Magic Mushrooms and Truffles in Amsterdam – What’s the Difference?

Some people see the Netherlands, and more specifically Amsterdam, as a drug-utopia. A place where everything is legal, allowed and thriving. A place where you can smoke cannabis on the street, walk along the red-light district, and munch on some magic truffles. But what are magic truffles? And are they as potent as magic mushrooms? In addition, why is one legal but the other is not? Although Amsterdam may seem like an unapologetically open city, it’s far more nuanced than that. Using Amsterdam as a reference point, let’s take a closer look at what the true difference is between magic truffles and magic mushrooms.

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Netherlands Drug Laws

Cannabis

It’s a common misconception that drugs are legal in the Netherlands. In fact, even cannabis, which is sold publicly on the streets of Amsterdam, is still an illegal drug. This means that Luxembourg was actually the first country in Europe to officially legalize cannabis for growing and consumption. But how can this be the case? Well, CNN Travel elaborates:

“You may be surprised to learn that recreational drugs are illegal in the Netherlands. Yes, even pot. But an official policy of tolerance emerged and in 1976 the Dutch parliament decriminalized possession of less than 5 grams of cannabis.”

What occurred after this decision was a new culture of coffee shops where you could buy up to 5 grams of cannabis flower, under the guise that it was not illegal, only decriminalised. That evolved and now Amsterdam is known for its cannabis culture, with over 160 coffeeshops in the city center. There are a wide range of cannabis products on sale in Amsterdam, these include: edibles, high-THC buds, tinctures, and more. 

Magic Mushrooms

So, what about other kinds of drugs? How about magic mushrooms? Almost all other drugs are dealt with harshly. Much like the rest of the world. Cocaine, heroin and MDMA are all illegal and only sold unlawfully on the dark web or from street dealers. It’s only cannabis that has seemed to find its own loophole. Well, interestingly, before 2008, magic mushrooms actually were a legal drug in the Netherlands.

Magic mushrooms are wild growing fungi found all over the world. Mushrooms can be poisonous, so it’s important to know what exactly magic mushrooms look like if you decide to go searching for them. The magic kind look like an ordinary mushroom except they have a longer stem and smaller head. Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin, which is a naturally-occurring hallucinogen and psychoactive ingredient. It’s the psilocybin that is responsible for the well-known effects of shrooms. These effects include: 

  • Distorted sense of reality 
  • Euphoria
  • Sensory enhancement
  • Hallucinations
  • Introspection

Magic mushrooms are usually placed in the top tier of drug categories around the world because they are a hallucigen. In the USA, they are considered a Schedule 1 and in the UK they are considered a Class A, meaning they’re believed to carry a high risk of abuse and addiction. Any drug that twists and re-shapes reality are often considered to be the most dangerous drug by most nations, although this is not necessarily accurate. And this is despite the fact that psilocybin has been found to have numerous different medical benefits. In 2016, a John Hopkins study found that psilocybin could help treat people with anxiety and depression.

In the Netherlands, it wasn’t until recently that mushrooms were made illegal.This was a headline for an NBC News article, written in 2007:“The Netherlands will ban the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms, the government announced Friday, tightening the country’s famed liberal drug policies after the suicide of an intoxicated teenage girl.”

After a girl under the influence of mushrooms jumped out of a window in 2007, protests against hallucinogens took place and resulted in the drug being made illegal. Consequently, the majority of magic mushroom types were banned. All, except one: the truffle. 

What are Truffles? 

So, in order for us to understand why truffles were left legal, we first need to understand what they actually are. And, of course, how they differ from magic mushrooms. Truffles are mostly spoken about in relation to the Netherlands because most other countries do not allow them. In addition, when people visit Amsterdam, many are surprised by the ease of purchasing truffles. They can be bought in coffeeshops and smart shops and usually come in colourful packaging with names like: ‘mexicana’, ‘atlantis’ and ‘high hawaiians’. All claim to be stronger than the next. But really what are truffles? 

Magic truffles are nothing like the kinds of truffles you cook with, except they do have one similarity: they grow underground. Magic truffles are sclerotia, which is essentially a hardened mass of fungal mycelium that grows beneath the surface. Magic truffles are from the psilocybe mushroom mycelium and contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound and gives both truffles and mushrooms their psychedelic effects. 

Taste & Look

Magic truffles are essentially magic mushrooms that never made it to the surface, and this is exactly what they look like. They look like mushrooms that have never seen the sun and haven’t been able to grow. This means they taste a little like soil and dirt. In addition, they’re very dry so eating them without liquid can be quite difficult.  

Magic Mushrooms vs Magic Truffles

So, what are the differences between these two fungi, and why is one legal and the other is not in the Netherlands? 

Science

First up, let’s take a look at the scientific differences between the two substances. So far we know they both contain psilocybin, which is a psychedelic compound. But also, this is what the National Library of Medicine has to say:

“Magic mushrooms is the most common name given to hallucinogenic fungi containing the psychoactive alkaloids psilocybin and psilocin. In recent years, fungis’ sclerotia, commonly called “magic truffles” have become a form of supply of psychoactive Psilocybe alkaloids since Psilocybe sclerotia are not specifically included in the laws banning the sale, the purchase and the use of such substances and mushrooms containing them”

What this means is that magic mushrooms and magic mushrooms are essentially the exact same thing. However, magic truffles are simply at an earlier stage of development. They are at a more embryonic stage, hence why they are ‘picked’ whilst they’re still underground. Known also as sclerotia, hallucinogenic truffles are a younger fungus, which stores food reserves in a hard mycelium. These then grow into magic mushrooms after time. 

Look

Magic mushrooms and magic truffles do not look the same. In fact, truffles look like what they are: stunted mushrooms that never made it to the surface and never saw the sun. They also resemble a darker-looking bit of ginger. Whatever you want to liken them too, they definitely don’t look appealing. Magic mushrooms – on the other hand – look the same as usual mushrooms, except with longer stems and smaller heads. 

Potency

Some believe that truffles must be less potent than mushrooms because they are legal and less formed. This is not necessarily correct. Both contain psilocybin and the same chemical compounds, therefore they should technically have the same potency. However, due to the fact that magic truffles are standardised and commercialised, they have been able to create and package various strengths and potencies. Therefore, you can purchase weak, mild and strong magic truffles in Amsterdam. It’s harder to do the same with magic mushrooms as they are illegal and are usually sold by people who do not have various types. Both magic truffles and magic mushrooms are digested, they usually kick-in after around an hour and their effects can last from 4-8 hours. Overall, magic truffles and magic mushrooms have the same level of potency, but truffles can be bought to have less if customers require it. 

Legality 

If all this is the case, then why have the Netherlands decided to illegalise magic mushrooms but not magic truffles? Well, it’s first important to understand that countries like the UK and the USA have banned the substance of psilocybin which, as a result, has made anything containing this substance also illegal. This includes both magic mushrooms and magic truffles. However, in the Netherlands, they decided to illegalise magic mushrooms as a substance, rather than what they contain. This left room for magic truffles to slip through the cracks. 

Conclusion

Magic mushrooms and magic truffles are both essentially the same drug, except they are both at different stages of growth. The Netherlands, in particular, have decided to treat each drug individually rather than the substances that the drug contains. Whatever you believe to be right or wrong, the situation is that magic truffles are potent and extremely easy to purchase in Amsterdam. So, if you’re looking for an exciting and legal experience, make sure to head over there and try them out.

