Labs Leading Innovation in Medical Magic Mushrooms
Why Are Magic Mushrooms So Popular?
Magic mushrooms (shrooms) have long been used by our ancestors and shamans as a form of medicine and therapy. Before modern medicine even existed, plants and herbs were the go-to medicine for all people, and for almost any illness that existed, there was a plant to heal it. Now, we run to the pharmacy and swallow pills that have names we cannot even pronounce, not really fully knowing what’s in them or their long-term side effects. Most of the time, they are just a band-aid solution to cure pain temporarily while the actual illness usually persists. We continue injecting our hard-earned money into these pharmaceutical drugs that we know nothing about, whereas the true cure for most of our illnesses today (including mental illness) could be growing in your backyard or a forest nearby.
Magic Mushrooms Are Nature’s Cure For a Variety of Ailments
Shrooms are one of these natural cures. Sometimes referred to as psilocybin mushrooms, these are a polyphyletic informal group of fungi that contain psilocybin, which when consumed transforms into psilocin. They are hallucinogenic in nature and, when consumed, cause the user to see hallucinations, geometric shapes and patterns, vivid colours and sounds, and overall feel a much more intimate connection with their surroundings.
Psilocybin has been designated as a “breakthrough therapy” by the US Food and Drug Administration, a classification meant to expedite the release of particularly promising drugs.
A rising body of research in science is supporting the mystics’ long-held assertion that these substances have healing properties. Psychedelics have shown promise in the treatment of a variety of ailments, including migraines, eating disorders, and alcoholism.
Johns Hopkins University researchers published a small study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in February that showed psilocybin-assisted therapy reduced or completely eradicated depressive symptoms in more than half of individuals for at least a year.
New Developments for Psilocybin Products on the Market and in Labs
At Numinus Wellness Inc., a Canadian business that is a pioneer in the least likely new subfield of the pharmaceutical industry, Sarah Neumann is the lead mycologist.
Humans have been foraging on forest floors for generations in quest of the psychedelic trip’s wild and magnificent unpredictability. To order that chaos is Neumann’s responsibility. In the spring of 2022, she opens a refrigerator full of petri dishes and Mason jars with mycelium in various stages of development in a drab maze of lab rooms in a strip mall on Vancouver Island. She holds up a sample with unusually thick strands and adds, “That’s what I’m looking for.”
On the interior surface, a dark brown powder with an iris-like pattern may be seen. It’s like a fingerprint: To get this, separate a mushroom cap from its stem and put it in foil, gills down, overnight. Spore prints like this are identifying tools for mycologists who are collecting samples from the wild. They serve as genetic information archives for Neumann, whose job is in cultivation.
The print in question is from a species known as Psilocybe cubensis. These genetically distinct specks will grow into networks of fine, branching threads called mycelium when scattered in fertile soil or, even better, manure. The mycelium will eventually produce fruiting bodies, the recognizable capped forms that the majority of us recognize as mushrooms, which are stuffed with a fresh batch of spores after feeding on decomposing organic waste.
For unknown reasons, P. cubensis and some of its fungi relatives’ fruiting bodies also contain additional materials: chemicals that interact with the brain’s neurotransmitter receptors to dramatically detach us from our normal modes of perception and cognition. These effects can be both terrifying and awe-inspiring, or both.
That initial evaluation is the beginning of a tedious winnowing process. Neumann will develop mycelium from her spore prints, growing promising candidates into mushrooms to assess their vigour and chemical payloads. She will repeat this process numerous times to dispel any doubt and add the best specimens to her company’s cell bank. The magic mushroom optimization technique used by Numinus includes several steps, including this six-month verification. There, scientists are conducting experiments to determine the optimal P. cubensis nutrition, the ideal time to extract the main hallucinogenic ingredient, psilocybin, and the ideal degree of fineness for grinding the fungal tissue into a powder that would remain stable on shelves.
After being examined for contaminants, the extract will be placed in a capsule along with a special combination of stabilizers and other chemicals. If everything goes as planned, a pill similar to this one will be consumed together with a sip of water at a clinic under the supervision of a therapist and with financial assistance from health insurance.
What’s Canada’s Future for Magic Mushrooms Startups & Labs
Just as they had been in Western society for most of the modernity, psychedelic drugs were restricted to a fringe of mystics and experience adventurers even a decade ago. However, they are getting closer to being accepted by society today, and as a result, psilocybin as well as other psychedelics like MDMA and LSD are being studied in a lot of startup labs for their potential therapeutic uses because the market for them is expanding and there is increasing demand.
On US exchanges alone, there are more than 50 publicly traded psychedelic companies. According to a recent report from Data Bridge Industry Research, the pharmaceutical psychedelics market will grow to $6.9 billion by 2027, with Johnson & Johnson leading the way. The industry “may even overtake the legal US cannabis market” at this rate, a journal opinion piece in JAMA Psychiatry noted.
Vancouver Island shrooms are abundant and ever-increasing in popularity, thus becoming the subject of many startup labs for research on their therapeutic benefits and uses, just like Sarah Neumann has been doing.
However, proving that the medications work may end up being the simple part. In some ways, the psychedelic community has been split by money and social approval. After spending their whole lives attempting to mainstream drugs, some drug advocates are suddenly having second thoughts about what they’re witnessing. The co-founder and CEO of Numinus, Payton Nyquvest, expresses his concern that if access is opened up too quickly, given the nature of people and how we work, we risk missing a therapeutic opportunity.
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