Psychedelic Study Inspires Undergrad’s Future Research

An independent study examining the role of psilocybin is opening new lines of thought and fulfilling a student’s interest into understanding the effects of naturally occurring psychedelic medicines.

The study, funded through a grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research, was conducted by Maria Orozco, an undergraduate student completing a double degree program in Anthropology and Biology. Her interest in psychedelics was piqued by a medical anthropology course examining the cultural and historical roots of communal drug use.

“I remember being very intrigued by the ritual and medicinal use of these substances and their effects on cultures and communities throughout time,” Orozco said.

Orozco’s interests recently took her to Jamaica, where she studied the experiences of 25 different participants at a psilocybin-assisted retreat center.

Ethnographical studies provide a greater understanding of how substances like psilocybin work, and how they can be administered safely and effectively in non-clinical settings, Orozco explained.

“Current research validates the therapeutic effects of psilocybin to be unparalleled when compared to other treatments. When used as a healing modality, psilocybin can help an array of individuals, especially those struggling with treatment resistant depression, PTSD or anxiety,” Orozco said.

Orozco’s research was conducted over a three-week period. Each guest received three psilocybin doses in sessions under the supervision of several experienced facilitators. Orozco focused on the outcomes of these sessions and found a shared sense of community among participants.

“I observed strangers from different backgrounds find a sense of comfort with one other,” said Orozco. “Although each individual came from a different background many of them were able to work through trauma and face difficult moments in a safe and supportive environment.”

Looking forward, Orozco is eager to continue her work in plant-based medicine and psychedelic therapies. Her plan is to get more involved within the realm of research and community outreach strategies.

“I really wasn’t sure how I was going to apply my degree after graduation,” said Orozco. “But through this study I was able to narrow down my path. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity and for all of those that supported my journey to Jamaica.”


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