The Past, Present, and Future of Bicycle Day

On April 19, 1943, a Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman decided to take a trip unlike any other. Bicycle Day Genesis Albert Hoffman, a chemist working in Switzerland, ingested 250 micrograms of LSD. He was so disoriented by the effects that in order to get home, he rode his bicycle and experienced one of the most […]

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Study Finds Psilocybin Therapy Has Long-Lasting Results

If you’re new to the world of psychedelics, this is a pretty incredible headline. If you’re well versed in the power of hallucinogens, then you’re probably glad that the medical world of today took yet another step to catch up. No matter how you look at it, progress is progress, and this is definitely progress. So, what am I talking about? The ability for psilocybin (and other psychedelics) to exert long-lasting results for depression patients (as well as those with other psychological ailments.)

New study results tying psilocybin therapy to long-lasting results for major depression, mirrors what was learned about LSD and the treatment of alcoholism and psychotic disorders, in the mid-1900’s. If the drugs had remained legal this would all likely be common knowledge! We’re all about getting you the best news possible on the emerging field of psychedelics. Sign up for The Cannadelics Newsletter to stay informed on everything important going on in the industry now.


Psilocybin therapy and long-lasting results

On February 15th, 2022, this study was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology: Efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted treatment for major depressive disorder: Prospective 12-month follow-up. The goal of the study was to investigate how safe and effective psilocybin treatment is for moderate to severe major depressive disorder (MDD). The study looked at a time period of 12 months.

The study included 27 patients from the ages of 21-75, with major depression, who measured over seven on the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. The study was randomized in whether each participant would receive treatment immediately, or at an eight-week delay. The treatment regimen was for only two doses of psilocybin, along with assisted therapy. Of the 27 initial participants, 24 made it through both parts of the trial, and were followed for a full year.

According to the study results, all 24 patients showed large decreases from their original baselines at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months on the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale . The general response (over 50% reduction from original baseline) was 75% at 12 months, and the remission rate was 58% at that time. No adverse reactions of a severe level were associated with the therapy. No participants reported using magic mushrooms outside of the study. It was found that how the participants rated the meaning, spiritual experience, and mystical aspects of their sessions, was a good predictor for increased feelings of well-being at the 12 month mark, but not as a predictor for depression improvement.

How was it all measured? Using two scales that measure depression. The “two patient-rated measures of depression (QIDS and BDI-II) showed similar large magnitude and stable antidepressant effects on mean scores and on response and remission rates.” This indicates long-lasting antidepressant effects after only two doses of psilocybin, even a year after taking it.

Of note is the fact that eight of the patients in the study started regular antidepressants at some point during the study. These patients did not exhibit significantly different outcomes at 12 months, than those who did not take antidepressants.

The overall conclusion of the study, was that a two-dose model of psilocybin treatment, along with supportive therapy for MDD, produced significant and long-lasting antidepressant results that lasted for at least as long as 12 months.

Why this isn’t entirely new information

The idea that at least some psychedelic compounds like psilocybin can instigate long-lasting psychological results, is not new. In this case, we’re not looking back to ancient history either, or reading old texts to gain insight. The information we have on psychedelics for treating mental disorders comes from the 1900’s, and started with the synthesis of LSD in 1938 by Albert Hofmann.

LSD, like psilocybin, is a psychedelic compound, but though its created from the ergot fungus, its actually synthetically made, with no natural form of it. Hofmann did some interesting self-experimentation with the compound in the 1940’s after realizing what it was capable of, and later passed on this information to psychiatrists that he knew.

LSD grew in popularity in the 1950’s when different psychiatrists used it for patients with different issues. Two doctors in particular contributed largely to our understanding of what LSD can help with. The first was Humphry Osmond, who began using LSD to treat alcoholism as well as other mental disorders in the 1950’s. Osmond was first to use the term ‘psychedelic’, and much like Hofmann, did his own self-experimentation before giving the compound to patients. In his first experiment with just two patients, after one dose of 200 micrograms of LSD, one stopped drinking immediately, and one quit after six months.

LSD long-lasting results

He followed this up with the Saskatchewan trials, aptly named after where the mental hospital in which they took place, was located. These trials were done in collaboration with Abram Hoffer, started in 1951, and went through the 1960’s. Over 2,000 patients were treated as a part of this study, and it was repeatedly shown that a single dose of LSD led to positive results in controlling the addiction, with as many as 40-45% of patients not relapsing in one year after the single treatment.

