As medicine rediscovers magic mushrooms, a Montreal clinic says there’s no time to waste
MONTREAL — Researchers think magic mushrooms will be the future of health care. But how easily and fast regular people will be able to use them is another question — one a Montreal organization wants to see solved quickly.
“The fact is that a lot of these substances are really safe from a physiological perspective, and even from a psychological perspective,” said Andrew Rose of Mindspace, a mental health-care provider with offices in Westmount, the Plateau and downtown.
“It’s certainly safer than alcohol and a lot of prescription medication that’s out there.”
There is increasing evidence that the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, called psilocybin, has major health benefits for people with severe treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, and addictions.
A lot of change is suddenly happening behind the scenes, if not yet at your local pharmacy, and a few organizations such as Mindspace are at the forefront of the push.
A Vancouver-based company called Numinus has become the first in Canada to complete a legal harvest of magic mushrooms in 50 years.
Under Health Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the company was granted a compassionate access clinical trial, which allows it to grow magic mushrooms, extract psilocybin, and refine models of use for psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.
PART OF BROADER THERAPY
This doesn’t mean people should go source their own magic mushrooms looking for a cure.
“The drug is a part of it, but where the magic happens is in the therapy,” says Payton Nyquvest, the CEO of Numinus.
“I hear people regularly say that one dose of psilocybin-assisted therapy was like 10 years of psychotherapy wrapped into one treatment.”
Nyquvest agrees, and he says he should know. He has spent 10 years attending psychotherapy due to lifelong chronic pain. He says with that after one round of psilocybin-assisted therapy, he hasn’t suffered from the chronic pain since.
He uses the analogy of a toboggan going down a hill. Eventually it will create a groove, or trail, in the snow. Those are neurological pathways in our brain.
“So if I have trauma and my way of dealing with that has been addiction, that pathway can get pretty grooved the more I go back to that addiction,” he said.
“Psychedelics essentially grooms the snow and gives you the ability to create new grooves and new pathways.”
American company Maps has released a report of its phase three clinical trials on MDMA, also a psychedelic, used to treat severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It shows a 70 per cent effective rate after three treatments.
Nyquvest says psychedelics could become a widely used cure for addictions, PTSD, severe depression and other treatment-resistant mental illness.
But first, he says, there needs to be a massive disruption to the current pharmaceutical model before they could become accessible.
“We have to remember that there’s a financial aspect that we’re talking about,” he says. “There are a lot of companies that want people to be on an ongoing, pill-dispensing model because it’s quite profitable.”