Jamaica set to benefit from research into 'magic mushrooms' drugFriday, June 25, 2021
JAMAICA seems set to play a big part in the developing market for psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms.
HAVN Life Sciences Inc, a biotechnology company pursuing standardised extraction of psychoactive compounds and the development of natural health-care products, is one of the entities pioneering the use of controlled psilocybin for medical purposes in Jamaica.
“New and exciting discoveries are being made every year for the use of psilocybin to treat ailments ranging from chemical dependency to obsessive compulsive disorder, cluster headaches, and a host of other psychological disorders,” chief psychedelic officer of HAVN Life Sciences, Dr Ivan Casselman, said.
Casselman added: “We are happy to be at the forefront of making those benefits available to the public, and Jamaica has provided the perfect environment to fast-track this work.”
In March, HAVN Life entered into a partnership with Hypha Wellness Jamaica Psilocybin to research and produce safe, quality controlled psilocybin medicine. The collaboration will see the development of a supply chain for the regulated production of medical psilocybin.
HAVN Life and Hypha Wellness are slated to begin the development of standardised, powdered, homogenised, psilocybin mushroom products for academic research around the world before the end of 2021.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in more than 200 species of fungi (mushrooms).
Mushrooms containing psilocybin are most commonly consumed orally, then metabolised in the human body to create a substance called psilocin, which produces its psychoactive effects.
For thousands of years, cultures around the world have used psilocybin for therapeutic and spiritual purposes.
Despite its long history of use, however, psylocibin was only popularised throughout the west during the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Its use was not confined to “hippies” though — the United States Government and academics invested heavily in research into potential applications for the substance, along with other psychedelics like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).
As these compounds “escaped the lab” and became associated with the nascent hippie culture, however, politicians reversed course and passed laws prohibiting the use of these drugs, even for research purposes.
In recent years there has been a renaissance of interest in psilocybin within the scientific community, as researchers continue to uncover medical uses for it and push for decriminalisation of psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
One of the most common and most researched uses of psilocybin is in the treatment of depression.
In 2019 the Food and Drug Administration of the United States granted “breakthrough therapy” status to psilocybin for its use in the treatment of major depressive disorders. In preliminary trials, psilocybin showed great promise in helping patients with severe treatment-resistant depression using only a single dose.
Larger trials of psilocybin treatment for depression are slated to continue and hold considerable hope for people suffering from depression who are interested in an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical solutions.
A small study led by Matthew Johnson, associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, found that psilocybin therapy significantly improved participants' abstention from smoking over 12 months. Six per cent of the participants reported continued abstention from smoking after 16 months. Following that success, Johns Hopkins embarked on a five-year study including 80 participants, which is ongoing.
In the meantime, research conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, into the use of psilocybin to help alleviate psychological distress and anxiety in those suffering from end-stage cancer and other terminal diseases has shown considerable success.
This discovery is welcome news to the millions of individuals who want to experience a peaceful end-of-life transition for themselves and their families. Cancer-related psilocybin therapy is considered among the most promising areas of research for the compound.
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