Oregon Psilocybin Service Centers Set High Prices, Thousands Have Already Waitlisted

An estimated 3,000 people are now on a waitlist for Oregon’s first legal and operating psilocybin service center. EPIC Healing Eugene opened in June but is one of many psilocybin service centers that are still working on beginning operation.

“Our services focus on deep healing work, mindfulness, empowerment, spirituality, and transformation through psilocybin facilitation and integration,” EPIC Healing Eugene states on its website. “We teach self-help strategies that support self-directed personal development and brain change. We help you prepare for a healing shift that will help you get the most out of your experiential journeys. Our skilled and supportive staff offer preparation sessions, followed by integration sessions to help you better recognize and incorporate the gems of insight from your psychedelic experiences into your daily life.”

While patients don’t need a prescription or referral in order to take advantage of EPIC Healing Eugene’s services, their insurance also won’t cover such an experience. AP News stated that the price to try this new experience can exceed more than $2,000, which covers the business cost of the service center, as well as facilitators who assist participants through their experience, and lab-tested psilocybin. However, group pricing reduces the overall price.

According to Angela Allbee, Oregon Psilocybin Services (OPS) Section Manager, patients appear to be enjoying their experiences since EPIC opened. “So far, what we’re hearing is that clients have had positive experiences,” she told AP News. Allbee also mentioned that they’ve received inquiries from across the world.

In November 2020, Oregon voters pass Measure 110 officially became the first state to decriminalize hard drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine, and also legalized the use of psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic use. By December 2022, the state was training facilitators to care for participants experiencing their psilocybin journey.

It took until May 2023 to approve the first license, which belonged to EPIC Healing Eugene. “We want to congratulate Cathy Jonas of EPIC Healing Eugene on being the first licensed service center in the state,” Allbee said at the time. “This is such a historic moment as psilocybin services will soon become available in Oregon, and we appreciate the strong commitment to client safety and access as service center doors prepare to open.”

As of September, there are 10 licensed service centers (a few of which are not yet operational), four growers, two testing laboratories, and “dozens of facilitators,” according to AP News

EPIC Healing Eugene states on its website that it specifically offers macrodosing, ranging between 10 mg to 35 mg (although the state allows these service centers to offer up to 50 mg). However, the service center hopes to include microdosing in the future. Once it has been verified if participants are ready for such an experience, they must undergo two one-hour sessions (or one two-hour session) for preparation. A single psilocybin administration session takes approximately six hours. Once the session has completed, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) requires that all forms and documentation be kept for five years. 

According to EPIC Healing Eugene owner Cathy Jonas, she’s not expecting to turn a profit anytime soon. Instead, it’s more of a calling to help others. “The plant medicines have communicated to me that I’m supposed to be doing this thing,” she told AP News. 

One of Jonas’ first clients took a 35 mg dose, which they described as “… kind of infinite-dimension fractal that just kept turning and twisting.” “It was kind of mesmerizing to watch, but it got so intense,” explained the unnamed individual. “I started to have this experience of dying and being reborn. And then I would kind of see large portions of my life going by in a very rapid way.”

Additionally, another psilocybin service center called Omnia Group Ashland opened in September in southern Oregon as well. So far, it has approximately 150 people on its waitlist. Another center in Bend, Oregon, called Lucid Cradle, is already booked through December 2023, but plans to serve one client per week.

Mushroom cultivation differs quite a bit from cannabis cultivation. One of Oregon’s licensed mushroom growers, Gared Hansen of Uptown Fungus, is the sole person cultivating psilocybin for his business. He grows mushroom varieties such as Golden Teacher, Blue Meanies, and Pink Buffalo, with an average cost of $125 for a 25 mg dose.

Hansen emphasizes the importance of purchasing mushrooms for legal sources, because mushrooms often look similar, and some may be an incorrect and poisonous variety to the untrained eye. “Sometimes part of the healing could be a negative experience someone has to go through, to kind of flush negative emotions out or reexperience some trauma in a healthier way,” said Hansen. “I’d hate to have someone that’s never tried it before take it home, have a bad trip and hurt themselves.”

