Riding the wave of medical cannabis legislation and research, new (or perhaps renewed) attention is being directed at the potential of psychedelic medicines. Psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), and ketamine are just a few of the psychedelic substances already well into clinical trials.
With a global market predicted to reach anywhere from $6.3 billion to $69 billion by 2026, there is growing excitement among patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers about just what this new world can offer.
A Bright Future of Psychedelic Therapy for Mental Health
A quick search of ClinicalTrials.gov highlights 76 current or upcoming trials for psilocybin, over 1,100 for ketamine, and 127 for LSD.
Much of this renewed attention on psychedelics is picking up where it left off in the 1970s. But, it’s now benefiting from several scientific advances over the last half-century and the positive social atmosphere established from medical cannabis.
Most of the research in this new era of psychedelics explores these drugs for applications in mental health, particularly depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other conditions. Several substances, including ketamine, are also under investigation for pain, and pain related to diseases like cancer.
Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelics Studies (MAPS) is one of the most prestigious organizations and a long-established pioneer within the psychedelics field. MAPS is well underway with controlled studies covering a range of psychedelic and formerly controversial substances. This includes the first-ever double-blind, placebo-controlled study of LSD since this mind-bending drug was banned in the 1970s. The target of this study was anxiety associated with a life-threatening illness.
MAPS has also completed Phase 2 clinical trials and received approval for Phase 3 clinical trials for MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. This research aims to develop a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved prescription for PTSD and other trauma-related conditions.
The rapid expansion of all psychedelic research over the last five years is almost unbelievable. For those familiar with the trials and tribulations of researching medical cannabis, it’s also surprising how quickly it’s evolving. Yet, both legislators and regulatory bodies are welcoming research and results from this research with open arms. It seems as if the world is on the cusp of a psychedelic therapy revolution.
Current Legal Landscape and Predictions
At the time of writing, the vast majority of psychedelic substances remain tightly controlled, with a few exceptions. In South America and the Caribbean, where psilocybin fungi grow naturally, they remain legal, at least for cultivation and consumption. This includes the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, and Brazil.
The Netherlands is another notable and perhaps historically notorious country that has long legalized psychedelic truffles. Plus, there are many other countries around the world where psilocybin mushrooms are illegal, but laws against their use, sale, and consumption remain widely unenforced.
Most recently, a handful of countries are now pursuing limited trial runs. For example, in 2020, the Canadian government approved 16 exceptions for nurses, physicians, therapists, and other healthcare professionals for the use of psilocybin in their own training. In addition, at least 36 patients have also received Ministry of Health exceptions for use in their own treatment, and another 27 organizations are approved to “conduct activities” with the substance.
In the United States, several jurisdictions have decriminalized certain psychedelics, or in one case, legalized them. Oregon legalized psilocybin for treatment within controlled settings, or mental health conditions in Measure 109, which passed in late 2020.
At the national level in the US, there is also momentum toward legalizing psychedelics in medicine. In 2017 the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for MDMA in the treatment of PTSD. In 2019, the FDA twice granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to psilocybin to treat severe treatment-resistant depression and major depressive disorder.
A New Era of Treatment for Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization, there are 280 million people worldwide with depression. It’s thought to be one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. A further 264 million people worldwide live with an anxiety disorder.
With the current pharmaceutical options, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and sedatives, problematic in terms of tolerance, addictiveness, and side effect profile, novel treatment options are urgently needed.
Psychedelic therapy for mental health conditions could finally offer safe, well-tolerated, and non-addictive solutions. There is no shortage of options, from plant-based psychedelics like ibogaine and psilocybin to pharmaceutical creations like LSD and MDMA.
As these substances enter into clinical trials, with regulatory support, there could be legally prescribed psychedelics on the horizon for many patients with challenging mental health conditions.
RYAH Exploring Possibilities for it’s Smart Patch for Psychedelic Delivery
RYAH specializes in plant medicine without ever touching the medicine. Rather, the Company makes smart delivery devices like inhalers and patches, and pens capable of delivering all manner of medicines, including psychedelics, in precisely controlled doses.
The devices are connected to the RYAH Cloud and patented AI-powered data engine, which can make treatment recommendations and create insights gathered from a vast amount of data. RYAH brings Internet of Things (IoT) technology to plant medicine.