James sits down with MINDCURE Health CEO Kelsey Ramsden to talk about psychedelics' can have on women’s sexual health. In a biased society, can psychedelics further the conversation?
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The Desire Project aims to change the stigma surrounding female sexuality. Low sexual desire affects ~40% of all women with HSDD affecting 14%, yet it’s not often discussed. Current market options don’t adequately address the underlying issues, so MINDCURE is undertaking an MDMA-assisted therapy trial currently in its pre-clinical stage. Advisors include Dr. Jennifer Mitchell and Dr. Sherry Walling.
December 16, 2021
Shadd Dales talked to the MINDCURE and Awakn CEOs about their partnership. MINDCURE will distribute Awakn’s ketamine-assisted psychotherapy as they expand into North America’s clinical market. iSTRYM’s data provision abilities will be central to accessing this market, and a boon for achieving care at scale. Furthermore, these companies are early industry movers, and Wonderland: Miami allows for collaborative growth.
Aislinn Antrim of Pharmacy Times interviewed MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden about the company’s Desire Project. They first discussed the nature of the project and its intended goals, followed by current treatments for HSDD in women, the role of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, the difference between women’s and men’s experiences, and finally how these differences translate into different market options.
Mental health is a major problem, and MINDCURE is tackling it with the Desire Project. The company is using its team of experts to test MDMA for HSDD treatment in premenopausal women, a condition affecting 14% of U.S. women. MDMA is showing promise with PTSD and other areas and is believed to treat the root causes of HSDD.
MINDCURE is launching the Desire Project, a clinical research program studying MDMA for HSDD in women. Low desire isn’t necessarily pathological, but 9.5 million premenopausal US women experience the condition at the level of causing significant distress. The company has finished writing the research protocols and will move towards meeting with the FDA once a consistent supply is secured.
MINDCURE announced its new clinical research program, the “Desire Project,” which seeks to find out if MDMA can help women lacking desire target the roots of this emotion. Researchers will be investigating if MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can treat female hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a common sexual disorder that is under-detected and under-treated.
December 16, 2021
MINDCURE launched the Desire Project, a clinical research program testing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for HSDD, which affects 10% of adult women. World-class researchers on female sexual desire and psychedelics are on the project team. Women’s desire is underrepresented in the market, and this gap is largely caused by inadequate fear factor treatment for HSDD in women.
December 16, 2021
Shadd Dales and Kelsey Ramsden, CEO of MINDCURE, spoke about the company’s Desire Project. 40% of premenopausal women experience low desire, with 14% of premenopausal women experiencing distress. The women’s sexual desire market is underrepresented compared to men’s, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy presents a potential solution due to feasibility and proximity to market.
Part of MINDCURE’s broad development plan includes completing the first stage of manufacturing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine for research purposes. MINDCURE is also building digital therapeutics platform iSTRYM to optimize the healing journey at all stages. Features include data capture, data analysis and a protocols library. The company recently commenced a partnership with Speak AI involving custom-built integrations within iSTRYM.
December 16, 2021
MINDCURE launched the Desire Project, a clinical research program studying MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of HSDD in women. This is the first psychedelic-based program treating HSDD, a disorder that causes significant distress unattributable to other issues for the 10% of adult women it affects. In fact, it affects ~9.5 million premenopausal women in the US alone.
December 16, 2021
MINDCURE has launched the Desire Project, a clinical research program aimed at treating HSDD in women using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. The condition affects around 9.5 million premenopausal US women, who all report low desire and distress unattributable to other causes. In fact, 10% of adult women are affected by this, and it can also affect men.
December 16, 2021
MINDCURE is researching HSDD treatment for women with MDMA, a substance currently in phase 3 clinical trials for PTSD. Around 9.5 million premenopausal US women are affected by HSDD. Other market alternatives treat only physiological symptoms. The program’s research protocol involves MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and the company’s revenue stream involves protocol-derived training programs.
MINDCURE’s Desire Project explores MDMA’s potential in treating HSDD, a common sexual disorder affecting 9.5 million premenopausal American women. Other market options present side effects such as depression or fatigue. This is the first psychedelic-based research program aimed at HSDD. It attempts to rewire fear-related brain pathways, given that female desire is deeply rooted in the mind.
December 16, 2021
MINDCURE is launching the Desire Project, a first-of-its-kind research program using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat HSDD. Affecting 10% of adult women, current treatment options haven’t addressed the mental aspect of desire. MDMA research focuses on neural fear pathways following the success of MDMA for PTSD. Advisors include Dr. Jennifer Mitchell, Dr. Anita Clayton, Dr. Cindy Meston, Dr. Robert Pyke, and Dr. Sherry Walling.
MINDCURE is deploying its digital therapeutics platform iSTRYM in order to optimize the healing experience for both patient and practitioner before, during, and post-healing session. The company is also manufacturing pharmaceutical grade ibogaine for research purposes. CEO Kelsey Ramsden was already a successful entrepreneur before MINDCURE, having been named one of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs twice.
December 16, 2021
Psychedelic Finance interviewed MINDCURE CTO Geoff Belair about iSTRYM which he describes as having “limitless” potential. This first MVP release is meant for its testing and development. Its intention is to guide both professional and patient through the psychedelic journey by providing many more touchpoints than previously available. The adoption of technology in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy creates more options for patients.
December 16, 2021
MINDCURE shares declined after releasing the MVP of digital therapeutic platform iSTRYM. Its features include treatment protocols, in-session tools, custom dashboards, integration tools and real-time patient assessment. iSTRYM was created to provide value for patients, therapists, and researchers alike. It will begin full commercial deployment in Q1 of 2022, with an initial focus on psychedelic clinics.
MINDCURE is releasing the minimum viable product (MVP) of digital therapeutic platform iSTRYM. Its functions include patient onboarding, gathering & providing data, and music therapy during psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions. The increase in mental health issues has led to the re-examination of psychedelic drugs for therapeutic uses, which companies such as TRIPP and MindMed are also pursuing in tandem with digital therapeutics.
MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden appeared on an episode of Bell2Bell, a podcast dedicated to covering fast-moving industries. One topic of discussion was MINDCURE’s business model which consists of AI-driven digital therapeutics and psychedelic drug development. Public opinion surrounding psychedelics was also discussed, to which Kelsey aptly pointed out that people need this kind of help, and that science can overcome stigma.
MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden appeared on the Bell2Bell podcast hosted by Stuart Smith. One of the main areas of focus from the get-go was MINDCURE’s business model, including the digital therapeutics side and timing things with regulatory change. Other topics include overcoming the stigma surrounding psychedelics, the MINDCURE team, the company’s milestones, and its goals.
December 16, 2021
MINDCURE is developing its digital therapeutic platform iSTRYM, designed to aid patient and therapist alike within psychedelic-assisted therapy. CEO Kelsey Ramsden describes it as “the Netflix of psychedelic therapy”. AI-driven analytical tools allow post-session monitoring and selection of appropriate protocols for patients and offers a set of existing protocols to therapists.
December 16, 2021
Women on Topp interviewed MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden about her advice as a successful female entrepreneur. Among the many things Kelsey has learned over the years, these 8 golden nuggets remain: don’t only chase money, invest your energy carefully, address your weaknesses, pursue accountability, build systems to support your goals, hire well, be honest with yourself, and ask for help whenever necessary.
December 16, 2021
MINDCURE recently launched the second stage of manufacturing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine for clinical research purposes. The company is developing its ability to scale production, which involves rigorous testing to ensure that the compound is up to standard. The other assessment measures the company will use are timing and cost.
December 16, 2021
Andrew Medal of the Action and Ambition podcast interviewed MINCDURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden in this episode. To begin, Kelsey talked about her story of success, feeling hollow, and becoming a patient of psychedelic-assisted therapy. Her decision to ultimately enter the market, MINDCURE’s business model, psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions, navigating the healthcare and regulatory landscape, and insurance were also covered.
December 16, 2021
In this episode of For the Love Of Sports, host Michael Rasile interviewed MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden. Kelsey loves sports and was a varsity athlete along with being named Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneur twice. They also talked about her love of performance, her MBA, her experiences with psychedelics, microdosing, and more.
December 16, 2021
Emily Duncan of EMBody Radio interviewed MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden, starting the discussion with her experiences, including with psychedelics, and the co-founding of MINDCURE. The topics addressed also cover the nature of psychedelic-assisted therapy, the importance of integration, what to expect from a psychedelic journey, the performance potential of psychedelics, and more.
Shadd Dales interviewed MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden about some exciting news: the Maxim Group started coverage on MINDCURE. This allows investors to better understand MINDCURE’s strategy. Furthermore, MINDCURE announced two provisional patents for artificial ibogaine synthesis processes. This route offers a consistent supply for research purposes, a higher chance of FDA approval, and first-mover advantage.
December 16, 2021
Candace Georgiadis interviewed MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden about shaking up the industry. Topics discussed ranged from more personal questions such as Kelsey’s story, her mentors, and her favourite books to more broad questions such as MINDCURE’s use of psychedelics & AI, the double standards that all female disruptors face, and the importance of purpose to disruption.
Eric Malzone interviewed MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden on the Black Diamond podcast. Kelsey shared her experience with a success hangover that ultimately drove her towards psychedelic-assisted therapy. The discussion then turned to MINDCURE’s business model, the nature of the renewed interest in psychedelics, the psychedelic experience, the future, and more.
December 16, 2021
A high-level overview of the gaps in mental health care and the need for data technology in optimizing clinical outcomes.
December 8, 2021
When it comes to discussing matters that involve what goes on in the bedroom, many people have different opinions on a question that often gets tossed around: how much sex is too little?
The answer is — well, there is no right or wrong answer.
What's considered a sexual dysfunction for some women may be completely normal for another. It all depends on how she is affected by her sexual appetite mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially.
In this article, were going to explore what is considered a sexual dysfunction for women, the benefits of engaging in sexual activity, and what can be done to increase a woman's libido.
So, to better understand what amount of sex is too little, continue reading.
Female sexual dysfunction describes certain complications to a woman’s body before, during, or after sex. There may be a delay or complete lack of response or reaction from the body or mind when there typically should be one, such as getting aroused or feeling a desire for sex.
Approximately 40% of women worldwide have reported that they experience issues with sex. Although sexual problems can occur at any age, they increase as women age. Sexual dysfunction in women can be a short-term, temporary thing, or a long-term, chronic condition.
When it comes to sexual dysfunctions, the issue, or disorder, can fall into one of four categories:
Of all the sexual dysfunctions experienced by women, the most commonly reported problem involves the amount of sexual desire. When a woman cannot feel sexual desire like she wishes, it can significantly strain her relationships and negatively affect her mental health in a vicious cycle.
The amount of sexual desire someone feels does not necessarily define a sexual dysfunction or issue regarding sexual desire. Rather, we look to how the person is affected by the amount of desire they feel. Whether the amount of sexual desire one experiences causes evident discomfort or distress or not can determine if there's really a problem.
For example, say two women have the same libido. The first woman is in a healthy relationship. Both she and her partner are satisfied with how much sexual activity they engage in, despite it being considered a lower amount than the average couple.
The second woman is also in a relationship. However, she and her partner are beginning to feel frustrated because they aren't having nearly as much sex as they used to. Something had caused her desire for sex to significantly decrease, resulting in personal distress or relationship strains.
So, although both women have the same libido, only the second might be considered to have a sexual dysfunction. Because she feels uncomfortable and her mental health and relationship are negatively impacted, her level of sexual desire is an issue that may need some form of treatment.
Most people think of penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) as the only form of sex; in reality, sex can be the act of touching and experiencing intimacy. Whether with a partner or on one’s own, engaging in sexual activity (including masturbation) is a normal part of life. However, there is no "normal" amount. It's not uncommon for most people to go through a phase in their life where they have little to no sex at all. This could be for several reasons. What truly matters regarding the "proper amount" of sex is what the individual is comfortable with.
If there’s no feeling of distress from the lack of sexual desire in her life, there’s no reason for concern. But, due to the pressure of societal standards and what's considered the "norm," a woman may begin to feel ashamed. She may feel pressured into believing there's a problem with her. That can take quite a toll on self-esteem. So, desire and mental health are intertwined.
Let's look at some reasons why a woman may feel pressured to be concerned with her libido.
Sexuality has traditionally been studied and viewed from a man's perspective. This means that the ideas conceptualized regarding sexuality, such as how sexual arousal, responses, desire, and sexual behaviors work, come from how a man experiences those things.
Sexuality, which includes both behaviors and responses experienced by a man, is misunderstood as the norm for everyone. However, women do not function the same way men do sexually.
Women have sexual behaviors, get aroused, and respond to stimulation differently from men.
It’s even suggested that men have a more aggressive and direct sex drive than women. Because the strength of a man's sexual desire is considered the "norm," women are often depicted to have low libido, or lack having a "proper" amount of sexual desire.
The amount of sexual desire someone has varies from person to person, just like with appetite. Some crave sweets, while others seek out spicy foods to satisfy their taste buds. No two people are the same, even so in the bedroom.
For two people to have a satisfying sex life, couples don't only need to be emotionally and mentally compatible, but sexually compatible as well. If your partner has a libido that is considered higher than others, yet yours is more on the lower side, you may feel pressured to perform.
Talking to a professional such as a sex therapist may ease stress by helping one explore and understand her own body and mind better when it comes to sexuality.
Did you know that there are different types of sexual desire? The way desire shows up varies between genders and is different for women and men. Many women think that there's something wrong or that they lack sexual desire entirely when in reality, they are just unaware of the type of sexual desire their body responds to best. These are broken down into 3 types of sexual desire:
Figuring out which type triggers a reaction from your body and mind can significantly improve your sex life. Let's dive more into how these categories of sexual desire work.
As its name suggests, this type of sexual desire shows up spontaneously, whether or not there has been any sort of stimulation.
Only 15% of women experience spontaneous sexual desire, whereas, for men, it's much more common, with about 75% of men experiencing sexual desire spontaneously.
Responsive sexual desire requires a trigger rather than random urges to have sex. Stimulation provokes desire for those who would otherwise go weeks or even months without feeling any sort of desire for sex.
When in a relationship, a person with responsive sexual desire will often rely on their partner to initiate sexual activity every time. This can lead to doubts and insecurities in relationships as a partner could misinterpret the lack of initiation as a lack of interest or attraction.
About 30% of women experience responsive sexual desire, while the number for men is much lower, sitting at about 5% of the male population.
The rest of the population that doesn’t fall into the first two categories will most likely identify with the third category of sexual desire — contextual sexual desire. This means approximately 55% of women and 20% of men.
Contextual sexual desire is highly determined by the environment and overall situation or circumstances present in one's life. For instance, imagine you have a sleeping baby in the room next to your own, or you have been struggling to pay the bills on time. The chances of you feeling in "the mood" or feeling sexy will most likely be quite slim.
If you're concerned about having a lack of sexual desire, a good first step is to understand the possible causes of a lowered libido.
Things that may decrease sexual desire:
While there’s nothing wrong with naturally low libido, engaging in regular sexual activity can provide you with benefits that improve your health and well-being:
Sex plays a role in keeping your body in good shape. Regular sexual activity can benefit you physically by:
During orgasm, a woman’s blood flow increases and her body naturally releases pain-relieving chemicals.
Additionally, sexually active women can expect improved bladder control, diminished incontinence, reduced pain from premenstrual and menstrual cramping, increased fertility rates, strengthened pelvic floor muscles, and more.
Women experiencing menopause can also benefit from being sexually active. It decreases the likeliness of experiencing vaginal atrophy or vaginal wall thinning, which causes dryness and inflammation. Vaginal atrophy can cause pain during sex and lead to urinary problems.
Well-being can improve from engaging in sexual activity, whether in the form of sex with a partner or going solo with masturbation. Emotional and psychological benefits include:
Whether to experience the health benefits of having sex, to strengthen intimate relationships, or mitigate the duress caused by lack of desire, here are some things that can help treat a lowered libido.
Here are some lifestyle changes that can improve libido and naturally spark the desire for sex:
Unlike men, women have limited prescription medications to increase their sexual desire.
There are two FDA-approved medications a woman can take for treating her lack of sexual desire. Flibanserin (Addyi) and bremelanotide (Vyleesi), referred to as female viagra, are prescribed to women to help increase their libido.
However, these medications are only approved for premenopausal women and have low effectiveness. They are also known to cause a variety of uncomfortable side effects.
Researchers and scholars have been studying the effects of psychedelics to medically treat various health conditions, especially mental health issues. MINDCURE’s latest research project, The Desire Project, is designed to help create solutions to improve the lives of women suffering from decreased desire.
When it comes to female sexual dysfunctions (FSD) such as HSDD, psychedelic drugs with empathogenic effects show potential in helping individuals open themselves up and confront root issues in order to achieve sexual liberation. This sense of openness and acceptance can then allow them to work through emotional and mental issues that could significantly affect their ability to feel sexual desire.
At the end of the day, every woman is different. Whether or not a woman has enough sex in her life is solely dependent on how she feels about her sex life. If a woman should want to do something to feel more sexual desire, she deserves safe and effective options to help her achieve an increased libido.
Having the resources to perform proper research on drugs with great potential for success is a step closer to helping women improve their mental and physical health.
March 14, 2022
Terrance McKenna famously hypothesized in his “Stoned Ape Theory” that homo sapiens “ate our way to higher consciousness” by ingesting psilocybin mushrooms and thus sparking development in brain size and cognitive evolution that allowed us “articulated speech and imagination.”
While we can’t pinpoint the veracity of McKenna’s theory, we do know that psychedelics have been used by cultures globally for millennia. With painstaking research, we’re only skimming the surface of understanding their medical uses.
Some of the first evidence we have of psychedelics being used by our ancestors links ancient rock art with psychedelic use. Researchers in California discovered rock art paintings of the Datura plant, which causes hallucinogenic effects in users.
Primitive psychedelic use was not confined to California. Many cultures around the world have traditions using psychedelics that trace through history:
Psilocybin use can be traced back to the birth of civilization and may have been used pre-civilization. One of the most potent and popular legends involving mind-expanding substances comes from Central America, where Aztecs referred to psilocybin mushrooms as the “food of the Gods.” Aztec myth tells us that mushrooms were given to people by the feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl, who was said to have created mankind. The Aztec people consumed mushrooms to interact with their gods.
Psilocybin now has over 1000 published studies and is considered the most well-researched of all psychedelics. It has the potential to treat mood and anxiety disorders and addiction, conditions which affected a combined 1 billion people in 2020. This is a figure that is believed to have risen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Psilocybin has additionally been shown to have analgesic effects when used in the treatment of cluster headaches, intractable phantom-limb pain, and other chronic pains. Currently, the most widely used treatment for chronic pain is opioid-based painkillers. While these can prove effective in reducing pain, their use can come with a host of common side effects including sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and respiratory depression. Users of opioids also regularly build up a tolerance, meaning that a larger amount of the drug must be used to achieve the same effect. Such painkillers also cause physical dependence, which may lead to patients being unable to cease use.
Psilocybin may offer a better treatment option for some of these pain-related conditions, with a much less severe side-effect profile. It has shown to be “comparable to or more efficacious than most conventional medications.” As with treating mental health conditions, the use of psilocybin for chronic pain has been reported effective when used infrequently and at controlled doses.
South America’s psychedelic of highest repute is often considered ayahuasca, a “brew made from the Bannisteriosis caapi vine and the Psychotria Viridis leaf.” Ayahuasca was probably first imbibed by the inhabitants of western Amazon. Today, it is used in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, as well as other countries globally.
There is evidence of ayahuasca use dating back 1000 years, though many researchers believe its initial use to be far more ancient. The first western encounters with ayahuasca were from Spanish missionaries who became perhaps the first group to demonize psychedelic use. Richard Evans Schultes, the father of modern ethnobotany, was the first Westerner to study the plant. His work inspired the Beat poet William S. Burroughs to travel to the Amazon in search of it.
Today, ayahuasca use is popularized across the continent, with large numbers of Westerners heading to South America for “ayahuasca tourism.” While some authentic shamans are still offering ayahuasca ceremonies, the growing demand has seen the introduction of inauthentic shamans using non-traditional or dangerous plants in the ayahuasca preparation.
Ayahuasca has tentative uses across the globe, with the US and Canada both permitting churches to use the drug as a holy sacrament, following a slow and cautious relaxing of laws governing psychedelics across both countries.
South America is also the home of San Pedro, a psychedelic cactus that has been used for countless generations. There is evidence of San Pedro ceremonies existing for more than 3000 years, possibly up to 8000 years.
It’s often remarked that, like the Christian apostle of the same name (Saint Peter) who holds the keys to heaven, San Pedro is a keeper of keys, “the guardian of the gates to other, unseen, worlds”.
The cactus has a rich history of being used to provoke modified states of consciousness, allowing users to go on journeys to “other planes of existence.” These journeys help shamans diagnose and heal magical illnesses such as “soul loss” and “sorcery.”
While alternative healing modalities are evidently in high demand and more treatment options are needed in mental health care, abuse and recreational overuse can negatively impact the communities that have traditionally used and continue to rely on these plant medicines. In fact, the rise in indiscriminate harvesting of San Pedro cactus for psychedelic tourism in places like Southern Ecuador is impacting sustainability and causing “serious community conflict in the area.” This is one of the fundamental problems with the increase in popularity of psychedelics in recent years.
Those who naturally source mescaline face an issue that is apparent for all natural psychedelic drugs: the difficulty in accurately gauging doses. One San Pedro cactus may have a markedly different amount of mescaline than another of the same size. This is due to natural variability, the time that the cactus was harvested, and the conditions in which it was grown.
San Pedro is not the only mescaline containing cactus in existence. Peyote, another mescaline-containing cactus that has traditionally been used by the Native American Church is now considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This is due to a combination of unsustainable methods being used for harvesting, the habitat available for the cactus being significantly reduced in the past 60 years, and the potential effects of climate change on the species.
Currently, under US federal law, only members of the Native American Church (NAC) are permitted to ingest peyote. The push for decriminalization for the general population has prompted some Native American communities to push back, as overconsumption will lead to a low supply for use in traditional ceremonies and the cactus is crucial to their cultural identity. Several companies have begun industrial-scale production of mescaline, with the intention of the drug being used for psychedelic medicine programs.
Related: Why We Synthesize Ibogaine
The utmost respect should be given to psychedelic medicines, both in terms of protecting traditional sources and developing protocols that integrate proper harm-reduction methods.
Iboga (Tabernanthe iboga) has traditionally been used by the Bwiti people in Gabon, where it is incorporated into healing and ritual practices. These practices include rites of passage from youth to adulthood, assuming leadership roles, and recovering from extreme grief.
The substance is ingested to connect with ancestors and to learn about the realities of life and death. There’s also a belief that the personality transformation that occurs through the use of the plant is a result of experiencing universal truths. There is an understanding among Bwiti that those who have not used the plant cannot grasp its potential.
While iboga is used primarily for spiritual purposes, it's not the sole use only. Traditional practitioners in South Cameroon value the plant for its medicinal qualities. The plant is used for treating “fever, stomachache, liver disorders, madness, and addiction” in the region.
It’s this last usage that has brought the iboga plant to prominence in the West in recent years, in the form of ibogaine. This hallucinogenic compound is extracted from the iboga plant and is used to interrupt opioid use. This usage has been proven in a number of studies, including two conducted by MAPS in Mexico and New Zealand.
Ibogaine also has the effect of reducing or eliminating withdrawal symptoms. This is an important point and does not just pertain to the suffering of the person with the substance use disorder; it also assists users in attaining sobriety. Many who are addicted to opioids keep taking them despite wishing to stop due to the gut-wrenching withdrawal symptoms that they experience when attempting to quit.
Those who use the drug often report a “waking dream state,” in which they envision the life events that led to their addiction. Others have reported shamanic visions that assist them in conquering the fears and emotions that have driven their addiction.
Some people may experience cessation of their addiction following one dosage. Other people require further doses so they can attain long-term abstinence.
The history of iboga in the West began in the 19th century, when Marie-Théophile Griffon du Bellay, a French physician, Naval surgeon, explorer, and ethnobotanist reported the use of iboga during African spiritual ceremonies.
Ibogaine was first isolated from the iboga plant in 1901. The drug was then sold within France from the 1930s until the 1960s, where it was promoted as a mental and physical stimulant before being banned.
Ibogaine’s most famed medicinal action of helping interrupt addiction was discovered by Howard Lotsof in 1962. Lotsof went on to pioneer research in the United States.
Ibogaine is likely effective in treating many ailments due to its unique mechanism of action, which allows the drug to work on both the “software” of the brain (i.e., due to its psychedelic nature) and also the “hardware” of the brain as it works on a number of different receptors.
Currently, ibogaine laws are either non-existent or ill-defined in many countries around the world. This means that ibogaine providers often exist in a legal gray area, where they have a lack of accountability within unregulated facilities. At the moment, ibogaine use is only permissible in a small number of countries, under certain circumstances.
In the US, ibogaine has been a Schedule I substance since 1967, as the FDA states there’s “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” However, the psychedelics movement has been gaining momentum and various cities and one state (Oregon) have now legalized some psychedelics.
In Canada, ibogaine was unregulated until 2017, when, due to several adverse reactions to ibogaine, the drug became scheduled. This highlights the importance of clinical administration and settings where the strictest adherence to protocol is carried out. The irony is that as time passes without regulated access to ibogaine treatment, individuals traveling to ibogaine clinics in countries where regulations are not so stringent are put at risk.
It’s technically possible to apply for permission to use ibogaine under Canada’s Special Access Program, which permits psychedelic use in serious or life-threatening conditions, or where other treatments have failed. While ibogaine is not one of the psychedelics that has previously been granted access under the program, Health Canada has authorized the use of new psychedelics under SAP recently. It is, therefore, possible that ibogaine use may be permitted under SAP in the future.
The iboga plant has traditionally grown wild in the Congo Basin, and there has been no need to cultivate it. In recent years, fueled by greater demand from outside Gabon, quality, quantity, and affordability have been impacted within the country. The plant has faced extensive illegal harvesting for sale in international markets and other difficulties. In 2019, the Gabon Government halted exports, citing concerns over the plant's preservation.
The sustainability of iboga is worrying. While the plant is not currently endangered, it has been classified as a "plant of concern" according to The Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
This has led to the beginning of the cultivation of the plant within Gabon. There has also been a move from various entities to begin cultivating other sources of ibogaine (e.g., from the Voacanga Africana plant).
While this happens, traffickers have established themselves in areas where iboga plants are cultivated, offering money to local people to harvest the plants. In doing this, trees are uprooted without replanting cuttings, ultimately hampering regeneration. The root bark is then sold internationally to resellers who make enormous profits.
Still, the demand grows for ibogaine while its natural sources plummet. As scientists investigate and discover further indications, this demand for ibogaine materials is in need of a sustainable solution that prioritizes preserving the natural sources of the iboga plant for traditional usage.
Aside from ibogaine’s potential in treating addiction and substance abuse disorder, there’s mounting evidence into its medical value for indications such as neuroinflammation (including traumatic brain injuries), anxiety disorders, and chronic pain (including cluster headaches and migraine).
MINDCURE’s Ibogaine Project seeks to offer solutions to the problems that have been disrupting people who need ibogaine from accessing it safely and reliably. With a team of celebrity psychedelic researchers, we’ve begun manufacturing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine and are creating strategic preclinical testing models using ibogaine.
As a leader in psychedelics, MINDCURE recognizes the value of the iboga plant as a rare and diminishing resource. Our sustainable approach to manufacturing synthetic ibogaine aims to provide approved research partners and treatment facilities with access to a safe, reliable, and efficacious supply to help drive towards and create better treatment outcomes without further endangering the iboga plant.
March 14, 2022
Mounting evidence is proving that psychedelic compounds can be effective treatments for a wide range of mental health conditions. Ongoing clinical trials are investigating the potential of drugs like psilocybin, the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms, MDMA (also known as ecstasy), and LSD to treat a variety of psychiatric disorders, from anxiety and treatment-resistant depression to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What’s more, ibogaine, an atypical psychedelic derived from the Central West African iboga shrub, induces “oneirophrenic” experiences akin to a dreaming state. It’s widely purported to be the single most efficacious intervention for various substance dependencies.
While some researchers believe that the healing effects of psychedelic drugs lie, at least in part, in the mystical experiences they induce, others question whether the hallucinogenic effects are indeed necessary for healing to occur.
So, what exactly makes these enchanting compounds so therapeutic? Is psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy a neurological or phenomenological intervention? Can it be both? And can researchers mitigate safety concerns in drugs like ibogaine without sacrificing its healing power?
Not so long ago, it was thought that the only way to achieve mystical states was through a life-long practice of spiritual devotion, such as meditation, fasts, sleep deprivation, or retreats. Referred to as “numinous” states by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, and “peak experiences” by leading architect of humanistic psychology Abraham Maslow, mystical experiences that incorporate a sense of inexplicable unity and sacredness can have a truly transformative impact.
Humanity eventually stumbled upon certain psychedelic drugs that also powerfully provoke these spiritual realizations.
The extent of the role played by the mystical experience in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is yet to be fully understood. One explanation of its association with positive outcomes could be the fact that psychedelics cause the dissolution of a person’s ego, in which their felt sense of self is compromised, or in some cases completely dissolved. Ego dissolution, or ego death, is often accompanied by a transcendental sense of the interconnectedness of all living beings and a profound feeling of “at-onement” with the universe.
An experience with something that is greater than oneself and the apparent re-conceptualization of one’s place in the universe that goes along with that can be the spark needed for personal change. For many, it has been the golden snitch for improving the mundane, status quo, limiting, or problematic aspects of life, inciting fresh perspectives on self-worth and interpersonal relationships.
You can imagine a psychedelic-induced mystical experience as the first step on Joseph Campbell’s hero's journey, where one is confronted in the dark night of the soul to imbue a change. Many people claim that the unique “noetic quality” of such confrontational experiences has provided revelatory psychological insights.
In traditional ceremonial use of ibogaine in Gabon and Cameroon, initiates of the Bwiti spiritual discipline apply the trope of the path of life and death as a guide for those experiencing confusion, disorientation, or alienation to rediscover the communal path. Ritualistic use of ibogaine in Bwiti is said to restore direction in meaningful work for people who feel lost and improve relations with family members both living and dead.
Supported by fantastical visions, the path of life and death seems a particularly suitable spiritual trope. This mystical experience is not only expected by Bwiti members but relied on by individuals needing enduring positive changes.
Qualitative studies exploring ibogaine-induced visions have shown that they are often characterized by vivid insights into the impacts of the following:
Results indicate that these experiences have a central role in ibogaine’s use in healing substance use disorders, inducing positive behavioral changes, and influencing improvements in psychological state.
The fundamental shift in how we experience life and the re-connection to meaning that follows could have important implications for our mental health crisis.
Psychedelic experiences aren’t all like putting on a pair of rose-colored glasses and going about one’s day. Part of the power such substances hold is in the confrontation with challenging ideas, whether a past trauma that’s still lingering or anxiety surrounding death. “Bad trips” may often come about due to an individual’s resistance to ego dissolution. However, each experience can be radically different in terms of both their causes and phenomenology.
In some cases, albeit very few, ontological shock (i.e., the bringing into question of one’s most fundamental assumptions) can incite blinding confusion. In other cases, people are spiraled into the depths of an unpleasant psychedelic state by the unique ability of these drugs to accentuate past traumatic events.
Are challenging experiences required for long-term healing? Furthermore, could they be avoided or controlled with the right supports, guidance, and resources?
Researchers and experienced members of the psychedelic community believe that the challenging confrontations that sometimes describe bad trips may be required to help people break free from the restrictive confines of an all too familiar and conditioned mental prison, returning them to a more mindful, childlike consciousness.
In a recent study exploring the nature and consequences of challenging psychedelic trips, experiences that involved uncomfortable insights into the person’s life were the most common. Participants reported being unpleasantly confronted with an element of their personal life that they perceived to be maladjusted or broken in some way.
In that same study, almost 70% of participants regarded the long-term effects of their “bad trip” to be positive. These results complement other findings in which 84% of survey respondents reported benefitting from existential and life-changing insights delivered during challenging psychedelic visions.
Stanislav Grof, expert in non-ordinary states of consciousness, insists that the best way to understand psychedelics is to view them as unspecific amplifiers of mental processes, summoning for confrontation that which lies beneath the surface of normal waking consciousness.
Understandably, confrontation with distressing material can be difficult to navigate in the moment, but it often leads way for the implementation of necessary behavioral and cognitive changes. Confrontational experiences could be responsible for the positive therapeutic use of psychedelics in the treatment of substance addictions.
Under ibogaine’s influence to treat opioid-use disorder, a participant claims, “I was overwhelmed with the remorse and the waste and loss, feeling empathy with my family over all their hopes for me dashed by my relentless pursuit of drugs.”
