Elon Musk is challenging the establishment again as he tweets about psychedelics and big pharma. He tweeted that an antidepressant, Wellbutrin, is not safe and should be pulled off the market. He then touted the benefits of psychedelics in alleviating mental health problems.
Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in April and is committed to keeping the platform free of censorship.
Is Elon Musk Right about Psychedelics and Big Pharma?
“It is extremely distressing that a man who blithely tosses off opinions about medicine is poised to acquire this entire platform,” tweeted Daniel Summers, a pediatrician.
Tyler Black, a pharmacologist at the University of British Columbia, called Musk’s views on Wellbutrin “basically medical misinformation.”
Par course for a generation that has lost the value of free speech. Musk may or may not be correct. But he isn’t misinformed. As he tweeted: “Every time that drug has come up in conversation, someone at the table has a suicide or near-suicide story.”
Responding to other tweets, Elon wrote: “I’ve talked to many more people who were helped by psychedelics & ketamine than SSRIs & amphetamines.”
But again, according to Tyler Black, this is misinformation. “Psychedelics are not yet the first-line treatments for anything in psychiatry, and they may never be, because the evidence won’t support them,” he told the Washington Post.
Of course, no one has yet successfully disputed Elon’s claim. Critics have merely committed the logical fallacy of appealing to authority and decrying anything they disagree with as “misinformation.”
So is Elon Musk right about Wellbutrin? Should we value his opinions on psychedelics and big pharma? He may not be a medical expert, but he also doesn’t make his money pushing pharmaceuticals onto vulnerable people with poor mental health.
Side Effects of Wellbutrin
Wellbutrin is the brand name of bupropion. An antidepressant by prescription only and approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1985. It interacts with dopamine receptors causing side effects for the central nervous system. These include:
Increased heart rate (and other cardiovascular side effects)
The advantages outweigh the negatives, so they say. But the last five side effects listed make you wonder if Wellbutrin is worth the trouble.
Especially when there are safer alternatives.
Is Elon Musk Wrong about Psychedelics and Big Pharma?
Tyler Black, the BC pharmacologist who called Musk’s views “basically medical misinformation,” misinformed us before. He was wrong when he said psychedelics “may never be [used in psychiatry] because the evidence won’t support them.”
A simple online search debunks this claim thoroughly.
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York has a Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research. They find psilocybin and MDMA help military veterans and civilians suffering from depression and PTSD.
In November 2020, billionaire Peter Thiel invested $12 million (USD) into Atai Life Sciences. This Berlin company develops novel treatments for mental health issues like depression, PTSD, anxiety and addiction. They’re finding success with compounds such as psilocybin, MDMA and its derivatives, and ibogaine.
Known for being an early investor in Facebook, Thiel also co-founded PayPal with Elon Musk.
Johns Hopkins Medicine has a $17 million psychedelic research center. Why spend that kind of money if “the evidence won’t support” psychedelics?
Psychedelics: The Supporting Evidence
The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is one of the largest in the world. In 2006, they published double-blind psilocybin research that showed “magic mushrooms” as safe and effective.
Johns Hopkins has also shown how (alongside cognitive behaviour therapy) a psilocybin experience can end a lifelong cigarette habit. They’ve published results showing how a single large dose of psilocybin mushrooms has a beneficial effect on people suffering from cancer-related anxiety and depression.
They’ve also shown how alcoholics can reduce or end their dependency after a psychedelic experience with psilocybin, LSD or DMT. And a lot of these studies were experimental and double-blinded. They involved brain scans. They weren’t simply asking people to fill out a survey after an acid trip.
But the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research must not exist. Every so-called expert is telling Elon Musk to stay in his own lane and leave the antidepressant research to them. And then they routinely ignore evidence that doesn’t fit their preconceived worldview.
It is genuinely baffling. For even the FDA has approved an antidepressant derived from ketamine.
Johns Hopkins Medicine finally received a federal grant in 2020 to further its study of psychedelic research. They recommend psilocybin be re-categorized from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule IV drug (to one with medical potential).
But it’s Elon Musk’s take on psychedelics and big pharma that must be wrong. Misinformation only exists on one side of the argument, apparently.
Try it Yourself
There is no single theory on depression. Some believe it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. Others take stock in the inflammation theory, where if one cuts out sugars and processed carbs, the brain and body heal, so the mind follows suit.
The problem with pharmaceutical antidepressants is that they target synaptic levels in the brain to varying degrees of success. Elon Musk doesn’t find much merit in altering the chemical interactions of the brain. Interactions we barely know anything about.
After all, how do chemical interactions in the brain produce consciousness?
Instead, psychedelics offer profound and genuine insights. Brain scans show that psychedelics decrease the “ego centre” of the brain. Once one sees themselves differently, with less ego and more connectedness to the world around them, they come out of the experience feeling better—less depressed and more content.
And you can try this yourself. If you’re not keen on psychedelics like psilocybin or LSD, there’s always cannabis. In large doses (like in an edible, for example), one can experience similar intense feelings and genuine insight. With edible cannabis, your liver processes THC and converts it to 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC), producing effects far more significant than you can get from smoking or vaping.
With a large enough dose, cannabis becomes a psychedelic too.
And that, in essence, is Elon Musk’s take on psychedelics and big pharma. Nothing controversial about it. But from the way the corporate press is reacting, you’d think he just denied the Holocaust.
And yet all he’s done is challenge a system of profit and control. One that would rather see you sick and depressed and paying taxes than reaching your potential as a human being and threatening the powers that be.