Psyched Wellness is Bringing You Amanita Mushrooms – And It’s All Legal

Magic mushrooms are the new buzz word, but they don’t all fall into just one category. Sure, there are psilocybin magic mushrooms, but there are also amanita mushrooms, for a different kind of high and unique medical advantages. Now, the company Psyched Wellness is offering amanita mushroom products, and the best part is, it’s all legal.

We all know about psilocybin mushrooms, right? Well, now there’s a new mushroom to know about, Amanita muscaria, and these mushrooms are not only legal, but come with a host of medical benefits. If you’re into independent drug reporting concerning the cannabis and psychedelics fields, this is the publication for you. We provide the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter so readers can stay updated on current events, as well as have access to tons of deals on cannabis products including popular cannabinoid compounds Delta 8 THC, and HHC, and all upcoming hallucinogenic products. Check the ‘best of’ lists for offers, and choose the products you’re most comfortable using.


What are amanita mushrooms?

When you hear the term ‘magic mushrooms’ the go-to association is with psilocybin mushrooms, the shrooms readily found in North and South America, which cause trips and highs by activating serotonin receptors. These mushrooms, along with LSD, DMT, and other compounds, are considered psychedelic hallucinogens.

This group of psychedelic hallucinogens doesn’t include other drugs we often think of as psychedelics, like ketamine. That drug, along with PCP and DXM are all dissociative hallucinogens. There is a third group as well, called deliriant hallucinogens, which includes scopolamine, the drug used to rob people by taking away their ability to argue with perpetrators. These three represent serotonergic, dopaminergic, and anticholinergic hallucinogens only.

This is where amanita mushrooms come in, as hallucinogens that act on a different neurotransmitter, GABA. Amanita muscaria mushrooms – AKA fly agaric, (for their ability to attract and trap flies), are also wild mushrooms that produce some trippy effects, but with an entirely different mode of action then psilocybin mushrooms. Amanita mushrooms are considered poisonous mushrooms, and contain a compound called muscimol, which is GABAergic. This means it acts as an agonist on GABA receptors, and does so in the same way as GABA itself; rather than attaching to different receptor sites like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and Quaaludes.

Amanita mushrooms

These mushrooms also contain ibotenic acid, which is the compound more likely to make a person sick. This compound is a prodrug (a compound which is biologically inactive until metabolization), and is metabolized in the body to become muscimol. This is similar to psilocybin, which is also a prodrug, and which is useless in the human body until it changes into the other compound found in magic mushrooms, and the real compound of interest, psilocin.

Whereas psilocin acts on serotonin receptors, creating a stimulant response along with its psychedelic effects, muscimol acts on GABA receptors that calm the body down. Amanita mushrooms therefore won’t cause the same kind of ‘bad trip’ as psilocybin mushrooms, since there’s no stimulant effect. They do, however, come with their own reasons for caution in how they’re prepared and eaten, so as not to make a user feel sick. Neither mushroom group is known to cause death (despite the name ‘poisonous’), so even a bad experience with either is only temporary.

Amanita mushrooms are less well-known in the Americas as they’re not native to this region. For the most part they’re found around Northern Europe and Russia (particularly Siberia), and factor into medicinal and shamanistic traditions in those regions. This is probably why they aren’t scheduled in the US Controlled Substances list, which makes them legal to have and use in the US.

A little about Psyched Wellness & Calm

Psyched Wellness is a publicly traded company on the Canadian Securities Exchange under (CSE:PSYC), which used to be Duncan Park Holdings Corporation. Based out of Toronto, Psyched Wellness is a life sciences company which just finished a pilot run for its new amanita mushrooms product, Calm.

This main offering of the company, Calm, is the first approved amanita mushroom product to hit US markets. According to the company, its made 100% from amanita mushroom caps, is lab tested, detoxified to ensure no bad effects (no ibotenic acid), and can be used to “reduce stress, ease muscular tension, and promote restorative sleep.” The company is taking preorders for the product right now, and interested buyers can reserve themselves a 1 fluid ounce bottle for $49.99. Products are expected to officially hit the market in the fall.

Calm registers as a dietary supplement, which is advertised as ethically sourced. The main component, according to the company’s site, is AME-1 which was developed in the Psyched Wellness laboratories to mimic the naturally extracted compound muscimol. It does not contain naturally occurring muscimol. As this is not a controlled substance, and doesn’t require a prescription, the company is free to sell it without the same complications that currently exist with psilocybin mushrooms, which are still federally illegal as they sit in Schedule I of the controlled substances list.

medical amanita mushrooms

The company is looking to expand its product offering in the future. According to CEO Jeffrey Stevens, “It has been a long journey to get to this point, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my co-founder, David Shisel, our team, KGK Science and Vantage Hemp for all of their hard work and commitment to get us to where we are today. The most exciting part for me is that we have just scratched the surface with respect to potential uses and delivery forms for AME-1. Stay tuned for more to come from Psyched.”

Aside from this compound, the company also sells accompanying sweatshirts, bags, T-shirts, phone covers, water bottles, hats, and mugs, some emblazoned with the well-known image of the red capped mushroom with white spots. While Super Mario Brothers certainly kept this image alive for years, its new entrance into the US sales market is sure to give it an extra popularity boost in the near future.

A bit more on muscimol from amanita mushrooms

For many people, these mushrooms represent something completely new. Whereas psilocybin mushrooms have been used in the Americas for millennia, both for medical and recreational purposes, amanita mushrooms are not well-known to this part of the world. They are therefore a mystery to Americans in terms of what they can do, what to be wary of, and how they differ from standard magic mushrooms. In an interview with Technology Networks, Jeff Stevens gave some insight into these ‘other’ hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Of muscimol he says, “Muscimol is one of the main psychoactive compounds found in the Amanita muscaria mushroom along with ibotenic acid and muscarine. Although it does have psychoactive properties, the effect is very different from psilocybin or psilocin. It reacts with the GABAA receptor and when ingested, it can provide feelings of euphoria and tranquility, an altered sense of hearing and taste, changes to sensory perception and vivid dreams.”

He goes on to stipulate that “If it is not processed properly, where the ibotenic acid is not converted to muscimol, it can provide quite a nasty experience including sweating, nausea, loss of balance and involuntary bodily movements.” This helps explain how amanita mushrooms can cause negative effects, but don’t have to so long as the right usage techniques are employed.

