Kentucky Public Hearing Spotlights Testimonies of Ibogaine Patients

The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission held a public hearing on Sept. 15, inviting a wide variety of people to speak about a plan that involves using ibogaine to treat addiction.

Personal testimonies were presented by 23 individuals over a five-hour period, including military veterans, parents, professors, and many others who have witnessed the use of ibogaine in some way.

Ben Chandler, who served as Kentucky Attorney General between 1995-2003, and also held a position as a House Representative between 2004-2013. Now he’s the President and CEO of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, and was the first to speak at the hearing. He explained his close relationship with the harms of the opioid crisis whose cousin had committed suicide at age 30 due to drug addiction. He also spoke about his brother who died from a fentanyl overdose earlier this year. “We have not been able to solve the problem, in my judgment,” Chandler said about the opioid crisis. “It continues to be intractable, and we need as many tools as we can get. And I believe that a drug like ibogaine, from what I’ve read, it has the potential to make the difference that we need to have made—or at least a big difference.”

Jerry Catlett, who is a parent of an ibogaine patient, explained his initial thoughts about ibogaine—describing it as “another gimmick”—until he saw how it began to help his son recover from opioid use disorder. “My wife and I had already come to the conclusion that our son was a dead man walking,” Catlett said. “[My son] tells me that within a few minutes of taking the treatment, he was no longer addicted to opioids. Six months later, he did take another treatment. Today he’s still opioid addiction free.”

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was also in attendance, explaining the positive effect of ibogaine for combat veterans, including Texas Rep. Morgan Luttrell, as well as his own brother. “Why wouldn’t we explore clearly these breakthrough treatments given their potential to produce curative results not attainable with existing pharmacology?” Perry said. “You have the opportunity for Kentucky to lead the nation on exploring this potentially revolutionary new treatment. I’m before you today not as a political figure, but as a fellow human being asking you to consider the stunningly positive potential of ibogaine research.”

Many more personal testimonies were shared, as seen in the full video here. In a closing statement, commission chair and executive director W. Bryan Hubbard thanked everyone for attending, especially military veterans “…who were willing to lay it all on the line for us, and who have done so again today with visceral candor.”

The commission first announced its plans to consider treatments for opioid use disorder back in May. “Kentucky must overcome the opioid epidemic by any and all means necessary,” Hubbard said in a press release at the time. “As we begin the next phase in our fight against this crisis, we must explore any treatment option that demonstrates breakthrough therapeutic potential. Our goal is to investigate the creation of a new standard for treating opioid dependence, so we can finally end this cycle of pain in the Commonwealth.” The press release shared that overdose-related deaths fell by 5% in 2022, but are still up 60% since 2019. Since 2020, 7,665 Kentuckians have died due to overdosing.

At the time, Hubbard announced that the commission plans to “explore the possibility of devoting no less than $42 million over the next six years to the creation of public-private partnerships which can incubate, support and drive the development of ibogaine all the way through the FDA approval process.” The funds come from a $26 billion settlement between multiple states and local governments, and large pharmaceutical companies who had their hand in creating the opioid crisis.

These public hearings will help the commission make a decision on how to invest the $42 million and is set to make a decision in November.

In May, the University of Kentucky (UK) launched a Cannabis Center dedicated to studying cannabis. The University awarded its “first set of faculty pilot grants to support innovative and collaborative cannabis research.”

Shanna Babalonis, the director of the Cannabis Center, is hopeful that the research will help residents in the state. “We are excited for this opportunity to expand and accelerate cannabis science at UK and conduct studies focused on the public health impacts of cannabis that can directly affect the lives of Kentuckians,” said Babalonis. “We have talented and dedicated researchers across a range of disciplines right here on campus who can contribute meaningful science to the center from multiple perspectives.”

In June, legislators introduced HR-3684, also called “Douglas Mike Day Psychedelic Therapy to Save Lives Act of 2023.” The bill honors an advocate and military veteran who passed away earlier this year. If passed, it would fund studies on psilocybin, ibogaine, MDMA, and 5-MeO-DMT and their efficacy in treating a variety of medical conditions.

