- uploaded: Feb 24, 2008
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Consciousness is a subject of increasing scientific inquiry in the West. One particular aspect of this research involves how psychoactive medicines affect consciousness. We at the Cottonwood Research Foundation will begin to address some of the most perplexing mysteries of the human mind with the aid of plant-based psychoactive compounds. For example, What are the varieties of human consciousness, and their genetic, biochemical and physiological bases? What are the medical, social, and spiritual implications of these different states, and how can we best apply these states towards healing, creativity, and greater wisdom?
For thousands of years, historical and indigenous cultures have used plant medicines to reliably induce extraordinarily compelling non-ordinary and mystical states of consciousness. Western science has only begun to tap the vast resources of traditional knowledge regarding these plants and their effects. By bringing to bear multiple scientific, anthropological, and spiritual perspectives, we will pursue several important goals: 1) develop a more thorough understanding of these plants' psychological and physical healing properties; 2) explore the states they elicit, in order to gain a deeper and broader understanding of the range of human consciousness; 3) determine how plant-based psychoactive medicines affect consciousness; and 4) clarify the role these compounds, found in our own bodies, play in dreams, mystical and near-death states, creativity, and mental illness.
The work I performed during the early-1990's at the University of New Mexico with DMT, a naturally occurring psychoactive, was the first new clinical research with these compounds in the US in two decades. Our founding of Cottonwood is intended to help revitalize the lagging pace of American research with this and other classical psychoactive compounds since my studies were interrupted in 1995.
We have already started our first research project. Our vice-president Dr. Steven Barker at Louisiana State University is developing a new ultra-sensitive method of measuring naturally occurring DMT and related compounds in the body. By doing so, we will be able to compare normal levels with those found in naturally occurring highly altered states and clinical conditions. We also held our inaugural fund-raiser in Taos, in which Beatriz Labate, a noted Brazilian anthropologist, presented her field research concerning the burgeoning Brazilian ayahuasca religions movement.
Our most enduring legacy will be the establishment of a thriving, independent research center in northern New Mexico structured in the manner of an institute of higher learning, with treatment, education, and research departments and activities. This campus will include living and dining accommodations, research, laboratory, and information technology facilities, a greenhouse, library, and classrooms. Integral to our vision is a vigorous exchange program with indigenous healers and teachers, which will inform our development of new models for the study and application of plant-based psychoactive medicines.