In terms of why we’re only hearing about muscimol now, he says, “We believe the reason muscimol has not been studied to a large degree is because it has been mislabeled as poisonous and as such was overlooked. As a result, there’s not been a lot of scientific studies conducted on muscimol so groups like Psyched Wellness need to start from the ground up, making it more time consuming and more expensive.”

muscimol mushrooms
Muscimol

When it comes to the legality of the mushrooms, he explains, “Amanita muscaria are considered food and are principally regulated under the Federal Drug Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act in Canada and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and The Nutrition Labelling and Education Act in the USA. As a result, the challenges that other compounds face with extraction, regulation and or administration are not a factor.”

Psyched Wellness has been going over accumulated research on these mushrooms, looking for different applications. Says Stevens, “we believe muscimol could show positive indications for various mental and physical health issues, including sleep, insomnia, addiction and pain.”

Conclusion

Amanita mushrooms represent a different option in the world of hallucinogenic treatment. It’s not just about standard psychedelics anymore, and amanita mushrooms, with their main psychoactive constituent muscimol, offer an entirely different approach to helping with mental and physical health.

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San Francisco City Leaders To Consider Psychedelics Decriminalization Measure

City leaders in San Francisco will consider a proposed ordinance to decriminalize the use of natural psychedelics including psilocybin and ayahuasca when the Board of Supervisors returns from recess next month. The measure, which was introduced by San Francisco Supervisors Dean Preston and Hillary Ronen on July 26, would also encourage the state of California to reform its psychedelic drugs policy.

If adopted by the Board of Supervisors, the ordinance would call on the San Francisco Police Department to make enforcement of laws banning the possession, use, cultivation and transfer of entheogenic plants and fungi including psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca and their active components by adults “amongst the lowest priority for the City and County of San Francisco,” according to the text of the proposal.

The ordinance also requests that city resources not be used for “any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the use of Entheogenic Plants listed on the Federally Controlled Substances Schedule 1 list.”

Preston has been critical of the SFPD’s recent increase in enforcement of laws criminalizing drug use. But he noted that decriminalizing natural psychedelics is a different matter.

“We’re not talking about addictive substances here. Around this particular category, I would hope that even folks who disagree around the best approaches to dealing with opioids and other drugs prevalent in San Francisco would agree with deprioritizing enforcement around entheogenic plants,” Preston said, adding that research has shown psychedelics have the potential to treat several serious mental health issues including substance abuse.

The Evolution of Psychedelics Policy

Preston noted that the measure would bring San Francisco policy in line with the movement to look at psychedelics in a new light after decades of stigma and criminalization.

“The law hasn’t evolved at all since then, and these substances are treated the way they always have been,” Preston said. “At the same time, the scientific community has been expanding their study and research into their therapeutic use.”

Michael Pollan, a co-founder of the Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics and the creator of a recent Netflix documentary series on the drugs, said that entheogenic plants can be used therapeutically, but warned they should be used with caution.

“These substances have enormous potential, but they are not for everyone and they carry serious risks when used improperly,” Pollan said at a recent news conference. “The shift from destroyer of young minds in the ’60s to effective medicine in the 2020s is as sudden as it is confusing to many people. So we want to address that confusion and that curiosity with solid, credible information from a trusted source.”

“Not many people were doing basic science, trying to understand how it is that psychedelics have the effects they have and why they’re effective in the treatment of various mental disorders,” Pollan added. “We want to figure out what psychedelics might teach us about things like perception, predictive processing, belief change and brain plasticity.”

If the psychedelics decriminalization ordinance is approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city would become the largest municipality to enact such a measure. Denver was the first city in the nation to decriminalize psychedelics in 2019, and since that time others including Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Easthampton, Massachusetts have adopted similar ordinances. And two years ago, voters in Oregon approved groundbreaking legislation to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use.

“One of the striking things about the Oregon experiment, which passed by ballot initiative in 2020, is that it will make a guided psychedelic experience available to anyone over 21, regardless of diagnosis,” said Pollan. “I do think that the use of psychedelics will not be restricted to the medical system. It’s not now and won’t be in the future.”

Dr. Markus Roggen, the president and chief science officer of psychedelics and cannabis research and development firm Delic Labs, said he supports the intent of the San Francisco psychedelics proposal.

“I welcome decriminalization from a philosophical point, as criminalizing ‘drug’ possession/use has brought many costs and pains to the country,” Roggen wrote in an email to High Times.

But he added that he does not believe decriminalization goes far enough and that past harms caused by the criminalization of psychedelic drugs need to be righted. He also said that decriminalization should include regulation, noting the thriving illicit psychedelics industry in the Netherlands.

“There the use is legal but production illegal,” said Roggen. “The government handed this whole industry to the cartels and mafia.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will take up the psychedelics decriminalization measure when it returns from recess in September.

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NFL Says Aaron Rodgers’ Ayahuasca Trip Didn’t Violate Drug Policy

The NFL says that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not violate league rules when he previously consumed the psychoactive beverage ayahuasca.

Via ESPN, “NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Monday that it wouldn’t have triggered a positive test result on either the substance abuse or performance-enhancing substance policies collectively bargained by the NFL and its players’ association.”

Rodgers, who is currently preparing for his 18th season in the league, has created quite a stir during training camp with his revelation that he consumed ayahuasca in Peru prior to the previous two seasons. In each of those seasons, Rodgers was named the league’s most valuable player, his third and fourth time winning the award respectively.

Rodgers said he doesn’t “think it’s a coincidence” that he claimed the top individual honor after those experiences in South America.

“I really don’t. I don’t really believe in coincidences at this point. It’s the universe bringing things to happen when they’re supposed to happen,” Rodgers said on an episode of the Aubrey Marcus Podcast last week.

Rodgers said on the podcast that the experience left him forever changed.

“For me, I didn’t do that and think ‘oh, I’m never playing football again,’” Rodgers said, as quoted by USA Today. “No, it gave me a deep and meaningful appreciation for life. My intention the first night going in was ‘I want to feel what pure love feels like.’ That was my intention. And I did. I really did. I had a magical experience with the sensation of feeling a hundred different hands on my body imparting a blessing of love and forgiveness for myself and gratitude for this life from what seemed to be my ancestors.”

