In southern BC, there is a new 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility where a particular product is generating a lot of buzz.
Psilocybin – otherwise known as magic mushrooms – are grown legally here in a high-tech laboratory, where growers hope to contribute to medical research showing that these mushrooms can be great medical benefits.
“There’s a lot of clinical research going on right now that shows the potential of these mushrooms,” Todd Henderson told CTV National News.
Henderson is head of horticulture for a company called Optimizing Health. It’s one of the few Canadian businesses currently federally approved to manufacture, manufacture, and export psychedelic mushrooms.
While there are only a handful of these at present, more and more companies are racing to position themselves as certified suppliers of psilocybin.
The push comes as scientists increasingly explore its therapeutic benefits, including treating depression, substance use and end-of-life distress.
Bill Ciprick, CEO of Optimi Health, told CTV National News: “We will be able to provide that safe supply, so researchers can really dig deeper to see better. , let’s see where this goes.
A study published in February found that psilocybin therapy was associated with a reduction in symptoms in adults with major depressive disorder for up to one year.
Currently, there are no approved therapeutic products containing psilocybin, in Canada or elsewhere, according to Health Canada. But in January 2022, Health Canada tweaked their Special Access Program (SAP) to allow doctors to order psilocybin for use in psychotherapy or with other treatment plans. , making it easier for doctors to access restricted drugs.
And in April, the first patients in Canada were able to receive psilocybin through SAP for end-of-life anxiety.
Thomas Hartle, one of the patients approached due to a diagnosis of terminal colon cancer, told CTV News in May that having access to this treatment made a big difference in quality. his life.
“My mental health has improved so much that it is hard to say what it has done for me,” he said.
“I still have cancer. I still struggle with what it does physically, but there are days when I don’t even think about it. What would you do to have a day where you feel normal? “
These mind-altering agents are used in a controlled clinical setting as part of psychotherapy.
Psilocybin, which is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, enters the body through receptors similar to serotonin, a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter, carrying messages throughout the body and functioning. as a mood stabilizer. People with depression often have low serotonin levels, and hallucinogens like psilocybin have been found to increase the brain’s connectivity, allowing those messages to be sent more easily than before.
Several studies have shown that one or two doses of psilocybin in a therapeutic setting can make a significant, long-term difference for people with treatment-resistant depressive disorder.
Ciprick says magic mushrooms offer more options for doctors when considering how to treat patients.
“What psilocybin offers is another opportunity for doctors,” he said. “They need a lot of tools in their toolbox and one gives them another.”
While Optimi also grows non-regulatory mushrooms, its main focus is on growing psychedelic mushrooms for medical use and research.
“Anyone looking to develop a drug to help people – that’s who we’re developing,” said Henderson.
The company has an agreement with the IMPACT clinical trial accelerator program in the University of Calgary to clinically test their psilocybin products and potential health benefits.
And at the end of June, the company announced that it was partnering with a group of Calgary-based clinics to give them magic mushrooms for psychedelic therapies, as long as patients are approved through them. via SAP.
Approximately 2,000 kg of dry psilocybin can be produced per month.
While the company is currently working with Canadian researchers, the ultimate goal is to share their magic mushrooms globally.