“It’s good to take things seriously. You don’t want to be afraid, but it’s a serious experience. I would say it’s no less serious than being reborn.”
— Hamilton Morris
Hamilton Morris (TW: @hamiltonmorris, IG: @hamiltonmorris) is a writer, documentarian, and scientific researcher who currently studies the chemistry and pharmacology of tryptamines at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
His writing has been featured in Harper’s Magazine, Playboy, and Vice, and he is the creator of the television series Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, which recently completed its second season, and it is absolutely one of my favorite series of the last five years.
Hamilton is exceptionally good at explaining complex subjects simply and making science sexy, as you’ll discover in this episode.
You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.
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Want to hear another podcast discussing psychedelics?— Listen to my conversation with Michael Pollan, author of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. Stream below or right-click here to download.
This episode is brought to you by Inktel. Ever since I wrote The 4-Hour Workweek, I’ve been frequently asked about how I choose to delegate tasks. At the root of many of my decisions is a simple question: “How can I invest money to improve my quality of life?” Or “how can I spend moderate money to save significant time?”
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Hamilton Morris:
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia
- The Last Interview With Alexander Shulgin by Hamilton Morris and Ash Smith, Vice
- PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved): A Chemical Love Story by Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin
- TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved): A Continuation by Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin
- The Healing Journey: Pioneering Approaches to Psychedelic Therapy by Claudio Naranjo
- Alexander Shulgin Research Institute
- Mexacarbate (Zectran), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Shulgin Notebooks and Lab Books, Erowid
- This Genius Chemist Spent 50 Years Creating Psychedelic Drugs in His Home Lab…for a Good Cause by Ahmed Kabil, Timeline
- MDMA (Ecstacy), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Dimoxamine (Ariadne), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Methylone, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Dr. Ecstasy by Drake Bennett, The New York Times Magazine
- Goethe on the Psychology of Color and Emotion by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
- Does Cannabis Use Lower Your IQ? by Jeremy Kossen, Leafly
- A Protocol for the Evaluation of New Psychoactive Drugs in Man by Alexander T. Shulgin, L. Ann Shulgin and Peyton Jacob, III, Methods & Findings in Experimental & Clinical Pharmacology (PDF download here)
- Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Victorian Era Medicine: Strychnine by V.L. McBeath
- Organic Chemistry As a Second Language: First Semester Topics by David R. Klein
- Organic Chemistry As a Second Language: Second Semester Topics by David R. Klein
- Khan Academy Chemistry Courses
- Learn How to Make Your Own Essential Oils by Debra Maslowski, DIY Natural
- Piperine, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy by Cynthia Kuhn Ph.D. and Scott Swartzwelder Ph.D.
- The Garage in Harvard Square
- Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- LSD Now: How the Psychedelic Renaissance Changed Acid by Jesse Jarnow, Rolling Stone
- Salvia: What Are the Effects? by Kathleen Davis, Medical News Today
- YouTube Videos about Salvia
- Erowid Experience Vaults
- Dipropyltryptamine (DPT), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- “The Dose Makes the Poison” Infographics Gallery, Chemical Safety Facts
- Adderall (Amphetamine, Dextroamphetamine Mixed Salts), RX List
- The Drug of Choice for the Age of Kale: How Ayahuasca, an Ancient Amazonian Hallucinogenic Brew, Became the Latest Trend in Brooklyn and Silicon Valley by Ariel Levy, The New Yorker
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), The Mayo Clinic
- Psilocybine, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Magic Mushrooms Around the World: A Scientific Journey Across Cultures and Time — The Case for Challenging Research and Value Systems by Jochen Gartz
- Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain by Nicolas Langlitz
- How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan
- Shamanism and the Sacred Cactus: Ethnoarchaeological Evidence for San Pedro Use in Northern Peru by Douglas Sharon
- The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios: 45 Years with Shamans, Ayahuasqueros, and Ethnobotanists by Marlene Dobkin de Rios
- Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, Their Plant Sources and History by Jonathan Ott
- A Clandestine Chemist’s Tale, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S2 EP6
- Methaqualone (Quaalude), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Gaboxadol by Hamilton Morris, Harper’s Magazine
- Magic Mushrooms In Mexico, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S1 EP4
- The Lazy Lizard’s School of Hedonism, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S1 EP6
- Shepherdess: The Story of Salvia Divinorum, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S1 EP3
- The Cactus Apprentice, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S2 EP8
- Murray and Lanman Florida Water
- Wizards of DMT, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S2 EP4