Hello all! Welcome to CBDtesters.co, your ultimate online destination for the most relevant and thought-provoking cannabis and psychedelics-related news globally. Read through the site regularly to stay on top of the constantly-moving world of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and sign up for The Psychedelics Weekly Newsletterso you never miss a thing.

DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Magic Mushrooms and Truffles in Amsterdam – What’s the Difference? appeared first on CBD Testers.

Weed Plus: The Healing Mystique of Magic Mushrooms

The winter sun was beating down through the open windows of my older sister’s Porsche as we cruised down Pico Boulevard toward the beach, bumper to bumper with other cars in the westward traffic of a warm Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles.

“That smells good,” she hollered to the guys in the next car over, pot smoke filling the space between lanes. They motioned to pass a joint through the open windows, my two best pals and I giggling in the back seat. I was 18 and by this point familiar with the terrain of a cannabis high, but I wanted to keep my head clear for later — for what my sister described as “weed plus.”

I’d spent my first semester of college smoking weed out of a hookah with friends, my nights ablaze, as one does in Berkeley. In the daytime, I’d burrow into a pile of books about psychedelic counterculture for an upcoming research paper. I had become obsessed with Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, and as if I’d read the guidebook to Paris before a trip, I decided that all my academic probing into psychedelics better culminate in lived experience. So, I bought a half ounce of shrooms and headed to Venice Beach with a few friends for our first time “tripping.” My older sister — a dedicated stoner and a cannabis attorney 14 years my senior — along with a family friend, who was a medical marijuana doctor and a seasoned psychonaut, were there to guide us in case things got too weird.

Unlike acid (which I still hadn’t tried at that point), mushrooms felt like the next level up from cannabis — that is, “weed plus” in the words of my sister. The psychedelic experience, or “trip,” would be longer than a regular weed high, but shorter than 12 hours of LSD. After that first time tripping, I soon learned that, for me, mushrooms and cannabis bring on similar visuals of swirling floral patterns and paisleys in a pink Technicolor palette.

My first time taking mushrooms was easily one of the best, most significant days of my life: playful, exploratory, spiritual. I felt like I was reborn, discovering the world and its wonders for the first time. The shrooms had turned down the volume on the anxiety that defined my day-to-day and turned up the volume on my appreciation for life. For the first time, the phrase “be here now” meant something to me on an embodied level — but like Ram Dass, who ventured to India after coming up and down on countless psychedelic trips during his tenure as a psychiatry professor at Harvard in the 1960s, I too wondered why it seemed I needed mushrooms to feel the way I did. I asked myself, “Would I be able to get there on my own one day?”

Psych 101

It’s a common adage that one can accomplish the same degree of healing in a single psychedelic trip that might otherwise require years of therapy. By the same token, in the psychedelic community it’s often said that “the journey is the medicine.” In other words, such as in the case of mushrooms, it’s not just the psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound, that spurs a neurological reset — it’s the experience of the trip itself. This can come with insights, challenges and joys that consequently foster lessons and memories that nourish the soul and last a lifetime. Science can only attempt to describe this alternative headspace.

Many well-known research institutions such as Johns Hopkins and UCLA are exploring how psilocybin is being used for mental health treatments and can occasion a “mystical experience,” defined by “scale scores” of seven criteria. What scientists are finding is that the degree to which a patient undergoes a mystical experience often correlates to the degree of healing they experience for whatever condition they are treating, be it anxiety, depression, or something else.

“When you optimally screen, facilitate and integrate these [psychedelic] experiences, you can almost reliably facilitate a mystical level kind of encounter, which may be predictive of positive therapeutic outcomes,” said Dr. Charles Grob, psychedelic researcher and UCLA professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

To put it bluntly, the promise of psychedelic therapy is forcing researchers to grapple with notions of God or mysticism that have otherwise been absent from Western science and medicine. Indigenous cultures, on the other hand, are well-known for structured spiritual-medicinal approaches and traditions that incorporate psychedelic plant medicine, such as ayahuasca, magic mushrooms or peyote.

Grob notes that clinicians have much to learn from indigenous practices, which “were entirely dependent on a harmonious relationship with the world of nature for shelter, for food, for continuity, and for societal groups.”

He goes on to say that the psychedelic experience may be symbolic of a death and rebirth ritual. That could be thanks to the experience of “ego death” — a psychedelic-induced dampening of the brain’s default mode network (DMN), where the ego resides. Ego death, or “ego dissolution,” can act as a reset for the DMN, helping to rewire thought patterns that were otherwise constrained by the ego, and facilitating an increase in personality traits like openness or empathy.

In breaking out of old thought patterns, a person who experiences ego death may also obtain a degree of healing from habits that previously kept them in a loop, particularly in addiction. Turning down the volume on the ego can also help engender a sense of oneness with the surrounding world, people or nature.

“The ego is looking after us,” Grob says. “There’s good reason to be compassionate toward the ego: It’s trying to do its best, but it’s not useful, and it overshoots in what it does and disconnects us. What psychedelics do is turn down the defenses.”

The ego’s defenses can manifest in addictions, such as eating disorders, compulsions and obsessions. “They’re all a maladaptive defense response to adversity,” says Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.

Through psychedelic therapy, Grob says, we can engineer a context in which it’s safe to let the ego go off duty and allow us to be vulnerable in a caring, nurturing environment. “It’s about going backwards to go forward,” he said. “Being vulnerable to be stronger, more flexible, more capacious.”

Safe Travels

Finding the right setting for a psychedelic experience is up to the beholder; it could be in a therapist’s office, a spiritual ceremony, with friends at a music concert, or decidedly alone in the woods. Once that ideal setting is found, one can relax and focus his or her mindset on whatever kind of healing or intention they set out to explore with the help of psychedelic medicine.

Even back in the ’60s, Grob says, pioneer researchers “found that those who had a mystical level experience had improved quality of life.” 

With psilocybin in particular, he said, “the replicability and degree to which the trip might happen, and the depth is more apparent”— than perhaps with other psychedelics such as LSD — because the six to eight-hour trip is “easier to control” than something that could otherwise be twice as long.

Despite the growing amount of research, psychedelic scientists have yet to fully comprehend how substances such as psilocybin work in the brain. Psilocybin definitely stimulates the serotonin 2A receptor in the brain and can occasion ego death by dampening the default mode network. Even so, the compound remains a mystery.

That said, there’s mounting evidence that psilocybin — much like cannabis — can facilitate healing from a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, addiction, and eating disorders, among others. It can also increase the personality trait of openness, allowing the afflicted to become more amenable to new patterns and solutions, and enhancing general well-being for those who are otherwise already well.

While people who use cannabis medicinally can get a great deal of relief from chronic pain or mood disturbance, Grob says it’s more of a lifestyle drug. “The effects of cannabis are dwarfed in comparison with the potential that psilocybin or LSD might have in evoking a powerful altered state of consciousness that allows individuals to see themselves and the world around them and their lives in a novel manner,” he said.

In other words, psilocybin offers more bang for your buck if you compare it to regular cannabis use.

#TBT

Around the peak of that Venice Beach mushroom trip so long ago, my friends and I decided to venture out of our apartment and head to the ocean. As the sun set and temps started to cool, the winds picked up. 

