Plant Power – The Health Benefits of Psilocybin Mushrooms

Once again, we turn to
nature to heal the ailments we struggle with. This time, we’re taking a look at
magic mushrooms, or rather, their active ingredient – psilocybin.

Psilocybin is a classic hallucinogenic compound produced by over 100 species of mushrooms across the world. It has a strong effect on serotonin receptors in the brain, including some in the cerebral cortex and thalamus regions.

Although mushroom use – casually referred to as “shrooming” – is commonly associated with hippies, artists and others that tend to live a more alternative lifestyle, their consumption actually dates back thousands of years. Historically, they’ve been used as an aid in religious ceremonies and are still considered a gateway to some very profound spiritual experiences.

Psilocybin mushrooms also have some powerful therapeutic benefits, and have been decriminalized in a few areas of the world as researchers dive into their potential to treat numerous disorders. Areas of interest include conditions like mood disorders, anxiety, OCD, and addiction.

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What is Psilocybin?

Psilocybin is the main psychedelic
compound in mushrooms and truffles. It’s a basic tryptamine hallucinogen, with
properties similar to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and mescaline, although the
chemic structure is different. Research shows a common mechanism of action
through serotonergic (5-HT) pathways. Psilocybin is a strong agonist at 5-HTreceptors
which are located within the thalamus and cortex of the brain

The onset of hallucinogenic
effects typically kick in around 20 to 40 minutes after consumption, and they
last up to 6 hours. Psilocybin’s threshold for intoxication is approximately 40
mcg/kg of body weight. In wild mushrooms with lower levels of psilocybin, this
translates to about 2 grams, although some people use up to 4 grams for a good psychedelic
trip.

Psilocybin was first
isolated by swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann in 1958, using the Psilocybe Mexicana
mushroom species from Central America. Psilocybin is found in both wild and cultivated
mushrooms, although just like cannabis, cultivated mushrooms tend to be more
potent. Through cross-breeding, cultivated mushrooms can have up to 10 times
higher levels of psilocybin than wild species.

Research and Legal Roadblocks

In the United States, use of psychedelic mushrooms has been
illegal since the Controlled Substances Act was implemented in 1970. Since
then, clinical studies have pretty much ceased, but recreational use definitely
has not.

However, in 1992, the National Institute on Drug Abuse linked up with an FDA advisory to revamp research efforts of psychedelic agents – albeit extremely limited research. In 1993, the Heffter Research Institute in New Mexico was founded. It’s one of the only institutes in the world the is entirely dedicated to uncovering the medical benefits of psychedelic compounds found in nature. Despite these developments, psilocybin is still banned in the U.S.

The Complicated History of Cannabis in the United States

Around the world, novel and alternative treatments for mental
illnesses becoming increasingly sought after, new resources are being aimed at
age-old therapies including cannabis, ketamine, mescaline, and psilocybin. Dr.
George R. Greer, co-founder and president of the Heffter
Research Institute
, “Our mission is two-fold: one to do research
that helps us understand the mind, the brain, how all that works, and number
two, to help reduce suffering through therapeutic use of psychedelics.”

Medical Benefits

Although there are many possible uses for psilocybin, at the moment, it’s most frequently used to treat conditions relating to mental health. Depression and anxiety are among the most researched indications for psilocybin treatment.

“There’ve been some promising preliminary results in such areas such as the treatment of overwhelming depression and existential anxiety in people who are facing the end of life, who have diagnoses of advanced-stage cancer,” Dr. Charles Grob, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, stated in an interview with Healthline. “The thing that we have the most evidence for is cancer-related depression and anxiety. That seems really strong, and I’d be surprised if those results didn’t hold up,” he added.

Another possible use for psychedelic mushrooms is in the cessation of smoking, drinking, and other addictions. In a small pilot study conducted at Johns Hopkins University, people who partook in psilocybin therapy successfully abstained from smoking cigarettes over the following 12-month period.

“The general idea is that the nature of these disorders is a
narrowed mental and behavioral repertoire,” says Matthew Johnson, PhD, Associate
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences at John Hopkins. “So, in
well-orchestrated sessions, there is the ability to essentially shake someone
out of their routine to give a glimpse of a larger picture and create a mental
plasticity with which people can step outside of those problems.”

It’s also being looked at as a possible treatment for certain
types of cancers, heart disease, inflammation, and many other conditions.