Psychedelic compounds like MDMA and ibogaine may help people to open the cellar door, shine a light on the dark corners of their mental space, and uncover unconscious material responsible for mental health issues. It may be that confrontational experiences are often beneficial because they force people to find closure with unpleasant phenomena that have been relegated to their unconscious minds.
Studies investigating psilocybin’s effect on end-of-life anxiety have yielded remarkably positive results, largely due to ego dissolution. Here, an encounter with death becomes the person’s most intimate reality — an otherwise inaccessible experience.
Researchers recently found ego dissolution to be strongly associated with mystical experiences characterized by a sense of connectedness, unity, and oneness with the world. On ego-dissolution questionnaires, patients report feeling significantly less absorbed by personal issues, experiencing enhanced freedom from the limitations of the self, and feeling united with something greater than themselves.
Evidently, confrontation with and triumph over death can be extraordinarily liberating.
That said, people sometimes hang on to their sense of self for dear life, and as a consequence, experience intensely challenging trips that can be psychologically destabilizing, especially if they are not properly integrated.
In fact, some research suggests that bad psychedelic trips only have valuable therapeutic effects when patients are capable of successful integration.
In Bwiti use of ibogaine, challenging experiences are expected as part of the trade-off for acquiring new insights. To consolidate these insights, the Bwiti community ensures an enduring support network that incorporates long-term aftercare. For example, regular opportunities to ingest small doses of iboga are offered in ritualistic ceremonies for continued ancestral contact. In addition, all-night ritual practices are held every week that are followed up the next morning by a meal of communion akin to a focus group.
But could the mystical experience be a mere front on neurobiological activity that’s responsible for improved mental health outcomes?
We know psychedelic drugs bind to the 5HT2A serotonin receptor that is responsible for inducing the mystical experience, but while this is happening, global functional connectivity in the psychedelic brain dramatically increases. It could be that enhanced communication between previously estranged brain areas, in conjunction with the production of powerful neurotrophic factors that give rise to neuroplasticity, could be responsible for the lasting psychological improvements observed in clinical trials. It’s no question that both the physical reaction and spiritual confrontation influenced by psychedelics have profound effects; however, the challenge for researchers lies in developing protocols that optimize one or the other, or both.
While the trip itself can put some individuals off, various organizations are creating non-psychedelic versions of drugs like ibogaine in an attempt to reduce safety concerns, namely, ibogaine’s cardiac arrhythmia, which limits the drug’s usability. Ibogaine has been tied to several deaths and injuries by cardiac arrest, albeit in uncontrolled and poorly screened instances.
Non-hallucinogenic, semi-synthetic derivatives of ibogaine have been found to decrease the intravenous self-administration of various substances and show potential in treating depression, as well as multiple substance dependencies including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and alcohol.
Interestingly, in a survey study involving 20 current or previously substance-dependent individuals, 65% reported that they would not be interested in a synthetic, non-hallucinogenic alternative, even if it was safer.
Such ibogaine alternatives lack a strong affinity for NMDA and sigma-2 receptors, sodium channels, or the serotonin transporter in the way that ibogaine does. This, in addition to the absence of an experiential component, suggests a narrower therapeutic index than ibogaine.
Along with attempting to narrow the safety concerns of ibogaine, researchers of non-hallucinogenic psychedelics may eventually expand access to the benefits of such substances to people resistant to hallucinogenic experiences, including the possible reaction of having one’s sense of self temporarily dissolved. By eliminating the risk of cardiac arrest, the labor and time involved in screening and preparing for sessions may be minimized.
These factors position psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy as an expensive endeavor, difficult for both clinicians to scale and for patients (while such treatment remains uninsurable).
Yes, these concerns are foundational to the success of prescriptable ibogaine, but they’re not unique to companies researching non-hallucinogenic ibogaine.
MINDCURE’s Ibogaine Project involves manufacturing fully synthetic, pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine. In addition, we’re conducting pre-clinical explorations to identify mechanisms of action and expectations, understand cognitive benefits, measure cardiotoxicity and adverse effects, and establish safety measures, dosing, and methods of administration.
The true healing value of psychedelic trips beyond one’s score on a mystical experience scale is yet to be scientifically established. It seems likely that this won’t have to be an “either-or” story. Hallucinogenic and non-hallucinogenic compounds need not be mutually exclusive, and only rigorous empirical research can clarify these matters.
The sizable interaction between contextual factors and the phenomenology of the psychedelic experience makes it difficult to distinguish between neurology and experience.
There appears to be quite a strong association between the quality of people’s experiences and clinical outcomes, with evidence indicating that the experience is a pivotal piece of the puzzle. But correlation does not imply causation, and counter-scientific evidence must be respected.
For now, however, it seems reasonable to focus attention on psychedelic drugs with proven efficacy to remedy the pressing issue of a growing number of patients requiring more effective treatment options.
March 7, 2022
When personal power is at the center of mental health care, the chances of achieving one’s health goals greatly improve.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), empowerment in mental health helps users adopt self-determination and autonomy, exert more influence on social and political decision-making processes, and increase self-esteem.
Once heavily stigmatized, mental health is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. Where treatment once involved condemning and ignoring issues of the mind, approaches are shifting to be more empowering. This involves raising awareness and investing in wellness tools to provide individuals with targeted solutions to mental health issues.
In a Canadian report, mental health was broadly defined as “The capacity of the individual, group, and environment to interact with one another in ways that promote subjective well-being, the optimal development and use of mental abilities (cognitive, affective, and relational), the achievement of individual and collective goals consistent with justice and the attainment and preservation of conditions of fundamental equality.”
The definitions of empowerment and mental health go hand-in-hand to promote the goals of the individual. In transitioning mental health care to better include empowerment techniques, mental wellness wins.
Empowerment is the act of being engaged and active in one’s own healing journey, exercised by the level of choice, influence, and control that users of mental health services can have over events in their lives. Empowerment is recognized both as an outcome by itself and as an intermediate step to long-term health status and disparity outcomes.
According to this article, there are three common elements that define empowerment.
The first is perceived and actual power. In their relationships with professionals, vulnerable people often experience what’s known as “power over” or feelings of domination. In these scenarios, consumers are conditioned to be compliant and to believe they are powerless, listening to whatever advice a professional gives without question. Mental health professionals that allow consumers to have choice and control in therapy are a key element to empowerment.
The second element is “self in community.” This refers to empowering consumers by helping to define their identity, learn valued social roles, and enhance their participation in community life. Community is a key component of consumer empowerment as people who are more socially connected have fewer mental health problems.
Finally, empowerment in mental health care comes from access to valued resources. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canadians in the lowest income group are 3 to 4 times more likely than those in the highest income group to report poor to fair mental health.
Many psychiatric consumers live in poverty with high rates of unemployment and have inadequate access to education. As psychologist Isaac Prilleltensky noted, “It is hard to imagine a process of empowerment occurring in the absence of improvement in the material conditions of life of consumers.” Research shows that successful recovery of mental health is embedded within the process of empowerment and vice versa.
Traditionally, the approach to mental health care has placed emphasis on professional expertise and control, a formal diagnosis of deficits, emphasis on symptom reduction, and life skills training.
While great techniques, these protocols fail to empower consumers as they lead to little choice and control over individual goals. Additionally, formal diagnoses can cost a lot of money — as we know from studies into HSDD, symptom reduction fails to address the roots of mental health issues.
Around the 1990s, such protocols were met with an increased acknowledgment of the importance of empowerment. This philosophy emphasized three elements necessary to help consumers reach their mental health goals:
These changes also ensured that mental health treatment went beyond just one system, expanding the lens and scope of what empowerment means by incorporating an understanding of economic, political, and community systems. Numerous studies have noted how economic, political, and community improvements are necessary to enhance mental health care and vice versa.
On the topic of consumer engagement in mental health, this article references organizational empowerment in mental health care and its implications, noting success through:
For consumers, this list includes enhanced quality of care, improved services, protected consumer rights, maintaining personal dignity and integrity, and deflating organizational and individual stigma.
Just as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health, there is also no specific “How-To” guide for promoting consumer empowerment. That’s what makes optionality and personalization so important to healing. The techniques and protocols that have shown success are ones that tend to individual needs and allow the consumer to lead their own healing.
It’s important to acknowledge stigma as an ongoing roadblock to empowerment and what it means for mental health care. Stigma is a huge barrier when it comes to empowering those with mental health struggles as it creates significant blocks to the types of community opportunities that are available and the willingness consumers have to overcome them.
Without community support in place, consumers can feel powerless and alone in their journey to mental wellness.
Mental health empowerment comes from a place of information and control. So, why not literally put it in the hands of the consumer? An app like iSTRYM can be crucial in providing those healing resources, integrative content, and consistent dialogue focused on successfully treating and working towards a consumer's mental health goals.
With iSTRYM, patients stay active and connected on their path to mental wellness. Using techniques like gamification and visuals of progress, the app helps consumers start and stay empowered in their mental wellness journey with insights and control.
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To help individuals take hold of their healing journey, a centralized bank of resources is key. This is why the iSTRYM app is built with gamification and visuals of progress.
Mental health patients require engaging activities and journaling that keep them invested in their journey with visuals and daily interactions.
Gamification describes game-like features (i.e., things users can click and interact with that encourage patient engagement and also improve holistic data). Like gamification, visuals of progress allow consumers to stay on top of their goals and actually visualize their progress along the way.
In this way, healing becomes an interactive experience that lets users celebrate and look forward to their own progress, rather than a burden or chore.
Everyone heals differently. iSTRYM encourages empowerment and engagement along the healing journey with tailored activities that help patients build better habits in their own time.
Most care systems work in isolation from others. But mental health issues shouldn’t be siloed. Care providers work more effectively with a patient's full history prior to treatment and insights into the journey as the patient undergoes care. A full, well-rounded picture can help drive better diagnoses and more targeted results.
The same is true in treatments that rely on managing symptoms rather than focusing on the individual and their needs. If one approach (like pharmaceuticals) is treated more importantly than the other (like talk therapy), how effective can treatment be?
Digital therapeutics offer a holistic approach that provides a deeper look at the patient as a whole — mind, body, and soul. Put the patient experience first by integrating iSTRYM into your care practice.
MINDCURE’s digital therapeutic combines talk therapy support, data input, therapeutic wellness tools, and speech recognition to help paint a clearer picture. It helps consumers to feel in control and tailors healing approaches to them.
Strategies that include endorsing recovery rather than focusing on poor prognoses, treatment plans that are collaborative rather than unilateral, and treatment services provided in closer proximity (perhaps from as far a reach as your arm length) are the future of mental health therapy. They start at iSTRYM.com.
March 2, 2022
Recent changes to Canada’s Special Access Program (SAP) speeds up the process that allows psychedelic drugs to be used in serious or life-threatening conditions, or where other treatments have failed. While the Canadian Government has claimed that these developments do not “signal an intent towards the decriminalization or legalization of restricted drugs,” such changes indicate an understanding of the effectiveness of these substances in treating illnesses and a greater commitment to their usage.
Previously, authorization to possess psychedelics was only given to those who were exempt under section 56 of Canada’s Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA). This exemption was granted on an individual case basis to health care professionals, permitting them to administer controlled substances (including psychedelics like psilocybin and ayahuasca).
The first section 56 exemptions for psilocybin were granted on 4 August 2020 for select patients with terminal cancer. Prior to this, exemptions for other psychedelic substances had been made, including for the use of ayahuasca in spiritual rituals. While companies such as TheraPsil were able to assist people to submit section 56 exemption applications for their illnesses, there were concerns that some people who needed treatment were waiting months for a response from the Minister of Health. Last year it was reported that over 150 applications had been received but not answered. For people who are suffering from severe illness, awaiting a response for this long can be a hellish ordeal.
2021 saw section 56 exemptions requested by Canadian governing bodies for psychedelics and hard drugs like heroin and crack cocaine.
In November 2021, British Columbia sought to decriminalize all hard drugs for people over 19, with a separate exemption request for psychedelic drugs expected at a later date. This proposal was intended to help “reduce the risks and harms that are associated with the stigmatization and marginalization of people who use drugs.”
In the same month, the City of Toronto filed for a section 56 exemption, requesting that all drugs be legalized in the area. Should these requests be granted and such trends catch on, the result could mean benefits for society, quality of life, and the economy, as savings from policing and persecuting low-level drug offenses might just be allocated to productive means of treatment (e.g., drug consumption facilities, drug rehabilitation, effective drug education in schools, and needle exchanges, as in the case of the Portuguese decriminalization of drugs).
It’s too early to tell for sure how this law change might pan out for clinicians, patients, and psychedelics companies. However, it’s worth asking: Will this lead to exemptions for other psychedelic drugs being permitted under SAP?
One major plus is that SAP requests will be granted in a more timely fashion than section 56 exemptions. Another is that the process for drug access is clearly laid out by the Canadian Government and easy to understand.
It’s also possible that a greater number of substances will be permitted under SAP. In August 2021, Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu allowed psilocybin to be used legally for the first time since it was made illegal in Canada in 1974. The case involved four Canadians who had late-stage cancer and were permitted for psychedelic treatment of their end-of-life-distress.
According to the Canadian Government, possession, production, or sale of psilocybin is prohibited “unless authorized for clinical trial or research purposes.” Section 56 exemptions have enabled access for these causes.
For access via SAP, substances must have a proven track record of both safety and efficacy in treating serious or life-threatening conditions. Healthcare professionals who apply for use of non-marketed drugs in Canada must:
The SAP may enable the use of various psychedelics for individuals unable to find solutions in traditional treatment.
One significant mental health issue is the opioid epidemic, which shows no sign of slowing as current treatment options fall short. There’s an urgent need to seek alternatives that can play a role in successfully treating addiction and other challenges.
Part of the work involved in MINDCURE’s research is pushing toward the recognized medical value of psychedelic substances including ibogaine and novel molecules. That includes identifying risk factors and developing safe practices and protocols for use in psychotherapy.
The SAP plays a small yet important role in moving Canadian policy toward access for those who need psychedelic treatment. It considerably shortens the length of time required to grant permission to use psychedelics in situations where patients have exhausted other available options or are in serious, life-threatening conditions.
While some might believe that the future of psychedelic policy should follow the cannabis industry in legalization for recreational use, many in the psychedelics industry believe that this route may be a step in the wrong direction. Psychedelics are powerful substances, and misuse could result in severe consequences, potentially leading to backlash, as has been seen in the past.
The goal for MINDCURE is to promote the medical knowledge and value of psychedelic substances so that they may be safely and effectively used to support healing.
Last year saw the first instances of psilocybin being granted approval for use under section 56 exemptions. Since then, scores of people have been able to access the drug, helping to reduce suffering from various conditions. While it’s optimistic to assume that trends could continue under SAP to give more patients access to psychedelic treatment, we can still celebrate the win for those patients who are receiving such innovative and effective medicines. While ministers claim the SAP is not a gateway for regulatory changes, shifting public consensus and, especially, psychedelic research, are likely to play a part in developing policies.
We’re working to bring changes to bring options to mental health with slow and steady psychedelic implementation. With a focus on data-backed and research-based practices, MINDCURE will continue our mission to build diversity into the psychedelics used in treatments, contributing to the knowledge bank of psychedelic substances.
February 24, 2022
While psychedelics are boasted as incredible healing substances, it’s important to keep in mind the work and supports needed to attain real, effective, and targeted outcomes. Such substances yield incredible power, and it takes responsible, knowledgeable administration and guidance for that power to be fully harnessed. Research into the safety profiles of psychedelics like MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin show they are considerably less harmful (societally and individually) than legal, socially accepted drugs like tobacco and alcohol. Still, the effectiveness of psychedelic use in psychotherapy relies on structured integration of the substance, as a mere tool in the overall process, rather than as a stand-alone panacea.
In the last decade, there has been an explosion of psychedelic research. We’re currently in the midst of the second wave of a fascinating investigation into these mysterious compounds, with the “psychedelic renaissance” truly upon us.
Still, is the hype accurate? And, as a pharmaceutical, could misuse (without proper tools, protocols, support, and guidance) harm one’s intentions for healing — not to mention the overall psychedelic industry?
Twitter feeds overflow with positive stories of radically improved lives thanks to the wonders of psychedelics. Microdosing trends and at-home kits can make psychedelics seems like a magical one-stop shop for healing anything. Yet, this ideology is part of what psychedelic researchers are pushing against.
The keyword of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is “assisted.” The medicine is a tool, rather than the key to overcoming issues like depression, trauma, anxiety, pain, and more. While psychedelics do suggest a new paradigm for mental health care, what’s at stake is much too important to throw it all away for a second time by using these powerful compounds inappropriately or reinforcing misleading stigmas. In working with regulators to develop groundbreaking insights into the safe use of psychedelics in therapy, psychedelic researchers have brought us a long way.
So, how can care providers ensure proper care is taken to use psychedelics appropriately and effectively in psychotherapy? Answer: A centralized bank of tools for practitioners and their patients.
Before we make a case for digital solutions to optimize psychedelic therapy, let’s explore the landscape of stigma, uses, goals, and intentions.
The positivity surrounding psychedelic research is in stark contrast to mindsets during the height of the counterculture movement of the ’60s and ’70s when media coverage of psychedelics was exclusively negative. Of course, that had very little to do with the drugs and a lot to do with people using them.
This was laid bare by then domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, who unapologetically admitted to the following scandal:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
The Nixon administration’s racially motivated propaganda implanted a wild misrepresentation of psychedelics into the minds of the Western world. Ripple effects have since permeated the general public, particularly older generations, many of whom continue to hold negative views on psychedelics due to misinformation.
These unfortunate views are often reinforced by sensationalized, scaremongering headlines akin to “man on LSD who thought he could fly jumps out of a window,” or “kids on LSD go blind from staring at the sun.”
While Nixon’s no longer the president, we now have obstacles of a different sort impeding advances in this intriguing field of study.
Hindering the continued success of psychedelic research is the widely espoused misconception that psychedelics lack the ability to induce meaningful experiences. Rather, a commonly held opinion is that psychedelics are used exclusively by hippies merely wanting to “get high” so they can experience superficial improvements in mood and “trippy” trances characterized by multicolored kaleidoscopic visuals. The nerve.
“The term getting high is irrelevant,” however, at least according to psychedelic therapy expert Bill Richards, “unless one wants to understand it in the context of glory to god in the highest.”
Alternatively, there’s the notorious “bad trip” characterized by challenging visions, crippling fear, and unnerving paranoia. This foray into the murky waters of the unconscious commonly referred to as a “bad trip” is widely weaponized by skeptics seeking to cool growing excitement around psychedelic research. No good could possibly come from them, they claim.
Obviously, these conceptualizations fall (very) short.
Psychedelic-trained therapists and psychonauts alike know that, in the therapeutic context at least, there is no such thing as a bad trip. Rather, there are difficult trips that can be significantly distressing but ultimately are revelatory, cathartic, and life-changing. The power of embracing these challenging moments lies in integration and psychotherapy.
In Johns Hopkins’ landmark 2006 paper, one-third of participants given psilocybin reported their experience to be the most spiritually significant of their entire lives, while simultaneously reporting it to be one of their scariest experiences.
In trials investigating the effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), many participants wonder why MDMA was ever given the nickname “ecstasy.” MDMA-induced journeys to the deep recesses of one’s inner space don't exactly scream joy.
However, it’s believed by many experts that going through these psychologically demanding and, in some cases, reality-shattering experiences may be necessary to achieve long-term positive outcomes, and for true healing to manifest.
In the case of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, for example, patients may safely enter their unconscious mind to effectively address memories and traumas — that would otherwise remain inaccessible — with a fresh, willing, and unfearful mindset. While challenging, it’s a route that’s yielding positive results.
The common trait between classic psychedelic compounds is their ability to induce mystical type, altered states of consciousness and consequential changes in our sense of self. With psychedelics, people are exposed to a new set of phenomenological conditions characterized by heightened interoception and an expansion of perceptual phenomena.
The psychedelic experience can instill doubts about some of our most basic assumptions about reality and how we typically define and position ourselves in the world. This can either be profoundly liberating or psychologically damaging depending on the context in which the drug is taken.
According to Dr. Matthew Johnson, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins, about a third of research participants who take psilocybin have a difficult experience, despite having received the best possible preparatory therapy sessions. One could assume, then, that negative experiences occur at a considerably higher rate when psychedelics are taken in a recreational context, where safety protocols are not followed or accessible.
There is always a danger of significant experiences being dismissed, mocked, or belittled in a recreational context by peers lacking psychedelic education. In a therapeutic context, each person’s experience is treated with the utmost respect and genuine concern. Psychedelic therapists lean on the teachings of humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers to treat patients with empathy and unconditional positive regard.
The guide matters as much as the trip.
Without the proper support, targeted goals, and set and setting, experts urge that recreational use of these powerful compounds can backfire on those seeking to improve mental health issues.
At an expert Q&A event, Dr. Itai Danovitch, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai, warned that psychedelics are “powerful substances” that “need to be handled with care and with humility.” Danovitch says, “As a clinical intervention, psychedelic medications should always be paired with therapy. Therapy helps people prepare, process, integrate, and respond to the insights that psychedelics stimulate.”
That’s not to say that people can’t derive benefits from recreational psychedelic use. Many people take psilocybin-containing mushrooms for fun or personal exploration, for example, and experience spontaneous curative effects. If it weren’t for such uses and anecdotal experiences, we wouldn’t have the knowledge we do today, and the psychedelics industry would likely not exist. Still, there’s a time, a place, goals, and resources to consider before attempting to reconfigure one’s mind.
It’s important to emphasize that a controlled setting is foundational to positive outcomes in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. One’s experience is shaped by the therapeutic environment, and so the importance of getting it right cannot be understated.
One of the main aims of preparatory sessions in the lead-up to psychedelic sessions is to foster the development of a therapeutic rapport between the therapist and patient. Trust is established throughout hours of conversation, promoting a spirit of honesty and openness.
Because therapists are trained to relay the right message at the right time, their role during psychedelic therapy sessions is crucial to the overall success of the treatment. Providing reassurance in a moment of uncertainty, encouragement to delve deeper, or simple instructions to trust, let go, and be open can turn the tide in the patient's favor.
Should interpersonal grounding be necessary, the simple warmth of the guide's hand or a few brief words will often suffice to evade panic and maximize the probability that the session will prove beneficial.
These methods of guiding get much easier with a technological advancement like iSTRYM, which houses a suite of coping and integrative activities, resources, and personalized interventions. With its music integration, iSTRYM helps clinicians effectively deepen or soften the energy around sentiment and emotion throughout their healing session.
During preparatory sessions, patients receive a didactic explanation of what the experience could be like, which includes a long laundry list of potentialities due to the high phenomenological variability. Informal terms “upper” and “downer” are used to describe drugs with stimulant or depressant effects. Well, Dr. Matthew Johnson has coined the term “all arounders” to describe the unpredictable, highly variable effects of psychedelics. One person’s psychedelic trip could be the most beautiful, awe-inspiring introspective journey of their entire lives, while for another it could be quite terrifying.
Where psychological discomfort, fear, or confusion can arise in psychedelic sessions, therapists and clinicians have complete access to iSTRYM’s bank of music protocols and breathwork sessions. Such practices can help individuals ease tension and encourage healing.
An often overlooked yet vitally important aspect of psychedelic therapy is the integration that takes place in the aftermath of psychedelic sessions and long after treatment. Fear, panic, paranoia, or confusion may be harmful if they remain unresolved, and so logical interpretation of one’s experience is crucial.
In the hours proceeding psychedelic therapy sessions, patients are given some light homework to complete. This is usually something as simple as journaling about the experience, which ranges from a few bullet points to 20-page detailed descriptions.
iSTRYM has the ability to streamline integration activities like journaling by creating sentiment maps that provide patients with a comprehensive view of how they generally communicate. This allows patients, in the words of MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden, to become “colleagues in their care.”
Post-session, patients are invited back to the therapist’s office for an integration session where they can reflect on what emerged and develop a rough understanding of its potential significance.
iSTRYM’s Speak Ai integration feature facilitates voice-to-text transcription during their psychedelic therapy session. In addition, iSTRYM’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology can be used either in the therapist's office during therapy sessions or after the therapy session to capture dialogue, code content for themes, and detect the presence of specific moods, for example, by examining the patient’s language. NLP can also be applied to iSTRYM’s mindful structural activities, which are incorporated in the app to ensure that valuable insights can be successfully integrated.
Over time, awareness moves in a state of constant flux from memories of the experience to the decisions and approaches required in daily living. Further psychotherapy sessions and mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation may assist during this stage of personal and spiritual development.
Founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Rick Doblin, has stated that “It’s not just about the MDMA experience itself, it’s about what you do with it. The whole point is not to need any MDMA.” Doblin continues, “Once people learn that they don’t need to suppress their trauma, but they can process it, they keep getting better on their own.” This, in a sentence, is the true essence of integration.
Thankfully, MINDCURE has developed an answer to the calls for accessibility, efficient services, and effective care.
Up until very recently, efficiency-enhancing, innovative technologies have been absent in mental health care. This has largely been due to regulatory issues and the challenges associated with using technology in a medical environment.
The demand for mental health services, to which there is a distinct lack of access, has been significantly exacerbated by the pandemic. Further, 77% of US counties face a serious shortage of psychiatrists, 60% of whom are over the age of 55 and nearing retirement. The introduction of digital health tools can go a long way towards addressing these issues.
MINDCURE’s signature digital therapeutics platform, iSTRYM, is a uniquely sophisticated software application designed to provide data-driven support throughout the healing journey and optimize therapeutic outcomes. iSTRYM extends the reach of providers through expanded care delivery channels, allowing patients to access expert care regardless of geography or socioeconomic status.
Biometric and behavioral data gathered through the use of wearables are combined with artificial intelligence (AI) to provide holistic insights into the patients' journey. This multimodal assessment allows therapists to tap into patients’ functioning from a variety of therapeutic angles, providing more meaningful engagement and comprehensive care.
Importantly, industry-standard encryption is used to make sure that data is encrypted both at rest and in transit, assuring that anonymized data will not be intercepted. Patients can rest assured that MINDCURE takes privacy and security very seriously.
Not only does iSTRYM provide better care for patients, but it also helps therapists with treatment protocols, tools, and therapeutic guidance to inform evidence-based care. It lightens the load for care providers with administrative solutions.
iSTRYM provides an intersection between therapist and patient for a seamless patient experience, from intake to discharge and beyond.
February 22, 2022
There’s an ongoing opioid crisis devastating both Canada and the US. Addiction is taking the lives of more and more people as health officials scramble to find a solution.
While there may not be one single answer to fixing this problem, an option showing great potential to end suffering for many is ibogaine treatment.
Currently non-existent in both Canada and the US, ibogaine treatment centers may hold the key to helping people who struggle with substance abuse disorder and other mental health issues. Read on to learn more about these treatment centers, where they’re legal, and the possible route for access in North America.
Ibogaine became a controlled substance in the US before researchers could study the effects and potential benefits of ibogaine as a medicine. Around the same time, former president Richard Nixon declared war on drugs (1971), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified ibogaine as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). A Schedule I drug is considered a substance that serves no medicinal purpose and threatens to become highly addictive.
Ibogaine was an unscheduled substance in Canada until 2017 when it was added to the Canadian Prescription Drug List (PDL), which states that “Ibogaine is not authorized for use in Canada” due to reports of adverse effects.
With this change, health officials began monitoring and investigating the usage of ibogaine in Canada more closely — ultimately leading to the discovery of illegally manufactured ibogaine in Quebec. Once word spread about the incident, all ibogaine treatment centers were wrapped up. The aim of adding ibogaine to the PDL is “to allow Health Canada to provide more effective risk-based oversight of ibogaine.”
While ibogaine isn't exactly accessible in the US and Canada, some countries have recognized it as a substance capable of medicinal use and have deemed it legal, while others yet keep it unregulated. Practitioners in such places can provide ibogaine-assisted therapy without fear of prosecution or other consequences.
Countries where ibogaine is a legal, medical treatment option:
Countries where ibogaine is unscheduled:
Countries where the death penalty is used for drug-related charges:
People from around the world, including Canada, the US, and other places, travel to gain access to ibogaine treatment when all else fails, without risking legal consequences. However, not everyone can afford to travel abroad to attend ibogaine treatment centers.
As researchers work in clinical studies to identify uses, safety protocols, dosing, and mechanism of action, ibogaine may soon be recognized as a safe and effective treatment option for those suffering from opioid addiction, traumatic brain injuries, chronic pain, anxiety, and more.
Ensuring that the ibogaine treatment center in question is legal and reputable is crucial, as having a sterile, safe, controlled environment is essential to the healing journey. Those considering using ibogaine as a treatment should avoid doing so alone or unsupervised as this could result in a negative experience resulting in more mental or physical harm.
Supervision by trained professionals is ideal for adequately preparing one with the proper set and setting to ensure that psychedelic therapy goes smoothly and ends with positive results.
To get an idea of what an ibogaine treatment center in Mexico looks like, a man from the US named Dustin Dextraze documented his journey to Mexico for psychedelic addiction treatment.
The founder of the treatment center Dextraze attended, Dr. Martin Polanco, explains that ibogaine is safe to use when administered correctly and when proper screening is followed. Patients are under constant cardiac supervision at the treatment center while on the drug. Dr. Polanco acknowledges that due to the lack of regulations, reputable ibogaine medical treatment centers outside the US could be risky, and interested people should research before acting.
In the process of Dextraze’s treatment, he receives short-acting opioids to prevent him from getting dope sick and then undergoes multiple tests on his heart and liver to ensure he is in shape to take the ibogaine safely.
Once his screening is complete, Dextraze is hooked up to heart monitors and an IV. He’s given a small test dose to ensure he doesn't have any adverse reactions. He then spends the next 10 hours lying down, still hooked up to the medical monitors, with a sleeping mask on. Two nurses and a doctor are present the entire time. With attention to set and setting, the lights are dimmed, and soft, calming music plays in the background. Spiritual qualities play a part as sage is burnt to smudge and cleanse the room.
At the end of the 10 hour trip, Dextraze says that he doesn't feel any withdrawal symptoms — for the first time in three years.
Ibogaine is a psychedelic drug that has dissociative properties. Pharmaceutical research shows fantastic potential for being an effective medicinal therapy option — that is, of course, with proper health and safety regulations.
Ibogaine and its medicinal uses are getting the attention of healthcare officials and look like an up-and-coming treatment option for a variety of mental health issues.
Ibogaine is a psychoactive indole alkaloid that is naturally found in the roots of the Tabernanthe iboga plant or the iboga shrub. The iboga plant is found in West Africa, where it has been used as a healing remedy and spiritual tool by the native cultures that inhabit the area.
The Pygmy people of West Africa and the Bwiti people of Gabon are two of the main groups known to use iboga, dating back centuries. They often used it as a religious sacrament and rituals to experience hallucinations, spiritual awakenings, celebrations, and initiation rights. It's also been used as a health remedy for hunger, thirst, and fatigue.
MINDCURE's synthesized ibogaine is a pharmaceutical-grade version of the naturally occurring substance found in the iboga shrub. A consistent and reliable supply of synthetic ibogaine enables researchers to develop dosages, safety protocols, and mechanisms of action.
A consistent and reliable source of synthesized ibogaine used in a controlled medical setting could help researchers understand dosing, risks, and potential adverse side effects. Some known adverse effects include:
MINDCURE is currently in the process of creating strategic preclinical testing models using ibogaine to identify mechanisms of action and expectations, understand cognitive benefits, measure cardiotoxicity and adverse effects, and establish safety measures, dosing, and methods of administration.
While few studies have explored ibogaine's effectiveness as a treatment properly, the small number of studies that have been recorded have had quite positive results.
For example, in a research article published in 2017, out of 88 participants struggling with opioid dependence – a majority of them being regular, everyday users for four years or longer – a whopping 80% reported a dramatic reduction or else complete cessation of withdrawal symptoms after receiving ibogaine treatment therapy.
In the study, most participants claimed to have better long-term control over their cravings for using opioids. About 30% of the participants claimed abstinence from all opioid use following their ibogaine treatment.
With fantastic results like that, it sheds light on the significance of ibogaine for healing. It leads the way for access to materials and protocols to build hope for more efficacious medical treatments.
MINDCURE is dedicated to innovating what pharmaceutical researchers need to create effective treatments and improve mental health. Our Ibogaine Project focuses on the manufacturing and distribution of synthesized ibogaine for use by researchers and clinical studies.
By fueling the research into synthetic ibogaine, MINDCURE aims to promote evidence into the medical value of the drug, in order for it to become an accessible treatment option in Canada. With a consistent supply, ibogaine will be much more easily accessible for those researching it, and eventually, for those administering and receiving the treatment.
February 18, 2022
The start of a relationship is an exciting time — getting to know someone and what they like.
