What do you get when you combine the mystical powers of ayahuasca with the convenience of a pill? That's right: soon there may be an even easier way to experience this ancient Amazonian ritual deep in your own soul.
It looks like a pill, and it tastes just like one…but this isn't your typical over-the-counter medication. Leading the charge in natural drug development, Vancouver-based Filament Health is pioneering a breakthrough medical-grade ayahuasca pill.
This novel concept could potentially help individuals access an authentic ayahuasca experience without requiring a trip to South America.
The Company is on the brink of obtaining FDA authorization to initiate its pioneering Phase 1 clinical trial for its ayahuasca pill, with expectations that it will take place during the first six months of 2023.
The history of ayahuasca stretches back centuries throughout Central and South America, being used as a sacrament in ceremonies due to its powerful healing and visionary effects.
This sacred brew has also recently gained traction amongst the rich and famous. From Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ countless manifestos towards psychedelics' use, to Will Smith's “surrendering” experience, ayahuasca has increased in popularity.
With a large body of research demonstrating its potential therapeutic effects, ayahuasca has been identified as a possible treatment for an array of mental and physical illnesses such as depression, suicidality, anxiety, trauma, grief, addiction and substance use disorder to even neurodegenerative diseases.
As psychedelics become more of a commonplace discussion, and the manufacturing process for standardized ayahuasca is only just beginning, it appears to be the perfect time to explore this topic.
Exploring the Benefits of an Ayahuasca Pill
Why go through the effort of creating an ayahuasca pill when we can already make and take traditional hallucinogenic tea at retreats in Brazil or Peru, as well as visit ayahuasca churches located around Canada and the USA? The answer lies in accessibility and consistency — two crucial elements that are essential for exploring this powerful medicine.
The Variability Issue
One of the major issues with administering ayahuasca in a traditional setting is that there is extreme variability in how much people receive. This can lead to drastically different experiences for different people within the same ceremony, which makes it difficult to measure the effects and benefits of ayahuasca usage. Benjamin Lightburn, Founder and CEO of Filament and connoisseur in pharmabotanica, spoke to Benzinga about the details of plant extraction. He revealed that, “The amount of plants extracted, the different species used, and the strength of the extract… Different people in the same ceremony receive highly variable amounts of psychoactive substances.”
Creating a Consistent Experience
By creating an ayahuasca pill and standardizing dosing protocols, researchers hope to create a more consistent experience with predictable effects so they can study its therapeutic potential more accurately. If you have the goal of further researching areas such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, a clinical trial is essential. Through this type of study it is possible to give participants precise doses over multiple weeks or months with follow up questionnaires and assessments to monitor progress over time. Creating an ayahuasca pill could make this kind of research possible.
Ayahuasca Pills Could Make Treatment More Accessible
Another benefit of creating an ayahuasca pill would be that it could make treatment more accessible for those who cannot travel to South America for traditional ceremonies or don't have access to traditional healers who administer ayahuasca in other parts of the world. This could open up access to potential treatments for conditions like PTSD and depression for many more people around the world who may not otherwise have access to it.
Filament Health is placing a bet on the natural products market for future psychedelic therapies, envisioning that certain individuals would choose to incorporate plant-based formulations instead of more pharmacological treatments when seeking “trips” with therapeutic benefits.
To support its efforts, Filament has entered into a partnership with UCSF and are already conducting psilocybin and psilocin clinical trials together.
Striking a balance between the commercialization and medicalization of sacred plants
Filament's ayahuasca pill has raised questions concerning previous and informed consent from Indigenous organizations for the project, as well as the allocation of money for sensitive and pressing issues such as natural species conservation. Benjamin Lightburn has said that consultations have taken place with relevant local communities in Peru, though specifics remain confidential until research progresses. He does stress however, that Filament recognize there are many competing perspectives on ayahuasca study, and it is important to take these into consideration when dealing with this sacred plant.
To conclude, ayahuasca has been used as part of healing ceremonies and spiritual rituals by indigenous cultures for centuries, but now scientists are exploring ways to make these experiences more accessible and consistent by creating an ayahuasca pill. By standardizing dosing protocols and making treatment more accessible worldwide via a pill form, researchers hope they can gain further insight into its therapeutic potential while giving those without access to traditional healers another avenue for treatment options such as PTSD and depression. The idea is still being explored but, if successful, it could open up exciting new possibilities for treatment worldwide.