Scientists Find Psilocybin Microdosing Can Boost Cognitive Creativity

Recent research on LSD indicates the drug has potential to treat mental disorders and improve our understanding of human consciousness. Meanwhile, studies in recent years have explored the effects of psilocybin—the psychoactive compound occurring naturally in magic mushrooms—on quitting smoking; lowering violent crime; treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder; and triggering spiritual epiphanies.

Now, an Oct. 25 study in Pharmacology—the official journal of the European Behavioral Pharmacology Society—adds to this growing body of knowledge. It examines another potential benefit of psilocybin. Researchers from Leiden University in The Netherlands studied the cognitive effects of micro-dosing psilocybin truffles (technically not mushrooms, but instead the hardened vegetative part of a fungus). They found that tiny doses can stimulate brain function and boost creativity without harming reasoning abilities.

Microdoses contain about 10% of the psychoactive components of a standard dose of psilocybin. The idea is to get the benefits but not the downsides of the drug, minimal effects that can stimulate thinking but not lead to extremes, like hallucinations.

For this study, the researchers tested the effects of about .035 grams of a psychoactive truffle on 36 subjects. (They later did a chemical composition analysis of the truffles to make sure psilocybin was evenly distributed throughout the truffles.) They investigated three types of thinking by presenting the subjects with different three tasks—developed by psychologists to test cognition—which was performed both before and after ingesting the drug. The scientists studied subjects’ convergent thought, which involves identifying a single solution for a single problem; their fluid intelligence, or reasoning and problem-solving; and their divergent thinking, the ability to recognize many solutions.

Read more at Quartz

The Problems with the UK’s Legalization of Medical Cannabis

Since last Thursday, medical cannabis has been legal in the UK. This means specialist doctors are now able to prescribe cannabis products for conditions where there is a proven medical benefit, potentially helping thousands of people suffering from severe forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic pain, and nausea as a result of chemotherapy, among other ailments.

This landmark change in the law occurred after several stories came to light of sick children suffering under prohibition, including Billy Caldwell. The severely epileptic 12-year-old hit headlines earlier this year when the Home Office confiscated the Canadian-bought cannabis oil that made his condition manageable. Nationwide horror at the situation prompted Home Secretary Sajid Javid to order a review of the law, after which it was decided that cannabis should be changed from a Schedule 1 drug (no medical value) to a Schedule 2 (can be prescribed).

An MS Society statement said: “It’s likely that nothing will change in the short-term for the one in ten people who get relief from pain and muscle spasms by using medical cannabis. We’re calling for the interim guidance of prescribing medical cannabis to be urgently reviewed so that access to the treatment isn’t so restricted.”

Despite the limited scope laid out in the guidelines, Health Secretary Matt Hancock seemed to imply that doctors are being given a certain level of flexibility. He said: “Doctors need to use their clinical judgment, and having guidance in place helps. Ultimately, the need to treat a person and the responsibility for that falls on the shoulders of a doctor—that’s what they do.” Indeed, there will be no direct policy from a government that limits the conditions for which medical cannabis can be prescribed.

Read the full article at Vice

Report Says: More Women Are Using Marijuana During Pregnancy

Between 2002 and 2016, the percentage of pregnant women who reported smoking cigarettes while expecting fell significantly: from 17.5% to about 10%, according to a research letter published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. Alcohol use also fell modestly during this period, from nearly 10% to about 8.5%. But cannabis use among pregnant women — while still relatively rare — is on the rise, increasing from almost 3% of pregnant women to almost 5%.

Those figures were based on responses to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. About 12,000 pregnant women ages 18 to 44 responded to the survey between 2002 and 2016; roughly 3,500 of these women were in their first trimester of pregnancy, a critical time for fetal development.

Meanwhile, the decline in smoking cigarettes while pregnant corresponds with an overall decrease in the number of Americans who smoke. The percentage of smokers in the U.S. hit a new low recently, dropping from 45.1 million cigarette users in 2005 to 36.5 million, or about 15% of the population, in 2015. The researchers did find, however, that decreases in smoking were less pronounced among specific subgroups of pregnant women, including black women, women ages 26 to 44 and those who did not finish high school.

There is far less research on the health effects of marijuana, but in general, the CDC and other public health organizations have warned expectant mothers not to use the drug while pregnant, due to potential developmental harms for infants. Similar warnings exist for smoking cigarettes while pregnant.

