Michael Pollan’s docuseries “How to Change Your Mind” will premiere on Netflix’s streaming platform on July 12. Image credit: Netflix

Michael Pollan’s 2018 book How to Change Your Mind, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, premieres as a four-part Netflix docuseries on Tuesday, with each episode devoted to a different hallucinogen. “The show is evangelically focused on the substances’ therapeutic possibilities, often to the point of spacing out on the fact that tripping can be mad fun,” Bob Strauss writes in a review for the San Francisco Chronicle. MindSite News interviewed Pollan last fall on these subjects.

“I’ve had the most interesting experiences on psilocybin. The most purely pleasurable? I would have to say MDMA, which I think is an amazing compound.…But I have a special place in my heart for mescaline,” Pollan told Nick Hilden in an interview with Rolling Stone. In the series, Pollan explains the compounds’ complex histories and their therapeutic possibilities from obsessive-compulsive disorder to depression, end-of-life therapy and spiritual insight. He chats, as always, with researchers, activists, therapists, and those whose debilitating conditions were eased by psychedelic intervention. 

From food to caffeine to marijuana, Pollan’s enormous body of work follows a theme: He focuses on how the things we ingest can affect our bodies. His latest book, This is Your Mind on Plants, extends the provocative discussion. His advice for people trying psychedelics for the first time: “Approach it with care. It’s a very consequential thing to do. There are risks involved,” he told Hilden. And if you see God or hear the plants talking to you, “It wasn’t the drug that gave you those thoughts or images: it was your mind. The drugs are catalysts. So it’s worth trying to understand what your mind is trying to tell you.”

Don Sapatkin

Don Sapatkin is an independent journalist who reports on science and health care. His primary focus for nearly two decades has been public health, especially policy, access to care, health disparities...