According to a recent report from Willamette Weekly, Oregon Psilocybin Services have not yet yielded a groundbreaking amount of money from fees, noting that it currently costs more to run the program. “Backers of Measure 109 said the program would cost far more—$3.1 million a year—to run,” the outlet stated. “To fill at least part of that gap, Oregon lawmakers appropriated $3.1 million from the taxpayer-supported general fund for the two-year period that started July 1. OHA is betting that shroom fee revenue will pick up as the biennium proceeds, making up the rest of the shortfall,”

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Women & Psychedelics: How Estrogen Alters Psilocybin’s Effects

The numerous benefits of psychedelics have been coming to light in recent years, and women are taking notice. With little options in the way of pharmaceutical drugs, especially when it comes to treating mental illness and hormonal imbalances, it’s no surprise that women are experimenting with hallucinogens to see what can actually help. And better yet, a recent study found that psilocybin can help regulate menstrual issues. Let’s dig deeper into how and why psychedelics are so valuable for the fairer sex.

Women and psychedelics 

The psychedelic renaissance is in full swing, and women are at the heart of it. After decades of prohibition and condemnation (following a brief period of them being studied and used medicinally), the western world is finally starting to reexamine the many therapeutic benefits of these substances. LSD, Ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin have been undergoing various clinical trials to see how they can be utilized to address a growing mental health crisis in the United States.  

Jennifer Gural, a psychotherapist from Los Angeles, California, commented about how hallucinogens have helped change her life, and how she began using them to help her female patients as well. “It shifted the focus of my life,” she stated. “It really helped me to tackle how my brain works and how I was thinking … It was such a profoundly life-changing experience. I have done ayahuasca and I’ve done psilocybin. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again, but I’m open to that if it’s needed—which I think is how we should use psychedelics.”  

While there seems to be a recent influx of ladies trying psychedelics, self-medicating is nothing new for women. This could stem from frustrations with our existing health-care system, and how it has been historically geared toward treating men and either dismissing our issues or over-medicating us.  

As women – daughters, mothers, sisters, grandmothers, wives, friends – we have many struggles that we are often forced to face alone. Women are more likely to suffer from PTSD than men – particularly women of color, transgender, and gender-diverse individuals. Women also deal with depression and anxiety more often, and one in seven women have postpartum depression after childbirth.  

New studies have found that even a couple experiences with psychedelics, especially when combined with talk therapy, can lead to lifechanging, psychological developments. As a matter of fact, MDMA and psilocybin have been labeled as “breakthrough therapies” by the FDA, a designation given to “promising drugs proposed to fill an unmet need”. With so many pharmaceutical antidepressant and antianxiety drugs on the market, and the number of mental disorders still rising, we can clearly see that treating our troubled human minds is that unmet need.  

Is this the beginning of a brighter, more beautiful future for women’s healthcare? One where common mental illnesses, chronic pain, and hormonal conditions are treated successfully with psychedelic trips, rather than a lifetime of pharmaceutical medications? It seems quite promising.  

The new research on psilocybin and estrogen 

Although no clinical trials have been conducted, researchers from John Hopkins University have been looking over case files and anecdotal reports on women and psychedelics, and how estrogen can change the effects of psilocybin specifically. We know that estrogen can impact binding at serotonin receptor sites, and because most hallucinogens interact with serotonin receptors as well, experts believe that our cycles can influence how psilocybin works in our bodies, and vice versa, the psilocybin itself can have an impact on our hormones.  

Based on the aforementioned case studies, researchers discovered that psilocybin seemed to help regulate menstrual cycles. One of the women studied had premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a very severe form of PMS, and she used psilocybin to help regulate it. In another case, a woman suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome and was having irregular periods. At one point, menstruation completely stopped for a while, but after taking psilocybin, it came back.  