Applications Around the World

As mentioned above, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are illegal in the United States and are listed as a Schedule 1 drug. Even mushroom spores, which don’t contain any psychoactive chemicals yet, are illegal in many states. A few cities – Denver, Oakland and Santa Cruz – have decriminalized mushrooms, meaning you won’t get arrested for possessing them but there are no legal avenues through which to purchase or sell them either. Oregon has plans to legalize mushrooms entirely, however, these plans have been put on the backburner amid the current pandemic.

Exploring the 3 Different Types of Cannabinoids: Endo, Phyto, and Synthetic

Some countries have a
much more liberal approach when it comes to hallucinogenic mushrooms though. In
Austria, Brazil, Samoa, Jamaica, the Netherlands, and the Bahamas, mushrooms
are legal. Recreational use is quite popular in many of these regions and you
can purchase mushrooms, truffles, and spores for both from select online
retailers based in some of these countries.

In Israel, mushrooms are
being studied for their medicinal properties. One of the pioneers in this field
is Prof. Solomon Wasser of Haifa University, who runs a mushroom research lab
and is the founder and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of
Medicinal Mushrooms.

Last year, his lab took
out a patent on a product derived from Cyathus striatus, a type of mushroom
found in Israeli forests. In animal trials, the drug appeared effective against
pancreatic cancer, which is considered a particularly lethal cancer for which
no new drugs have been discovered in recent years.

Another Israeli company,
medical cannabis firm Cannabotech, is currently looking at how certain blends
of cannabinoids, medicinal herbs, and mushrooms could effectively treat a
variety of chronic medical conditions. So far, they have developed five proprietary
blends intended to treat colon cancer, infertility, fatty liver disease,
inflammation, and heart or vascular disease. These products are all currently
awaiting clinical trials.

Microdosing Magic Mushrooms

When used in a therapeutic setting, the best way to get
medicinal benefits without any intoxication or risks is by microdosing, which just
means taking an extra small, or sub-perceptual, dose. This should ideally be
administered in a medical setting by a trained professional, but that’s not
always the case.

Many health enthusiasts have incorporated mushroom microdosing into their daily or weekly routines report higher levels of creativity, increased energy and focus, and improved relational skills. Some even claim that microdosing psilocybin mushrooms helps to heighten spiritual awareness and enhance their senses.

That said, there are some risks associated with the use of psychedelic
mushrooms. “Psilocybin is a lot more psychologically dangerous than cannabis,
and it’s especially dangerous for a small percentage of the population who have
had an episode of psychosis or mania, manic episode, or even, say, a close
family member whose had those problems, because it can trigger a psychosis or
manic episode in a person who is vulnerable to that,” Greer said.

If you’ve ever heard the term “bad trip”, that’s exactly what he
is referring to. Some people can move past it easily, but for others, a bad trip
can cause irreparable psychological damage.

Final Thoughts

Although some are optimistic that psilocybin mushrooms will follow the path of cannabis in MDMA, with approval in the next 5 to 10 years, the truth is, the future remains very unclear. There is really no realistic timeline for when this class of drugs might be legalized, especially given the current circumstances.

“There needs to be more FDA-approved clinical research with
psychedelics,” mentions Grob, “exploring both how to optimize their therapeutic
potential but also trying to get a better understanding of the range of medical
effects, which may be problematic… There’s still some questions that need to be
answered.”

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Studio710 Cypher Sessions Episode 3 – The Return of the Beats

If you’ve been going a little cuckoo lately from being cooped up at home, here are some fresh freestyle raps from the latest Studio710 Cypher session to help get you through this all. Filmed shortly before social distancing became the new normal, Creed Taylor once again hosts a mix of new and returning fire spitters […]

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WeedMD returns fire to stave off potential union infection

A press release issued Friday by Ontario licensed cannabis producer WeedMD INC. (TSX.V:WMD) takes the tone of a return salvo in a media war initiated by the United Food and Commercial Workers, who are trying to organize an estimated 200+ workers at WeedMD facilities in Strathroy, Aylmer and Bowmanville, Ontario. The company’s release repeats its […]

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Cannabis Industry steps up to help during COVID-19 Pandemic

Our neighbours to the south are unenviably approaching 100,000 cases of COVID-19 across the country; the largest count worldwide. Here at home, where a faster and more effective approach to dealing with the spread of the virus – an attempt to flatten the curve – has been implemented, Canada sits at 4,610 cases. Though fairing […]

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Why Israel Is (and will continue to be) A Global Leader in the Cannabis Industry

When we think about legal cannabis
products, there is a certain level of expectation there. The fad of “everything
CBD” has faded over the last year and people are looking for more a product
that’s merely, CBD-infused.