Rodgers, who has spent the entirety of his career with the Packers, went deeper on the subject in an interview with longtime football writer Peter King that was published on Monday, explaining how the experience in Peru came together.

“I have a dear friend that I’ve known for 25 years that went on an ayahuasca journey in 2019. He came back, and we played golf one day and he told me all about it. I said, okay, I think it’s time that I do it. So we put together a trip to Peru [in 2020] and had a great experience. Then I went again this offseason and had another beautiful experience. Different, very different. Different size group, different amount of days,” Rodgers told King.

“We sat three different nights with the medicine. I came in with an intention of doing a lot of healing of other relationships and bringing in certain people to have conversations with. Most of the work was around myself and figuring out what unconditional love of myself looks like…,” Rodgers continued. “In doing that, allowing me to understand how to unconditionally love other people but first realizing it’s gotta start with myself. I’ve got to be a little more gentle with myself and compassionate and forgiving because I’ve had some negative voices, negative self-talk, for a long time. A lot of healing went on. There’s things—images from the nights, the journeys—that will come up in dreams or during the day I’ll think about something that happened or something that I thought about. It’s constantly trying to integrate those lessons into everyday life.”

For years, the NFL took a hardline on recreational drug use among its players, routinely handing down lengthy suspensions for mere cannabis use.

But in recent years, the league has relaxed its drug policy. During the 2021 offseason, with a new collective bargaining agreement taking effect, the NFL did not conduct random drug tests for marijuana, marking a sea change in the league’s rulebook.

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Psychedelics and Art: Immersive Exhibitions Around the World

Psychedelics and art go hand in hand, making it no surprise that the Psychedelic Art niche has been growing in popularity in recent years. Not only is art simply more enjoyable and fun to interpret different pieces of art when you’re high, but certain drugs are known to improve divergent thinking in already creative individuals.  

Now, when I say “psychedelic” art exhibitions, what I really mean is immersive art. Art installations that pull you in and make you feel the art with your entire body and all the senses – akin to how one would feel on a psychedelic trip. So, while getting high and going to a quiet art gallery may not be the most exciting of plans, you can certainly trip out and have a lot of fun wandering around a labyrinth of experiential art.  

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More about psychedelics, art, and the senses 

We, as humans, have five basic senses that help us navigate through the world: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. The organs associated with each sense gather information and send it to the brain, which helps us perceive the world around us so we can better function better in it. In addition to our five most fundamental senses, there are some others that we actually cannot live without, like spatial awareness and balance.  

Psychedelics are the only category of drugs a person can use that will affect ALL the senses, as well as cause visual/auditory/tactile hallucinations and alter thought processes, emotions, and perception of time. Because of this, a type of art described as “psychedelic” or “immersive” has become frequently associated with these substances and the psychonaut community. Some common elements of psychedelic art include fractal designs in high contrast, portraits with distorted perspectives, fabrics in loud colors and swirling patterns, and things of that nature.  

Art critic Ken Johnson explains it well in his book, Are You Experienced? Johnson argues that “All kinds of things look better to the stoned observer, but many works of art produced in the 1960s seemed to require not just a new sort of taste but a heightened, Zen-like state of attentiveness, a kind of receptivity to the subtleties of space and time and forms and materials that could readily be achieved by ingesting a psychotropic drug.” 

So, in other words, his theory is both psychedelic art (which is made with the psychonaut in mind) as well as more nuanced projects would have greater appeal to the intoxicated observer as opposed to the sober one. Simply put, all art is better when you’re high, especially when you’re stoned or tripping.  

Meow Wolf – Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Denver, and Houston, USA 

Meow Wolf exhibitions are known to defy reality with their fully immersive, incredibly interactive, and very unique spaces. Using a combination of narrative story-telling, multimedia, and of course, fun colors and lights, the goal of Meow Wolf is to transport viewers into a new, yet somewhat familiar, realm. The company is based in Santa Fe with locations in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and soon, Texas. They announced earlier this year that they will be opening two new exhibitions in the Lone Star State relatively soon.  

“Slowly but surely, you are transported into unknown spaces,” Meow Wolf’s CEO, Jose Tolosa, said. “Unknown spaces of really amazing visual and auditory and light art and technology that really triggers all your senses. “Our exhibitions are non-linear. We don’t tell you to start here and end here, and we don’t tell you where to go. You go wherever you want. They’re highly interactive.” 

Each space consists of a unique, puzzle-like story that visitors follow and solve through each exhibition. For those who want to fully engage, the story can take hours to complete, but not everyone wants to dive in so deeply, which is perfectly fine. Visitors can choose to solve the stories/puzzles, or just explore a little bit until they’re ready to leave.  

“The experience is meant for all generations,” Tolosa said, adding that “a child would go in and have an amazing experience, but then it would be a totally different experience than a teen, an adult or even a senior. It has those unique characteristics that have the ability to really trigger the human mind. Ours is a space that mixes in the sculptural and the audio and the video and the lighting and story and narrative and technology, which incorporates a lot more artistic forms in that one space.” 

Future Shock – London, UK 

Coined as “Art that wraps around you”, Future Shock takes sensory, new-age art to another level. As of now, it’s a temporary exhibition set up by 180 Studios and running until the end of August. The show includes sixteen different installations, each bringing together different elements of physical and virtual artwork using a variety of different methods and technologies. The exhibition is set up in an underground car garage, and is basically like a large maze that you can wander through and get lost in.  

“It is very, very entrancing,” says art critic Tabish Khan. “You love the sound, the visuals. I would say that there are some works that I found a lot stronger than others. There are some works which have like a deeper message and they carry through stronger than the others. And there are some that we think visually, I’m very impressed. Do I get something more from this? Maybe not.” 

One of the installations comes complete with rotating mirrors, laser lights, and colorful kinetic sculptures – all situated in a pitch-black room. Another installation takes place in a desert-like environment populated by digital humans. Rather than a profound artistic message, Future Shock experimenting with technology and psychedelic digital worlds. Making visitors feel the art, rather than analyze it.  