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Acid Trip Ends in Arrest for Naked Bills Fan Who Covered Himself in Feces, Fell Down 30-Foot Hole

A nude man high on LSD, cocaine and more was arrested Sunday after being rescued from a 30-foot pit at the construction site of the Buffalo Bills’ new football stadium, relatively unharmed but covered in human fecal matter from a nearby porta-potty.

Originally reported by WIVB-4, deputies with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office mercifully withheld the identity of the 29-year-old man who was transported to Buffalo General Hospital for evaluation of a few minor injuries before being charged with criminal trespassing. Authorities said the man scaled a very large fence after leaving the porta-potty to access the construction site and fell into the pit when police approached him. Sheriff Garcia reportedly told Buffalo News that as the man was laying in the pit awaiting rescue, he gave them a peace sign with one hand and an obscene gesture with the other.

“He scaled that fence right up, [jumped] over the other side and next thing you know, he’s running toward the pit,” said Erie County Sheriff John Garcia. “By the time ECC security got behind him now this individual is falling, tumbling down into the pit. It happened so quickly, it’s a large site. You can’t have people every six feet.”

Authorities said the man told them he had consumed LSD, cocaine, alcohol and marijuana before this sequence of events began. The Sheriff’s Office assured the public there was no cause for alarm. Just as lightning does not strike twice in the same place, people don’t take acid and fall down the same hole twice (there’s a joke here about rabbit holes but I will abstain from making one as it would detract from the grave seriousness of this whole ordeal).

“When you’re taking LSD, cocaine and marijuana, you’re going to not read the signs. You’re not going to read anything,” said Sheriff Garcia. “You wouldn’t be in a porta potty jumping inside it, [covering] yourself with human excrement, you wouldn’t be doing that. This is a very isolated issue.”

Oddly enough, the big giant hole in the ground made headlines that very day, shortly before the naked man met his fateful fall. The Buffalo News ran a story called “’Big hole in the ground’ slows trip, but nothing stops Bills fans from getting to game,” detailing how construction on the new $1.4 billion Buffalo Bills stadium had left a big giant hole in the ground in Orchard Park across from the current stadium on Abbott Road. Apparently, the hole and the enormous pile of earth and gravel sitting next to the hole have been creating traffic jams of an hour or more for Bills fans trying to get to the stadium. 

“Everybody is talking about the big hole in the ground,” WGR host Jeremy White said.

“Which is a big, giant hole,” added co-host Nate Geary.

Sheriff Garcia spoke very highly of the rest of the hundreds of Buffalo Bills fans who managed to make it through Sunday without any other major incidents, calling it the “best behaved crowd that we’ve seen since our administration has been in place.”

“Nobody else was injured, nobody else made it on to this site,” Sheriff Garcia said. “We always try to stay four, five plays ahead because our job is to try to prevent incidents like that to occur but when someone takes LSD, cocaine and marijuana and they’re drinking, from running into traffic to scaling a 10 foot fence, we can’t prevent everything.”

According to the WIVB-4 article, only one other arrest was made that day of a football fan attempting to start a fight and eight other fans were ejected from the stadium. The man who fell into the pit was ultimately released on an appearance ticket after being charged, and not for nothing, but the Buffalo Bills shut out the Las Vegas Raiders 38-10 that day. Unfortunately, the naked psychedelic shit-covered football fan never made it to the game, as he was arrested just 40 minutes before kickoff. 

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How MDMA Got Sassafras Banned

You might be familiar with the sassafras plant. You’re also probably familiar with the drug MDMA, even if you only know it by name and not experience. What you probably don’t know, is that MDMA is the likely reason that the otherwise innocent sassafras plant, was banned in the US and beyond.

A little on sassafras

The first thing to know about sassafras is that its not a psychoactive plant. It doesn’t make a person high or euphoric, it doesn’t bring on hallucinations, and it was never used in either of these capacities. However, it has a powerful ability as a medicinal plant, and its history is mainly as this.

Sassafras originated in Cherokee territory, and entered European culture by way of European settlers. Beyond North America, there are two species of the plant that originate in East Asia. The North American version is classified as Sassafras albidum. The whole plant is an aromatic plant, and the roots, in particular, are used to make oil. Sassafras oil contains at least 80% safrole, which is the compound most associated with its medical benefits.

