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N.S. company launching clinical trial to examine magic mushrooms as treatment for PTSD


About an hour outside Halifax, hidden behind Hants Community Hospital in Windsor, NS, workers in a small facility are growing their own magic mushrooms and synthesizing what makes them so magical: psilocybin.

Its operators, Halucenex Life Sciences Inc., are also in the process of the province’s first clinical trial using the psychostimulant psilocybin – which the researchers hope will prove safe. and the effectiveness of its use to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’re really excited to see the data this has and its effects on PTSD,” said team leader David James. Halucenex scientific staff, is funding and conducting the trial.

James said 1,500 people from around the world have signed up to participate in this study, which shows a huge need for effective psychological treatments. Only 20 people were selected for the study, and the company plans to share its results with Health Canada.

“We hope that the data we’re getting from this important clinical trial is effective enough to show all of Canada that it works, it’s safe, and hopefully, will grow the field to help. more people.”

Recent studies have identified the therapeutic benefits of hallucinogens as psilocybin, LSD and MDMAalso known as ecstasy, to treat PTSD, depression, and addiction.

People with PTSD often have an increased response in the amygdala, the part of the brain connected with memory and emotions. That activity can make work dealing with painful memories.

James said he hopes the study will demonstrate the safety of psilocybin for therapeutic uses. (Robert / Brief)

Several studies have shown that psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms, can reduce the activity of amygdala when people react to threats. This means that PTSD patients can reduce anxiety and inappropriate reactions by taking it.

Other healthcare practitioners say more research is necessary.

Health Canada notes that research is ongoing, but there is no approved therapeutic psilocybin product and also risk warning.

“For people with predisposition to or with existing psychiatric conditions, there may be an increased risk of adverse events. This association is still being evaluated,” it says on its website.

The trial, which began earlier this month and is scheduled to end in March 2023, involves administering a synthetic version of psilocybin to 20 patients. This team includes doctors, therapists, veterans, and first responders, all of whom have been diagnosed with PTSD.

The trial allowed participants to use psilocybin, which is considered an illegal substance under the Drugs and Substances Control Act, in a safe and supervised environment.

Two vials of psilocybin synthesis. (Robert Short / CBC)

Patients will initially take a dose of 10 milligrams, known as microdosing. They would come back a week later and take a 25-milligram dose of macrodose.

Usually, the macro dose, often referred to by those in the psychedelic community as the “hero dose”, means consuming five grams of mushrooms or moreand feel the effects in 5 to 8 hours. These effects include seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there. Some may also experience anxiety, fear, nausea, and muscle twitching heart rate and blood pressure.

“[Twenty-five milligrams]”That’s enough to do what we hoped to do, which is a kind of total mental reset for PTSD,” said James, who also has a PhD in chemistry.

psilocybin dosage chart. (CBC)

Although none of the trial participants could speak on the subject, Don Hunter, the company’s senior vice president of business development, said he underwent psilocybin treatment in last summer.

After months of research and years of trying other PTSD treatments, Hunter opted to drink psilocybin tea at a facility in Costa Rica.

The hallucinogenic effect made him feel like he was digging deep into his heart and his thoughts were literally blocked.

“I’m going through a wall, but I still don’t know where I’m going,” Hunter said.

Finally, after hours of “digging,” he said he felt as though he had risen to the other side of the wall and was able to confront the thoughts he had deliberately suppressed.

“I don’t want to say this is a silver bullet because I believe it’s necessary to continue your treatment. … What’s important is, in addition to… actually changing my mind and being counterproductive. … it also allows me to have a different mindset when it comes to listening to others and being more compassionate towards others.”

Don Hunter, senior vice president of business development at Halucenex. (Robert Short / CBC)

Nurse Brenda Perks will help guide trial participants through their hallucinogenic experiences. She says that bad experiences often depend on the environment and the form of psilocybin used.

“The recreational rides are unguided and unsupported, you don’t know what you’re taking, you don’t know what pressure you’re under. Perks, who used to be a nurse at medical facilities different for 35 years, say.

Nurse Brenda Perks will guide the participants through the psychedelic therapy. (Robert Short / CBC)

Psilocybe cubensis is the most common magic mushroom, but there are nearly 100 different strains.

She said the trial will be Nova Scotia’s official introduction to the therapeutic effects of hallucinations. She hopes such research will eventually lead to their legalization.

“By doing the trials, we hope to remove the fears and anxieties surrounding so-called psychedelic drugs … which is what we hope to get more support for. so we can undo some of the old ways of thinking about hallucinations.”

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