Psychedelic Archives - Green Market Report

StaffMay 13, 2022
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6min7400

A new psilocybin-focused holistic wellbeing company called Beckley Retreats is officially launching from the founder of the Beckley Foundation, the drug policy reform and scientific research institution.  Amanda Fielding is Co-Founder of Beckley Retreats and Founder of the Beckley Foundation  (who was also an early thought partner and friend of Albert Hofmann, and widely known as the “Queen of the Psychedelic Renaissance”) has created Beckley Retreats to offer transformative self-development programs through the power of psychedelics in concert with supportive healing modalities.

Taking place in Jamaica in October 2022 – one of the few countries where the cultivation, gifting, and consumption of psilocybin mushrooms is legal – the comprehensive program includes curated pre-retreat preparation, as well as post-retreat integration to encourage the formation of new habits, practices, and thought patterns.  With a team of clinical experts and spiritual guides to create and lead their programs, the retreat combines ancient teachings and mindful practices with individual guidance to create an unparalleled experience.

What is Beckley Retreats?

  • Beckley Retreats is a leading holistic wellbeing company that offers transformative self-development programs by leveraging the science-backed power of psychedelics in concert with supportive therapeutic modalities.
  • Building on the decades of insights from the renowned Beckley Foundation, we merge world-class contemplative practices with the science-backed benefits of psilocybin to offer a comprehensive approach for people looking to make meaningful change in their lives.
  • The program includes psilocybin ceremonies, breathwork, meditation, mindful movement, as well as 6 weeks of supported integration techniques informed by psychotherapy and neuroscience.
  • Leveraging over 20 years of psychedelic research from the Beckley Foundation under the leadership of its founder Amanda Feilding, Beckley Retreats represents the logical next stage of this work.
  • The brainchild of Feilding and her founding partners Neil Markey, Rock Feilding-Mellen, and Daniel Love, Beckley Retreats exists to bring the proven benefits of psychedelic therapy to the wider community in safe and legal settings. Each co-founder brings a unique background to the brand, with a shared passion for wellness, healing and self-development.
  • With guidance from Amanda as a co-founder and advisor, Beckley Retreats is led by CEO Neil Markey. Neil discovered the potential of plant medicines and well-being practices after suffering from severe depression and PTSD following his deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Captain in the US Army Rangers. Through Beckley Retreats, Neil hopes others can experience the life-changing benefits that are possible through the careful and responsibly managed use of psychedelics.

Where will the retreats be held?

  • The first retreat location for Beckley Retreats is in the Cockpit Country region of Jamaica at the Good Hope Villas, amidst the island’s native flora and fauna. The property is only a 40-minute drive from the Montego Bay Airport in a gated and secluded location with 24-hour security surrounded by nature. The Good Hope property is used exclusively for wellbeing and healing programs and has private river and beach access.
  • The property has two special villas, each centuries-old with cut-stone homes. The entire property was recently renovated with care to modernize its amenities while retaining the historic charm. The villas have a total of 13 rooms, all with their own bathroom, premium bedding and linens, and thoughtful decor. Amenities include two swimming pools, a yoga room, high-speed internet, air conditioning, and access to paddleboards, kayaks, and surfboards. The beautiful landscape is perfect to enjoy the sunrise and sunset across the open mountainous vistas.
  • Jamaica is one of the few countries where the cultivation, gifting, and consumption of psilocybin mushrooms is legal. This, together with its lush nature and breathtaking scenery, makes it the perfect setting for Beckley Retreats. Additional locations are to be announced later this year!

What is the duration of the retreat?

While the main activities take place in person over five days at the retreat in Jamaica, Beckley Retreats’ transformative process is an 11-week program that includes pre-retreat preparation and post-retreat integration to encourage the formation of new habits, practices, and thought patterns.


StaffMay 2, 2022
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15min9700

Studies in Psychedelic Justice, a new program offered by Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, begins May 3 with the first of three courses (and a one-time workshop) designed to fill what Chacruna identifies as a void in the psychedelic space. Chacruna has been a leader in the fields of psychedelic education and reciprocity and has worked to protect psychedelic and sacred plants, as well as the cultural and spiritual traditions with which they intertwine. Registration is open now, and participants who bundle the three courses and the workshop save 20% on the total price ($1,760).

The series is open to professionals in any field. It also presents a unique opportunity for people interested in the burgeoning world of psychedelic investment to understand the history, context, and possible future of psychedelic science and culture.

Explosive growth is on the horizon for the psychedelic future. As psychedelic-assisted therapies become more widespread, and as medicines including MDMA and psilocybin near full FDA approval, the psychedelic drug market in North America is anticipated to grow to $3.184 billion by 2026. More academic programs across the country, from UC Berkeley to Harvard University, are springing up to train therapists, scientists, journalists, and clergy to step into careers where psychedelics are making significant impacts. Chacruna’s program is designed for professionals grounded in these disciplines, as well as for anyone interested in an informed approach to the psychedelic renaissance.

Bia Labate, PhD, Chacruna Institute’s Executive Director, shares that “Chacruna Institute’s Studies in Psychedelic Justice is a unique offering,” she says. “We combine academic excellence with a compassionate approach towards social justice issues. Amidst the explosion of training in the emergent field of psychedelics, the shamanic and spiritual roots of the psychedelic movement as well as marginalized contributions in both healing and research by women, queer people, Indigenous peoples, people of color, and the Global South, are frequently excluded from the mainstream narrative.”

She added, “We need healers and therapists that have a deep humanistic worldview, grounded in historical and cultural traditions and not just biomedical peer-reviewed articles.”

The exciting diversity within the psychedelic field, as well as the need for equitable and inclusive access to these medicines, is a topic Dr. Darron Smith (University of Memphis Department of Sociology) will consider in his class, “Understanding Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Role of Entheogens in Healing the Racial Divide” (part of the Diversity, Culture, and Social Justice Course).