What’s sexier than loving someone else? Loving yourself, of course. But, for women especially, innate confidence and esteem can be hard to naturally come by. A study by Cornell University found that men overestimate their abilities and performance, while women underestimate both. In fact, actual performance does not differ in quality or quantity.
These qualities also play a huge role in successful intimate relationships as physical intimacy is a key component.
As time goes on, physical intimacy can and will change, and if partners have different needs like desire or fantasies, riffs can occur, causing huge issues in any relationship. According to FairwayDivorce.com, the two top reasons people get divorced in the US are that their relationship has run out of steam and there has been a communication breakdown.
Any relationship is built and maintained by the effort, love, understanding, and patience put in by both parties.
According to MindBodyGreen.com, there is no concrete statistic on how many people divorce because of a sexless marriage. But data from a 2002 survey found that 16% of married couples were in a sexless marriage (no sex in the past year). And a 2018 survey found that over one in four relationships are sexless.
According to WebMD, a women’s sexual peak occurs during her 30s and 40s. Statistically, this is when their sex drive is the strongest. In fact, one study showed that between the ages of 27 and 45, women had sex more frequently and also experienced more intense sexual fantasies.
So, why are today’s relationships suffering from differences in sexual desire? And why is a lot of the blame put on women?
In a study released by Statista that looked at the impact of the pandemic on sexual partner interaction, there was a 64% increase in cohabitating couples who say they have sexual desire less often.
The same study determined that 63% of women felt more stressed since the start of the pandemic.
Sex and intimacy in today’s relationships are being strained not only by the pandemic but also by an increasing amount of pressure on women’s self-esteem, body image, and mental health. For women, the inability to be intimate can lead to feelings of personal distress — like feeling guilt, or even a fear of being cheated on or abandoned by your partner.
In comparison to the research on men’s sexual dysfunction, far less is known about the etiology of and effective treatments for women’s sexual dysfunction. Men have a little blue pill and women have a lot of questions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes sexual health as a vital component of quality of life as it improves heart function and can also help keep estrogen and testosterone levels in balance.
In relationships, sex and intimacy are key components as they can help build confidence, strengthen emotional connections, and of course, relieve stress.
Up until recently, there was not enough research or focus into the impacts lack of sexual desire could have not only on relationships but also on women faced with the pressure to perform.
Moreover, sex and sexual desire can be hard topics to discuss not only with doctors but partners too.
Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) is classified in the DSM-IV under four types: desire, arousal, orgasm, and sexual pain disorders. Under the FSD umbrella is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), which is defined by a persistent or recurrent lack of desire, sexual thoughts, and/or fantasies that contribute to personal distress and/or interpersonal difficulties.
HSDD transverses biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors, making it difficult to pin down and even harder to cure.
The current list of cures or solutions for HSDD, a condition affecting an estimated 9.5 million premenopausal women, is short. Women with low desire are at the mercy of broad suggestions like using aphrodisiacs, exercising, or “experimenting.” Such actions place the onus on women without much medical support, and only address the symptoms.
What if desire issues were deeper?
(Hint: they are.)
As it stands, there are two FDA-approved pharmacological treatments for HSDD: Flibanserin and Bremelanotide for premenopausal women. Flibanserin, considered the “little pink pill,” works by reducing serotonin activity in the brain, which inhibits sexual function. Bremelanotide is an injection that blocks melanocortin receptors, which are suggested to alter the pathways that contribute to sex drive and arousal.
Physical activity (PA) is another treatment that has been researched for use in helping treat sexual disorders. In a study, pre- and post-menopausal women consulting for female sexual disorders like HSDD were studied along with the frequency in which they engage in physical activity. Women engaging in PA scored higher in the Female Sexual Function Index under domains like desire, arousal, and lubrication. They also showed lower sexual distress as compared to sedentary women.
The study showed that women with FSD could benefit from PA, but also excessive PA could be related to psychological determinants that could in turn relate to poor sexual function.
Testosterone therapy has been shown to be an efficacious treatment for HSDD in postmenopausal women. In clinical trials, postmenopausal women with low libido and sexual dysfunction showed significant improvements in areas like libido, sexual desire, arousal, frequency, and satisfaction when testosterone was introduced.
Finally, psychedelic therapy is a solution that allows women to confront the root of their sexual desire in psychotherapy. Psychedelics like MDMA are suggested to help subdue symptoms of distress, allowing individuals to open up, analyze, discuss, and integrate their sexual experiences with the help of a clinician.
Female decreased desire is a complex issue that continues to impact a number of women in a number of different ways. Experts recommend a biopsychosocial approach that simultaneously considers physical, psychological, sociocultural, and interpersonal factors in order to appropriately guide the research and clinical care regarding women's sexual function.
The emphasis for a holistic approach to fully understand and treat sexual desire in women aligns with MINDCURE’s research goals that involve showing the benefits of psychological intervention in combination with psychedelic therapy to improve symptom severity for women with HSDD.
In particular, MDMA has been shown to have positive impacts on the mind when paired with talk therapy. It allows people to open up and express emotions they may not be used to dealing with, including past trauma or current issues. One study that looked at different impacts MDMA had on opposite sexes showed that “adult females are more sensitive than males to the acute and subacute physical and psychological effects of MDMA.”
This new information on MDMA and the effects it has on adult females has the potential to open the door to understanding and developing wellness approaches in the psychology of female sexual healing.
At MINDCURE, we believe MDMA has the potential to assist psychotherapy in helping women who have HSDD. Our goal with the Desire Project is to create evidence-based research that supports a solution involving pharmaceutical MDMA and psychotherapy, in order to open the conversation and help pinpoint the root causes of HSDD in women. Ultimately, we’re aiming to create more options for women with a more long-term solution for healing.
Mental health and sex are intimately tied. Together, they contribute to overall well-being with the release of endorphins that influence mood, promote emotional intimacy, and ultimately impact certain relationships.
With so many women impacted by HSDD, we want to create spaces where they can share their experiences and heal from them, leading to better sex lives and overall health.
Get involved in the conversation about HSDD by taking the MINDCURE Desire Project survey.
February 14, 2022
Two topics that go hand in hand are finally getting the proper research and evaluations they've gone long without: female sexual desire and psychedelics used as a form of medicinal treatment.
Women's sexual health has been stigmatized for a long time, not only by society but also by doctors. This is especially true in terms of female sexuality and issues with sexual desire. Maybe it’s the stigma or something about women’s bodies that makes some medical professionals uncomfortable.
Similarly, psychedelics are just as taboo to society. The use of psychedelics, both recreationally and medicinally, has taken on negative associations. Although, researchers are currently working to open doors for medical acceptance all over the world.
These stigmas affect patient care in both the mental and physical health spaces and limit solutions. Women who struggle with sexual health issues are reaching out for relief from their pain.
Here, we’ll walk through why such stigmas exist and explore the future of women’s sexual and mental health.
Sexual health has significant effects on overall well-being. When someone's sexual health problems (such as troubles with desire) are ignored and left untreated, distress symptoms can begin to take a toll on mental health.
As you can guess, desire plays a vital role in maintaining healthy relationships. When someone's feelings of sexual desire are diminished, one or both people in the relationship can feel disconnected from the other. The lack of intimacy can put strains on their relationship, which can, in the end, negatively impact mental health.
While sexual health is incredibly important to mental health, a major barrier to healing is a lack of conversation and acknowledgment about female desire issues, despite being the most common of female sexual dysfunctions. With deeper explorations into the issues, causes, and connections that desire shares mental health (including self-esteem), we'll be able to better recognize and treat such issues more effectively. With more open discussions, women will be able to understand their bodies and feel more comfortable bringing up challenges to a doctor, and medical professionals may take such concerns seriously.
It's quite a common occurrence for a woman to experience health-related problems in her sex life. In fact, anywhere between 30 to 50% of women experience some form of sexual issues in their lifetime. Sexual dysfunction in women is not as rare as it's made out to be.
Some kinds of problematic sex-related symptoms a woman may encounter:
The pain associated with these symptoms can range from mild to severe, occurring occasionally or excessively. No woman is the same, so it's a sliding scale.
As soon as a proper diagnosis begins, a treatment plan can be implemented.
However, as pain is (obviously) subjective, it makes diagnoses all the more challenging. As well, with the undereducation and stigma affecting women's sexual health, a diagnosis could take a very long time — if a diagnosis is ever made — causing the woman to suffer silently without any form of relief. This is especially so with Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), a sexual disorder that’s common among women, yet inadequately addressed or treated.
Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, or HSDD, affects about 1 in 3 women in the US, yet a majority have likely never heard the term.
Women with HSDD have a constant or recurring lack or complete absence of sexual desire. They have no spontaneous desire for sexual encounters and often cannot feel aroused when their senses are stimulated (e.g., sight, touch, etc.) A woman is struggling with HSDD can feel tremendous amounts of distress.
HSDD is typically connected to underlying troubles within their interpersonal relationships or distress within themselves. So, removing any blocks to their emotional connection with one another may is a way forward for desire. But, that’s easily said than done. Let’s check out some treatment options for HSDD.
One of the most common treatments for HSDD is psychotherapy or sex therapy. While this treatment may be helpful in the long run, it's not very practical for short-term, immediate relief.
As for medication for HSDD, if the decrease in libido is due to certain antidepressants, a doctor may recommend switching to different antidepressants, such as Bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL), which is known to help increase sex drive.
Suppose the decreased sexual desire isn't caused by other medications. In that case, a doctor may prescribe Flibanserin (Addyi), taken in the form of a pill once a day, or Bremelanotide (Vyleesi), a self-administered injection used in the moments leading up to sexual encounters. Nothing like a slight jab to get one in the mood. The things we do for love.
These medications have mostly been found to promote only one additional sexually significant experience per month. Depending on the patient's preferences, that may be enough for them, or they could feel like it's not even worth the hassle of beginning a new medication. Hence, more silence.
These medications also seem to have more cons than pros, which is why women may choose not to take them. With various side effects, they’re only FDA-approved for premenopausal women:
When taking Flibanserin (Addyi), also known as female viagra, another critical point is that women who are taking it can't consume alcohol or use the common yeast infection medication Fluconazole (Diflucan). Otherwise, symptoms could become much more severe. While virtually any medication or treatment will have side effects, the issue is a lack of variety for treatment options in the current space of women’s sexual health.
Women's sexual health has been swept under the rug and left to cause adverse effects on mental health and well-being. While some solutions exist, there aren’t many options for the wide array of issues or their root causes. As researchers and practitioners search for new, updated treatment options for women's sexual health issues, there's an industry of medicine that's quickly gaining more and more attention — psychedelics.
Psychedelics are turning heads in the medical research field as possible remedies to help treat issues women experience with their sexual health, such as decreased sexual desire.
The use of psychedelic drugs like MDMA has shown great potential for treating sexual health issues before becoming illegal in North America. Now, clinical studies are proving effective for PTSD.
The idea of women being sexually active and having any desire for sexual activity has been taboo and unfairly stigmatized for decades. This is true in society and in the medical field.
There is a significant lack of knowledge surrounding female sexuality and how a woman's body works regarding sexual desire. This lack of understanding can lead to dismissal but medical professionals.
Female sexuality and desire are taboo not only to society but also in the medical field. Why? Well, the answer is quite simple — there's a significant lack of knowledge, understanding, and proper communication.
To put that into better perspective, during 4 years of training at medical school, most med students will only spend 3-10 hours learning about sexual health issues. Now imagine how much of that is spent learning about women's sexual health in particular. It seems to be next to nothing.
Many doctors and health care professionals have developed a dangerous and misogynistic habit of downplaying or just straight up ignoring symptoms and concerns expressed to them by their female patients. The term for this phenomenon is called medical gaslighting.
Medical gaslighting occurs when patients express their symptoms, such as pain, to medical professionals who then dismiss their concerns. Distressed patients are told that their symptoms aren't that bad. Or, they’re treated as if they are lying about their pain.
For example, women with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) rarely get a proper diagnosis. If they do, it can take years to receive. Because PCOS causes weight gain, doctors will ignore a woman's supporting symptoms and suggest dieting, thus putting the onus on the patient. When results don’t show, doctor may accuse her of not trying hard enough, leaving her feeling ashamed and discouraged. And, we’re back to mental health.
This scenario isn’t uncommon. Women are left to suffer in silence and live with their pain until it leads to a medical emergency. Sometimes the damage caused by a late diagnosis is irreversible.
With these issues about women’s physical and reproductive health, imagine the barriers that exist for women’s sexual and mental health. Women are often left feeling neglected and ashamed.
A couple of factors contribute to the cause of doctors downplaying and dismissing women's sexual health issues. Let's take a look at the leading causes of this phenomenon.
The most forefront and apparent cause of the dismissal of women's sexuality and reproductive health problems is the strong gender bias in the medical field. The very foundation of our medical system was built upon a male-dominant perspective.
For a long time, female pain (usually caused by undiagnosed and untreated reproductive health problems) was considered emotional pain, not actual physical pain. It wasn't uncommon for women to be treated as though their pain wasn't real and that they were just being dramatic.
For example, female hysteria is a disorder that many women were diagnosed with during the 18th and 19th centuries in response to expressing their symptoms or displaying certain behaviors or emotional responses that made men uncomfortable.
While the medical community has come a long way, the term “hysterical” is still frequently used in society to disregard women. The gender bias lives on.
Another cause of medical gaslighting is the generational gap between doctors and patients. If the term hysteria can live on, imagine the mindsets that span decades, with outdated and false information spreading around in the medical field. We’ve come a long way since then, and continue to learn more about one another as humans as we venture further towards the future.
Generational gaps that harbor misogynistic mindsets in the medical system are hazardous. Healthcare professionals should always stay updated on health and safety protocols and procedures, as they are constantly changing with all the ongoing research getting done, especially now.
Women's sexual and reproductive health is finally getting some well-deserved attention. More and more studies are being conducted to help medical professionals today better understand how they can help heal women.
As medical researchers and healthcare professionals study women's sexual and reproductive health more, they are on the hunt for new and improved treatments as well.
As with female sexuality and desire, there is a stigma surrounding treatment options with great potential. Psychedelics are one form of therapeutic treatment option that has been used for centuries, yet governments have demonized such substances, ultimately restricting the research that began decades ago.
Psychedelics have been ignored as a potential treatment option for quite some time, due to a lack of research and knowledge, alongside outdated ideations. However, more medical professionals and researchers have been fighting to have those misconceptions about psychedelics and their uses diminished.
Life science companies like MINDCURE are driving to correct the misinformation and stigmas with much-needed research. For example, the Desire Project looks at how psychedelics such as MDMA can help treat women's sexual health problems.
Now things are beginning to look up for psychedelic treatments and therapies in medical research. This is due to the fantastic results that are being recorded in the successful treatment of mental health issues.
It's perfect timing to have both of these stigmas brought to light around the same time. The medical system is on the verge of significant breakthroughs. Healthcare professionals in the near future will have a better understanding of women’s sexual health, its connection to mental wellness, and psychedelic medicines. With these understandings, care providers will be able to treat their patients in the best ways possible.
It's all thanks to the scientific research and clinical studies that continue to debunk the myths of women's sexual health issues and use psychedelics to treat them, amongst many other things.
February 9, 2022
These are exciting times for the psychedelics industry. A shift in public consensus, increasing funding for research, greater acceptance in the political landscape, and ongoing law changes are factors contributing to growing optimism for the future of psychedelic technologies in the healthcare market.
Where psychedelics are becoming decriminalized in various US states, investors need to understand the intentions of psychedelic research companies and how regulations play an important role.
Psychedelics are proving to treat a range of conditions including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorder, alcohol use disorder, and others. These medicines stand out as superior alternatives to traditional methods of treatment like anti-depressants due to relatively low incidence of side-effects, broad therapeutic potential, and the ability to produce “sustained therapeutic effects following a single administration,” even in conditions where traditional medicines are not effective.
The FDA has now given psilocybin and MDMA “breakthrough therapy status,” which fast-tracks them on the road to legality as medicines for mental health. Other psychedelics are set to follow.
Globally, the mental disorder drugs market was worth $36.77 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach $58.91 billion by 2031. Psychedelics will also begin to play an important role in the cognition and repair market, which in 2023 could reach $6.5 billion.
The opioid crisis, which has been devastating communities and destroying lives around the world, has worsened worldwide amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It has, in turn, provoked a treatment industry worth $38.2B this year, with an estimated 5.2% growth in annual revenues. While some treatment options have been somewhat effective in treating addiction, relapse rates still remain high.
Psychedelics can help here, too. Drugs like ibogaine have been found to be powerful in reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms and reducing relapse rates in dependent individuals. However, the natural source from which ibogaine is derived has a high natural variability, meaning that dosing is difficult.
MINDCURE attempts to correct for these issues by manufacturing pharmaceutical grade ibogaine and using it to identify mechanisms of action and expectations, understand cognitive benefits, measure cardiotoxicity and adverse effects, and establish safety measures, dosing, and methods of administration. This will lead to products that will be suitable for widespread use in the treatment of mental health, addiction, and various other challenges.
So, if psychedelics have so much promise in treating so many conditions, why are the stocks of psychedelics companies performing so poorly, while those of cannabis enterprises have been following an upward trend for years? Has something gone wrong?
To answer this, we need to look at the trajectory that the cannabis industry has taken, analyze why it is doing so well, and discuss why the cannabis industry model is NOT right for the psychedelics industry.
Psychedelics and cannabis have both been used for thousands of years for medical, recreational, and spiritual purposes. The first recorded usage of cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back 5000 years to the reign of the Chinese Emperor Chen Nung.
A research article recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America presented evidence of the use of multiple psychedelic drugs in South America, dating back 1000 years. Their findings detail a bundle that contained organic residues of psychoactive substances, including two of the primary ingredients found in Ayahuasca.
Both cannabis and psychedelics faced decades of backlash following their widespread usage among young people. In 1968, following years of recreational and consciousness expansion use by the counterculture movement, LSD and other hallucinogens were classified as scheduled drugs in Canada and the US, meaning they were deemed to have a “high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.”
Cannabis was given a Schedule I classification in the US two years later, under the Controlled Substances Act 1970. In Canada, already existent punitive policies for cannabis were used more often, with arrests for cannabis sky-rocketing from 21 in 1960 to 50,000 in 1972.
This crackdown effectively curtailed research. For psychedelics, this meant a significant reduction in the number of peer-reviewed articles being published. Numbers being published on psilocybin dropped from a high watermark of 39 in 1968, decreasing gradually until the ‘90s, with only a handful of studies on psilocybin being published each year.
In 1996, a federal appropriations rider created another obstacle by prohibiting “any activity that promotes the legalization of any drug or other substance included in schedule I.”
The turn of the millennium saw a renewed interest in psychedelics, and research into psilocybin and other psychedelics once again increased. This swing has been matched by an increase in the number of articles published on cannabis, which saw a ninefold increase between 2000 and 2018.
The similarities end there though. When it comes to the different intended usages that the cannabis industry and psychedelics industries have for their products, the story is very different. While cannabis has been shown to have a whole host of medical benefits, its usage in the US and Canada is primarily recreational, with only a small percentage of cannabis bought for medical use.
Psychedelics companies, on the other hand, have incredible medical potential, that would be disrupted by a recreational pathway. Governments are listening and are beginning to relax regulations to assist medical use. Recently, the Canadian government added psychedelics to the Special Access Program, which allows medical professionals access to non-marketed drugs and medical devices that are not yet authorized for sale in Canada.
Kelsey Ramsden, Co-founder and CEO of MINDCURE, highlighted the importance of this, stating:
“For emergency patients, this news means gaining access to life-changing mental health care. This can be truly transformative for both the patient in their ability to live out their last days, as well as for their families and supporting communities … It confirms that leaders in Federal Health Policy acknowledge the promise of psychedelics. Assuming they will stay strong with implementing the emergency-only approvals, it confirms that we will not be going down the slippery slope of recreational use that cannabis saw, which resulted (for cannabis) in a lack of funding for true drug development and clinical research.”
Following the criminalization of both cannabis and psychedelics, cannabis was the first to see its fortunes reversed. Various relaxations in laws began in 1973, when Texas declared the possession of 4 ounces or less a misdemeanor, reduced from a felony. In the next decade, a handful of states decriminalized cannabis, with a couple passing legislation to allow limited use of medical cannabis.
Following increased pressure from the movement to legalize cannabis, medical cannabis began in earnest in 1996, as Californians voted for its legislation with Proposition 215. The following 15 years saw a trickling of states following suit, one or two each year.
In 2012, recreational cannabis began to follow the pattern of reform that medical cannabis had plotted, with a steady stream of states permitting its use.
Throughout the period of steady decriminalization, public opinion also developed. In 1969, just 12% of Americans favored cannabis legalization. Today, 67% believe that cannabis should be legal.
Medical usage of cannabis is now permitted in 36 states, based on the recommendation of a doctor. Recreational cannabis is permitted in 18 states. Across the border in Canada, medical usage became permissible in 2001, with recreational cannabis becoming sanctioned in 2018.
Research for cannabis has unfortunately been curtailed as cannabis is still illegal at a federal level. This means that options for researchers to source cannabis for their research are severely limited. Currently, only cannabis grown by the University of Mississippi, under contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), may be used for research.
Frequent complaints are made about both the quality and potency of this cannabis, with researchers suggesting that the cannabis grown by the UoM is not representative of cannabis that is consumed by the population.
This is a problem that MINDCURE hopes to avoid with psychedelics, and as such, MINDCURE has been synthesizing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine. Synthesis of this plant medicine in lab conditions is particularly important as iboga is a plant of concern, is indigenous to West Africa, and has natural variation that makes research and FDA approval challenging. The product that MINDCURE creates is ideal for the future of ibogaine research.
The story for psychedelic decriminalization has lagged behind cannabis (a little). The movement did not get started until 2010, the delay partly due to the taboo, condemnation, and criminalization of psychedelic substances following the counterculture movement of the ‘60s.
Oregon became the first state to decriminalize psychedelics in 2020, a notion introduced along with decriminalizing all drugs and legalizing the medical use of psilocybin mushrooms in supervised and licensed therapy sessions.
Since then, 13 cities across the US have deprioritized the policing of psilocybin mushrooms. The largest of these cities, Seattle, was partly inspired to act to reduce opioid-related deaths across the city, which has, like most of the US, been affected by the opioid epidemic.
California has been edging closer to the legalization of a number of different psychedelics with a proposed bill, SB519. It seems likely that this movement towards decriminalization will follow the same route that cannabis legalization took, with a steady stream of states and cities passing bills that decriminalize the use of psychedelics.
Activists for psychedelics are following the path to decriminalization along the same route that cannabis legalization took, by targeting local governments and affecting law changes on a small scale.
Polls indicate that public opinion is slowly moving towards the support of decriminalization, though still lagging behind the numbers of people in favor of cannabis decriminalization. This is likely due to the negative stigma and misunderstanding of psychedelic substances.
The psychedelics movement has been gaining increasing support from politicians, including from those who would traditionally have sided against their use.
There has never been a time when psychedelics have been so desperately needed for the treatment of mental illnesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a host of mental health problems. In the US, between June 2019 and January 2021, the percentage of adults reporting symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder rose from 11% to 41%, with similar figures being reported globally. At this point, it’s unclear how long the mental health ramifications of the pandemic will sustain.
The opioid epidemic, which has been affecting countries around the world and causing suffering and overdose deaths in its wake, shows no sign of curtailing. Current methods of treating addiction are clearly not working as they work to manage symptoms and pain, but don’t confront the root issues of addiction.
With the efficacy of psychedelics for treating these conditions already proven, clinical trials must work to obtain FDA approval. This will stand psychedelics in good stead to have punitive laws repealed.
As a leader in psychedelics, MINDCURE recognizes the value of the iboga plant as a rare and diminishing resource. Our sustainable approach to manufacturing synthetic ibogaine enables us to provide approved research partners and treatment facilities with access to a safe, reliable, and efficacious supply to help drive toward and create better treatment outcomes without further endangering the iboga plant.
MINDCURE is not just a psychedelics company. More broadly, it’s a company that creates solutions to address societies’ mental health problems. In 2021, MINDCURE launched the beta version of its iSTRYM technology, a powerful digital therapeutic which leverages technology as a medicine, capturing and analyzing data of patients, and generating new mental health insights for patients, therapists, and researchers. The commercial release of iSTRYM is projected for Q2 2022.
Looking toward a bold future, MINDCURE is developing research into ibogaine and MDMA to address HSDD (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder). The projected market size for this non-hormonal approach to the treatment of HSDD is $3.4 billion in 2026.
February 16, 2022
2021 proved to be a record-breaking year for digital healthcare, according to Rock Health’s annual year-end report. Digital health funding among US-based startups reached an astounding $29.1 billion, doubling the amount raised in 2020 ($14.9 billion).
There are many reasons that explain this rise in digital health funding. As a disruptor, digital health is finding ways to fill enormous gaps in the healthcare industry, including accessibility and affordability. These issues were especially highlighted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has created a huge surge in the need for digital health solutions to keep people connected virtually to their health and health practitioners. “The pandemic reinforced the power of digital marketplaces, their ability to connect and match previously disparate parties and facilitate timely transactions – for example, matching clinical talent with facilities in need,” says Seth Joseph, a Forbes contributor.
New analysis from McKinsey & Company shows that telehealth use has increased 38 times from a “pre-covid baseline.” This increase, born out of necessity, demonstrates that patients and practitioners are concerned about accessing healthcare in lockdown and would turn to virtual solutions. It shows that services like telehealth offer that bridge to care. Can such tools combine the benefits of access, optimized outcomes, privacy, and affordability?
Digital health solutions are filling gaps in the current healthcare industry in a plethora of ways. They afford both clinicians and their clients a variety of tools to help with onboarding, engagement, and new protocols that make accessing wellness that much easier.
One aspect of wellness that is often overlooked is mental health. On top of an already overwhelming mental health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting both our physical and mental wellness. If we didn’t already need disruptions, the time is definitely now.
Digital health platforms like iSTRYM are recognizing the need for digital health solutions that are tailored to individual mental wellness.
iSTRYM is a state-of-the-art medical-clinical practice management solution. In layman’s terms, it’s an online platform that provides digital therapy. It connects psychotherapy clients and clinicians through an easy-to-use software that allows for digital patient engagement, data collection, self-administered solutions, screening, diagnostics, and 24/7 accessibility.
Healthcare has often lagged behind other industries in adopting digital tools into practice for fears tied to privacy issues and resistance to lengthy onboarding adjustments. Clinicians can often feel that digital health solutions are daunting to adjust to or that they might not fit within their current infrastructure.
With the need for digital solutions ushered in by the pandemic, iSTRYM acknowledges this learning curve and prioritizeS onboarding efficiency so that clinicians may better interact with clients. iSTRYM technology supports clinicians and practices with a user-friendly interface that makes practitioner and patient onboarding easier. It uses a variety of data collection points that make onboarding and getting to know patients easier too.
While practice management and paperwork can often be meticulous areas of a clinician’s job, iSTRYM streamlines this work, thereby improving workflow and clinical outcomes.
With a 30% reported increase in adults with symptoms of anxiety or depression disorder, it’s hard to ignore the fact that we’re in a mental health crisis — a demand for care that's currently exacerbated by a lack of practitioners able to respond to these growing numbers.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that by 2025, the US will have a shortage of marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, and school counselors.
iSTRYM’s mental health technology has the potential to connect clinicians to a bank of therapeutic protocols and a network of healing. Ultimately, with the demand for care progressively outweighing care professionals, technology will help fill the gaps and aid patients in reaching their mental health goals — both in clinical settings and at home.
While digital mental health solutions are one thing, psychedelic therapy is not a quick fix solution and takes a dedicated effort from both the clinician and patient, in and out of a therapeutic session.
The Forbes article mentioned earlier goes on to highlight Nikhil Krishnan, founder of Out-Of-Pocket, a healthcare newsletter and community. He sees screening and diagnostics as a relatively underinvested space given the value they can create, especially in terms of solutions that can be self-administered by patients at home.
iSTRYM keeps patients actively engaged in their psychedelic-assisted wellness journey with daily opportunities like writing prompts and logs to input personal data. The kinds of information recorded and sent to clinicians include factors, such as how the patient is feeling, what they’re experiencing, and even what the weather is like. This variety of data provides patients with intentional opportunities to reflect, reach therapeutic goals, and continuously work towards mental wealth.
iSTRYM provides a dedicated space for patient-focused therapy, enhanced by psychotherapy sessions with their clinician.
By giving patients their own dashboard, prompts and daily logs to track and visualize their healing journey, the iSTRYM app empowers patients, guiding them every step of the way.
While finding its footing, digital healthcare has often been met with backlash by clinicians and clients concerned about where their data is going and how it’s being used.
The measures that are currently being taken by companies like MINDCURE ensure that user data is protected under and adhering to guidelines released by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Under this guidance, the iSTRYM app has clear privacy guidelines. It uses scheduled data clearing, anonymity, security, and relevance-based accessibility in their data management system to keep user data secure yet transparent.
The data compiled by iSTRYM and the clinician is enhanced by the platform's use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a more thorough understanding and assessment of a patient’s needs. Clinicians are then able to provide more effective treatments because they can gain a better sense than with just talk therapy alone.
Only in the last 10 years have clinicians and therapeutic entities really started to research and put out psychedelic protocols for psychotherapy. Psychedelic protocols just aren’t easy to come by. Last year, in a first-of-its-kind study, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) saw a 67% success rate in their Phase 3 trial using MDMA to treat PTSD in correlation with talk therapy.
The iSTRYM app is ahead of this curve by providing a bank of psychedelic-assisted tools and protocols, built right into the system and tailored to individual needs. Breathwork has largely been incorporated into both psychotherapy and psychedelic therapy for years. SOMA Breath provides breathwork programs for iSTRYM users to incorporate into their day-to-day wellness.
Like breathwork, music has been used to guide and support therapeutic experiences. It helps our brain release mood-influencing chemicals like endorphins and dopamine. MINDCURE’s proprietary music protocols provided by LUCID uses machine learning to provide music that partners with a patient’s internal data. This helps support and guide therapy before, during, and after sessions.
As a patient, it can be hard to feel like you’re getting your point across over the screen with telehealth. iSTRYM leverages language processing with machine learning technology that analyzes tone, intonation, and sentiment. Revolutionary Speak Ai technology drives insight into a clinician’s therapeutic assessment by using this information to better inform on the status of a patient.
We are very likely in the early stages of the digital health boom and it’s clear to see why. Digital health solutions like digital therapy are providing practices, clinicians, and patients with accessible, and affordable solutions on their wellness journey. As the technology continues to evolve in the digital health space so will the need for investors to help drive this innovation.
February 1, 2022
For women, sexual desire is not just about wanting sex and getting it. There is so much more complexity involved in women, such as psychological, situational, circumstantial, and biological factors. Women’s sexual desires go through cues like emotional bonding, exoticness, visual stimulation, romance, and more. These cues are what make women desire sex and are part of what differentiates their desires from men’s desires for sexual intercourse. However, these triggers are less likely to show up for females with a lack of sexual desire.
HSDD is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, which is described as a consistent absence of sexual activity and thoughts, often associated with work-life stresses and/or relational issues. Yes, it has similarities with depression and other disorders and mental illnesses, but that is mainly because of the mental distress it can cause women and their general well-being. These issues overlap.
There has been medication used in the past that was previously developed, such as flibanserin (Addyi) for women’s sexual health. However, this little pink pill doesn’t pinpoint the root causes of HSDD in women because it only manages the physical aspects of arousal.
It does nothing for the mental part of arousal in women.
While its effects are similar to the little blue pill known as sildenafil (Viagra) for men, which focuses on the physical aspect of decreased arousal in men, women’s desire is rooted in the mind.
The second medication created for women is another little round pink pill or injection known as bremelanotide (Vyleesi). However, just like flibanserin, it does not solve the root cause for HSDD in women.
MDMA was first discovered in the 1970s by Alexander Shulgin. He called it the love drug because of the increased emotions, such as love, compassion, and empathy, that the drug caused people to experience. Although the drug was banned in 1985, people continued to use it (often to improve sexual intercourse because its experience was “out of this world”).
Since then, more research has been done with MDMA, and psychiatrists have realized how much potential it has to assist in psychotherapy.
MDMA affects the mind, enabling people to open up and express emotions they once struggled with, often involving past traumas or even current problems. Psychiatrists now have a potential gateway into women’s minds and open them up to their sexual desires that have been missing for so long.
With this information out in the open, evidence began accumulating that suggests the potential for MDMA’s use in treating long-ignored problems that women experience around sexual desire.
Aside from the prescriptions mentioned above, there are a few other ways that can help increase sexual desire in females, and that is by boosting female libido with natural solutions. Women experiencing low libido can suffer from mental strain, which can extend to affect their intimate relationships too. Here are a couple of ways that women can try to naturally boost libido.
