Psychedelics are gaining traction as an effective modality to treat depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction.
Psychedelic substances such as psilocybin, which is found in more than 100 species of fungi AKA magic mushrooms , are now being reimagined as a novel treatment for various mental health conditions in concert with traditional therapy modalities.
The clinical application of these substances is shifting the paradigm of mental health treatment within Australia.
Little Green Pharma (LGP) is Australia’s first medical cannabis company to produce medical-grade therapeutic products from Aussie-grown cannabis. They are now expanding into the exciting field of medicinal psychedelics.
The WA Department of Health has granted the business a Schedule 9 licence to supply psilocybin for medical research.
LGP is a vertically integrated company pioneering plant medicine in Australia. In addition to owning a GMP-licensed cannabis growing and manufacturing facility, they will now be permitted to grow mushrooms within a controlled environment at their facility in WA and extract the psilocybin for use in continued medical research.
Like cannabis, psychedelics such as psilocybin, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) have been historically maligned and outlawed despite research dating back as far as the 1930s that demonstrated promising results for psychotherapeutic use.
In 1938, Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman attempted to create a stimulant but accidentally synthesized LSD instead. The animal testing showed that it excited animals but was not the substance he intended to create. His findings were put on the back burner for five years, but when he re-visited the substance, he accidentally absorbed LSD through his fingertips and experienced a profound shift in consciousness .
After further self-experimentation, he concluded that it would be an ideal drug to work synergistically with therapy to achieve greater results for mental illness and trauma conditions .
“I knew immediately that this drug would have importance for psychiatry but, at that time, I would never have believed that this substance could be used in the drug scene, just for pleasure. For me it was a deep and mystical experience and not just an everyday pleasurable one. I never had the idea that it could be used as a pleasure drug.” – Albert Hoffman.
Like many other psychedelic substances, psilocybin has a long history of use in ceremonial and religious practices. In fact, the earliest evidence of its use was found in Northern Australia.
Archeologists discovered a mural depicting mushroom drawings and psychedelic illustrations which has been dated back to 10,000 BCE .
During the 1950s and ’60s, psychedelics were forecast as the next big breakthrough in the treatment of mental health issues.
Sadly, as quickly as LSD and other psychedelics came to the forefront of medical research, they disappeared again due to prohibition and the continued efforts of the Nixon government to promote the ‘war on drugs’.
Thanks to the government-deployed rhetoric, psychedelics including cannabis were deemed counter-culture youth drugs, and therefore a political danger for the US government. And so began prohibition for both recreational and medical use.
Now, more than 50 years after the dark of ages of psychedelics, medical trials for psychedelic-assisted therapy are increasing with very promising results.
According to Mind Medicine Australia (MMA), psychedelic-assisted therapy treatments are showing remission rates of up to 80% after just 2-3 sessions .
MMA will also be commencing the first-ever Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies (CPAT) in the Southern Hemisphere. MMA has applied to the TGA for psilocybin and MDMA to be down-scheduled from Schedule 9 (Prohibited substance) to Schedule 8 (Controlled Medicines) to allow for medical access. The TGA has deferred the final decision whilst seeking an independent review of rescheduling applications .
Given LGP’s visionary approach to research within the scope of plant medicine, we’ll be looking forward to seeing the outcomes of medical trials and research to understand further how fungi may be able to help the growing epidemic of mental health conditions in Australia.