“I’m shivering, but it’s not me,” I said through chattering teeth. I looked down at my hand with curiosity, flipping my palm over and under, upside and down, as if it was someone else’s hand.

I plopped down on the shore, near the sunset drum circle that takes place every Sunday. It smelled like weed, but I wondered how many others were also on shrooms. I remembered what my sister had said about psilocybin feeling like “weed plus,” but this was so much better. So. Much. Better.

“There’s no competition,” Grob said, when comparing psilocybin and cannabis. “The psilocybin experience has the potential of facilitating a life-changing kind of event.” Precisely how I felt about one of the best, most significant days of my life.

A huge smile crept across my face, and I was feeling more in touch with my essence than ever before. “Ohh, be here now,” I giggled, referencing the phrase and title of Ram Dass’ famous book which my parents had introduced me to as a child. “I get it,” I thought.

It was the first time I felt that sacred sense of time and space, of being in the moment — in my body — without feeling an attachment to the chronological series of events that took me here. I just was, feeling a sense of “is-ness.” I was simply being, and my nervous system, with all its anxieties and temporal attachments, was for once at rest.

My memory of that mind-bending Venice Beach experience remains vivid. The spiritual nourishment and sense of mystique from that day are still with me, infusing my life with the magic of those mushrooms. “These are like waking dreams,” Grob said. “Sometimes it’s important to just sit back and look objectively at the scene playing in front of you, and how that relates to your life.”

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Pennsylvania Poised to Become National Leader in Psychedelics Research

Pennsylvania is set to become a national, and possibly global, leader in psilocybin research, thanks to a new bill that was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill passed a Health Committee vote in Harrisburg and is on its way for votes in the house and senate.  

Titled the Public Health Benefits of Psilocybin Act, the purpose of this legislation is to lay the foundation for researchers within the state of Pennsylvania to begin clinical trials on psilocybin, the predominant psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, as well as other natural psychedelics in the future. As it currently stands, with psilocybin categorized as a Schedule 1 narcotic on the DEA’s list of controlled substances, anyone trying to do any worthwhile research on the psychedelics has been massively hindered by a seemingly endless list of cumbersome and overbearing regulations.   

Just like cannabis, psychedelics are beginning to take hold in the Western World. Not only are they being used recreationally at much higher rates, but the world is becoming familiar with their many benefits, especially in the field of mental health. For more articles like this one, make sure to subscribe to our Psychedelics Weekly Newsletteryour top source for everything related to this growing industry. 


What are psychedelics? 

Psychedelic drugs, are a subset of hallucinogens which contain compounds that can alter mood and perception. They are also referred to as entheogens, a Greek term that can be roughly translated to mean “building the God within”. The active compounds in psychedelic drugs can be found in nature, like psilocybin or mescaline, but they can also be man made, like LSD or Ketamine. 

The high experienced when taking these types of drugs is known as a ‘trip’, and can include visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations. The intensity of a trip will vary dramatically based on the specific compound, dose consumed, and tolerance of the user. Sometimes, a person will experience no hallucinations at all, but rather a sense of general well-being, spiritual connectivity, and euphoria.    

If you’ve ever heard someone mention a ‘bad trip’, this means the person had some type of negative side effects, or maybe even frightening hallucinations. Physical symptoms of a bad trip can include but are not limited to irregular heartbeat, nausea, chills, sweating, and anxiety. Bad trips, due to their negative nature, can seem more intense than good trips but this is not always the case. 

Dosing and setting, among many other factors, can significantly impact a psychedelic trip, so you want to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to ensure that your high is uplifting and eye-opening, not scary and traumatizing.  

Surrounding yourself with familiar people that make you feel comfortable, go low and slow with dosing, and picking a location that you know you’re safe in – these are all steps you can take to foster a good trip. Many present-day, medical (not recreational) users of psychedelics consume the drugs in micro-doses to avoid the risk of bad trips and other negative side effects altogether.  

More about the bill 

The Public Health Benefits of Psilocybin Act is primarily sponsored by Tracy Pennycuick, an Army veteran and Republican member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives serving her first term, along with 20 bipartisan cosponsors. The bill, which has does not come with any funding, would place the state’s Department of Health in charge of clinical trials and other research efforts, starting with studying how psilocybin could help treat PTSD in military veterans.  

“I have PTSD, so it interests me,” Pennycuick said. “Not every treatment works for every veteran. So, you have to be always leaning forward into treatment.” 

What’s unique about this bill compared to other psychedelic research initiatives is that this one authorizes at least two state-licensed growers to cultivate psychoactive mushrooms to use in the clinical trials. Most research, like that conducted at Johns Hopkins University, is done using a synthetic form of psilocybin.  

This distinction is important because we will have legitimate, clinical information about how the varying naturally occurring compounds work together in the human body and how different mushroom/truffle strains could be used to treat different conditions. The entourage effect of psychedelic fungi.  

Another adamant supporter of this bill is Brett Waters, a Pennsylvania-native currently practicing as an attorney in New York. “It’s very clear at this point that current treatment that we offer people is not effective,” says Waters. “It has limited efficacy for some people and no efficacy for many people. We need to do better.”  

Waters is also the founder of Reason for Hope, a nonprofit organization that advocates for psychedelic-assisted therapy. Waters, who grew up in Merion, lost both his mother and grandfather to suicide. His organization is also working with politicians in New York, North Carolina, and Florida to push for more progressive legislation regarding psychedelic research.  

Another supporter and industry expert, Mason Marks, a professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law and head of the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation at Harvard’s Petrie-Flom Center, feels this bill should be a top priority in the minds of lawmakers.  

“For two decades we’ve seen rising rates of suicide, rising rates of drug overdose deaths, and so there is a certain amount of urgency on this issue, so I think increasing access is really important,” he stated.  

The race to legalize and study mushrooms 

If you’ve been following industry news lately, you’ve probably noticed that numerous cities/states are updating their psilocybin regulations. For the most part different regions are decriminalizing their possession. This has happened in several large cities across the US including Detroit, Seattle, Oakland, and Denver.  

However, a handful of states are approaching these new policies from the paradigm of research and medicine. On November 3rd, 2020, Oregon passed Measure 109, making it the first US state to legalize the use of psilocybin-assisted therapy, and lawmakers are currently working on developing the necessary regulatory framework.  

Early last year, Florida House Representative Michael Grieco introduced a bill that would legalize psilocybin medicinally for people with mental disorders, to be microdosed in licensed clinics. Late last summer, Texas passed House Bill 1802 calling for the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to do a human clinical trial on mental health disorders and psilocybin treatments, using a synthetic version of the compound.  

Where Pennsylvania differs, aside from the fact their programs aim to use natural psilocybin, is that this bill will be focused on university studies, clinical trials from medical research institutions, and hospital research and data.  

Even more research 

Last month, the National Institute of Health awarded nearly $4 million to Johns Hopkins researcher Matthew Johnson, who is looking into the benefits of pairing psilocybin-assisted therapy with traditional talk therapy. Given the introspective and sentient nature of psychedelics, microdosing with shrooms before a therapy session could definitely help one be more honest, open, and transparent. 