For example, one of their largest and most popular installations is one called “Vortex”, created by a Barcelona-based multidisciplinary art studio, Hamill Industries. In Vortex, light projectors, smoke effects, and a specific soundtrack are used to create a giant colorful smoke ring that move in synchronicity with the music. According to the creators, this particular piece is about experiencing the beautiful musical sound through alternative senses, light sight and smell. 

“So, you can experiment that as a musical piece, but if you can just kind of do one step away and see like how it travels, how the light follows.,” says Anna Diaz, mix-media artist from Hamill Industries. “It’s about – it’s a pentagram. It’s a musical pentagram made light, made smoke. So that’s what it’s behind the vortex. And that’s the message behind the vortex, experiencing sound.” 

Superblue – Miami, USA 

Superblue is a relatively new installation in Miami, Florida, launched in 2021. It includes a very interactive environment with various digital installations, moving shapes and colors, light displays, a mirror labyrinth, items that visitors can pick up and move around, and much more, all over a sprawling 50,000 square foot space.  

Aside from the exhibition, the venue also has an events space and a popular outdoor café called The Blue Rider. And despite having only been open for barely 15 months, Superblue already has thousands of good reviews over various platforms including Google, Yelp, and Facebook. The show has been described as “Trippy, meditative, and gorgeous…” by the New York Times. 

“Each of these artists provokes us to see our relationship to the world and each other in completely new ways – it’s at the forefront of how we experience immersive art,” said Superblue co-founder and CEO, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst. “Superblue was created in response to the public’s rapidly growing interest in experiential art that provokes new ways of understanding ourselves and the world around us,” added Marc Glimcher, co-founder of Superblue. 

teamLab – Tokyo, Japan 

teamLab is one of most well-known names on this lists, and is made up of a global group of artists, engineers, programmers, CG animators, architects, and mathematicians. They have permanent exhibitions in Shanghai, Tokyo, and Macao, as well as numerous other installations all over the world. They also plan to launch a new permanent installation in Saudi Arabia in 2023. Their goal is to help visitors “explore the relationship between the self and the world through art” using new and less traditional mediums. “Physical media is no longer the limit”, their website claims.  

“Digital technology has made it possible for artworks to expand physically. Art created using digital technology can easily expand. So, it provides us with a greater degree of autonomy within the space. We are now able to manipulate and use much larger spaces,” says teamLab, who spoke as a collective. “Here, we ask guests to wander, explore, and discover. Artworks also move out of the rooms freely. They form connections and relationships with people. The artworks communicate with, influence and sometimes intermingle with each other. They also have the same concept of time as the human body,” they added. 

teamLab is also working to combine art and wellness with their latest project, teamlab Reconnect, a permanent installation in Tokyo. Reconnect is an art and sauna exhibition where visitors experience the immersive artworks while alternating between hot saunas and cold baths. The goal is for users to enter what’s known as a “sauna trance” while enjoying the creative experience.  

THE LUME at Newfields – Indianapolis, USA 

I had to include this one, not only to have something representing the Midwest, but because I live in Indiana and it’s on my list of places to visit out there. That being said, THE LUME is part of the larger, Newfields art exhibit which is a 152-acre encyclopedic art museum. THE LUME takes place on 30,000 square feet of that acreage, and it can be best described as an hour-long digital art gallery extension.  

It’s not a movie, but rather a series of digital art experiences that play on a constant loop. The point of the exhibit is to see art “up close and all around you” by taking famous artworks and turning them into three dimensional, multi-sensory experiences. Despite the 60-minute play time, you can stay and enjoy the exhibition for as long as you want. Visitors are actually encouraged to take in the experiences from every angle – really get your money’s worth. You can enter at any time and jump straight into the loop.  

Featured artists include Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Gauguin, and after the show, you can visit the museum’s activity space to see some of the original paintings. There is also an attached restaurant, Café Terrace 1888, where you can take a break and refuel.  

Also worth noting, is that Newfields just announced they are looking for new artists to feature in THE LUME exhibit. Artists will need to create a three-minute, immersive, visual and audio digital media experience that will be displayed as featurettes or short digital art productions during THE LUME’s Monet experience. You can find more information about submitting your work here, and the deadline to apply is August 30th.  

Final Thoughts  

When looking for “psychedelic” art installations, what I was looking for specifically was the concept of experiencing art through all five senses. Because tripping is so sensory on its own, art exhibitions that was appeal to psychonauts – in my opinion – would find a way to incorporate different sensory experiences. Immersive art exhibitions like the ones above are perfect examples of that. If I missed any of your favorites, drop me a line in the comment section below so I can add it to the list! 

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Normalizing Psychedelics: An Interview with Matthew X. Lowe

Over the past few years, psychedelics are finally becoming more normalized, but for the most part, that just means psilocybin. LSD is still considered, even by many who are interested in the world of mushrooms and cannabis, to be a taboo substance. Unlimited Sciences and Matthew X. Lowe would love to change that. We chatted with him about the moves he’s been making to change the culture and bring psychedelics access to those who need it.

What is the history of the company, and how are you aiming to change these stigmas?

Unlimited Sciences is a fairly new company. We were officially launched in 2018. Most of what we’ve been doing until now is psilocybin research. We just concluded that study recently with Johns Hopkins University of 8,400 individuals enrolled, making it the single largest longitudinal study in the world on psilocybin. We started to analyze the data, and we are seeing some very promising results with reductions in depression and anxiety.

We’re looking at multiple different metrics including risks and safety profiles, dosages, and set and setting. We also have our ayahuasca study that we’re running this summer, and then we’re also looking to create a general registry of feedback about psilocybin. That registry will also include LSD, so we’re kind of expanding our research and exploring more ways that we can bring awareness about the risks and the benefits.

What are you doing to specifically change the way LSD and other more blacklisted substances are seen?

We all heard the horror stories and we kind of grew up with those stories and stigma. So really, on that front, the biggest thing we’re aiming to do is to raise education and awareness, not just about the benefits of these substances, but also about how to mitigate risks. And that’s one of the most important things that’s often overlooked.

On [one] hand, yes, we want to push this legislation through as quickly as we can, but it’s super important to not only understand the benefits and what they can bring, but also mitigate those risks, because as we know, there can be significant risks if you’re under- or uneducated about what could go wrong.

