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Treating PTSD: What Breathwork, MDMA and Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy Have in Common

May 12, 2022

blog post illustration

Treating PTSD: What Breathwork, MDMA and Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy Have in Common

Breathwork can often result in transpersonal psychedelic experiences – comparable to experiences induced by MDMA and psilocybin therapies.

May 12, 2022


photo of Kristen Grace

Kristen Grace


Psychedelic breathwork has the power to activate non-ordinary states of consciousness very much like psychedelics and plant medicine. These non-ordinary states of being have been shown to help treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, depression and anxiety.

The Frequency Psychedelic Breathwork is a practice to access deep self-love, create cellular healing, and release pain and trauma that gets stored and stuck in the body.

By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, conscious rhythmic breathing not only calms our physical body, it works to calm our emotional state, too. Depending on the type and duration of breathwork, the practice can often result in transpersonal psychedelic experiences – comparable to experiences induced by MDMA and psilocybin therapies. There are many names for rhythmic circular breathing, including psychedelic breathwork, Holotropic breathwork, two part breathwork, and rebirthing.

Psychedelic Assisted Therapies for Treating PTSD

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) found that PTSD patients who participated in MDMA-assisted therapy showed significant improvement in symptoms and no longer met the criteria for PTSD by the end of the study. Johns Hopkins Magazine reports that MDMA suppresses the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for reactions such as fear and panic. The researchers also note that, after MDMA-assisted therapy, PTSD patients report feeling, “safe, empathetic, and emotionally open, an ideal frame of mind for therapeutic breakthroughs.”

Additionally, this study found equally revolutionary and compelling results. The researchers found that people suffering from depression who participated in psilocybin-assisted therapy noticed rapid and significant reduction in depression symptoms. Some participants even achieved remission.

Johns Hopkin Magazine notes that psychiatrist and later breathwork pioneer Dr. Stanislav Grof participated in studies that involved LSD-assisted therapy, and many of the patients experienced “the resolution of deep, persistent trauma as a result.” When psychedelics were criminalized in the late 60s, Gof and his partner Christina Gof developed Holotropic Breathwork as a completely legal and accessible method to tap into the emotions, insights, sensations, and therapeutic benefits offered from psychedelic medicine.

Breathwork for Treating PTSD

The previous and ongoing research on psychedelic psychotherapy is promising for treating PTSD. While psychedelic medicine may prove to be an outstanding aid for PTSD patients, breathwork always has been and always will be available. Additionally, unlike psychedelic medicine, breathwork is legal and accessible now.

Psychedelic breathwork activates DMT endogenously in the brain. DMT is the chemical compound that can be attributed to the psychedelic experience with ayahuasca, and breathwork allows us to activate and access it naturally, consciously, and safely. One study found that 82% of the 482 patients reported having transpersonal or mythopoetic – the hypothetical stage of thought that myths come from – experiences, as a result of Holotropic breathwork. This altered state is an ideal state for therapeutic breakthroughs and treatment of PTSD.

One of the unique things about breathwork is that the breather is in complete control. Unlike the journey that occurs after ingesting a medicine, the circular breath can be modified – slowed, quickened, deepened, paused – at any time, creating a shift in the experience. The breather has agency over their breath and their body. With psychedelic breathwork we can access altered states of consciousness, reap the therapeutic physical and emotional benefits, and treat PTSD from a safe and embodied state.

updated on May 17, 2022

photo of Kristen Grace

Kristen Grace


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