“My class lays the foundation for discussions that will happen in the rest of the program,” Smith says. “The course is designed to provide participants with some basic information they need to know to get the most out of the program. We’re talking about terms they may not be familiar with, hot button subject matter that generally inflames passions, mostly a result of not knowing the subject matter.”

The class, which will focus on how psychedelics might heal racial trauma and division, will also address our contemporary moment. “As you look around the country, you’re seeing an attempt to regulate thought due to ingrained fear that white Americans have about these kinds of topics,” says Smith. “The psychedelic world has a lot of well-intentioned white people in the movement, but they still bring their prejudices and ideas about the way they think the world should be with them. We have a lot of work to do to unpack that and try to live up to Dr. King’s ideas of the Beloved Community.”

Chacruna Institute has long been a trailblazer in psychedelic studies, and the new program will “continue to promote and nourish the creation of a new generation of psychedelic therapists and practitioners who are more needed than ever as we move forward with this psychedelic renaissance,” according to Labate. The work done at the institute has inspired many of the universities and other institutions – like Stanford University, Naropa University, CIIS, Vital, Psychiatry Institute, Psychedelic Support, and others – that are now offering psychedelics training and studies, many of which assign books and articles created at Chacruna. Chacruna has also been an incubator space for students and team members, who have gone on to work as advisors and consultants both outside of and within the organization.

Studies in Psychedelic Justice feature distinguished professors and experts working on the leading edge of psychedelic studies in fields including law, the sciences, anthropology, psychology, conservation, and more.

“There has never been a course with so many accomplished diversity experts in one training to advance the work of psychedelic healing,” says Dr. Monnica T. Williams (Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Disparities). Williams is teaching multiple classes in the program, including “Psychedelics and Racial Justice: Equity and Access.” Other faculty members include Dr. NiCole T. Buchanan (Michigan State University and Alliance Psychological Associates), Dr. Gul Dölen (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Joseph Mays, MSc (Program Director of Chacruna’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas), and Dr. Natalie Gukasyan (Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University and a psychiatrist).

Studies in Psychedelic Justice opens with Diversity, Culture and Social Justice in Psychedelics (May 3-June 28), followed by The Science of Psychedelic Healing (July 9-August 9) and Buchanan’s one-day implicit bias workshop on July 27. The final series, the 16-week Roots of Psychedelic Therapy: Shamanism, Ritual and Traditional Uses of Sacred Plants, runs August 16-November 29. Students who bundle will also receive a one-year membership to Chacruna.

Chacruna’s past programming has included conferences, courses, workshops, panels, and trainings on diverse topics within the psychedelic renaissance. The organization just wrapped the Religion and Psychedelics Forum, a three-day exploration of this theme from leading members of the psychedelic community. Studies in Psychedelic Justice are a notable new entry in their offerings.


Dave HodesApril 25, 2022
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8min15920

Part of the work of psychedelics therapies is about finding new ways of delivering the psychedelic substance precisely where it is needed inside the human brain. And that has proved to be tricky.

It’s about getting around the blood-brain barrier in place to protect the brain from any substance in the blood that can damage the brain. Blood-brain barrier and blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier guard the central nervous system from harmful substances and pose the major challenges in delivering drugs, according to one study

Many bioactive molecules from natural sources have a high molecular size, resulting in a poor ability to cross the lipid membrane (a form of a barrier around all cells) and poor absorption capacity, ultimately leading to reduced bioavailability and efficacy. Thus the need for super tiny molecules within some sort of delivery carrier that can increase the bioavailability of a pharmaceutical. 

Enter nanomedicine. Nanomedicine refers to the applications of nanotechnology for the treatment, diagnosis, monitoring, and control of biological systems. Nanomedicines have been implicated to address the problems related to the treatment of the neurological disorder, and have a cutting edge over the conventional central nervous system therapy, according to a study

It is the branch of medicine that utilizes the science of nanotechnology in the treatment of various diseases using nanoscale materials, such as biocompatible nanoparticles and nanorobots for various applications. 

Nanotechnology, which refers to the manipulation of matter at an atomic or molecular level, has been discussed as a new platform for treating neurological disorders. Molecules can be nanoengineered to carry out multiple specific functions such as crossing the blood/brain barrier, targeting specific cell or signaling pathways, acting as a vehicle for gene delivery, and supporting nerve regeneration and cell survival.

Lipid-based nanocarriers have been shown to enhance the oral bioavailability of certain drugs in animals, including anticancer drugs, antiviral drugs, cardiovascular drugs, and central nervous system drugs. But there is still work to be done on their design—they must overcome issues inside the human stomach, such as gastric acid, to reach their target.

Nanotechnology offers multiple benefits in treating chronic human diseases by site-specific and target-oriented delivery of precise medicines for treating such mental health issues as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s—therapies that need a better way to overcome the blood/brain barrier to be effective. 

There has been progress on this methodology of drug delivery. The FDA has approved 41 nanoformulated drugs for the treatment of a variety of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, prostate cancer, hemophilia, breast cancer, and hepatitis, among others. 

And there is a wide range of pharmaceutical nanocarriers including liposomes, solid-liquid nanoparticles (SNP), micelles, dendrimers, and some others that have been developed.

But there is much more to know about nanoparticles and how they work inside the human brain. For example, there are concerns about the toxicity of the delivery method. Researchers are optimistic, concluding that the future use of nanotechnology in central nervous system drug delivery—the goal of psychedelics—“is very promising” and “opens new avenues in the treatment of neurological disorders as it has the potential to fundamentally revolutionize the way we approach central nervous system-targeted therapeutics due to their ability to nanoengineer the drug/carriers to cross the blood-brain barrier, diffuse within the brain tissue, target specific cell or signaling systems for delivering therapeutics.”

