptors which affect tactile sensation, which is our sense of touch originating at the surface of our body.

The purpose of this article is to review how psychedelics cause side effects along with possible solutions.

Finally, this article is not for the promotion of illegal drug use and instead is a review of both the anecdotal and peer-reviewed science revolving around psychedelic side effects.

Nausea

When one experiences nausea arising out of the psychedelic trip, the root cause is likely the serotonin receptors within the lining of the digestive tract.

As we find 70% of our serotonin receptors within the digestive system, we produce 90% of all serotonin in the “gut”.

Serotonin regulates appetite control and gut motility, and with over-stimulation of these serotonergic receptors can explain negative body-load sensations.

[Related Article: The Top 9 Science-Backed Gastrointestinal Supplements]

It makes sense from a “biohacking” or solution-oriented frame to block or at least substantially decrease these undesirable side effects.

And in doing so, this allows for superior user experience.

Anti-Nausea Rx Problems During the Psychedelic Trip

Many use antiemetics (anti-nausea) pharmaceuticals for psychedelic-induced nausea.

While there are various classes of antiemetics, they are most often used in the form of anticholinergics, such as Benadryl, Zofran, or Dramamine.

This is likely not optimal, especially for psychedelic-induced nausea.

These anti-nausea drugs block acetylcholine, our primary neurotransmitter involved with memory and learning within our central and peripheral nervous systems.

And this can undesirable side effects, such as mood and cognitive disturbance, and further neurotransmitter imbalance.

Within the nerve cells, anticholinergics block parasympathetic impulses through binding the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

This means while they can treat nausea, they can likewise cause drowsiness and memory issues, and sometimes even symptoms of depression.

The goal with anti-nausea solutions is not saddling the experience with added side effects.

These are the top 4 virtually side-effect free anti-nausea substances specific to psychedelics.

#1 Ginger Powder or Extract

The over-activation of serotonin receptors (5-HT3) in the vagus nerve causes vomiting and nausea.

Ginger contains 5HT-3 inhibitors called beta-pinene and galanolactone.

Lowering nausea and vomiting, through limiting excessive vagus nerve and serotonin activation in the gut makes ginger the believed top anti-nausea plant.

Most studies have used pregnancy and chemotherapy patients in studying the effect of ginger on nausea.

Some studies have found it more effective than Dramamine in motion sickness caused nausea and show dividing doses increases its effectiveness.

Dosage: The anecdotally effective dosage is between 120 to 240 mg of extract or 2 to 4 grams of powder. Ginger can act as a blood thinner and lower blood pressure, and as well cause bile stimulation, so those with cardiovascular or gall bladder conditions, should proceed with caution, especially at higher doses. Using ginger extracts and dividing doses over a couple of hours might be ideal in lowering side effects such as indigestion when using single doses over 1,500 mg. As some use more, we have found daily ginger dosages to be safe up to 10 grams per day. Because of its potent antioxidants, MDMA, (ecstasy), users use ginger for added neuroprotection, along with its anti-nausea actions as a two-for-one supplement.

#2 Lemon Oil

Not to be confused with lemon balm, lemon oil, lemon peel extract is a powerful anti-nausea compound.

As this is an essential oil, one is advised to use a product listed as 100% natural for ingestion.

Studies only show its use in aromatherapy, inhaled, or applied to a bandanna or under the nose.

Like ginger, lemon oil contains beta-pinene, a 5-HT3 antagonist that influences an anti-nausea effect with no anticholinergic or adverse psychoactive effects.

Much like ginger, essential oils, such as lemon aromatherapy essential oil, are effective against virtually all known Alzheimer’s Disease targets.

Able to cross the blood-brain-barrier with promising neuroprotective and anti-aging potential, according to a recent review, lemon essential oil is effective against anxiety, dementia, epilepsy, amongst other neurological disorders.