The cannabis products of today need to be more professional, safe, accurate, and efficient – and this applies to everything from raw flowers to highly processed pharmaceuticals. People want to know what’s in their products and where it comes from, and large stores and pharmacy chains, like CVS for example, will only sell products that contain safe and legal ingredients.

In the very-near future, we can expect to see Israel leading the way in the production and verification of safe cannabis products. Let’s take a look at why this is.

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Strong History of R&D

The United States has
always struggled with even the basics of cannabis-research, starting with a decades-long
prohibition against the plant. Even with more social acceptance and legalizations
at the state level, the government is slow to the punch, not even providing
proper flower for researchers to conduct studies (the few that are allowed to
anyway).

In Israel, the situation
is entirely different. “Israel isn’t just at the forefront of medical cannabis
research,” writes Swiss
medical cannabis company Cibdol. “It is out in front by some margin.” U.S. News
and World Report referred to
Israel as “The Holy Land of medical marijuana.”

Israel has a long history with cannabis, dating back to the 1960s when Raphael Mechoulam, AKA The Father of Cannabis Research, initially discovered endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. It was his curiosity about cannabis as a healing plant that led him to a police station in 1963, where he obtained his first sample – 5 kilos of hashish – to use for research purposes. Mechoulam then developed a relationship with employees at the Israeli Ministry of Health, who gave him permits to continue getting cannabis products for his studies over the next few decades.

He and his research group were the first to isolate and fully synthesize the major plant cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinolcannabidiolcannabigerol and many others. He has also conducted many studies on Anandamide, an endocannabinoid responsible for homeostasis and referred to as the “bliss molecule“.

He currently runs a research program at Hebrew University, where he still studies the use of cannabinoids to treat various conditions and illnesses, including cancer.

$2 Million Going To Cannabis Cancer Research Led By Professor Mechoulam

What’s Happening Today

Aside from Mechoulam, other Israeli companies are conduction
ongoing research on medical cannabis. The Isreali Health Ministry and the
Israeli Agricultural Ministry have a designated budget of 8 million NIS (2.1
million USD) to fund new cannabis research. There’s a whole slew of projects
they want to work on and so far, 13 have been approved, but there will be three
main areas of focus:

  1. Strains: They will be identifying and producing new strains and studying the effects of these strains and what ailments they could best alleviate.
  2. Medicine: New studies on how cannabis can be used to combat cancer, improve vision, increase the body’s likelihood to accept a transplanted organ, and decrease symptoms of autism in children and adults are on the books.
  3. Cultivation: They are hoping to improve watering and fertilizing techniques, and find new ways to protect cannabis crops from pests and diseases. 

Additionally, there is a heavy focus on technology and “agritech” in the Israeli cannabis scene. The future of agriculture involves technology and automation and we can expect to see things like automated grow rooms, smart growing systems that collect and store data, and companies that utilize, manage and sell that data. Agriculture is a lot more than just growing and gardening in today’s world.  

Technology in Cultivation – Smart Farming Innovations For Hemp and Cannabis

As far as business goes, there are various opportunities for Israeli companies to make a name for themselves in the coming years. “Companies that have cash and are smart enough will benefit now because many of the [Canadian] larger LPs will no longer be able to hold on to all the assets they bought when the stock market was better,” Nadav Gil, the Head of the Cannabis practice, as well of Global Investment and Innovation Incentives practice at Deloitte Israel, in an interview with our friends at CannaCAST.

“There are a few Israeli companies
with good management and money as well because they raised significant capital
in the beginning stages,” he continued. “If they work wisely, they can find
themselves going into acquisition to buy a plant or a farm in Europe that
belongs to the LPs, or in North America. And remember, this will not last
forever because once the federal laws change in the United States, the
americans will buy everything.”  

A good opportunity for many smaller
businesses, not just Israeli, to purchase another farm or facility to expand
their business in the future.