Nanotechnology is already being used in cancer drug therapies. In fact, the first nanotechnology-based cancer drugs have passed regulatory scrutiny and are already on the market including Doxil and Abraxane.

Some psychedelics companies are beginning to explore the promise of nanotechnology. For example, Toronto-based NanoPsy, Inc., is reportedly leveraging nanotechnology to effectively improve psychedelic drug efficacy. Their patented nanotechnology, in combination with their targeted delivery and controlled dosing technology methods, allows for an increase in solubility/absorption of these psychedelic molecules.

There will likely be more applications to come. Nanotechnology is “a multidisciplinary scientific field undergoing explosive development,” a study concluded.


Debra BorchardtApril 19, 2022
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5min11750

Roth Capital Partners analyst Elemer Piros has issued an industry note covering six psychedelic drug companies. All have received buy ratings and Piros has assigned price targets for each stock.

Cancer Therapy Similarities

The main premise for the buy rating is the analyst’s analogy between cancer immunotherapy and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. He notes, that while the comparison isn’t perfect, there are many similarities. For example, in cancer immunotherapy once or infrequently to a cancer patient to fight tumors. That is then followed by weeks of supportive care. Remissions can sometimes last for 10years. While it doesn’t work for every patient, it has revolutionized cancer treatments. Piros compares that to psychedelic treatments for patients with various mental health issues. These patients have a handful of treatment sessions that are followed up by psychotherapy sessions. It isn’t a perfect solution, but for many the response rate is remarkable. He writes, “A quarter to two-thirds of patients treated in controlled clinical trials achieve durable remission of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and PTSD, respectively.”

Market Size

Piros believes the market for psychedelic medicine could exceed $500 billion, which is five times the oncology market or the size of the entire U.S. pharmaceutical market in 2020. The immunotherapy treatments that the analyst uses as a comparison is a $100 billion market, so it is dwarfed by the potential of psychedelic treatments. There are 80 million patients that suffer from mental health issues that aren’t addressed in the U.S. and the numbers worldwide are even higher. Beyond mental health, the analyst thinks treatments could be expanded to eating disorders, chronic pain, ADHD, and general anxiety disorders.

Price Targets

Roth lists the following companies under coverage and the price targets for each. The analyst also thinks there is an average upside potential of 11x ranging from 5.6x to 22.7x.

  • Atai Life Sciences (ATAI) $32
  • Compass Pathways (CMPS) $117
  • Field Trip Health (FTRP) $15
  • Cybin (CYBN) $10
  • Small Pharma (DMT.V) C$5
  • Mydecine (MYCOF) C$3

Buy Rating Reasons

Piros outlined the reasons why each of these companies deserved buy ratings as follows:

Compass Pathways – The company observed a 27% remission rate in treatment-resistant depression during a randomized trial. “We expect Compass o initiate the pivotal program in 2H22. The company could announce results from half a dozen investigator-initiated trials with psilocybin (COMP360) throughout 2022.”

Small Pharma – “Small Pharma is anticipated to announce results from the first-ever short-acting psychedelic drug trial in 2Q22 (IV formulation of DMT (SPL026), duration: ~30 minutes) a major driver.

Atai Life Sciences – Atai plans to initiate enrollment in a DMT clinical trial by mid-2022 and by year-end announce results from its ketamine phase 2 program.

Field Trip – Field Trip is breaking ground with new chemical entities that should enter the clinic by mid-2022. The use of a diluted psilocybin product has a faster onset and shorter duration while maintaining the intensity of the experience. It will evaluate FT-104 in post-partum depression and TRD.

Cybin – This company also has a psilocybin light product named CYB003. The company will test this product on major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorders.

Mydecine – This company is addressing smoking cessation. It plans to initiate a Phase 2B clinical trial in 2Q22 with MYCO – 001.

Outlook

Overall, there are 38 psychedelic clinical programs underway or planned. Many of these studies either get underway or will report some sort of progress in 2022. Most of the current treatments on the market, most of which are prescription drugs like Zoloft haven’t been particularly effective. So the promise and hope for these outcomes are great.


Dave HodesMarch 29, 2022
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11min8220

As psychedelic retreats amp up, and clinical studies dig deeper into the intricacies of the psychedelics experience, there has been a collective review of the social side of using psychedelics and how and why doing psychedelics with a group could be a better therapeutic experience.

But there remain some obstacles to doing more of that sort of socially-collective consciousness research.

Psychedelics have been used in specific social settings since the dawn of man. The socially constructive function of psychedelics use has been central in many ancient cultures that developed customary or ritualized forms of consumption, according to one study.

An inherently social function for psychedelics is also found in contemporary Western cultures, ranging from dance events such as raves to religious ceremonies conducted by ayahuasca churches to psilocybin retreats, to the medically supervised administration of ibogaine.

Psychedelic clinical studies usually stress the importance of set and setting for psychedelics psychotherapy. So there is an understanding of the importance of the social influence on a psychedelic experience. But it doesn’t go far enough.

Modern small-scale clinical and laboratory studies have missed the mark when it comes to examining the fuller social dimension of psychedelics research. Laboratory-based approaches typically suffer from low sample sizes due to financial costs and logistical demands. In addition, they can be affected by sampling bias, in that people may sign up for a study with the explicit desire to have a psychedelic experience, or fail to capture the effects of spontaneous substance use.

The underlying problem with expanding psychedelics to a larger social setting is that the psychedelics culture in place today is a much more closed type culture, according to a thesis by Cambridge University undergrad Luke Williams. The responsibility lies with the experimenter to provide good data, and the demand is for higher evidential significance and higher evidential threshold. This move towards a closed culture is linked with the perceived public view of the psychedelic sciences: there is a strong desire to make the presented experimental work appear as scientific and rigorous as possible.

