Illinois County Forces Dispensaries to Display Warning Labels About ‘Mental Health Dangers’ and ‘Suicidal Ideation’

One county official in Illinois issued a recent dispensary rule change that leaders say isn’t backed by science and goes too far. McHenry County, Illinois, will require dispensaries to label cannabis with mental health warnings about the potential for psychosis, depression, and suicidal ideation. 

The county’s new approach was spearheaded by the county’s state’s attorney who has long-held a belief that cannabis laws are destroying the country—an opinion not shared by the Illinois Cannabis Regulation Oversight Office and four state lawmakers who felt prompted to rebuke his claims in a joint statement.

Axios reports that starting this month, McHenry County-based dispensaries will be required to post in-store signage warning of cananbis’s potential link to “psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, increased thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts, anxiety, and depression.” 

In an op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune, the county State’s Attorney dismissed the medical benefits of cannabis, saying that cannabis does more harm than good and leads to suicide.

“Cannabis dispensaries in McHenry County will now be the first in the country to warn customers through in-store signage of the mental health dangers associated with cannabis use, which include psychosis, depression, and suicidal ideation,” McHenry County state’s attorney Patrick Kenneally wrote.

“Dispensaries will also be required to scrub their marketing and websites of any suggestion that their products have medical benefits,” Kenneally continued. “They agreed to these consumer protections as part of a settlement with the McHenry County state’s attorney’s office in lieu of a consumer fraud action. 

“Dispensaries that have refused to warn consumers will face litigation,” he warned. Those that don’t comply will face threats of consumer fraud suits from Kenneally himself.

Conflating Data and Correlation Without Causation

Kenneally joined the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office in 2007 as an assistant state’s attorney. The conservative Republican cited a record-high number of suicides in the 2022 McHenry County Coroner’s Office Report, authored by Dr. Michael R. Rein, D.C. There were 45 suicides recorded in the county that year. 

Kenneally linked those suicides to cannabis: “About half our recent homicides involve cannabis or cannabis-induced psychosis, [and] cases of driving while under the influence of cannabis have doubled,” he wrote. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cited studies have linked cannabis use to depression and anxiety, but to be clear they admit that it’s unknown “if marijuana use is the cause of these conditions.”

State officials completely disagree with Kenneally’s stance. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis has always been about justice, safety, and equity in Illinois. The governor is disappointed to learn that the McHenry County state’s attorney prefers focusing on spreading disinformation instead of tackling the issues that actually keep residents safe,” the Illinois Cannabis Regulation Oversight Office told Axios.

Kenneally alleges that Illinois officials the dangers of pot in order to protect the flow of cannabis tax revenue. “In furtherance of its strategy, dispensaries have appropriated the scientific lexicon to create their own fraudulent field of medicine, such that one no longer does a ‘bong rip’ but rather receives a specific “dose” measured to the milligram by the cashier.”

Kenneally said McHenry County called “balderdash” on the “pseudoscience” behind medical cannabis. For Illinois’s 219,926 medical cannabis patients, as of 2022, they might tend to disagree. Qualified patients in the state are allowed to possess two and a half ounces of cannabis during every 14-day period.

Illinois Lawmakers Respond to Kenneally’s Claims

Four current and former Illinois state lawmakers responded to the Chicago Tribune op-ed with a stinging rebuke:

“Kenneally takes another swing from the [Harry] Anslinger playbook,” wrote Rep. Kelly Cassidy

Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon-Booth, former Sen. Toi Hutchinson, and former Sen. Heather Steans. “In an announcement that he will force state-licensed cannabis dispensaries in McHenry County to post unscientific warnings to consumers about cannabis, Kenneally claims “half of the county’s recent homicides involve cannabis or cannabis-induced psychosis.” 

“Like Anslinger a century before him, Kenneally’s connection of cannabis consumption to these tragedies is unexplained,” the four lawmakers continued. “In a meandering editorial, Kenneally carelessly conflates cannabis use with the most complex societal issues that our own Illinois researchers, institutions, and community leaders work collectively every day to further understand and improve upon. To the McHenry State’s Attorney, the tragedies of violent crime, addiction, mental illness, and suicide can be narrowed down to one oversimplified, unbelievably obvious common denominator—they’re all a bunch of pot users.”

Illinois—like several other states with adult-use cannabis—already require different health warning labels for cannabis, showing potential harms in a similar manner to nicotine warnings on cigarettes.

In California, a bill last year to mandate cannabis labels warning of potential mental health risks didn’t pass

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Study: Self-Made Human Cannabinoids May Be Key To Treating Stress-Related Disorders

We already know that humans have our own endocannabinoid systems, made to regulate a number of bodily functions with a number of cannabinoid receptors that interact with compounds like THC and CBD in cannabis. 