“Our menstrual cycles occur along the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, so as one hormone kicks off, it tells another hormone what to do in this feedback loop and that’s the trajectory of our menstrual cycles,” says Jennifer Chesak, author of The Psilocybin Handbook for Women. “We also have the axis that manages our stress response, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. These two axes sort of overlap, and so they each impact one another. When we use psilocybin, we are at doing something along that stress response along the HPA axis.” 

Chesak added: “We already know from research outside of psychedelics, that these two axes do impact each other: our stress response can impact our cycle, and our cycles can impact our stress response. So, it’s not a stretch to think that when we are using psilocybin, that something is going on with our stress response that then impacts the menstrual cycle” 

Although we only have these few case studies and anecdotal reports at the moment, the results are telling. And it begs the question of when we can see a real clinical trial on this topic, so we can better understand the mechanisms of how it works from a scientific perspective. 

Aside from medical benefits, do women experience psychedelics differently than men? 

Honestly, who really knows? Obviously, no studies have been done on whether women trip differently than men. But it’s possible that because women tend to be more emotional, empathetic, and receptive to spiritual experiences – this could be beneficial to producing better and more positive, even more therapeutic highs.  

Historically, statistics indicate that men use more drugs than women – and this across the board, from illicit drugs to legal substances like tobacco and alcohol. And since most research is still conducted on male subjects, female drug use patterns and their subsequent experiences remain somewhat of an enigma.  

However, we do know that in general, psychotropic drugs impact women differently than men, but sex-based responses to medications are often overlooked. It wasn’t until the 1990s that women were even allowed to participate in clinical trials in the United States, and many studies are still done using a larger number of male participants.  

Despite this, women are twice as likely as men to be prescribed psychotropic medication (back to that overmedicating issue), and recent research shows that factors like different hormones, body composition, and metabolism can cause different drug-reactions. For example, the sleep medication Ambien was found to be twice as potent for women.  

Additionally, experts claim that women are “between 50 and 75 percent more likely to experience side effects”. An analysis of existing clinical trials published June 5, 2020, in the journal Biology of Sex Differences, authored by Prendergast and Irving Zucker of UC Berkley, they noted 86 drugs which presented “clear evidence of sex differences in how the body broke down the drug.” They found that “For nearly all of these drugs, women metabolized them more slowly than men, leading to higher levels of exposure to the drug; in 96% of cases, this resulted in significantly higher rates of adverse side effects in women.” 

Final thoughts 

To reiterate, because the foundation of modern medicine is structured around research performed almost exclusively on men, most of what science tells us about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illness may not be applicable to women. With so much of our population feeling like they are not understood by healthcare professionals, it’s no surprise that a growing number of women are self-medicating with cannabis, psychedelics, and other natural, alternative solutions.

As we learn more about how psilocybin and other hallucinogens interact with female hormones, we can better understand how to use these incredible products to improve our health, and our lives.  

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Michigan Lawmakers Call On Congress To Consider Psychedelic Treatment For Vets

Lawmakers in Michigan last week passed a resolution in which they called on members of the United States Congress, as well as the Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs, to “prioritize research and investment in non-technology treatment options for servicemembers and veterans who have psychological trauma as a result of military service.”

The resolution spans three pages and was sponsored by more than 20 members of the Michigan legislature. It was approved in the state Senate last Thursday.

The measure makes reference to the severe psychological toll endured by members of the military, noting that the “men and women who voluntarily sign-up to serve our nation in the United States Armed Forces, and the additional uniformed services, generally do so with an understanding that such service may ultimately impact their physical and mental well-being,” and that they “may have experiences that increase the risk for developing behavioral health problems, including traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.”

“Effective treatment options for these conditions vary from servicemember to servicemember,” the resolution says.

