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The Future of Psychedelic Therapy Research for Clinical and Non-Clinical Use | Andrew Penn

Learn what’s to come in psychedelic therapy research including risk mitigation, contraindications, and treatment purposes as Andrew Penn explores this important subject.

Episode Summary

In this conversation, Andrew Penn, co-founder of the Organization of Psychedelic and Entheogenic Nurses (OPENurses), discusses the use of psychedelics in therapy and the challenges and concerns surrounding this emerging field. He addresses psychedelic misconceptions and hype, emphasizing the need for more research and caution. He also explores the potential benefits and risks of psychedelic retreats as well as the importance of psychedelic harm reduction. 

Penn highlights the specific considerations for using psychedelics in individuals with bipolar disorder and the need for further study in this area. Additionally, he discusses the potential impact of hormonal factors on psychedelic therapy and the recent approval of a treatment for postpartum depression. This conversation explores the manifestation of depression, contraindications for psychedelic use, serotonin syndrome, and the future of psychedelics.

Discussed in this episode: 

  • The need for psychedelic therapy research to separate the hype from the reality

  • Harm reduction strategies, such as safe spaces and support, in the use of psychedelics

  • Risks of bipolar disorder and psychedelics and the careful considerations to understand

  • Interactions between psychedelics and hormones and the need for more research

  • The recent approval of a treatment for postpartum depression in mental health care

  • Contraindications for psychedelic use, including a history of psychosis, cardiovascular disorders, and certain medications

  • The dangers of serotonin syndrome that can occur from the over-use of psychedelics 

  • The use of psychedelics in clinical vs. non-clinical settings 

"One myth to unpack is this idea that [psychedelic use] is ‘one and done’ and ‘curative.’ And frankly, I was part of that hype at the beginning, too, because in our very early studies, that's what we were starting to see." - Andrew Penn

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Guest Bio

Andrew Penn, MS, PMHNP is a psychiatric nurse practitioner, clinical professor at the UC San Francisco School of Nursing, and a researcher on psychedelic therapies at the UCSF Translational Psychedelic Research Program (TrPR). He has been an investigator in studies examining MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, on psilocybin-assisted therapy for people with Parkinson’s disease and depression, and was a co-PI on the phase 2 study of psilocybin-assisted therapy for major depression, recently published in JAMA. 

An internationally invited speaker, he has taught at SXSW, TEDx, Aspen Institute, and the Singapore Ministry of Health. Additionally, he has published widely on psychedelic therapies and their intersections with nursing and is the co-founder of the Organization of Psychedelic and Entheogenic Nurses. He can be found at


Georgie Kovacs:

Andrew, I'm so honestly, in all seriousness, I'm so excited to connect with you. I know you're a very busy, in demand person. I was I'm just really appreciative that Lynn Marie had introduced us. You've came highly recommended by a bunch of sources. And, Honestly, I I got into I had decided to do an episode on psychedelics, and then I started talking to some folks, and I realized there's no way that I could cover this, with justice in 1 episode. And so it's turned into a 3 part series, and honestly, it could probably be a 20 part series. But For the purposes of of femme power health, I think 3 parts should be sufficient. And if, of course, there's more questions, we could do follow-up.

Georgie Kovacs:

So I really appreciate You're making time. Why don't you tell us about yourself and and you how you got into this field And what you're doing within it. Because I do think it's so unique and interesting. So please share that with us.

Andrew Penn:

Yeah. Sure. My name is Andrew Penn, and I'm a clinical professor at UC San Francisco and the School of Nursing, I'm trained as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Did that 20 years ago now. And I divide my time between teaching. In the school of nursing, I teach, advanced practice nursing students, so people that are gonna going to become psychiatric nurse practitioners. I work at San Francisco VA doing clinical work and overseeing residents there. And I also spend part of my time doing research on psychedelics.