A new study shows how non-hallucinogenic psychedelics could be developed. Nevada is only steps away from creating its first interdisciplinary psychedelic working group. Follow-up interviews shine a light on how psychedelic therapy helps treat alcohol addiction.
A paper from the University of Helsinki suggests that blocking serotonin receptors could produce non-hallucinogenic psychedelics while researchers from Psilera and a professor from Miami University begin developing them.
Nevada’s psychedelics working group bill requires only the governor's approval to become effective. A legislative committee approves a bill to legalize psilocybin as Rhode Island takes its first steps toward legalizing psychedelics.
A new study finds a link between hallucinations from psychedelic trips and greater psychological strengths, and another study shows how increased self-compassion after psychedelic use can help alcohol addicts overcome their struggles.
Hallucination-Free Antidepressant Psychedelics on the Horizon
A recent study has demonstrated that different mechanisms trigger psychedelics’ hallucinogenic and antidepressant effects. Given these drugs’ promising results in the treatment of depression, PTSD, and other disorders, the possibility of removing their hallucinogenic effects would allow for treatment to take place outside of intensively monitored clinical settings.
Researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland tested the effects of LSD and psilocin on cells in a laboratory dish. They observed that these substances form much stronger bonds with TrkB, a receptor involved in brain plasticity, than other antidepressant drugs.
By experimenting on mice, they discovered that blocking serotonin receptors in their brains stopped the mice from twitching their heads, which was a result of the animals experiencing hallucinations. The strong bonds to TrkB helped create new neural pathways and reverse settled fear responses.
Developing a psychedelic that targets TrkB receptors exclusively could produce an antidepressant without hallucinogenic effects.
After promising results from their research on how psychedelics' potential to treat depression, anxiety, addiction disorders, and other mental health illnesses in a fraction of the time current treatments require, Psilera, a Tampa, FL, biotech company, is working to develop non-hallucinogenic variants.
Andrew Jones, an assistant professor of chemical, paper, and biomedical engineering at Miami University, has manufactured synthetic psilocybin and is now working on non-hallucinogenic derivatives. While the first tests will be on mice, Jones hopes to begin human clinical trials in one to two years.
We’ll follow these developments closely, as they could represent a paradigm shift in psychedelic psychotherapy and medicine at large.
Nevada Psychedelics Working Group Bill Gets Approval from Legislature
Nevada’s legislature has given final approval to bill SB242 to create the state’s first psychedelic working group under its Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), following last week’s Senate and Assembly committee approval. The document now heads to Governor Joe Lombardo’s desk, but there’s no indication whether he’ll pass the bill.
If the bill passes, the Governor would also have to appoint seven members, including a military veteran and a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist with psychedelic treatment experience; a federally registered psychedelics researcher; a Nevada tribal government representative; a representative of an organization that advocates for the therapeutic use of psychedelics; and a member of a law enforcement agency.
The majority and minority leaders of the legislative chambers would have to appoint another four members, and the remaining four would be the state attorney general, the director of HHS, the director of veteran services, and the president of the Nevada Board of Pharmacology.
This working group would have to study if and how psychedelics improve overall wellness, help treat mental disorders, and support patients through end-of-life care. It would also have to develop an “actionable plan on how to enable access to therapeutic entheogens and compounds… that are safe, accessible, and affordable” while complying with federal, state, and local laws.
The working group would have to report its findings to the legislature by December 31, 2024.
Insights from a Psilocybin Trial for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Months after launching a clinical trial using psilocybin therapy as a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), which helped a cohort of its participants reduce their alcohol consumption, researchers from NYU, UC San Francisco, and Fluence, an organization that educates mental health practitioners on integrating psychedelics, interviewed thirteen volunteers about their experience.
The results provided insights into how psychedelics allowed the participants to be more compassionate toward themselves, process painful emotions, and reduce negative thought patterns that lead to alcohol cravings. For most participants, alcohol consumption began as a coping mechanism to manage stress and social anxiety.
While alcohol inhibited the subjects' sense of connection and helped them bottle up their pain, psilocybin helped them process their pain and understand the cause of their alcohol abuse habits.
Although most participants reported fewer cravings and days of drinking, their alcohol use didn’t just vanish, as psychedelics aren’t a cure-all for psychological issues.
However, the information gathered could help improve psychedelic therapy care to include self-compassion training and deepen the understanding of the mental state of individuals suffering from AUD.
Rhode Island Legal Psilocybin Bill Heads for House of Representatives
Marijuana Moment reported that a Rhode Island legislative committee has approved House Bill 5923 by a 12-2 vote.
This bill was introduced in March by state Rep. Brandon Potter and Sen. Meghan Kallman and proposes the legalization of the possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms. It’s the latest in a nationwide trend of legislation to reduce restrictions on psychedelic drugs.
The bill would eliminate criminal penalties for adults who possess or cultivate up to one ounce of psilocybin mushrooms for personal use and allow adults to share up to one ounce of mushrooms with another adult.
The bill would also order the Rhode Island Department of Health to “establish rules and regulations pertaining to cultivation, distribution, and medical prescription” of mushrooms for therapeutic purposes in case the FDA reschedules psilocybin, misclassified as a Schedule I substance, meaning it lacks any medicinal uses, and has potential for abuse.
In recent years, the FDA has granted psilocybin therapy “breakthrough therapy” status on more than one occasion, indicating a change in attitude toward the drug that could, in time, lead to its rescheduling.
Psychedelic Users Show Greater Psychological Strengths
A paper published in the International Journal of Wellbeing sought to discover the effects of classical psychedelics on the psychological well-being of users outside of clinical trials. Its authors gathered information from three studies conducted through an online survey, reaching 3157 participants in total.
These surveys revealed that psychedelic users show greater psychological strengths and well-being and lower levels of distress. These benefits are opposite to the patterns shown by cannabis and alcohol users, who tend to have maladaptive behaviors such as avoidance, withdrawal, or passive aggression.
The main takeaway is that the aforementioned benefits could be linked to the ego-dissolving nature of psychedelics, which highlights the importance of the mystical experience produced by psychedelic trips.