Dosage: The anecdotal dosage of lemon oil is 5–10 drops in water or as an aromatherapy essential oil. Highly synergistic with ginger, lemon oil is is also seeing use in its oral form. Use only 100% food-grade, (consumable) lemon oil.

#3 Mint Oil (Menthol)

Much like lemon essential oil, mint aromatherapy essential oil can lower nausea in a variety of indications.

Whether placed in an essential oil diffuser, on a bandanna, under the nose or inhaled out of the bottle, mint essential oil could be an effective additional anti-nausea solution.

Dosage: While mint essential oil contains menthol, a menthol inhaler can an alternative. Others find mint to add additionally calm.

#4 Other Essential Oils (Notably Lavender)

Spearmint, cardamom, fennel, and lavender essential oils have also beenfound to have some medicinal value for nausea.

Lavender is most notably proven for nausea when caused by anxiety or physical pain and is likely the most valuable in terms of a multi-use essential oil for psychedelic-induced nausea and anxiety.

Dosage: DO NOT consume oils unless they state 100% “food grade.” Their referenced use is inhalation.

#5 L-Lysine

Most commonly used to inhibit the herpes virus, the amino acid l-lysine is a partial 5HT-4 inhibitor, which is another possible target for psychedelic-induced side effects.

While we only have rodent studies, these show l-lysine can lower not only psychedelic induced nausea, but likewise, psychedelic induced anxiety.

Some will suggest taking L-arginine with it, while others suggest they block each other from absorption.

Dosage: Anecdotal reports have been growing regarding the use of 2,500 to 3,000 mg of L-lysine. Some say arginine is antagonistic to L-lysine absorption and should be avoided, while others such as combining the two. We will explain Agmatine below as a more optimal alternative to L-arginine. Peak lysine blood plasma concentration takes 5–7 hours, which means it needs prior planning for effectiveness.

Other Anti-Nausea Supplements

(B1, B6, B9, B12, capsicum, magnesium, cinnamon, cumin, pelargonium sidoides, CoQ10)

Anxiety

A secondary explanation for the psychedelic trance is the activation of the D2 receptor within the dopamine system.

As we do not find dopamine receptors in the gastrointestinal system, researchers do not believe this is a cause of nausea.

Whereas dopamine does not explain nausea, excessive dopamine activation could also explain an increase in the experience of anxiety.

This is an additional target of focus for psychedelic therapy.

Invariably, some go in the opposite direction and report using caffeine, nicotine, or other types of stimulation to create more neurotransmitter balance to offset the extreme rise in their experience of serotonin.

Much like those who use cannabis and experience calm, our subjective experience is entire than as it varies widely.

We can apply an array of theories here as we see responsiveness to stimulants and sedatives vary based on the individual.

It’s worth noting, while psilocybin mushrooms, as a tryptamine, are neither a stimulant nor a sedative, while other non-tryptamine phenethylamines, such as LSD, MDMA, 2CB, and others can be much more stimulating, as one might be better suited than the other based on the individual, such as someone with pre-existing anxiety.

Some say because of apprehension, many with pre-existing anxiety typically experience anxiety and can even experience this magnified as a psychedelic-induced side effect.

[Related Article: The Top 9 Science-Backed Anti-Anxiety Supplements]

[Related Article: How to Kava: Nature’s Xanax]

Others who are anxiety-free can also experience anxiety with psychedelics.

Let’s review what might be the most suitable anti-anxiety supplements for this use in achieving a better psychedelic meditation.

While ashwagandha, 5-HTP, St. John’s wort, Kanna, kava, purple passionflower, tryptophan are all arguably stronger anti-anxiety supplements, they are not listed because of possible interactions because of their actions on 5-HT2A and/or MAO-A and MAO-B, even if mild.

Some use some of these without issue, as it would take a much longer review to go into further analysis.

#1 CBD

More studies continue confirming the effectiveness and safety of Cannabidiol, CBD for anxiety- and anxiety-related issues.