Why that sort of sanitized, by-the-numbers structure? The period of the ‘60s is associated with a very negative image of psychedelics, and, according to the thesis, modern researchers wish to distance themselves from it as much as possible. In particular, a more closed culture puts the responsibility in the hands of the individual scientists, which encourages more rigorous controls and experimental attitudes than that seen in an open culture.

Psychedelics researchers do already have some historical evidence about how set and setting, and social influences during treatment, can work for a positive, enduring experience.

One of the earliest experiments using psychedelics in a specific social setting occurred in 1962, when a minister and physician, Walter Pahnke, before services commenced on Good Friday in Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, administered small psilocybin capsules to twenty Protestant divinity students (Timothy Leary was Pahnke’s principal academic advisor at the time).

Pahnke hypothesized that psilocybin could facilitate a “mystical” experience in religiously inclined volunteers who took the drug in a religious setting.

He further hypothesized that such experiences would result in persisting positive changes in attitudes and behavior. Pahnke believed the most conducive environment for his experiment would be a community of believers participating in a familiar religious ceremony designed to elicit religious feelings, in effect creating an atmosphere similar to that of the tribes which used psilocybin-containing mushrooms for religious purposes.

Both the six-month and long-term follow-up questionnaire results supported Pahnke’s hypothesis that psilocybin, when taken in a religious setting by people who are religiously inclined, can facilitate experiences of varying degrees of depth that either is identical with or indistinguishable from, those reported in some of the cross-cultural mystical literature.

In addition, both the six-month and the long-term follow-up questionnaire results supported Pahnke’s hypothesis that the subjects who received psilocybin experienced substantial positive persisting effects in attitude and behavior.

But today, laboratory settings rarely resemble settings in which people typically use psychedelic substances—an especially important limitation given that the effects of these substances are notoriously affected by situational variables. “While existing laboratory research undoubtedly provides important insights into the psychological consequences of psychedelic substance use, this work leaves open the crucial question of how such consequences manifest in naturalistic settings,” according to a study.

Another study, the first quantitative examination of psychosocial factors in guided psychedelic settings, represented a significant step toward evidence-based benefit-maximization guidelines for collective psychedelic use, highlighting the importance of intersubjective experience, rapport, and emotional support for long-term outcomes of psychedelic use.

A rapidly growing phenomenon that lends itself particularly well to the study of psychosocial effects of psychedelics can be found in psychedelic retreat settings. In countries where specific psychedelic substances have remained legal, the unmet global demand for structured and safe use of psychedelics has helped create an industry of psychedelic experience-provision, often designed as multi-day retreat programs, typically consisting of one or more guided psychedelic group sessions or ceremonies.

Psychedelic ceremony participants report increased wellbeing, creative divergent thinking, cognitive flexibility, and mindfulness-related capacities, plus reduced abuse of alcohol and other addictive drugs. “We suggest that the retreat setting in the present study reassured, through the presence of others and social bonding, a safe and supportive environment that may have contributed to the positive outcomes of psilocybin-induced self-dissolution.”

More work is being done on the social connections of people doing psychedelics together using larger study groups. In a series of field studies in January 2020, involving over 1,200 participants across six multiday mass gatherings in the United States and the United Kingdom, the effects of psychedelic substance use on transformative experience, social connectedness, and positive mood was studied.

Controlling for a host of demographic variables and the use of other psychoactive substances, researchers in that study found that psychedelic substance use was significantly associated with positive mood—an effect sequentially mediated by self-reported transformative experience and increased social connectedness.

These effects were particularly pronounced for those who had taken psychedelic substances within the last 24 hours, compared to taking them a week ago. “Overall, this research provides robust evidence for positive affective and social consequences of psychedelic substance use in naturalistic settings,” the study concluded.

All this recent work is an extension of the set-and-setting issues for psychedelics psychotherapy. In fact, it’s taken years for the concept of set and setting to be properly integrated into the study of psychopharmacology. And integrating variables of set and setting into clinical drug research is still somewhat complicated for a pharmaceutical industry bent on randomized controlled trials (RCTs), with limited patience for injecting fuzzy social and cultural elements into its considerations, one study found. “This is lamentable because a better understanding of set and setting can often serve to reduce drug harm and increase potential drug benefit more efficiently than seeking new molecules or banning drugs altogether,” the study concluded. “In a pharmaceutical culture set on developing magic bullets and eliminating extra-drug parameters from drug research, set and setting serves as a reminder that extra-drug parameters cannot be eliminated from actual drug use, and point the way toward a more comprehensive conceptualization of drug effects.”

Researchers also caution that it is important to avoid excessive reliance on a biomedical model which disregards extra-drug factors.

Contemporary psychedelic research does show some awareness of the importance of incorporating non-drug factors into modern study designs, by attempting to create a supportive set and setting while adhering to the double-blind structure of RCTs. Yet the existence of a wide variety of sets and setting conditions in contemporary research can still create confusing results. It has recently been suggested that the expansion of clinical psychedelic investigations into the phase III stage might pose considerable challenges, due to variations in set and setting.


Dave HodesMarch 25, 2022
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11min9510

There are a handful of psychedelics song merchants listed on Spotify, including The Psychedelic Furs, Psychedelic Boyz, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Psychedelic Witchcraft, The Psychedelic Aliens, Psychedelic Brain, Psychedelic Waters, Psychedelic Teepee and Home Sweet Psychedelic. 

Many psychedelics experiencers in the 1970s remember such psychedelic music from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother and Hawkwind’s live album Space Ritual and other70s bands. 

Another list of trippy/psychedelic chillwave, indie, funk, bedroom, dream pop, psychedelia with undertones of rock, folk, and jazz that is updated regularly, also listed on Spotify, comes from PsychSoundsOffical@gmail.com.

These are not necessarily songs programmed by researchers for use during a psychedelic experience, or bands that are recommended for psychedelic therapies. But they do offer a glimpse of a whole genre of music that is being redefined today as not just for entertainment, but for psychedelic therapy as well.