Brain activity patterns and neural circuits regulated by these cannabinoids derived in the brain were not well known, but new research has revealed our bodies may actually release their own cannabinoid molecules in specific circumstances, independent of external cannabinoid use.

According to a new mice study from Northwestern Medicine published in the journal Cell Reports, the brain’s key emotional center, the amygdala, releases its own cannabinoid molecules under stress. When released, these molecules work to decrease incoming stress alarms from the hippocampus, which controls memory and emotions in the brain.

The study results add further evidence to the assertion that the brain contains innate cannabinoid molecules, key to our body’s natural coping response to stress. Further, the study may indicate that impairments to this endogenous (the body’s own) cannabinoid signaling system in the brain could result in higher susceptibility to developing psychiatric disorders related to stress, like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Still, further research is needed to determine exactly how these mechanisms work in the human brain, said corresponding study author Dr. Sachin Patel.

The Human Body’s Self-Made Cannabinoids and Understanding Stress

“Stress exposure confers risk for the development or exacerbation of psychiatric disorders: from generalized anxiety and major depression to post-traumatic stress disorder,” authors state in the introduction. “Understanding stress-induced molecular-, cellular-, and circuit-level adaptations could provide critical insight into how stress is translated into affective pathology and may reveal novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of stress-related disorders.”

Scientists at Northwestern Medicine used a new protein sensor that can detect the presence of these cannabinoid molecules in real time at specific brain synapses, which show that specific high-frequency patterns of amygdala activity can generate the molecules. Additionally, the sensor showed that mice brains released these molecules in response to several different types of stress.

Scientists also removed the target of these cannabinoids, the cannabinoid receptor type 1, which resulted in a worsened ability to cope with stress and motivational deficits in mice. After scientists removed the receptor target of the endogenous cannabinoids at hippocampal-amygdala synapses, mice adopted more passive and immobile responses to stress. They also had a lower preference to drink sweetened sucrose water after stress exposure.

“Understanding how the brain adapts to stress at the molecular, cellular and circuit level could provide critical insight into how stress is translated into mood disorders and may reveal novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of stress-related disorders,” according to Patel and Lizzie Gilman, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a Northwestern Medicine psychiatrist. 

The endocannabinoid system is one of the leading signaling systems identified as a prominent drug-development candidate for stress-related psychiatric disorders, Patel said. This system is an active, complex cell signaling network, involving a combination of endocannabinoids, enzymes and cannabinoid receptors helping to regulate a number of biological functions — like eating, anxiety, learning, memory, reproduction, metabolism, growth and development — through an array of actions across the nervous system.

This hypothesis is crucial in determining where future research guides this continued conversation, Patel said.

“Determining whether increasing levels of endogenous cannabinoids can be used as potential therapeutics for stress-related disorders is a next logical step from this study and our previous work,” Patel said. “There are ongoing clinical trials in this area that may be able to answer this question in the near future.”

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Study Links Simultaneous Cannabis, Tobacco Use to Depression, Anxiety

A new study has found that Americans who regularly use cannabis and tobacco have roughly double the risk for developing symptoms of depression and anxiety than non-users.

“Smoking weed and tobacco does not help to deal with anxiety and depression, and may exacerbate mental health issues in the long run,” said lead researcher Nhung Nguyen to UPI. Nguyen is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

The peer-reviewed study, published Wednesday in Plos One, analyzed data from 53,843 American adults using data from the COVID-19 Citizen Science Study. Men and women over the age of 18 filled out online surveys which included a section where people could self-disclose information about cannabis and tobacco use over the preceding 30 day period.

Of those who responded to the survey, 4.9% said they used only tobacco, 6.9% said they used only cannabis and 1.6% said they used both. Of those who used both, 26.5% reported anxiety and 28.3% depression. Among those who did not use either drug, 10.6% reported anxiety and 11.2% reported depression.

“Co-use of tobacco and cannabis and use of cannabis-only were associated with higher odds of anxiety and depression compared to non-use and tobacco-only use,” the study said. “Tobacco-only use was associated with higher odds of anxiety and depression compared to non-use.”

The study acknowledged that there are grains of salt to be taken with the data they put forward and stressed that more research is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.

“This study has several limitations. As aforementioned, the causal relationships between patterns of tobacco and cannabis use and mental health disorders cannot be elucidated given the study design,” the study said, making note of several such limitations including sample size, the method in which they collected their data and so on. 

There are two such limitations I’d like to highlight from this study. The first and most obvious is that a response bias exists when surveying people online, especially when the subject matter is regarding cannabis use or the use of any illegal substance. The second is that these surveys were taken from 2020-2022, during the COVID-19 global pandemic when mental health disorders across the board experienced a significant spike with a particular emphasis on anxiety and depression, according to researchers at Boston College:

“Confirming anecdotal evidence that the spread of the coronavirus has strained Americans’ mental health, Boston College researchers found reports of anxiety increased to 50 percent and depression to 44 percent by November 2020—rates six times higher than 2019—according to a new report in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine,” said the report. 

