Lessons from Psilocybin and Ketamine

As you may have noticed, psychedelics are becoming mainstream, with media interest and research into these mind-altering substances steadily growing. However, the research on psychedelics remains problematic given the regulatory and legal barriers imposed on studying these drugs in a laboratory setting.

In recent years, innovative research centers such as MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), the Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins have studied these psychedelics in order to discover potential treatments for psychiatric disorders

In addition to this, not-for-profit organizations such as the Usona Institute have invested heavily in the future of psychedelics. Furthermore, Compass Pathways, a private psychedelics enterprise, became the first company of its kind to go public in September 2020.

However, there are those who still have concerns about the cost and feasibility of the drugs as well the adverse effects that psychedelic treatments have on patients. Below, we discuss ketamine and psilocybin and their uses in the field of research at this point.

Esketamine nasal spray became the first FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved psychedelic treatment for a psychiatric disorder on March 5 last year. This approval has opened up avenues for new potential treatments for individuals with refractory depression. In August, the FDA lengthened its esketamine approval to adults who suffer from major depressive disorder with acute suicidal behavior.

Ketamine is classified as a schedule 3 substance, and it is important to note that esketamine must be taken under supervision. This regulation is based on the risk of adverse outcomes linked to sedation and dissociation. Additionally, patients who take esketamine must also ingest an oral antidepressant.

Esketamine’s initial trials show that the drug may help decrease depressive symptoms when taken with an antidepressant. While the drug has been approved — at a fairly expensive cost — in the United States, the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) failed to recommend esketamine’s provision in the National Health Service. The reasons the institute gave for this was cost effectiveness and the lack of clinical evidence of the drug.

On the other hand, researchers promote psilocybin’s psychedelic properties because it provides a means to engage with patients therapeutically as there exists a lot of positive evidence for psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. One such study, which was granted a Breakthrough Therapy Designation in 2019, is investigating the use of psilocybin in helping treat patients with MDD. That study is being conducted by the Usona Institute.

In another study carried out in the Imperial College London’s Centre of Psychedelic Research and published in “Lancet Psychiatry,” researchers discovered that depressive symptoms were decreased at seven days and 12 weeks in individuals with treatment-resistant depression who had received two oral doses of psilocybin during therapy. The researchers found the drug to be generally well tolerated by the patients. Psilocybin has also decreased depressive and anxiety symptoms in patients with cancer, showing sustained improvements for almost 80% of patients.

Ketamine and psilocybin are examples that demonstrate how treatments using psychedelics differ greatly in terms of effects and the mechanisms of action. However, psychedelics show a lot of potential as better treatments for psychiatric disorders. Consequently turther research should be done to look into different psychedelics and their healing properties.

One interesting company you should watch in the psychedelics space is Rritual Mushrooms Inc. The company has a singular purpose of helping people from all walks of life to meet the demands of life today. Functional mushrooms, super foods and adaptogens are the company’s chosen way of making this possible.

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