In the UK, another psychiatrist was also doing some interesting research into LSD, but using psychoneurotic patients rather than alcoholics. Ronald Sandison had already begun using alternative psychotherapy methods including the likes of art and music. He met Albert Hofmann on a trip to Switzerland, and subsequently began treating patients with LSD. In 1954, Sandison published a study he did on 36 psychoneurotic patients who were treated with several smaller doses of LSD (in contrast to Hofmann’s one larger dose treatment). Over the course of a year, 14 patients fully recovered, with all but two of the rest showing some amount of improvement.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Britain’s National Health Service agreed to pay out  £195,000 to 43 former Sandison patients in a settlement in 2002. All former patients had been administered LSD, and all cases were about damage suffered. Given the amount of lapsed time, however, it becomes extremely questionable if this was a result of actual damage done, or opportunism to get money for having been a part of a treatment course that used a drug later illegalized. As there aren’t a lot of other complaints of this nature, the latter explanation is certainly considerable.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy

One of the things that the LSD studies from the 1900’s have in common with this recent psilocybin study which showed long-lasting results, is that the treatments were always coupled with therapy. Though the term ‘psychedelic-assisted therapy’ seems to be the term of choice at this point, at the time of Osmond and Sandison, the term ‘psychedelic therapy’ was used to represent the single dose method, while the term ‘psycholytic therapy’ was used to define Sandison’s model of many smaller doses.

In either case, the idea isn’t to give a patient drugs and hope for the best, its to walk them through the experience, to help them better understand their issues, and to try to help them through those issues during their trip. This is done in a few stages, and follows this general procedure, though its not written in stone, and can be modified based on therapist desires, and regulation. There are three basic steps that make up this therapy.

The first step is preparation – In this step, the therapist gets to know the patient and their problems during regular sessions. It’s also a time to give guidelines to the patient about how to respond to things that come up in their trip. Like opening a door if one is there, or not running from something scary, but facing it and asking it a question. It’s important that the therapist and client have a good relationship, and that the patient is comfortable with the therapist.

psychedelic-assisted therapy

The second step is the psychedelic session – This is done when the patient is in a good mindset, and takes place in a comfortable room. The patient takes the drug and has the trip, which is generally attended by more than one therapist, (presumably to ensure no issues since the patient is in an altered state for treatment). The number of people required in the room is something that is subject to relevant regulation. At this time, the therapist will lead the patient through the trip, but perform little-to-no psychoanalysis.

The third step is integration – This takes place shortly after the psychedelic session, and is done in one or more sessions. This is when the therapist can help the patient to process their experience and gain meaning out of it, with the hope of decreasing some of the issues that had brought them into treatment in the first place.

Conclusion

This recent study exemplifying how psilocybin treatment can offer long-lasting therapeutic results should certainly help with the legalization process on the medical front. Psilocybin has already been designated twice as a breakthrough therapy by the FDA for major depression, and is the subject of many trials. Which means we might just have magic mushroom medicine in the next few years.

More research will need to be done on just how long the effects can last, and when a patient would realistically need to ‘re-up’ with another treatment (or if they would at all). It could be that this is specific to individuals, with some needing more treatments, and some needing less. For now, we have a decent understanding that at least some psychedelic compounds produce long-lasting effects, and apart from the issue with Ronald Sandison’s former patients (which is hard to get a clear story on), they seem to be generally safe in testing.

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DisclaimerHi, 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.

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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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Want Ketamine or Esketamine Therapy? Here’s What to Do…

Drug cousins ketamine and esketamine are being used more frequently as anti-depressants. But that doesn’t mean they can be found anywhere and be used by anyone. Here are some things to know about ketamine and esketamine therapy, and what to do if you want to try it for yourself.

Ketamine and esketamine therapy are all the rage, but they’re still not as easily accessible as cannabis. Fortunately, there has been more focus on these compounds in recent years and the market is poised to explode in the very near future. 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!


What are ketamine and esketamine?

Esketamine is a close relative of the drug ketamine, which has been used as a club drug since the 80’s. Ketamine was discovered in 1962 at Parke-Davis, a pharmaceutical company, in an attempt to find a strong anesthetic. When it was discovered, it was described to be a compound with “cataleptic, analgesic and anesthetic action but without hypnotic properties.”

The term ‘dissociative anesthetic’ has since been used to describe it, as it has a tendency to disconnect the different parts of the brain. Ketamine’s chemical formula is C13H16ClNO, and it’s only cleared for use as an anesthetic for humans and animals, though it has been found useful for depression and pain issues as well, and is used off-label for these purposes.