“Non-technology treatment options, such as buddy-to-buddy programs, controlled use of psychedelics in clinical settings, outdoor therapy, and easier access to service animals, among others, have shown promise to help veterans improve their mental health and find a new normal while dealing with the invisible wounds of war and service,” it continues.

The resolution said that the “families of servicemembers must also not be forgotten, and resources should be made available to help them understand and assist their loved ones who may be suffering from psychological trauma. Family members of servicemembers or veterans with behavioral health problems may experience family violence and aggression, lower parenting satisfaction, and child behavior problems,” and that resources “should include services that will help family members deal with the impacts of their family members’ service.”

Psychedelics continue to gain support as a potential treatment option for those suffering from mental health conditions, including military veterans, who often return from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In July, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill came together to include a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that directs the Department of Defense to research psychedelic treatment in military facilities. 

The group was headlined by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

“This is a real wild coalition,” Crenshaw said at the time.

“Psychedelics have shown so much promise,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We desperately need the resources to treat PTSD, traumatic brain injury and depression. At least one in two PTSD patients cannot tolerate or do not respond adequately to existing treatments.”

Earlier this year, the brother of President Joe Biden indicated that the chief executive is open to psychedelic treatment.

“He is very open-minded,” Frank Biden said in an interview then. 

“Put it that way. I don’t want to speak; I’m talking brother-to-brother. Brother-to-brother,” he added. “The question is, is the world, is the U.S. ready for this? My opinion is that we are on the cusp of a consciousness that needs to be brought about to solve a lot of the problems in and around addiction, but as importantly, to make us aware of the fact that we’re all one people and we’ve got to come together.”

Ocasio-Cortez, however, seems unconvinced by the president’s openness. The New York congresswoman pointed to Biden’s record on cannabis reform, which does include a historic pardon of those with federal pot convictions, but is also highlighted by a stubbornness to fully embrace legalization. Biden has previously suggested that he is open to decriminalization of pot, but not an outright end to prohibition.

“I believe the president has displayed a regressiveness for cannabis policy,” she said in July. “And if there’s a regressiveness toward cannabis policy, it’s likely to be worse on anything else.”

The lawmakers in Michigan hope there are favorable conditions for reform in Washington. 

“The need to address veteran mental health is of key importance in Michigan. In 2021, it was reported that there were 554,281 veterans living in Michigan, making Michigan rank eleventh out of fifty-three states and territories in veteran population,” the resolution said. “However, between 2016 and 2020, it was reported that there were 882 Michigan veterans who died by suicide.”

The lawmakers said they “urge the United States Congress, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs to prioritize research and investment in non-technology treatment options for servicemembers and veterans who have psychological trauma as a result of military service.”

They also resolved that copies of their resolution “be transmitted to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the President of the United States Senate, the Chair and Ranking Members of the Committees on Veterans Affairs and Armed Services, and the members of the Michigan congressional delegation.”

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From Beer to Psychedelics: Making Psilocybin From Yeast

Summary: Researchers are exploring the potential of yeast fermentation as a sustainable method for large-scale psilocybin production, a compound found in “magic mushrooms” that has shown promise in treating various mental health conditions.

Yeast Fermentation: A New Frontier in Psilocybin Production

The global mental health crisis has intensified the search for effective treatments, and psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound in “magic mushrooms,” is emerging as a promising candidate. With the potential FDA approval of psychedelic medical treatments on the horizon, there’s a growing need for sustainable and large-scale production methods for psilocybin.

In a significant development from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark in 2020, scientists successfully produced psilocybin using Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast commonly used in beer fermentation. This innovative method involves genetically engineering the yeast with genes from the Psilocybe cubensis mushroom. When fermented with sugar, tryptophan, and other nutrients, the yeast produces psilocybin.

A new way to treat depression

This approach is not only more environmentally friendly but also sidesteps the expensive and harmful by-products associated with the current synthetic production of psilocybin. However, this breakthrough also brings challenges. There are rising concerns about the potential misuse of this method for illicit homebrewed psilocybin, especially after researchers demonstrated psilocybin production using genetically modified E. coli bacteria in a homebrew setting in 2021.