Recently, a publicly traded British firm known as Compass Pathways, released the results on their larger-scale psilocybin trial completed late last year. Researchers examined 233 patients who were given different doses of synthetic psilocybin, and they found that a one-time, 25-milligram dose was able to substantially reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression for up to three weeks.  

“The trial is encouraging being a larger sample of patients with a control group than earlier [treatment resistant depression] studies and having a significant effect for a clinical need,” said William R. Smith, a fourth-year psychiatry resident at Penn Medicine. “Treatment-resistant depression is a major challenge for contemporary psychiatry, we need more options.” 

Further research has found the psilocybin can even help regenerate brain cells. Yale researchers released this study: Psilocybin induces rapid and persistent growth of dendritic spines in frontal cortex in vivo. The research was conducted using synthetic psilocybin on mice, and it was was published in the journal Neuron in July, 2021.  

At this point, even the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published a statement saying they need more cannabis and psilocybin produced for research purposed, and they want it as soon as the middle of this year. 

Final thoughts 

The Pennsylvania bill is expected to pass, but even if it does not, it shows how far public opinion on this subject has progressed. It’s a sign that curiosity about psychedelics is flourishing in the US and around the rest of the world. Despite what federal regulations might say, when you talk to people, you see that there is a general acceptance of these compounds, especially naturally occurring ones like psilocybin, mescaline, or DMT. Keep a close eye on Pennsylvania in these coming weeks, and check back here for updates on this important bill.  

Hello readers! Thanks for joining us at CBDtesters.co, the #1 internet location for the most recent and interesting cannabis and psychedelics-related news from around the globe. Visit the site everyday to stay abreast of the quickly-moving landscape of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and sign up for The Psychedelics Weekly Newsletterto ensure you always know what’s going on.

Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Pennsylvania Poised to Become National Leader in Psychedelics Research appeared first on CBD Testers.

Organization Aims to Reschedule Psilocybin Mushrooms in UN Categorization

The International Therapeutic Psilocybin Rescheduling Initiative (ITPRI) has launched a campaign on January 11 to see medical mushroom reform happen on a global scale.

The organization argues that the antiquated 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances Act is long overdue for some changes. While the Act was created to target drugs that are harmful, ITPRI argues that recent therapeutic evidence and effectiveness of psilocybin warrants a change in scheduling.

“In most countries, legal control of psilocybin results from its Schedule I status under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances,” ITPRI wrote in a press release. “Meant for dangerous drugs which create an especially serious risk to public health and whose therapeutic value is little to none, Schedule I drugs are subject to strict limits on their scientific and medical use. Schedule I licensing, safe-custody, security, manufacturing, quantity, and import/export restrictions result in a level of regulatory control and oversight that is drastically more onerous than for the Convention’s other three schedules. As a result, researchers wishing to study psilocybin face numerous regulatory hurdles which add significantly to the cost, complexity, and duration of research and can negatively impact ethical approvals, funding and collaboration.”

According to ITPRI, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances Act describes a Schedule I substance as “Substances whose liability to abuse constitutes an especially serious risk to public health and which have very limited, if any, therapeutic usefulness.”

Despite the growing potential of psilocybin as a medical treatment, progress has been hindered by the UN’s 51-year-old agreement. Professor David Nutt, head of Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research and Founder of Drug Science, described the setback. “Psilocybin’s Schedule I status has severely limited—and continues to limit—neuroscience research and the development of treatments for patients.” Drug Science is one of many partners supporting this effort, including Beckley Foundation, MAPS, Mind Medicine Australia, Nierika A.C., Open Foundation and Osmond Foundation.

ITPRI’s plan is to inspire nations of the UN to initiate a review. “To ensure equity of access to psilocybin as a global public good, ITPRI is engaging, educating and mobilizing officials and other stakeholders without the ecosystem of UN institutions, member state permanent missions and NGOs that will be critical to achieving a review and change in scheduling,” the organization says of its rescheduling plan. Once the process has begun, the World Health Organization (WHO) will present a critical review, which could result in a recommendation to reschedule if two-thirds of the member countries agree.

ITPRI Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors, Christopher Koddermann, expressed the certainty that the ITPRI’s new campaign will help move things along. “Given today’s scientific understanding of psilocybin’s high potential therapeutic value and low risk of dependence, a change of its status as a Schedule I drug is long overdue.”

In December 2020, the UN Commission for Narcotic Drugs has voted to reclassify cannabis, and more recently, the UN voted against a ban on kratom in December 2021. Furthermore, many states and cities in the U.S. have embraced decriminalization of mushrooms to allow medical patients to gain easier access to psilocybin mushrooms as a treatment. The state of Oregon was one of the first to embrace psilocybin mushrooms legalization.

Businesses such as Dr. Bronner’s are going all-in to support psilocybin legalization, both in Connecticut as well as throughout the U.S. Canada has even eased access for mushrooms as well, thanks in part to the rising amount of evidence that suggests its potential as a medicine. The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed consideration of psilocybin therapy last year. All of this and more are contributing factors to the world’s changing view of psilocybin as medicine.

The post Organization Aims to Reschedule Psilocybin Mushrooms in UN Categorization appeared first on High Times.

Canada Regulators Ease Access to Psychedelic Drugs

Health Canada, the nation’s health department, said that drug regulations were being amended based on new research into the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics.

“There has been emerging scientific evidence supporting potential therapeutic uses for some restricted drugs, most notably psychedelic restricted drugs such as MDMA and psilocybin,” Health Canada noted in the Canada Gazette, an official government publication.

Under the amendment to federal food and drug regulations, physicians will be able to request access to restricted drugs on behalf of their patients through Health Canada’s Special Access Program. Previously, restricted drugs including psychedelics were not available through the program.

The Special Access Program permits health care professionals to request permission to use unapproved treatments for patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. The program applies only in cases where conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable, or not available in Canada. Patients are not permitted to request access to treatment through the program on their own behalf.

Psychedelic Research Continues

Research into psychedelics including psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine has shown that the drugs have potential therapeutic benefits, particularly for serious mental health conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety. A study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2020 found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. Separate research published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. 

“Given the growing scientific interest in certain restricted drugs, it is expected that Health Canada would eventually encounter a situation where scientific evidence supports the therapeutic use of a restricted drug within the context of the Special Access Program,” regulators wrote in the January 5 announcement. “The regulatory amendments are therefore expected to benefit patients with serious or life-threatening conditions who may be granted access to restricted drugs through the Special Access Program in instances when other therapies have failed, are unsuitable, or are unavailable in Canada.”

Before Wednesday’s announcement, patients could gain access to psychedelic drugs through two legal avenues. The first method would be to participate in a clinical trial, which only accepts patients on a limited basis and are not available nationwide. Patients could also gain access to restricted drugs by personally requesting a special exemption to regulations from Canada’s Health Minister.

Easing Access for Patients

Regulators noted in the announcement that “the regulatory amendments will not create large scale access to restricted drugs and they do not signal an intent towards the decriminalization or legalization of restricted drugs. The Special Access Program is for emergency treatment only.” But the move should make it easier for patients with an exceptional need to access psychedelic drugs.

Dr. John Huber, a clinical forensic psychologist and the CEO of Tripsitter Clinic, a publicly-traded ketamine therapy telemedicine provider that is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, applauded the Canadian government for continuing to advance and acknowledge the benefits of psychedelic therapy.