Wavepaths Raises $4.5 Million

Some companies have even seen that money could be made from curating music for psychedelic therapies. In November, London-based psychedelic music company Wavepaths successfully raised $4.5 million in its initial seed investment round. Co-founded by Dr. Mendel Kaelen and Anna Rickman in 2019, Wavepaths is a digital platform that builds upon pioneering scientific research showing that music plays an essential role in creating positive outcomes for psychedelic therapies such as ketamine, psilocybin, and MDMA. Wavepaths has quickly emerged as the world’s most advanced generative music system, giving psychedelic therapy practitioners the tools to optimize therapeutic outcomes for their clients.

“Music has a profound impact on therapeutic outcomes, but many therapists are in the dark on how to best work with music in their practice,” says Dr. Kaelen. “Our adaptive music technology enables care providers to work with music in a fully person-centered way, with the same ease by which one may adapt the temperature or light in the room. It is humbling to witness how Wavepaths is changing life for both providers and seekers of mental healthcare around the world.”

Wavepaths said it has worked with a variety of musical artists to create an AI-powered auditory landscape designed to be responsive to every moment of a therapy session. With Wavepaths, practitioners create unique soundscapes that channel the evocative sounds of visionary producers like Jon Hopkins, Greg Haines, Robert Rich, and Christina Vantzou. During sessions, the platform’s interface allows practitioners to seamlessly transition between emotional atmospheres, levels of depth and activation, and instrumentation in real-time, based on a patient’s evolving mood or therapeutic needs.

Music Research

There is a list of 49 songs (5 hours and 30 minutes) that was created for psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for depression studies at Imperial College London after researchers there concluded that music plays a central function in psychedelic therapy.

Analyses of the interviews from the participants in the study showed that the music had both “welcome” and “unwelcome” influences on patients’ subjective experiences. Welcome influences included the evocation of personally meaningful and therapeutically useful emotion and mental imagery, a sense of guidance, openness, and the promotion of calm and a sense of safety. 

Unwelcome influences included the evocation of unpleasant emotion and imagery, a sense of being misguided and resistance. Patients’ experience of the music was associated with the occurrence of “mystical experiences” and “insightfulness.” The nature of the music experience was significantly predictive of reductions in depression one week after psilocybin, according to the study.

Johns Hopkins Psychedelics Researchers were on the same track after having discovered that psilocybin helps a wider population experiencing depression, not just those experiencing existential episodes of anxiety and depression when facing end of life issues related to cancer.

They began to collect a playlist of songs and put them into certain categories divided into segments: background music that plays as the participant arrives for his or her session; music that plays when the drug is starting to take effect, at which point he or she is lying down and wearing eyeshades and headphones; the ascent; the peak; the post-peak; and the “welcome back” music. The music in each section is deliberately chosen to accompany a particular part of the psychedelic journey.

The 7 hour, 40 minute playlist is designed to go along with a medium to high-dose psilocybin session, and is available on Spotify.  

Psychologist Bill Richards, whose involvement in psychedelic research dates back to 1963, masterminded the playlist. “As consciousness is returning to ordinary awareness after intense experiences of a mystical, visionary, or psychodynamic nature, most any style of music can be explored with delight.

“We have learned that in high-dose sessions, especially during the onset and intense period of entheogen effects, the supportive structure of the music is more important than either the guide’s or the volunteer’s personal musical preferences,” Richards wrote in his book Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences. “In states of ego transcendence, the everyday self as the perceiver of music may no longer exist, having entered into a unitive awareness that is claimed to be quite independent of whatever sonic frequencies are coming into the ears through the headphones or loudspeakers.”

Separately, and in a bit of a trippy name coincidence, a musician named Jon Hopkins (no relation to Johns Hopkins medicine) recently released an album “Music for Psychedelic Therapy” featuring an immersive beatless soundscape built on field recordings he made spelunking 60 meters underground in Ecuador, according to an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered. One reviewer called the album “a post-lockdown aural balm that sits usefully alongside Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics.”

 

Sidebar #1

Selected list of songs from the Johns Hopkins playlist for psilocybin studies (2008 version):

– Ron Korb. Flute Traveller: A Musical Journey Across Five Continents. Oasis Productions, SOCAN NHCD 205 “Alto Flute,”. Length = 2:16

 

Russian Orthodox Chant. Sacred Treasures III, Hearts of Space. St. Petersburg Cham­ber Choir, 025041111423 “Alleluia, Behold the Bridegroom,”. Length = 5:29

 

– J. S. Bach. Bach Stokowski. Leopold Stokowski. EMI CDM 7243 5 66385 2 5
“Komm süsser Tod,” BMV 478. Length = 5:51

 

– W. A. Mozart, Clarinet Concerto in A Major, KV 622. Jacques Lancelot. Jean-François Paillard. Orchestra de Chambre Jean-François Paillard. Erato 2292–45978–2
Adagio. Length = 7:04

 

J. S. Bach. Bach Stokowski. Leopold Stokowski. CDM 7243 5 66385 2 5
Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BMV 582. Length = 14:51

 


Dave HodesMarch 14, 2022
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7min16800

Psychedelics are being studied and used for a variety of human mental health and wellness, with some psilocybin products mixed into other substances to enhance their effect. 

There are a wide variety of psilocybin-infused chocolates. Chocolate by itself carries a wealth of psychoactive substances—even phenylethylamine, which is chemically similar to amphetamine. 

There are also plenty of psilocybin-infused coffees as well—some available in a standard K-cup. Caffeine has been called the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world. In Western society, at least 80% of the adult population consumes caffeine in amounts large enough to have an effect on the brain, according to a study.

But there is little evidence of how psychedelics interact with these and other psychoactive substances, such as cannabis. That is changing.