Time

Cannabis Extract Relieves Chronic Pain Minus The High

In the wake of cannabis legalization in Canada, a team of scientists has delivered encouraging news for chronic pain sufferers by pinpointing the effective dose of marijuana plant extract cannabidiol for safe pain relief without the typical “high” or euphoria that THC produces. The findings of their study have been published in the journal PAIN.

Cannabis indica and sativa are the two main cannabis strains that produce the pharmacological principles known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The team demonstrated that CBD does not act on the CB1 cannabinoid receptors like THC, but through the mechanism that binds specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).

“In animal models of neuropathic or chronic pain, we found that low doses of CBD administered for seven days alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated,” says the study’s first author Danilo De Gregorio, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.

Lead author Gabriella Gobbi sees this as a new advancement for the evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine with CBD likely offering a safe alternative to THC and opioids for chronic pain, such as back pain, sciatica, diabetic, cancer, or post-trauma pain.

“Our findings elucidate the mechanism of action of CBD and show that it can be used as medicine without the dangerous side effects of the THC,” says Gobbi, a professor of psychiatry.

Despite widespread public usage, little clinical studies exist on CBD, which became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, following the passage of Canada’s Cannabis Act.

Futurity

California’s Race to the Top on Cannabis

In essence, San Francisco is resetting the clock on the War on Drugs, at least for cannabis. The city is expanding upon Proposition 64, the state law that went into effect this year that makes amnesty for weed-related crimes a condition for legalizing cannabis in California.

As incredibly progressive as that ordinance is, San Francisco is not alone in attempting to work racial equity into the new legalized cannabis landscape. Cities across California and other states are upping the racial equity quotient in various ways, in what looks like a race to the top for seeking true racially and economically inclusive outcomes. As city leaders scratch their heads over how to realize real racial equity in policymaking, the legalized weed experiment is acting as the test case and is already proving itself sticky enough that cities are almost competing to be the most weedfully woke.

It’s not just the historically uber-liberal Bay Area that’s embarking on this. Los Angeles also has a cannabis social equity program that prioritizes business permits for people with low incomes, who have lived in an area ravaged by the drug war, have criminal records (because of past weed prohibition), and who plan to hire at least half of their workforces from local residents. Both Oakland and L.A. are also prioritizing permits for people who don’t personally fall under this criteria but are willing to finance or lease space to applicants who do.

Despite the heavy regulation of the cannabis market at both the city and state level (and maybe the federal level if Senator Cory Booker has it his way), there has still been immense growth in revenue and profits in this field. According to the 2017 Cannabis Industry Annual Report, from New Frontier Data, “The legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $6.6 billion in 2016, and annual sales are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% to reach more than $24 billion by 2025.” And that’s only based on the states where weed is currently legal.

Read the full article at CityLab

Psychedelics Stop Oppression? Magic Mushroom Compound Shown To Soften Authoritarian Views

A new experimental research program has provided the first evidence that psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, might decrease authoritarian views.

“Magic” mushrooms have become inextricably linked to the nature-loving, political counterculture that often seeks them out. But what if psilocybin was actually what led people to exhibit those traits, rather than the other way around?

Scientists from the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London conducted a study using seven participants with treatment-resistant depression, which refers to chronic depression that doesn’t respond to therapy or medication, or most likely a combination of the two.

The psilocybin group experienced a significant reduction in authoritarian leanings, with noticeable changes holding up even at the seven- to 12-month mark. The control group exhibited no such change. “These results suggest that psilocybin therapy may persistently decrease authoritarian attitudes post-treatment with psilocybin,” the team wrote in a new paper describing their research, which was published in the scientific journal Psychopharmacology.

There are substantial caveats to this study, the first being its sample size—seven people is an unusually small number for this sort of thing. Another is that it’s possible the reduction in depression the participants reported is what caused any ideological changes.

Newsweek

Ayahuasca: The Hallucinogen That Blows Your Mind

The first thing you should know about drinking ayahuasca is that it’s going to make you puke your brains out. That’s usually the first thing that anyone who has ever taken it will tell you. But once you get past that, they say, you will experience a high so deep and emotionally enlightening that your outlook on the universe will change forever.