Esketamine is much newer than ketamine, which shares its chemical formula. It first came out in 1997 in Germany as an anesthetic. While being used in this way, it was discovered that it can very quickly produce anti-depressant effects, and study into its use for this purpose began. The compound finished trials for treatment-resistant depression in 2017 in the US, and the first company to file its application for a new medication with the FDA, was Johnson & Johnson, which subsequently put the drug out as Spravato upon approval on March 5th, 2019.

ketamine and esketamine

The current approval stands as a compound to be used in conjunction with other standard monoamine antidepressants. The approval was updated in 2020 to include use for suicidal thoughts. This is a testament to how quickly and effectively it works, that it would be approved for something which requires the fastest of onsets. Ketamine and esketamine are provided through clinics, and administered either as a nasal spray, or IV.

How legal is this?

I want to take a second to clear something up. When talking about ‘esketamine therapy’, it refers to the only FDA-approved medication put out by Johnson & Johnson called Spravato, which is a nasal inhaler. When talking about the term ‘ketamine therapy’, it generally refers to ketamine IV treatments used for the management of pain and psychological issues like depression, and is administered as an off-label use.

While this doesn’t have to matter, it creates confusion when talking about what the drug can be used for, and how its prescribed. Ketamine is currently a Schedule III drug approved for anesthesia (its placement making it safer, according to the DEA, than cannabis). Ketamine will only be officially prescribed for anesthesia purposes for now, because that’s all its approved for. It has no official approval for psychological issues or pain. This, however, doesn’t mean that ketamine won’t be given for these things.

Off label use refers to “the use of pharmaceutical drugs for an unapproved indication or in an unapproved age group, dosage, or route of administration. Both prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs (OTCs) can be used in off-label ways, although most studies of off-label use focus on prescription drugs.”

If you’re wondering if this is legal, it actually is. According to the FDA, “once the FDA approves a drug, healthcare providers generally may prescribe the drug for an unapproved use when they judge that it is medically appropriate for their patient.” In this way, though ketamine has not been approved for use with depression, it can still be administered for it, making ketamine infusion clinics legal, even if being used for something not authorized for the drug.

Since ketamine is still a controlled substance, its use – whether off-label or not, must follow federal and state laws for Schedule III drugs. However, the FDA has no regulation set up for ketamine infusion clinics, and neither do any of the US states. This means that options for treatment really can pop up anywhere, but it should be remembered when considering clinics, that there is no regulation for patient safety protocols.

ketamine clinic

How to get a prescription for ketamine or esketamine therapy

The first thing is to get your prescription. When it comes to esketamine, you’ll either go to your primary care physician who will give you a referral for a psychiatrist, or you’ll work with your already existing psychiatrist. From going through different sites, it becomes clear that like with any other psychological issue, the prescription of esketamine is very much done based on subjective opinions, meaning if your therapist doesn’t like the idea of it, or doesn’t believe in it, you might need to find a more accepting doctor.

Things to be assessed include current and past medications and how effective they were, family history, substance abuse issues, and a general look at overall medical history, including past experiences with anesthesia, likely as a way to assess how well a patient will respond to esketamine.

Funny enough, though psychedelics have repeatedly shown strength in dealing with psychiatric disorders, doctors are less likely to prescribe it if a patient has a disorder like schizophrenia. Other issues that will stand in the way include: pregnancy, seizure disorders, the use of aminophylline for COPD or asthma, and those with high blood pressure, cardiac disease, and pulmonary issues.

When it comes to ketamine, since its not approved for uses outside of anesthesia, its given as an off-label medication for depression and pain. Many patients go directly to a ketamine clinic, where they are evaluated by the therapists employed. Conversely, some family doctors will refer patients directly to these clinics for treatment. Though unregulated for this purpose, ketamine is still only administered medically, and interested patients will have to receive doctor approval before using ketamine or esketamine for treatment.

How to find a clinic for ketamine or esketamine therapy

This is where it gets a bit dice, since you can’t just walk into a pharmacy to pick up a prescription. Each patient has to find a clinic close to them for their therapy, and this can be difficult depending on location. Interested patients can use the following sites to find a relevant clinic.

Johnson & Jonhnson’s Spravato is the most used version of esketamine, and clinics that administer it can be found here. Users can input their locations to find clinics in their area that administer the treatment. Depending on where a person is, there can be various options, or essentially none at all, meaning if you live in a place where there isn’t a provider nearby, you might be out of luck.

psychedelic therapy

If looking for a ketamine infusion, the Ketamine Clinics Directory has listed locations across the US for treatments. This directory shows updated clinic locations in the US, and makes clear that many areas of the country are very much underserved at the moment, leaving people in those locations at a loss for using this treatment. In this way, ketamine and esketamine aren’t the most easily available options.