One small caveat I’d also like to add here is that there were several mischaracterizations of cannabis in the study, not necessarily in the data or the information gleaned from it, but in the language used to discuss cannabis in the extraneous parts of the report, such as the following:

“Furthermore, despite insufficient evidence regarding therapeutic benefits of cannabis, nearly half of US adults view cannabis as self-medication for treating depression and anxiety symptoms,” the study said, ignoring a pretty glaring swath of studies in recent years highlighting the many potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis

The data did show an increased likelihood of anxiety in cannabis-use only participants compared to the tobacco-use only participants, but another limitation of the study acknowledged by Nguyen was that people with anxiety often seek out cannabis and/or tobacco as home remedies for such things so it makes the whole thing a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg situation.

“Current evidence supports both directions of the relationship between tobacco and cannabis use and depression and anxiety,” Nguyen said to UPI. “Evidence shows that use of either tobacco or cannabis contributes to anxiety/depression.”

Not for nothing, but it has become increasingly funny to me that there have been several studies lately reinforcing sentiments the wooks have known for years. I can still hear my old buddy Enrique who used to eat about 100 hits of acid a week telling me to take down my tobacco to weed ratio in my spliffs if I started singing the blues a bit too often and that was like eight years ago. Either way, if you like to mix tobacco with your cannabis it could potentially increase your risk for such things so don’t be afraid to consult with your doctor.

“Coordinating tobacco and cannabis cessation with mental health treatment may be beneficial for people with co-use of tobacco and cannabis,” Nguyen said. “In addition, screening for use of tobacco and cannabis should be implemented in mental health treatment settings.”

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Medical Marijuana Benefits: Improve Quality of Life, Reduce Pain, Anxiety, and Depression, Study Finds

Summary: A recent study has highlighted medical marijuana benefits, showing that patients who use it experience an improved quality of life, along with reduced pain, anxiety, and depression.

Medical Marijuana Benefits: A Potential Solution for Pain, Anxiety, and Depression

Medical marijuana has long been a topic of debate, but recent research provides compelling evidence of its benefits. Patients who use medical marijuana have reported a significantly enhanced quality of life. This improvement is not just limited to physical well-being but extends to mental health as well.

The study’s findings are particularly noteworthy given the ongoing opioid crisis. Many patients have been prescribed opioids for pain management, but these drugs come with a high risk of addiction and other adverse effects. Medical marijuana offers a potential alternative that is both effective and has fewer side effects.

Pain reduction was a significant benefit reported by patients using medical marijuana. But beyond that, the study also found notable decreases in anxiety and depression levels among these patients. This dual benefit – alleviating both physical and mental symptoms – underscores the comprehensive therapeutic potential of medical marijuana.

However, while the results are promising, it’s essential to approach them with a balanced perspective. More research is needed to understand the long-term effects of medical marijuana use and to determine optimal dosages and strains for specific conditions.

The study’s findings could have profound implications for the future of pain management and mental health treatment. As more states and countries move towards legalizing medical marijuana, it’s crucial that patients and healthcare providers have access to accurate information to make informed decisions.

Source: HighTimes

And we would like to know how might the findings of this study influence the perception of medical marijuana in the medical community and could medical marijuana become a mainstream alternative to opioids for pain management?

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AI Disclaimer: This news update was created using a AI tools. PsychePen is an AI author who is constantly improving. We appreciate your kindness and understanding as PsychePen continues to learn and develop. Please note that the provided information is derived from various sources and should not be considered as legal, financial, or medical advice.

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Medical Pot Patients Enjoy Improved Quality Of Life, Lower Pain, Anxiety And Depression, Research Shows

A recent Australian study involving over 2,300 individuals with chronic health conditions has revealed interesting improvements in their overall quality of life within the initial three months of using medical cannabis. The study, published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, also found a reduction in fatigue. The research also highlighted improvements in anxiety, depression, and chronic pain among patients during this three-month period. “Patients experiencing anxiety, depression, or chronic pain also improved in those outcomes over 3 months,” the study found.

The study looked at responses from Australian patients eligible for the QUEST Initiative, which researchers describe as a “large prospective multicenter study of patients with any chronic health condition newly prescribed medicinal cannabis between November 2020 and December 2021.” These participants are between 18 and 97 years old (with a mean of 51). 62.8% were female.

Chronic pain was the prevailing condition reported by participants, constituting 69% of cases, followed by insomnia at 23%, anxiety at 22%, and a combination of anxiety and depression at 11%. Half of the patients reported experiencing more than one of these conditions concurrently.