Ayahuasca comes from two words from the Quechua, a South American tribe based primarily in the Andes: “Aya,” meaning spirit, and “Huasca,” meaning vine or rope. The Quechua call it the “vine of the soul” or “creeping spirits of the dead.” When you drink ayahuasca tea, you see the kind of powerful hallucinations akin to what one would see on LSD. Those who have taken ayahuasca report experiencing out-of-body experiences, “spiritual flights,” and powerful hallucinations. In some cases, they swear they’ve even experienced telepathy.

While some researchers have suggested that ayahuasca could potentially be used to treat those struggling with PTSD or substance abuse, there’s not much evidence to support its therapeutic benefits. In fact, ayahuasca has also been shown to have adverse effects for those struggling with mental health issues, particularly if they’re undiagnosed, as it could potentially trigger psychosis. Following the death of 24-year-old New Zealand student Matthew Dawson-Clarke last year, ayahuasca retreats have also garnered their fair share of negative media attention.

Read more at Mens Health

Canandaigua Community Leaders Talk About Opioid Crisis

CANANDAIGUA — People have been asking Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni about the opioid crisis, how serious of a problem it is and what parts of the community are primarily affected.

Narcan is a brand name for naloxone, a medication that almost instantly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, virtually saving people from the brink of death.

Lynn Seaward, director of community-based services at Finger Lakes Area Counseling & Recovery Agency (FLACRA), talked about various local programs available to help drug and alcohol addicts, including peer services where those recovering can relate to and help abusers find the best services for their individual situations.

FLACRA also recently acquired a mobile crisis van that allows staff and peer counselors to go directly to people in crisis or overdosing. Staff also work with law enforcement and emergency personnel in rescuing people and educating families on the problems that lead to addiction and where to find help.

Read the full article at Daily Messenger

Are Magic mMushrooms Next On The List of Legalized Drugs?

OREGON — Oregon could become home to the legal, recreational use of magic mushrooms. A campaign to legalize Psilocybin, informally known as magic mushrooms, is making its way to voters.

Psilocybin, after all, is an off-patent, organic agent which creates change through the psychedelic experience it provides, such that a single experience often changes a person’s disposition moving forward,” the group wrote in an open letter to voters. “And the psilocybin model, which includes preparation, psychedelic facilitation, and integration afterward, doesn’t just match the effectiveness of a typical ‘meds and therapy’ regimen. Where typical interventions fail, psilocybin therapy, with impressive frequency, breaks through.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring hallucinogen found in certain species of mushrooms. There are an estimated 180 species of mushrooms that contain psilocybin. Users typically experience hallucinations when they eat the mushrooms.

Continue Reading at Patch

Use of CBD Oil Has Doubled in the UK in One Year

A trade organization in the United Kingdom that oversees the rapidly expanding cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp market, has published a study that shows the use of CBD oil in the U.K. has doubled in a single year.

The Cannabis Trades Association U.K.’s (CTAUK) figures reveal 250,000 people are now using CBD oil to treat their health conditions. CTAUK added that the number of users is up from 125,000 last year, with approximately 1,000 new users each month.

In October 2016, the U.K. government recognized the medicinal value of CBD, stating the cannabinoid has “restoring, correcting, or modifying” properties. This admission has allowed suppliers to sell CBD by obtaining a medicinal license, which is a lengthy and strict process. Many retailers have been able to circumvent the process by selling CBD products as food supplements.

Most recently, the public debate around medical cannabis in the U.K. has seen a lot of attention, with a bill to legalize going through its first parliamentary reading Oct. 10 unopposed. That same day, a protest incited by a member of parliament and cannabis activist Paul Flynn took place in front of the Parliament building in London.

More of this news at Marijuana.com

Magic Mushroom Compound Could Treat Depression

A compound commonly found in “magic mushrooms” may work some magic on patients struggling with depression.

A study out of Imperial College London recently touted the benefits of psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found naturally in the mushrooms.

Researchers of the paper published in Scientific Reports said the psychedelic compound can hit the “reset button” on brain circuits that contribute to depression.

Researching the psychedelic compound is nothing new.

Dr. George Greer, medical director at Heffter Research Institute in New Mexico, is part of an organization that studies psilocybin to treat cancer, addiction, and other ailments.

In the study out of Imperial College London, 19 patients took 2 doses of psilocybin, a week apart.

Each patient had two brain scans following each dose.

Then, researchers looked at their brains using two imaging methods.

Read the full article at Healthline

Maine Lawmakers To Debate Sale Of Marijuana

AUGUSTA (WGME) – Maine voters approved recreational marijuana nearly a year ago, but there is still no market set up in the state.