- Marinol (Dronabinol), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- What Is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and What Does It Do? by Adam Drury, High Times
- 5-MeO-DMT, The Drug Classroom
- UR-144, The Drug Classroom
- What is Crohn’s Disease?, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
- The Psychedelic Toad, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S2 EP1
- Teen’s Quest for Amazon ‘Medicine’ Ends in Tragedy by Tricia Escobedo, CNN
- Is Ayahuasca Tea Legal in the USA? Answered by Grant Eaton, Quora
- ‘Hello, Newman’ Compilation, Seinfeld
- Moclobemide, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist’s Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic by Wade David
- The Serpent and the Rainbow (film)
- Scopolamine, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Tetrodotoxin (TTX), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Overview: Lichen (Dictyonema huaorani) in Ecuador Might Produce Psychedelic Drugs, The Drug Classroom
- Ibogaine, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Howard Lotsof Dies at 66; Saw Drug Cure in a Plant by Dennis Hevesi, The New York Times
- Methadone, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Buprenorphine, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Glial Cell Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms and Causes, The Mayo Clinic
- Levodopa (L-dopa), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- In the News: Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
- Mescaline (Peyote), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Alkaloids: An Overview, ScienceDirect
- Terpenoid, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Case Histories of 2CD Smart Pill Usage by Darrell Lemaire, Erowid
- The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows Why Some People Think They’re Great Even When Their Work Is Terrible by Mark Murphy, Forbes
- Omberacetam (Noopept), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- PRL-8-53, Wikipedia
- Fonturacetam (Phenylpiracetam), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Are You a Synesthete? by Darya L. Zabelina, Psychology Today
- The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory by A.R. Luria
- The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide — Risks, Micro-Dosing, Ibogaine, and More (with James Fadiman), The Tim Ferriss Show
- Nicotine, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Caffeine, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin), U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Adam Gazzaley — The Maverick of Brain Optimization, The Tim Ferriss Show
- Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks
- Ketamine: Realms and Realities, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S2 EP5
- Alexander Shulgin: man or myth? Hamilton gives us a brief synopsis of the amazing life of the late “godfather of ecstasy” and his contributions to science. [07:05]
- What chemists and non-chemists can get out of reading Shulgin’s books. [14:20]
- Like Goethe, it was Shulgin’s unique perspective that made him nearly peerless. [16:10]
- Examining how Shulgin mitigated the risk of testing his newly synthesized compounds prompts another question: how much do we really know about the long-term effects of substances already in wide use? [19:37]
- Resources Hamilton suggests for anyone who seeks basic literacy in chemistry. [23:28]
- Where did Hamilton’s interest in psychedelics originate? [27:10]
- The 12-year-old Hamilton was a discerning consumer of street psychedelics. [27:45]
- What was Hamilton’s first experience with salvia like? [29:55]
- Why are consciousness-altering substances so culturally misunderstood, and how might this change in the future? [30:40]
- Does Hamilton consider himself a spiritual person? What’s the value in substance-induced spiritual experiences for those who don’t consider themselves spiritual? [33:18]
- Weighing the experimental approach of a scientist toward psychedelics versus the traditional, “shamanistic” approach within a cultural framework. [35:06]
- The difference between a medicine and a poison is the dose, and the method for finding the right dose varies from person to person. [39:21]
- One hitch in pinpointing an ideal dose: not all substances (particularly those deemed illegal) are measured consistently, and there can be a variation of potency even between two specimens of the same species of mushroom grown in the same substrate — or between the cap and stem of the very same mushroom. [41:53]
- Recommended reading on psychedelics. [43:35]
- What inspires the journalism behind Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia? [46:02]
- Which episode of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia would Hamilton recommend to a scientist? [50:02]
- Which episode of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia would Hamilton recommend to a non-scientist with an interest — and maybe a fear — of psychedelics? [52:26]
- Which episodes seem to have the most popular appeal — and why does Hamilton think this is the case? [54:00]
- Which episode would Hamilton recommend to someone who doesn’t have a healthy respect for the potential dangers of psychedelic substances? [57:56]
- The attitude Hamilton finds most effective for covering his subject matter with journalistic integrity. [59:07]
- The seed of most negative experiences Hamilton has had under the influence of substances — and how he’s talked himself out of them. [1:01:02]
- A cautionary tale for anyone wondering “What’s the worst thing that could happen under the influence of 5-MeO-DMT without lucid supervision?” [1:05:23]
