What is Psychedelic Medicine?
By Anthony Ricciuto
As a sports nutritionist that is fascinated with holistic medicine and longevity, I knew sooner or later I would end up here in my quest. With my study of nutrition, natural supplements, herbs, and medical cannabis, I always pull towards alternative therapies and how they can be used to optimize performance and health. Working with numerous world-class athletes for a wide variety of sports, I am always looking far and beyond what others do to take my clients to the next level. By that, I am not always thinking about that all-time world record, or being selected for the next Olympic games. I am talking about elevating performance, health, longevity, and the well-being of my clientele on every level.
Maybe the Hippies were Right All Along?
If I said the words psychedelic medicine to you even just twenty years ago you would have looked at me like I was some type of weirdo hippie that drank one too many green smoothies. But today in the year 2021, this is becoming a stark reality. The use of psychedelic drugs, yea the ones that made the 60’s so awesome are now being not only researched but applied in medical settings to help heal many different conditions. I guess the baby boomers, the flower children of the Vietnam war era saw the writing on the wall a half-century ago, but many were too arrogant to see it.
Magic Mushrooms as Medicine is Nothing New!
The use of magic mushrooms or what is known as Psilocybe Cubensis dates back thousands of years. Just like medical cannabis that has been documented over 6,000 years ago for being used to treat medical conditions, magic mushrooms also have their own history. It is believed fungi can be dated to over a billion years ago when paleobiologists discovered it on fossils. Some experts like Terrance Mckenna believe that magic mushrooms were used all the way back to 10,000 BC for both healing and spiritual benefits.
Magic Mushrooms are Serious Medicine!
The Mother of Medicinal Mushrooms
One person stands out when it comes to the healing properties of magic mushrooms and their introduction to Western civilization. That woman would be none other than Maria Sabina. She is considered the pioneer that introduced magic mushrooms to the western world for healing purposes. This all started when she was introduced to Robert Wasson way back in 1955. Maria was a Mazatec shaman living in southern Mexico. Born in 1894, Maria was introduced to the magic of these fungi at an early age. She came from a family of shamans so studying and being inquisitive about the wide variety of healing plants came naturally growing up surrounded by these daily practices. As she got older her relation to magic mushrooms became devout and her healing ceremonies as they were known were gaining popularity. She began working with people all over the country and her fame was praised in many circles. Her healing ceremonies were known as “Veladas” and it was through this, her legacy was born.
Maria Treated John Lennon in Mexico
The Discovery of Magic Mushrooms in America
Robert was the first white man to have ever to have been invited to one of her Valeadas. The fact that he was being included in the ceremony out of his curiosity rather than a specific health condition seemed odd to those native Mexicans involved. He took a piece of the magic mushroom from that ceremony and shipped it to a scientist back in America. From the analysis that was conducted, the psychoactive compound known as psilocybin was now discovered. But even beyond that was his article in Life Magazine where he detailed all his experiences with Maria. This took her fame to unseen heights as people from all over the world knew of her abilities and practices thus seeking her out for a myriad of health conditions. It wasn’t just everyday folk wanting to utilize her services as famous people like Walt Disney, John Lennon, and numerous other well-known personalities made their journey to see her.
Maria and Robert in 1955 discussing Magic Mushrooms
Medical Studies Proving Magic Mushrooms are Medicine
The future looks very bright for the use of magic mushrooms for treating many conditions. In the late ’90s, the first study was conducted making history. Since then numerous other faculties of medicine have followed suit including the famous John Hopkins University in America and the University of Toronto in Canada. When these medical studies are being performed it is opening not only the eyes of the researchers that can verify their effectiveness for different conditions but also of the politicians. Let’s not forget citizens that want to have a say in what they can legally put in their bodies to improve their health as well. Many states in America are pushing the legalization of magic mushrooms for medical purposes much the way medical cannabis was and continues to this day to fight the stigma associated with it.
Mark Emery after being Released from an American Prison
Medical Cannabis Activists in Canada
As a Canadian, I have seen over the years the push by medical cannabis activists fighting to have their rights restored. The push to allow those in need of cannabis as medicine to help treat their different health conditions. In time though these acts of civil disobedience, protests, rallies, and fighting in the legal system have given Canadians the right to not only medical but recreational cannabis use throughout the country. Activists that stood their ground and fought for change helped bring us to both medical and recreational cannabis laws that we as Canadians enjoy. These selfless activists like Dana Larsen, Remo and Sandra Colasanti, Mark and Jody Emery, Ian Hunter, Lyn Harichy, Rick Simpson, Grant Krieger among many more, were critical in making these dreams a reality. If these people didn’t work, sacrifice, and push the envelope to move the dial in the right direction we would not be where we are today. Not to be forgotten is all that they have done will then trickle around the world in years to come.
Sandra and Remo Colasanti Led the Way for Legalization in Canada!
History Made Once Again
Less than a year ago, history was once again made in Canada in the pursuit of alternative medical treatments. Thomas Hartle is the very first person in Canada to “Legally” consume psilocybin to treat his medical condition under the guidance of Dr. Bruce Tobin. Thomas was suffering from crippling anxiety attacks since he was diagnosed with terminal cancer years prior. After even his first dose, the anxiety dissipated, and had the best sleep in several years. He believes Canadians should keep all options on the table and consider psilocybin therapy as medical treatment. Dr. Tobin created a nonprofit organization called TheraPsil consisting of medical researchers, doctors, as well as those involved in politics to help further this cause.
Dr. Tobin and Thomas Hartle with some Magic Mushrooms!
Medical Psilocybin Research Continues
To make things even better just a few short months after this historic event Health Canada and the Minister of Health granted 16 exemptions to a group of doctors, therapists, and social workers to possess and use psilocybin to help study and implement it in a medical setting without the worry of prosecution under Canada’s drug laws. The reason for this is that these medical professionals should be able to understand what psilocybin does and how it works in the body before monitoring patients that may be able to use it for end-of-life treatments. As one author commented, “Would you take advice from a Sex Therapist that never had sex?” This only makes sense that those giving medical advice have experienced the effects themselves. Slowly but surely you will see more and more cases in the media as well as medical studies highlighting all the different health conditions that can be successfully treated with psychedelic medicine. Many experts agree that even a single dose of psilocybin can be more beneficial than years of medication or psychotherapy.
The Future of Psilocybin as Medicine
Today magic mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs that were once frowned upon in years past as the scourge of hippie degenerates has come full circle. Once thought of as drugs that would rot your brain and ruin your life have become a miracle for many helping them ultimately improve the quality of their mental health. Their benefits for those suffering from depression, anxiety attacks, PTSD, and more are just the tip of the iceberg for what science will show in the near future. Magic mushrooms are in the same place medical cannabis was twenty-plus years ago. Hopefully, the bureaucratic red tape that took place during these decades with medical cannabis will no longer be an issue so patients looking to psilocybin among other psychedelic drugs can take advantage of all they offer especially for those at the end of life treatments. Psychedelics are without a doubt the future of medicine!