The marijuana debate has yet to happen in the house or senate, but what we do know is Governor LePage and House Republicans seem to be ready to delay the sale of recreational marijuana in Maine.

Portland Senator Mark Dion says the marijuana legalization implementation committee he serves on worked for eight months on a bill that allows for the safe, regulated, taxed and legal sale of marijuana in Maine, which Maine voters approved.

But House Republican Leader Ken Fredette says the bill passed out of committee is far from ready. That’s why he is presenting a governor’s bill to delay the regulated sale of marijuana in Maine.

“There needs to be rulemaking done as part of passing this bill,” Fredette said. “And that rulemaking, in my opinion, is not going to be done anywhere near Feb. 1, 2018.”

The Republican chair of the Marijuana Legalization Committee says there is no need for a delay.

Read more at WGME

Can Cannabis Oil Boost Tilapia Development?

A team of scientists from the American University of Beirut fed Nile tilapia fish pellets laced with cannabis oil to test whether the drug could make the fish reduce stress and grow faster.

These researchers noted that tilapia is farmed intensively, and in a bid to maximize the amount of product fish farmers can bring to market, some fish pens have become incredibly congested. Living in such close quarters can lead to all kinds of challenges for the fish, including reduced water quality, more incidences of disease, and increasing intraspecific interactions, which leads to stress.

As part of the trial, three diets were made to contain either soy oil, industrial hemp oil or cannabis oil and offered to tilapia for 8 weeks. At termination, survival, growth, feed conversion and blood parameters were assessed.

On the other hand, cannabis had no effect on blood cell counts, total plasma protein, hematocrit or lysozyme activity.

The results thus obtained suggest that cannabis does not improve the immune response of tilapia or body composition but does reduce growth rate by increasing metabolic rate.

Therefore, the Lebanese scientists found that the pot pellets did not quite have the mood-altering effect they had hoped for.

Continue Reading at Fish Info & Services Co.Ltd

Greek Official Calls For Marijuana Legalization

On Greek TV, a Greek official calls for marijuana legalization for recreational purposes. The official in question is Yiannis Tsironis. He’s the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, originating from Greece’s Green Party. Yeah, we figured as much.

The Green in Green

Like many other countries, our own included, Greek federal policy outlaws cannabis.

Despite the country’s history of producing hashish, authorities officially criminalized the plant in 1890. Although the cultivation and possession of hashish were illegal, Greek citizens continued to use it. Particularly after the first World War.

This year, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, thus becoming the latest European country to implement a nation-wide medical marijuana program. At the moment, weed is still illegal for recreational purposes.

But will it always be?

Continue Reading at High Times

Magic Mushrooms’ Might Ease Depression Symptoms

Psilocybin, the main ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” may soothe symptoms of depression, according to a very preliminary study.

The research had a small sample size — only 20 patients — and no control group who got a placebo for comparison’s sake. That makes it hard to draw firm conclusions about if or how well the hallucinogenic compound really works at fighting depression. But brain-scan data from the new research suggests that psilocybin does impact brain networks that are associated with depression.

Stubborn Depression

The researchers focused on 20 people who had tried standard depression treatments and found them lacking. Each participant, classified as having treatment-resistant depression, took a 10-milligram dose of psilocybin, followed by another 25 milligrams one week later, enough to cause hallucinogenic effects.

The immediately striking finding was that taking psilocybin, which occurs naturally in hundreds of mushroom species, decreased depression symptoms significantly.

A new form of treatment?

“Based on what we know from various brain-imaging studies with psychedelics, as well as taking heed of what people say about their experiences, it may be that psychedelics do indeed ‘reset’ the brain networks associated with depression, effectively enabling them to be lifted from the depressed state,” study leader Robin Carhart-Harris, the head of psychedelic research at Imperial College, said in a statement.

Read the full article at Live Science

Magic Mushroom Chemical Appears to Physically Change Depressed Brains

Magic mushrooms are a strange drug. They’re one part illegal music festival enhancer, one part promising treatment that could have important medical applications. That second use continues to look more and more promising.

A new study from researchers in the United Kingdom and South Africa monitored the brains of folks trying psilocybin, the magic mushroom chemical, for depression that wasn’t kicked by the usual treatments. The psychedelic not only reduced the symptoms of depression but seemed to have a noticeable physical effect.