Looking Forward

Israel will become the go-to place to
create products that are “science-based”. Demand has evolved, not just from consumers
but from government agencies as well. Everyone wants to know what is in the
product you’re selling, and rightfully so. There should always be transparency when
it comes to ingredients in products that are made for human consumption, but
with this transparency comes another demand, quality.

Israel can bring the “science-based”
aspect to many cannabis products. Because of the existing research, medical and
university infrastructure, and regulation regarding cannabis R&D, that will
make this tiny nation the future epicenter for trusted cannabis products – ones
that actually deliver therapeutic results and not just fun products in pretty
packaging that are just riding along on the CBD hype from a couple years ago.

Gil added, “The world understands that
the product of tomorrow, will be a product that can be clearly explained.”

We strive to keep you informed, check back with us to stay in the loop on all things cannabis-related. For more articles like this one, make sure to subscribe to the CBD Business Weekly Newsletter.

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How the Coronavirus Paradigm Shift Is Affecting the CBD and Cannabis Industry

In times of great economic disaster, nearly every industry takes a hit, and the CBD – and cannabis industry as a whole – is no different.

When we think about life, we generally think of what’s happening right now. The current governmental infrastructure in place, the current levels of technology, how our schools and transportation systems are set up, the stores we go to, and where we find what we need.

And, sure, we know that what’s happening right now does not reflect how it has always been, but just as change can often move in increments, and at a slow pace, it can also come in massive unexpected blasts that act as major disruptors, creating entire paradigm shifts. Think world wars, and the plague, Chernobyl, the great depression. Events or advances that so drastically changed the direction of people’s lives, that life as it was known before became irrelevant to the life created after.

Like going to the store for milk and having your car hit. All of a sudden, whatever the original goal was is no longer important, and whatever the plan was, well it has certainly changed. Whatever we thought anything was in the past several years, we’re likely to be looking at an entirely different world very soon.

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So, what is this threat that has nearly shut the world down?

Human coronaviruses, are a family of viruses that were first found in the 1960’s. One of the more well-known strains of it is severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Human coronaviruses are known for causing respiratory infections, and while most coronaviruses are relatively mild, others, like SARS, can be more deadly.

The newest member of the family is Covid-19, which just entered the spotlight by storm, creating a massive worldwide panic, bigger than that caused by the much more deadly SARS epidemic not too long ago. Covid-19 made its first appearance in China in 2019, and like any communicable disease, it spreads through infected bodily fluids like saliva or mucus. Covid-19 does not rank anywhere near the top of the deadly virus spectrum, and does not seem able to cause the kind of mass death count as Spanish Flu (or a regular flu for that matter), ebola, the plague etc.

It has, however, created a greater hysteria than any of the previously mentioned – Right now there are about 500k cases – (which is rounded up), and about 7.7 billion people worldwide, which puts it at about .0064% of the global population. Spanish flu, for example, affected about 27% of the global population…just to put it in perspective.

Corona has generally mild symptoms akin to a standard flu with many people unsure they have the virus at all, and with most deaths attributed to the old and immunocompromised – much like the flu and many other illnesses as well.

Media-Fueled Hysteria

Hysteria, unfortunately, is not always about an actual threat, though it can create a threat by its very existence, which seems to be a notable threat with the current coronavirus epidemic. Of course, we need to be careful to not spread this to the more vulnerable among us, but the media has certainly done its part to create a mass hysteria, and many subsequent reactions that have their own negative impacts.

Sourcing Coronavirus Testing Kits, N95 Masks, Gloves & Hand Sanitizer

The hysteria has led to mass quarantines – some with the threat of military involvement, closed schools, good and supply shortages, borders shut down, flights nearly entirely grounded, halted work for millions upon millions of workers with issues of personal bankruptcies looming, smaller companies tanking, and the threat of entire economies bottoming out. This paradigm shift will affect nearly every industry in the end, and the CBD and legal cannabis industry is no different.

How coronavirus is affecting the CBD industry

There are different ways in which the current corona epidemic, and subsequent reactions, have been affecting the CBD and legal cannabis industry.

