On the 11th of November our faculty had the pleasure of welcoming Ing. Martin Kuchař PhD. who prepared an incredibly interesting lecture bearing the name “Psychedelics as a potential medication”. Martin Kuchař arrived from Prague, where he is active at VŠCHT, specifically in the Lab for Forensic Analysis of Bioactive Substances. He also teaches Toxicology and Drug Analysis. Otherwise he is a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, where he is working at the Department for Applied Neuroscience and Brain Imaging and the Department for Experimental Neurobiology. He focuses on studying and analysing psychoactive substances, their pharmacokinetics and toxicity, as well as on inventing new psychopharmaceuticals, medicinal diagnostics and, last but not least, on expert revision of legal norms concerning psychoactive substances and precursors of illegal drugs. Altogether, he has been studying the subject of psychoactive substances for ten years.
He commenced the lecture with an introduction to the topic of psychedelics and their history. Psilocybin, the poison of the Bufo alvarius frog and ibogaine are just a few of the substances that have been used since the ancient times during rituals, have served during divination and religious purposes, but likely also for the personal growth of their users. The discovery of LSD by Albert Hofmann seemed to be a breakthrough that started the research of the medical potential of these kinds of substances. However, these substances were demonised since the 70s and are now listed amongst the most controlled substances along with opiates and highly addictive or toxic substances. Due to this, the line of research was severed for at least 50 years. Now the pharmacological view is shifting and the place of psychedelics in modern medicine is being reconsidered. A rapidly growing number of studies is showing a potential for treating depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Doctor Kuchař explained in detail the mechanism of action of each psychedelic, he described the effect they have on receptors and channels in the human body and how much of a potential they have of creating an addiction. The presentation could not be complete without graphs from clinical studies, chemical structures and photos of the plants psychedelics originate from. The scientific information was interspersed with the personal experiences from the lecturer and humorous anecdotes from the experiments done on volunteers.
The lecture was of great interest – the auditorium C at the Pharmaceutical faculty was almost completely full and even some of our faculty’s teachers came to listen to the lecture. We thank you all for attending.
- Eliška Kučerová