After decades of misinformation and mistreatment, psychedelic drugs are experiencing a resurgence of support from the medical community as many governments open the door to research for the first time.
Hallucinogenic drugs, like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and others, were used for medical experiments by psychiatrists in the 1950s and 1960s, but were ultimately outlawed for their connection to the counterculture of the times.
Now, after decades of prohibition — and many failed attempts at research from medical professionals thwarted by government restrictions — psychedelics are finally getting sustained and legal research.
Scientists and doctors have known for decades that many illegal drugs, including psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ayahuasca, and MDMA, among others, could offer new and important medical treatments. Many mental health disorders still lack safe and effective treatments with long-lasting outcomes.
Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction to alcohol and drugs, schizophrenia — all these conditions can be treated with psychedelic drugs, often with positive results unprecedented with existing medicine.
That’s why so many countries have either legalized some of those substances already, or at least made them available for government-sanctioned medical studies to ascertain their value and effectiveness.
In Sydney, Australia, a clinical trial is investigating whether psilocybin can help treat methamphetamine addiction. Also in Australia, the newly established Psychae Institute in Melbourne is planning to study the effects of ayahuasca on patients struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.
A Brazilian study found positive results for treating depression with ayahuasca, and a UK trial on DMT, the active compound in ayahuasca, was approved by regulators. Also, there have been a few US studies of the positive effect of psilocybin on patients with anxiety and depression caused by life-threatening cancer.
Dr. Martin Williams, executive director of Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine, told The Guardian that the conversation around psychedelics has finally changed. For decades, the study of psychedliecs was associated with “career suicide,” Williams said.
“Psychedelics … through whatever mechanisms, seem to represent a significant improvement over the standard therapies,” Williams said.
Some psychedelics have already been legalized in a few countries, including Brazil, Peru and The Netherlands, and other countries have begun to decriminalize them or allow for limited studies.
Canada, in particular, has emerged as a strong candidate to legalize one or more psychedelic substances within the near future.
As the Canadian government has slowly made the substance more available for testing, the Canadian business community has taken note, with many of them launching research projects.
In December, Canadian company ThreeD Capital Inc. announced its investment of nearly half a million dollars in Wuhan General Group Inc., a Chinese bioceutical company focused on alternative plant-based cannabinoids and psilocybin medical research.
“The investment thesis of ThreeD Capital is that psychedelics are going to experience a paradigm shifting and parabolic growth stage over this decade, leading to a critical role in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction and other mental health issues that traditional pharmaceuticals have not been able to adequately solve,” said Sheldon Inwentash, Chairman and CEO of ThreeD Capital.
Investors aren’t the only ones sensing a “paradigm shift.”
That’s what bestselling author Michael Pollan describes in his last book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.”
“Several of the scientists I profile are convinced psychedelics could revolutionize mental healthcare and our understanding of the mind,” Pollan said.
That revolution is likely just beginning.
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