  • Simple access is becoming a problem. In the US, for example, the laws about dispensaries staying open during a quarantine vary. This means that though it might be medicine to many people, if the decision in a location is to close dispensaries, sales will be greatly affected, and people will have to go without what they need. This is already happening in some locations. Some dispensaries have been servicing medicinal clients and trying to dissuade recreational clients from coming in at all to avoid crowds. It should be noted, however, that in the mass run for groceries and supplies, cannabis sales have gone up as people prepare for what could be a long quarantine. Also noteworthy is that most states have deemed cannabis dispensaries as “essential“, so many will be allowed to continue operating.
  • As China is a major supplier to many other countries of cheap hardware used for cannabis production, and raw hemp material, the current situation creates quite a supply issue for those who have been depending on China’s products for their own businesses. China, as the original epicenter – and seeming originating location of the virus – has been stuck in its own tailspin with all kinds of business closures, and general slowing of many production processes.
  • As a possible positive to the previous point, this hole left by China does open the door for local manufacturing to cover these gaps left by China. This could, in the long run, set industries up to be less reliant on China, and for local companies to take over these markets. This could end up bolstering domestic manufacturing, which could be a strong positive in many places.
  • Another major issue hitting the cannabis market is the breaks in supply chains that have been occurring. This is a global industry, and often can’t function without the ability for a strong and resilient supply chain. Many countries – like Germany – with medical cannabis programs, rely on imported cannabis as they don’t grow as much as they supply to their customers. In fact, most of Germany’s cannabis is imported from Canada, Portugal, and Holland. A break in the ability to get materials from other countries can have a monumental effect on the industry. This is similar to the previously mentioned issues with China, which is another example of a break in the supply chain.
  • Many industries have ground to a halt with all kinds of cancellations. The cannabis industry is no different. SXSW – not technically a cannabis industry event, but still one with a cannabis business track – was cancelled, the Hemp-CBD Supplement Congress which is run by the American Herbal Products Association is postponed indefinitely, and Berlin’s International Cannabis Business Conference was rescheduled for July. Denver’s FlyHi 420 Festival was cancelled. 420 Vancouver has been cancelled, and 420 Toronto was postponed, as well as Toronto’s O’Cannabiz. These are just a few of the global cannabis cancellations, many more can be found on this list. While these cancellations, like those of other industries, don’t mean a complete end to anything, it sure signals a massive slowing down, and all the problems therein.
  • Another factor hurting the cannabis industry is the ability for companies to raise capital, especially in a time when entire companies are tanking and entire industries taking massive financial hits. The cannabis industry had already become very tight for finding funding, and this recent financial fallout has made it even harder. While some speculate that this could lead to investors being able to make cheap investments while things are down, as of right now the strain of it is being felt, and many smaller companies will likely not make it through.

Conclusion

Like with any other paradigm shift, there’s a certain amount of wait-and-see going on. The world has bounced back from other major calamities, so the idea that everything is done for is a bit dramatic. However, the expectation that things will go back to whatever status quo existed before, is likely just as off. The world will continue on, and so will the cannabis industry, but how exactly it will look, is something that remains to be seen.

Thank you for visiting CBDtesters.co. We’re happy to keep you updated on everything relevant in the CBD/legal cannabis industry. Check back frequently to stay up-to-date and make sure to subscribe to the CBD Business Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one.

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Kelis hosted ‘Cooked with Cannabis’ debuts on Netflix on 4/20

Hosted by Portland-based chef Leather Storrs and hip hop artist Kelis, Cooked with Cannabis will feature three professional chefs racing the clock and competing against each other, putting together a three-course, cannabis-infused meal, all for a $10,000 prize. The six episode series will also feature celebrity dinner guests who will taste test the sticky icky […]

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Montreal’s Metro Metro hip hop festival releases 2020 lineup

After a successful launch last spring, Montreal’s Metro Metro hip hop festival has released its 2020 lineup. Montreal’s Metro Metro hip hop festival is currently still set to return to the Olympic stadium this May with some of the biggest names in hip hop, though the format for those festivities may need to be adjusted […]

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Ever After Music Festival Announces 2020 Lineup

Ever After Music Festival, Kitchener, Ontario‘s original heavy bass and dubstep festival has released its line up for the summer of 2020. Although Ontario is contending with the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the closures currently in place due to it, the iconic Ever After Music Festival is still aiming to return for its […]

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COVID-19: VCBC moves to Part-Time Hours

On Tuesday, for the first time in 19 year, The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club did not open for business and patients. In the midst of a COVID-19 global pandemic, measures have had to be taken to ensure the safety of our society, and the VCBC has taken no exception to that. Across the United States, […]

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