Scientists are embarking on a new frontier in medicinal treatment. The successful use of controlled psychedelic products is becoming widely accepted by universities, government and research institutes and health care organizations to treat a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
In the last decade, breakthrough findings have been published about the usefulness and application of psychedelic compounds like psilocybin, more commonly referred to as magic mushrooms. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug compound, which is produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms.
After obtaining U.S. regulatory approval to research psychedelics in healthy volunteers, Johns Hopkins published a landmark study in 2006 about the safety and enduring positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin that triggered a renewed interest in psychedelic research around the world.
Since then, Johns Hopkins has published other groundbreaking studies in more than 60 respected scientific journals. The research demonstrates therapeutic effects in people experiencing addiction (alcohol, smoking, other drugs of abuse), existential distress caused by life-threatening disease, and treatment-resistant depression.
These studies have advanced the understanding of the enduring positive effects of psilocybin.
According to Paul B. Rothman, M.D., Dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine.”
At the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, researchers focus on how psychedelics affect mood, behavior, cognition, brain function, and biological markers of health. Upcoming studies will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, opioid addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), anorexia nervosa, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), and alcohol use in people with major depression.
The psychedelic market is only in the infancy stage. The psychedelic and functioning mushroom industries are among the fastest growing in North America. The global medicinal mushroom market is projected to reach $13.88 billion by 2024.
Proof is becoming increasingly available that the market is positioned for widespread acceptance. In March 2019, the FDA approved the first psychedelic medicinal product from Johnson & Johnson to treat depression, called Spravato. Later that year, in November 2019, the FDA awarded Breakthrough Therapy designation to non-profit Usona Institute, which is also studying the effects of psilocybin as an anti-depressant. In 2020, the FDA granted psychedelics Breakthrough Therapy status for treatment-resistant depression, with approvals anticipated in 2021.
As the industry transitions from dry biomass to extracts, few companies are prepared for this new opportunity. One such entity is Pure Extracts, an innovative extraction company focused on extracting the most valuable molecules from the psychedelic products. The margins associated with this part of the business are high. According to Doug Benville, founder and COO of Pure Extracts, “Even though people have been utilizing the therapeutic benefits of mushrooms for centuries, it is really only now starting to become a trend that Main Street and Wall Street are recognizing.”
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