Psykia Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to Study Breathwork as Treatment for PTSD

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Psykia Institute is partnering with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Flow Genome Project, and Veterans for Natural Rights to conduct a landmark study to test the efficacy of Breathwork in treating veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"121 people commit suicide daily in our country, 22 of them veterans. We are also in the midst of an opioid epidemic with 198 people dying by overdose every day in our nation. Addicts are often using drugs to treat the symptoms of deep emotional pain. Untreated trauma is killing almost 320 people a day in America. It's an epidemic. We believe that instead of treating the symptoms, we need to provide the proper tools to fix the cause at its roots. Breathwork provides that possibility." — Matt Kahl, Founder, Veterans for Natural Rights


We are Psykia Institute, an organization dedicated to merging breakthrough science with traditional wisdom to help communities cultivate psychological and spiritual well-being. We advocate for a systems-oriented approach that guides individuals to identify and establish essential forms of connection (with themselves, each other, and nature--amongst others). 

We are beginning a partnership with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and Veterans For Natural Rights to study the efficacy of a particular style of breathwork, developed by Stanislav Grof, M.D. and Christina Grof, in treating veterans suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Click here to support our crowdfund campaign for this study or skip campaign platform costs and support us directly here. Please notate “For JHU study” in the comments section.

Or, keep reading for more details.

breathwork developed by the grofs

Stanislav Grof, M.D., a psychiatrist, researcher, theoretician, and author of some 20 books, pioneered research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics while they were still legal. At the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Dr. Grof oversaw thousands of patients undergoing LSD-assisted psychotherapy. He found these sessions often led to profound transformation, healing deep trauma and even shifting value systems and life strategies. 

When, in 1975, clinical research into psychedelics was made illegal in the U.S., Dr. Grof and Christina Grof developed and began using a particular style of breathwork as a non-drug means of bringing its practitioners into similar healing and transformational states of consciousness.

In these sessions, which last up to three hours, participants lay on the floor and breathe according to specific guidelines. Evocative music plays, and each breather is tended to by a “sitter” there to help as needed. The sessions are preceded by detailed preparation, overseen by trained facilitators there to ensure safety, and are followed by integration and discussion of the experience. 

Dr. Albert Hoffman, who synthesized LSD, and Dr. Stanislav Grof, who pioneered its therapeutic use.

Dr. Albert Hoffman, who synthesized LSD, and Dr. Stanislav Grof, who pioneered its therapeutic use.

Why Might Holotropic Breathwork be effective with PTSD?

In the 40 plus years since its development, tens of thousands of participants in the Grof’s style of breathwork have had a wide spectrum of experiences similar to those induced by psychedelics. The practice was tested on 482 psychiatric inpatients in Saint Anthony’s Medical Center in Saint Louis, Missouri over a period of 12 years. 82% describe “experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche, or cosmos.” The treatment was well-received, saw no adverse effects, and was observed to be therapeutic. (See the referenced clinical report here:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD affects some 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans, and 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

Given encouraging results being found in FDA studies of psychedelic therapy for treating PTSD and the relationship of the Grof's style of breathwork to psychedelic experience, it is compelling to test the safety and effectiveness of breathwork as a stand-alone treatment. 

A positive result will open a new avenue of accessible treatment not only for PTSD, but also potentially for depression, addiction, and other increasingly common mental health afflictions. This is particularly exciting, as breathwork is already legal, is much cheaper, and carries less stigma compared to psychedelics.

The team

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, one of the nation’s most prestigious academic research institutions, has led the field of research into psychedelic medicine for decades, stretching as far back as the 1960s, when Dr. Grof conducted his explorations into LSD-assisted psychotherapy.

Dr. Matthew Johnson and his team will be overseeing this study. He and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are leaders in neuroscience, psychiatry, and behavioral research. Dr. Johnson is an expert on drugs and addiction/risk behavior, having published over 100 articles and chapters. For over 14 years, he has conducted psychedelic research, including psilocybin studies of mystical experience, cancer-related depression & anxiety, and meditation. He is the principal investigator of psilocybin-based smoking cessation research and has been interviewed on news networks including the BBC, CNN, NPR, Fox Business News, and the New York Times. Learn more about his research here:

Dr. Stanislav Grof is a psychiatrist, theoretician, and a pioneer in psychedelic medicine and consciousness research. He and Christina Grof developed their style of breathwork over 40 years ago and have conducted thousands of sessions with patients over that period, observing the healing potential of this method first-hand. He will be serving as the advisor to the study.

What Do We Need to Begin This Important Study?

We are ready to begin a 4-month, Phase 1 period with JHU, which will result in the study’s protocol development, organizational and advisory oversight, its submission to and review by the International Review Board (IRB) for ethical and safety purposes. In addition, this phase will also result in the determination of the budget that will be required to complete the full study.

Our budget requirement for Phase 1 is $30,000.

  • 15k direct costs to JHU

  • 5k direct costs to Psykia

  • 5k advisory costs

  • 5k fundraising and legal fees

Click here to support our crowdfund campaign for this study or skip campaign platform costs and support us directly here. Please notate “For JHU study” in the comments section.