Cherokee traditions use the oil for a number of issues, including venereal diseases, skin ailments, rheumatism, diarrhea, appetite suppression, colds, as a vulnerary wash, for blood purification, and enhancing other herbal concoctions. It’s used as an abortifacient, perfume, natural insect repellent, as a natural pain reliever, to treat lice, and to soothe insect bites, as well.

The Cherokee harvest only young plants with red stems. According to local traditions, the red-stemmed plants are considered medicine; while the alternate white-stemmed plants, are considered poison. This idea may or may not be related to how the plant is viewed today. And it might shine a light on the idea that knowing how to prepare something, is the difference between safe and dangerous.

Sassafras plant

Sassafras also used to be an ingredient in root beer. In fact, sassafras was responsible for much of the taste. However, because of its current illegal standing, other artificial ingredients now replace sassafras, changing the taste of the soda. Some say, for the worse. If you crush or tear a sassafras leaf, you’ll get that great root beer smell.

A bit on MDMA

You might have forgotten while reading through about sassafras, that this is actually an MDMA-related article. MDMA is a psychostimulant, which acts similarly to classical psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT), in that it acts as an agonist at 5-HT serotonin receptors, forcing the brain to release more serotonin, and blocking re-absorption to force more into the brain.

MDMA, or 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine is often referred to as ecstasy, although this term sometimes simply denotes an impure product. It also goes by the name Molly, which is short for ‘molecular.’

It was created in 1912 by Merck Pharmaceutical. It wasn’t used or understood much at this time; and essentially sat on a back shelf until the 1970’s, when Alexander Shulgin found a new way to synthesize the drug. He subsequently tested it out with his therapist friends; who began using it in their practices along with assisted therapy. It was found that MDMA reduced fear and anxiety in at least some people, while also increasing feelings of empathy and overall connection between people.

Though it seemed to work well in psychiatric practice, the drug was nonetheless made illegal by the US federal government in 1985, by way of the previously installed Comprehensive Crime Control Act from the year before. This law allows the government to immediately ban a substance it deems dangerous; and was used at its onset to make LSD and magic mushrooms illegal.

Much like its psychedelic cousins, and other hallucinogens like ketamine; MDMA came back into prominence in the last few years. Cannabis legalization has softened the public’s feelings toward some drugs, and compounds like MDMA have been able to gain more traction than they were in decades prior. In the case of MDMA, particularly for its ability to help with PTSD reactions; something that can be seen in EEG and fMRI research.

Colorado was the first state to legalize medical MDMA, contingent on a US approval. Australia was the first country to pass a medical legalization. Currently, the company MAPS has an MDMA drug for PTSD which received ‘breakthrough therapy’ status from the FDA; indicating a desire to get this product to market quickly.

How MDMA got sassafras banned

We’re now talking about a psychostimulant compound that acts like a classic psychedelic in many ways, including producing hallucination experiences; and a plant with a long history as a medicine for many ailments, but no psychoactive response. What is the connection between the two; and how did MDMA cause sassafras to get banned?

Chemical formula for MDMA
Chemical formula for MDMA

MDMA is a purely synthetic drug, which might make you wonder why sassafras is involved at all. Now consider that LSD, also a completely synthetic drug, is synthesized using the ergot fungus which grows on tainted rye plants. When getting into pharmaceuticals, you’ll find that a large proportion of pharmaceutical drugs are synthesized using plant material.

Despite the fact sassafras was used for tons of purposes by different Native American tribes over hundreds of years, the FDA decided that safrole is carcinogenic, and banned the oil’s use in food products. In fact, a Science Direct article actually makes the statement: “Because of toxicity, carcinogenicity, and lack of therapeutic benefit, the use of this plant cannot be recommended under any circumstance.”

And yet it had been used medically for hundreds of years, making this a strange statement. After all, its not uncommon for a plant oil to be dangerous in high amounts. Think of mint, or cinnamon, or oregano oil. Yet they weren’t banned. So perhaps this banning has more to do with the fact that safrole is a building block for creating MDMA.

