Dr Jack Allocca is a Neuroscience Research Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at The University of Melbourne. He hold a BSc in Pharmacology from King’s College London and a PhD in Neuroscience from The University of Melbourne. His research focus is on sleep science, artificial intelligence, psychedelic pharmacology and correlates of consciousness via electrical brain activity. Dr Allocca is also the Founder and CEO of Somnivore Inc, which provides machine learning solutions to research laboratories working on sleep science and neurofeedback. He started his career working in pharmaceutical research investigating the effects of psychotropic and psychedelic substances on sleep mechanics. Since leaving industry he travelled over 50 countries, investigating the traditional and modern use of psychedelic medicines across South America, Polynesia and Papua New Guinea.
Friend, Foe or Bystander? The Evolutionary Agenda of Bufo Alvarius.
Present in ancient paintings, sculptures and artefacts, toads have been hailed throughout history as symbols of fertility, transformation, and the underworld. While scholars do not agree on the origins and meaning of these symbols, many believe they represent Bufo Alvarius, whose venom is the only known to contain the extremely potent hallucinogen 5-meo-DMT. Today, inhaling the vaporised venom of Bufo Alvarius is hailed as a medicine capable of treating a wide range of psychiatric conditions, and is spreading from North America to become a worldwide phenomenon. However, many mysteries and discrepancies raise the case for caution, and warrant that Bufo Alvarius might have been over-romanticised. With no records available about the alleged traditional protocols all modern shamans working with Bufo Alvarius are by definition pioneers in their field, which carries both great opportunities and profound risks. Accordingly, as the use is spreading globally reports of accidents are also on the rise, including fatalities. Indeed, the venom of Bufo Alvarius is a complex cocktail of chemicals that can be highly toxic. We may need to demystify Bufo Alvarius to devise appropriate strategies of harm reduction and benefit maximisation. So, is Bufo Alvarius a friend, a foe, or a bystander? This lecture aims to speak from the point of view of Bufo Alvarius itself, and provide a holistic review of all known chemicals present in its venom, their therapeutic potential, and their toxicology.
Through Hell to Find Heaven. Pharmacology, Therapeutics and the Future of Salvia Divinorum
Salvia Divinorum (Salvia) is not a typical entheogen. It is known to cause distress, be panicogenic and most users only report using it once. However, the traditional prescribers of Salvia, the Mazatec of Mexico have been using it for millennia, and still strongly believe in the medicinal properties of this mysterious plant. Salvinorin A, the most researched among dozens of active psychotropic compounds present in Salvia, is truly exceptional, and the most selective and potent natural small molecule currently known. Recent studies have highlighted that Salvia and Salvinorin A can offer tangible benefits for depression and addiction. Moreover, committed users report growing past the overwhelming distress and describe how Salvia provides them with a gateway to the divine. This lecture will characterise how one of the most counter-intuitive of entheogenic experience can harness the power of self-healing in the brain, as well as powerful channels for mystical growth. I will also review how the pharmaceutical establishment has been observing Salvia closely, and with little publicity has been working on a variety of strategies to capture its secrets.