This development underscores the importance of robust regulations to ensure that psilocybin production remains dedicated to medical research and treatment.

Source: HealthNews

And we would like to know what regulatory measures are essential to prevent the illicit homebrewing of psilocybin or, even better, shouldn’t we stop fighting the use of recreational drugs and start regulating them… Afterall, while using drugs carry risks, at the same time, they provide many benefits so a smart regulator sould rather control it, that create a black market by trying to stop it.

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European Lobby Says Experienced Trippers Should Advise On Psychedelic Use

Much like the United States, Europe is currently figuring out how to incorporate psychedelic therapy into its healthcare landscape most effectively. A lobby group representing developers and professionals within the industry advocates for including seasoned practitioners as integral members of a “multidisciplinary advisory body.” They would serve as a guiding authority, offering essential insights to regulators and healthcare practitioners regarding optimal practices as the field expands and changes. This effort comes from the European Psychedelic Access Research and European Alliance (PAREA), as reported by Politico, as per a briefing document slated for submission to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

It basically says that those with actual experience with psychedelics should have influence. In both legal cannabis and psychedelics space, there is often a feeling that those with an actual relationship with the substance, rather than simply a desire to profit from it, makes for better business. 

Europe still needs to legalize any psychedelic treatments. However, as Australia and parts of the United States are already offering psychedelic therapy, many lawmakers in Europe want to be prepared to hit the ground running. Having such an advisory board (with people who have experience with these substances) will make psychedelic treatment easier to implement. 

In July, Australia became the first country in the world to authorize psilocybin and MDMA use through a doctor’s prescription to treat mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Both were legalized for therapeutic use. 

In 2019, Denver, Colorado, became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin. Cities such as Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Washington D.C. have followed suit. In 2020, Oregon both decriminalized it and legalized supervised therapeutic use, with Colorado passing a similar law in 2022. 

Psilocybin remains illegal under federal law.

Ketamine, which is technically a (legal) dissociative anesthetic with hallucinogenic properties, is FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression in the U.S. under as “esketamine,” the S enantiomer of ketamine, as that’s how Johnson & Johnson could patent and sell it under the brand name Spravato. Often, doctors prescribe an off-label actual ketamine nasal spray that one can have made in a compound pharmacy. 

A study by the American Medical Association, published late last month, found growing evidence that psilocybin, the mind-altering ingredient in magic mushrooms, is a potentially effective treatment for those suffering from depression. Psilocybin is also being tested to treat people with anorexia

MDMA is currently being studied with successful results for its capacity to treat PTSD, among other mental health conditions.

Such substances would be under review of the proposed multidisciplinary advisory body. Before an upcoming EMA workshop on psychedelic treatments, PAREA urged the regulator to provide centralized leadership for the practical and clinical aspects of these therapies, including their delivery methods.

Unlike conventional pills, such as SSRI antidepressants, psychedelics require a comprehensive regimen of pre- and post-care, as well as support during the experience itself. PAREA wants to ensure that this care is uniformly standardized, drawing upon consensus from a diverse group of stakeholders. 

In psychedelic spaces, this pre- and post-care is known as integration, or the belief that one needs more than the drug itself. Integration typically involves therapy before the trip and afterwards, helping one take what they learned and “integrate” it into everyday life. One may also need more than one session or return for boosters, as with ketamine IV therapy and other psychedelic therapies. Even within recreational psychedelic spaces, many people use a “trip sitter,” or at least one trusted person to abstain and look after them. 

An EU advisory body “would benefit from the collective knowledge of various stakeholders, including the EMA, [the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction], national competent authorities, professional organizations, health care professionals and managers, psychedelic organizations, patients’ organizations, drug developers, and the wider community,” the briefing states.