Basically, sassafras oil is used to make illicit MDMA. According to a DEA notice meant to inform the public, “individuals and businesses handling safrole and essential oils rich in safrole, such as sassafras oil, “brown” camphor oil 1.070, also referred to as Chinese sassafras oil, that they are sometimes used in the manufacture of MDMA. MDMA is also known as ecstasy, and is often spelled XTC. MDMA is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.”

It goes on to try to illicit a little fear, warning “Criminals are always searching for sources of safrole and essential oils rich in safrole,” and that “handlers of safrole need to know their customers so as not to become an unwitting supplier to a clandestine MDMA laboratory.” As per this idea, the DEA then requires that any provider who uses sassafras compounds to report to the DEA information related to moving large quantities, unusual payments, or anything that the provider might think is suspect.

It’s also required to report if working with anyone known to the DEA, or if the plant material inexplicably gets lost, especially when in high amounts. The DEA then goes on to confirm “It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess or distribute safrole, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, the safrole will be used to manufacture MDMA.”

The inconsistent story of how and why this happened

The new way to synthesize MDMA started in the 1970’s with Alexander Shulgin. Prior to this time, there is not much written about issues with sassafras, though MDMA wasn’t used or known about. It had been found decades earlier, but wasn’t a part of the medical or psychiatric world. So, no MDMA yet, and no complaint or issue with sassafras. Or last least, no confirmable issues. There are stories about studies from the 50’s, but I can’t find any. I did see one reference from 1950, in this article; but nothing else.

In the 1970’s, MDMA started appearing more, and this brought it to the attention of US authorities. In 1979 (according to some sources), the FDA subsequently banned sassafras because of a study with rats that used insanely large doses to draw the conclusion that sassafras causes cancer in rats; and therefore might in humans. To be clear, this problem didn’t actually come up in humans, and all talk of cancer and poisonings don’t match general history. Its good to remember, sassafras oil and tea were widely used. Yet somehow, the plant was banned on the premise of a danger that was never seen.

Recreational ecstasy use

As tends to be the case in fear-mongering articles meant to make the public think a particular way; sassafras has not subsequently shown any similar danger to humans, as it did to rats. Though the plant is banned, the danger has not been backed up. In fact, it’s rather difficult to follow the research/policy chain, as the story changes according to different sourcing, and is wildly inconsistent.

For example, in some publications, like here from McGill University, it speaks of the FDA banning sassafras due to research showing carcinogenic effects and oxidative damage in mice. But the study it links to, is from 1999, and doesn’t mention the FDA or a ban. However, in this article, it mentions the FDA ban following research in 1979. It does not link to any article or research paper. Go to Wikipedia, and it says that the FDA banned sassafras oil in 1960 – which would then be well before MDMA, and give credence to a lack of connection between the two. It goes on to say the tea was banned in 1977, but that that ban was lifted in 1994.

Wikipedia links to an NIH article entitled Botanical Dietary Supplements Gone Bad from 2007, which mentions the date 1960. However, the articles it links to in support, are from 1983 and after. And its statement about banning by the FDA is attached to a 1994 study. Perhaps this was a re-banning. The article makes this troubling statement: “These experiments confirm the genotoxic effects of safrole and thus justify the restrictions made by the FDA and other health authorities.”

Whether the date is 1960 (a couple sources give the date, but with no confirming evidence), or 1977-1979 (much more likely); the implication is that this was done without any corroborating evidence. To the point that the NIH article makes it sound like subsequent research backed up a ban that was put in place before research was available. Of course, as its not backed up in life; it appears the research was done as a substantiating measure for something put in place for other reasons.

Moving on, this Science Direct article, which mentions that the FDA prohibits sassafras in food products, attaches to nothing explaining why, or the date the ban happened. And Medicine Net? It specifically says the FDA banned sassafras tea in 1976, though that might only account for tea. There is no attached information. gives the date of 1976 for the FDA ban as well.