To help with that, we have a free call center where individuals can phone and ask questions, often related to how they can mitigate risks around cannabis use. And we want to do the exact same thing for psychedelics. The plan is to develop a call center where you can call in and ask questions about how much you should take. It won’t be medical advice, but it will be based on data-driven research. We’re trying to get as much data as we can, and the psilocybin studies have contributed significantly to that.

We’re also continuing to do outreach, and we write articles and present them at scientific conferences. We’re working extensively with psilocybin and then plan to delve into LSD. We aim to talk about and raise awareness on these topics through data-driven efforts so that we can provide objective, unbiased feedback.

How would you like to see people think about psychedelics 10 or 20 years from now?

Personally, I see it as a mix of more information, medical legalization, and some recreational legalization, to a certain extent. I can imagine substances such as psilocybin, for example, being treated very much like cannabis in the coming years. So, for substances where there have been far fewer documented risks, and where risk of an overdose is low, I can see those being recreational.

But for the majority of substances that I’m talking about, I would see them strictly as controlled within the medical space, and that’s because some of them can have quite a few risks. When you talk about things like psychosis, if you have a predisposition to that or a family history, even usage of cannabis can trigger that. So for things like ayahuasca and LSD, I see that being more in the medically regulated space.

What are some of the biggest benefits that you think humanity can get from these substances?

Personally, I think it’s endless. The most immediate ones are of course mental health. We have a mental health crisis, and the systems and medications and treatments we have today are failing for many. Up to a third of individuals suffering from depression have treatment-resistant depression. I hope that in the future, psychedelics won’t just be the last line of defense for mental health issues, but one of the first lines.

The post Normalizing Psychedelics: An Interview with Matthew X. Lowe appeared first on High Times.

How Popular Are Psychedelics In America? Survey Says ~30% Have Tried

The psychedelics industry is gearing up for a massive debut, and opinions on the compounds are changing for the better. How popular are psychedelics in America right now? New survey results show that these compounds are not unknown to the American public, and that close to 30% of respondents, have already tried them.

With the psychedelics boom underway, we now ask the question, just how popular are psychedelics in America? A recent survey has some interesting results on this matter. Welcome to out completely independent news publication focusing on cannabis and psychedelics reporting. We offer the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter to provide regular updates for readers, along with some top notch deals on all kinds of products including smoking paraphernalia, edibles, and cannabinoid compounds like the uber popular Delta 8 THC, and HHC. Head to our ‘best of’ lists to check out offers, and make sure to only purchase the products you are fully comfortable using.


The psychedelics revolution

100 years ago psychedelics weren’t a thing yet, at least not in Western medicine. Though they’ve enjoyed a wide and long-ranging tenure in different cultural traditions, their use as a recreational or medicinal drug in today’s modern, Westernized world, was still far off 100 years ago. 50 Years ago, legislation to get rid of psychedelics from society in general, already went through. Yup, in just a 50 years period, drugs like LSD were discovered, found to have great therapeutic properties, and then were promptly illegalized, both by the US government, and the UN.

What started blossoming out as a beautiful answer to issues of mental health and addiction, was snuffed out in favor of the pharmaceutical antidepressant market, which was never effective, so long as you never listened to pharmaceutical reps, or paid-for research, which is a significantly bigger issue than most people realize. And it happened so fast, that most people never gained awareness of the benefits these compounds provide. In fact, psychedelics existed mainly as a black market for recreational purposes, and were roundly associated with hippies and the anti-war movement of the 1960’s.

So, it’s a major change in climate to go from scare-tactic videos showing people jumping out of windows (part of my DARE program in high school), to news articles blaring about how quickly drugs like magic mushrooms and ketamine help with treatment resistant depression. It’s even more eye-opening that Oregon passed legislation to legalize psilocybin mushrooms, and that Washington, California, Michigan, and Colorado are working toward legalizations as well. And lets certainly not forget that the US government actually did legalize a form of ketamine in 2019 (esketamine) for depression, though in a very quiet manner.

Beyond treatment resistant depression, psychedelics are being studied in earnest for their ability to help with addiction issues, pain management (particularly ketamine), obsessive-compulsive issues, and post-partum depression. In fact, ketamine is already being openly used for all of the above in a clinic system that allows its prescription, because of its place as an approved anesthetic.

With the line changing from ‘psychedelics are dangerous’ to ‘psychedelics are good for you’, it’s not that surprising that such compounds already have a relatively high use rate in a place like America. How high? Different surveys give different estimates, but one says that psychedelics are already so popular in America, that about 30% of the population has already tried them.

How popular are psychedelics in America Latest survey

How popular are psychedelics in America right now? It’s hard to get concrete answers to questions like this because its hard to survey the entire country. Surveys take representative measurements – where a small portion of the population is questioned to represent a greater population, and they come with a lot of issues, particularly when samples are small, or not collected to reflect a greater population. Having said that, since polling every individual for opinion is not possible in a country the size of the US, surveys are about the best we have to go on.

A recent survey conducted by YouGov, a British internet-based data analytics and market research company, found that almost 30% of Americans already tried psychedelics at least once. Now, this survey has massive limitations. For one, only 1000 people were questioned, and though they were picked to represent the US, they unlikely did in a comprehensive way. It should be expected that this particular group is not representative of the US at large. Even so, when it comes to this topic, there’s not much to go on, so this is what we’ve got.

According to the report, the sample was weighted “According to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as news interest and 2020 Presidential vote (or non-vote).”

The survey, conducted between July 22-25 of this year, showed that of the seven psychedelics asked about (LSD, magic mushrooms/psilocybin, MDMA/ecstasy, DMT, mescaline/peyote, ketamine, and salvia), 28% of respondents had already tried at least one. Of those drugs, LSD was the most popular psychedelic in America according to this sample, with 14% of respondents having tried it. Second was psilocybin, which 13% had tried. MDMA was third with 9%, ketamine was done by 6%, DMT also by 6%, and salvia by 5%.

Psychedelic mushrooms
Psychedelic mushrooms

Though the survey has plenty of holes, it does show something for sure; that psychedelics are accepted and popular enough for a good chunk of this sample to already be familiar with them. Psychedelics are Schedule I controlled substances, with the exception of ketamine which has Schedule III approval as an anesthetic, and its half-brother esketamine which is also Schedule III for depression. It says a lot about how people see them, and the lessening fear associated with them, that so many in the survey had already done them.