- Should a documentary show things the way they are — even when they’re potentially unsafe — or should it strive to set an example for people who don’t otherwise know any better? [1:07:31]
- Why hasn’t there been an episode of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia about ayahuasca? Hamilton addresses elitist attitudes, manufactured traditions, and media frenzy surrounding this tea — and why you don’t have to go all the way to the Amazon to experience it. [1:08:55]
- Why do people cling to interpretive, conceptual frameworks for psychedelic experiences, and are these experiences enhanced or diminished by the presence of a guide (such as a shaman)? [1:14:02]
- What self-talk helps Hamilton keep his experiences from being negative or overwhelming? [1:16:13]
- Is watching Seinfeld really the best way to cap off a profound session of reconceptualizations? [1:17:09]
- How has Hamilton found ayahuasca “almost cartoonishly” practical for finding internal motivation, and in what way do such experiences have an anti-addictive effect? [1:18:33]
- Who is Wade Davis, and did he prove that zombies are real? [1:21:44]
- What is ibogaine, and how might it be useful for recovering addicts and Parkinson’s disease sufferers? [1:25:32]
- How sustainable is the harvesting of natural compounds, when is synthesis a reasonable alternative, and what might we be missing in the long run? [1:31:25]
- What is (and isn’t) an alkaloid? [1:37:26]
- Hamilton’s take on nootropics, the Dunning-Kruger effect, and the difficulty with self-assessing and defining intelligence. [1:38:58]
- Pondering 2CD and the induction of synesthesia-like effects for memory retention. [1:42:41]
- Sometimes solving a problem just takes seeing things from a different — not necessarily better or smarter — perspective. [1:44:33]
- If nicotine gum is in Hamilton’s pole position, what are in second and third place when he needs to get his brain in motion? [1:45:05]
- Assessing before and after effects on cognition and parting thoughts. [1:46:32]
- Alexander Shulgin
- Paul Karrer
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Ed Cooke
- Navdeep Chandel
- Peter Attia
- Jochen Gartz
- Nicolas Langlitz
- Michael Pollan
- Douglas Sharon
- Marlene Dobkin de Rios
- Jonathan Ott
- Casey Hardison
- Kyle Nolan
- Maestro Mancoluto
- Wade Davis
- Richard Evans Schultes
- Wes Craven
- Howard Lotsof
- Darrell Lemaire
- David Dunning
- Justin Kruger
- James Fadiman
- Daniel Kahneman
- Adam Gazzaley
- Jason Wallach
- Oliver Sacks
- Claudio Naranjo
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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23 Replies to “Hamilton Morris on Better Living Through Chemistry: Psychedelics, Smart Drugs, and More (#337)”
I’m hoping you can help: During one of your amazing podcasts, the interviewee mentioned for just a moment (or you did, Tim) how psychedelics help people who are going through chemotherapy. I can’t recall if it was MDMA or something else, and have a friend going through chemo right now. Have been through the transcripts of the Pollan interview but still can’t find it. If you recall, would love to know. Thank you in advance!
I’m not sure, but I think it was Michael Pollan talking about people going though a chemo and how using several sessions of psilocybin has helped them overcoming the fear of death.
I seem to recall something like that from Peter Attia’s podcasts. Might have been on ketosis rather than MDMA.
It was likely the Paul Stamets episode. Turkey Tail, or Trametes Versicolor, are said to have tumour inhibiting affects, and boosts the immune system (non hallucinogenic). See Stamets, TedMed talk on YouTube. The mycelia form is said to be stronger, so taking it as a capsule may be better fungiperfecti.com. I grow it, dry it, shred it in a blender, and then consume it as a tea. It’s non-edible on it’s own, as it’s very tough and could cause stomach upset.
Serpent & Rainbow by the wondrous Wade Davis (not David)
Also what a phenomenal discussion and resource list – this could be a course. Thank you so very much for your efforts.
Tim, thank you so much for this episode. As per your request on your 5 bullet Fridays email – this was the place to connect with you. I have been a fan of yours for many years, an avid podcast listener, and have gained value from all of your books. Im an acupuncturist and meditation teacher – I know this is a stretch but I would love to share my online meditation course with you and anyone who you think may find it valuable. As per your request i will not enter the url here – but feel free to ask for it.
I find it interesting that he dismissed the role of a shaman and says that anyone can brew ayahuasca in the house. That’s not what I’ve heard from people like Dennis McKenna, Graham Hancock and Chris kilham. I wonder why that is.
Is their anyway to speed up this podcast to speed 2.00? Great podcast tim.
Great podcast, as always with many inspirational ideas! Also, nice thoughts about the smart drugs not actually making you smarter. The part I got upset with was what your interviewee said about ritaline – being addictive and that you could have the same effects of clarity with discipline, because it puts quite a heavy stigma on people who rely on this substance because of ADHD. I believe that’s not what your interviewee inteded to do, but the way he phrased it – any stimulant being addictive, not differentiating between taking it as a “smart drug” or by clinical prescription, implies ritaline would be addictive when taken as prescribed in small doses at a fixed scheme, which it is not, as numerous studies show.