According to EatThePlanet, a ban was put in place in 1960 due to research from the 1950s indicating safrole can cause cancer in rats. Once again, nothing is attached to back this up. Between all sourcing taking place after 1960, and given its clear affiliation with MDMA; this date is questionable, though I cannot rule it out. As I cannot find hard backing for the other dates given either, its impossible for me to say when this actually happened, or why. And this in and of itself, is a very strange thing.


The result of this investigation is that I cannot find one source that gives a definitive date for the sassafras ban, a law or piece of regulation attached to it, or any information on study results prior to the 1980s. We’re not talking about 500 years ago, either, we’re talking about the last few decades; which makes these discrepancies very unusual. This is compounded by the differing information from nearly every different publication, and that sassafras is used to create an illicit drug. It seems the line that sassafras is carcinogenic, is likely just a guise to try to stop illicit MDMA production.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Women & Psychedelics: How Estrogen Alters Psilocybin’s Effects

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

Women and psychedelics 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new research on psilocybin and estrogen 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts 

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

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

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Top Mescaline Producing Cacti from Around the World 

When we think of trippy cacti, mescaline generally comes to mind. And rightfully so, as very few other cactus compounds are truly psychedelic. That being said, most people tend to associate mescaline with peyote, but peyote is illegal in the United States. What many don’t realize is that many other, completely legal cactus species contain mescaline also. Let’s learn more about a few of the more popular varieties.

What is mescaline? 

Mescaline (3,4,5-Trimethoxyphenethylamine) is a naturally occurring, plant-based psychedelic protoalkaloid belonging to the phenethylmine class. Like other drugs from this class, mescaline has an affinity for serotonin receptors. Although it binds to virtually all serotonin receptors in the brain but has a stronger affinity for the 1A and 2A/B/C receptors. 

Aside from Peyote, which is the most well-known, mescaline can be synthesized from a few other cactus species as well, a few of which we’ll discuss in further detail later on. It’s known for its powerful hallucinogenic properties, comparable to those of LSD and psilocybin


A common dose for mescaline is roughly 200 to 400 mg, depending on the person’s size, level of experience with the compound, and other factors. Traditionally, San Pedro dosing is calculated at roughly 3.75 mg/kg of weight. However, potency can vary wildly from cactus to cactus, so it can be quite difficult to get consistency in dosing. For example, 50 grams of powdered cactus can have anywhere from 150 mg to 1,150 mg of mescaline. Factors such as where and how the cactus grew (the plant’s terroir) and access to water and sunlight can influence the plant’s potency.  

Mescaline produces a number of effects, including intense hallucinogens, with both open and closed-eye visuals; distortion in time, sound and vision; an increase in introspective and conceptual thinking; the loss of ego; and feelings of euphoria. It’s often considered gentler than other psychedelics with less negative come-down, while possibly producing greater insight than these other compounds. It’s the subject of a growing body of research for its potential medical properties. 

Mescaline has a rich history of traditional and spiritual use dating back thousands of years. Native Americans have long used peyote as a religious sacrament and in the early 1800s (aka Peyotism), the modern-day Native American Church (NAC) was formed. The 1994 amendment to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act legalized the use of peyote for members of this church. However, it’s banned for everyone else in the United States.  

Mescaline-producing cacti 

Many cacti are known to be psychoactive, containing phenethylamine alkaloids such as mescaline, or other mind-altering compounds. Cacti that produce mescaline specifically, can be found growing throughout North and South America, with more prominence in certain areas such as most of Mexico and the Andes region which stretches throughout Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.  

The two genera that are most often used for spiritual and ritualistic purposes are Echinopsis, which contains the San Pedro cactus group; and Lophophora, which has peyote. Several other species contain mescaline and are just as potent, but do not have the same historical background.  


Peyote (Lophophora williamsii), or “the sacred one”, is by far the most well-known of the mescaline cactus types. It’s been talked about in movies, literature, and music, and also depicted in many types of visual artwork such as paintings and photographs. It’s a very slow-growing, spinless, flowering, button cactus that is greenish-blue in color, sometimes with hints of grey.  

DIY Peyote mescaline extraction
Peyote cactus buttons

The Peyote cactus grows among thorny shrubs in the high desert regions of Central Mexico to Southwestern Texas, mainly between 330 and 4,920 ft, although in some rare circumstances, it has been found at elevations as high as 6,200 feet.  

