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Understanding Psychedelics

Psychedelics are part of a class of psychotropics that are known to activate the serotonin receptors in our brain, which have a direct effect on mood, cognition, and perception.

Their use as a treatment for mental healing and to facilitate spiritual experiences dates back thousands of years in a variety of different cultures across the globe, but for the first time in history, the benefits of psychedelics, backed by recently gained scientific evidence, have shown promise as “breakthrough therapies” in treating a range of cognitive and physical conditions, which have been labeled as treatment-resistant to traditional medicines and therapies.

These new medical studies and the companies at the forefront of the industry’s development are changing the way we think about mental health and human consciousness, creating a psychedelic renaissance for global wellness and unprecedented opportunities.

The following are some of the most common forms of psychedelics used within the last century and includes those that are being studied today as medical treatments for a range of intractable ailments:

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Brief History

For centuries, psychedelics have been valued by various cultures for healing properties and for use in religious rituals. Not until the early 20th century did psychedelic compounds first become recognized, studied and synthesized by Western chemists.

Substances, such as psilocybin and LSD, showed promise in their therapeutic effects to treat mental health disorders, and by the late 1950s and 60s thousands of medical review articles had been written on the subject.

These powerful drugs were discovered by (and perhaps helped to define) ‘hippie’ counterculture and soon thereafter, via the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1970, psychedelics were classified by the federal government as illicit Schedule I drugs, which effectively ended and outlawed all research efforts.

Ongoing Studies

In the decades that followed, psychedelic research remained a third rail issue, meaning that anyone who got involved risked professional marginalization. Nevertheless, in 2000 Dr. Roland Griffiths, aware of the reputational risks, initiated a new set of psilocybin trials with federal approvals and the support of Johns Hopkins University.

In 2006, Dr. Griffiths and his team published their peer-reviewed investigation in the journal Psychopharmacology titled, “Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance.”

The significance of this landmark study was that for the first time, the benefit of psychedelic usage was scientifically proven through exhaustive observation, including double-blind protocols and peer reviews, allowing psychedelics to emerge as a respected treatment for various cognitive and physical disorders.

Treatment for Mental Health Disorders

The 2006 Johns Hopkins study is what investors would refer to as a proof of concept demonstration in the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelics to treat a number of mental disorders, such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and addiction, which affects tens of millions worldwide. Traditional treatments are costly and usually involve counseling and medication, which takes time to produce meaningful results and have a disturbingly high failure rate.
→ Learn more about effects by dose

Clinical evidence has shown that psychedelics may offer significant improvement over existing treatments, and the FDA has designated psilocybin, MDMA and Ketamine as “breakthrough therapies” in treating these conditions. This has created a surge of activity in the psychedelics industry, including the announcement of new trials being conducted by world-renowned doctors and scientists, and the first psychedelic company IPOs have been launched just within the last few months. In September 2019, Johns Hopkins established the Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research with $17 million from a small group of investors as a fully-funded, freestanding research facility, being led by Dr. Griffiths.

The facility is the first of its kind in the U.S. setting the standard for the groundbreaking work being done in the field at other universities, such as Yale, University of Miami and Wisconsin. The companies to watch at the forefront of this important work are ATAI Life Sciences, Champignon Brands, Compass Pathways, MAPS and MindMed.

Clinical Results Coming Soon

FDA-approved studies regarding the use of psychedelics as medicine are currently being conducted by a number of innovative companies in conjunction with universities across the U.S. and abroad. These programs are being led by world-renowned doctors, scientists and clinicians around the globe.

By the end of 2021, these studies are expected to yield promising results on the efficacy of psychedelics to treat debilitating mental disorders, such as PTSD, addiction and treatment resistant depression. With growing interest worldwide on the therapeutic research of psychedelics as medicine, we aim to keep our readers informed of recent developments, progress and medicinal  breakthroughs that are revealed through these intriguing studies.
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Early Pioneers

Psychedelics are experiencing a renaissance of sorts. What its early pioneers had suspected and were exploring in the  mid 20th century with regards to therapeutic efficacy are now, five decades later, coming full circle with validation through scientifically proven measures.

Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist, discovered LSD in 1938 in Basel, Switzerland. Mr. Hoffman was also responsible for isolating the first psilocybin compound in 1957 while working for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Labs, which in 1958 produced the first synthetic psilocybin drug called Indocybin that was marketed for psychotherapeutic uses in the 1960s.

The early days of psychedelics as medicine were short-lived, but it laid the groundwork for the exciting revelations that are occurring today.