Before initiating their medical marijuana, participants underwent baseline assessments, encompassing evaluations of health-related quality of life (HRQL), pain, sleep, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Subsequently, they were administered follow-up surveys after two weeks of treatment, with additional surveys conducted once a month for a duration of three months.

Individuals prescribed medical cannabis in the preceding four weeks were not eligible to participate in the study.

All study participants were prescribed Little Green Pharma medical cannabis oil, a product that contains a combination of THC and CBD dissolved in a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. This product was available in four different formulations, each characterized by its THC-to-CBD ratio:

  • A 1:20 THC-to-CBD ratio
  • A balanced 10:10 ratio
  • A THC-dominant 20:5 ratio
  • A CBD-only formulation

In contrast to their health-related quality of life before treatment, participants who successfully completed three months of therapy reported significant enhancements in their overall well-being. 

Only folks who solely completed the initial follow-up assessment showed less progress compared to those involved who continued their treatment.

Furthermore, pain eased up for participants as a whole. In contrast to those not undergoing pain treatment, those diagnosed with chronic pain experienced more considerable improvements. 

Regarding depression, the study’s authors emphasized that “though scores shifted from moderate severity into the mild severity range, the difference didn’t quite meet the 5-point threshold for clinically significant improvement.” However, mirroring patterns seen in other areas, the improvement was more pronounced among individuals diagnosed with specific conditions. In particular, when focusing on 288 participants grappling with “depression health conditions, such as mixed depressive and anxiety, recurrent depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder,” the study highlights that “respondents transitioned from the severe category to moderate depression, with a difference of more than 5 points, indicating clinically meaningful improvement.”

As for anxiety scores, participants exhibited similar improvement trends over time but fell short of achieving “clinically meaningful improvement,” except among the 748 participants diagnosed with anxiety conditions. According to the study, “on average,” scores shifted from “moderate/severe down to mild anxiety.”

Regarding insomnia, the study suggests that: “Analysis of 534 participants with an insomnia diagnosis…did not reveal statistically significant, or clinically meaningful change in mean Sleep T-scores over time and did not differ from patients without insomnia.” 

But energy levels seemingly improved, as fatigue did show a decrease, “indicating clinically meaningful improvement.

During the three-month observation period, 127 participants pulled out of the study. Their reasons included the treatment not working (52 people), changing treatment (31), undesirable side effects (30), and the cannabis products being too expensive (14).

However, most participants reported some relief. “Within the first three months of medicinal cannabis therapy, participants reported improvements in their health-related quality of life, fatigue, and health conditions associated with anxiety, depression, and pain,” the study’s authors said in a press release

While the results were generally welcome, the researchers noted that some of the reported improvements could be due to the placebo effect.

“Our findings should be interpreted in the context of a single arm study without a control group. A systematic review of cannabis and HRQL studies revealed small effect sizes in [randomized controlled trials] and large effect sizes without control groups,” the study says. “There is a chance that observed improvements are partly due to placebo effect, with the widespread public public discussion (press and social media) on the benefits of medicinal cannabis and its interaction with the endocannabinoid system increasing patients’ expectations.”

As for the future, the authors say that their research “continues to follow patients over 12-months to determine whether improvements in [patient-reported outcomes] are maintained long-term,” the study reads. “In addition, further subgroup analysis will be undertaken to determine whether patients with specific conditions have better outcomes compared with others when using validated condition-specific questionnaires.”

So, the researchers aren’t done yet, and ideally will report back with more specific and detailed findings. 

The post Medical Pot Patients Enjoy Improved Quality Of Life, Lower Pain, Anxiety And Depression, Research Shows appeared first on High Times.

Study: Psilocybin ‘Shows Promise’ As Treatment For Depression

A study by American Medical Association, published late last month, sought to measure the “efficacy and safety of psilocybin in patients with major depressive disorder” and to “evaluate the magnitude, timing, and durability of antidepressant effects and safety of a single dose of psilocybin in patients with [major depressive disorder].”

Researchers conducted a “a randomized, placebo-controlled, 6-week trial in 104 adults, a 25-mg dose of psilocybin administered with psychological support,” ultimately determining that the psilocybin treatment “was associated with a rapid and sustained antidepressant effect, measured as change in depressive symptom scores, compared with active placebo,” and that no “serious treatment-emergent adverse events occurred.”

“A 25-mg dose of psilocybin was well tolerated and may hold promise as a treatment for major depressive disorder when combined with psychological support,” the authors of the study wrote.

“Psilocybin shows promise as a treatment for major depressive disorder,” they added.

The authors said that the psilocybin treatment “was associated with significantly reduced” scores on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, a measurement of the severity of depression, relative to those administered the niacin placebo. “Psilocybin treatment was also associated with significantly reduced Sheehan Disability Scale,” the authors wrote, referring to a clinical measurement of impairment. 

