Scores of studies on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances have been conducted these last 20 years, with promising results showing that drugs such as MDMA, LSD and psilocybin may be useful in the treatment of various mental health conditions. These positive findings have fueled the psychedelics decriminalization and legalization movement greatly, despite the fact that the substances are illegal at the federal level.
While numerous studies have been done on classic psychedelics, not enough studies have featured mescaline. Mescaline is a naturally occurring psychedelic that induces hallucinogenic effects when consumed. Some pharmacological companies and researchers have been trying to find associations between mescaline and other classic psychedelics, with a focus on the drug’s broader therapeutic use.
Anecdotal studies highlight that mescaline could be useful in the treatment of various mental health conditions. For instance, one survey conducted in 2021 looked into the use of mescaline in managing symptoms of mental illness. The survey’s findings show that the use of mescaline improved the symptoms of 86% of participants with depression. Participants also reported improvements in their symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, alcohol-use disorder and substance-use disorder.
So, why is research on the drug trailing behind other psychedelics if the substance may be beneficial to mental health patients?
The main reason why research into this compound has failed to keep pace with other psychedelics is its availability, which is wanting. University of Alabama clinical psychologist Peter Hendricks also believes that the side effects and potency of mescaline may also be contributory to the lack of enough research on the drug. Hendricks explains that nausea was a common side effect of mescaline consumption, noting that this was caused by the drug’s rapid absorption into the gastrointestinal tract.
The drug’s psychoactive effect also last roughly 12 hours, which reduces the chances of its administration as a therapy being covered by insurance. Additionally, the use of mescaline-containing entheogens such as peyote in spiritual and cultural practices by the Native American Church and other indigenous peoples makes it difficult to do conduct trials using the drug.
This is mainly because the widespread use of the drug would boost demand for the already threatened cactus, making it harder for those with religious exemptions to access the drug.
It doesn’t help that development has led to a rapid decline in the areas where peyote can be harvested in America. To counter this, researchers and research companies are advised to use other mescaline-containing cacti that aren’t considered threatened, such as the San Pedro cacti.
Synthesizing mescaline in a laboratory is also preferred, because it eliminates chances of overharvesting.
As enterprises such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) advance their R&D programs focusing on psychedelics, the world is likely to see medicinal formulations addressing previously underserved or unmet clinical needs in the mental health field.
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