Women with HSDD have not been able to be open up about their disorder and current medicines on the market that should work to solve the problem only manage symptoms on a physical level (barely beyond placebo). With the aim of identifying solutions that treat the root issues of women’s mental health and sexual health, MINDCURE has started the Desire Project.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) for men has been spoken about for a long time now, but female HSDD is so taboo. There is a negative stigma around women’s sexual desires and HSDD that just doesn’t allow for open conversations to come up on the topic. Because of this, women can go undiagnosed for a long time or even their whole lives. We need to break this stigma about women’s sexual desire and have women's primary care health practitioners be educated on the topic. They need to be knowledgeable enough to see signs of HSDD in women that come in for regular checkups and bring it up to them.
Here at MINDCURE, we believe MDMA has the potential to assist psychotherapy in helping women who have HSDD. We want to create evidence-based research that supports an excellent solution involving pharmaceutical MDMA and psychotherapy to help pinpoint the root causes of HSDD in women and find a more long-term solution for healing it.
With this goal in mind, we’re opening the doors to accessible and inclusive conversations about HSDD, so that more women feel comfortable sharing their experiences and more discussions can develop around solutions.
HSDD can be damaging to women’s overall health, but women that are suffering need not feel alone. To learn more information, check out the Desire Project.
January 30, 2022
The COVID-19 outbreak has threatened more than our physical health. With the disruption to everyday life as we know it, various studies show that our mental health is suffering — and that’s on top of the global mental health crisis that predates COVID-19. The fact is, the pandemic has certainly not made certain ailments better, especially for women’s mental health issues.
For many, lockdowns have upended lives entirely by exposing the wounds of insecure relationships, costing jobs and careers, emphasizing financial stress, and putting people at risk of abuse (whether between intimate partners, with substances, or against oneself).
While some are learning to embrace the changes, the reality isn’t so simple for many people who need the hope in normalcy — a return to an un-socially-distanced world — in order to balance the mental weight caused by the pandemic.
Of course, everyone feels the effects of the pandemic, but some more than others. Here, we’ll explore some women’s mental health statistics that reflect the toll of factors associated with COVID-19.
Studies show that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women compared to men across various settings, including the workplace and at home. When squaring up against a pandemic, women were already at a disadvantage due to various mental health and societal factors.
Like what, you ask?
Prior to COVID-19, researchers reported that women were four times more likely than men to be diagnosed with recurrent depressive episodes.
When it comes to pandemics, an international study claims that “women have a higher prevalence of risk factors known to intensify during a pandemic, including chronic environmental strain, preexisting depressive and anxiety disorders, and domestic violence.” So, walking into COVID-19, it’s not surprising that women would experience more pronounced mental health effects.
On top of predispositions to certain mental health challenges, the pressures associated with roles and expectations have only intensified under the weight of COVID-19.
With more people at home, relationships are ending, and domestic violence is at an all-time high. While domestic abuse happens to men and occurs within same‐sex relationships, women are disproportionately affected, with calls to the Vancouver Battered Women’s Support Services tripling, specialized crisis lines for IPV in Alberta seeing a 30%–50% increase in calls, and police departments in Ontario reporting a 22% increase in domestic incidents and sexual assault reports. Nearly twice as many women (10%) than men (6%) reported concerns of possible violence at home, growing to 12% of women and 8% of men aged 15-24. With an increase in gender-based violence in Canada, and with more people working from home, it’s important to recognize distress signals.
A US study showed a 7.5% increase in domestic violence reports over the first two months of the pandemic; however, police claim that abuse often occurs several times before a complaint is made. As lockdowns persist, many women are isolated with their abusers.
Additionally, 2020 became the year that homeschooling lost its stigma. With school closures, parents were left scrambling to balance work life and supervision. Around 64% of women reported they were mostly responsible for homeschooling their children, compared to 19% of men. This added responsibility has likely contributed to the growing stress of being at home, reported by 31% of women.
According to the Canadian Government, women made up 75% Canadian educators in public elementary and secondary schools and 87% of registered nurses between March-May 2020. These occupations are suggested to put women at a higher risk of exposure to the virus, not to mention job fatigue, and burnout. There’s also growing awareness of the poor treatment endured by healthcare workers, despite the heroic work they’ve conducted throughout the pandemic.
In terms of job loss, and due to the vulnerability of frequented employment types and industries, the women’s employment declined more (7%) compared to men (4%) in the early months of the pandemic. From March 2020 to February 2021, women were disproportionately affected by employment losses, accounting for 62.5% of losses in March 2020 and 53.7% of year-over-year employment losses.
An international survey addressing mental health and COVID-19 showed mental health was reportedly negatively impacted by salary cuts for 42% of women, compared to 28% of men.
The peaks of the pandemic lockdowns created barriers for women’s healthcare, driving up the anxiety around receiving reproductive care and accessing contraceptives. Childbirth, an already stressful and emotional process, has evoked more fears and stress due to the unsure effects of COVID-19 on developing fetuses.
With hospital emergency rooms overloaded with COVID-19 patients, people seeking non-COVID related care (including pregnant women) have had the pressure of planning and anticipating access to healthcare services while facing the risk of being exposed while in care.
As the world continues to adapt to new norms, we must maintain our prioritization of mental health. The pandemic exposed that mental health is more vulnerable than anyone expected, especially when the comfort of one’s own home becomes a battlefield for families or individuals pitted against themselves.
An important but often widely under-acknowledged part of women’s health is sexual health. For women experiencing issues with sexual desire, confinement of COVID-19 lockdowns may have increased pressures within intimate relationships. Women experiencing issues with desire are already prone to feelings anxiety and depression — then consider the pressure to perform sexually more often, plus other lockdown-related relationship strains.
The Desire Project aims to identify solutions for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), a condition that affects roughly 9.5 million premenopausal women in the US alone. Learn more about the connection between women’s mental and sexual health, as well as the psychedelic solutions being researched.
January 27, 2022
Let’s face it: we’ve been in the midst of a global mental health crisis since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and lockdowns haven’t exactly helped the various mental health challenges.
The good thing is the world is starting to acknowledge the problem. But recognition doesn’t necessarily heal people. So, what does? Pharmaceuticals? Treatment? Time?
There’s no one answer — and there’s no one remedy. With so many varieties of mental health issues, symptoms, and causes, the world needs better alternatives for healing. While current treatment options prioritize symptoms over root causes, companies like MINDCURE are working to remodel the mental health industry with innovations in tech and medicines.
MINDCURE is a life science company focused on innovation and commercialization of new ways to promote healing and improve mental health.
We at MINDCURE believe that, in leveraging synthetic production of ibogaine, psychedelic research into female sexual desire, and digital therapeutics software, our company can promote efficacious treatment alternatives that change the face of mental health care. By prioritizing personalization in care, we’re talking real results.
Together, these spheres, psychedelic research and technology, set the foundation for how our story unfolds and how (and why!) our team innovates.
Want to get to know MINDCURE but not too sure where to start? Between our proprietary technology, our manufacturing, and our psychedelic research projects, we realize it can be a lot to take in. This variety of expertise is something we’re proud of and what we look to for both near-term and long-term revenue generation. But, when it comes to describing our work, it’s not exactly an elevator pitch.
With the mention that we’re a psychedelics company, we usually raise a few eyebrows. So, it’s worth noting that everything we do is legal, science-based, and evidence-backed. We’re in the business of research and clinical explorations to improve care for various indications.
We’ve developed this infographic to answer all of your questions about our history, mission, market, and work.
January 21, 2022
Of all the psychedelic substances around the world, it’s likely that ibogaine isn’t the first, second, or third to come to mind. In fact, ibogaine (Tabernanthe iboga) known as an “atypical psychedelic.” This classification separates it from classic or classical psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca based on which neuro-receptors it affects.
Although, not a popstar, ibogaine has seen various uses over the last century (and beyond) and shows amazing potential that hasn’t been fully realized. Those uses range from treating depression and fatigue to blowing other addiction treatments out of the water.
So, if ibogaine can treat addiction like nothing else can, why aren’t there treatment centers all over the world?
Especially in the midst of an opioid epidemic?
Well, like any medicine, ibogaine needs to undergo a series of testing in the form of pre-clinical and clinical trials before it can be used to help people. While ibogaine treatment is available in several locations outside of Canada and the US, access isn’t practical for most people who need it. Worth noting is that ibogaine was until not long ago (2017!) unregulated and so, legal, in Canada. As the story goes, treatment centers closed abruptly after a patient forged an EKG and was harmed.
Ibogaine has immense power, a trait that also assumes a focus on responsibility. In short, ibogaine has been determined to accelerate certain heart conditions due to a level of cardiotoxicity that has yet to be understood.
That’s where MINDCURE comes in. We’re synthesizing a consistent and reliable source of ibogaine to supply both our research team and other researchers as they conduct pre-clinical explorations.
These trials will help uncover potential uses for ibogaine in clinical settings, develop protocols, and measure dosage and safety measures.
We can’t wait to learn more about ibogaine, and we bet you can’t either. That’s why we’ve put together the following infographic to share some knowledge about this incredible compound.
February 10, 2022
It’s no lie that romantic relationships can be challenging. The impact of a negative relationship or experience can last much longer than the relationship itself. Women who have experienced abusive, challenging, or traumatic relationships can struggle long after the relationship is over with a decrease in sexual desire and low libido.
Today, decreased desire issues may be diagnosed as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), a condition that results in significant distress for approximately 9.5 million premenopausal US women.
HSDD is defined as the “persistent or recurrent absence of sexual thoughts or fantasies and/or lack of desire for sexual activity that is associated with marked personal distress and/or interpersonal difficulties.”
In terms of public-facing symptoms, women who suffer from HSDD can face serious struggles maintaining intimate relationships. They also describe several psychological consequences, such as personal feelings of concern, unhappiness, hopelessness, and anger, as well as loss of femininity, and altered self-esteem. And, despite the prevalence of sexual desire disorders in women, they continue to be highly under-researched and under-treated, especially under the umbrella of mental health care.
Okay, so those are some symptoms, which current treatment options for desire disorders attempt to address. But those options don’t acknowledge or address the deeply rooted causes like negative relationships, trauma, or abuse.
Current pharmaceutical solutions directed to combat low libido or diminished sexual drive fail to examine the causes. While men have a blue pill, such physical solutions fail to address the mental side of HSDD for women, one that can more often than not be afflicted by disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
You’ve seen the harrowing statistics: 1 in 4 women will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetimes and most victims know their abusers.
Research also indicates that women are twice as likely to develop PTSD, experience a longer duration of post-traumatic symptoms, and display more sensitivity to stimuli that remind them of the trauma.
Moreover, untreated PTSD symptoms not only have tremendous mental health implications but can also lead to adverse effects on physical health. Female survivors may encounter physical symptoms, including headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and sexual dysfunction.
So when it comes to navigating new relationships for victims of PTSD, trauma can play a heavy role.
And still, the stigmas around female sexuality and mental health hold survivors back from receiving help and discourage conversations about developing more targeted solutions.
First synthesized in 1912, MDMA is a synthetic drug that can give users stimulating and hallucinogenic effects. In the 1970s, it was used as a psychotherapeutic tool for its ability to revert subjects to a “state of innocence,” before it was unceremoniously classified as a Schedule I drug under the US Controlled Substances Act, ceasing further clinical exploration.
However, since the resurgence of research with psychedelic drugs in the ‘90s, attitudes towards MDMA and other psychedelic substances have shifted. In fact, in 2017, the FDA designated MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD as a breakthrough therapy.
MDMA has gained popularity in medical circles for its ability to trigger sexual arousal, empathy, feelings of trust and closeness, as well as other socially positive emotions.
What’s more, MDMA has shown potential in assisting clinicians in psychotherapy settings for its ability to encourage patients’ openness in expressing emotions and discussing past traumas.
These emotional and mental reactions are triggered by the increased release of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Dopamine increases energy and reinforces behaviors by influencing the brain’s reward system. Norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure. Serotonin triggers hormones that affect sexual arousal, trust, emotional closeness, mood, and empathy.
MDMA has also been shown to help people heal from PTSD. After participating in clinical trials, people with chronic PTSD experienced long-lasting symptom improvement and, in some cases, complete remission.
Sexual desire is considered a product of the mind, impacted by mental health, and influenced by previous relationships. Studies show that MDMA allows one to open up and work through discussing the situations or experiences that would otherwise be difficult to address.
Commonly known as the "Love Drug," there is scientific evidence that MDMA can increase desire.
With its ability to help trauma victims overcome their PTSD and negative relationships in therapeutic settings, psychedelics like MDMA may be the solution we need to overcome HSDD.
The Desire Project by MINDCURE is working hard to develop and provide a safe and evidence-based research environment with an optimal setting in order to create a treatment for HSDD using pharmaceutical MDMA and psychotherapy.
January 12, 2022
While psychedelics are a trending topic for various mental health conditions, another story has recently come to light: the real history of Canadian residential schools. Although not a secret to Canadians, media groups are now acknowledging the pain and horror that Indigenous children experienced, and which survivors of such schools carry with them into everyday life. Like a chain, such trauma becomes interwoven, affecting generations to come.
The trauma affecting FNMI communities in Canada is unique. The cruelty put on FNMI peoples was targeted as the intention of residential school was, as blatantly stated by Indian Affairs Minister Duncan Campbell Scott, to get rid of the “Indian Problem.”
By condemning Indigenous peoples, demonizing cultures, and making residential school compulsory for Indigenous children, the Canadian government attempted to assimilate and erase Indigenous cultures from the country. It was an undivided act of genocide, both cultural and physical.
Residential schools were mandated, not to educate (as most students did not pass grade 6 and were discouraged from pursuing even a grade 9 education), but to “Kill the Indian and save the man.” The implications of this message are both figurative in terms of erasing the cultures and customs through assimilation, as well as literal as many Indigenous children died in residential schools due to smallpox, tuberculosis, and abuse.
Despite their best efforts, the Canadian government and the Catholic Church failed in their mission. Now, Indigenous communities continue to fight for reconciliation. The trauma that residential school victims received lives on, inherited by generations.
This is called intergenerational trauma.
At as young as three years old, FNMI children were taken from their families against their will, stripped of their culture, and utterly dehumanized. While attending residential schools, children endured extreme mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
The recent discovery of a mass unmarked child grave containing the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, has sparked a change for more support. Since that initial finding, numerous gravesites have been uncovered across Canada in an effort to hold the Government accountable. Children were killed by beating, starving, molesting, and even Nazi-esque experiments. In fact, Adolf Hitler himself applauded and adopted the genocidal tactics and treatment of Indigenous peoples in North America during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Aid systems for residential school survivors and their affected families were much more scarce in the past.
Since the public has been made more aware of the severity of what happened to those who attended residential schools, more resources have appeared. Support has become more available to those who suffer from the effect of residential schools.
Is it enough, though?
The Canadian government started the "Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program," which provides mental health, emotional, and cultural support services to those who qualify.
To qualify for the program, you must meet one of the following requirements:
Various support programs are available across the country that are run by small organizations and charities.
Such programs can offer support. Still, there lacks a necessary variety of options, accessibility, and efficiency within certain programs, especially government run ones. Imagine needing help and having to undergo a long application process. Without diverse, funded programs available, history will repeat as trauma will continue throughout generations.
Let’s break down that term.
Intergenerational trauma is also called historical trauma, multigenerational trauma, secondary traumatization, and complex trauma.
Intergenerational trauma is a term psychologists use when trauma comes from one generation and gets passed onto the next. Research has indicated that the emotional wounds inflicted on survivors of traumatic events have serious consequences that carry onward for years after they happen.
Trauma inflicted on a collective of people — in this case, FNMI people — has the ability to negatively affect the following generations. The psychological effects of trauma get passed down to the children and grandchildren of those initially traumatized. The aftermath is often seen through socioeconomic issues, such as poor living conditions or certain parental styles developed as a result of experiencing trauma. Suicide rates are much higher among FNMI people than any other population in Canada due to intergenerational trauma.
International trauma starts when one first person (the parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent) experiences a traumatic event. The trauma is then transmitted to the next generation, their children.
Parental communication regarding the traumatic event and how the family functions afterward play an important role in how trauma gets passed on.
It's also important to note that although anyone can experience intergenerational trauma, its effects are much more profound on groups of people rather than individuals.
After the initial traumatic event occurs, the first survivor will develop symptoms similar to those with PTSD or Complex PTSD.
The children of the first survivors (the second generation) are then raised by their parents, who are still struggling to deal with the trauma.
Being brought up in a household with someone who has been traumatized could cause them to develop improper coping and parental skills of their own. These characteristics will continue affecting future generations unless the cycle gets broken and they receive the treatment they need to heal.
When a person or a group of people experience something extremely traumatic, they are susceptible to passing its effects onto their descendants. The effects are especially evident in the second and third generations.
So, although a person may not directly experience the initial traumatic event, that person may still display the same type of behavioral and emotional reactions as if they did.
The reactions displayed depends on the generation but typically include:
There are a few different therapy models used to treat victims who have experienced trauma.
Some of the most commonly used methods of cognitive therapy are:
Everyone heals differently. What helps one person may not help the next.
So far, most treatments for trauma-based mental health issues consist only of different cognitive therapy techniques and strategies. However, some victims of trauma may need more from those types of procedures in order to help access the roots of their suffering and rewire their brains.
That's where the use of psychedelics may become a useful treatment option.
Indigenous cultures across North America have used psychedelics and plant-based medicines for more than 5000 years. Psychoactive plants were and are used in rituals and as sacred medicines. While these same substances and practices were condemned and ridiculed as “savage” customs, they’re now being adopted for use in clinical research and even psychotherapy.
Today, psychedelics are a focus for research into the treatment of several mental health issues, including:
Psychedelics might play a role in disrupting intergenerational trauma by providing victims and survivors with an alternative treatment option. Mental health patients could be prescribed a psychedelic alongside psychotherapy to increase the chances of positive results and quicker, more direct healing.
For example, MDMA has been studied to treat PTSD and may have similar effects on treating other deeply rooted mental health issues, such as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD).
Another psychedelic that has been under study to treat trauma, as well as addiction, is the atypical psychedelic, ibogaine.
Research into psychedelics is the driving factor to discovering new and more personalized forms of healing. With the right focus, the public will be able to have access to more efficacious types of treatment with pharmaceutical grade psychedelics.
January 14, 2022
In 2018, Canada had 4,614 deaths that were related to opioid abuse. About 47,590 people in the US lost their lives to an opioid-related death that year. Together, that makes for over 50,000 people who have died due to the same cause.
So, why aren't we talking about it more?
North America is suffering from an epidemic, an issue that far too many people are unaware of and undereducated on: the opioid crisis.
Opioid dependence is much more problematic than addictions to other substances. Once someone has become dependent on opioids, it can be extremely difficult to stop. Plus, the risk of overdose and death is higher compared to other substances.
Treatment options exist for opioid dependence; however, they aren't entirely effective and some options have their own downsides. That's why researchers are turning to the use of psychedelics as an alternative treatment option.
In this article, you’ll learn about what opioid dependence is and how it affects people. You will also learn about what treatment options are available and how psychedelics may be a more positive and effective route towards recovery.
Opioids are molecules that bind to the opioid receptors in the body. Once bound, they act as powerful painkillers.
There are three kinds of opioids:
Several factors play a role in the development of opioid dependence. However, a few things can put people at more significant risk of developing one.
One of the most common causes of addiction to opioids is when a doctor prescribes a patient with opioid medication for moderate to severe pain management.
Unaware of how quickly one can become addicted to those medications, doctors often refuse to raise the dose amount or even refuse to refill the patient's prescription. In attempts to fulfill their dependency, patients may then seek out unsafe, illegal forms of opioid drugs, such as heroin or fentanyl.
Other Prominent Factors Involving Opioid Addiction
Some people can develop a dependence on opioids very quickly, while others may take some time. The risk is different for everyone and varies depending on genetics, mental state, and living environment.
Someone dependant on opioids may experience some or all of these withdrawal symptoms:
Early symptoms (within 24 hours of the last dose):
Symptoms after a day or two since the last dose:
Opioid abuse often leads to mild to severe withdrawal symptoms that can last anywhere between a few days to weeks. People in recovery can even feel the discomfort of opioid withdrawal months after stopping use. The long-term effects negatively impact the ability to recover from a dependence without relapsing.
Long-term treatment options such as regularly seeing a counselor, going to support groups, and participating in behavioral therapies are beneficial for a successful recovery. However, those don't help with the immediate need to relieve withdrawal symptoms when someone begins detoxing from opioids.
There are a few medications available to those trying to detox and recover from opioid dependence, but they have some downsides.
Here are the current medications available to treat opioid addiction and dependence.
Methadone is a long-lasting opioid used for minimizing the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. It reduces cravings and discomfort by affecting the same area of the brain as other opioids. Once a proper dosage has been established and is maintained, the user should not get any euphoric high while using it.
Downside: To receive a prescription for methadone, users have to go to a special clinic. Methadone is rarely given out in doses to take home. To get their daily dose, users need to travel to the designated place to get their prescribed medicine, which can be very tedious. Methadone can also be super dangerous if not regulated and can easily cause overdose or death.
Buprenorphine is a popular medication prescribed to treat opioid addiction. This medication can be prescribed and given in a shot, skin patch, sublingually, or even placed under the skin as an implant. It's less potent than other treatment options, so overdose is less likely. That is why most doctors prefer prescribing it instead of the other treatment medications.
Downside: The downside for this medication is that it just isn't strong enough for some users to diminish withdrawal symptoms effectively. It also isn't strong enough to curve intense cravings that people feel during the detox and recovery process.
Naltrexone works by blocking the brain's opioid receptors, making the person taking it unable to get high from using opioids.
Downside: This treatment is only available for people after completing detox and doesn't help ease any withdrawal symptoms or cravings while stopping opioid use.
The problem with the medications used for treating opioid dependence and withdrawal is that they all have significant downsides. They are either not strong enough to mitigate symptoms or cravings, or else they’re so strong that they need to be strictly regulated, making it hard for people to access them when they need them.
Another issue with the medical treatments currently available for opioid dependency is that, in a sense, it's as if an individual is forced to trade one addiction for another. The person trying to recover may begin to feel trapped and discouraged from pursuing sobriety.
While current treatments and pharmaceuticals fall short of effectiveness for substance abuse, psychedelics are catching researchers' attention. Some psychedelic substances have fantastic potential for being a favorable, effective treatment option for several wellbeing concerns, including opioid abuse and other addictions and dependencies.
Ibogaine is an atypical psychedelic that's especially gaining popularity in treating addiction. Some research even suggests that it's the most effective medicinal form of treatment for opioid dependence.
MINDCURE has launched the Ibogaine Project, which provides opportunities for research with its development of synthesized ibogaine.
Clinicians and researchers need to have the opportunity to study ibogaine as an opioid addiction treatment as it could improve many people's lives. The goal is to have enough clinical research to make synthesized ibogaine available and more accessible to researchers and clinicians seeking to treat various indications that ibogaine could improve, including addiction.
January 14, 2022
Our bodies are like machines, with each part working in tandem to help maintain our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. And like a machine, if any one of these components of our wellness is imbalanced, our entire being can suffer.
In the past, the standard approach to health and wellness would look at these parts as separate entities and treat them based on a limited understanding of the whole.
Holistic healing aims to change this narrative around wellness. It is an integrative, complementary, and alternative approach to healing that looks at an individual’s health as a whole, creating a wellness plan that incorporates the mind, body, and soul.
According to a 2012 national survey, many Americans — more than 30% of adults and about 12% of children — use healthcare approaches that are not typically part of conventional medical care or that may have origins outside of usual Western practice.
More often than not, these practices fall underneath the holistic umbrella.
It’s important to note here that, like holistic healing, psychedelic therapy has been considered an integrative, complementary, or alternative approach to wellness, especially mental wellness.
The term holistic means to consider systems as a whole, rather than a collection of parts. And in holistic healing, no aspect of ourselves operates without impacting the other: your mental health can affect your physical health, your spiritual health can impact the body and mind, and so on.
At MINDCURE, we’re studying the impacts of mental health on sexual health and vice versa. The Desire Project looks at the cyclical relationship of mental and sexual health, focusing on how female sexual desire is rooted in the mind.
In the healthcare realm, holistic healing is a progressive practice that involves treating an individual by analyzing things like the mind, body, and soul as a whole. For holistic healers, this can involve asking questions and looking for clues of imbalance in physical, emotional, and spiritual areas. They then create a treatment plan based on this information.
A holistic healer and clinic will use a variety of healthcare treatment approaches that range from talk therapy to physical therapy to treat a patient.
As mentioned, the goal and mission of a holistic healing clinic emphasize treating patients with a variety of practices from psychotherapy to physiotherapy and anything in between.
A variety of treatment techniques are used to help patients. According to WebMD, these depend on the clinic and the clinician's training and include treatments like:
For the same reason that one loose cog can halt production on an entire assembly line, holistic healing is a treatment approach to care that considers all parts (not just tightening one bolt). It also gives clinicians the freedom to create an individualized treatment plan that caters to any and all needs. Patients feel more understood and become active participants in their wellness journey.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Care, in the last decade, the use of this integrative approach to health and wellness has grown within care settings and centers across the United States. Researchers are exploring the potential benefits of integrative and holistic health in a variety of situations, including pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthy behaviors. These areas overlap with ongoing psychedelic therapy studies.
At MINDCURE, we’ve applied the same practices of holistic healing to our iSTRYM app. Now, integrative clinics have the tools they need in one system to connect and empower patients within the healing journey.
At MINDCURE, we’re looking at how holistic approaches can include digital therapeutics and psychedelics for the most targeted care. Tools like iSTRYM take a holistic healing approach to mental wellness by providing an array of tools for clinicians and patients to promote individualized care.
Features like speech analysis with Speak AI, personal music with Lucid, breathwork practice with SOMA, as well as data collection and analysis features allow users and clinicians thorough insights into their wellness practice.
After examining the success of self-improvement techniques when compared to that of social factor techniques like therapy, one study concluded that Mindfulness-Based Intervention (MBI) outcomes are not exclusively the result of mindfulness meditation practice, suggesting instead that social common factors may account for much of the effects of these interventions. Tools like iSTRYM allow you to get the most out of treatments, as well as connect you with therapeutic tools to optimize these outcomes.
Learn more about how iSTRYM’s holistic approach to technology, wellness, and health can lead to better outcomes.
January 6, 2022
Feeling in the dumps once again this holiday season? Well, you’re not alone. As new variants of COVID-19 continue to threaten travel and get-togethers, folks, more so now than ever, are looking forward to some much-needed respite.
But, is a tropical vacation in a faraway country with sandy beaches and tiki bars the answer to all troubles? While traveling is often considered a glorified privilege, the realities of it can be far from pleasant. Many people often claim to be stressed out even before the trip has started. From packing to airport hopping, sunburns, and bitter bickering, the ideal vacation is only that found in movies.
What if there was another way you could rest, refresh, and reboot your energy, focus, and inspiration? Perhaps another type of trip might just be the ticket — one without the travel. As psychedelics enter a new era of healing and spirituality, macrodosing seems more mainstream than ever.
First, please note that this article is not intended to provide medical advice. It’s also important to note that certain psychedelic substances are scheduled or controlled substances in countries like Canada and the US, meaning their use and possession are illegal and that they have no recognized medical value.
While microdosing may be increasing in popularity as an anecdotally suggested productivity and focus booster, it’s not the ideal way forward for people who wish to avoid long-term usage. On the other hand, macrodosing is the perfect one-stop-shop solution for rebooting the mind. Also known as the heroic dose, macrodosing consists of ingesting a full dose — usually of LSD or psilocybin — for a heightened psychedelic experience. However, a dive into the deep end of the psychedelic pool does not necessarily warrant a positive experience for everyone.
While a higher dose has more potential for ensuring ego dissolution or producing a transcendental spiritual experience, it can also be stressful and frightening for some without proper support and guidance. Psychedelics primarily target the Default Mode Network of the brain, which is essentially responsible for grounding us in the world around us. Macrodosing dampens the functioning of this region, thereby, collapsing the walls of our psyche which aligns our sense of self with the world around us. This breaking down of boundaries allows people to experience an elevated sense of oneness which can help reboot the mind by breaking old thinking patterns and even addictions.
This way of rebooting with psychedelics can have a relatively lasting impact. For example, a longitudinal study exploring the effect of psilocybin on cancer patients diagnosed with depression and anxiety found noticeable reductions in feelings of hopelessness, depressive and anxious symptoms, and existential distress. Quality of life and spiritual well-being had also improved. These results remained consistent in 80% of the sample even after a 6-month and 3-years follow-up. Quite the improvement from “forever dosing” pharmaceuticals that only manage symptoms, without treating root issues.
In another experiment, it was found that veterans, firefighters, and police officers experiencing PTSD were virtually symptom-free after just two sessions of MDMA-assisted therapy. Similarly, there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence supporting macrodosing, including that from ancient times where shamanic rituals and rites of passage used psychedelics to support healing.
Notably, many also caution against using psychedelics in a non-clinical or uncontrolled setting. For instance, Michael Pollan, who delved into the world of macrodosing in his book How to Change Your Mind, emphasizes the importance of a clinical setting with an experienced guide to support the psychedelic journey. The intensity of a trip from a large dose of hallucinogen can have lasting effects on the psyche.
Before embarking on a psychedelic staycation, it’s important to stress the need to prepare. Remember, macrodosing is more than just dipping your toes in the psychedelic pool of well-being and far from stepping into a kaleidoscope, as depicted in much media. It’s often about confronting something deep with you, and that is work. So, while psychedelics could help your mentality in the long run, the trip can be a trek of its own.
Here are some basic tips to help you prioritize safety when taking a psychedelic vacation from the comfort of your home:
There is a reason happy mediums exist. If you’re not ready to jump into the deep end of the psychedelic pool, then opting for something between a microdose and a macrodose may work to your benefit. Depending on the choice of psychedelic, the medium dose can vary. For example, with mushrooms, a medium dose is said to range between one to four grams. The best part is that the effects are similar to a full dose but a notch down in intensity.
A trip (psychedelic or not) with a friend is always better. But from a psychedelic vacation perspective, it’s perhaps one of the most important things. Tripping on a higher dose has the potential for danger, so having a trusted — and sober — friend around for support and safety is always a good idea.
If you're going on a psychedelic vacation, you might as well spruce up the surroundings a bit. Channel your inner interior decorator and put together a comfortable, safe, and supportive space. Set and setting play a huge role in your journey, not only for safety, but also for efficacy and direction.
Remember you are on vacation (of sorts!), so you may want to put the clocks away. Psychedelic journeys can vary in length. Therefore, it’s always best to have ample downtime built into your session. Besides, every experience is different. Some might start feeling the effects sooner while others may take a while. In either case, you don't want to be bogged down by a tight schedule.
A psychedelic experience should always be purposeful. Having a clear intention before starting can ground you in place — not to be confused with having expectations, which can derail an effective trip. Intentions help prepare you to face the array of emotions that may arise. From pure euphoria to super sadness, a psychedelic trip can be an emotional roller coaster ride. Experts have suggested that these emotions and experiences be embraced and accepted, rather than fought.
The travel industry may have taken a hit because of COVID-19, but the psychedelic world is booming with potential.
Ayahuasca, peyote, and other psychedelic retreat spots are gaining attention from people seeking to detox from their everyday stressors, which are now amplified because of a full-blown pandemic. Tropical vacations are now being repurposed to integrate metaphysical self-discovery, mental well-being, and spiritual healing.
These retreats focus on building immersive experiences in a safe, supportive, and stress-free environment that propels one’s growth journey with the help of expert guides and trip sitters. For example, many iboga retreats are surrounded by nature in the Bahamas, Mexico, and Portugal. Projections by Data Bridge Market Research suggest the psychedelic market to easily hit $10.7 billion by 2028.
That said, although psychedelics are still largely illegal in many parts of the world, it is not stopping the industry from sharing its benefits with the wider population. For example, the British Psychedelic Society has been operating retreats in Jamaica and the Netherlands since 2016.
Of course, the setting of such retreats helps drive interest, the geography and travel don’t help with access around such healing experiences.
While regulations in places like Mexico and South America don’t restrict people from undergoing psychedelic healing, in Canada and the US, psychedelics are only entering clinical trials or being offered to terminally ill individuals with a section 56 exemption. Research into the medical uses of psychedelic substances like ibogaine and MDMA aims to open doors to healing.
MINDCURE’s Ibogaine Project involves manufacturing fully synthetic, pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine for use by researchers and eventually clinicians. Our synthetic ibogaine is intended to help researchers develop upon the current knowledge of ibogaine’s indications, help pinpoint new indications, and measure cardiotoxicity, risks, and dosage. With more research into ibogaine’s uses and the development of protocols, mental health patients won’t need to travel to far-off destinations to obtain the healing powers of ibogaine.