The study followed 15 male and four female depressed patients (which ultimately became 12 and then 11 male patients) receiving two doses of the drug over two weeks, who were then monitored for five weeks after. All of the patients had fewer symptoms of depression in the first week, and around half showed improvement at five weeks.

The paper points out that this is a tiny study with no control, and the researchers reminded New Scientist that you shouldn’t try to self-medicate with psychedelics. But it’s also promising. “This is further evidence that psilocybin may turn out to be effective for the most stubborn depression,” Paul Morrison from King’s College London told them.

Read the full article at Gizmodo

Cannabis Oil Dabbing Might Expose You To Malign Toxins

American Chemical Society’s ACS Omega has published a study which claims to be groundbreaking in terms of how we view a very specific type of cannabis consumption, the so-called cannabis oil dabbing.

The study which was published this month finds that dabbing cannabis oil through glass rigs may expose users to elevated toxin levels as compared to other methods, such as smoking dried cannabis or even vaping it for that matter.

In an effort to explain how the chemicals in concentrated cannabis break down under heat, a team of scientists from Portland State University has discovered that concentrates exposed to the high heat common to dab setups produced elevated levels of carcinogenic and toxic compounds.

Dabbing at low temperatures might be the way out

Researchers from PSU said that the key factor in which chemicals get released is the degree of heat used to activate cannabinoids in the oil.

Researchers also found that the higher the temperature that a substance’s flavoring terpenes are subjected to, the more carcinogens, toxins, and potential irritants are produced — meaning that you should dab on as low as possible temperatures.

Read the full article at Greencamp

Surprising Medical Marijuana Side Effect: More People Claiming Disability

Medical marijuana laws are becoming more popular across the country, but legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes can have a major unintended consequence.

State medical marijuana laws lead to an increase in the probability that people will make Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims, according to a new working paper from researchers at Temple University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cincinnati. The tendency to make a SSDI claim rose 9.9% following the passage of a medical marijuana law, while actual SSDI benefits rose by 2.6%. The report, which was distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, used data from the Current Population Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to produce its findings.

The researchers also studied the effect state laws on medical marijuana had on workers’ compensation (WC) claims. While their analysis did not produce any statistically significant evidence for these claims, the researchers said the data suggested generally that the laws do cause an increase. “Expanding marijuana access has negative spillover effects to costly social programs that disincentive work,” the researchers wrote.

More of this news at Marketwatch

How Weed Affects Women Differently Than Men

Everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different, and therefore everyone responds to weed differently. In fact, according to recent research, estrogen might make you more sensitive to the effects of cannabis.

A study from Washington State University found that women are most receptive to the effects of THC when their estrogen has peaked and is on the descent, which happens about a day or two before ovulation.

“What we’re finding with THC is that you get a very clear spike in drug sensitivity right when the females are ovulating, right when their estrogen levels have peaked and are coming down,” says lead researcher Rebecca Craft.

Other research has shown that women also tend to experience an increased libido from cannabis more so than men do. If a heterosexual couple is going to use cannabis to enhance sex, it’s best for the man to stop smoking about half an hour beforehand and for the women to keep on smoking. However, increased libido only works for moderate amounts of cannabis. If the dose is too high, the consumer might get too tired.

According to the study from Washington State University, increased appetite is a side effect of cannabis more likely to be found in men than in women.

Read the full article at Jane Street

Opioid Addiction: Humanizing A Crisis

Serious, chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, represent just a few of the staple diagnoses in developed countries, but few are as stigmatized as addiction. The opioid epidemic is at the forefront of public health issues capturing national attention in the United States, affecting communities from Hollywood to small town USA.

The term opiate is a classification for a drug that contains the highly addictive drug opium, a narcotic derived from the Papaver somniferum poppy plant. Opioids are appealing because the user feels a great sense of euphoria, followed by both decreased pain and increased drowsiness.

Adding to the complexity of this epidemic is the availability of similar, and often illicit, drugs that produce the same euphoric feelings of prescription pain medications. The abuse of, and addiction to, illicit versions of opiates, such as heroin, is growing as regulations and costs make it more difficult to obtain legally prescribed opiates.

It makes sense, then, that the United States consumes 80% of the global opioid supply. Individuals hit hardest by this epidemic are between the ages of 25 to 54, with higher overdose rates seen in non-Hispanic whites and Native Americans or Alaskan Natives. Men die from overdoses at higher rates than women, but that gap is said to be closing.

Continue Reading at Crixeo