A 2021 study explored the subjective effects of psychedelics when used alongside cannabis with 321 participants who completed a set of online surveys at 2 time points: 7 days before, and 1 day after a planned experience with a psychedelic. 

The collected data included demographics, setting, and five validated questionnaires: the mystical experience questionnaire, the visual subscales of altered states of consciousness questionnaire, the challenging experience questionnaire, the ego dissolution inventory, and the emotional breakthrough inventory.

What researchers discovered is that the simultaneous use of cannabis together with classic psychedelics was associated with a more intense psychedelic experience. “Results imply a possible interaction between the cannabis and psychedelic on acute subjective experiences; however, design limitations hamper our ability to draw firm inferences on directions of causality and the clinical implications of any such interactions,” the study concluded.

Now CaaMTech, Inc., a five-year-old psychedelic drug discovery company that recently completed completion a $22 million Series A financing round, is building a line of products based on the psychedelics-plus-cannabis concept. 

It has been granted a patent to develop a combination cannabis-psilocybin composition that is turning heads in the psychedelics industry. According to a press release announcing the patent, CaaMTech has shown that cannabinoids work synergistically with psychedelic tryptamines in producing their effects.

The patent application, “Compositions and methods comprising a psilocybin derivative” (US20180221396A1), allowed by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in February 2021, notes that aside from a few studies on purified psilocybin, the idea of new compositions combining psilocybin with other substances is unique.  “No efforts have been made to modulate its properties with formulating agents or other ingredients. No efforts have been made to formulate particular combinations or doses of psilocybin derivatives or combinations with other active molecules. No efforts have been made to formulate psilocybin into compositions capable of modifying activity at one or more neurotransmitter receptors.”

The patent goes on to describe a series of combinations of psilocybin with various cannabinoids, in a formulation such as gummies, dried powder, and pills.

CaaMTech has filed over 100 other patent applications since filing this patent in 2017.

A psilocybin plus cannabis product line is an interesting concept. But a high level of THC can cause certain psychedelic experiences on its own. What could a combination effect be like? 

One study found that high doses of cannabis can create subjective effects comparable to those identified in trials of psilocybin. “Given the disparate mechanisms of action, comparing THC-induced to psilocybin-induced effects might improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying subjective experiences,” the study concluded. 

But there does seem to be some mental health therapeutic advantage to combining both, at least in a clinical setting for now.

Cannabis has been studied for potential psychiatric assistance, as outlined in one study, but there is still not enough information to back that up. “Currently the evidence is nascent and too weak to recommend cannabinoid-based interventions for a range of psychiatric disorders,” the study concluded.

Going forward, CaaMTech’s patented concept has stirred up new research to better understand how psilocybin works in the human body, why it does what it does, and how it can work with or be enhanced by other substances for better wellness outcomes.


Dave HodesMarch 1, 2022
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Say you took a psychedelic. Not sure what it was, but a friend gave it to you and explained how it was cool.. it was safe.. it would be a lot of fun. 

Then all sorts of things began happening that no one explained to you. Some of it was sorta cool.. sorta fun. But during, and afterward, you felt like it would have been good to talk to an understanding human about the experience because, well, maybe something else was happening to you that no one else experienced. Maybe you just wanted to discuss the new, profound understanding of life you just experienced. 

It would have been great just to hear another person help you understand your psychedelic journey. A calming, understanding voice on a phone support line. An experienced psychonaut on a crisis line, perhaps.

Now that help is here in the form of the Fireside Project, an organization of doctors, psychiatrists, researchers and counselors with financial support from the Social Good Fund, a California nonprofit corporation. The Fireside Project is a crisis line and peer support line for people going through a psychedelic experience, created to help people minimize the risks and fulfill the potential of their psychedelic experiences.

Joshua White, founder and executive director of the Fireside Project, started having his own psychedelic experiences about 15 years ago. Then about 10 years ago, they became a more foundational part of his life, and his own healing journey, he told Psychedealia

White transitioned from his chosen study of law to psychology and began volunteering on a mental health support line in San Francisco. He also worked with the Zendo Project, another peer support project, at festivals like Burning Man. “The support line was such an amazing experience, for so many reasons,” he said. “It was really a very therapeutic tool for people from lower-income and under-resourced communities. But I also learned that support lines can be so much broader than just a hotline, or a crisis line. A support line can be there anytime a person just wants connection.”

A survey published in 2016 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology helped illuminate the problem with taking psychedelics—in this case, psilocybin. Most of the 1,900 respondents who took psilocybin were OK. But 2.6 percent reported that they behaved in a physically aggressive or violent manner, and 2.7 percent received medical help. Three cases were associated with onset of enduring psychotic symptoms, and three cases were associated with attempted suicide. 

The problems were generally related to the dosage, the survey reported. But even a bad trip could have a good outcome, according to Roland Griffiths, the professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who explained that a difficult experience such as a bad trip could make someone notably stronger or wiser. “We might even come to value what happened,” he said during a Q&A session at Johns Hopkins. “Because developing strength or wisdom through adversity isn’t guaranteed, we might well want capable friends or counselors—even if just as a kind and a sympathetic ear—to be available to help us make constructive use of the experience as part of our personal growth.”

Today it’s a new landscape for trying psychedelics, and more people need friends or counselors for a lot of reasons because we are all in the midst of a mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. 

At the same time, the psychedelics industry is exploding, White said. “And so it really struck me that for psychedelics to achieve their full healing potential, their transformational potential, we needed to create something that would give every single person in the world access to free support, peer support during their psychedelic experiences and after their psychedelic experiences.”

That led to the formation of Fireside on April 14, 2021. Since then, project counselors have had about 2,000 conversations over the phone. 

Psilocybin is the most common substance that people reach out to discuss, with LSD, ketamine, and other substances following that. “We do consider marijuana to be a psychedelic for purposes of the support line because a powerful marijuana experience can certainly be mind-manifesting and healing and transformational,” White said. “And we have more and more folks reaching out to us to seek support during their cannabis experiences.”