It’s a very hardy plant that can grow in many different types of increment weather conditions. Mainly, it just needs that dry desert air. It’s common to find it growing on or near limestone hills. It flowers in between March and May, and the flowers are pink and white with thigmotactic anthers. It grows in the wild from central Mexico to Southern Texas.  

In traditional peyote preparations, the top of the cactus is cut off, leaving the large tap root along with a small, green photosynthesizing area where new heads can grow. These heads are then dried to make disc-shaped buttons. The buttons are chewed or soaked in water to make a beverage. An average dried button weighs about 2 grams, and it would take 6-10 buttons to produce psychedelic effects. Peyote is extremely bitter though, so more contemporary users will usually grind the dried buttons into a powder and pour into capsules to consume. 

San Pedro  

San Pedro (Trichocereus/Echinopsis pachanoi) is a tall, thin flowering columnar cactus that grows in clumps. Each column has 7-9 ridges with small clusters of spines along the edges. The clump can grow up to 14 feet tall and contain a substantial amount of mescaline. It hails from the Andes Mountain region of South America. It also grows well in the Southwestern US, as far north as Colorado, although it truly thrives in California and Arizona, where it can be seen with regularity in residential areas and shopping centers. 

San Pedro cactus columns

Their fast growing nature has seen San Pedro cacti become very popular in the last decade, although it too steeped in history. Use of San Pedro can be traced back to the pre-Columbian Chavin culture that developed in Peru between 1300 to 200 BCE. This is evidenced by numerous stone carvings depicting mythical beings holding San Pedro cacti, the oldest of which was discovered in an old temple at Chavin de Huantar in the northern highlands of Peru. Numerous other artifacts from the region bore San Pedro symbolism as well, and perhaps the most concrete proof of its use are the 3,000-year-old cactus cigars found in the same cave as the carvings. 

Even today, San Pedro is sold at numerous markets in the country and in 2022, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture declared the traditional use of San Pedro cactus in northern Peru as part of their cultural heritage. Traditionally, San Pedro can be consumed either on its own or mixed with other plants in a psychedelic, ceremonial brew called cimora. 

It can also be bought online or at gardening stores in the US with relative ease because it’s federally legal. And because there are now laws against possession of San Pedro, it’s one of the longest-studied psychedelics, as well as the first cactus to be labeled with the term (psychedelic). Dosing can be challenging as potency varies considerably. There are San Pedro that are completely inactive and won’t do anything, and there are some that are strong enough that you only need a couple inches of fresh plant to feel a good high – so there is a certain level of trial and error involved to figure out what is best for each person.  

Peruvian Torch 

Peruvian Torch, or Trichocereus Peruvianis, is often confused for San Pedro but it’s slightly different. It’s distinguished by its blue shade and longer spines. Not only are the spines longer, but they’re also a different color – San Pedro spines are yellow, whereas the Peruvian Torch spines start off as a brownish-yellow and turn to bone white as they age. 

Blue Peruvian Torch cactus with brownish/yellowish spines

Additionally, Peruvian Torch is said to be much more potent than San Pedro, although honestly, it’s hard to find any reliable information on this other than word-of-mouth and reddit posts. It seems that, although some of the highest recorded concentrations of mescaline have been from San Pedro cactus varieties, so have some of the lowest. Peruvian torch seems to be more consistent on the higher end.

Bolivian Torch  

Bolivian Torch, or Echinopsis lageniforis, is another fast-growing columnar cactus that bears many similarities to San Pedro and Peruvian Torch. Origins of its use can be tracked back to the indigenous shamans of La Paz, Bolivia, who would refer to this cactus as “Achuma” or “Wachuma”.  

Bolivian Torch has much higher levels of mescaline than both Peruvian Torch and San Pedro with roughly 0.56 percent by dry weight, although concentrations did vary a bit based on the location of the cactus. All you need is about 0.3 to 0.4 grams to produce the desired effects, which is typically a noticeable psychedelic experience. They also get quite tall, up to 15 feet and some of the mature ones produce a big, blooming flower right on the top. 

