Magic mushrooms have mental health benefits, says Longmore
Amidst growing concerns about the irresponsible use of magic mushrooms (shrooms) among young adults, psychiatrist and Government Senator Dr Saphire Longmore is adamant that there are extreme benefits that come from responsible use of the product.
“Persons who may benefit from this are people who have been abused, suffered trauma in some ways, people who might be suicidal and persons who might be depressed,” Longmore said.
She added that people with end of life contemplation and those who struggle with substance abuse disorders can also benefit from the proper use of magic mushrooms.
Longmore explained that psilocybin products like ‘magic mushrooms’ do not have similar effects on the body as cannabis and are non-addictive substances, describing it as an accelerated process of psychotherapy.
Co-founder of Rosehill Apothecary, one of the leading cultivators and suppliers of psilocybin products in Jamaica, Kevin Bourke, said his industry takes adequate precautions before administering mushroom-based products to clients.
“There are intake forms and doctors on our team. If somebody decides to come to our shores, there are forms documenting their medical conditions and what prescription drugs they are on,” Bourke explained.
He added that many people overseas have flown to Jamaica just to benefit from his psilocybin retreats and he believes the industry can transform how people treat mental health illnesses in Jamaica.
“The emergence of the psilocybin industry presents Jamaica with a remarkable opportunity to address the pressing mental health challenges faced by its population. By establishing well-regulated programmes that integrate psilocybin-assisted therapies, the nation can offer alternative and effective treatment options for individuals grappling with mental health disorders,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
However, Longmore stressed the importance of using the product under proper guidance and supervision in order to stop the possibility of having a bad episode.
“If you are not guided, you could become confused or retraumatised because you are not in the space of being guided through it and that is what you call a bad trip. The message that needs to be out there is that if you are contemplating the use of psilocybin, don’t take, especially the first dose, on your own because no two episodes of using the substance are the same,” she said.
The need to strike a balance between the promotion of a valuable natural substance and the usage of it under proper guidance encouraged her to partner with the Bureau of Standards to formulate the Jamaica Psilocybin Mushroom Industry Technical Committee.
“We convened the technical committee, of which I was elected to be chairperson, and the whole purpose of it is to work with the players in the industry. Already we are working with people who are involved in the industry whether at growing level, processing level, retreat, clinical or therapeutic application level,” she said.
Longmore added that the committee is working to build on the framework of standards that need to be met so the substance can benefit people who need it. She believes that having people like Bourke and other key figures on the committee will help restrict people who offer retreat services without following the proper requirements and doing the necessary checks.
“We are inviting key players from other ministries and other agents of government. We try to pull all players who might be impacted or involved in the industry to create the framework that matches what our laws require. So, the Ministry of Health and Wellness and a representative from the Mental Health Unit were at our initial meetings. Now, we will be inviting persons from the standards and relegations arm from the Ministry of Agriculture to actively play a role in the industry build-out,” Longmore explained.
She said that more public education is needed in Jamaica on the proper use of mushrooms and wants to promote the significant impact it can have for Jamaicans struggling with serious mental health issues.