Psychedelics are extremely powerful tools, he said, and they should be treated that way. “There’s preparation that’s required, there’s support needed during the experience. And then the integration process after is vital at so many levels, right? The psychedelic experience can be downright dangerous if you don’t have integration support.

Take DMT as an example, he said. “If you had a high dose DMT experience and blasted yourself to the other side of the universe, and then came back and had no one to talk to about that experience, it can be isolating.

“The reality is that upwards of 90 percent of psychedelic use is always going to occur in a non-clinical setting, whether that’s people doing it at home, in ceremonies, or at shows. We need to put in place a robust infrastructure to make sure that people are educated, and that they have free and confidential support during and after their experience from their peers,” White said. “So we’re really honored to be playing that role. Kind of our motto is that we meet people where they are, and really hold space for someone, whatever it is that they’re going through. It’s truly the most beautiful and sacred experience to hold space for someone having a psychedelic experience. So to be regularly having conversations with people who are having the most spiritually significant experience of their lives is just indescribably beautiful.”


Dave HodesFebruary 8, 2022
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There are more and more companies setting up psychedelic retreats for people to have a controlled experience in Jamaica, The Netherlands, Mexico, and other countries. There are more coming wherever psilocybin is already or will soon become legal in the U.S.—Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and California. 

Jamaica and The Netherlands, where London’s The Psychedelic Society has been offering psilocybin-assisted retreats since 2016, are primary destinations because of their liberal laws around psychoactive substances.

But while some retreats seem to play up more of a sort of recreational side of psychedelics, as if it’s just a sort of summer camp for tripping at one of the most comfortable resorts in the world, the reality is that there are profound changes a person can experience if guided by a qualified psychedelics-trained psychotherapist in a carefully designed set and setting.

These retreats are not supposed to be joyrides through astral planes for the rich and famous, as some websites make them appear. And that has researchers concerned. Some researchers are afraid that, with the newfound popularity of psychedelics especially in American culture, the risks of ingesting them in a far-flung location with strangers who may or may not have been properly vetted are not fully understood.

Roland Griffiths, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, told the New York Times that’s a real concern to him. “I think we’re underestimating the risks involved,” he said. “The retreat center question is, buyer beware.” 

Just a handful of companies understand the serious nature of the work that is to be done digging around inside a person’s mind before the retreat, during the retreat, and after the retreat. They are structured to use a careful balance of empathy, nurturing, and going on a journey of personal discovery that may be in equal parts mentally dangerous and physically wonderful.

One of those companies is Mind Foundation, a Berlin-based non-profit. A core tenet of the Mind Foundation is to “facilitate human societal advancement in the direction of a Bewusstseinskultur (a culture of consciousness).” 

Such a culture fosters working towards an understanding of the relational aspects of the human species to its surroundings. “We want to create the social spaces and the supportive network to explore and cultivate potentially valuable states of consciousness together,” Patrick Wentorp, communications manager at the Mind foundation wrote in a blog about dealing with the human condition. 

He makes the point that some people already know how to embrace a state of consciousness and that those people are experienced mentors who should help others help themselves in retreats. “They represent role models toward which others can orient themselves,” Wentorp wrote. “This empowers their mentees to cultivate valuable states with increasing responsibility.”

The crucial element to a successful retreat are about creating a perfect set and setting for the person or group who want that psychedelic experience. Set refers to the intentions, mood state, and expectations of the individual after taking a psychedelic, while setting refers to the context in which the experience happens, including all sensory modes (e.g., auditory, music; visual, tactile), and social environment (e.g., being alone or in a group, in nature or in a building, or in the presence of a leader).

Malin Uthaug, a researcher with the Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, found that individual intentions and expectations of healing play a prominent role in ayahuasca retreat sessions. These goals are made explicit in group discussions prior to drinking ayahuasca and are directed after the experience during integrative group sessions. 

In an interview for the Mind Foundation, Uthaug said these sorts of retreats have to emphasize the importance of connection and empathy because of what the psychedelic experience may uncover. “That is one of the things that I find highly relevant for people: to feel secure enough to face the hardship that they might have repressed. And that’s not easy. Not only do you have to make sure that the therapeutic support is prime; you also have to make sure that these people are ready to face what they need to go through.”

The whole process of properly conducting psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy is difficult because people generally experience some sort of a “mystical experience” that is sometimes hard to describe, and therefore, hard to plan for.

All of this inner exploration, uncovering positive but sometimes scary things about a person, is what the psychedelic retreat is supposed to do. It’s a sort of mental reset. A cleansing of the soul. And if you have the time and money, it can be a mental health journey disguised as a vacation in some of the sweetest vacation spots in the world.

There are dozens of psychedelic retreat centers, most in the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Jamaica, and most featuring working with psilocybin. 

One of the first psilocybin retreat centers in the U.S. is the Sacred Heart Medicine Sanctuary based in Vancouver, Washington, and conducting psilocybin ceremonies for “spiritual connection.” 

Denver-based Sacred House of Eden has three invite-only psilocybin-ready retreat packages: the 3 night private and semi-private for up to $30,000 per guest; the 2 or 3-night couple’s retreats for up to $25,000 a couple; and the 3-night group retreat for up to 25 people, at $4,000 per guest.

On the East Coast is Pachamama Sanctuary, an ayahuasca center, located in Southern New Hampshire, which was founded in 2019. Since its inception, its mission is to raise collective consciousness through the sacrament, Ayahuasca.  Founder and Lead Pastor, Derek Januszewski oversees individual sanctuaries and is responsible for general oversight of the organization as a whole and oversight of safety guidelines and standards. At a reasonable $675 for three days and two nights, the guest accommodations are more spartan than some of the luxury resorts. That means shared dorms and foam memory mattresses.