The cost of ketamine therapy

Apart from simply finding a location to get it, ketamine and esketamine therapy come with another big issue, the cost. Whereas every standard antidepressant is covered by insurance, this is not always the case for esketamine. Some insurance companies will cover all or part of the cost, depending on the exact type of therapy. For example, those using FDA approved Spravato nasal spray, have a better chance of being covered.

If there is no coverage – which will always be the case with ketamine, the unfortunate reality is that most people really won’t have access. According to TMS & Brain Health, standard pricing for treatment runs about $400-800 per session, making it an expensive treatment. The same site claimed most clinics will create their own treatment schedule per individual, with standard schedules offering the treatment twice a week for a month, and then once a week for following months, for however long its designated necessary. This schedule is almost always followed when dealing with Spravato nasal inhalers.

Another clinic called Revitilist Clinic which works with both ketamine and esketamine, put the cost at $474 for each Mood Protocol Infusion (for depression, suicidal ideations, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD), $600 per each two-hour Pain Protocol infusion, and $800 per four-hour esketamine infusion. Once again, these are not low prices, and this will make getting such treatments very difficult for those who cannot pay these sums out of pocket. For this reason, while I almost never promote a large pharma brand, it might be beneficial for interested users to seek out a Spravato prescription, in order to get at least some costs covered.

Conclusion

When it comes to medications, accessibility is extremely important. As of right now, ketamine and esketamine therapy aren’t exactly widely accessible, leaving many people, in many locations, without any access. Hopefully in the future this will change, especially with impending legalizations for fellow psychedelics MDMA and psilocybin.

Hello to all. Welcome to CBDtesters.co, your #1 web source for cannabis and psychedelics-related news, offering the most thought-provoking and current stories going on today. Give us a visit frequently to stay on top of the always-changing world of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and remember to check out The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter, so you’re never late on getting a news story.

DisclaimerHi, 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 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 Want Ketamine or Esketamine Therapy? Here’s What to Do… appeared first on CBD Testers.

Mental health is reset by psychedelic therapy — Tripping the switch

A secret once kept in nuanced circles of degenerates and free spirits has recently gained mainstream appeal, fitting in with wider professional crowds. As it turns out, psychedelic therapy can reset mental health — a good trip can flip the switch. A story circulates that Apple Inc. founder, Steve Jobs, learned how to poke at […]

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The 2021 Election and the Decriminalization of Psychedelics in Canada

The decriminalization of psychedelics in Canada is arguably the next logical step after the legalization of cannabis. However, drug reform was not a major highlight of the most recent Canadian elections. To be fair, it almost never is. Nevertheless, it continues to disappoint to see major political parties yet again ignore the popularity and potential […]

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Isreali Nextage Explores Effective Delivery of Psychedelic Compounds

Israel is one of the leading countries for medical cannabis research and has held this title for decades; since the 1960s to be exact. Now, they’re joining efforts to study the benefits of psychedelics in a clinical setting as well.

Of the main areas of focus is using psychoactive compounds to treat clinical depression and other psychiatric disorders. One Israeli company, Nextage Therapeutics, is looking specifically at utilizing ibogaine, along with their own patent delivery system, to better treat people with these conditions.

When it comes to treating psychological disorders and minimizing the risk of side effects, psychedelics are the way of the future. Check out our newsletter, The Delta 8 Weekly, to learn more about these incredible compounds as well as gain access to exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products.


What are Psychedelics?

Psychedelic drugs are a subset of hallucinogens. They contain psychoactive compounds that are capable of altering a person’s mood, perception, and cognition; sometimes permanently. The active compounds are usually found in nature, like psilocybin or mescaline, but they can also be manmade, like LSD.

Psychedelics are known for causing ‘trips’, which is what the high is referred to. When a person is tripping, they may have altered perceptions of the world around them. Many people believe this is limited to visual and auditory hallucinations, but it can also include feeling, tasting, and smelling things that are not real, as well as a heightened sense of connection and understanding, and greater feelings of introspection.  

The trips that people most commonly associate with these types of the drugs are the ones in which a state of hallucinogenic delirium is reached, but that is not always the case. Many times, it is more of an experience than a trip, and something can be learned and achieved psychologically with every small dose.