As people refer to CBD as the “non-psychoactive” cannabinoid compound within the cannabis plant, Cannabis Sativa, this is not scientifically accurate.

While CBD is not “psychedelic” like its THC counterpart, it delivers medically valuable “psychoactive” effects without undesirable side effects some experience, such as THC-related anxiety.

Along with confirmed anti-seizure effects, CBD delivers its greatest effect in counterbalancing the short- and long-term side effects of THC, acting on CB1 and CB2 of our Endocannabinoid System.

What this means is CBD delivers proven medicinal value as an anti-anxiety compound for both cannabis and non-cannabis users.

While its medicinal value for depression, schizophrenia, colitis, and Crohn’s, insomnia, pain, and inflammation remains unclear and under review, it could be especially valuable for this specific indication.

Invariably, some users report cannabis itself helps them in the offsetting of psychedelic-induced anxiety.

Dosage: Quality is a major issue with CBD in terms of receiving a reliable, active compound percentage, and dosage. As well, many will need a much larger dosage.

#2 Lavender (Essential Oil or Capsules)

At the risk of sounding like multi-level marketing MLM salesmen for Young Living Essential Oils or doTERRA or one of the many other MLMs selling essential oils, lavender essential oil gets another mention.

And no, I cannot sell you any, because I am not a member.

Lavender essential oil carries powerful evidence for its anti-anxiety effects, much like its effects on nausea.

While yes, other compounds that work serotonin, such as 5-HTP or Kanna or St. John’s Wort and others might be stronger, they are not advisable due to interactions which could range from psychedelic ineffectiveness to dangerous interactions, depending on the specific psychedelic substance.

Lavender is an aromatherapy essential oil and non-sedative plant, which temporarily relieves anxiety and insomnia.

There is some support showing lavender improves slow-wave sleep patterns.

Likewise, lavender is also effective in the oral supplement form.

Dosage: Topical lavender can trigger contact dermatitis and should be avoided and replaced by the use of a bandana or scarf. In the oral form, studies show the best results with 80 to 160 mg of a lavender supplement brand, Silexan containing 25 to 46% linalool. Like many supplements, lavender can take time to work.

#3 Chamomile (Apigenin)

While kava is always recognized as much more potent in its “Xanax-like” effects over chamomile, its strong MAO-B effect removes it from this list.

German chamomile extracts standardized to 1.2% apigenin lowers anxiety symptoms in those with generalized anxiety disorder, according to studies.

We see depression improve in further study using the same sample of individuals.

In other studies, long-term chamomile use lowers anxiety without increasing side effects and is a viable treatment for patients with generalized anxiety disorder through a reduction of chronic worry, depression, and restlessness.

Dosage: Chamomile oil is an aromatherapy essential oil. We see it most commonly used in the convenient form of tea. This is often not strong enough, as we presume only a 1–2% standardized apigenin supplement will give chamomile its mild “Xanax-like” effects”

#4 Xanthohumol Hops

The common beer component, hops, shows potent sedative effects and is under further investigation in its xanthohumol hops female extract form, with promising findings for anxiety, and several other chronic metabolic conditions.

Hops also appears effective for insomnia, and comes in products with the other two “sisters of sleep”, purple passionflower and valerian in the most widely “prescribed” insomnia “medication” in Germany.

Dosage: We see a standardized dosage of 50 mg to 150 mg in use in trials.

#5 Rising Star: Agmatine (L-arginine Metabolite)

 

Research is behind on agmatine, a metabolite of L-arginine.

Like arginine, it increases eNOS, the nitric oxide enzyme, which influences blood pressure and blood flow.

This is excellent, especially during the use of psychedelics.

What makes agmatine unique, is it appears to improve anxiety, cognition, depression, inflammation, nitric oxide, and pain.

Agmatine blocks excessive glutamate activating neuro-toxic nNOS and inflammatory iNOS, unlike arginine, which increases these nitric oxide enzymes.