PAREA told POLITICO these professional organizations could include the Open Foundation and the Beckley Academy in the Netherlands and the Mind Foundation in Germany. These groups train therapists in psychedelics using the latest research from institutions like Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University. Some programs include experiential learning (getting high) on substances like psilocybin or ketamine. The Beckley group teaches people to “navigate non-ordinary states to better serve your clients,” and also runs psilocybin retreats. 

“The importance of ensuring that the therapeutic model adopted is evidence-based and in the best interest of the patients cannot be overstated,” the lobby group’s briefing states.

PAREA also advocates for the EMA to ensure consistent delivery strategies throughout Europe. “Centralized coordination would offer an efficient mechanism to propel the field forward, rather than individual EU countries initiating their own work groups,” it states.

Meanwhile, setting the stage for future generations, psychedelic knowledge and industry are now being taken seriously in academia. Last month, the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for the Science of Psychedelics launched a free online course titled “Psychedelics and the Mind.” The new class is another expansion (and win) for the Center, launched three years ago. The course will be available for free. 

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Study: Psilocybin ‘Shows Promise’ As Treatment For Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Magic Mushrooms the Cure for Aphantasia (Dream Deprivation)? 

Picture the greatest dream you’ve ever had. Flying over clouds? Running around naked in a land made out of candy? Lying on a beach with an unlimited supply of your favorite food? Well, imagine if you couldn’t dream. Whilst many of us will know the feeling of dreams becoming less frequent, the idea of not ever having one is quite extreme.

Well, this is the true story about a woman suffering from a condition that meant she hadn’t been able to dream for 34 years and decided to look for some answers. After taking part in a new study – using psilocybin – she was miraculously able to dream once again. But how is this possible? Are magic mushrooms a cure for aphantasia?

What are Dreams?

Every night, as the world plunges into darkness and slumber takes over, our minds embark on a remarkable journey. This journey is one that transcends the boundaries of reality, unleashing a cascade of images, emotions, and experiences that are both bewildering and captivating. These are dreams, the enigmatic tapestries woven within the realm of our unconscious minds. For centuries, dreams have intrigued, mystified, and inspired humans, prompting us to question what dreams actually are and what purpose they serve. Some call them: the theatre of the mind.

The Theatre of the Mind

Dreams are complex mental experiences that occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. They manifest as a collection of sensory perceptions, emotions, thoughts, and memories that create vivid, often surreal narratives. While dreams can vary widely in content and intensity, they often defy the laws of physics and logic, weaving scenarios that may seem nonsensical when juxtaposed with our waking reality. The origins of dreams can be traced to the intricate work of brain structures. The brain’s cortex, responsible for cognition and sensory processing, communicates with the limbic system, the emotional centre of the brain, during REM sleep. This interaction leads to the creation of dreamscapes that can evoke intense emotions, sometimes even more potent than those experienced during wakefulness.

Why do we Dream?

Throughout history, numerous theories have emerged to explain the purpose and significance of dreams. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, believed that dreams were windows into the unconscious mind, providing a means to understand suppressed desires and conflicts. His theory, which emphasised the symbolism and hidden meanings within dreams, laid the foundation for much of the modern understanding of dream analysis.

Be careful when describing one of your dreams to a Freud-lover – they might start creating some elaborate theory about what it all means. For instance, dreaming about losing your teeth is believed to be about grief or loss. Whether you believe in this or not, contemporary research in the field of neuroscience offers a more nuanced perspective.

The activation-synthesis theory, proposed by J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley, posits that dreams arise from the brain’s attempt to make sense of random neural activity during REM sleep. In essence, loads of random stuff jiggles about in our brains when we sleep, and our mind tries to create a sensical narrative from it. Another theory, written by NIH, states:

“An intriguing and detailed evolutionary theory of dreams… stipulates that the biological function of dreaming is to simulate threatening events and to rehearse threat avoidance behaviours.”

This is an interesting theory, as it gives dreams a genuine evolutionary purpose. Whereas the others seem to suggest that dreaming is simply a symptom of other things, or simply just a random collection of left over stuff. 

