Original research article from John Hopkins University

“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

Psykia Institute is beginning a partnership with Johns Hopkins University (JHU), the Flow Genome Project, and Veterans For Natural Rights to study the efficacy of breathwork as treatment for veterans suffering from severe Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The study will be led by Dr. Matthew Johnson–one of the key researchers behind the amazing psilocybin studies you’ve been hearing about!

A positive result will open a new avenue of accessible treatment not only for PTSD, but also, potentially, for depression and other increasingly common afflictions not being adequately treated via traditional therapies. Your contribution funds Phase 1 of the study.



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.

How might the Grof’s style of breathwork be effective in treating 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: https://bit.ly/2PdjmRv).

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 and anxiety. This is particularly exciting, because breathwork is already legal, is much cheaper, and carries less stigma compared to psychedelics. Breathwork can act as a complementary treatment to psychedelics or be applied to cases where psychedelics may not be appropriate or accessible.


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. 

Dr. Stanislav Grof is a psychiatrist and pioneer in LSD assisted psychotherapy and consciousness research, a founder of Transpersonal Psychology (known as the Fourth School of Psychology), and author of some 20 books published internationally. He will be serving as the advisor to the study.


Our budget requirement for Phase 1 is $30,000 and will cover a 4-month period of study design, organizational and advisory oversight, and write-up and submission of the proposal to the International Review Board (IRB) for ethical and safety purposes. Anything beyond $30k will go toward funding the full study.

Estimated Cost Breakdown: 

  • 15k direct costs to JHU
  • 5k direct costs to Psykia
  • 5k advisory costs
  • 5k fundraising and legal fees


Psykia Institute is a newly founded organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its mission is to merge the rigor of science and the wisdom of tradition to develop accessible frameworks and programs that cultivate psychological and spiritual well-being and expand understanding of the human psyche and consciousness. This is explored through curating multidisciplinary discussions, funding clinical research, and creating practices around the theme of interconnectedness. Most recently, Psykia helped reintroduce psychedelic medicine to Harvard University.


A collection of award-winning academics and artists, professional athletes, special operations commanders, Fortune 500 business leaders and a global community of dedicated flow hackers over a hundred thousand strong. As a research and a training organization, we decode the neuropsychology of optimal performance and open source our findings to the world. Our goal is to help individuals and organizations experience more flow and the significant boost in performance it provides.On the research side, in partnership with the world’s leading universities and Fortune 500 companies, we advance Flow science. On the training side, we work with individuals and organizations, teaching them to harness Flow to significantly level up their performance.


Our mission is to build a community of support and education to veterans and civilians alike, to embrace freedom, self-reliance, independence, liberty, and equality while promoting natural treatments, activities and an overall well-being.Veterans for Natural Rights builds communities where veterans can heal, find their voice, and change the world. We are a social welfare and political action organization with deep roots in the veteran population, specializing in helping those with war trauma regain their lives, their purpose, and their sense of community.

Keywords; Breathwork, PTSD, veterans, breathwork research