“More participants receiving psilocybin had sustained response (but not remission) than those receiving niacin,” the authors said.

“There were no serious treatment-emergent [adverse events]; however, psilocybin treatment was associated with a higher rate of overall [adverse events] and a higher rate of severe [adverse events].”

In their concluding analysis, the authors said that psilocybin treatment “was associated with a clinically significant sustained reduction in depressive symptoms and functional disability, without serious adverse events.”

“These findings add to increasing evidence that psilocybin—when administered with psychological support—may hold promise as a novel intervention for [major depressive disorder],” they said.

It is hardly the first piece of research to arrive at such a conclusion. Earlier this summer, a group of British researchers suggested that psilocybin is not only an effective treatment for those suffering from depression, but also an economical one

The researchers found that the cost of psilocybin-assisted therapy typically “varied from £6132 to £7652 depending on the price of psilocybin.”

“This compares to £3528 for conventional medication alone, £4250 for [cognitive behavioural therapy] alone, and £4197 for their combination. [Quality-adjusted life years] were highest for psilocybin (0.310), followed by [cognitive behavioural therapy] alone (0.283), conventional medication alone (0.278), and their combination (0.287),” the researchers said. “Psilocybin was shown to be cost-effective compared to the other therapies when the cost of therapist support was reduced by 50% and the psilocybin price was reduced from its initial value to £400 to £800 per person. From a societal perspective, psilocybin had improved cost-effectiveness compared to a healthcare perspective.”

A separate study released earlier this year found that psilocybin could also be beneficial for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The researchers behind that study conducted a “marble burying test” on a group of male mice.

“Twenty glass marbles were placed equidistant from each other in a 5 × 4 pattern. The experiment was done under dim light in a quiet room to reduce the influence of anxiety on behavior. The mice were left in the cage with the marbles for a 30-min period, after which the test was terminated by removing the mice,” the researchers said. “A marble was considered buried when two-thirds or more of its size was covered with burying substrate, and the number of buried marbles was counted after 30 min.”

“All mice underwent a pretest without any injection, and the number of marbles buried was counted. Only mice that buried at least 15 marbles were selected to perform the test after drug administration. Eighty percent of pretested mice fulfilled this criterion and were used in the definitive experiment, which took place at least a week following the pretest,” they added. 

The researchers determined that the mice that were ““administered psilocybin buried 32.84% fewer marbles over 30 min” than the other mice.

 In July, a group of doctors from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston announced that, starting next year, they will begin a study that examines “the effects of psilocybin for patients with controlled advanced cancer on maintenance therapy experiencing challenges with mental health.”

“Psychedelics, specifically psilocybin, have shown promise in treating various psychological symptoms including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and end-of-life distress,” the doctors wrote in the announcement. “Although a study focusing on gynecologic cancers has not yet been completed, the studies with mixed cancer diagnosis are encouraging.”

Those doctors said that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy “suggests lasting benefits from just one to two sessions, compared with the chronic use that is needed with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.”

The post Study: Psilocybin ‘Shows Promise’ As Treatment For Depression appeared first on High Times.

Single Dose of Psilocybin Reduces Depression Symptoms Up to 43 Days

Summary: A Phase 2 clinical trial has shown that a single dose of psilocybin, a psychedelic substance found in magic mushrooms, significantly reduced depression symptoms up to 43 days into the trial. The study, published in JAMA, involved 104 participants with documented diagnoses of moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder. Participants received either a 25 mg dose of psilocybin or a 100 mg dose of niacin (a placebo), along with psychological support. The psilocybin group experienced greater drops in depression severity scores than the placebo group at eight and 43 days, although they also reported more mild-to-moderate adverse events.

One Dose of Psychedelic Psilocybin Reduces Depression Symptoms Up To 43 Days

A recent Phase 2 clinical trial investigated the use of psilocybin, the psychedelic substance found in magic mushrooms, as a treatment for major depressive disorder. The study found that participants who received just one dose of psilocybin had significantly less severe depression symptoms than those receiving a placebo, up to 43 days into the trial. This study, published in JAMA, adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that psilocybin may be an effective treatment for depression.

Psilocybin is believed to work by binding and activating serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptors in the brain, which could help rewire the brain and increase its interconnectedness and flexibility. Previous studies have suggested that psilocybin might be an effective treatment for depression, but they involved small numbers of participants and did not show how long the beneficial effects might last.

The latest trial was conducted from December 2019 through June 2022 across 11 different sites in the U.S. It involved 104 participants, aged 21 to 65, with documented diagnoses of moderate-to-more severe major depressive disorder for at least 60 days. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a single 25 mg dose of psilocybin or a 100 mg dose of niacin (a placebo), along with psychological support. The study was double-blinded, meaning neither the study personnel nor the participants knew who was receiving what during the trial.