What does other research say?

Obviously, its cool to see the results of the survey mentioned above, because it shows how popular psychedelics are in America, despite years of smear campaigns against them. But, how much can these results be generalized to all of America? Let’s take a look at other research done in the last decade on psychedelic use in the US.

One interesting study, which came out in 2013, called Over 30 million psychedelic users in the United States, looked to establish an “estimated lifetime prevalence of psychedelic use” by using data from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which sampled 57,873, 12 years and older. The study specifically looked at LSD, magic mushrooms, and mescaline, and found that as of 2010, there were over 30 million people who had used psychedelics in their lives. The greatest use category was for 30–34-year-olds.

In a study like this, whether results are liked or not, it should be remembered that all data is taken from other data sets which were not collected for the specific purposes of this study, and that study investigators had no way to control for confounding factors (a confounding factor is anything that can influence the outcome outside of what is being investigated). In the study, the authors state, “This study was exempt from review by our Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics because all data are available in the public domain without any identification of personal information.”

Researchers were also specifically estimating, meaning they weren’t taking direct outcome numbers, but using direct outcome numbers to form estimate numbers via the online Survey Documentation Analysis, which comes from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Even with these limitations, being able to estimate that nearly 1/3 of Americans have tried psychedelics, certainly says a lot for their general prevalence.

Let’s look at just LSD now. According to a DrugPolicy report from 2017 using already collected 2014 survey data, in the age group of 12-17 year-olds, .3% of the collected 16,875 respondents were current LSD users. That percentage was also relevant to the group of 18-25 year-olds, for which there were 11,643 data points. In terms of actively using adults aged 26 and above, .1% of the total 33,750 sampled, were active users. Active use in this case means used within the last month. This is different from looking at surveys that establish whether someone has ever done a drug in their lifetime, which helps explain the lower numbers.

Psychedelics acid

Another study also looked at just LSD. This study from ScienceDirect, entitled Trends in LSD use among US adults: 2015–2018, used a secondary analysis of National Survey on Drug Use and Health data from 2015–2018. This involved the use of data from 168,562 adults ages 18 and up, which means this study also only took from previous data compiled for different research projects, in which the investigators could not control for anything.

According to results, use of LSD rose 56.4% between the years of 2015 and 2018. It showed that usage for the age group 26-34years of age increased to 31.1% from 19.6%, and that for the age group 35-49, there was an increase to 8.82% from 2.73%. The oldest age group of 50 years and up also saw an increase in use to 2.66% from 1.83%.

Conclusion

How popular are psychedelics in the US? Popular enough that nearly 30% of a US sample have already tried them. Popular enough for their use to come full circle from their initial rise to popularity in the 60’s and 70’s, and popular enough for individual states to begin to legalize them. With legalizations in place, or on the way, it should be expected that these numbers will only rise in the future.

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Oregon Psilocybin Rules Set To Be Finalized in December

The Oregon Health Authority’s Oregon Psilocybin Services Section is currently working on finalizing a regulatory framework to manage psilocybin legalization. While currently partnering with the Psilocybin Advisory Board, these rules are expected to be released by Dec. 31, 2022, as license applications will open up starting on Jan. 2, 2023.

The culmination of regulating psilocybin is two years in the making, according to Angie Allbee, a Section Manager for Oregon Psilocybin Services. “Ballot Measure 109, otherwise known as the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, was passed by Oregon voters in November of 2020,” Allbee told KGW8. “What it did was create a licensing and regulatory framework for the production of psilocybin products and the provision of psilocybin services in Oregon. This is available to individuals 21 years of age or older, that would like to access psilocybin services. It does not need a prescription or a referral from a provider.”

These rules will be the first of its kind in the country, and could serve as a template for other states who follow suit.

Allbee clarified that under these rules, patients can’t just take home psilocybin as medication, but they will consume it in a controlled environment while being monitored by licensed practitioners. “Psilocybin products will be sold to the clients, and that’s where the psilocybin services, the actual journey takes place,” Allbee said.

Psychotherapist Tom Eckert, who has long been a psilocybin advocate, has been an integral part of supporting psilocybin services for Oregon patients. KGW8 mentioned that he and his late wife have campaigned for access since 2015.

Eckert explained that the process is unique. “Most of the action is internal and that can be different for different folks because we come to this experience with our own stuff,” said Eckert. “So that’s kind of the neat thing about psilocybin and the experience of psilocybin as a therapeutic agent, it kind of goes where it needs to go.”

Ultimately, Eckert believes that the success of the entire program hinges on specialists who can help treat the individual needs of each patient. “I’ve always thought that the beating heart of this whole program is the practitioners, the facilitators,” Eckert said, “We need competent, trained practitioners to really understand this specific modality.”

While officials finalize these details, there are some cities in Oregon that do not want to allow psilocybin services. The Clackamas County Commissioners voted in July to temporarily ban psilocybin, and voters in Linn County will be able to vote on an approval to also ban psilocybin later this year in November.

 On a larger scale, “Right to Try Clarification Act” was recently introduced by Sen. Cory Booker and Rand Paul. If passed, restrictions for substances that are included in the Controlled Substances Act would not apply to psilocybin and MDMA, as long as a Phase 1 clinical trial has been completed. In action, this would allow terminally ill patients the opportunity to use these substances for medical treatment. “As a physician, I know how important Right to Try is for patients facing a life-threatening condition,” Paul said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the federal bureaucracy continues to block patients seeking to use Schedule I drugs under Right to Try. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Sen. Booker that will get government out of the way and give doctors more resources to help patients.”

Psilocybin, like cannabis, is quickly being accepted as a medical treatment alternative. Numerous studies have released, and suggest evidence that psilocybin can act as an anti-depressant. Another study from July claims that it can boost “mood and health.” Another study based on South Africa in June found that it was especially effective in women with HIV and depression.

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NFL Star Aaron Rodgers Used Ayahuasca Before Dual MVP Seasons

NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers revealed this week that he traveled to South America to take ayahuasca before being selected as the league’s most valuable player two seasons in a row, saying the potent psychedelic concoction changed his mindset and markedly improved his mental health. Rodgers made the revelations about his experiences with ayahuasca during an appearance on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast, where he shared that the psychedelic drug helped him find self-love and mental wellness.

