How Heroic Hearts Is Spearheading Psilocybin Research to Treat Veterans
Dr. Grace Blest-Hopley gives some of her time to talk about a new research initiative to treat traumatic brain injury with psychedelics.
The Heroic Hearts Project is spearheading a new psilocybin research program this fall, aiming to treat veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) with psychedelics.
Starting in October, the non-profit organization is going to work with psilocybin retreat centers in the Netherlands and Jamaica so veterans suffering from psychological distress may participate and benefit from psychedelic ceremonies. Psychedelic Spotlight spoke to Dr. Grace Blest-Hopley, research director of Heroic Hearts UK, about what she believes may be the root cause of that psychological distress, how the organization’s program can help treat it, and what led her to join the cause.
“I observed [my friends] at parties taking ketamine and other psychedelics, and have this real transformation, and they turned back into the people they were before they developed the depressive disorders,” she said of her earliest experiences with psychedelics. “I’d always kept that in my mind, that that was really interesting, but when you’re young and a student at parties you don’t go around to your professors talking about what drugs you saw people do.”
After obtaining a master’s in neuroscience from King’s College London, she pursued a PhD in neuropharmacology, exploring the effects of heavy cannabis use on the adolescent brain. Then, she joined Heroic Hearts in October of 2020, bridging all of her interests. Blest-Hopley, who has been a reservist since 2019, was struck by the lack of support for military workers coming out of warzone areas, leading to a high prevalence of mental health issues, such as PTSD and depression, amongst veterans. Now, she’s on the cusp of a new frontier of psilocybin research, preparing for a trial investigating the psychedelic’s effectiveness in treating TBI.
Traumatic Brain Injury as a Root Cause
It’s certainly in the public eye that veterans have a high prevalence of psychological disorders such as PTSD. Traumatic events easily pile up…