The researchers used the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Sheehan Disability Scale to measure the severity of depression symptoms and their impact, respectively. Participants in the psilocybin group experienced greater drops in MADRS scores than those in the placebo group at the eight-day and 43-day marks. However, a higher percentage of participants in the psilocybin group (82%) reported at least one treatment-related adverse event, compared to 44% in the placebo group. Most of these were considered mild-to-moderate adverse events, although four participants in the psilocybin group reported serious adverse events, including a migraine, headache, illusions, panic attack, and paranoia.

The results of this trial are encouraging and suggest that psilocybin could potentially be an effective treatment for depression. However, more studies are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of psilocybin over longer periods and across broader populations. Existing depression medications have many potential drawbacks, including a range of side effects, so there is a real opportunity to break the mold when it comes to depression treatment.

Source: Forbes

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AI Disclaimer: This news update was created using a AI tools. PsychePen is an AI author who is constantly improving. We appreciate your kindness and understanding as PsychePen continues to learn and develop. Please note that the provided information is derived from various sources and should not be considered as legal, financial, or medical advice.

The post Single Dose of Psilocybin Reduces Depression Symptoms Up to 43 Days appeared first on Cannadelics.

The Medicalized Psychedelic Narrative Is Out of Control

The medicalization narrative in corporate psychedelia is out of control. Virtually overnight, hundreds of FDA-worshiping rent-seekers have founded non-profits, PBC’s, media platforms, professional societies and for-profit corporations to trumpet the benefit of psychedelics as rigidly controlled tools within the medical industrial complex. 

Whether it’s PTSD, depression, anorexia, or IBS, there’s a new magic pill in town to treat your symptoms without actually addressing any of the macro societal issues that cause the conditions in the first place. Those championing this forthcoming era of mainstream medicalized psychedelics often do so in a humorless and hubristic sense that emphasizes the importance of being in a clinically controlled environment far removed from any recreational, indigenous, or church setting. 

 There are even a number of companies actively devoting themselves to the noble task of removing the trip from psychedelic substances, so as to further cement their status as the newest portfolio asset in the pharmaceutical industrial complex.  

Pill-popping culture has engulfed the psychedelic renaissance, trampling upon indigenous sovereignty, individual autonomy and good old fashioned fun in the process.

Perhaps there’s a bright future in tripping on FDA approved, patented novel molecules in a clinic with strangers who will bill your employer-provided insurance handsomely, but I’ll still be eating homegrown mushrooms in a hot spring and smoking spliffs with my friends long after that time comes. 

Remember when tripping on mushrooms in the forest and taking MDMA on a dance floor at an underground rave was fun? 

When LSD was something you did in your friends basement on the weekends and at music festivals, and you couldn’t stop laughing about the most ephemeral and mundane aspects of life as everything around you pulsed with idiosyncratic meaning and the trees started breathing and communicating with you? 

Not on the corporate psychedelia watch. Psychedelics are tools of the medical establishment now, cogs in a closed loop economy dictated by pharmaceutical conglomerates and their armies of gatekeepers. Tripping is now serious business, and recreational use is dangerous and shameful. 

Trying to cope with untenable social and environmental conditions imposed by ecological collapse, soaring costs of living and a rapidly unraveling social fabric?

Oh, that little  quandary has been conveniently fit into an ambiguous and clinically-validated little box called ‘depression’ that puts the onus on you as an individual to find ways of coping with radical societal inequities, rapidly disappearing biodiversity, and the general collective crisis of meaning beleaguering humanity. 

Try hippy flipping in a clinic with a couple of therapists who took a 40 hour online course about psychedelics last year if you need a quick salve for your constant anxiety amidst our legit existential crisis. 

Or maybe hire a coach to help you spiritually bypass it all. Anything except address the root causes of the myriad symptoms collectively signaling a mental health crisis. 

As the newly appointed research fellows and establishment credentialed psychedelic scientists will tell you, “Trust the data. Let’s get psychedelics over the line.”

What fucking line? The line between cognitive liberty and rigidly hierarchically controlled pill popping? It’s a curious fact that most data agrees with those funding the research and setting the cultural norms. 

And of course millennia of indigenous use does not constitute data, because white men didn’t get to control for the placebo in these contexts.   

One of the preferred slogans of the psychedelic establishment is to confidently proclaim that “the hippies failed” and that we need medical data to decide who gets to access psychedelics, where, and for what reasons. 

Psilocybin mushrooms aren’t for elevating your creative potential and exploring your own consciousness – they’re for treating depression and anxiety, for restoring your mental health under the guidance of a state validated healthcare professional without changing anything else about the societal status quo. 

On that note, when did the flagship molecules of the psychedelic renaissance become a horse tranquilizer and an amphetamine? 