Psychedelics are powerful healing tools bestowed upon us by ancient cultures around the world. To ensure their safe usage, it’s always recommended to have a supportive network. MINDCURE’s iSTRYM platform connects home-based healing with a clinical application, thereby ensuring proper protocols and safety measures for both physiological and psychological healing.
In a highly digitized world, using digital therapeutic tools like these can help remove the stigma, and support the industry’s growth.
December 15, 2021
The holidays can be a wonderful time to get together with family, enjoy a much deserved break from work, and stuff yourself with good food. But for some, the holiday season can be a challenging time for mental health. Routines are uprooted, finances in flux, and familial expectations and difficult conversations can be just enough to make you want to hibernate. That's especially true when you add COVID-19 and seasonal affective disorder into the mix.
According to CAMH, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year. For most people, this happens in the fall or winter but others have reported SAD symptoms in the summer as well. It's also been called season depression.
About 5% of adults in the US experience SAD and it typically lasts about 40% of the year. SAD is also more common in women than men.
Researchers believe that SAD can be triggered by changes in the amount of sunlight a person experiences. A lack of sunlight in the winter afternoon can upset a person’s biological clock and disturb neurotransmitter functions like the release of serotonin and dopamine.
Serotonin and dopamine are chemicals released in the brain that act as “feel good hormones,” helping to improve outlook, motivation, and ability to feel pleasure.
With these chemicals interrupted, SAD can cause people to feel groggy, unfocused, and irritable, making it hard to form bonds with other people or be productive.
During the holiday season, it’s no wonder managing SAD, while navigating family during those cold, short days, can be especially challenging.
Luckily, there are several ways to help individuals manage SAD and get the most out of the holiday season.
The most common remedy for SAD, light therapy, involves sitting in front of a light therapy box that emits a bright light (sans harmful UV rays). The lightbox mimics outdoor light, helping to stimulate chemical changes in your brain that lift your mood and ease SAD symptoms.
Most people see improvements within one or two weeks of starting treatment, with most finding that light therapy works best in conjunction with talk therapy.
Talk therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help provide people struggling with SAD opportunities to express and work through the negative feelings and symptoms of depression. The solutions could be things such as positive self-talk, giving oneself credit, creating space for positive responses, and practicing mindfulness.
To help combat the symptoms of depression, doctors will often prescribe Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant that works by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.
It’s important to note that, on average, SSRIs usually take about 4-6 weeks before people start feeling positive changes.
Like antidepressants, psychedelic substances can help individuals struggling with SAD to improve their lives by having various effects on the mood-regulating serotonin system. The major difference is that clinicians have found that most people begin to positively respond to psychedelic substances when used in combination with psychotherapy, after just two sessions. This is groundbreaking, compared to antidepressants that maintain, rather than treat depression at its root.
Ketamine and psilocybin have been studied heavily for their ability to help treat symptoms of SAD. In ketamine trials, many people experienced improvements in their symptoms within a few hours, and often lasted a few weeks. Ketamine is known to help to stabilize mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
Psilocybin in conjunction with psychotherapy has demonstrated the ability to make traditional therapy more effective by improving openness and providing new states of consciousness by helping to dissolve the ego and preconceptions.
Microdosing psilocybin may also be an effective technique to combat seasonal changes in your mental health. Microdosing has been suggested by anecdotal evidence to improve mood and energy levels without impacting the state of consciousness.
Breathwork has also been known to help reduce stress and create feelings of openness, love, and gratitude, helping to combat anxiety, depression, and trauma blocks.
During the holiday season, it's especially important to remember to breathe when Uncle Keith and Aunt Karen start to talk politics over the turkey or Tofurky.
Like breathwork, meditation is a great tool to help yourself be and stay present. Meditating for just five minutes a day can help with focus and concentration, improve self-awareness and self-esteem, and lower levels of stress and anxiety.
While each of these treatment options can have healing opportunities for people experiencing SAD and other mental health issues, iSTRYM offers care providers and their patients a holistic approach to healing. With psychedelic-assisted treatment protocols, and wellness tools such as meditation, breathwork from SOMA Breath, and music therapy from LUCID, iSTRYM provides the most personalized mental health care available.
Learn more about our psychedelic research into ibogaine and MDMA, as well as our digital therapeutics technology.
December 8, 2021
For a long time, sex and gender were afterthoughts when it came to research into brain health conditions, putting the focus largely on men’s brain health. But sex and gender intersectionality is crucial in this research, especially when brain health conditions like dementia, stroke, and depression, occur much more frequently in women than in men.
In fact, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 400,000 Canadians aged 65 and older are living with dementia. Two-thirds of this population are women.
While still a young venture, Women’s Brain Health Day (announced in 2019) is an important step in emphasizing the importance of brain health research for women.
To start, take a look at these stats on women’s brain health, according to Stand Alone:
Despite these statistics, the majority of research into these disorders continues to focus on men.
It’s initiatives like Women’s Brain Health Day, Stand Ahead, and MINDCURE’s Desire Project that are bringing women’s brain and sexual health to the forefront.
Stand Ahead is a challenge that aims to change the way people view dementia. It involves doing or asking someone to do a headstand for you to stand up against research bias. Donating to this cause helps make a statement and stand ahead for women’s brain health.
For a long time, sexual desire was believed to have been regulated solely by sex hormones. Women that didn’t have sexual desire were made to feel inadequate and left in a state of distress. Researchers have since discovered that sexual desire in women is also heavily regulated by neurotransmitters, meaning sexual desire is heavily impacted by your brain health as well. In studying the relationship between sexual health and brain chemistry, researchers found that sexual response is driven in part by dopamine and serotonin, chemicals produced in the brain.
Studies like this have helped to bring more attention to women’s mental and sexual health, highlighting disorders like female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (fHSDD). fHSDD is a common female sexual disorder characterized by persistent low sexual desire and emotional distress not attributable to an existing medical condition or relationship issue. In the US alone, HSDD affects an estimated 9.5 million premenopausal women, all reporting that their low desire results in a state of distress.
At MINDCURE, we believe that mental health and sex are intimately tied, contributing to overall well-being and female sexual desire being rooted in the mind. Sex prompts the release of endorphins that influence mood, promote emotional intimacy, and ultimately impact certain relationships.
The Desire Project’s goal is to improve the lives of women living with FHSDD by focusing on the root cause of sexual desire issues using MDMA and psychotherapy.
December 3, 2021
The digital health space has significantly evolved through the years, yet people and entities continue to view it in extremities: a lack of privacy versus equitable personalized care.
The vast gap between both makes it relatively impossible for healthcare, in general, to move beyond traditional inefficient services. As innovations in digital health solutions move beyond the scope of conventional mental health treatments, we are now more conscious than ever about upholding ethical models of highly personalized care without compromising user privacy.
The sensitive and stigmatizing nature of mental health data makes it extremely vulnerable to potential breaches and exploitation. A common example of this is last year’s headline news about the hacking of a European psychotherapy app’s database which resulted in harassment and blackmail by exploitation of personal data. Incidents like this are often the reason why people are wary of digitized data collection.
On the flip side, they also highlight the importance of stricter security measures. While the common assumption usually points towards an external hacker, in almost 28% of cases, the breach originates internally. By setting up proper internal procedures with training and risk mitigation, the probability of these breaches can be significantly reduced. Medical software that qualify for certifications, such as Software as a Medical Device (SaMD), can put service users at ease as such regulatory bodies protect the interests of users and prevent data security breaches.
The transition to digital record-keeping in recent years has aggravated security and privacy breaches. Some would argue that at the premise of this transition is an outdated law that predates modern data collection tools and services. However, the amendment of the original Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in 2009 by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act helped catapult digital therapeutics into a new era.
Today, data collected through digital therapeutics must adhere to HIPAA regulations, although it has not always been adequately protected. Health information collected by pre-identified entities must be protected by another layer of legal documentation or agreements with partner business associates that may be subject to potential breaches.
Accessible, coordinated, equitable, and personalized mental health care is amplified with machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Computer analytics and algorithms make it possible for practitioners to draw inferences in seemingly unrelated health indicators. Such connections can directly or indirectly impact an individual's mental health. The de-identified version of this data is often shared with stakeholders that are not regulated by HIPAA. AI software is some of the most advanced computing systems that can reidentify personal data if provided with enough variable data from multiple avenues, such as smartphone apps and wearables.
It’s no surprise that the data brokerage industry values over $200 billion in revenue. With the amount of data collected through practically everything, from smart devices to social media outlets, the industry is on an upward growth trend. In just 2020, it was estimated that almost 1.7MB of data was created per second per individual.
While most of this data never reaches the service user, it's often used by stakeholder companies to inform on trends and practices. Machine learning algorithms analyze, predict, and produce potential outcomes, which can then help clinicians make decisions. Innovations in digital therapeutics, such as iSTRYM, allow service providers and users insights based on behavioral analysis that ultimately support different areas of functioning.
Let's consider the advances in digital epidemiology. Without digitization of large data sets, it would be rather tedious to understand intricately calculated trends of a spreading virus or have demographics for people harassed online. Only recently, digital epidemiology and digital tools have helped experts understand and mitigate the COVID-19 spread by analyzing data from various digital sources like smartphones, health registers, and environmental scans.
MINDCURE’s interactive platform, iSTRYM, focuses on bridging the information gap between the therapist and client by collecting and presenting data relevant to each entity.
As a HIPAA compliant digital therapeutic, the platform focuses on security/data management efforts to build trusted relationships with users. By providing clear privacy guidelines, scheduled data clearing, anonymity, security, and relevance-based accessibility to the data management system, the platform optimizes the quality of personalized care.
In a psychedelic therapeutic environment, digital tools, such as iSTRYM, help enhance value-based care by supporting a patient-centered journey based on real-time optimized feedback from the service user.
To learn more about this unique healthcare innovation, visit iSTRYM.com.
November 30, 2021
It’s true — for many years, the healthcare industry trailed behind others in adopting digital technology. In fact, a recent survey showed that only 7% of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies had gone digital compared to 15% of companies in other industries.
But the tides are turning, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital health tools are now a major disruptor of the healthcare industry, providing innovative advancements designed to streamline clinicians work, reduce human error, optimize outdated systems, improve outcomes, and significantly lower costs through web and mobile experiences.
For the healthcare industry, adopting digital technologies can best be exemplified through data collection and artificial intelligence (AI) that inform both clinicians and their patients, to telehealth that optimizes the way clinics and patients interact.
Digital health has reshaped the way we interact with health professionals and even the ways in which we interact with our own health (i.e., tracking our fitness through wearable technology, utilizing apps to meditate and journal). Even more so through tools such as online patient portals that provide medical test results, diagnoses, and explanations of illnesses, patients are now active participants in their well-being.
The use of technology has also demonstrated how our data can be utilized to provide the best treatment plans and health outcomes.
In celebration of the milestone that is digital health, we’ve rounded up the top five digital innovations in healthcare:
Whether through video call, text, or even chatbot, access to telehealth through mobile devices has allowed patients the ability to access more on-demand healthcare than ever before. And with almost 97% of Americans owning a smartphone, the switch to telehealth just makes sense. Telehealth helps us to virtually reimagine the medical house call without any traveling involved.
This technology improves patient engagement through remote monitoring (patients can input their own metrics into apps), expand access to care, improve workflow and increase efficiency, and reduce costs for both patient and practice. According to a report released from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, they save $86 for every in-person visit that becomes an online one. After all, not every instance that requires medical attention requires an in-person visit. Why not reduce the trip when possible?
Wearable technology is another way that digital tools are transforming healthcare by putting care in the hands — or on the wrists — of patients. This technology provides round-the-clock personalized medical data that can not only help patients stay on top of their fitness but also create data that can then inform that patient’s doctor or clinician. One great example of wearable health technology is the Apple Heart Study app that was launched in 2017. It monitors heart rhythms and can alert users experiencing atrial fibrillation.
AI is having major impacts on the health industry by improving efficiency, cutting costs, providing information management and clinical decision support. Leaders in the healthcare industry are taking note which is why the industry is expected to hit $150 billion by 2026. The applications for AI in healthcare are vast from nurse aides that check stock to analyzation capabilities that can help provide better treatment and earlier diagnoses.
Data is a tool in and of itself that keeps the healthcare machine turning, through its nature of collecting and storing large amounts of information and it is with this collection of data, that clinicians can make diagnoses, improve treatment plans and stay better involved in their patient’s health.
Digital epidemiology is a great example of utilizing big data, as it describes the use of data to understand the patterns of disease and health dynamics in a population. It wasn’t until the wide expansion of the internet that scientists were able to utilize this technology for the greater good in things like tracking influenza-like illnesses through search queries and flight data.
And with tools like iSTRYM, MINDCURE is working to harvest these digital tools into one digital therapeutics application that can optimize your mental wellness journey.
According to the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, digital therapeutics (DTx) platforms use artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze user data and provide therapeutic interventions to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease.
With treatment and therapy finally taking advantage of digital resources, more and more patients are able to access mental wellness from the comfort of their own phones.
iSTRYM shares the digital health goals of the modern century by digitizing patients’ biometric data throughout a psychedelic-assisted therapeutic experience. . Clients are directly connected to clinicians when using the patient app, which collects data through its AI platform and provides updates on status. The AI technology built into the app allows the patient to input data based on their experiences, essentially becoming the wingman for both client and clinician. The app also features powerful integrations with platforms like LUCID, SOMA, and Speak Ai, which respectively provide music therapy, breathwork practice, and sentiment processing to make for a more immersive, engaging, and accurate healing experience.
Psychedelic therapy is not a quick fix solution, which is why the iSTRYM platform works so well from preparation to integration by allowing clients to track their day-to-day moods, thoughts, and location factors.
To find out more about this digital breakthrough in psychedelic therapy, check out our website at iSTRYM.com.
February 2, 2022
Psychedelics have established their healing potential since before modern medicine, yet they are still scrutinized and misunderstood as being inherently harmful and addictive. Perhaps this is because they are often labeled as common abusive “drugs.”
However, the addictive properties of many hallucinogens are miscalculated and misunderstood on many accounts. For starters, the definition of “addiction” can be greatly misleading when referring to psychedelics.
Let’s define addiction and discuss the potential for risk of some powerful psychedelic substances.
Hallucinogens are mostly considered psychologically addictive because many do not cause physical dependence.
Psychological addiction is not limited to chemical substances and can also be associated with addictive behaviors, such as gambling. When a person becomes psychologically addicted to a specific behavior, it is usually in response to a stressor or trigger in their life. In this case, the intended substance or behavior becomes an outlet for leasing or escaping reality and its problems.
On the other hand, chemically addictive drugs alter the brain chemistry and will lead to high tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms. Except for PCP, other hallucinogens like ibogaine and MDMA don't cause physical changes that can lead to dependence. However, certain pain-relieving drugs like opioids induce euphoric feelings that can lead to drug abuse and reliance, as they only offer temporary symptom relief.
When psychedelics are considered addictive, it's usually because they may provoke at least one of the defining features of a classic addiction: tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms. For instance, although the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) does not classify LSD as an addictive drug, it does produce tolerance. Even without uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors, the hallucinogen can be dangerous and lead to an overdose as individuals continue taking higher doses to achieve the original effect.
On the other hand, despite being psychologically addictive, psychedelics such as MDMA and ibogaine are also known for their healing potential. More specifically, their capacity to overcome other addictions. For example, there is increasing evidence supporting ibogaine use to treat various drug addictions, including nicotine.
Depending on the type of addiction, it is safe to say that psychedelics can be psychologically addictive, or possess certain characteristics otherwise common with chemically addictive drugs, such as tolerance.
When used as an escape mechanism, the risks of taking high quantities or having prolonged effects increase substantially. For example, the effects of LSD and magic mushrooms can last over 10 hours thereby, leading to emotional and psychological trauma, especially during bad trips. The energy, experience, and side effects of such usage can be enough to help minimize any risk of tolerance building.
Ibogaine is a powerful psychedelic that has been shown to have anti-addictive properties. This substance can offer a new world of healing for individuals suffering from substance abuse and countless other unearthed uses.
As advocates of safe drug usage, we at MINDCURE believe in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. A fundamental in risk mitigation includes safe administration, dose management, and psychedelic therapy with certified therapists. Digital tools such as iSTRYM provide data-driven insights, resources, and protocols for clinicians to support a safe transcendental journey.
Learn about our research into ibogaine and how we’re creating opportunities for research and healing by manufacturing synthetic ibogaine and conducting preclinical explorations.
November 20, 2021
The healing potential of medicinal plants has been established over centuries of use across the world by various cultures and societies. However, standing arguments for and against the legalization and decriminalization of drugs have often put these mind-altering substances at a disadvantage in the therapeutic arena. Despite the heavily politicized stance against psychedelics, research points to them as a last resort for treatment-resistant disorders. For instance, as more people come forward with shared experiences of ineffective conventional treatments for opioid addiction, ibogaine treatment centers were explored as the next best thing to counter the rising opioid crisis.
Unfortunately, the popularity of these clinics was short-lived as concerns regarding the safety and legality of ibogaine in the wider population grew. Amidst the uncertainty, there remain unanswered questions regarding what happened, and whether a stigmatized account of the historical events will counter the revival of ibogaine today.
Before ibogaine became known as a dangerous substance with no medicinal value, it was once a strong contender with promising results. For instance, it is suggested by research as one of the most efficient treatment options for opiate dependency, which is otherwise notoriously known as a difficult and painful addiction to break. While opiate-replacement drugs such as methadone and suboxone can result in painful withdrawal symptoms like comorbid depression and anxiety, ibogaine is said to provide a smooth transition into remission without withdrawal symptoms.
With Canada’s growing opioid crisis and ibogaine’s promising effects, the psychedelic seemed like the best treatment option moving forward. Despite being “profoundly effective,” according to Mark Haden, the chair of MAPS Canada, the entheogen is also labeled “dangerous.” With the high potential of cardiotoxicity, ibogaine can be potentially fatal. Hence, as a precautionary measure, ibogaine clinics would require multiple EKGs before the treatment as ibogaine’s psychoactive properties can lower the heart rate at dangerously low levels in people with preexisting conditions.
Ibogaine’s dangerous predisposition renders it illegal in many parts of the world. Yet, up until 2017, ibogaine was unregulated in Canada because of the country’s overall progressive stance on psychedelics. Following an incident at Liberty Root involving forged EKGs, health officials started closely investigating the full spectrum of ibogaine usage in the country. Soon after, reports of shady ibogaine products being manufactured in Quebec started showing up on official health websites.
The inception of ibogaine’s deleterious reputation in Canada also led to sanctions on imports. These essentially set the stage for ibogaine treatment centers to wrap up operations. As predicted, when Health Canada added ibogaine to the Prescription Drug List in 2017, many clinics and providers inevitably shut down.
Even as a prescription drug, ibogaine is essentially an unapproved medication. This means that ibogaine was now required first to go through a series of clinical trials and testing procedures to pass approval before being prescribed by a healthcare provider. To mitigate the backlash from such sanctions and maintain a neutral facade, the government issued a Special Access Program which allows illegal medications to be prescribed and administered in life-threatening situations, especially in the absence of an alternate treatment plan. Since then, many have failed to access this program for drug dependency disorders under Health Canada’s ruse that the substance’s benefits are “lacking substantial supporting evidence.”
The therapeutic benefits of ibogaine will always outweigh its potentially harmful disposition. However, safety protocols need to be put in place and the substance’s cardiotoxicity and potential risks need to be understood. Like every medication, psychedelics are prone to abuse, especially in the absence of adequate clinical frameworks regulating usage and dosage. Although it remains illegal in many parts of the world, ibogaine is once again front and center in research programs like MINDCURE’s Ibogaine Project.
With the opioid crisis in full swing, MINDCURE’s multifaceted approach to support researchers and clinicians is expansive. By manufacturing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine and developing clinical frameworks, we believe ibogaine can help people overcome multiple substance use disorders and mental health conditions.
As advocates of safe and regulated therapeutic environments, we believe that therapists, sitters, and clinicians can tap the full healing potential of ibogaine.
November 17, 2021
Veterans have put their own lives and well-being on the line for something bigger than who they are. They sacrifice for a cause, their country, people they love, and people they’ve never met.
But the sacrifice goes beyond life or death. For those fortunate enough to return home, oftentimes the baggage of what they experience comes with them in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Approximately 7% of the US population and 11-20 out of every 100 veterans will experience PTSD sometime in their lives.
In the past, PTSD has been known by many names, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II.
First identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980, PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape, or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence, or serious injury.
PTSD can present itself in many ways. It’s most often characterized by recurring symptoms of depressive and negative thoughts and feelings (self-blame and isolation), hyperarousal (irritability, aggression, and elevated startle response), re-experiencing (intrusive upsetting memories, flashbacks, and nightmares), and avoidance of distressing memories, feelings, thoughts, or external reminders of the event.
Currently, the avenues for veterans seeking help are slim. The available treatments approved by the FDA are pharmacological prescriptions like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, which have been increasingly proven to be ineffective or suboptimal for veterans suffering from PTSD. According to clinical research, these substances require at least 2 weeks of daily dosing with dose titrations to produce any detectable PTSD symptom improvements.
In analyses that compare pharmacotherapy to psychotherapy, trauma-focused psychotherapies resulted in greater and longer-lasting improvements than medications.
Cue psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Since research into psychedelic therapy began in the 1960s, and again in its resurgence, lawmakers, clinicians, veterans, and researchers have been strongly advocating for the controlled use of psychedelics for veterans suffering from PTSD.
Unable to wait for this treatment to become legal in the US and Canada, many veterans have turned to programs like VETS (Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions), that provide awareness, education, and funding to veterans seeking psychedelic-assisted therapies.
Unfortunately, due to the fact psychedelic substances are still restricted as Scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act in the US and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in Canada, these veterans often seek treatment elsewhere.
The good news is that the tides are turning. Since 1992, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the FDA reached an agreement that facilitated the resumption of clinical research with classical psychedelics. Companies like MINDCURE are working diligently to drive research that supports the potential of psychedelics including MDMA and ibogaine in healing individuals from various indications, such as trauma and its effects.
In several clinical studies, psychedelics like MDMA, psilocybin, and LSD have been shown to increase feelings of “openness” in individuals during psychedelic therapy. Openness can refer to many things but is most often characterized in that it allows patients to broaden the way they feel, think, and interact. This feeling and its associated symptoms have been shown to be a therapeutic mechanism of change as it can enhance therapy’s effectiveness.
In modern research, subjects in a psilocybin trial facilitated by psychedelic researcher Roland Griffiths rated the experience positively as causing substantial insight into personal meaning and spiritual growth. Fourteen months later, the participants rated the experience as being among the five most personally meaningful and among the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives, with 64% indicating that the experience increased well-being or life satisfaction.
It’s thanks to trials like Griffiths’ that doors in psychedelic studies are opening. As recently as May 2021, Texas Legislature approved a study that will look at using psilocybin as a treatment for veterans struggling with PTSD.
For the sacrifices made, supporting the research into the healing process of our vets should be a priority.
Since 2000, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has also been used in clinical trials in combination with psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD.
MDMA is known to cause the release of serotonin and neurohormones oxytocin, prolactin, and cortisol. These chemicals have been known to increase prosocial feelings and behaviors. From this, researchers have concluded that “This pharmacology might augment exposure-based therapy by temporarily reducing avoidance, allowing patients to tolerate feelings associated with revisiting the trauma memory and fully engage in the exposure.”
In one randomized, double-blind, dose-response, phase 2 trial, funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), active doses (75 mg and 125 mg) of MDMA with adjunctive psychotherapy in a controlled setting were effective and well-tolerated in reducing PTSD symptoms in veterans and first responders who did not previously respond to currently available treatments.
When combined with psychotherapy, MDMA has shown significant advantages over the existing medications normally used as first-line PTSD treatments in terms of safety (i.e., side effects), efficacy, and length of remission. And with that, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy continues to demonstrate its potential to favorably impact the lives of thousands who suffer from PTSD worldwide. And hope doesn’t end there.
Of course, veterans are not the only individuals impacted by trauma. PTSD can impact anyone. The American Psychiatric Association says one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely to be impacted than men and US Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians also experience disproportionately higher rates of PTSD than white Americans.
Today’s clinical trials using psychedelic-assisted therapy have demonstrated profound preliminary data for psychedelic substances as a treatment for not only PTSD but also anxiety and depression, existential crises in end-of-life care, sexual trauma, alcohol dependence, tobacco addiction, major depression, and other treatment-resistant disorders. Trauma is not an isolated issue but leads to a litany of side effects that camouflage themselves into everyday life. Among various types of trauma, challenging sexual experiences, for one, can influence relationships, mood, overall quality of life, and even decreases in sexual desire.
The potential of MDMA to heal individuals with PTSD can lead to our discovery of its applications in treating other indications. The Desire Project focuses on female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder to attempt to pinpoint the root issues of lack of sexual desire in women and develop solutions using pharmaceutical MDMA and psychotherapy. It’s crucial that we continue to fund, research, and advocate for psychedelic-assisted therapy in helping treat individuals impacted by trauma and mental health disorders.
November 12, 2021
Death is a part of life. It’s an inevitability and the only thing that’s promised to each one of us. While we know it’s coming, most people spend the larger part of life trying to postpone and ignore death. The fear of death keeps us from talking about and preparing for our time, ironically, making the process so much harder on individuals and their loved ones once the time comes. It comes down to taboo, fear of the unknown, the pain of loss.
Of course, that all depends on mindset. Different cultures have different perspectives on death, and everyone has their own expectations of what lies beyond the great divide. When it comes to that grim greeting, what if there were some kind of mind expanding tool that helps you prepare for the transition — one that could significantly alter your mindset of fear, powerlessness, and even individualism?
Facing death can be a terrifying event. The anxiety of the unknown, the fear of pain, the burden of saying goodbye to your loved ones, and even the melancholy that you did not do enough with this lifetime can all be feelings that are hard to overcome. They can also lead to serious physical and mental health issues like depression, anxiety, inability to cope, loss of interest in activities. Does dying have to be this unpleasant?
For those living with terminal illnesses like cancer, such impacts and feelings can be unavoidable and seemingly impossible to cope with, especially when paired with the horror-story that was end-of-life care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's worth noting that, as it currently stands, the death rate worldwide is expected to rise from approximately 13 million deaths per year to 70 million deaths per year by the year 2030. And with that, researchers predict a 40% increase in the number of people seeking care in facilities that provide specialized medical services like hospice or palliative care. That sounds like a lot of fear, a lot of pain, and a lot of questions around whether the health care model will remain the same or change in order to support the increase in care demands. In that, we have to wonder about a reimagining of life, death, and that transition in between.
For us at MINDCURE, we're constantly wondering, how can care be improved?
Before we talk about the use of psychedelics in end-of-life care, let’s break down some terms.
Hospice care is a service that generally involves pain management for people who are expected to have less than 6 months to live. The most common types of hospice care are at home, with family members or professional caregivers providing support, or at a specialized center, and in nursing homes or hospitals. Rather than symptom management and treating a disease, hospice focuses on helping the individual specifically at end-of-life.
Palliative care is part of hospice care, but it is just one part. Palliative care is a program that aims to ease pain, while providing comfort and dignity for those with illnesses that are serious but not considered life-threatening at the moment, acting as an addition to help you and your loved ones deal with long-running ailments. This involves more symptom management than general hospice.
Numerous studies have shown that depression and anxiety are prevalent feelings for patients in hospice care and that traditional pharmacological treatments do not work rapidly enough.
Opioids are used around the clock in palliative care for the management of pain, with the potential for abuse and misuse. While administered by professionals, patients develop dependencies, which can negatively impact their quality of life.
The good news is that since as early as the 1960s, clinicians have been studying the effects of a number of psychedelic substances like ketamine, MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin on patients living with these terminal illnesses and struggling to navigate palliative and hospice care alone. Psychedelics don’t necessarily eradicate pain or symptoms. They also involve low tolerance, so they can’t be used often. What they can do is improve one’s mindset, shift their understanding of life and death, remove the fear, and so much more. While comfort is the focus in end-of-life care, mental health suffers. Could psychedelics offer a solution?.
Since the 1960s and now again with the resurgence of psychedelic research studies, these substances have demonstrated powerful results in clinical settings in their ability to help patients find peace and wealth while faced with treatment-resistant disorders like depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Just last year, four terminally ill patients in Canada who were suffering from end-of-life anxiety were granted special exemption to use psychedelic therapy under the Section 56 exemption that allows for the use of a Controlled Substance if it’s believed to be necessary for medical or scientific purposes, or in public interest.
In as little as five treatments, psilocybin has been shown to have persisting positive effects on attitude, mood, and behavior.
In another randomized controlled trial with psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. Patients with cancer were able to reconcile with death, acknowledge cancer’s place in life, and emotionally uncouple from the disease. The therapy helped to facilitate a reconnection to life.
While not in the same class as some psychedelics, ketamine is another substance that is currently being researched for similar purposes. Unlike other psychedelics, ketamine induces dissociative anesthesia, a trance-like state providing pain relief, sedation, and amnesia. In a 21-day study, 93% of patients suffering from depression in hospice care showed positive results after ketamine dosing with therapeutic results being defined after just one day.
One of the key findings of psychedelic research and end-of-life care is the ability for these substances to help bring on what is called ego death.
Ego death is essentially when an individual is able to shed learned teachings, ideologies, mindsets, and attitudes to reach a heightened sense of oneness with the world. One participant in a DMT study was quoted saying, “The sense that birth and death were just a transformation rather than an end was something that felt true.”
The tides are slowly starting to turn to allow more patients this much needed treatment. It’s a long way from how society used to stand on the psychedelic debate.
Palliative care itself is a relatively new idea.
For thousands of years, dying was considered an inevitable outcome to living, and not as a distinct medical specialty or “challenge to be tackled using invasive technology or specialized health care teams.” In the Western context especially, the last 50 years have seen dying care become more and more clinical and medical than ever before.
Writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley noticed this transition when he too was faced with his first wife’s death in 1955 and then his own in 1963 (both used psychedelic substances to aid in their final journey). In a letter to psychiatrist Humphry Osmond, Huxley wrote, “My own experience with Maria convinced me that the living can do a great deal to make the passage easier for the dying, to raise the most purely physiological act of human existence to the level of consciousness and perhaps even of spirituality.”
Huxley and Osmond’s reflections on the art of dying and psychedelics were significant because they demonstrated a cultural ambivalence towards the mechanization of human healing. Contemporary oncologists, nurses, and social workers were also beginning to articulate similar concerns as they witnessed patients dying on hospital wards.
As the resurgence of research into psychedelic-assisted therapy specifically in the palliative and hospice space continues to grow thanks to advocacy, funding, and science, we hope to see more and more rhetoric on how psychedelics can make the walk towards the light that much easier.
Check out our research projects to understand more about the potential of psychedelics in mental health care.
November 5, 2021
"I give up."
It's a phrase that anyone suffering from addiction knows too well.
Addiction is an ugly word, a dangerous one. We yearn to distance ourselves from it, whether it directly affects us or not. One in ten adults has a drug or alcohol addiction—and opioids have certainly taken a starring role in our tragedy, killing an average of 128 Americans and 17 Canadians each day.
The overdose epidemic is a crisis in British Columbia, home to MINDCURE's headquarters. We are desperate to provide hope and ultimately disrupt the healthcare industry with ground-breaking solutions. Happily, there is light in this arena. A naturally-occurring substance called ibogaine.
To understand how we got here, it helps to know the history of opioid treatments (I use the word opioids to refer to all opioid drugs whether natural or synthetic, while opiates are naturally occurring forms, like morphine and heroin). With the promise of pain relief, pharma giants helped to pave a golden road to addiction. Our rapid pathway to addiction can be broken into three distinct waves.
The first wave began with the increased prescribing of opioids in the 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies were quick to assure doctors that their drugs would not lead to addiction—that they were powerful painkillers. The result? The expected increase in overdose deaths involving prescription opioids (natural, semi-synthetic opioids, and methadone).
The second wave hit in 2010 when we began to see extreme increases in overdose deaths, explicitly involving heroin. The connection? Desperation to find the same "high" one had from their prescription (about 80% of people who use heroin first used its prescribed version.)
The third wave kicked off in 2013. The increase in overdose deaths involved synthetics, specifically, illicitly manufactured fentanyl (a synthetic opioid). By 2017, "more than 47,000 Americans died due to an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl," according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Here are some surprising numbers provided by the CDC:
Ancient medicine may offer help to many suffering from opioid addiction. It's called ibogaine, an indole alkaloid deriving from the West African shrub roots of the Tabernanthe iboga. Ibogaine has been used by as many as three million Africans in the Bwiti religion as a rebirth ritual during the onset of teenage years.
Ibogaine used to be prescribed as an antidepressant and neuromuscular stimulant in France known as Lambarene until it was shut down in the 1960s.