Concentration problems caused by dopamine imbalance are sure not to be solved with more discipline – discipline can be useful in general, but it does not provide the dopamine level needed for the brain to filter out distractions the same way an average brain does. Actually you would assume that someone without ADHD who takes ritaline would indeed feel stimulated by the extra dopamine – awake, a little jittery, a little euphoric, so they might feel more motivated to go on reading and studying for hours, but the actual ability to concentrate and memorize actually gets worse with too high levels of dopamine. Someone with ADHD who takes a slightly higher dose than that works best also has more difficulties concentrating – so it’s not the more dopamine the better, but it’s about finding the right dose. And if one needs ritaline to concentrate it’s okay and safe to take it (after diagnosis, under medical supervision) and should not be ashamed by the distorted thought they could do the same with more discipline.
I don’t know what your thoughts on the topic are, Tim and I respect your ability to listen to and respect all sorts of divergent opinions, but in this case to me personally it’s more that just an opinion because it can be hurtful to people with ADHD and their loved ones and frustrating for professionals working with clients with ADHD that’s why I feel the urgent need to write this awfully long comment and motivate people to think about what words like that feel like for people who are struggeling with ADHD.
Was looking up PubChem info on Psilocybin and this para came up under toxicity:
“11.1.1 Antidote and Emergency Treatment
For patients with a “bad trip” or panic reaction, provide gentile reassurance and relaxation techniques in a quiet environment. Treat agitation or severe anxiety states with diazepam or midazolam. Butyrophenones such as haloperidol are useful despite a small theoretic risk of lowering the seizure threshold. Treat seizures, hyperthermia, rhabdomyolysis, hypertension, and cardiac arrhythmias if they occur. /LSD and other hallucinogens/
Olson, K.R. (Ed.); Poisoning & Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill. New York, N.Y. 2004., p. 249”
I wonder if your guest can give some good examples of “gentile reassurance” one might use in such circumstances.
Thank you 😉
I loved this episode. And any of your podcasts that explore alternative medicines. How about interviewing a Shaman or someone who can speak about shamanism as it relates to the medicines. Merging the science with the spiritual. There’s actually a lot of science in the spiritual. I have some ideas. But hate to name drop on an open forum.
Not sure which episode it was mentioned in but looking for recommendation on mujo. I’ve never studied Buddhism but interested in learning more about the concept of impermanence.
I would like to know if Hamilton will ever do an episode on scopolamine ( angles trumpet plant ) ? Thank you Toni
Great episode chocked full of resources.
Great episode Tim! Can you tell me the name of the books mentioned at the end (1:52). Cheers,
Hi. The books are PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved) and TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved).
Having watched all episodes of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia & watched Hamilton walk into a lab with fellow associate & have watched the extraordinary lengths in obtaining Desired Results in quite Spacious Labs Yet I Wonder the Complexities already worked out by ‘Higher Intelligent Beings’ referencing *Alien’s* – who in Thier Ultimate Wisdom Concised a Laboratory into small spaces such as ‘Plant’s’ – Would Hamilton concider explain in Future Series perhaps the Small Intricacies of these Mini Laboratory’s some time into the Future . . .
Thank You for letting me have this say . . .
James Dang-ers . . .
To Hamilton Morris:
Don’t worry about responding to this email. I have watched your tv show
on VICE for some time. I am consumed with admiration for you. Being a
76 old woman (shaman and Alexandrian HPs) I MUST say: I WISH YOU WERE MY GRANDSON. I’d give about anything I have to have contributed
to your dna.
Signed with sincere admiration,
Wondering if you’ve considered talking to Tao Lin. I’d love to hear you in particular talk to him, especially about Glyphosate and it’s affects on physiology and consciousness. “Trip” was a mind-blowing read and it also introduced me to ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison and her vast experience with shamanic plants (another potential guest?)
ps too lazy to change my Eddie Lacy fantasy football avatar from 4 years ago.
I really enjoyed this episode, but I beg to differ on the recommendation of the books by David Klein: ‘Organic Chemistry as a Second Language’ (‘First Semester Topics’ and ‘Second Semester Topics’) for those who don’t have a strong background in chemistry but who want to fast track their knowledge. I purchased both books on your recommendation, but found the treatment of topics to be virtually incomprehensible. No introduction, no ‘baby steps’. It is a book for those who already know the material. Not useful at all for people who aren’t mainlining chemistry.
Thank you for your extensive documentation of all those amazing books and people mentioned! I wish there was a 4 hour funnel to absorb it all! You are a really great interviewer and Hamilton is astounding yet so humble. Worth listening to again and again!