I deeply angered a leading corporate psychedelia advocate with that joke earlier this year even though I explained in advance that it was indeed a joke; apparently there’s no room for humor and laughter in our new psychedelic medicine paradigm. 

Remember when Shroom Stocks were a thing? And then everyone who has never grown or eaten mushrooms invested in them and quickly lost a lot of money? 

Maybe the handful of biotech companies actively working to remove the psychedelic experience from DMT and psilocybin have it right. If they can sell that ruse, they deserve the money they’re after. However, given the performance of these companies over the last few years, this crusade is more of a race to the bottom than a rising tide for the psychedelic renaissance. 

Or we could just keep pushing Microdosing, because it’s the perfect bait and switch. “Look! Psychedelics are socially acceptable now because they fit nicely within the prevailing societal ethos of habitual consumption! It’s almost like an SSRI, but a little more edgy!” 

I respect that a medicalized approach to psychedelic-assisted therapy should be an option available to people, and that many will benefit from such a hierarchical and centralized system. 

But when pharmaceutical executives are contacting me from their vacation house in Aspen asking me to jump on board with their push to politicize psychedelics, we no longer have any kind of renaissance on our hands. 

The sudden onslaught of overnight authorities positioning themselves as champions of mental health and chomping at the bit to advocate for psychedelics as a clinical treatment for X, Y, and Z without consideration of underlying socioeconomic and environmental determinants conspiring to create the mental health crisis in the first place is laughably myopic and disingenuous. 

Maybe we should entrust the keys to consciousness to the rent-seeking, pill-popping culture-devoted gatekeepers who often have little to no experience with altered states themselves. But maybe there’s still room for weirdness, levity and laughter in the coming age of mainstream psychedelics. 

If you need me, I’ll be frolicking in the forest with friends tripping on some homegrown cubensis.

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Researchers Explore Psilocybin’s Antidepressant Effects, How it Disrupts Brain Connectivity

In a recently published preprint study, entitled “Psilocybin desynchronizes brain networks,” researchers analyze the comparison between psilocybin and the default mode network (DMN) of the brain.

“Psilocybin-driven desynchronization was observed across [the] association cortex but strongest in the default mode network (DMN), which is connected to the anterior hippocampus and thought to create our sense of self,” researchers explained.

According to the study, the largest areas of the DMN that were affected by psilocybin in the patients included the thalamus, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and hippocampus. “Persistent suppression of hippocampal-DMN connectivity represents a candidate neuroanatomical and mechanistic correlate for pro-plasticity and anti-depressant effects of psilocybin,” researchers wrote in their abstract.

The study is in the preprint stage of research publication, meaning that it has not yet been peer reviewed, which is required before it can be considered for publication in a research journal. However, using a publication service like medRxiv, research that is not yet peer-reviewed can still be shared and discussed.

However, the team of researchers includes a variety of noteworthy individuals from Washington University School of Medicine, as well as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Advocate Aurora Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Professor Robin Cahart-Harris of UCSF previously worked on a groundbreaking study that was published last year.

The most recent study analyzed results from seven adults between the ages of 18 and 45, recruited for study between March 2021 to May 2023. Participants were carefully selected with the criteria that they have experienced at least one psychedelic exposure (such as psilocybin, or other substances such as ayahuasca or LSD), but had not had such an experience within the past six months.

Participants were scanned “roughly” every other day in the neuroimaging department at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Researchers scanned participants’ brains using precision functional mapping to “identify desynchronization of resting state fMRIs” and find connections to depression-related areas of the brain.

“The relationship between the acute effects of psychedelics and their persisting neurobiological and psychological effects is poorly understood,” researchers explained. “Here, we tracked brain changes with longitudinal precision functional mapping in healthy adults before, during, and for up to three weeks after oral psilocybin and methylphenidate (17 MRI visits per participant) and again six+ months later.”

Methylphenidate is more commonly known as Ritalin and is an FDA-approved stimulant used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.

These results show that psilocybin “disrupted connectivity across cortical networks and subcortical structures” and produced more noticeable changes than methylphenidate. Additionally, researchers noted that the changes led to brain activity desynchronization of various special scales in the brain.

In April 2022, a collaborative study between the Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research and University of California, San Francisco, found that psilocybin helps patients with depression “open up” their brains weeks after consuming. “The effect seen with psilocybin is consistent across two studies, related to people getting better, and was not seen with a conventional antidepressant,” said Carhart-Harris last year. “In previous studies we had seen a similar effect in the brain when people were scanned whilst on a psychedelic, but here we’re seeing it weeks after treatment for depression, which suggests a ‘carry over’ of the acute drug action.”

At the time, Cahart-Harris noted that more research is necessary to better understand how psilocybin affects the brain. “We don’t yet know how long the changes in brain activity seen with psilocybin therapy last and we need to do more research to understand this,” Cahart-Harris said. “We do know that some people relapse, and it may be that after a while their brains revert to the rigid patterns of activity we see in depression.”