“This breakthrough decision will expand access to MDMA and psilocybin therapy and help save the lives of those with life-threatening mental health conditions,”  Huber wrote in an email to High Times. “We hope Canada’s success pushes the U.S. government to follow a similar pathway while awaiting FDA approval for MDMA and psilocybin.”

Greg Rovner, CEO of Heally, a telemedicine platform for psychedelic clinics and patients looking for alternative medicine treatment, said the decision by Canadian regulators to ease access to psychedelics should spur new research into the drugs.

“Health Canada’s recent decision is a ringing endorsement of MDMA and psilocybin’s therapeutic potential,” Rovner wrote in an email. “It recognizes the growing body of research into the benefits of psychedelics and expands access to psychedelics for patients in serious and life-threatening conditions. We hope to see more studies on the safety and efficacy of psychedelics that will spur further regulatory reform.”

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National Group Submits Colorado Psychedelics Decriminalization Ballot Measures

A national advocacy group has submitted two separate proposals that would decriminalize psychedelics in Colorado in an effort to put the issue before voters in next year’s general election. New Approach PAC, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee, filed the decriminalization proposals with the office of the Colorado Secretary of State on December 3, according to media reports.

The first proposal would decriminalize the psychedelic drugs ibogaine, DMT, mescaline (excluding peyote), psilocybin and psilocin for adults 21 and older, with a cap of four grams of the psychoactive substances. Under the measure, the governor would be required to appoint a Natural Medicine Advisory Board, which would be tasked with implementing decriminalization. The state would also license healing centers to supply psychedelic drugs and assist clients using them.

The second measure is similar to the first, but would decriminalize only psilocybin and psilocin, the psychedelic compounds found in “magic mushrooms.” Under the proposal, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies would implement decriminalization in a fashion similar to the one outlined in the first initiative.

If one or both of the proposals is approved by the Secretary of State’s office, organizers would then need to collect the required signatures to qualify the measures for the ballot in 2022.

“Our goal is to make the healing benefits of these natural medicines available to people they can help, including veterans with PTSD, survivors of domestic or sexual abuse, people with treatment-resistant depression and others for whom our typical mental-health treatments just aren’t working,” Ben Unger, psychedelic program director for New Approach PAC, told Westword.

Psychedelics for Health and Wellness

Researchers continue to study the potential medicinal applications of psilocybin and other natural psychedelic drugs, which are often also referred to as entheogenic plants and fungi. A study published last year in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. And separate research published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.

Denver was the first major municipality to decriminalize psychedelics in 2019, and similar measures have been passed by Oakland, Washington, D.C., Detroit and Cambridge, Massachusetts since then. In October, city leaders passed a psychedelics decriminalization resolution in Seattle, the largest U.S. city to approve such legislation to date. And in November, voters in Oregon approved a ballot measure that decriminalized psilocybin and legalized the compound for therapeutic use.

Kevin Matthews, the leader of the group that campaigned for Denver’s psychedelics decriminalization measure, is now lobbying for the statewide effort advanced by national advocates.

“We’re glad to have New Approach as a partner who can help us bring this level of change to the entire state, because we’re going to create more opportunities for so many people to receive the help they need to deal with mental health conditions that are otherwise devastating,” Matthews said. “Creating new opportunities for people to heal is what drives us, and we look forward to engaging with Colorado residents on this issue.”

Activists Disagree on Best Path to Psychedelics Decriminalization

But not all psychedelics activists in Colorado agree with the New Approach proposals. Nicole Foerster, head of Decriminalize Nature Boulder County, said that she is concerned about some of the language in the potential ballot measures.

“They’re looking to create these top-down, restrictive policies in places where grassroots community has been the strongest and where policy has been passed by grassroots community,” Foerster said at a virtual meeting of the group held on December 16.

Foerster noted that local activists were not involved in drafting the proposals from New Approach, but said they are now trying to cooperate with the national group.

“We are trying to push and influence them to only include psilocybin and psilocin, because they said they’re unwilling to do anything that”s not going to set up a regulatory framework,” she added.

Unger said that the New Approach initiatives include a regulatory framework so that psychedelics can help as many people as possible safely.

“We believe more people will be served and treated by making psychedelics available in a safe, regulated and consistent way,” Unger said. “These natural medicines can be life-changing for so many, and we want people to be confident that the treatment they’re receiving is high-quality and held to clear standards of accountability.”

Some local activists at the Decriminalize Nature Boulder County virtual meeting expressed concerns that New Approach may be moving too quickly, but Matthews disagreed.

“We’ve been discussing the possibility of statewide reform since this spring, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far to ensure this initiative will be ready on the timeline necessary to set it up for success,” Matthews said. “We still have more outreach and collaboration to do in the coming weeks, and it’s been exciting working alongside so many of my colleagues and friends from our successful effort in Denver in 2019.”

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Australia Rejects Psychedelics for Therapeutic Use

Australia’s medical regulator on Wednesday rejected a bid to approve psychedelics for therapeutic use, saying the risks of the drugs outweigh the potential mental health benefits. In a final decision from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the agency declined to approve an application to amend Australia’s poison standards by reclassifying psilocybin and MDMA as Schedule 8 controlled substances instead of their current status as prohibited substances under Schedule 9.

Under the decision, psychedelic drugs will not be available for use as therapeutic drugs to treat serious mental health conditions, a practice that is gaining acceptance by many therapists. Studies have shown the drugs have the potential to treat depression, anxiety and addiction

But the TGA noted that much of the research to date has been conducted in strictly controlled environments, potentially limiting the practical therapeutic value of psychedelics. The agency also cited a fear that legalizing the drugs for therapeutic use would lead to misuse of the drugs in non-clinical applications.

“The benefit is very limited because psilocybin studies indicate only potential therapeutic value in circumstances where the treatment was provided to subjects within the setting of a clinical trial,” the TGA wrote in its December 15 final decision. 

“In relation to the risks, I am satisfied that psilocybin poses a high danger for both acute and long-term effects if abused or misused by way of access outside of strictly controlled medical and scientific research settings,” the author of the agency’s decision wrote. “Given this increased risk to individuals of acute and long-term effects, a high level of control across the supply chain commensurate with Schedule 9 is warranted.”

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists did not support the application to reclassify psilocybin and MDMA, according to the TGA’s statement. The Australian Medical Association also weighed in, calling for more research using larger, high-quality studies to determine the safety and effectiveness of using the drugs therapeutically.

Decision a ‘Step Backward’ for Australia

Dr. John Huber, the founder and CEO of psychedelic therapy consultation platform Tripsitter Clinic, says that “Australia’s decision to reject the use of MDMA and psilocybin mushrooms for clinical use is a step backward.” 

“The declaration that there is not enough research limits Australia’s ability to conduct any research on the benefits of psychedelic therapy,” Huber wrote in an email to High Times. “This form of thinking suppresses progress and portrays 1960s ideologies. The pandemic greatly impacted people’s mental health, and political leaders need to get up to speed and expand access to mental health services in this time of need.”

The CEO of Hawaii-based psychedelic medicines startup Ei.Ventures, David Nikzad, noted that the decision by the TGA is inconsistent with recent psychedelic reform efforts. Canada has taken steps to make psilocybin available to therapists for clinical use, and the legality of magic mushrooms in Jamaica has led to the rise of psychedelic retreats in the Caribbean nation.