Although most people think of peyote when they think of psychedelic cacti, there are many other species that produce the compound, as well as other psychoactive agents.
Bolivian Torch

Interestingly, they still are not as popular as one would expect, given the benefits of choosing this cactus over other mescaline producing varieties. One reason is because they simply are not very well known. Another reason is because people often use the names Bolivian Torch, Peruvian Torch, and San Pedro interchangeably, believing they are all different terms for the same cactus when in fact, they only look similar and all contain mescaline.  

Other psychedelic cacti 

There are roughly 300 cactus types that produce psychoactive compounds. It’s usually mescaline, but not always; although the other psychedelic cacti are even less researched than the mescaline ones, so very little is known about the potential of these agents. There could be several hallucinogens in these cacti that are yet to be discovered.  

Another species of cactus, the Echinocereus triglochidiatus, is suspected to contain a tryptamine-derivative that is similar to 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine), although again, there is not much literature on the subject.  

Some other fairly well-known psychoactive cacti (among psychonauts and botanists at least) are Ariocarpus species with numerous phenethylamines, which are often referred to as “maddening drugs”. However, the mechanisms of how these compounds work is still not very well understood. Additionally, some cacti contain stimulants, and others contain compounds that can be used for pain relief.  

Final thoughts 

Plants are fun, and while trying to research psychedelic cacti it becomes abundantly clear that there is so much in nature that we still know nothing about. A lot of cacti contain mescaline, and we’re now learning that several contain other psychoactive compounds, many of which have yet to be studied in any capacity. It’s exciting to think what the future of psychedelics holds.

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Michigan Lawmakers Call On Congress To Consider Psychedelic Treatment For Vets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Michigan Lawmakers Call On Congress To Consider Psychedelic Treatment For Vets appeared first on High Times.

Researchers Lead First Pilot Study on MDMA Treatment For New Mothers

A study on MDMA treatment for new mothers, which launched in the spring, is being led by Dr. Larry Leeman, the medical director of the University of New Mexico’s Milagro Program.

Leeman “treats expectant mothers experiencing opioid use disorder,” and “was dismayed to see that many of his patients eventually resumed opioid use due untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” according to a press release from the university on the study.

“Now, Leeman and his colleagues are launching a first-of-its-kind pilot study to see whether a regimen of trauma-focused therapy coupled with doses of MDMA – popularly known to rave participants as ecstasy or molly – can help new mothers permanently overcome their drug dependency,” the press release said.

In an interview this week with local news station KOB, Leeman explained that New Mexico is “one of the epicenters of the opioid epidemic.”

A study from the New Mexico Department of Health in 2019 found that nearly two-thirds of those living in the state know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids. According to the agency, New Mexico was the “first state to approve naloxone for use by laypeople and has statewide standing orders for law enforcement to carry and pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription.”

“We know that our communities often have collective intergenerational trauma here and most of the research that’s happening in psychedelic assisted therapy has happened in John Hopkins, it happens in Yale, it happens in different places. This is the first study and its happening here in New Mexico,” Leeman told the station.

The study, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, “will enroll 15 people with diagnoses of moderate to severe PTSD six to 12 months after they have given birth,” the university said. 

Participants in the study “will receive 12 weeks of intensive therapy and three medication sessions.”

“The project, funded through private donations, will assess whether MDMA-assisted therapy can help the mothers overcome their addictions and improve bonding with their infants,” the university explained earlier this year. “Leeman’s team is collaborating with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which is supplying the MDMA used in the pilot. He noted that when the MDMA is purchased on the street it is often dangerously adulterated with other drugs, such as methamphetamine.”

In his interview this week with KOB, Leeman explained that MDMA is a “psychedelic type of drug that is different from classical psychedelics, such as psilocybin in that it really focuses on opening people up to be able to process their trauma.”

“Our hope for using MDMA assisted therapy is to treat that trauma, decrease the likelihood of using opioids again and kind of help set up the mother and the baby and the family for a life that really what everybody who’s using opioids wants, which is not to be using and to be able to be there and be fully present for their babies,” Leeman told the station.