Previous psilocybin studies also reveal many other potential benefits of the substance for medical use. In 2015 we saw reports of how psilocybin helped some patients curb alcoholism, and in 2016 another study found that psilocybin could help smokers address nicotine addiction. Most recently, the Imperial College of London is using U.K. government funding this fall to study psilocybin therapy as a way to treat gambling addiction.

Studies analyzing the effects of psilocybin on people with depression have increased over the years, finding correlations between the substance and treatment-resistant depression, major depressive disorder, and more.

The past couple of years have yielded progress in some areas of the U.S. such as Oregon. The state’s psilocybin therapy program laws took effect in January, and its first psilocybin service center was approved in May. “This is such a historic moment as psilocybin services will soon become available in Oregon, and we appreciate the strong commitment to client safety and access as service center doors prepare to open,” said Oregon Psilocybin Services Section Manager Angie Allbee.

This shift in acceptance of psilocybin, like cannabis, has caused an increase in normalcy for people who have tried the substance. Last year, Canadian Senator Larry Campbell spoke at the Catalyst Psychedelics Summit about how he personally uses psilocybin for depression. Former NHL Kyle Quincey, who has shared that he used psilocybin to help boost his mental health during the pandemic, announced in August that he plans to open up a psilocybin retreat called Do Good Ranch.

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Woman Says Disney Imagery ‘Hijacked’ Her Experience In Ketamine Study

One woman’s experience in a clinical trial on ketamine therapy turned into a real Mickey Mouse operation. 

In a study published last month in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, a group of researchers based in Canada sought to “investigate how previous environmental stimuli shaped the experiences of patients receiving ketamine for treatment-resistant depression (TRD), and develop the concept of ‘imprinting’ to account for such time-lagged effects across diverse hallucinogenic drugs.”

“Psychedelic drug experiences are shaped by current-moment contextual factors, commonly categorized as internal (set) and external (setting). Potential influences of past environments, however, have received little attention,” they wrote.

The research team used recordings of treatment sessions and interviews involving 26 participants of the clinical trial, which entailed intravenous ketamine infusions for treatment-resistant depression from January of 2021 until August of 2022.

In detailing the results of the trial, the researchers zeroed in on two participants, a 28-year-old female and a 34-year-old male, whose “subjective ketamine experiences were significantly altered by varying exposures to particular forms of digital media in the days preceding treatments.”

The 34-year-old man described “a pixelated consciousness” while on ketamine, an experience owed to his habit of regularly playing as many as 16 hours of video games a day. 

“This patient’s first three ketamine experiences were characterized by vivid visual hallucinations described as ‘videogame-like’ in both content and form. I.e., he reported that most of his time during the infusion was spent reliving recent game experiences and he described ‘pixelated’ complex hallucinations that strongly resembled the aesthetic of video games like Minecraft, which he had played frequently in the days preceding the treatment sessions. He summed up his experiences as evidence that he had ‘a pixelated consciousness,’” the researchers wrote.

The 28-year-old woman’s experience was, well, a whole new world.

“The patient responded robustly to these first two ketamine treatments and described them as having many typical features of psychedelic therapy: feelings of connection, introspection, emotional processing, and mysticism. They resulted in rapid and significant improvements in depressive symptoms and suicidality, and the patient was discharged after six weeks in hospital with the plan for further infusions if necessary,” the researchers wrote in their evaluation of the patient. 

“Six months later, as an outpatient enrolled in the aforementioned clinical trial, she received a course of six ketamine infusions over four weeks with the same team, a nearly identical treatment protocol, and a similar treatment setting. Despite reporting a similar degree of psychedelic effects, her first outpatient ketamine treatment was described as having remarkably different phenomenology,” they added. “Namely, the patient reported that involuntary visual hallucinations of Disney iconography ‘hijacked’ her experience, greatly diminishing its mystical and emotional qualities.”

In an excerpt from one of the session’s recordings, the woman is quoted as saying that she “saw Disney stuff” but “didn’t want to.”

“It hijacked it! And it’s my fault for always scrolling through the ‘pins’… I’m just annoyed that I felt like I had the Band-Aid on. It felt like I almost ended up going to important things and then Disney frickin’ covered it up,” the patient said in the recording.

The researchers said that the exchange provides evidence that “the patient readily drew a link between this treatment’s visual images of Disney characters and her previously undisclosed habit of trading commemorative Disney pins on a social media forum.” 

“She described spending approximately six hours per day on this digital activity since many years, with the notable exception of her month-long hospitalization when she received her first two ketamine infusions. Of note, she also described various Disney-themed physical objects in her home environment though precise details are not available,” the researchers said. 

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