The Green Bay Packers’ Superbowl champion quarterback said that he made the trip to South America prior to winning the MVP award for the third and fourth time in 2020 and 2021. Following the ayahuasca experience, he said, he “knew that [he] was never going to be the same.”

“For me, I didn’t do that and think ‘oh, I’m never playing football again,’” Rodgers said, as quoted by USA Today. “No, it gave me a deep and meaningful appreciation for life. My intention the first night going in was ‘I want to feel what pure love feels like.’ That was my intention. And I did. I really did. I had a magical experience with the sensation of feeling a hundred different hands on my body imparting a blessing of love and forgiveness for myself and gratitude for this life from what seemed to be my ancestors.”

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew of leaves and vines that is used by indigenous groups in South America’s Amazon basin for social and shamanic ceremonies. It contains the potent psychedelic drug dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which can cause intense vivid sensations and hallucinations. Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, led a study on ayahuasca published in 2019 that found the brew caused a change to waking brainwaves the researchers compared to “dreaming while awake.”

“DMT is a particularly intriguing psychedelic. The visual vividness and depth of immersion produced by high-doses of the substance seems to be on a scale above what is reported with more widely studied psychedelics such as psilocybin or ‘magic mushrooms’,” Carhart-Harris explained. “It’s hard to capture and communicate what it is like for people experiencing DMT but likening it to dreaming while awake or a near-death experience is useful. Our sense is that research with DMT may yield important insights into the relationship between brain activity and consciousness, and this small study is a first step along that road.”

Ayahuasca Led to Best Season of Rodgers’ Career

During the podcast interview with Marcus, Rodgers said that his experience with ayahuasca “set me on my course to be able to go back in to my job and have a different perspective on things. To be way more free at work, as a leader, as a teammate, as a friend, as a lover. I really feel like that experience paved the way for me to have the best season of my career (in 2020).”

He added that the psychedelic drug helped him reframe his mindset, leading to improvements in mental health that helped him to play two of the best seasons of his career, winning his third and fourth MVP awards in 2020 and 2021.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Rodgers said about the ayahuasca experience in South America. “I really don’t. I don’t really believe in coincidences at this point. It’s the universe bringing things to happen when they’re supposed to happen.”

“There’s signs and synchronicities all around us at all times if we’re awake enough to see them and to take them in and to listen to our intuition when it’s speaking to us or pounding us in the head saying, ‘Hey dummy, this is what you’re supposed to be doing,’” he continued.

Rodgers said that he was inspired to try ayahuasca after a previous experience with psychedelic drugs. Marcus added that the NFL star had once told him that “one of the best days of my life” featured taking psychedelic mushrooms on a beach where he said he “felt [him]self merge with the ocean.”

The NFL star added that many people focus on the negative side effects of ayahuasca, which can include vomiting, diarrhea, and uncomfortable hallucinations, rather than the “deep and meaningful and crazy mind-expanding possibilities and also deep self-love and healing that can happen on the other side” that the drug can induce.

That self-love, Rodgers said, was a key benefit of his mental health journey.

“To me, one of the core tenets of your mental health is that self-love,” Rodgers said. “That’s what ayahuasca did for me, was help me see how to unconditionally love myself. It’s only in that unconditional self love, that then I’m able to truly be able to unconditionally love others. And what better way to work on my mental health than to have an experience like that?”

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DEA Getting Sued Over Magic Mushrooms, Again

This headline is odd since we all know magic mushrooms are federally illegal, right? Why would the DEA get sued over barring patients from using an illegal medicine? Well, there happens to be a law for sick people to try new medications, and the DEA is now blocking this right. This isn’t even the first time the DEA has been sued over magic mushrooms!

The DEA is at it again, this time in a lawsuit over preventing terminal patients from using magic mushrooms as experimental medication. Will the government agency be put in its place? This entirely independent publication publishes stories within the cannabis and psychedelics spaces. Be a part of everything by signing up for the THC Weekly Newsletter, which comes chock full of deals on everything from smoking devices, to edibles, to cannabinoid compounds including popular choices delta-8 THC and HHC. You’ve got a plethora of options these days, so choose the products you’re most comfortable using, and have yourself a blast!


What’s the news?

On July 22nd, Marijuana Moment reported on a new legal matter which involves the US’s DEA getting sued over not letting patients have access to magic mushrooms. So, why is there a lawsuit against a federal agency, for barring use of a federally illegal substance? I mean, sure, it would be great if they weren’t illegal, but as long as they are, why is this happening?

This most recent lawsuit, as well as a previous suit, hinges on the ‘Right to Try’ act. Right to Try is a federal law which enables doctors to treat patients with experimental medications, including Schedule I drugs in the Controlled Substances list. However, the DEA has once again blocked a doctor from treating a patient with magic mushrooms, leading to the federal agency getting sued.

The current case is a follow-up to an earlier case that went before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this past February. That case was rejected on procedural grounds, because the DEA did not make clear if its denial actually constitutes a final rule.

A final rule “is a federal administrative regulation that advanced through the proposed rule and public comment stages of the rulemaking process and is published in the Federal Register with a scheduled effective date. The published final rule marks the last stage in the rulemaking process and includes information about the rationale for the regulation as well as any necessary responses to public comments.”

If its not a final rule, then a federal court cannot overturn it, as there’s nothing to overturn. This is odd as final rules are specific, and their existence isn’t usually questioned. The ruling led plaintiffs to seek an answer from the DEA about whether its handed down decision, constitutes its final rule. As the DEA refused to respond, plaintiffs gave a time limit of until this week, after which, without reply, they would consider the DEA’s decision final, and launch a new suit. That happened, and here we are now.

The filing was done in the same federal appeals court as last time, with the hope that it will be seen differently in light of the DEA’s refusal to say anything. The case, “asserts that DEA is unlawfully misinterpreting and misapplying Right to Try statute that should allow terminally ill patients to access Schedule I investigational drugs like psilocybin.”

And that, “In denying Petitioners’ requested accommodation in the Final Agency Action, DEA hides behind a smokescreen, neglecting its duty to implement the federal RTT and violating the state RTT… It is attempting to use the Controlled Substances Act as a cudgel to thwart state medical practice, to the detriment of dying patients.”

What is this ‘Right to Try’ law?