Dosage: 2.5 to 3 grams. Agmatine can potentiate and manage tolerance of substances along with psychedelics presumably, making it worth mentioning, while lowering side effects, depending on the dose and individual. Awaiting pending research and updates.

Notable Anti-Anxiety Supplements

Inositol, Black Seed Oil, Lemon Balm, Magnolia Bark, Magnesium-Glycinate, Bacopa Monnieri, Valerian, Inulin, Red Clover Extract, Probiotics: (Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium), Vitamin B3: Niacin and Niacinamide

Other Anti-Anxiety Supplements

Butyric Acid, THC, N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), Sarcosine, Glycine, Blue Lotus, Lecithin, L-Theanine, Lithium Orotate, Omega-3, Fish Oil, Cod Liver Oil, Krill Oil, Algae Oil, Skullcap, Taurine, Vitamin E, Zinc, Dietary Fiber, L-Phenibut, Collagen, Lysine, L-Proline, L-Glutamine, Chamomile, Vitamin C, Hibiscus, Sumac, Saffron, Wood Betony, Camellia Sinesis, Linden Flowers, Dragon Eye Fruit, Reishi Mushroom, Centella Asiatica, D-Serine, Ganoderma Lucidum, Maca, Vitex Agnus-Castus, Yamabushitake, Holy Basil, Iron, Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, Noopept, Phenylpiracetam, Rhodiola Rosea, Butterbur, Phellodendron, Tianeptine, Fasoracetam, Kratom, Akuamma, Curcumin, Cat’s Claw, Chamomile, Gingko Biloba, Gotu Kola

Notable Anti-Anxiety Supplements (Not Recommended Due to Possible Interactions)

5 HTP, Ashwagandha, St. John’s Wort, Kanna, Kava, Tryptophan, Purple Passionflower. (Always check for all interactions.)

Vasoconstriction: (Nitric Oxide Increases Blood Flow)

Much like psychedelics can cause anxiety, they can also cause vasoconstriction, which causes discomfort normally in the head, but can be felt in the body as “restlessness.”

This is the tightening of blood vessels, which increases blood pressure and decreases the flow of blood in our body, which can be an uncomfortable feeling.

Once again, some psychedelics such as LSD and MDMA will cause greater vasoconstriction than others such as psilocybin mushrooms.

[Related Article: Supercharge Your Brain, Mood, and Sexual Health with Nitric Oxide]

As blood flow decreases in the body, it also decreases to peripheral body parts along with the brain.

We can increase blood flow by either removing arterial plaque and/or increasing nitric oxide to cause vasodilation.

Nitric oxide produced from the gene nitric oxide synthase 3 or eNOS, manages blood flow and pressure, thus facilitating better blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

This is a complex and interesting topic, and in the interest of brevity, we’ll move on to the top blood flow supplements.

#1 Raw Garlic or Aged Garlic Extract

In a study testing, nitric oxide, and garlic, we can see a raw garlic clove of approximately 2 grams increasing nitric oxide by 224% in healthy individuals within 2 to 4 hours of ingestion; as the potency does not decrease after one week.

Aged garlic extract might be a better substitute if one is going to have “sexy time” later in the evening.

Alternatively, milk fats and green tea have been discovered to bind garlic odor.

Garlic is one of the most widely used and studied supplements, like ginkgo Biloba containing some of the best research for cardiovascular benefits.

We see potent arteriosclerosis, blood thinning, cholesterol, blood flow, and blood pressure benefits with garlic across studies.

Even still #2 on this list, grape seed extract might be an even better blood flow supplement than garlic or aged garlic extract.

Dosage: 1 raw garlic clove or 600 mg aged garlic extract two times daily.

#2 Grape Seed Extract

As a concentrated antioxidant grape seed polyphenol source, grape seed extract, (GSE) is a potent blood flow supplement.