Additionally, Oregon has legalized psilocybin for supervised mental health treatment and several U.S. municipalities including Oregon, Detroit, Seattle, Oakland and Denver have passed measures to decriminalize some psychedelic drugs and entheogenic plants and fungi.

“We find this very disappointing and counter to the larger trend of psychedelics being decriminalized or approved for medical use in numerous jurisdictions globally,” Nikzad said. “We hope that Australia comes around once the studies underway give further credence to earlier work that shows the effectiveness of psilocybin use for positive mental health outcomes in clinical settings.”

“It’s really a shame that this outdated thinking is stifling advancement in the important arena of psychedelics and mental health when these natural products could help so many people with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues,” he added.

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Psychedelics in magic mushrooms and 6 hallucinogens beyond psilocybin

Psilocybe and inocybe mushrooms are a treasure cove of opportunity to clinicians, patients, and chemists. Psilocybin, the centrepiece of psychedelic mushroom literature, shares characteristics with a larger family of molecules. In fact, at least six other psychedelics in magic mushrooms form a matrix of hallucinogens beyond just psilocybin and its active metabolite.   Few research labs, […]

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Meet the Mushrooms – Health Benefits of Various Fungi  

Mushrooms are widely regarded as a superfood because they taste great, add richness and can elevate most meals, and are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants that translate to incredible health benefits for consumers. If you’re looking for one type of food to add to your diet that could really make a difference in your overall health, fungus is truly where you get the most bang for your buck.  

From common grocery store types like creminis, to incredibly rare psychedelic varieties, all edible mushrooms are extremely beneficial. Remember that some are poisonous, so don’t go running around the woods eating unidentified fungi. But do try to incorporate more healthy mushrooms into your diet. Whether you’re adding shitakes to dinner once a week or microdosing with liberty caps, you’re sure to experience some positive changes. Remember to subscribe to The Psychedelic Weekly Newsletter to learn more about mushrooms and the psychedelic industry as a whole.  


Why mushrooms are amazing  

In addition to being considered a gourmet food, mushrooms are one of the most nutritious foods on earth. They’re a low-calorie source of fiber, protein, potassium, and antioxidants, known to have the ability to mitigate (or completely heal in some instances) many serious health conditions. The list of ailments that can benefit from mushroom consumption is vast but includes: diabetes, cancer, heart disease, inflammation, cancer, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure.  

Not only can fungi help treat existing conditions, but they can make you healthier overall. The anti-inflammatory effect of fungi is proven to greatly improve immune function and efficiency. The anti-inflammatory effect of mushrooms has been shown to greatly improve the efficiency of the immune system. Numerous studies have found that mushrooms help stimulate macrophages in the immune system, amplifying its ability to fight disease.  

In that same vein of general wellness, research indicates that mushrooms, when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices like regular exercise, are key to weight loss and maintenance. Mushrooms have low calories, no cholesterol, and no fat, so they’re a great way to get the recommended amount of dietary protein for building muscle, without all the unnecessary compounds that can make you gain fat.  

Another interesting feature of mushrooms, one that was only recently discovered, and by accident, is that they can produce antibiotic compounds for a huge range of bacteria. If exposed to certain bacterium, mushrooms will create metabolites to kill that pathogen. This discovery could be pivotal in changing the way we treat antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.  

Fungus as a healing superfood is a somewhat new concept in the western world, but they’ve been utilized in eastern medicine and nutrition for centuries. The oldest official record of medicinal compounds from Traditional Chinese Medicine, dating from the 29th century BC, lists several mushroom species. In recent years, they’ve become a popular meat substitute as we’ve seen a steady rise in vegetarianism and veganism across the globe. They’re also being discussed with increased frequency in the realm of mental health, especially psilocybin mushrooms.  

Lion’s Mane  

Hericium erinaceus is an edible mushroom hailing from the tooth fungus group. It’s native to three different continents, North America, Europe, and Asia, and they resemble of clump of long spines growing on various hardwood trees. They can be eaten raw, cooked, dried, or steeped in soup and tea. They have a strong seafood/shellfish flavor, like crab or lobster. Lion’s mane extracts are commonly found in health supplements, and Asian countries like China, India, Japan, and Korea have been using these mushrooms medicinally for ages.  

Research has found that lion’s mane mushrooms contain high levels of two compounds that can aid in brain cell regeneration: hericenones and erinacines. These compounds can also prevent neural damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which are abnormal clusters of protein fragments built up between nerve cells; commonly found in the brains of people with Alzeihmer’s.  

Lion’s Mane mushrooms are also known to be extremely effective in fighting cancer. This theory has been tested and proven numerous times over with several different types of human cancer cells in test tubes. Liver, colon, stomach, and blood cancer cells have been studied and Lion’s Mane was successful in destroying them all.  

Cordyceps 

Cordyceps are not quite mushrooms, but rather a genus of parasitic fungi that grows on insect larvae. The fungi attacks the host and replaces its body tissues with stems that grow on the outside of the larva’s body. Over 600 species of cordyceps have been discovered all over the world, although most are concentrated in Asia and medical literature has focused heavily on two types: Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris 

The remnants of these infected insects have been harvested, dried, and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine formulations to treat inflammation, fatigue, low sex drive, kidney disease, and many other illnesses. Formal research on this fungus is limited, but anecdotal evidence is abundant.  

Additionally, cordyceps are believed to increase the body’s production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), source of cellular energy for muscle contractions, nerve impulse propagation, and other physiological functions. In Eastern cultures, cordyceps are often used by the elderly for the anti-aging properties – attributable to their high levels of antioxidants – as well as to battle weakness and fatigue and improve their sex lives.  

Reishi  

Ganoderma lucidum, also known as Lingzhi or Reishi, is a reddish-brown colored, polypore fungus with a banded cap and peripheral stem. Fresh reishi look soft and flat, and they grow at the base of deciduous trees, particularly maples. They can be eaten fresh, dried, in tinctures or extracts, or in powdered form that can be added to smoothies or drinks. 

Reishi mushrooms contain a bunch of different compounds that are beneficial to human health, such as triterpenoids, polysaccharides and peptidoglycans. Although many mushrooms lack the scientific literature to back up their benefits, that is not the case with reishi. As a matter of fact, over 3,300 research papers published on these mushrooms in the US National Library of Medicine alone.  

Although all mushrooms are believed to have positive effects on immunity, reishi mushrooms are especially known for this. Studies have found that reishi mushrooms can affect the genetic makeup of white blood cells, making them more effective immune system agents.  

Morels  

Morchella, or true morels, are a genus of edible sac fungi that can be found in temperate regions around the world including North America, Turkey, China, the Himalayas, India, and Pakistan. They are a prized ingredient in many types of cuisine, especially French. Cultivation of these mushrooms can be tricky, so harvesting wild morels has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. 

It’s important not to confuse true morels with false morels, a term loosely applied to describe Gyromitra esculenta, Verpa bohemica, and other species morel lookalikes. Although some false morels can be eaten safely, the ones in my area and many others are extremely poisonous. So toxic in fact that even fumes from cooking the mushrooms can cause dizziness and nausea. When cut down the middle, true morels have a hollow cap and a stem that connects at the bottom of the cap, whereas false morels have a thick fibrous stem that runs through the entire cap and connects at the top. Check the photos on this page to learn more.  

