Finally, researchers are again exploring the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics to treat the likes of depression, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. To provide pharmaceutical-quality compounds for clinical trials, scientists are developing new ways to produce the psychedelics. Chemical engineers at Miami University in Ohio have now genetically engineered E. coli to crank put psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms. From Scientific American:
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The modified microbes generated up to 1.16 grams of psilocybin per liter of culture medium—the highest yield to date from any engineered organism and a 10-fold increase over the next best attempt. Scaled up, the new method could produce psilocybin for potential therapeutic use.
“The number-one advantage is it's simply cheaper” than—or at least cost-competitive with—other methods, says lead study author Alexandra Adams, an undergraduate student in chemical engineering at Miami University in Ohio...
Adams and her colleagues engineered E. coli that incorporated three genes from the Psilocybe cubensis mushroom, enabling the bacteria to synthesize psilocybin from the cheap and easily obtainable precursor molecule 4-hydroxyindole, and then they optimized the process to produce the drug on a larger scale.
Based on a new study of the safety and abuse potential of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic drug in magic mushrooms, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers recommend that "psilocybin should be re-categorized from a schedule I drug—one with no known medical potential—to a schedule IV drug such as prescription sleep aids, but with tighter control."
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Brian Pollet (aka PsyBry) created this fantastic series of 20 images each themed on a specific drug. Several have accompanying making-of videos that are as hypnotizing as the final stills. Read the rest
A "bad trip" on psychedelic mushrooms may lead to "enduring increases in well-being," according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Neuroscientist Roland Griffiths and colleagues surveyed nearly 2,000 adults about their psilocybin experiences. Those who experienced bad trips had taken, on average, a powerful dose of 4 grams. From Psypost:
A majority of the participants — 62 percent — said their bad trip was among the top 10 most psychologically difficult situations of their lives. Eleven percent said it was their number one most difficult experience.
But 34 percent of participants said the bad trip was among the top five most personally meaningful experiences of their life and 31 percent said it was the among the top five most spiritually significant. And 76 percent said the bad trip had resulted in an improved sense of personal well-being or life satisfaction. Forty-six percent said they would be willing to experience the bad trip all over again.
"Survey study of challenging experiences after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms: Acute and enduring positive and negative consequences" (Journal of Psychopharmacology) Read the rest
Nature Magazine reports that researchers from Imperial College London gave psilocybin to 12 people with depression. All the patients showed "a marked improvement in their symptoms."
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Researchers from Imperial College London gave 12 people psilocybin, the active component in magic mushrooms. All had been clinically depressed for a significant amount of time — on average 17.8 years. None of the patients had responded to standard medications, such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or had electroconvulsive therapy.
One week after receiving an oral dose of psilocybin, all patients experienced a marked improvement in their symptoms. Three months on, five patients were in complete remission.
“That is pretty remarkable in the context of currently available treatments,” says Robin Carhart-Harris, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London and first author of the latest study, which is published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
The equivalent remission rate for SSRIs is around 20%.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine seeks religious and spiritual leaders to participate in a research study on psilocybin and mystical experience. Read the rest
Indonesia has some of the most draconian drugs laws in the world. Smugglers and dealers face execution. (Earlier this year Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were put to death by firing squad for attempting to smuggle heroin into Australia). Magic mushrooms are also illegal in Indonesia. Possession could result in a minimum four-year and maximum 12-year prison term. And yet dealers sell them on the streets of Bali without much fear of the cops. David Allegretti of Vice interviewed some Balinese shroom dealers to learn the story.
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Are you selling the same stuff as all the other dealers on the strip?
Mushrooms yes, because most of us get it from the same guy. But cannabis no, the other guys don't want to sell the cannabis or any other drugs, they're too dangerous.
So why do you sell them?
Because they're only dangerous if you sell or if you take them through the airport, but you're just a tourist and you won't have a lot. If the police stop you they'll just want a little money, maybe around 500,000 rupiah [approximately $40 USD]. They won't take you to the jail—too much work for them. They are lazy brother.
So you're saying the police are corrupt?
Corruption is a dirty word. It's more that they don't waste time on small problems. Police are men, and every man is different. Maybe you can get one in a bad mood and he can cause problems, and that's why it's better to stay in your hotel and smoke.