The press release announcing the study earlier this year noted that “MDMA has complex effects, including some that are similar to classic psychedelics, such as psilocybin, which tamps down the brain’s default mode network and may interrupt trauma-driven rumination,” and that “MDMA temporarily increases production of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes a sense of connectedness.”

“Addiction has been described as the opposite of ‘connection,’” Leeman said at the time. “Another proposed mechanism of psychedelic-assisted therapies for addiction is that they increase participants’ connections with self, including emotions, values and life meaning, connection to others – family and community – and connection to the world and universe, which includes connection with nature and the feeling that everything is interconnected.”

“What the MDMA-assisted therapy does is take away their fear for a short period of time,” Leeman added. “During that time, they have the ability to process the trauma that has led to their PTSD and which have never been able to process. It’s a bit of a redo in helping people heal in ways that may improve their ability to bond with their baby.”

Academic research into psychedelic therapies continues to blossom, with local and state governments across the country also increasingly signaling an openness to what was once taboo. 

A recent study led by researchers from NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine in New York found that MDMA could be an effective treatment for various mental health conditions, and that it could also yield benefits when used in concert with other psychedelics. 

Relative to psilocybin/LSD alone, co-use of psilocybin/LSD with a self-reported low (but not medium–high) dose of MDMA was associated with significantly less intense total challenging experiences, grief, and fear, as well as increased self-compassion, love, and gratitude,” the researchers wrote.

The post Researchers Lead First Pilot Study on MDMA Treatment For New Mothers appeared first on High Times.

From Beer to Psychedelics: Making Psilocybin From Yeast

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

Yeast Fermentation: A New Frontier in Psilocybin Production

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

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

A new way to treat depression

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

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

Source: HealthNews

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

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AI Disclaimer: This news update was created using a AI tools. PsychePen is an AI author who is constantly improving. We appreciate your kindness and understanding as PsychePen continues to learn and develop. Please note that the provided information is derived from various sources and should not be considered as legal, financial, or medical advice.

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Minnesota May Be the Next State to Legalize Psychedelics 

Minnesota is gearing up to be the next state to legalize select psychedelics for medical use. Back in May, Governor Tim Waltz signed two large-scale drug-related bills – one that would create safe drug consumption sites throughout the state, and another that establishes a psychedelics task force that would prepare the state for a possible future legalization.  

The task force is made up of 23 members including a handful of veterans, one named Stephan Egan who claims that psychedelics helped him deal with treatment-resistant PTSD and depression. After five combat tours, Egan stated that he felt a lot of anger, frustration, and faced many challenges reassimilating into society. After he began experimenting with magic mushrooms, he felt almost immediately noticeable changes.  

“I’m not going to say that my life immediately got better after I took those, you know, that psilocybin,” Egan said. “But I will say I had the opportunity to make my life better because of that experience.” But he says he knows seven former veterans who died by suicide in recent months. “And had they had the ability or the opportunity to experience access to that medicine?” he wondered. “Things could have been different. It’s totally possible.” 

Also on the board is Dr. Ranji Varghese, who has been treating a small group of patients with ketamine at his clinic in Eden Prairie. According to Varghese, “Classic antidepressants are lifesavers, but they don’t release the unconscious. Therapy can, but slowly. Psychedelics have a rapid anti-depressant effect and give patients the freedom to address root issues. “It’s going to be a catalyst to allow these fixed and rigid ways of thinking to dissolve temporarily so that unconscious material can sort of bubble up to the surface.” 

Added that, “It has a powerful way of inducing something called neuroplasticity which is the brain’s ability for change, and if we can strike while the iron is hot we can perhaps motivate those patients while this plasticity is occurring to engage in behaviors that are pro-social, that are anti-depressant, to basically hardwire the brain into these new ways and patterns and behaviors.”  

Other members of the task force include officials and experts, including the governor or a designee, the health commissioner, the state attorney general or a designee, two tribal representatives, people with expertise in substance misuse treatment, public health policy experts, and more.

It seems like Minnesota will be the third state to legalize psychedelics, check back for more updates as soon as they become available!

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