Enter 19-year-old Howard Lotsof. Not a doctor, but a man about to accidentally unveil a revolutionary discovery in curbing and solving opioid addiction. Experimenting with ibogaine, he found it eliminated his heroin addiction, and so decided to try it with other addicted friends—in his first trial, seven out of seven people also eliminated their addiction.
"Suddenly, I realized that I was not in heroin withdrawal," Lotsof described regarding his ibogaine experience. "Where previously I had viewed heroin as a drug which gave me comfort, I now viewed heroin as a drug which emulated death. The very next thought into my mind was, I prefer life to death."
Thankfully, Lostof set off an interest in ibogaine as an anti-addiction therapy, and there've been numerous studies on its efficacy since. "Behavioral pharmacologic studies in animal models provided evidence that ibogaine could blunt self-administration of not only opiates but cocaine, amphetamines, and nicotine," according to DARK Classics in Chemical Neuroscience: Ibogaine published iACS Publications.
Alan Davis, a Johns Hopkins University adjunct assistant professor researching psychedelics, studied patients who used ibogaine in a Mexican treatment center between 2012 and 2015. Using online data collection, he found that of 88 participants, 80 percent eliminated their addiction. In contrast, 30 percent went on to never use opioids again—the study is published in the Journal of Psychedelic Studies.
My company MINDCURE has begun the first stage of manufacturing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine to be used in preclinical and clinical research.
Because ibogaine affects multiple receptors and neurotransmitter systems in the brain, t may help repair and rewire addiction-related neural pathways.
Additionally, there's emerging evidence of ibogaine's neuroprotective effects and its ability to boost brain neurotrophic factors and neuroplasticity processes, meaning it may be effective in treating neuropathic pain and neurodegenerative conditions as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
Addiction brings us to our knees in some of life's ugliest moments, but there may be help on the way. We hope that ibogaine brings a solution to one of society's unnecessary tragedies.
Access the original post in Green Entrepreneur.
November 2, 2021
The sex industry is illustriously built on the premise of commodifying what women want. However, the reality is far from it. Although a seemingly simple question, it has bothered many notable people, such as Freud. Even after decades of research, experts admit that they still don’t fully understand how female desire works, let alone have a consensually derived definition.
Yet, we recognize the accumulated controversies surrounding female desire and its diverse facets. Historically, sexual women were deemed insatiable nymphomaniacs. Despite the extreme prejudice, women’s sexual revolution has not been in vain.
Today, researchers are finally coming to terms with the complexities of female desire, its unique manifestations and variations between and within women. However, without acknowledging the misconceptions and controversies, we cannot start decoding the determinants of decreased desire and, subsequently, the promotion of effective treatments.
The binary nature of research on sexual desire makes it almost impossible to believe that female sexual desire disorders are real. Traditionally, the trait model of desire had scientists believe that men have more or heightened sexual desire than women. More recent research indicates that the only difference is based on how the construct is defined and consequently measured.
The variable patterns in female desire are a complex product of biological, psychological, situational, and contextual factors. Physiologically, endocrine levels are often linked with decreased female desire. For instance, studies on menstrual cycles suggest fluctuating desire, with high levels of arousal during ovulation.
On the other hand, psychological factors such as relationship duration, satisfaction, and stress can also suppress female desire. According to McCall and Meston (2006), there are four distinct cues or triggers of female desire:
It was hypothesized that a variation in any combination of these would result in diminished desire. Not surprisingly, studies confirmed that those with a sexual desire disorder diagnosis reported reduced cues in most of these domains compared to sexually healthy women.
The DSM criteria for diagnosing disorders and conditions are heavily reliant on the cultural, social, and political atmosphere of the era. For instance, in earlier editions, hypoactive sexual desire disorder was gender non-specific and could therefore be applied to either men or women. While some of these changes are welcomed (i.e., removal of homosexuality as a “disorder”), others are controversial.
Only recently, the DSM-5 Sexual Dysfunction Subworkgroup cited evidence that desire and arousal could not be reliably distinguished in women. However, this has accumulated substantial controversy since many experts in the field disagree with the amalgamation of arousal and desire disorders into one diagnostic category.
There was a time when it was believed that there was a relationship between testosterone and female desire. Today, many studies have found that there is no difference in testosterone levels between women with high desire and those without. Despite such revelations, testosterone continues to be a common treatment option.
Some argue that women’s libido pills have supported the sexual revolution and empowered women, while others criticize it for not targeting the root cause of reduced female desire. Since female desire is a complex interplay of physiological, situational, psychological, and relationship factors, the many versions of female viagra pills fail to collectively address these. For instance, Addyi was built on a narrow understanding of female desire as an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine. As a result, clinical trials of the drug revealed an increase of 0.5 to 1 in satisfying sexual encounters per month — not much better than placebo.
When controversies start arising around something so natural as women’s desire, it is often due to societal stigma and taboo. Although sexual norms and values greatly differ across regions and cultures, women are consistently socialized to build negative associations with the entire experience. In other words, we are taught that there are countless wrong ways to be a woman but no right way.
Many TV shows including, “I Hate Suzie” and “Sex Education” adequately portray the subjugation of female desire through social norms and expectations. Vocabulary such as shamefulness and guilt are often prevalent in conversations around desire. Such indoctrination often results in lower levels of desire and arousal.
Sexual liberation is dependent on eradicating the objectification and exploitation of female desire and sexuality, starting with acknowledging their existence. Treatment options are ineffective in silos, and addressing the underlying psychological issues driving low desire may lead to better results.
MINDCURE’s latest research program, The Desire Project is essentially the psychedelic solution to sexual liberation. MINDCURE’s research team is analyzing the desire-enhancing properties of psychedelics such as MDMA and their potential in offering efficacious treatments for decreased female sexual desire.
October 31, 2021
Of the millions of reasons that bring relationships together, desire is among the most obvious. But what happens when that desire disappears? Whether your own sexual desire or your partner’s, a decrease can cause a lot of confusion and tension (of course!). It can both cause and be caused by a litany of issues. And the confusion goes on.
While desire is an issue in itself, it can also feed into a number of mental health issues and relationship issues, all mingling and intertangling — and at the same time, making sure you aren’t doing those things to the point of exhaustion. What happens to one’s confidence, quality of life, and feelings of trust and security in their relationship once desire shies away?
Growing research into Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) aims to identify solutions for the ways in which intimacy suffers. Here, we’ll talk about how desire, relationships, and mental health are all connected.
All relationships have the ability to impact your mental and sexual health (and vice versa). Things like your relationship with your friends, your family, even your work life can impact how you are able to respond and react to day-to-day happenings, and, more importantly, how you respond in those (ahem) intimate settings.
Unfortunately, sex and female desire are still very much taboo subjects. This gap in communication, along with the societal notion that it's normal or acceptable for women to not want sex, stifles a necessary discussion about the real sexual problems women are facing.
Moreover, some argue that female sexual disorders, specifically HSDD, are simply a conspiracy perpetrated by the pharmaceutical industry to mislead women to feel that their sexual function is inadequate and that their problems are easy to treat with drugs. While cause hopping does exist, this argument is based on a misunderstanding of the basis of HSDD. While desire varies between women, age groups, and several factors, HSDD focuses on a decrease in sexual desire that causes notable distress.
We want to open the doors to that conversation in order to validate the experiences of women who are having long-ignored and detrimental sexual problems so that we may improve the lives of them and their partners. Part of that conversation involves the question, “How does lack of desire affect relationships? How does mental health fit in?” Because yes, sex is health.
Importantly, our aim is to shift the dialogue as to how we treat and respond to female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (fHSDD) by focusing on the root rather than the symptoms.
Having sex regularly in a trusting relationship reaps a heap ton of benefits for both your body and mind.
Psychological benefits include:
Biological benefits include:
When your sex life starts to become impacted by what is known as low sexual desire, it might be time to look a little harder at what is happening both internally and externally.
It’s also crucial to remember that when we are discussing sex, there is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to the “ideal” frequency. And there's no one-stop solution for all women. While sex is often a perceived as a physical activity, its basis is very much rooted in the mind. For this reason, the goal of solutions, such as The Desire Project, is to provide women with a much needed variety in treatment options.
Sexual desire is the result of a complex interplay of social, psychological, and biological components, with issues regarding sexual desire among the most commonly reported complaints for couples. Yet, according to the researchers who authored this article, “We still lack theoretical and empirical knowledge on how sexual desire functions and interacts in a relationship.” Facebook definition: it's complicated.
Of course, desire can be different for everyone.
Sexual desire discrepancy (SDD) was first defined by Zilbergeld and Ellison in 1980 to describe when two partners in an intimate relationship desire different levels or a different frequency of sexual activity.
This is often the case when dealing with two people — there will be differences in needs, desires, and wants. It's something couples psychologist, Dr. Orna Guralnik, calls their “otherness”.
If you or your partner is distressed by SDD, here are some suggestions on ways to treat it as a couple:
While desire discrepancy shares similar traits to HSDD, there is a slight difference. Desire discrepancy denotes there is a chance for differences in the levels of desire between partners.
HSDD focuses on decreased desire that is marked by the persistent or recurrent absence of sexual thoughts or fantasies that is associated with marked personal distress and/or interpersonal difficulties.
Both relationships and desire affect mental health and, in turn, mental health affects relationships. In working with absence of desire or interest, it's possible to uncover a long latent trauma, a highly charged secret, a distorted body image (e.g., dysmorphia, body-focused malingering, etc.), or any one of a multitude of complex, potentially intersecting issues. Some of these issues in question include:
These questions are just the start but can help an individual look into where their low sexual desire may be stemming from — addressing the root and not just the symptoms.
Low sexual desire can impact more than just sex. It can often lead to significant distress that includes feelings of shame and/or guilt, impacting how a person feels about their body image, confidence, and worth.
The Four Horsemen metaphor developed by Gottman is another glimpse into how low sexual desire can create relationship dissatisfaction. These horsemen are criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling, and can be the first signs of when a relationship may be ending.
Sexual health, intimacy in relationships and mental health are all key components to living well.
If you’d like to learn more, check out The Desire Project and see how psychedelics like MDMA could improve the lives of those living with fHSDD.
October 26, 2021
It’s estimated that Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (or fHSDD) may occur in up to one-third of adult women in the US. But, it’s also likely that this is your first time coming across the term. Whether that’s because you’re simply blessed or the social stigma that sweeps women’s sexual issues under the rug, fHSDD is one of the most prevalent types of female sexual dysfunction.
It’s time we in the mental health industry begun opening up the conversation about female sexual desire and its connection to mental wellness. Here, we’ll cover the disorder, its causes, and the developing treatments.
fHSDD is defined as the “persistent or recurrent absence of sexual thoughts or fantasies and/or lack of desire for sexual activity that is associated with marked personal distress and/or interpersonal difficulties.” In order to fit the definition, it can’t be attributed to another primary disorder, medication, or general medical condition.
Due to the biopsychosocial complexity (a fancy way of saying it transverses biological, psychological, and social nuances) of female sexual desire and its impact on the quality of women’s lives, HSDD can greatly impact general well-being.
According to this article, a significantly greater number of women with HSDD reported dissatisfaction with their sex lives and relationship compared to women without decreased sexual desire. Moreover, women who suffer from HSDD also complained of several psychological consequences, such as personal feelings of concern, unhappiness, hopelessness, and anger, as well as loss of femininity and altered self-esteem.
fHSDD has only recently been recognized as a serious issue, perhaps as a consequence of the historic taboo surrounding female desires. Erectile dysfunction, however, has been a huge focus of the pharmaceutical and general medical health realm since the 1800s!
fHSDD was first identified around the 1970s, first as “frigidity” then as “inhibited sexual desire” (ISD) but both of these terms contained heavily influenced negative connotations.
HSDD didn’t enter the medical conversation until 1987 when ISD was revised in the DSM-III (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as both HSDD and Sexual Aversion Disorder (SAD). It was during this revision that the DSM-III-R estimated that about 20% of the population had HSDD.
It wasn’t until much later (2013) when the DSM-5 was published that HSDD was again split into male HSDD and female HSDD. This was an important division according to psychologist Dr. Lori Brotto because, firstly, men report more intense and frequent sexual desire than women. HSDD also differentiates between women who lack desire before the onset of activity but are receptive to initiation, and women who never experience sexual arousal. Finally, it takes the variability in sexual desire into account.
Since its discovery, there has been a lot of criticism about desire disorders being a made-up issue for corporations to sell phony treatments. Many critics say that desire fluctuates naturally and can be affected by work-life and stress. While it’s normal for levels of desire to fluctuate, fHSDD refers to a decrease in sexual desire in women that isn’t connected to another issue like disorders or medications and which causes notable distress.
fHSDD is estimated to affect 9.5 million premenopausal women.
fHSDD can have various causes, often a combination of things. Its connection to mental health is claimed by professionals to be cyclical. For example, sexual problems can cause relationship strains, which can worsen the sexual problems. Depression may cause decreased desire, which then worsens the depression due to impaired self-image and sense of worth.
According to an article from Promedica, fHSDD has been linked to:
Despite its prevalence, women’s sexual desire disorders continue to be a highly under-researched and under-treated area of mental health care. The stigma surrounding female sexuality continues to limit access to sexual health discussions that lead to viable solutions. Current drugs offer only mild, temporary solutions without solving the problem directly.
In 2000, the FDA began issuing advice about treatments for fHSDD. While not specifically for HSDD, these tools included the Female Sexual Function Index and the revised Female Sexual Distress Scale, which yielded clinically valid information to help clinicians diagnose and provide treatment like therapy or sexual health practices.
The Decreased Sexual Desire Screener has also been heralded as a great step for clinicians to utilize when assessing women’s sexual health and whether there’s a need for further evaluation and treatment.
When it comes to pharmaceuticals, in 2019, the FDA approved Vyleesi (Bremelanotide) to treat acquired HSDD in premenopausal women. According to their website, Vyleesi works by activating melanocortin receptors in the brain that control mood and thinking. It’s injected under the skin of the abdomen or thigh at least 45 minutes before anticipated sexual activity.
Vyleesi has yet to be approved for women who suffer from HSDD in other categories like menopausal, and women who did not acquire HSDD. As it also only addresses the symptoms, not the cause, Vyleesi is not a viable long-term solution.
At MINDCURE, we believe that sexual health contributes to overall well-being. Sex prompts the release of endorphins that influence mood, promote emotional intimacy, and ultimately impact certain relationships. HSDD represents 20-40% of women’s sexual problems, and due to its high prevalence and negative impact, primary care health professionals and women's health practitioners need better resources and information to treat and improve the lives of those living with this disorder.
But, much like the topic of psychedelics, female sexuality can be taboo and challenging to talk about. Patients may be reluctant or unwilling to initiate a discussion about their sexual concerns during routine visits. It’s not uncommon for women to believe there is no issue, that it’s normal, that it’s their fault, or that there’s no solution in sight. But, as HSDD becomes better established as a valid and treatable clinical entity, MINDCURE is committed to driving the conversation and the work toward developing efficacious treatments.
We imagine a care paradigm whereby psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy becomes common practice for women suffering from decreased desire.
MINDCURE’s research into fHSDD brings together a team of experts in sexual disorders and psychedelics to drive clinical outcomes and promote female sexual desire using MDMA.
Find out more about The Desire Project.
November 2, 2021
Mankind’s fascination with finding the perfect aphrodisiac is a tale as old as time. Once considered love tonics, psychedelics have historically played an important role in enhancing desire, pleasure, performance, and satisfaction. For example, Ancient Egyptian texts mention using blue lotus flower extract for increasing and improving sexual desire. Although the constructs of sex and human sexuality have evolved over the years, the connection between psychedelics and sexuality remains unwavering.
The modern discourse on sexuality is essentially a revolution for sexual liberation. Yet, almost 43% of women express some level of sexual dysfunction that adversely impacts mental health. Anecdotal evidence suggests that psychedelics such as MDMA can significantly enhance sexual intimacy, thus, leading to a transcendental experience.
However, the connection between psychedelics and sexuality remains an under-researched concept despite the long-standing relationship dating back to ancient times, for instance, the yoga practice of tantra. As we investigate the therapeutic potential of psychedelics based on traditional practices, it’s only fair that it be broadened to include an understanding of issues surrounding sexual intimacy as well.
While good sex is often compared to attaining paradise, mind-shattering sex is a whole new dimension on its own! However, achieving this elevated state can be challenging for many women. As two of the top sexual problems, women most commonly report low sexual desire and inability to achieve orgasm. For instance, a community-based study on Australian women found over 69% experience low desire.
Sexual problems can be a long-term condition or may develop later in life after having a previously satisfying sex life. However, a satisfying sexual experience is subjective and may not be an adequate measure on its own to diagnose sexual disabilities. Nonetheless, sexual challenges like female hypoactive sexual desire disorder (fHSDD), which involves an decrease in sexual desire, can cause significant distress, impact relationships, and impair functionality.
Other types of sexual dysfunctions may include arousal challenges and resolution issues. Women particularly are inhibited by societal structures, criticisms, and stigmas to achieve a full sexual response. From the tingling in your toes to the ecstatic feeling in physical touch, emotional intimacy can go a long way in determining the course of a sexual encounter. Yet many of us belonging to the fair sex struggle with body image, performance issues which are often deemed “overthinking much?”.
Let's be real for a minute: high or drunk sex has a reputation of being out of this world. However, while sex, spirituality, and psychedelics predate societal boundaries, certain combinations in the modern era are still highly taboo.
The legalization or decriminalization of psychedelics in certain places is creating a paradigm shift. Drugs like MDMA are being studied for their effects on sexuality, due largely in part to anecdotal sexual experiences while on the drug. The clinical use of psychedelics is moving beyond the scope of general well-being and into the uncharted territories of sexual dysfunctions like fHSDD.
And with good reason too, because other than anecdotal evidence, there is barely any research investigating the effects of psychedelics on sex and sexuality. Are psychedelics the solution for sexual liberation? Perhaps not entirely. But they may make an excellent partner to psychotherapists.
When Alexander Shulgin first discovered MDMA in the 1970s as a powerful tool capable of producing strong feelings of love, compassion, and empathy, little did he know the decades of evidence it would accumulate. The hallucinogen’s therapeutic potential was first tested in the field when therapists started using it for couples counseling. Although MDMA was soon after banned in the USA, the drug continued being used recreationally, even if illegally. Until recently, a study from the Global Drug Survey in 2019 found that MDMA was one of the three most prominent drugs used with sex.
Also known as molly or ecstasy, the drug’s pharmacological properties speak for themselves. By increasing the production and release of oxytocin, the love hormone, MDMA specifically targets the amygdala’s fear-based response. It also impacts several neurotransmitters known for their mood-enhancing features, such as serotonin and dopamine.
Combined, these components produce a prolonged orgasmic or euphoric state, thereby allowing the brain to solidify existing emotional connections and a strong desire for intimacy.
If MDMA can help couples communicate with each other better, then there’s ample reason to believe it could be capable of facilitating sexual healing, enhancing feelings of intimacy, desire, and heightening pleasure in women.
MINDCURE’s brainchild and revolutionary research in The Desire Project focuses on rekindling passion, sexual exploration, and deep emotional connections within a therapeutic setting using MDMA. With the right guide and set and setting, this sex life-saving drug can easily become the next big thing in female sexual liberation.
October 15, 2021
Happy Magic Mushroom Day!
A magical day indeed, it's an “educational day of action” if you ask the inventor, Nicholas Reville. In the spirit of Magical Mushroom day's celebration, we thought we’d dive into some of the most commonly asked questions and tell you everything there is to know about what makes mushrooms so magical!
First and foremost, magic mushrooms are a type of wild or cultivated fungi that contain psilocybin, a naturally-occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound.
Magic mushrooms have been around for a long time, used in therapeutic and spiritual settings amongst tribal societies. Some historians even date the funky fungi back to 10,000 BCE through the images in rock art.
In the modern era, magic mushrooms reentered collective consciousness around the 1950s when mycologists Valentina and R. Gordon Wasson participated in a ritual ceremony using magic mushrooms while travelling through Mexico. The Wassons wrote articles about the experience. Mr. Wasson's was published in Life Magazine in 1957 under the title, Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Upon his return, Wasson and his colleague, Roger Heim, enlisted the help of Albert Hofmann to extract and isolate the psilocybin and psilocin found in the mushrooms they brought back.
This holiday was inspired by the drug holidays that came before it. There's 4/20 for cannabis enthusiasts, invented in the 1970s. 4/19 is known as Bicycle Day and was invented in 1943 to celebrate the anniversary of when chemist Albert Hofmann (inventor of LSD, extractor of psilocybin) took LSD intentionally to feel the effects and rode his bike through Basel, Switzerland.
According to Reville, the designation of this day was created in the hopes of inspiring people to come together (much like 4/20) and discuss all things magic mushrooms and perhaps even partake in the medicine.
September 20th was chosen because it is at the beginning of autumn when mushrooms are most plentiful — also representing a change in direction because it is so close to the equinox.
920coalition.org gives a great list of 10 ways you can celebrate this day. The key components encouraging celebrators to be social, safe, present, and open to discussing magic mushrooms. So, what do people do to celebrate:
Fungi is one of those amazing substances that can grow under almost any condition. To identify magic mushrooms specifically, amateur mycologists should look for dried, ordinary mushrooms with long, thin stems that are usually whitish-grey with dark brown caps. However, it's important to do your research before consuming just any ol' fungi you find as some can be dangerous.
But there are also many different types of magic mushrooms that contain psilocybin and they can be consumed in numerous ways, such as being eaten raw, brewed into tea, or consumed in liquid or capsule form.
The effects of 'shrooms are different for everyone and can vary based on dosage, age, weight, emotional state, and environment but usually take about 20–40 minutes to begin and can last up to six hours.
More recently, a very popular way to consume magic mushrooms that has started to capture the psychedelic culture is microdosing.
Microdosing is the consumption of very small, routine doses of a psychedelic drug, like magic mushrooms or LSD, for reasons other than achieving hallucinogenic side effects. More often than not, people microdose to help their minds. A study by Psychopharmacology found that 79% of people who microdose noted improvements in their mental health.
Consuming magic mushrooms can affect both your physical and mental state. Some of the most noted effects of 'shrooms include nausea, yawning, feeling relaxed or drowsy, introspective experiences, nervousness, paranoia, panic, hallucinations, and psychosis.
Psilocybin is not addictive and does not lead to compulsive use. However, people can quickly build a tolerance to magic mushrooms, so it's important to strategically space out trips or stick to a microdosing schedule.
As it currently stands, magic mushrooms are classified as a Schedule I drug, a classification that states the government feels it has a high potential for misuse and has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
Despite this classification, people consume and will continue to consume magic mushrooms for a variety of reasons.
As mentioned, magic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years for both spiritual and medicinal uses among Indigenous people of America and Europe.
During the 1960s and up until President Nixon's “War on Drugs”, people continued to seek out the magic mushroom for these purposes, as a way of expanding their mind, experiencing loss of ego, and in clinical settings as a way to deal with anxiety, depression, addiction, and other mental health disorders.
In 2018, researchers from John Hopkins University recommended reclassification of the drug from Schedule I to Schedule IV in order to allow for medical use. Numerous studies suggest that psilocybin can be used to treat cancer-related psychiatric distress, end of life distress, depression, anxiety, nicotine addiction, and substance use disorders.
In 2019, Denver became the first city to decriminalize mushrooms, and a month later Oakland followed suit. Decriminalization does not mean that shrooms are legal but that the city is not permitted to "spend resources to impose criminal penalties" on people in possession of the drug.
Researchers, clinicians and psychonauts continue to lobby for magic mushrooms and other substances like MDMA and LSD to be decriminalized in the hopes for a strong future that allows for safe psychedelic-assisted therapy.
In a new survey conducted by the Canadian Psychedelic Association, four out of five Canadians support psilocybin-assisted therapy for people suffering from terminal and treatment-resistant conditions.
Pamela Kryskow, a doctor and psychedelics researcher, said the new poll results serve as a green light for Health Canada to proceed with updating the regulations for the psychedelic.
“The proof is in the research and patient improvement,” she said. “We’ve seen positive clinical evidence that shows that psilocybin-assisted therapy works tremendously well for addressing many mental health challenges where other options are ineffective. The healthcare practitioners are ready, the patients deserve this, and we’re ready to provide this medical service to Canadians.”
If you’d like to learn more about the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics and how MINDCURE is driving the psychedelic industry, check out our research.
September 20, 2021
Psychedelics have played a crucial role in human evolution, especially as a source of serotonin to counter stress response mechanisms. Their consciousness-altering properties have supported traditional, cultural, psychological, and medicinal practices throughout the ages.
However, without trip sitters or guides to tap into their full potential and achieve optimal results, psychedelics would not have achieved the same level of prominence as they have today.
A trip sitter is essentially a trustworthy and sober individual responsible for ensuring the emotional and physical safety of the psychedelic tripper. Over the years, trip sitters have worn many hats. However, through the ages, they have facilitated "holding space" and have focused on preventing bad or challenging trips.
At MINDCURE, we advocate for safe and supportive psychedelic experiences guided by professional guides or therapists. Yet, as these mind-altering drugs enter mainstream therapy, the role of trip sitting has become more prominent now more than ever. Here, we'll explore their historical beginnings to understand their potential and value in optimizing psychedelic experiences.
Modern-day trip sitters have a complex yet evolutionary history, with roots spanning from traditional guides and spiritual leaders to therapeutic and recreational settings. The original guides or sitters were often shamans or spiritual leaders of a community. They were not only responsible for administering the psychedelic dosages but also leading the initiation rite or healing ceremonies.
Nonetheless, in the shamanic world, the consumption of these sacred was never for hedonic reasons. They were always taken for specific and circumscribed purposes addressing medicinal, psychological, spiritual, cultural, and traditional concerns. For example, the South and Western African tribes such as Bwiti and Gabon have used iboga for spiritual healing, medical, and rites of passage.
Psychedelics still play a significant role in some cultures today. For instance, multiple Amazonian tribes use Ayahuasca while Native American Indigenous people use peyote. They are used ceremonially under the strict guidance and supervision of a shaman who will often be the doctor and priest of the community as well.
As original users of these conscious-altering drugs, Indigenous peoples have learned to optimize their effects by following certain preparatory rules with specific compounds. For instance, abstaining from alcohol, other intoxicants, and sexual activities. In some Amazonian ceremonies, there is also an emphasis on adhering to strict dietary requirements, such as removing salt, sugar, and spices, leading to the experience.
Many modern-day ritualistic psychedelic journeys have adopted several elements from traditional ceremonies performed by Indigenous cultures. For example, singing, chanting, and drumming, or using sacred objects. Adopting a ritualistic approach for an upcoming psychedelic session can be advantageous. For example, music is a great communication mechanism that is void of misinterpretation.
While music can help achieve or hold altered states of consciousness, it can also be a powerful tool for communicating with people under a psychedelic trance. For instance, music is a constant in ayahuasca ceremonies because it allows shamans to communicate with Westerners seeking traditional healing.
In the contemporary world, trip sitters have adopted multiple roles ranging from your sober friend to trained personnel for therapeutic settings. For example, a trip sitter can be an individual with prior experience of psychedelics usage or someone specifically trained to offer psychedelic peer support. The Zendo Project by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) focuses on the latter by training volunteers to engage with trippers at large-scale festivals, such as the Burning Man or Lighting in a Bottle. In some cases, experienced trip sitters may charge a fee for sitting through and supporting an active trip.
An ideal sister will be calm, composed, empathetic, and non judgemental before and throughout the session. These traits are often a manifestation of one or multiple prior experiences with psychedelics. This experiential knowledge helps sitters, especially when guiding trippers through challenging and stressful times.
In ideal cases, a sitter will have discussed and identified expectations, boundaries, and intentions with the tripper. This is often a general conversation entailing a loosely set-out plan to help avoid any surprises. Sitters may inquire about the psychedelics in use but are not responsible for procuring these because of varying legalities state-wise.
Sitters may also decide to discuss the elements of set and setting for the session. However, these may significantly vary from the fundamentals of set and setting in a psychedelic therapeutic session. In a therapeutic setting, technology such as MINDCURE’s iSTRYM platform helps clinicians' access a client's medical and psychological history. This will then better prepare them for any adverse or inhibiting reactions. For example, SSRI antidepressants may prevent trippers from experiencing the full effect of psychedelics like psilocybin.
Unlike trained therapists, sitters do not guide the trip in any direction. Their role is strictly a non-directive and supportive one. In doing so, sisters will help keep the trippers safe emotionally and physically by engaging minimally.
An ideal sitter is a listener rather than a talker. They are understanding, kind, and attentive through verbal and body language. On the day, sitters are also your DJ and will help change tracks, increase or decrease the volume depending on the needs of the tripper. They will also comfort trippers by providing tissues, blankets, and cushions when and if needed.
September 18, 2021
An experience with the divine. It sounds fantastical, doesn't it? Both sublime and surreal, possibly a tad flimsy. But does such a thing exist, and if so, how do you experience it?
We live in a rapidly changing world. As Ferris Bueller famously said, "Life is fast, blink and you might miss it." How, then, can we cheat our way to the front of the line of self-discovery for what is likely humanity's greatest question: what is the meaning of life? There is no Cliffs Notes version for this journey, but there is indeed a shortcut as much as I dislike the term.
What do I mean by an experience with the divine? For every person, the definition varies, but for the sake of clarity, let's describe this experience as the dissolution of ego with a heightened sense of connectivity — connectivity based on one's relationship with nature and/or God. When we apply this definition of a divine experience to scientifically-researched psychedelic experiences, the user experience is remarkably similar.
A study comparing psychedelics users and non-users found that "psychedelic drug users endorsed more mystical beliefs (such as in a universal soul, no fear of death, unity of all things, the existence of a transcendent reality, and oneness with God, nature and the universe)," writes Scott McGreal in The Spirituality of Psychedelic Drug Users. "Psychedelic drug users also said they placed greater value on spirituality and concern for others, and less value on financial prosperity."
Again, it sounds fantastical. It's no surprise then that psychedelics are becoming more mainstream, and microdosing has become a trend — from those looking for a creative edge in Silicon Valley to parents hoping to better engage with their children. Not everyone is searching for the divine, so how does a mystical experience come into play for everyday life?
For that, let's take a look at our ancestors' knowledge of psychedelic experiences and the divine.
For centuries, Indigenous tribes worldwide have relied on plants and fungi for healing, "enhancing community harmony and attuning with Earth's seasons," as Françoise Bourzat writes in Sacred Mushrooms of the Mazatec Tradition: Transforming the Inner Landscape of the Human Psyche. Much of what we know of natural plant medicines originates from Indigenous entheogenic wisdom. According to Bourzat, "Entheogens, which have been considered medicines in indigenous traditions, are still an immensely potent resource for our planet and our human existence, which is in dire need of help, both socially and ecologically."
While there are few exceptions (peyote use in the Native American Church, for example), today's laws are still undecided on psychedelic substance use for religious ceremonies. As the FDA moves forward with clearance for therapeutic use in cases like PTSD, anxiety, and depression, we're left to ponder how and when use in search of the divine will get clearance — if ever. Once upon a time, health and spirituality were intrinsically connected. Local shamans were healers and connectors with the divine.
The psychedelic DMT has been used in South America since pre-Columbian times, while Indigenous tribes in Mexico have used psilocybin for ceremonial purposes since the 15th century. The very word for mushrooms in Aztec and Mayan cultures, teonanáctl, translates to "flesh of the gods," as its primary use was for connecting with the divine. Similarly, the word "entheogens" derives from the ancient Greek term "becoming God within."
There's no question: Indigenous peoples set the stage for the quest that continues today, that of understanding our place in the universe. American author and CIA-funded botanist, R. Gordon Wasson, described a mystical-type experience from his first exposure to psilocybin during a ceremony led by shaman, Maria Sabina: "Your soul is free, loses all sense of time … you know what the ineffable is, and what ecstasy means … the flight of the soul from the body."
There may be no fairer question than to ask how in the hell psychedelics lead one to a divine experience.
In a Ted Talk, leading psychopharmacologist Roland Griffiths said, "Most people assume science and spirituality don't play well together. But it's not true. Einstein said the most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical; he said it's the source of all true science."
After the Nixon administration shut down research on psychedelic drugs, Griffiths was one of the pioneers who insisted on giving it new life and does so today as the lead investigator of the Psilocybin Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins. His research includes studies on the efficacy of psilocybin in both healthy patients and those with cancer.
In a 2006 Johns Hopkins University study, Griffiths found psychedelics induced a mystical experience in about 80% of cases. And in his study involving 80 cancer patients, more than three quarters reported significant reprieve from their illness-related depression.
Doctors now use psilocybin to help terminal patients find peace in their final days, and not only for research — in August of 2020, Canada provided exemption rights to four terminal patients to use psilocybin.