That said, I personally love morels. You can’t really find any in grocery stores but I’m blessed to have them growing in abundance in my yard in Indiana. I live in the woods near some small creeks and a large lake and find them frequently in open fields along the forest edge, near oak, elm, ash, and aspen trees. 

Like all mushrooms, morels have many benefits but one thing that makes them unique is that they have one of the highest amounts of vitamin D out of any edible mushroom species. Only 100 grams of morels (less than 1 cup) will provide you 34% of the daily required levels of vitamin D. They’re also loaded with potassium, vitamins, copper, and antioxidants.  

Turkey tails  

Turkey tails, also known as Coriolus versicolor, Polyporus versicolor, or Trametes versicolor (meaning ‘of several colors’) is a common polypore mushroom that grows in humid areas all over the world. They are technically considered to be inedible, only because they harden when cooked and don’t taste good, but they can be turned into powders, tinctures, and extracts for use in various products.  

Like reishi mushrooms, Turkey tails are also revered for their immune-boosting abilities. Turkey tails contain Polysaccharopeptides, which are protein-bound carbohydrates that block inflammation and activate beneficial immune cells. Because of this, Turkey tail mushrooms are used in combination with pharmaceutical treatments to enhance their efficiency. For example, a review of 13 studies found that chemotherapy patients who were consuming 1-4 grams of Coriolus versicolor had a greater chance of survival than those who did standard treatments alone. Overall, Turkey tails contributed to a 9% reduction in 5-year mortality.  

Another unique benefit of Turkey tails is that they can help regulate your gut bacteria, which plays a pivotal role in overall health. Many health conditions stem from an imbalanced gut microbiome. A study of 24 healthy volunteers found that this strain of mushroom contains prebiotics that suppressed the growth of harmful bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. Outside the digestive system, Turkey tails can prevent the growth and spread of Staphylococcus aureus.  

Chaga  

Chaga, formally known as Inonotus obiquus, is a parasitic fungus from the Hymenochaetaceae family. They grow on a lot of different trees but have an affinity for birch. Chaga mushrooms have been used medicinally for hundreds of years in Siberia and other parts of Asia. They’re not pretty compared to other mushrooms and resemble an irregularly-shaped clump of burnt charcoal, but they’re one of the more popular species on this list and are becoming better-known in the Western world as well.  

Chaga mushrooms contain a wide variety of different vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as B-complex vitamins vitamin D potassium rubidium cesium amino acids fiber copper selenium zinc iron manganese magnesium calcium. The extract from this fungus is commonly used to help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.  

During a 2-month study of lab rats on chaga, the extract was found to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increase levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Experts believe the high antioxidant content in chagas are responsible for this. Additionally, studies have demonstrated that eating chaga mushrooms regularly can reduce oxidative stress and lower blood pressure and greatly reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.   

Maitake  

Grifola frondosa, also known as Hen-of-the-woods or Maitake (not to be confused with shiitake) is a polypore mushroom found in Japan, China, Europe, and North America. It grows at the base of trees, mainly oaks, and can be found in late summer to early fall. The word “maitake” means dancing mushroom in Japanese. As the story goes, people were so elated when they found this mushroom in the wild that they ‘danced for joy’… and no, it’s not psychedelic.  

Although Maitakes are sometimes used in recipes, they are considered a medicinal mushroom and more often utilized in therapeutic settings. Maitake mushrooms are what’s known as adaptogens, or non-toxic plants that can be used to regulate body systems, both physical and mental. They’re one of the best mushrooms to use for ‘resetting’ the body and creating homeostasis. Maitakes have shown more promising results in treating and preventing various health conditions than other mushrooms.  

A 2015 study also discovered that maitake mushrooms can be effective in treating type 2 diabetes, which is on the rise. Statistics show that lifestyle choices (like diet, lack of exercise, and obesity) are responsible for up to 85% of new type 2 diabetes cases. In the study, maitake mushrooms had a positive impact on rats with this disease.  

Psilocybin  

Psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as magic mushrooms, mushrooms or shrooms, are a polyphyletic, informal group of fungi that includes Copelandia, Gymnopilus, Inocybe, Panaeolus, Pholiotina, Pluteus, and Psilocybe. Psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound in these mushrooms, is actually found in over 100 species around the world.  

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 to 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 already been decriminalized in a few locations around the world as researchers dive into their potential to treat numerous disorders. Areas of interest include conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and substance addiction. 

Unlike other mushrooms on this list, there is an issue of legality with psilocybin mushrooms, meaning that they are still illegal in most countries. In the United States, their active ingredient is listed as a schedule 1 narcotic, and so they are illegal. A few pockets of the world are changing these laws though, as the public becomes increasingly aware of their health benefits.  

Final thoughts 

The mushrooms listed above are just some of my personal favorites, but you can benefit from even the most common species out there. Adding some baby bellas or white buttons to your meal plan a couple times a week can have amazing wellness benefits, while microdosing with magic mushrooms on a regular basis could be a game changer for your mental health. As long as what you’re eating isn’t poisonous, you really can’t go wrong with any type of mushroom, they’re all incredible!   

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Switzerland: The Home of Psychedelics Testing – What’s Going on Now?

Trials into psychedelics have started in earnest in many different countries, with new benefits being looked into from help with addictions and mental issues, to use as an anti-inflammatory and with auto-immune disorders. Where did all this come from? Switzerland has been the base of psychedelics research and testing since the early-mid 1900’s, and it certainly isn’t slowing down now.

Switzerland and psychedelics testing go together like peanut butter and jelly, and its exciting that more psychedelic options are coming. If you’re more of a cannabis person than a psychedelics person, that’s okay too. In fact, today, with the expanding cannabinoids market, you can buy everything from delta-8 THC to THCV to HHC, just to try new things. Remember to subscribe to The Psychedelics Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one. And save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10THCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!


Ergot and how it all started

Switzerland and psychedelics testing have gone together for some time. The general story of the modern use of psychedelics began in Basel, Switzerland, at the chemical company Sandoz. Sandoz only established its pharma department in 1917, following the isolation of the compound aotamine from the ergot fungus, which is known to be the cause of tainted rye. Prior to this, Sandoz had no pharmaceutical department since its inception in 1886.

The isolation of ergot was important, as ergot had been used in natural medicine traditions for many years. In smaller doses its known to help bring on childbirth, as well as helping to control the bleeding afterwards. This is separate from its appearance in tainted rye, when if eaten it can cause severe illness. The compound was isolated by Sandoz scientist Arthur Stoll, which was done in an effort to find the molecules responsible for the constriction that helps limit bleeding.

This was accomplished by isolating both ergotamine and ergobasine, without the other ergot compounds. These could then be dosed very precisely. Other compounds thought possibly useful from the ergot fungus were subsequently isolated with their structures drawn out. All of the compounds investigated shared the same nucleus, called Lysergsaure in German, or lysergic acid in English. Sandoz made a lot of money out of these discoveries, launched a pharmaceutical department, and hired a young Albert Hofmann in 1929.

ergot fungus

Enter Albert Hofmann

Albert Hoffman was born in Baden, Switzerland in 1906, and eventually attended the University of Zurich. He graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1929, and immediately went to work at Sandoz where he walked into, and participated in, the study of ergot. Hofmann was able to create a process to synthetically produce ergot using its component chemical parts. He was also able to do this with compounds from other plants thought medicinally useful. Part of his research was to combine the newly found lysergic acid, with other compounds to see what would happen.