Dream Deprivation

Imagine trying to conjure an image in your mind’s eye – a beach at sunset, a loved one’s face, or even a simple geometric shape. For most people, this mental imagery is a natural and intuitive process, as they can effortlessly visualize these images in their mind. However, for individuals with aphantasia, this mental canvas remains blank, devoid of visual images. What is it like to not be able to dream? 


Aphantasia is a cognitive condition characterised by the inability to create vivid mental images or visualise objects, people, or scenes in one’s mind. People with aphantasia lack the ability to generate sensory experiences within their imagination, including both visual and auditory. The term ‘aphantasia’ was coined by neurologist Adam Zeman in 2015, and since then, it has garnered increasing attention within the fields of psychology and neuroscience. The term in Greek literally means: ‘without imagination’. Around 2-5% of the population suffer from this condition, and it tends to be more common in men than women. The woman that we’ll be discussing today recently described her experiences in the Metro:

“If someone tells me “imagine a castle”, I can only imagine a castle that I know, like Hogwarts, and it takes the form of descriptions I have read, not images.”

People suffering from aphantasia find it difficult to remember or plan routes when travelling, and can often get lost. There’s a bit of a spectrum with the condition – with some people having a complete absence of visual imagery, while others might possess a limited capacity to conjure faint, vague, or abstract images. At present, there is very little research into the cure for this condition. However, this year, there may have been an interesting breakthrough using magic mushrooms to cure dream deprivation. 

The Dream Study

A recent 2023 study investigated the effects that psilocybin – the psychoactive ingredient in magical mushrooms – would have on a woman who suffered from aphantasia. This woman was unable to see things in her mind’s eye. As much as she tried, she was unable to imagine anything basically. She could not picture it – only think of desriptions. However, after using magic mushrooms, this all changed. She was able to imagine and dream. She said:

​​‘I found it incredible because it was the first time I had images in my mind, and I realised that you can play with images, zoom in, zoom out, break down colours,’ 

The dream study proved that her perception of visual images had increased from a minimum to a maximum after taking the psychoactive substance. After this experience, the individual’s ability to to visualise thoughts became less colourful than when she experienced psilocybin, but her imagination and dreams were left at an average state. In a sense, she was cured.

Researchers are still struggling to understand exactly why the magic mushrooms were so effective in helping with her aphantasia, but they assume it’s something to do with the substance’s ability to alter perception. As it stands, this study was done on only one individual, so a lot more needs to be done before any conclusive evidence can be released. However, at present, it looks very promising. Could magic mushrooms really be the cure for people that cannot dream? 

Final Thoughts

Magic mushrooms have been used as a recreational substance to awaken the mind and alter perception for centuries. Anyone who has ever used this drug will know the power it has. But in recent years, scientists and academics have started to realise that these magic mushrooms have a bigger potential than just being used for recreational purposes. A CNN article writes:

“Let’s be adults about this. These are no longer ‘shrooms’. These are no longer party drugs for young people… Psilocybin mushrooms are non addictive, life-changing substances.”

When used responsibly, magic mushrooms can help people change their lives. When thinking of a mushroom trip – and all of the magic visual world’s that can arise – it is no surprise that this woman was able to cure her aphantasia. The colors, the sounds, the sensations, the emotions – these would have awoken her mind and perhaps unlocked it too. Drugs like magic mushrooms, LSD and MDMA need to be continued to be explored to see what else these substances can do for people’s various conditions. Like this specific case, the possibilities could be breathtaking. The world of medicine can be greatly benefited by an open approach to the world of recreational substances. 

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Single Dose of Psilocybin Reduces Depression Symptoms Up to 43 Days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Forbes

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The Medicalized Psychedelic Narrative Is Out of Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post The Medicalized Psychedelic Narrative Is Out of Control appeared first on High Times.