The word itself, ‘psychedelics’, was first used in 1957 to recognize substances that were said to open the mind, however, the more accurate term for them is ‘entheogens’. This term was adopted, not necessarily for the sake of being scientific, but rather to allow the sector to operate without all the stigma attached to psychedelics from smear campaigns and restrictive policies throughout history. The term entheogen comes from Greek where it means ‘building the god within’.

Different psychedelics produce different trips. For example, with DMT you can expect a short high lasting less than 1 hour, whereas LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline trips can last up to ten hours. Some hallucinogens are more potent than others, like mushrooms vs acid. The active compounds are different in each drug so there is a lot of variation to the effects that can be felt.  

Some people experience bad trips in which negative, or even scary, hallucinations are experienced, and/or a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, disorientation, and fatigue occur. There is indication that the majority of these symptoms can be controlled through proper dosing. This is why most modern-day, therapeutic users of psychedelics consume the drugs in micro-doses.

Nextage Pharmaceuticals and MindMend

According to Nextage Founder and CEO Abraham Dreazen, “there has been a shift in the last decade. The US Food and Drug Administration, for example, is starting to see quality of life as a factor in evaluating medicine, opening the door to these drugs.”

Earlier this year, Nextage signed a collaboration agreement with industry trailblazer Mindmend, to use their proprietary new technology known as Brain Targeting Liposome System (BTLS) – a delivery system Dreazen claims will “optimize the delivery of drug products based on noribogaine, and ultimately other ibogaine derivatives.”

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in Apocynaceae plant family in Gabon, a small coastal country in central Africa. Although minimal research exists, a handful of clinical studies found that Ibogaine and its derivatives can be used to combat addiction, and it was looked at particularly for the treatment of opioid addiction, for which the results were promising.

Unfortunately, when used at high doses over a longer period, there are potential side effects. In a recent press release, reps from MindMend explained that, “orally administered ibogaine and noribogaine present unacceptable safety risks due to their torsadogenic effects at high systemic concentrations.”

Simply put, there’s a moderate risk of heart attacks when using noribogaine. However, Dreazen believes that if the drug is administered using certain methods that better permeate the blood-brain barrier, so more of the drug actually reaches the brain rather than going to other parts of the body, including the heart. He described it as “the winning lottery ticket.”

Permeating the Blood-Brain Barrier

When it comes to treating psychological and neurological disorders, or really any other disease or condition affecting the brain, the main challenge is permeating the blood-brain barrier. The purpose of the blood-brain barrier is to protect the brain from foreign substances, and as such, can prevent up to 95% of molecules from reaching the brain.

So far, the most common way to work around that is by giving prescribing these drugs at extremely high doses, and that, needless to say, can have numerous unwanted and severe side effects. Using a more effective model, The BTLS platform, licensed from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, has been making use of a “liposomal vehicle with a unique targeting complex” that allows for blood-brain barrier permeation at much lower doses of various pharmaceutical agents.

This is a relatively well-known concept, but according to Dreazen, Nextage took it a step further and attached a “small arrow of seven amino acid peptides – essentially a very small protein – which is part of a much larger protein that is native to the brain and has a way of actively transporting the liposomal capsule through the blood-brain barrier. Once the capsule is drawn into the brain with the arrow, it gets lodged there and starts dissolving, facilitating release of the active material – the drug.”

What the Future Holds for Nextage

Nextage has been working in the drug delivery sector for 14 years and their daughter company, IMIO, is focused solely on psychedelics. The company completed most of required preclinical worked needed to determine the potential efficacy and generality of their new patent technology. They have already worked with CBD and THC-based medications and Nextage/IMIO plans to explore the potential of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Dreazen says LSD “is a really promising drug.” Its challenge is that when taken, people can “trip” for 15 to 17 hours, making it very unfeasible as a chronic treatment. But just like with ibogaine, he believes that if the dose can be reduced and the least amount possible gets into the body as opposed to the brain, “you could potentially get the same therapeutic effect without the longevity of the trip.”

“In the US, the psychedelic movement has exploded in the last 12 months,” Dreazen added. “I think psychedelics in Israel are just emerging, and we are the first public company to really put our teeth into it. Israel has always been in the forefront of research and development and we are committed to spearheading this industry.”

Final Thoughts

As you can see, conversations surrounding the use of psychedelics to treat mental health and neurological disorders is reaching nearly every corner of the globe, and the countries that have been more accepting of cannabis are also spearheading the medical psychedelic revelation. Psychedelics are here to stay, and in the very near future, we can expect to see a lot of these compounds being safely used in clinical and therapeutic settings.

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