Abuse, Misuse & Schedule I

The Harvard Psilocybin Project was a series of trials between 1960 and 1962 conducted by two psychology professors, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, who administered psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin and mescaline, to students in an attempt to understand their effects on people.

Both professors unceremoniously split ties with Harvard in 1963, due to the administration of their drug project. However, both men continued to influence Harvard for years to come by initiating debates on the role of psychedelics on campus and playing a prominent role in bringing 1960s drug culture to the main stream of America’s consciousness.

Because of the unscientific administration and public fear of the dangers of widespread use, psychedelics were criminalized and classified in 1970 as an illicit Schedule I drug with no therapeutic benefits. The reckless use and abuse during this era caused Albert Hoffman to later refer to LSD as his ‘problem child.’

After five decades, psychedelics still remain illegal and stigmatized in many parts of the world, but new studies are showing promise in the therapeutic effects of psychedelics as treatment for chronic ailments.

A New Foothold in Science

The launch of Johns Hopkins’ Center for Psychedelic Research & Consciousness in September 2019 and the April 2019  launch of its counterpart at  Imperial College in London, has given psychedelic medicine its long-sought and coveted standing in the scientific establishment. These drugs will require further evidence before they can be prescribed by physicians, but quite a few of the clinical studies are in advanced stages of the trials, and results are expected as early as 2021.

New Trading in Public Markets

At the forefront of these studies are innovative companies creating this new frontier from a medicinal and financial perspective. Psychedelic neuroscience companies have gone public within the first couple of months in 2020, and perhaps a few more may follow this year.

These IPOs coupled with the groundbreaking research being done, which has already yielded promising results in ongoing studies, equates to tremendous opportunities for investors in public markets unlike anything ever seen, except for the .com boom of the 90s perhaps.

However, unlike the tech industry, there are only a handful of companies with the credentials to collaborate in these FDA approved studies so the field of first to market is relatively small, the price of entry is reasonable, and industry developments are occurring at a rapid rate.

Movement to Decriminalize

While the focus of the psychedelics reform movement remains on the therapeutic effects of these drugs to treat serious health conditions and be administered in clinical sessions, some jurisdictions around the U.S. are making the bold move to decriminalize the use and possession of psilocybin.

The movement appears to come on the heels of the popularity with microdosing psychedelics, the practice of taking small doses on a regular basis to increase creativity, production and cognitive brain function, where the success of this practice has been widely covered by the tech industry in Silicon Valley.
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A trip to better health and human consciousness

The recent surge of hope and promise related to the health benefits of psychedelics are now rooted in scientific empirical evidence, proving that psychedelics are emerging as a respectable treatment for various cognitive and physical disorders that were once thought to be intractable. The highly anticipated results of these ongoing studies will articulate and illustrate the science of psychedelics’ effects on the brain, which are expected to validate what’s been surmised for centuries, that psychedelics have a profound effect on mental health and possesses the potential to elevate human consciousness.

A typical experience with psychedelics takes the patient or consumer on a type of mental journey filled with introspection and interpersonal revelations that have been described by common traits, such as ego dissolving, happiness, and the renewed sense of a meaningful connectedness to all things to impel compassion, empathy and peace.

Psychedelics are gaining an immense amount of attention as a medical modality, and its cultural landscape will surely evolve as well by attracting widespread community interest from patients and consumers to investors and regulators, alike.

Although the use and possession of psychedelics have been decriminalized in multiple jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad, these substances remain classified as Schedule I drugs in the U.S. and illegal in many countries around the world. While illicit activity is discouraged, we hope that the decision to use psychedelics in an unsanctioned manner is made only after careful analysis has developed a clear understanding of the risks and responsible practices in doing so.
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Psychedelics will create new modalities in medicine, society and public markets

FDA approved studies are yielding transformative results for psychedelics as medicine to treat a wide range of mental and physical health conditions. Within the last couple of years, the prospect of cures for treatment-resistant diseases, such as major depression, PTSD, and addiction, is racing toward reality with a handful of pioneering companies and world class universities leading the charge.

The movement is creating tremendous promise for people suffering with these debilitating diseases and a deep sense of accomplishment for those who have long sought to include psychedelics in scientific consideration as a viable treatment modality.

While psychedelics are expected to heal tens of millions globally and transcend the way we think about the mind and human consciousness, it is also creating unprecedented investment opportunities with the first IPOs happening earlier this year, and jurisdictions around the country are moving to decriminalize use and possession.

Our News section will keep readers informed with all of the latest industry updates with regard to research progress, investor news and cultural reform.
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