For those battling anxiety, depression, or in search of a mystical experience, Griffiths found psilocybin's effects are not short-lived, either. "Vivid memories endure," he said in the same Ted Talk. "In one study, we had volunteers return a month later after one or two high doses of psilocybin and found eighty percent of volunteers in that study reported the experience was among the five most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives. In fact, about 50 percent said it was the single most spiritually significant experience of their lives." Long-term follow-up showed the effects were sustained. In other words, these experiences became life-changing events.
Talking about his psychedelic experiences, author and journalist Michael Pollan told Time Magazine, "New connections are made that could produce new insights, new perspectives, new ways of looking at the world. It's the same effect that ten years of psychoanalysis probably would have, although it didn't take me nearly that long."
So, there it is, the elusive and desired shortcut. Again, I'm not too fond of this term as it implies cheating one's way to a mystical experience. Let's employ what is both mystical and yet backed by science and state that what psychedelics do is provide a wormhole to the divine. And maybe that's the usage intention we need most right now. "The core mystical experience is one of the interconnectedness of all people and things, the awareness that we are all in this together," says Griffiths.
We're offered hacks and shortcuts at every turn. We want to tap into our creativity for work, to better engage with our children, to find relief from depression — to accept death. Psychedelics are not a shortcut panacea, yet they are proven over and again to improve lives, and that in itself is — divine.
See the original post in Green Entrepreneur.
September 27, 2021
What if addiction treatment focused more on personal freedom through therapy than simply stopping substance abuse? That’s what Dr. Scott Kellogg argues for in his paper, On Addiction, Complexity, and Freedom: Toward a Liberation-Focused Addiction Treatment.
Freedom, Dr. Kellogg says, is “the capacity to create a life of social and internal complexity and multiplicity, the ability to make choices among different options, and the capability of engaging in long-term, goal-directed behaviour.”
The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as, “a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.”
Freedom and addiction kind of seem like opposites by definition.
Untreated, addiction like any disease can be fatal. In 2019, approximately 50,000 people in the US died from opioid-related overdoses. The opioid epidemic, as it was so aptly named, is just one example of the way addiction can affect large communities — not only those that suffer from substance abuse, but also their families, loved ones, and the medical system. The costs for treating addiction has put so many at a disadvantage. According to Addiction Centre, outpatient detox starts at $1000, inpatient and outpatient rehab can range anywhere from $5000 to $60,000 dollars (depending on the length of program), and medications like year-long methadone treatments can cost heroin users around $4700.
Despite the long-standing acknowledgment that substance abuse is a disease, there is a real stigma that surrounds those living with addiction — the idea that it isn’t “real” or that people “just need to get over it” has prevented so many from seeking help. This, understandably, leads to feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness.
Forget the financial burden that weighs on so many — it costs lives, through suicide and overdose.
In an article for CBC, the Toronto Public Health called on the federal government to decriminalize drugs as a way of tackling the opioid crisis. It was reported that 521 people were confirmed dead due to opioids in 2020, a 78% increase from 2019.
This method, while a strong attempt to help curb addiction by allowing substances to be obtained in legitimate settings without fear of penalty, still fails to recognize addiction as a mental health disease and provide accessible treatment options that deal with the chemistry, not just the symptoms.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance abuse (which includes illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco) costs the US about $600 billion annually and continues to grow. Things like healthcare costs, workplace productivity loss, criminal justice, research and prevention, public assistance and social services, traffic collisions, fires, and intangible costs like decreased quality of life — these are all considered when analyzing the statistics on drug abuse.
According to researchers, the economic burden of addiction is more than twice that of any other neurological disease.
For the individual, the drugs themselves can be costly with cocaine costing between $8000 to $10,000 a year, and heroin costing upwards of $50,000 to $70,000. Other additional expenses could be things like healthcare, legal fees, and other social costs. Not to mention, more often than not, substance abuse can lead to a loss of regular income with users often struggling to maintain employment.
Substance abuse treatment works far beyond the cost of the treatment itself by also reducing associated health and social costs. NIDA explains that addiction treatment can not only increase employment prospects by 40%, but also, for each dollar spent on addiction treatment, an estimated $4 to $7 is yielded due to a reduction in drug-related crime and theft (by about 40 to 60%).
As mentioned, the cost of one full year of methadone maintenance treatment is approximately $4,700 per patient, whereas one full year of imprisonment costs approximately $24,000 per person. The issue with both of these “solutions” is that they act like bandaids, with methadone, for example, acting as a slow-releasing opioid that users can still get addicted to.
With millions of people struggling with addiction, and only a small percentage going on to seek treatment, how can we help and keep people on track?
MINDCURE is working diligently to study and manufacture synthetic, pharmaceutical grade ibogaine to improve the quality of life, and even provide lasting freedom for those living with addiction.
Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance derived from the bark and roots of a shrub native to West Africa, the Tabernanthe iboga. Since the 1960s, ibogaine has shown itself to be an effective and non-addictive tool against substance abuse withdrawal symptoms when used in controlled settings.
Ibogaine has also caused quite the divide in the clinical community due to the fact that large doses have shown to pose serious health concerns like ventricular arrhythmia. This led to the substance being classified as a schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act in the US.
However, in an observational study conducted in New Zealand where ibogaine is legal, a single treatment reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms and achieved opioid cessation or sustained reduced use in dependent individuals as measured over 12 months.
By synthesizing ibogaine (the native plant is quickly going extinct), MINDCURE is creating an opportunity for a sustainable and regulated supply to be used in clinical trials, and down the line by clinicians in psychedelic therapy settings.
MINDCURE’s work with ibogaine is helping to create a new treatment option in the face of addiction epidemics like the opioid crisis, and as it currently stands, 90% of those struggling with addiction can’t even access the help they need.
We’re still a ways away from utilizing treatments like ibogaine therapy to treat addiction, but with more and more spaces providing researchers with funding and data, the closer we get to finding real cures for addiction.
To read more about our work with ibogaine, check out our website MINDCURE.com
September 17, 2021
The Oxford dictionary defines stigma as “A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” What the definition doesn’t tell us is that stigma also creates feelings of fear and shame, stopping people in their tracks from seeking help, asking questions, and sharing their experiences.
For a long time, stigma was a huge proponent in the mental health care realm, preventing many people from seeking treatment for their disorders. According to Johns Hopkins University, an estimated 26% of Americans 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, and roughly 17.3 million adults in the US have had at least one major depressive episode.
Moreover, an estimated 40 million adults in the US have anxiety disorders.
Over the past year and some, mental health issues amongst North Americans and globally have skyrocketed. This shared crisis, while terrifying to experience, has also helped bring the importance of mental health to the forefront of society, and remove some of the social stigmas that surround it. People are finally starting to share their experiences and find ways to improve their mental health. One avenue that's only now starting to become more available is psychedelic-assisted therapy.
During the 1960s and 1970s, stigmatization of psychedelic substances also put a halt to years of clinical research. In the last 10 years, this research has experienced a resurgence. Piggying off the back of cannabis legalization but with a clinical twist — psychedelic substances available in therapeutic settings in the hopes that people can access this type of support on their mental wellness journey.
Despite punitive drug control laws created in the 1970s, positive clinical research findings have emerged today that demonstrate the therapeutic usefulness of psychedelic substances in helping to treat mental health disorders like PTSD, anxiety, depression, addiction, and other treatment-resistant disorders.
As more and more research comes forward emphasizing the power of these substances in treating mental health, easier access to clinical studies and more technology to help clients with their psychedelic journey — the stigma that formerly surrounded these “party drugs” may just disappear.
In the 1950s and '60s, the psychedelic movement boomed in both clinical and civil settings. In clinical settings, researchers like Timothy Leary and Ram Dass were making strides in utilizing drugs like LSD to help treat anxiety and other psychological disorders. While in civil settings, Leary was also encouraging American students to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.”
It was the latter that played a huge role in the stigma that started to play out in the mainstream message surrounding psychedelics. In 1971, President Nixon launched the war on drugs, a concerted effort to curb the illegal consumption of drugs by increasing penalties, enforcement, and incarceration for offenders. 1971 was also the year that the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances was held, classifying psychedelic substances like psilocybin and MDMA as NPS or New Psychoactive Substances.
In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration was created and classified NPS substances as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. These drugs are defined as having no accepted medical use and presenting a high opportunity for abuse.
Since psychedelic substances were classified as Schedule I drugs, clinical research ceased and the study of psychedelic substances as treatment options for mental health disorders came to a standstill.
The fact remains that over the last 50 years, the number of controlled drugs which are regulated under the 1961 UN convention has not changed much.
And in the July 2020 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, doctoral candidate Andrew Yockey called for a depoliticization of LSD, which would make studies of its therapeutic potential possible.
Yockey emphasized that efforts to reduce drug use should focus on more harmful substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and fentanyl. “These drugs can kill you, LSD cannot,” Yockey says. “We need to rectify our messaging.”
This sentiment has been echoed time and time again, but the promise for change is held tight by regulations that are only now starting to see change.
As mentioned, the last 10 years have seen a huge return to psychedelic research. Calls asking for changes to the regulatory landscape by clinicians and researchers have paved the way for how companies, universities, and research centers can study the effects of psychedelic substances on mental health disorders, turning towards the data.
In 2012, the FDA introduced the Breakthrough Therapy designation that expedited the development and review of drugs that had preliminary clinical evidence to prove substantial improvement over available therapies for serious or life-threatening diseases.
This was the start of a turning tide:
Health Canada is also starting to acknowledge the need for change to address the growth in mental health challenges faced by Canadians. In August 2020, they began approving ground-breaking exemptions under a Section 56 application, enabling access to legal psychedelic-assisted therapy for the first time in approximately 40 years.
Health Canada writes, “Predictability is a critical element of a clinical trial sponsor's planning.” Predictability, understanding, and data has become a huge proponent in the successful sponsoring of psychedelic-focused therapy trials. And while the red tape associated with these trials has proven burdensome, often stopping research in its tracks — it’s also provided undeniable evidence towards the effectiveness of these substances.
Currently, MINDCURE is developing psychedelic research programs are psychedelic knowledge to help create real solutions for ongoing and under-treated mental health issues. For example, by developing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine, MINDCURE is helping to provide researchers with the resources they need to identify the drug’s medicinal uses and risks, while establishing care protocols.
This growth in psychedelic research, the increasing prevalence of depression and other mental health disorders, and the growing acceptance of psychedelic drugs as treatment has led to psychedelia becoming a major disruptor not only in the health space, but also the market.
According to Data Bridge Market Research, the psychedelic market is projected to grow 16.3% over the next eight years, reaching $6.85 billion by 2027.
Investors are paying attention and 2020 demonstrated quite the leap with well over $220 million being raised by private companies, and several going public.
The views and laws that governed psychedelics in the past are clearly evolving, people are acknowledging their efficacy in treating mental health disorders and the stigma surrounding these substances is finally beginning to loosen.
Click here to read more about our research.
September 14, 2021
Let's take a trip down memory lane. The year is 1969. Nixon is president, homosexuality is a criminal offence, and Charles Manson is on the loose. But hey, it's not all bad. Homosexuals can now legally order alcohol in New York state (note my sarcasm).
But there also aren't many bars willing to serve gays, despite said new legal status. Meanwhile, expensive liquor licenses complicate the matter all the more.
Enter the Stonewall Inn. Frequent host to all the bells and whistles you'd expect in a Hollywood movie: New York, mafia, and police raids.
It's June 28, and police officers have arrived (yet again) at the Stonewall Inn to investigate potential illegal liquor sales. And guess who in the bar they targeted for arrest? The cross-dressing staff and patrons. It seems this wasn't about alcohol at all. I have to wonder if the officers were busy counting how many cross-dressing items each arrested individual was wearing. After all, per Masquerade Law, it was illegal to wear more than three items of gender-inappropriate clothing.
That night, as word spread across the city, protesters gathered in the thousands. These protests would continue over the next week. On the same day, one year later, the first Pride march took place in New York City to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising. The rally evolved into Gay Pride Day, and over time became the month-long celebration of events and commemoration we recognize this month.
So here we are, back in the present discussing some ugly truths about the exclusion of the LGBTQI+ community in society and psychedelic research, as well as to present compelling reasons for hope. But let me first say, such reflection should never reside exclusively within a single month: this is a 365-day affair, folks.
"Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free." — Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 1984
Social inequities aren't erased via recognition or parades. While Pride Month opened more opportunities for diversity celebrations, our past remains like an object in our rearview mirror. Sure, time goes on, but the ugly memory lane appears to be closer than the years that separate it from our present.
Not all that long ago, medical professionals used psychoactive agents as conversion therapy options. And LGBTQI+ folks were excluded from studies altogether.
"The promise of psychedelic-assisted therapy to address trauma may represent a unique hope for trans and gender diverse individuals," writes Jae Sevelius, PhD in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy with Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals. "However, trans and gender diverse people are vastly underrepresented in clinical research, and trials of psychedelic-assisted therapy have been no different. Generally speaking, data on gender identity beyond "male/female" is not collected in these studies."
Yet, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, sexual and gender minorities are three times more likely to experience mental health conditions like depression or generalized anxiety disorder.
"They're also significantly more likely to struggle with their relationship to substances," notes Shelby Hartman in Where are All the Queer People? "Twenty to thirty percent of LGBTQI+ individuals overuse alcohol, tobacco, and/or drugs relative to nine percent of the general population. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death among LGBTQI+ youth, ages 10 to 24."
Enter psychedelic therapy.
"Once something is no longer illicit, punishable, pathologized, or used as lawful basis for raw discrimination or acts of violence, that phenomenon will no longer be able to represent or deliver on subversion, the subcultural, the underground, the fringe, in the same way" ― Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
Psychedelics are proving more and more to be tools for healing. And while this was the goal from the very start, perhaps our definition of healing is what's developed the most. Both MDMA and psilocybin have been scientifically proven to have positive effects in the treatment of PTSD. And while both are in the process of FDA approval for PTSD treatment, the term remains generalized. Who qualifies for PTSD treatment and legal psychedelic use?
Research associated with the LGBTQI+ community remains limited — and often anecdotal. But there's change on the horizon with LGBTQI+ focused doctors expanding the exploration of treatments, like drug researcher Terence Ching, who personally benefited from MDMA to embrace his sexual identity. For him, and oh-so-many, what these drugs do best is help one better understand one's identity.
"Psychedelics are like a cheat code in that they can show you what it's like to live your true self," writes Ivy Zmuda in her post Unlocking the Closet Door Through Psychedelics. "I believe psychedelics do tend to follow a similar law to those of thermodynamics, in that they don't create thoughts or ideas, but bring them into focus."
Psilocybin brought Ivy in touch with herself to admit and accept her gender; each trip was a way to reveal her truth further. Thankfully, experiences like hers are now getting scientific accreditation: "Psychedelic therapy can reduce identity threat and decrease its negative impact by allowing the client to heal and release internalized transphobia," writes Jae Sevelius, PhD.
"I had never taken a psychedelic before and had no idea what to expect," writes Rae Nieves. "The trip accelerated a journey toward self-acceptance that could have taken years," Nieves admits she'd have most likely come to the realization she was gay on her own time, but thanks psychedelics for speeding up the process. It's stories like hers that excite me for the psychedelic field's future — for moving anecdotes into the lab so we can back them up and expand their therapeutic use beyond PTSD, and ultimately, into the hands of more people who may benefit.
We're moving. We're progressing. Not nearly fast enough, but it's a trip we're taking and one where psychedelic therapy can help us along. I love the following quote by Bia Labate, anthropologist and executive director of Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, as reported in How Psychedelics Help with Gender Identity and Transition. "Psychedelics can help you revisit your definitions of self and your relationship to others and the universe." And the reason I love this quote is that it addresses the journey to understand one's place in the universe — and that, my friends, no matter which color we identify within the rainbow's spectrum, is universal.
See the original post in Green Entrepreneur.
September 9, 2021
Updated Since August 2021
In her talk "The Call to Courage," Brené Brown explained the fastest way to get a curious neighbor seated next to her on an airplane to lose interest in her and to look the other way. She simply had to tell him/her what she did for a living. Brown studies shame — shame. The word alone is enough to stifle a seat-mate's curiosity. Shame is one of those uncomfortable topics best left taboo — why not just discuss the weather?
I find myself in a similar position when I drop the word psychedelics. Pair it with "mental health" and it's a double whammy. While this field of work is guaranteed to elicit an emotion — curiosity first and foremost, the truth is, not everyone pursues their curiosity. Many do indeed turn the other way. And hence, the world of psychedelics exists, for many, as a colorful and trippy world for the existential hippie.
But what if you flip the order of the conversation from, "Hi there, I'm Kelsey Ramsden, CEO of MINDCURE, a mental health company investigating therapeutic uses for psychedelic drugs," to "I'm Kelsey Ramsden, two-time winner of Canada's Top Female Entrepreneur." The average interlocutor no longer turns the other way. Rather, I've gained their respect. Labels, awards, and publicly recognized honors are like a warm blanket. I'm suddenly safe. In my mind, I've just built a platform on which to throw a curveball — more on that later.
Labels aside, I want to pay homage to said platform, like the one I've built which stands upon the shoulders of many women before me. Women who have accomplished incredible work and research in psychedelics, women who were vilified in much more severe ways than risking an airplane seat-mate to turn the other way. And what better time to talk about women pioneers of psychedelics than during International Women's Month?
Let's go way back. I'm talking about Adam and Eve. Our girl Eve was described in a book review by Patricia C. Morningstar, PhD, as "the first drug user, abuser, and law defier, since eating the forbidden fruit … approximating the effects of a sacred drug plant that temporarily produces feelings of cosmic perspective." In other words, she consumed a controlled substance to alter her cognition and then was punished for it.
Did we fall so far from the tree?
Eve was curious, brave, a survivalist. Indeed, a necessary toolkit to make it in the early days. Survivalism aside, for many cultures, past and present, psychedelics have been used to induce a kind of rebirth. When we start to acknowledge such powerful uses for psychedelic substances, it's hard to fathom the stigma that overtook psychedelics over the past 60 years.
The early years of psychedelic research saw similar experiences, with psychedelics becoming the new forbidden fruit. Eve's apple brought knowledge and suffering, whereas psychedelics offered deeper knowledge and healing — an end to suffering. Still, research halted in the 1970s.
Well, let's call it a hiatus. Eve, as a woman taking the first steps into a mind-altering substance, is not alone. The accomplishments of our predecessors are not wasted. Their legacy lives on with the women leading the renaissance of psychedelic research.
We'll get to those women in my next piece. First, I want to talk about what was holding them back.
Let's first point out the obvious: Women faced the challenge of gender discrimination that discouraged their presence in education, career options, and other spheres dominated by men.
For example, researchers looked at LSD as a potential treatment for alcoholism. But since gender segregation prevented women from attending pubs even into the 1970s, men developed alcoholism more rapidly. This resulted in men owning the space of LSD-assisted therapy for alcoholism.
Additionally, women in "child-bearing years" were discouraged and excluded from participating in clinical trials for fear of risking their bodies' reproductive abilities. You know the drill, send 'em back home where they can clean and produce offspring.
Of course, these reasons hint at the societal context and misconception that positioned women as lesser beings who were just not smart enough for life sciences (a.k.a., "men's work"). Many women involved in research co-authored their findings with men or worked behind the scenes, hiding their names and sacrificing deserved credit to improve the study of psychedelic substances.
In our current psychedelic renaissance, we're looking to them.
Remember when the majority of homes were single-family income because women were at home? Of course you do, because it wasn't that long ago. Historian Erica Dyck, PhD, explains in an interview how this arrangement allowed for men and women to contribute to the husband's role. Dr. Dyck claims that "Women were almost always involved in the counseling sessions, recruitment, etc., but are very rarely identified in the published work. The legacy of that history continues to distort our understanding of who does the work, and what kind of work is valued."
Wives provided feedback, took notes, and even participated in psychedelic experiences. Laura and Ellen Huxley, Mary Agnew, and Rose Hoffer comforted their husbands, participated in critical reflections, and set the framework for hallucinogenic guides and sitters. While these roles were behind the scenes, they were crucial nonetheless.
We can't celebrate the benefits of psilocybin without keeping the memory of Maria Sabina alive. Everything we know about magic mushrooms, we owe to her. And yet, hers is a tale of a witch hunt akin to those in Salem.
Maria Sabina, knowing the precarious line she straddled, was reluctant to share her knowledge of magic mushrooms with Valentina and Robert Gordon Wasson in 1955. The couple later presented it in 1957 via Robert Wasson's Life Magazine photo essay "Seeking the Magic Mushrooms" and Tina's This Week interview, "I Ate the Sacred Mushrooms."
The good news? Sabina's openness brought psilocybin and psilocin into the spotlight. Albert Hoffman, the father-slash-actual discoverer of LSD, turned his attention to these substances for further studies.
The bad news? Despite the Wassons' use of the pseudonym Eva Mendez to protect her identity, Westerners found Sabina, abused her practices, and, according to Sabina, spoiled the mushrooms' powers. Sabina was arrested and imprisoned, her home burned, and her son murdered — all for sharing the "velada" purification ritual with foreigners. See what I mean about Salem?
And yet, if not for Maria Sabina, you likely wouldn't be reading this article, let alone getting to know psilocybin. She was an Eve in her own right — curious that her pseudonym was Eva.
There's no doubt Maria would have made plenty of people on the airplane uncomfortable were she to start talking about her work. It's the disruptors that are the issuers of change, and there are plenty more women to celebrate. Stay tuned for part two of this series, where I shed light on more women pioneers of psychedelics.
Mental health and psychedelics have carried their own stigmas, being labelled taboo in cultures around the world. On top of the already restrictive taboos, women in these industries have fought against social divisions in order for their voices to be heard. With determination and courage, women have brought about amazing changes to mental health.
MINDCURE’s Desire Project, which focuses on bringing solutions to market for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women, seeks to continue this legacy. By leveraging the voices of those traditionally silenced, we’re starting the conversation around the connection between women’s sexual and mental health.
See the original post in Green Entrepreneur.
March 14, 2022
Updated Since August 2021
Let’s talk about women who were ahead of their time, the curious, the risk-takers. The women who paid prices they should never have had to.
I’m humbled to stand upon their shoulders and their work, and I wish I could tell everyone about them. Every person seated next to me on the plane, train, or bypassing me on the sidewalk.
But work in psychedelics is not a conversation for everyone. For those willing to listen and learn, I’d come with my curveball — that we’re all hallucinating. Our lives are, as Seth Anil explains it, one big controlled hallucination. What our brains see and process is only part of the picture, unique to each of us. You can see numerous geometric sight tests to prove this concept, but I’ll use an everyday one. I had a bright blue face mask on my counter the other day, and every time I passed it, my brain told me it was my phone alighting with a new message. We move too quickly to perceive the whole picture, and we fill in the blanks with expectations, hopes, and learned experiences. Why, then, should enhancing that perception be anything short of miraculous–or healing?
In my last article, I discussed the barriers women faced in the industry’s history, including the severe prices women like Maria Sabina had to pay for their work. But there’s plenty more in addition to Sabina, so let’s continue the discussion by spotlighting more women pioneers of psychedelics.
While men in research relied heavily on their wives for support and documentation, Valentina Wasson was often leading rather than assisting. She first introduced R. Gordon Wasson to the world of mushrooms, though her husband often receives credit for bringing mushrooms to public attention in America. She then led the excursion that introduced Westerners to Maria Sabina and bravely published the account of her mushroom trip.
Perhaps the most notable of Valentina’s contributions was creating a connection between psilocybin and various treatments. It was after she experienced her spiritual healing in Sabina’s velada that she proposed psilocybin to treat pain associated with alcoholism, narcotic addiction, and mental disorders and end-of-life care. Later this treatment was reinforced by Laura Huxley, Joan Halifax, and many innovative researchers today.
Valentina Wasson helped build the cultural bridge that would lead to our current and developing understanding of psilocybin’s therapeutic benefits. Her groundbreaking interview is among many firsthand accounts that fueled psychedelic research.
Part of the pioneer’s legacy is delivered via documentation. And when it comes to women pioneers in this field, we owe a nod to Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy socialite, and the first woman to document a peyote trip. Sure, she had status on her side, yet writing about controversial topics in this era — specifically as a woman — took significant courage. Indeed, the societal consequences for such behavior in Manhattan, 1914 was enough pressure for Mabel to move to Mexico. There, she would start a literary community and continue peyote trips unthreatened by US drug laws.
Equally important when it comes to documentation is Adelle Davis, a writer and leading American nutritionist throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s. She was the first woman to publish (although in her pen name, Jane Dunlap) a full-length book on her LSD experiences, “Exploring Inner Space” (1961). The book covered five LSD experiences under psychiatrist supervision and insisted on the drug’s ability to help Davis overcome writer’s block, improve her mood, and enhance relationships with her family.
Although the food and health industry disagreed with Davis’ nutritional works, her criticism of and attachment to LSD as a means to “meet God” had a profound influence.
Talk about a subject that’ll render your airplane seat-mate uncomfortable — let’s discuss psychedelics and death. Not accidental — death, mind you — instead, a means to add beauty and comfort to the profound unknown. That’s what Laura Huxley helped pioneer by administering LSD to assist the dying. Throughout their marriage, Laura became an integral partner in Aldous Huxley’s psychedelic experiments. Upon Aldous’ final hours, Laura proposed the drug to decrease his anxiety and assist in his transition to the unknown. In the hours leading up to what was referred to by the physicians present as the “most beautiful death,” Laura gave Aldous 100 micrograms of LSD.
Connected to Laura Huxley’s notion of “Dying Healthy” is the work of American Zen Buddhist Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD. Halifax is known for her work on an LSD research project with terminally-ill cancer patients and a co-authored book, “The Human Encounter with Death.” Halifax has stated that her work is based on transforming the experiences of clinicians, patients, and the institutions that serve dying people. Throughout her career, Halifax maintains that LSD can help patients change their views of death. For one patient, in particular, she recounts how, “In the end, he was much more accepting of his mortality as his death drew near.”
Psychedelics are considerably associated with “near-death,” paranormal, and inexplicable phenomena that coincide with parapsychology. For medium Eileen Garret, Director of the Parapsychology Foundation, LSD’s uses don’t stop at death. Garret advocates for LSD’s ability in investigating parapsychological phenomena, finding it a “very serious method by which one reaches the deep levels of the unconscious self.”
As noted, many cultures have used psychedelics for sacred purposes, yet North American culture has dismissed such usage by and large. That’s where we thank Mary Barnard, an American poet best known for her translation of Sappho’s works. Barnard’s insights reinforce the “sacred” purposes of psychedelic substances. She suggested that mind-altering plants could be the origin of the sacred or spiritual, performing as “vehicles for a special kind of experience adaptable to the use of most religions that acknowledge an otherworld and permit its exploration.” The notion that psychedelics are the basis for imagination and spiritual beliefs has helped pave the way to destigmatization.
All these women have shown us that psychedelics are proven resources for our evolution and treatment. They blazed the trail for our current research into HSDD and the uses of ibogaine as we attempt to disrupt and drive change in the mental health and psychedelics industries. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the revolution.
See original post in Green Entrepreneur.
March 8, 2022
Data is behind almost everything we do — from the weather app we check in the morning to the ads we see on our social media. Data is supporting and informing all of these interactions.
The same goes for healthcare and, especially, mental health care. Data brings information, security, and efficacy to these industries — all factors that have soared for other industries, but lagged behind as ongoing pain points for both clinicians and patients. With the insights that widespread data collection can provide, care providers like clinicians and therapists would gain the ability to objectively measure and improve therapeutic results.
The collection of data to inform psychotherapy began in the 1950s and '60s when researchers like Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, and Andrew Weil were utilizing psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD to treat anxiety, depression, and PTSD in patients. At the time, there was a huge stigma that grew around psychedelics, denoting them as dangerous party drugs. The Controlled Substances Act that was passed in the 1970s aided in this myth surrounding psychedelic substances, and all of the research and data that had been collected went dormant.
In the last 10 years, psychedelic research has once again boomed, building on the research of the past. Now, that research looks forward to a more optimistic future, thanks to optimized methods to record, share, and analyze data with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and wearable technology.
Today’s psychedelic therapy venture hints to success with dozens of universities, health centres, and private clinical research centers advocating and informing on controlled consumption.
With its commitment to data collection and analysis of mental wellness data, iSTRYM is leading the app pack for data-informed psychedelic therapy.
The last two years have seen more data being collected than throughout the whole of human history. But where does it go? How does it help?
Well, that's just it. While the data in healthcare and psychiatry is there, it's hasn't been accessible or usable to benefit clinicians and their clients. Rather, we've seen developments in tech and data use in every other industry, such as delivery services, food and drink, entertainment, you name it.
Data informs. It allows us to make decisions based on collective information that has been analyzed and interpreted. The collection of data is nothing new, but the way we analyze and put it to use is an innovative ability that products like iSTRYM lead in.
Take digital epidemiology for example, which uses data to understand the patterns of disease and health dynamics in a population. Digital epidemiology grew by and large when increasing amounts of data became available on the internet, particularly through social media channels. Google Flu Trends, one of the earliest examples of digital epidemiology, used symptomatic search queries and flight data to successfully track influenza-like illnesses.
Technology has made healthcare extremely more affordable and accessible, leveraging data to better understand patients and their needs. Even the growth in wearable technology has aided in this large data collection, thanks to individuals' growing fascination with tracking their own health data, known as the quantified self movement.
iSTRYM has homed in on this movement by collecting biometric data from patients’ wearable devices that are paired to their smartphones. The data is then sent to the clinician’s iSTRYM platform to paint a full picture of client status.
The ability to capture large amounts of data and render valuable insights about patient health status and steps forward is crucial to success — especially in psychedelic-assisted therapy.
In an article for Technology Review, Jeremy Coyle at the University of California Berkeley says they’ve found a new way to study the role of psychoactive drugs on human perception. Highlighting the contrast to the lack of formal scientific literature in this area are the large volumes of narrative descriptions of the effects of these substances online. Their idea is to mine these descriptions using machine learning techniques to identify common features which would allow a quantitative comparison of their effects.
By leveraging machine learning and AI technology, iSTRYM connects clients to databases that allow them to track their physical and mental health with options to record things like weather data and heart rate and connecting them with speech technology like Speak AI, that uses machine learning to inform clinicians of a patient's status through tone and sentiment.
The app also connects clinicians to collective data, tailored to individual clients and supporting better outcomes by providing them with a plethora of information. The gaps that exist in the current healthcare model, are through no fault of their own, rather than a lack of ability to communicate between patient and professional. By providing supportive healing tools that collect and put data to use, with machine learning to understand the patient’s needs and challenges, iSTRYM helps clinicians create individualized care plans.
iSTRYM is improving mental health outcomes with data and technology. To read more, check out our website at MINDCURE.com.
February 2, 2022
Dig if you will a picture: I’m chatting with my buddy Courtney as the sun sets over the San Diego horizon. Pink and intense, warm — friendly. But we’re talking serious stuff: brain injury.
Courtney tells me about the time she was a camp counselor in France. She’s competitive, and so when playing “Capture the Flag” with the kids she went all out. Suddenly, she was flying across the slick grass of the Pyrénées, rebounding on her head. She got up, dusted herself off, laughed.
“I’m just going to head back to camp for a bit,” she said, slouching toward their commune. Along the way, a shepherd saw her, noticed her bizarre gait — but still, she waved him off. “Bonjour!” she said, but her voice was off. Everything was off. She’d experienced a concussion.
While we laughed at her story, I couldn’t help but liken it to experiences from my past. As an athlete — and perhaps more importantly, as someone who always plays hard — I’ve had plenty of moments where I have questioned my brain health. Anyone who has suffered a concussion or other brain trauma risks having been left with unanswered questions: Is this pain from my brain injury? Is this just your run-of-the-mill headache? Could my depression be related?
Thankfully, concussions and other brain injuries are now being taken more seriously. We’ve seen how soccer leagues and American football have come under scrutiny — fields where concussions were traditionally viewed as part of the game.
According to the National Institute of Health, one in five individuals may experience mental health symptoms up to six months after even a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). These factors may increase the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depressive disorder. The effects may be lifelong and can include issues related to emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression) along with impairments related to thinking or memory, movement, and sensations, such as vision or hearing.
Still, brain health, like mental health, is often taken for granted. Break a bone or sprain a ligament and the average person will get treated. They will have no qualms in talking about the injury or its prescribed treatment. But the discussion around brain health isn’t the same, hence the cliché: It’s all in your head.
As someone who has experienced concussions, I need scientific answers to brain-related issues. I’d rather take the issue head-on (forgive me). And what more ample opportunity to raise the topic than during National Brain Injury Month?
At MINDCURE, we’ve identified traumatic brain injury as a priority indication which shares important biological pathways associated to pain. But how we access these pathways is the more interesting question, and that’s where our investigation into the therapeutic potential of psychedelic compounds for TBI and related conditions comes into play.
