A Psychedelic Approach to Mental Health
A first of its kind trial was given the green light last week, as Health Canada provided a “No Objection Letter” for the evaluation of take-home psilocybin for treatment of PTSD in veterans. The Phase II trial is being conducted by Apex Labs, a Vancouver-based company hoping to expand access to pharmaceutical products and remove the stigma associated with alternative medicinal therapies.
Psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in “magic mushrooms”, is a serotonergic agonist which binds to 5-HT2A receptors in the central nervous system, promoting feelings of well-being in low doses. Recent studies have also demonstrated its ability to increase global brain connectivity in those suffering from depression, thereby increasing neuronal flexibility and reducing negative thinking patterns associated with depression.
Psilocybin has long been studied in the treatment of mental health disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and substance dependence disorders. A minor side effect profile and little evidence of reliance make it an attractive candidate. Its use to date, however, is usually accompanied with psychiatric oversight or with assisted talk therapy. This will be the first time psilocybin will be labeled for self-administered patient dosing at home, representing an exciting innovation in accessibility to new therapies in mental health treatment.