It was the 25th attempt of this kind that finally resulted in something interesting. For this combination, Hofmann combined lysergic acid with diethylamine, an ammonia derivative, and called the creation LSD-25, or lysergic acid diethylamide. The compound actually didn’t check the boxes it was being investigated for, and was put on the backburner. However, it was noted at the time that it caused excitability during testing in animals.

Hofmann didn’t forget about LSD-25, though, and five years later revisited the compound. This time, upon re-creation, he started feeling very strange himself. So strange that he left the lab to go home, not returning until after the weekend, when he wrote to his boss Stoll, giving the description of the very first acid trip:

“I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dream-like state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted steam of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.”

What happened next?

The thing about what happened to Hofmann, is that he never intentionally ingested the substance, nor was he sure what it was at first which gave him the reaction. He breathed in chloroform fumes to see if this caused the effect, but to no avail. He finally realized it was likely the LSD-25, even though the only exposure had been with his fingertips. Upon making this realization of his unexpected acid trip, Hofmann started purposefully taking acid trips to study the effects of this new compound.

On April 19th, 1943, Hofmann dissolved 250 millionths of a crystalized version of LSD-25, and proceeded to drink it down without telling anyone about this little experiment, but his lab assistant. Within 40 minutes of what he thought was a small dose, Hofmann began a massive acid trip that required his assistant to take him home on a bicycle (due to wartime restrictions), and for which he wrote about an experience where his senses were out of whack, producing visuals and sensations for things that were not happening.

albert hofmann lsd

After a doctor confirmed nothing was actually wrong with Hofmann, he began testing the compound in earnest, along with several friends. In the mid-1900’s, he introduced the compound to different practitioners, including psychiatrists Humphrey Osmond and Ronald Sandison, both of whom went on to conduct groundbreaking research into LSD for treatment with alcoholism and psychiatric disorders. Osmond is famous for the Saskatchewan trials in Canada in which 40-45% of alcoholics were able to quit drinking for at least a year after one dose. Sandison, for his part, cured, or helped improve, 34 out of 36 psychoneurotic patients.

And then LSD went global

The funny thing about the story of the beginning of psychedelics, is that LSD, before large campaigns were waged to illegalize it, actually went global for a little while. Under the brand name Delysid, Sandoz sold LSD-25 to researchers all throughout Europe, and the rest of the world, at the close of World War II. LSD took up quickly and was thought of as somewhat of a cure-all drug, used as a treatment for anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues relating to trauma. It was written about extensively in the medical world, with the Oxford University Press estimating that nearly 10,000 publications were made between 1943-1970.

It was adopted by the CIA during the Cold War in the 1950’s, and tested as a mind-scrambling agent under code name MK-ULTRA. In the end, the compound was considered too unpredictable for wider use in counter intelligence. This didn’t stop its proliferation in the counter culture scene of the 1960’s, or its use by psychiatrists at the time to treat patients.

All this went on until the Vietnam War, when use of the drug (along with other psychedelics and cannabis) was tied to an unwanted group of people, draft-dodgers. I imagine that part of the reason for this was because LSD had become so big outside of the pharmaceutical world that it was obviously being created and sold vivaciously on the black market. And governments never like when a product proliferates on the black market, rather than in an above-board taxable market like the pharmaceutical industry. LSD was formally illegalized in the US in 1968 through the Staggers-Dodd Bill, and in 1973 in the UK through Britain’s 1973 Misuse of Drugs Act.

Switzerland and psychedelics testing today

Study into psychedelics has been amped up in the last few years all over the world, and Switzerland is still a major hub for psychedelics testing today. The University Hospital Basel is the site of several pieces of recent or ongoing research including:

  • LSD as Treatment for Cluster Headaches. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study is headed by lead investigator Professor Matthias Liechti, and conducted by Yasmin Schmid, MD. The study is to provide three doses of 100 micrograms within a three week period to patients.
  • University Hospital Basel is also the site for a study into LSD Therapy for Major Depression. The lead investigator on this study is Prof. Stefan Borgwardt, with an estimated completion date in 2023. The study is designed so that the treatment group will receive two sessions with LSD – 100 & 200 μg – while the control group will receive two sessions with an active placebo – 25 μg and 50 μg LSD.
psychedelics therapy
  • Yet another study being conducted at University Hospital Basel has to do with LSD Treatment for Anxiety in Severe Somatic Diseases. The principal investigator on this study, Peter Gasser, MD, was a trainee to a doctor with prescribing ability when LSD was legal in Switzerland for five years. The study involves using one single dose of LSD – 200 μg, for which study participants with receive that at one time, and a placebo at another.
  • This study, Direct Comparison of Altered States of Consciousness Induced by LSD and Psilocybin, is meant to establish a comparison between acute effects of LSD and psilocybin, with use of a placebo as well. It is being conducted by Friederike Holze and Professor Matthias Liechti.
  • Yet another one, Effects of Serotonin Transporter Inhibition on the Subjective Response to Psilocybin in Healthy Subjects, looks at psilocybin effects after treatment with antidepressant Escitalopram (Lexapro). All subjects are pretreated with a placebo or Escitalopram. The principal investigator on this study is Professor Matthias Liechti.
  • Comparative Acute Effects of LSD, Psilocybin and Mescaline – this study also includes mescaline, and looks at how these compounds effect healthy individuals. This is a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 4-period study also headed by Professor Matthias Liechti.
  • In this study, The Effect of MDMA (Serotonin Release) on Fear Extinction, lead investigator Professor Matthias Liechti, is investigating how MDMA can reduce fear in healthy humans.

Switzerland has other psychedelics testing going on at the University of Zurich another major hub in the country. The following recent or ongoing research takes place at this location:

  • This university is home to the study, Clinical, Neurocognitive, and Emotional Effects of Psilocybin in Depressed Patients – Proof of Concept. This research into use with depression is headed by Professor Franz X. Vollenweider, and includes one dose of psilocybin or placebo.
  • Another study at this location is Clinical and Mechanistic Effects of Psilocybin in Alcohol Addicted Patients. This study looks at psilocybin for alcohol addiction, and is a randomized, placebo controlled, double blind study, being led by Dr. Katrin Peller.
  • This one, Beyond the Self and Back: Neuropharmacological Mechanisms Underlying the Dissolution of the Self, involves 140 participants making it one of the larger psychedelics studies currently in play in Europe. The study is designed to investigate neural signatures, as well as behavioral and phenomenological expressions of self-related processes.
  • Yet another, Characterization of Altered Waking States of Consciousness in Healthy Humans, looks to measure levels of consciousness when in a pharmacologically altered state of consciousness, while using psilocybin. This study is being led by Professor Franz X. Vollenweider.

Conclusion

Though study into these compounds has been taken up again worldwide, Switzerland still remains a general hub for psychedelics testing, providing some of the most interesting research of today. This isn’t a surprise considering Switzerland’s rich history with these compounds, and it being the birthplace of LSD and modern psychedelics use.

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