These laws exist both on a state and federal level, and are there so that terminally ill patients can access experimental, or thus-far unapproved, therapies, including drugs, devices, and biologics. So long as the drug, device, or biologic has undergone Phase I testing, it’s allowable for use in this way. This law – on a federal level – makes it so that patients don’t have to petition the FDA directly for experimental medication.

There is no requirement for a state to have Right to Try laws, and not all do. The passage of such laws started in 2014 when Colorado became the first to initiate a measure.

terminal patient

As of right now, the following 41 states have a law: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

On a federal level, a bill was introduced in 2017. In August of that year, the bill passed the Senate unanimously, due to bill creator Ron Johnson (R -Wis) threatening to slow down a Senate vote on the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, which apparently, had to pass so the FDA could legally operate. A unanimous consent vote was traded for Johnson not holding up the FDA vote. Smooth move on his part.

In March of 2018, the House passed a companion bill, which was introduced the prior year. This bill – S.204, then went to the Senate, which passed it as well. Officially called the ‘Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act’, the bill was signed by President Trump on May 30th, 2018.

What is expected?

We don’t know how the appeals court will rule yet, or if it’ll give the same answer it did the last time. However, it’s not just about the cases (which clearly aren’t going to go away), but about legislators now putting pressure on the federal agency as well. In fact, in light of this issues, several lawmakers have filed companion bills, and provided congressional clarification, to urge the federal agency onward. All say that psilocybin is covered under Right to Try.

For its part, the only thing the DEA has managed to do, is essentially pass the buck by saying it “has no authority to craft policies to address the RTT.” However, according to plaintiffs, “Just because the DEA chooses not to do something, does not mean that the agency has no authority to do so. Here, the DEA is violating federal law and federalism principles.”

Possibly because of the growing popularity of the issue, plaintiffs do expect the court to agree with their argument, and require the DEA to follow mandate in allowing psilocybin to patients in need. If this doesn’t happen, it would require new congressional legislation to back up something that already exists; which showcases boldly why our system moves so slow and uselessly so much of the time, doing nothing but costing citizens more money.

magic mushrooms

As a showing of congressional support, a bipartisan companion bill was recently introduced, which “would make a technical amendment to the text of the existing statute, with the primary purpose of clarifying—in the face of DEA objections—that RTT policy as signed into law by former President Donald Trump already means that patients with terminal health conditions can obtain and use investigational drugs that have undergone clinical trials, even if they’re Schedule I controlled substances.”

To give an idea of just how much the DEA is dragging its feet in general, consider that the agency is also being sued over its delays in processing public records requests for both cannabis and psychedelics. To step it up a notch further in terms of DEA bad behavior, the agency is also trying to put the following tryptamines (which are hallucinogens) in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances list: 4-OH-DiPT, 5-MeO-AMT, 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-DET and DiPT. In fact, the DEA is planning to hold a hearing for this measure, despite the inarguable fact that no one wants it.

Even weirder, while it works so hard to trip people up, the DEA has increased production of psychedelics, including magic mushrooms, for research purposes. My guess… once big pharma comes out with medications that the FDA approves, the DEA will totally be cool with people using them. Thank god our government works on our behalf!

Conclusion

That things will change eventually is practically a given, but the question of ‘when’ remains relevant. Just as relevant as the question of why the DEA is working so hard to not only stymie general progress, but to keep terminally sick patients from getting a medicine.

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Study Finds Genetic Link to Effects of Psychedelic Drugs

Common genetic variations in a particular serotonin receptor could be responsible for the varying effects psychedelic drugs have on different individuals, according to a recently published study from researchers at the University of North Carolina. The study, which comes at a time of reinvigorated research into the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs, could shed light on why the substances seem to have dramatically positive effects for some patients with serious mental health conditions while others find little therapeutic value in the drugs.

Bryan Roth, MD, PhD, led a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) to complete the study. The goal of the research was to explore how variations in this one serotonin receptor changes the activity of four psychedelic therapies. The laboratory research in cells showed that seven variants uniquely and differentially impact the receptor’s response to four psychedelic drugs—psilocin, LSD, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) and mescaline. The researchers believe that the in vitro research could be useful for determining appropriate mental health therapies for patients.

“Based on our study, we expect that patients with different genetic variations will react differently to psychedelic-assisted treatments,” said Roth, who leads the National Institutes of Health Psychotropic Drug Screening Program. “We think physicians should consider the genetics of a patient’s serotonin receptors to identify which psychedelic compound is likely to be the most effective treatment in future clinical trials.”

Psychedelics and Mental Health

Research published in 2020 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. A separate study published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. And last year, researchers determined that psychedelic users had less stress during lockdowns put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior research has also determined that psychedelic drugs stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain. The 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor, also known as 5-HT2A, is responsible for mediating how a person reacts to psychedelic drugs. However, there are several naturally occurring, random genetic variations that can affect the function and structure of the 5-HT2A receptor. Much of the research into the effect that psychedelics have on mental health is inspired by the effect the drugs have on serotonin receptors, which bind the neurotransmitter serotonin and other similar molecules to help regulate mood, emotions and appetite.

Although they show great promise, psychedelic drugs do not seem to be effective as a treatment for everyone. Dustin Hines, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience in the department of psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who was not involved in the UNC study, said the research could shed light on why psychedelic therapies work well for some patients while others find little therapeutic benefit from the drugs.

“Genetic variation in this receptor has been shown to influence the response of patients to other drugs,” Hines told Healthline. “While psychedelic therapies can provide rapid and sustained therapeutic benefits for multiple mental health concerns, there are a proportion of patients who fail to respond.”

Hines also noted that differences in mental health conditions from person to person could also contribute to how well patients respond to both psychedelic and more traditional treatments.

“Some individuals with depression may have a genetic predisposition that increases the likelihood that they will experience depression in their lives,” Hines said. “Other individuals facing depression may have more situational or environmental contributions.”

The researchers at UNC noted that the study could help provide insight to clinicians considering psychedelics as a treatment for their patients and called for further investigation.

“This is another piece of the puzzle we must know when deciding to prescribe any therapeutic with such dramatic effect aside from the therapeutic effect,” Roth said. “Further research will help us continue to find the best ways to help individual patients.”

Results of the study were published last week in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

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