Outside the U.S., the Buena Vida Psilocybin Retreats, based on a two-acre beachfront resort in Punta de Mita, Mexico (near Puerto Vallarta), offers 5 and 7 day retreats with different psilocybin ceremonies that promise such experiences of intense love and bliss; releasing suppressed emotions; deep, profound forgiveness of self and others; and revisiting beautiful memories. 

The 5-day retreat is $5,500; the 7-day retreat is $7,500.

MycoMeditations is a psychedelic retreat experience in Jamaica that combines psilocybin sessions with private and group therapy. There are three retreat options, each with three doses of psilocybin distributed over the 8-day retreat held in group settings of no more than 12 people: the Classic Retreat, in a guesthouse of the Jamaican private cove, Treasure Beach, for $5,500 each; Comfort Retreat, at the Blue Marlin villa on the Great Bay, for $8,000 each; and the Comfort Retreat in Billy’s Bay, Treasure Beach, for $8,000 each. (MycoMeditations has worked in collaborations with the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, sharing results of guests feedback.)

The Essence Institute in The Netherlands offers group retreats for 12-18 people for up to $1,700 each, and uses psilocybin truffles for participants to “experience a profound sense of unity and interconnectedness, gaining more self-awareness and breakthrough results.” Most of their 14, 2-day retreats for 2022 are already sold out.

But if you want to get away for a few days and actually get paid to experience a psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy session, monitored by a researcher, there are other, much less exotic and much more science-based psilocybin retreats, aka study groups, that aren’t modeled like all-inclusive luxury vacations. 

For instance, the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is always working with groups of volunteer participants in their psychedelics work “to develop new treatments for a wider variety of psychiatric and behavioral disorders with the aspiration of treatments tailored to the specific needs of individual patients,” and “expand research in healthy volunteers with the ultimate aspiration of opening new ways to support human thriving.”

It’s more of a “greater good” retreat aspiration. But either way—luxury retreat or study group—builds on what is known about psychedelics and the human condition. And that is, after all, what we all want to experience.


Dave HodesFebruary 7, 2022
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On December 16, 2021, researchers at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin launched the Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy

The Texas center joins other similar centers in the U.S. in California (established in 2015) and Baltimore (established in 2019), and a growing list of over 100 colleges and universities in the U.S. alone who have partnered with for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to study psychedelic medicine.

The new center secured funding to launch its initial work and will leverage the research infrastructure and expertise at Dell Med and University of Texas-Austin to advance its goals.

The launch of the center was a direct reaction to the passing of Texas House Bill 1802 on June 18, 2021, which specified actions for Baylor College of Medicine but also opened the door to more help for veterans using alternative treatments at any medical institution across the state. 

The bill stipulated that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) conduct a study on the use of alternative therapies to treat veterans suffering from PTSD with Baylor College of Medicine. The bill writers chose Baylor for this study presumably because it ranked with U.S. News and World Report as one of the best medical research schools in the country (Dell Medical School, by comparison, is unranked). 

Baylor is to perform a clinical trial on the therapeutic efficacy of using psilocybin in the treatment of treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, review current literature regarding the safety and efficacy of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin, and ketamine in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and the access veterans have to these psychedelic substances. 

The HHSC is required to prepare and submit to the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and each member of the legislature quarterly reports on the progress of the study, and, by December 1, 2024, a written report containing the results of the study conducted under this section and “any recommendations for legislative or other action.” The costs of the study are expected to be approximately $2.7 million between now and December 2024, according to the HHSC.

The new Texas center at the University of Texas-Austin will conduct its own clinical research to better understand the potential for drugs such as psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine and ayahuasca to treat severe depression, anxiety and PTSD when used as part of treatment with a trained provider. 

The center’s initial focus will be on military veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), adults experiencing prolonged grief disorder or depression, and those who have experienced childhood trauma. 

The focus on veterans comes in part because of the center’s relationship with the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHCS). The system features a large stand-alone clinic in Austin, and has one of the largest inpatient psychiatric facilities in the U.S. in Waco, which is the location of one of its two medical centers. The system serves a veteran population of more than 252,000 in the area.

The first program partners of the Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy will be The Mission Within, a clinical psychedelic retreat provider in Rosarito, Mexico focusing on specialized treatments for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and personal growth; and the Heroic Hearts Project, a nonprofit that connects military veterans struggling with trauma to psychedelic therapy options including ayahuasca, psilocybin, ibogaine, and ketamine treatments in combination with professional coaching.

By the middle of next year, Greg Fonzo, the co-director of the center, hopes to begin the first research study, according to an article in the Austin American Statesman, the major daily newspaper for Austin. He wants the center to run more larger scale studies with more than 100 participants. Each study will have different criteria for who can enroll, but all of the studies will focus on adults.

The research team at the center will also explore treatments that combine psychedelic drugs with brain modulation techniques such as transcranial focused ultrasound and transcranial magnetic stimulation which have been used to measure the effects of psychedelic drugs on neural integration. That technique has also be used as a neuromodulation technique to treat substance abuse disorders, and to study anticonvulsant drugs.

Fonzo’s prior work was in functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess brain function, which is increasingly focused on integrating computational modeling approaches to understand information processing dysfunction in psychiatric disorders.

“This research will bring further scientific rigor and expertise to study psychedelic therapy,” said center co-lead Charles B. Nemeroff, professor and chair of Dell Med’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and holder of the Matthew P. Nemeroff Endowed Chair in a press release. “Engaging in this kind of work at a place like UT Austin opens up a world of possibilities.”

More work is being done at a few other Texas medical institutions, including the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas-Houston Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders, which is taking part in a worldwide multi-center study investigating the effects of psilocybin in treatment-resistant depression. The study is sponsored by COMPASS Pathways (NASDAQ: CMPS).


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