We often compare grape seed extract to the less potent and more costly pycnogenol, (pine bark) which also contains proanthocyanidins.

It appears to be most beneficial in boosting nitric oxide, thinning blood, lowering LDL oxidation and arteriosclerosis, reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, while increasing central blood flow and peripheral blood circulation.

Dosage: Grape seed extracts of 400 to 2,000 mg with 95% proanthocyanidins are typically used in studies depending on the indication. We see the best results are in younger to middle-aged individuals, as the dosage of 400 to 800 mg might produce the best results.

#3 Cocoa (Raw Cacoa) (Dark Chocolate)

Undoubtedly the most heavily researched and supported blood flow supplement, cocoa or the more antioxidant-rich cacao, and even dark chocolate deliver impressive cardiovascular benefits.

Emerging research shows the polyphenols in cocoa, raw cacao, and dark chocolate to be heart healthy, increasing blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and cardiovascular and peripheral artery disease, as we now believe it cocoa improves kidney disease.

Dosage: A wide-array of cocoa, cacao, and dark chocolate products exist ranging from the beverage cocoa or cacao form to cocoa extract supplements to edible dark chocolate.

#4 Curcumin (Turmeric Extract)

Curcumin is the active compound extract we find in turmeric.

Turmeric has both low bioavailability along with a tiny amount of curcumin by percentage.

Significantly greater than many supplements, a mere 80 mg of bioavailable-enhanced curcumin increases nitric oxide up to 40%.

The mechanism of action through curcumin’s blood flow improvement is likely through the activation of NF-kB, an important protein that works across all cells.

Dosage: Up to 2,000 mg per day of a high-quality bioavailable curcumin extract. Quality is critically important.

#5 Taurine

Taurine, a non-essential sulfur amino acid, which also functions as a natural alpha-blocker and diuretic.

Delivering an array of cardiovascular and metabolic benefits, lower levels of taurine as we see in vegans and vegetarians are being linked with increased blood pressure.

We see taurine as a common energy drink additive to balance out caffeine “jitters” and is well known to reduce cramping caused by fat burners like ephedrine.

Dosage: 6 grams of taurine is seen lowering blood pressure 9.0 over 4.1 mm Hg in one to 4 weeks.

Top Notable Blood Circulation Supplements

Agmatine, Hesperidin, Pycnogenol (Pine Bark), Ginkgo Biloba, L-Citrulline

Other Blood Flow Supplements

Gotu kola, green tea, vitamin C, arginine, alpha-lipoic acid, ALCAR, artichoke extract, resveratrol, pterostilbene, psyllium, vitamin E, omega-3 fish oil, cod liver oil, krill oil, algae oil, ginger, quercetin, bromelain, magnesium.

(*Ginkgo Biloba, cocoa, garlic, curcumin, Gotu kola, are mild MAO-I’s. Always check for all interactions.)

Conclusions on Lowering Psychedelic Side Effects

 

1) Extracts and analogs in place of full plant matter can lower psychedelic side effects, such as body load and nausea.

2) Allowing for a purer psychedelic trip, many find a fully empty stomach helps them, whereas some will find that having a slight amount to eat, typically light and low-fat meals such as fruit helps them to reduce body load.

3) Despite the protests from purists insisting on a “non-manipulated” psychedelic experience, some will use alcohol, CBD, cannabis, kratom, and even phenibut to calm the nerves. Others enjoy caffeine and stimulation.

4) Like all other aspects, the need for customization for the psychedelic trip could not be greater, and with biohacking, we can seek better solutions.

5) Improving the psychedelic experience will allow for improved psychedelic therapy for patients.

6) Supplements are not pharmaceuticals and while offering considerably fewer side effects, can take time to work and are dosage-dependent.

What did you think of this psychedelic review?

Perhaps you’ll leave us a comment below?

Your Friend in Health,

Mark Stein

[Get The Essential 3 Sugars and Fat for Every Health Optimizer]