Report: Despite Promises, Oregon’s Psilocybin Program Not Paying For Itself

According to Willamette Weekly, nearly three years after voters in the state approved a ballot measure to legalize it, “Oregon Psilocybin Services is nowhere near paying its own way,” despite promises from its backers that “Oregonians would get access to a life-changing compound in a safe, legal setting, and, after a two-year startup period, it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.”

The outlet noted that advocates of the 2020 ballot proposal, Measure 109, asserted that the licensing fees paid “by mushroom growers, testing labs, trip facilitators and service centers would cover the costs of a new bureaucracy within the Oregon Health Authority.”

That has been far from the case.

“Fee revenue is anemic because too few people are seeking the various licenses (“Stuffed Mushrooms,” WW, May 24). Just four manufacturers, two testing labs, and eight service centers have been licensed. All three types of entities pay a one-time fee of $500 and then $10,000 a year to operate. Many more facilitators have been approved (88), but they pay only $150 up front and then $2,000 annually,” Willamette Weekly reported in a story published on Wednesday. 

“So far this year, Psilocybin Services has raised just $318,419 in fees, OHA says. That’s in line with estimates by WW. Tallying the number of permits issued and multiplying by all the fees, we came up with a total of $342,425 since the program began licensing participants on Jan. 2.”

“Backers of Measure 109 said the program would cost far more—$3.1 million a year—to run. To fill at least part of that gap, Oregon lawmakers appropriated $3.1 million from the taxpayer-supported general fund for the two-year period that started July 1. OHA is betting that shroom fee revenue will pick up as the biennium proceeds, making up the rest of the shortfall,” the outlet continued.

Measure 109 passed in 2020 by a fairly narrow vote, with 50% of Oregon voters approving and 44% voting against. It made Oregon the first state in the country to legalize psilocybin. 

In the spring, Oregon Psilocybin Services, a regulatory arm of the Oregon Health Authority, announced that it had awarded the state’s first license for a psilocybin service center in Eugene. 

Oregon Psilocybin Services (OPS) Section Manager Angie Allbee called it “a historic moment as psilocybin services will soon become available in Oregon, and we appreciate the strong commitment to client safety and access as service center doors prepare to open.” 

At the time of the announcement, Oregon Psilocybin Services offered a refresher on how the program will work.

“Under the statewide model, clients 21 years of age or older may access psilocybin services. While they won’t need prescriptions or referrals from healthcare providers, clients must first complete a preparation session with a licensed facilitator. If they meet the criteria to move forward, they may participate in an administration session at a licensed service center, where they may consume psilocybin products in the presence of a trained and licensed facilitator,” the agency explained. “Afterwards, clients may choose to join optional integration sessions, which offer opportunities to be connected to community resources and peer support networks for additional support. Once licensed, service centers can employ and/or contract with licensed facilitators who are trained in providing preparation, administration, and integration sessions to clients. Service centers will sell psilocybin products that were produced by licensed manufacturers and tested by licensed laboratories. To date, OPS has issued three manufacturer licenses, one laboratory license, five facilitator licenses, and 84 worker permits. OPS expects to issue more licenses and worker permits in the coming months.”

The state finalized the rules for the psilocybin program at the end of last year.

Albee and André Ourso, the administrator of the Center for Health Protection in Oregon, said at the time that Oregon Psilocybin Services “received over 200 written comments and six hours of comments shared in the public hearings during the November 2022 public comment period.”

“These comments helped to further refine and improve the rules, which have now been adopted as final. The final rules are a starting place for the nation’s first regulatory framework for psilocybin services, and we will continue to evaluate and evolve this work as we move into the future,” they said.

In response to this week’s report by Willamette Weekly, Oregon Health Authority spokesman Afiq Hisham urged patience.

“It takes time to build a new section in state government and to become 100% fee-based, specifically because ORS 475A is the nation’s first regulatory framework for psilocybin services and required an intensive two-year development period,” Hisham told Willamette Weekly.

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