Leading the charge for MINDCURE’s trauma and head injury research is Dr. Engle, Board Certified in Psychiatry and Neurology, with a clinical practice that combines functional medicine, integrative psychiatry, neuro-cognitive restoration. He is also author of the book The Concussion Repair Manual. Dr. Engle calls this era in brain health a “psychedelic renaissance in the redemption of modern psychiatric care.” In other words, this is where the market is headed. Not only are there more decriminalization efforts being made against psychedelics, but we also see increased FDA approvals for its therapeutic use, as well as renowned hospitals like John Hopkins, launching their own departments for psychedelic research.
Former MMA fighter Ian McCall said that psilocybin was the cure-all for brain damage. Daniel Carcillo quit the NHL and now dedicates his life to curing mental health-related symptoms due to TBI. The reality is, we've now got evidence that our rough and tumble passions may have left us feeling rough indeed, but now there's hope—the possibility of full recovery through psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
Knowing those with TBI often seek therapy for depression or addiction issues, we aim to help them with our research and technology. There is a multiplicity of plant medicines ideal for each specific symptom. By adding AI to the mix, we can provide speed to market with novel psychedelic therapies through deeper data analytics. iSTRYM is a digital therapeutic tool designed to provide close to real-time data regarding patient care, procedures and protocols, and other resources for therapists, clinicians, and patients with mental health concerns.
There’s a gap in the market: Most therapists still use pad and paper, and many cannot monitor their patients before and after a session. Moreover, how can they observe a patient on psychedelics when not in session? iSTRYM digitizes the patient experiences. The therapist becomes more informed before the patient returns. The platform's AI optimizes the patient's care based on the data collected during his/her actual experiences. It becomes both the therapist's and the patient's wingman.
Concussions and brain injuries are all too often anecdotes like my friend's, sometimes even viewed as rites of passage—while their residual effects are left discounted or tolerated. Brain injury deserves the same attention we give to broken bones and sprained ligaments—and not just in the short term.
Brain trauma and pain can be treated—the injury need not be mysterious or in your head. And so, I'm thrilled to see where research and AI platforms are leading us in its treatment. After all, humans have engaged with psychedelics the moment we discovered them. Finally, we're applying scientific backup and real-time data capture to prove what many of us have up until this time referred to only—as magic.
See the original post in Green Entrepreneur.
February 2, 2022
While Canadians are still getting used to medicinal and recreational cannabis, the research into medical-assisted drugs doesn’t stop there. Yes, apart from having superior cannabis, Canada is also the seed and budding flower for research into psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Psychedelics have been providing spiritual and medicinal benefits to various cultures for centuries. Now, in our current mental health crisis, Canada is the home base for research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs, as exemptions and scientific breakthroughs continue to push us that much closer to solutions and medically recognized uses for psychedelics.
Psychedelics are a class of psychoactive substances, either produced naturally or synthetically, that may affect perception, mood, and cognitive processes. For right now, we’ll focus on psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and ketamine and their current and projected medical and therapeutic presence in Canada.
Medical experts and researchers are interested in psychedelic substances like psilocybin and ketamine for their potential impact on pain and mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction. You can read about the various benefits, effects, risks, and even how to administer psilocybin and ketamine on Health Canada’s website.
Once upon a time, psychedelics showed a lot of spiritual, therapeutic, and medical potential. Insights into magic mushrooms and other psychedelics weren’t just happening where Timothy Leary, the beats, and the Haight-Ashbury hippies were. They were being researched all over the world: in Sweden, resulting in the discovery of LSD, and in Saskatchewan, as early as the 1940s. In fact, the word “psychedelic” was coined by Saskatchewan-based psychiatrist, Humphry Osmond, in 1957. And, of course, let’s not forget the timeless psychedelic spiritual and ceremonial traditions in cultures around the world.
For context, psychedelics, especially LSD, offered 1950s Western psychiatry an optimistic alternative to pill-popping dependency, years of therapy, long-term care in asylums, electroshock therapy, solitary confinement, and lobotomies. Aside from being inhumane, expensive, inefficient, and grossly ineffective, these methods also plagued mental illnesses with stigmas we still hold today.
So, the interest in psychedelic solutions was both economic and medically necessary for mental health care. This notion of progress fits well in today’s intersectional focus on mental well-being, efficiency, and cost.
Humphrey Osmond left Britain for Saskatchewan in 1951 as part of Premier Tommy Douglas’ medical experimental reformation. He began LSD and mescaline tests at Weyburn Mental Hospital in an attempt to model and understand schizophrenia and offer alcoholics reflection into their addictions before hitting “rock-bottom.” Osmond and Regina-based psychiatrist and biochemist, Abram Hoffer, became collaborators in a mission “to improve mental health and support provincial health-care reforms.” Their research into LSD eventually caught the attention of the CIA, and that’s a whole other story.
While psychedelics grew in popularity, so did abuse and stigmas, with research only in its infancy. Stigmas and fears about inflated risks began fueling a radical opposition aversion to psychedelics, as well as the “counterculture,” “hippies,” or “free spirits.” At the height of the controversy, The United Nations Economic and Social Council (1968) denounced psychedelics, as “an increasingly serious problem that could have very dangerous consequences” and proposed stronger restrictions.
Imagine the frustration of scientists and researchers, forced to abandon their work regarding psychedelics.
Despite stringent regulations around the legality, use, prescription, and provision of psychedelic drugs, the resurgence of psychedelics among Canada’s medical professionals, researchers, organizations, and public interest is gaining mainstream attention. This resurgence is due to a number of different factors:
Mental health care has become a necessary focus in our modern lifestyle. You could argue that it always has been, but society doesn’t have the same ignorance and stigmas around mental health today that it once did. We’re more equipped than ever to optimize mental health solutions. With so many people suffering from treatment-resistant illnesses, we can rely on innovation, as much as traditional spiritual remedies, to provide better care.
The social and legal evolution of cannabis proves things can change. In terms of our current regulatory landscape for psychedelics use, we have to thank the cannabis industry for the optimism in the potential changes to regulations, such as exemptions.
Talk about a “gateway drug.”
While promising, cannabis’ success shouldn’t cloud or belittle the work of psychedelic researchers. Remember, these studies are not new. Research into the medical potential of psychedelics has been going on for-basically-ever. We’re experiencing the Psychedelic Renaissance, a revival of the psychedelic uprising and revisiting of research that was paused, criminalized, buried, and forgotten in North America.
Psychedelic drugs like psilocybin are classed as Schedule III controlled substances under the CDSA. Schedules are based on danger, risk, or potential for abuse, starting at Schedule I, which includes MDMA and ketamine.
The regulations around psychedelics in Canada are many, but there are opportunities for exemptions fueling hope in the research world. In terms of therapeutics, there are some exemption loopholes in the name of research.
A recent exemption is allowing approved applicants with terminal illnesses to have psilocybin administered. Another exemption is allowing approved scientists, therapists, physicians, psychiatrists, and pharmacists to use certain controlled substances on themselves in order to understand the effects (like Osmond and Hoffer did); however, they cannot prescribe the drug to others. In an interview with CBC, physician Dr. Sean O’Sullivan says, “it's important for doctors who could eventually prescribe psychedelics to be well versed in their effects.”
Much like during the reforms in 1940s Saskatchewan, which pulled intellectuals from throughout North America to the province to observe the societal impact, psychedelics are propelling big changes.
In this constantly evolving landscape, we’ll likely see psilocybin, ketamine, and ibogaine in research, human trials, and alongside psychotherapy very soon, treating pain caused by addictions, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. In the meantime, MINDCURE continues in its mission to promote mental health through digital therapeutics, offerings, and psychedelic therapy.
Thanks for “tuning in.” Sorry, no party favors.
See the original post in Green Entrepreneur.
September 8, 2021
In the last 10 years, wearable technology has emerged as an exciting and accessible solution for not only monitoring your fitness activity but also your health. From watches that track your sleep pattern to clothing fitted with biosensors to track your heart rate, innovation in wearable technology continues to grow and expand.
According to research from Insider Intelligence, the use of wearable technology has more than tripled over the last 4 years. On top of that, 80% of consumers polled are willing to wear fitness technology day-to-day. This growing interest, the article suggests, is piloted by an increasing want by consumers to monitor their own health and keep track of their vital signs (also known as the quantified self-movement).
Wearable technology has revolutionized the pursuit of healthier lifestyles by providing round-the-clock personalized medical data. Today’s wearable technology can now even complement your mental health journey, optimizing therapy outcomes by connecting to apps like iSTRYM.
Wearable technology comes in many forms. In the mental health industry, specifically, wearables can include electronic devices worn by consumers that collect individual data, usually around personal health and exercise. This data can then be sent to the user’s mobile device to be collected and displayed for trend recognition. Wearable technology first boomed in popularity for the pure interest of tracking, but now — and especially in the realm of healthcare — these devices can send that individual health information to a doctor or clinician in real-time.
“Demand for wearables is projected to jump in the next few years as more consumers exhibit interest in sharing their wearable data with their providers and insurers,” says Insider.
Since its inception, wearable technology has expanded to include a variety of different tools:
Fitness trackers - According to HFE, since the 1960s, fitness tracking devices and their technology have developed at a rapid pace. Initially used as pedometers, this changed in the 1980s with the introduction of wireless heart rate monitors. Today’s fitness trackers like Fitbit or Fitbug do much more, including tracking your REM cycles when you sleep or the pace at which you walk, run, or bike.
Smartwatches - In 2015, smartwatches like the 1st generation Apple Watch generated $9 billion in sales. Smartwatches do everything that fitness trackers can while also connecting you to your mobile device notifications. In 2017, Apple also launched the Apple Heart Study app to monitor users’ heart rhythms, alerting those who are experiencing atrial fibrillation.
Smart clothing - Equipped with biosensors that not only track movement and heart rate, but also respiratory rate and temperature. Neviano Swimsuits even have UV sensors that alert your phone when levels are high and it's time to put on sunscreen.
Prosthetics - Prosthetic technology is constantly being tested and updated to give users more ease in their day-to-day lives. Today’s technology enables prosthetic limbs to become more intuitive by responding to the nervous system or brain signals, according to this Forbes article. “In the future, intelligent prosthetics like this, which respond to the individual’s commands more intuitively, may become the norm.”
Virtual reality headsets - Virtual reality headsets can keep you active with a variety of physical games. They even simulate your favorite training sessions. But they also enable you to immerse yourself in entirely new places like museums or beautiful countrysides. According to the article, Wearables in Medicine, the emergence of virtual reality headsets have also started to play a role in wearable health technology as they can provide imaginary environments, sounds, vibrations, and other sensations to observe and interact with. They can facilitate the management of mental and anxiety disorders including autism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), persecutory delusions, and phobias, by enabling patients to evaluate these mental challenges in virtual reality.
As mentioned, consumers love to track personal analytics. And wearables as medical technology are becoming a key proponent in this movement.
According to this bulletin from the World Health Organization (WHO), the last decade has shown a growing interest in big data and its role in transforming personal, clinical, and public health care. At an institutional level, the article says, “the analysis of electronic health records can expand the capacity to generate new knowledge through a larger observational evidence base.” Basically, the more information clinicians can collect from this data, the more knowledge they can derive to benefit the health care system.
Big data has already proven helpful in building accurate models of disease progression and providing personalized medicine in clinical practice. And by encouraging patients to participate in their own care, delivering personalized data, and integrating medicine with behavioral determinants of health, wearable technology has demonstrated a huge interest and response from consumers.
Wearables have allowed consumers to track and improve their health, but there has been little emphasis on what wearables can do for your mental health. Apps like iSTRYM are working hard to disrupt this space and bridge the gaps between internal states and therapy.
A leader in digital therapeutics, iSTRYM provides an app for patients and a platform for clinicians. By pairing a patient’s wearable devices to the iSTRYM app, this technology will change the space of healthcare by bringing clients closer to clinicians and allowing them to take control of their data and mental wellness
Ultimately, teaming wearables together with digital therapeutical software, iSTRYM is prepared to deliver integrative, personalized behavioral therapy in the form of breathwork, meditation, music, and voice and text journaling.
Digital therapeutics (also known as DTX) platforms are a fast-growing trend in the mobile health market that feature software products that can be used to treat medical conditions. Apps like iSTRYM act like individualized wellness tools that allow patients to take control of their health with features like:
As they evolve, wearable technologies have demonstrated the capability to help people pursue healthy lifestyles that benefit the body and mind. With exclusive partnerships with LUCID, SOMA Breath, and Speak Ai, iSTRYM dominates these capabilities by incorporating machine learning technology, data collection, and personalized wellness practices.
Machine learning is the ability for computers to identify patterns from data without explicit programming. This technology goes hand in hand with artificial intelligence (AI) in being able to utilize data to improve knowledge and provide optimal solutions.
Speak Ai, for example, uses machine learning to optimize natural language comprehension for users. This allows iSTYRM clinicians to get a better understanding of their client’s moods and intonations through the app.
With the iSTRYM app, not only are patients able to connect with their clinicians but are also able to track and record their own health data through wearable technology, improving results toward a more immersive and efficacious mental wellness journey.
To learn more, check us out at MINDCURE.com.
August 20, 2021
The last few years have witnessed a revival of psychedelics in research and therapy. Research has found that hallucinogens like ibogaine have therapeutic potential and can help treat conditions like PTSD, addiction, and depression. As these mind-altering drugs become part of mainstream therapy, our goal at MINDCURE is to build systems that advocate for treatment efficacy and safe practice spaces. Nonetheless, hallucinogens have come a long way from medicinal use to recreational and finally therapeutic, and without new clinical trials, these controversial drugs may never garner further investigation or support.
As groundbreaking clinical trials move through different phases of testing interventions with psychedelics, they not only help overcome any potential risks but also determine the drug’s efficacy and safe usage.
In the discovery phase, researchers gather viable research ideas and identify molecules with treatment potential that can translate into a clinical trial. The discovery phase is essentially a stepping stone for determining the course of a clinical trial. Most adequately, the discovery stage is a vetting process, whereby multiple molecules go through rigorous laboratory testing before warranting consideration for future clinical trials.
Essentially, preclinical studies include lab and animal testing to identify lead candidates and compounds for further investigation. Typically, this step can take up to five years before reaching clinical testing with humans. Even then, an investigational new drug (IND) application needs approval before testing can begin in humans. For instance, the FDA placed an almost two-year-long hold on the MAPS-sponsored MT2 phase 1 study. Moreover, it did not get resolved until a Formal Dispute Resolution Request (FDRR) was filed with the Office of Neuroscience.
Following preclinical studies, Phase 1 of clinical trials concentrates on measuring and establishing safety against any adverse reactions in human subjects. For example, the primary purpose of the MAPS MT2 phase 1 study is to determine the safety and evaluate any psychological effects of MDMA in healthy volunteers (HNV). By administering small doses of the drug in participating HNVs, researchers also identify a safe dosing range. For instance, Drs. Juan Sanchez-Ramos and Deborah Mash administered small doses of ibogaine at different concentration levels in their Phase 1 study to determine physiological and psychological effects in volunteers.
Almost 70% of potential new treatment drugs enter phase 2 of clinical trials. This stage follows a rigorous testing regimen to establish the safety and efficacy of the potential drug in a patient population.
MAPS has recently completed its second phase of clinical trials, testing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a potential treatment for anxiety associated with a life-threatening illness. The underlying hypothesis focuses on establishing the validity of the previously established dose ranges from a non-patient population. Phase 2 trials can last up to two years and usually involve a small sample size without a placebo group; therefore, it cannot conclude the drug’s efficacy. Despite this, Phase 2 trials provide an essential guide for designing Phase 3 of the clinical trial for conclusions.
Phase 3, or pivotal trials, are the final steps in establishing the drug’s efficacy and safety, and thus, require at least two successful attempts to gather sufficient supporting evidence. Only 33% of drugs make it to this phase, which requires rigorous testing across a wide population sample for conclusivity. Most of the Phase 3 trials are carried out across multiple research centers internationally. The first Phase 3 Study of MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD by MAPS took place in three countries: Canada, the US, and Israel. Given the large patient population required, these trials often last up to four years.
Once the drug passes all three clinical trials successfully, researchers and pharmaceutical companies can submit applications for approval to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. This regulatory body reviews the data and assesses the benefits and risks before approving manufacturing and public distribution. However, FDA approval for psychedelics has always been a tough journey. Therefore, FDA approval for Johnson & Johnson’s ketamine-derived nasal spray for depression is considered a cornerstone in reviving and amping psychedelic research for therapeutic gain.
As researchers strive to understand the benefits of substances like ibogaine in psychedelic therapy, MINDCURE is determined to establish a regulated supply of synthetic pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine in order to foster research activities and support clinicians. Although the clinical trial process is long for traditional medication, the stigma attached to psychedelics may make it longer. Despite this, renowned research centers like MAPS and MINDCURE are resiliently moving forward to introduce psychedelics into mainstream use.
It’s believed by many that psychedelic-assisted therapy will provide a patient with a panacea, a solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases - often emphasizing the psychedelic part.
In truth, the real work and breakthroughs occur long after the trip has subsided, during, what is known as integration. Integration in psychotherapy can often be overlooked, but it’s a crucial step in the mental health journey. As psychotherapist Jane Garnett puts it, integration is the way in which we “metabolize the supranormal phenomena.”
As the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) website puts it, the last 10 years of psychedelic research have been astounding, with numerous clinical trials being conducted. Leading universities like Johns Hopkins have created dedicated research facilities with MDMA and psilocybin that are on the precipice of approvals as mainstream medicines. With that, researchers and practitioners are adamant that, while psychedelics are powerful substances with incredible healing potential for various indications, including addiction, pain, depression, anxiety, and more, they aren’t exactly a one-stop shop for betterment. It takes a process, tools, and professional supports to drive real clinical results. A large part of that process is integration.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy is reentering the public eye as a powerful tool to help patients deal with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other treatment-resistant disorders. But the trip alone is only 5% of the work, according to Dr. Dan Engle, a primary investigator with MINDCURE.
By not following up a psychedelic experience with integration processes or just experiencing psychedelics outside of clinical settings, people often face difficulties reentering their day-to-day lives, having no one to share the experience with and no resources to help understand and digest the intricacies of the trip.
In an earlier article, we discussed the importance of preparing for your psychedelic session by determining set and setting, plotting out intentions, and building a strong rapport with your clinician. Your approach to psychedelics should essentially be a holistic one, one that looks at the whole picture: preparation, session, and integration as a single act towards transcendence and bettering yourself.
Read on to learn more about post-trip psychedelic integration, an integral part of ensuring what you see, feel, and experience is digested into your conscious being.
Entheogenic Research Integration & Education (ERIE) defines integration as “the process by which the material accessed and insights gained in a psychedelic experience are incorporated over time into one’s life in a way that benefits the individual and their community.” It’s about creating intentional space to make meaning of the feelings, sensations, and ideas that arise so that a patient can inform their day-to-day lives with actionable steps to heal.
The unfolding process, defined here, is a great example of integrating techniques and one that is crucial to successful integration. The concept is borrowed from humanistic psychology and, like our understanding of integration, “signals the continuous unraveling of insights about oneself and one’s relationship after a psychedelic experience.”
There are two types of unfolding processes: horizontal and vertical.
Horizontal unfolding is when new personal meanings are developed progressively over time, each building on the previous one.
Vertical unfolding is when new, radical meanings emerge randomly, along with an increased depth of reality.
Integration can be one of the most difficult stages of the therapeutic process because the intensity of symptoms can fluctuate, and patients may experience increased feelings of vulnerability, sadness, and anger. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, according to a survey of nearly 2,000 individuals who had an adverse experience with psilocybin, with one-third describing it as “one of the most challenging events of their lifetime.” Despite this, 84% reported positive, long-term outcomes.
There is a huge gap that exists between the psychedelic experience and everyday life, and without the proper resources in place, both externally and internally, it can be a struggle to reconcile these differences.
Psychedelics can trick you into thinking that when you come down from the mind-altering process you are automatically and profoundly changed. But if you rely on psychedelics to give you a “reset” without putting any work in, there’s not much keeping you from falling back into the same old patterns once you come down from those euphoric heights.
According to Chacruna, the term integration was first used in psychology with the treatment of PTSD or DID. It stressed the importance of unifying compartmentalized aspects of a patient’s personality developed under intense traumatic conditions. Integration in this framework allowed patients to develop internal communication channels and revise internal dialogue. Psychedelic integration works in much of the same way, helping individuals develop a higher tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty, increase self-compassion, and face the past without becoming overwhelmed with it.
Integration requires an ongoing commitment to continued mindful processing to help digest and contextualize the experiences of non-ordinary reality. By weaving the psychedelic experience into one’s ordinary life, sense of self, understanding of the world, and one’s place in it, we’re able to rewire our consciousness around challenges. They give us the starting point we need to begin healing. Then, integrative practices keep us on the right path.
Just as the psychedelic journey is an individual experience, so is integration. What works for one person might not work for the other. When beginning your integration journey, it’s important to remember that healing isn’t linear. Integration can be a lifetime commitment towards taking the learnings you experienced during your trip and applying them to your day-to-day life.
In an article on Medium, Garnett discusses planning for integration even before starting the journey. To her, there are three important categories to consider: set, setting, and support.
Set: How are you showing up to your practice? Time and time again, the emphasis on having a positive intention (not expectation) and clearing mental house can be helpful to orient your trip.
Setting: Where will you physically be experiencing the psychedelic session and with whom? In The Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary, individuals are encouraged to set aside up to three days to process their insights, so there’s “sufficient time for reflection and meditation.” Leary says that returning to work too hastily can “blur the clarity of the vision and reduce the potential for learning.” Setting can include the space, people, and tools used to create a safe, supportive environment. This can include music, furniture, lighting, and more.
Support: Trust is a key component in a successful psychedelic-therapy session. Psychedelic clinicians know to take the time to build a rapport with their clients. For this reason, digital health tools like iSTRYM make building therapeutic relationships easier. That way, your healing process isn’t interrupted once you leave the clinic. Professional support can make all the difference in successful integration as it helps you to derive insights from your psychedelic experience, ground your thoughts, and encourage healthy coping skills.
Psychedelic Support shares this great list of other areas that can help during integration:
One of the best ways to integrate a psychedelic healing into everyday life is with a fully immersive digital health tool. MINDCURE’s iSTRYM technology provides clinicians with a platform and their clients with an app, making integration accessible, efficient, and part of a daily routine.
After a session, the app allows patients to stay in contact with their clinician, helping to foster a trusting relationship and scheduling future sessions. With iSTRYM, clinicians also have access to a platform that monitors mood, weather, and biometric data, such as heart rate. These factors help clinicians understand how patients are interacting with the psychedelics and therapy.
The app also provides patients with interactive integrative practices, including SOMA Breath breathwork courses, journaling with Speak Ai language processing, LUDIC music, meditation, and more — key factors for successful integration.
Check out our website to learn more about how MINDCURE technology can help you bridge the gap between the psychedelic-assisted journey and everyday self.
February 2, 2022
We’re at the forefront of the psychedelic renaissance. Western medicine and therapeutic practices are bringing entheogens (hallucinogenic substances used in religious or spiritual processes) into mainstream use. However, conversations about reciprocity, inclusion, and decolonization render exploration.
Several clinical trials and therapeutic alliances have established the validity of these psychedelic compounds for treating various physical and psychological illnesses. For instance, ketamine is known to help treat depression and ibogaine to treat addiction. However, these conscience-altering plant medicines for healing purposes have a complicated history with modern bureaucratic establishments.
The future of psychedelic psychiatry depends on sustainability and reconciliation with Indigenous communities. As we catapult into a new era of psychedelic therapy for mental health treatment, MINDCURE’s research efforts are setting an example for a holistic, inclusive, and decolonized industrial paradigm.
With over 150 species of hallucinogenic plants identified worldwide, our knowledge and understanding of their origins are heavily redacted and shadowed by colonial teachings. And that statement isn’t limited to entheogens. Over 40% of current Western pharmaceutical drugs, such as Taxol and Aspirin, use medicinal plants from Indigenous traditions. Many of these drugs have origins in the Amazon, where Indigenous communities have suffered a millennium of biopiracy at the hand of foreign nationals. According to ethnobotanists Robert Voekle and Charlotte Green, such agencies have considered Native knowledge as “open access,” thereby extracting unsanctioned resources from Indigenous lands without due recognition or benefits.
Despite undergoing devastation and oppression, Indigenous communities deserve a celebration for their contributions to modern medicine. The use of psychedelic plants can be traced back thousands of years to Indigenous cultures that have used their healing powers in spiritual and cultural traditions.
For instance, peyote ceremonies have been a part of Native American culture for over 5000 years, often guided by shamans through songs for spiritual healing. These cactus buttons have hallucinogenic effects lasting almost 12 hours. Records dating back to 3780 BCE highlight peyote use by the Huichol, Tarahumara, and other people in the region. These psychedelics were claimed to help users in pilgrimages to the underworld where their souls could be reborn. You will also find documentation of peyote use by pre-Mayan cultures around 1500 BCE.
Similarly, statues were found in Central and South America from 1000 to 1500 BCE that were erected in honor of Fungi Gods. Magic mushrooms were common in Aztec rituals and often served with aphrodisiacs, such as chocolate and honey. Aztec ceremonies also included crushed tlitlilzin or morning glory seeds to achieve heightened awareness and spiritual enlightenment. Magic mushrooms were also a part of the Mazatec and other pre-Colombian Mesoamerican communities. However, these communities ate and smoked the mushrooms together for an elevated experience and fast healing.
Other research on the 18th-century use of psychedelics revealed that, as a puberty ritual or rite of passage, the Eastern North American Algonquin would confine and feed their adolescents a drink made with Datura (also known as Jimson Weed or Devils Snare). The two-week confinement period helped them learn about their role as a “man” in the community.
Across the world, in South and Western Africa, the Bwiti practitioners and the Gabon tribes have used iboga for healing, spiritual cleansing, and rites of passage. N'gana or shamans facilitate these ceremonies and interpret the visions. The Bushmen of Dobe, Botswana, have tapped into the psychoactive healing powers of “kwashi” by injecting the juices through an incision in the scalp.
In Asia, religious congregations during the Vedic period (1500 to 500 BC) included a drink, “Soma.” It was offered to the gods and consumed by the priest for its strong hallucinogenic properties. Another group of Hindu followers, Sadhus, smoked Datura for its spiritual and physiological healing properties for conditions like asthma.
Although plant medicines have been used peacefully by Indigenous peoples for centuries, there is a growing movement among the psychedelic community regarding the criminalization and demonization of Indigenous cultures that rely on sacred medicines that are now being monetized.
According to 2027 market projections, the psychedelic drug market will grow by 16% annually. This means by 2027, it will reach $6.85 million. As the industry grows, so do the responsibilities for inclusion and reciprocity.
Many companies are now looking into giving Indigenous people community stakeholdership. However, outreach efforts may face some backlash if they approached communities without a designated spokesperson. In this case, guidance and support from Indigenous rights advocates are ideal.
Companies in the psychedelic space can donate to the Chacruna Institute’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas, which encourages investments into Indigenous communities to “help support Indigenous groups and the traditional ecological knowledge they practice.”
Additionally, companies can also adopt principles and protocols like the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC),which mandates that government and corporate bodies respect the rights, cultures, traditions, and lands of Indigenous peoples. Similarly, the Nagoya Protocol by the UN. This biodiversity agreement is based on a 35-year long collaboration with Indigenous leaders to fight biopiracy.
Although these protocols protect Indigenous lands and plants from undue extraction and extinction, efforts should also include developing synthetic compounds. For instance, MINDCURE’s solution is to synthesize ibogaine, a compound derived from the iboga plant in West Africa. By synthesizing pharmaceutical grade ibogaine, MINDCURE will not only help protect the endangered plant and prevent further harm to the depleting resource, but will also continue the legacy built by Indigenous peoples who recognized the healing potential of ibogaine.
The future psychedelic therapy depends on the decriminalization of Indigenous culture and its traditional medicines. At MINDCURE, we believe in advocating for building safe psychedelic therapeutic environments that utilize synthetic plant compounds rather than depleting resources.
When it comes to the use of psychedelics in therapy, it’s the job of everyone involved — patients, clinicians, and support — to reduce harm. You wouldn’t start using heavy machinery before reading an instruction manual, or go on vacation without packing the essentials.
Preparation with psychedelics and, more importantly, psychedelic therapy is just like that. An agreement you have with yourself, your trip sitter, counselor, and clinician to understand and prepare for your mental health journey.
The trip itself is only 5% of the journey; the real healing comes from the groundwork you put in place before embarking and the techniques you use long after the trip.
Here, we’ll talk about what preparation is, what it could look like, and how it optimizes psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions.
Preparation in psychedelic therapy involves specific language, intentional actions, and a willingness to be open. Understanding these factors helps both patients and practitioners get the most out of the psychedelic therapy experience. Below are just a few of the many actional items that individuals can add to the prep list to help foster a transcendent, safe, and empowering experience.
It’s important when preparing for a session to keep your clinician in the loop on any physical or mental changes that have occurred between booking the appointment and undergoing the session. Topics worth noting include increases or decreases in anxiety or depression levels, suicidal ideation, and/or shifts in heart rate or blood pressure levels.
Of course, it’s not exactly easy to recognize these factors in ourselves (especially the internal, biometric data). The abilities to monitor and make sense of such changes are skills reserved for the psychiatric experts and technologies we rely on in therapy.
Discussing with your clinician the broad range of psychological effects that you could experience is also extremely important to help establish context, understanding, and trust between you and the psychedelic substances.
Besides asking outward questions to your clinicians, it's important to ask yourself some questions too. The psychedelic experience is a very personal journey. Asking yourself why you are pursuing this path and what you hope to gain (or overcome) from the experience are just a few ways to help you prepare for psychedelic experiences.
Intentions are crucial to the psychedelic experience. An intention is defined as “a simple statement that articulates the way you would like to show up for the session, the themes in your life you would like to address, or states of being you wish to embody.”
This is accomplished through language and sentiment processing and recording actions, which can be done by writing them down or repeating phrases to oneself. In yoga and mediation, this is called a mantra. During a psychedelic therapy session, a guide may encourage clients to phrase their intentions as requests, such as, “Show me how to love myself” or “Teach me how to be patient.” Writing your intentions down is important to fully invest in them and the experience.
While intentions are necessary, it’s important to understand that they differ from expectations. Where intentions or goals can put an individual on the right track for their experience, expectations can hinder it.
During the first clinical trials of the '50s and '60s, Timothy Leary, one of the founding fathers of psychedelic research, catalyzed the terms set and setting, helping to define the experience.
Set is the individual mindset with which one enters the experience. Being calm, trusting, and receptive allows the psychedelics to work their magic on your mind. Clearing house is a term that describes clearing the mind by completing all the tasks (like those dirty dishes, or those emails you keep putting off) that could take you away from your intention. Think, "mindset." To help create a positive set, research recommends:
Setting refers to the physical environment that houses the psychedelic session. Psychedelic experts use a number of practices when preparing the setting for a psychedelic session:
All of this preparatory work helps you to trust, let go, and be open — tenets of a successful psychedelic experience as practiced by the Zendo Project, an organization sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). This project focuses on psychedelic harm reduction. Working under the knowledge that people often experience psychedelics outside of a supervised medical context like psychedelic-assisted therapy, their work is to ensure that people have the knowledge to trip as safely as possible.
As each person is different, so are the ways they heal (and trip!). That means personalized supports are incredibly important for mental health patients, but more specifically, for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy patients. In preparing for psychedelic therapy, patients can get the most out of their healing experience, with a focus on harm reduction and sustained outcomes. In order to effectively prepare, MINDCURE focuses on building resources that optimize communication between clinicians and their patients.
MINDCURE’s iSTRYM app provides the tools and functionalities to empower patients to prepare for their first and subsequent psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions. iSTRYM brings new meaning to psychedelic healing by optimizing the Cleanse and Integration stages in psychotherapy.
Built with preparation practices to prime the patient for their medical sessions, the app is ideal in setting the stage for healing. These practices include exclusive SOMA Breath breathwork courses, journaling through Speak Ai language processing, yoga, meditation, and more. iSTRYM also enables patients to stay in touch with their clinician, building trust into therapeutic relationships with data and chat tools. With iSTRYM, clinicians access a platform to monitor mood, weather, and biometric data, such as heart rate. These factors help clinicians understand how patients are interacting with protocols.
Check out our website to learn more about how MINDCURE technology can help individuals prepare for psychedelic-assisted journeys.
February 2, 2022
Death can be a scary concept for many. The fear of the unknown keeps death a taboo topic, affecting how we prepare for the big transition and how we live our lives. But as an inevitability, it’s something we need to learn to come to terms with.
Of course, death has many associations. There’s the obvious, actual death, the little death experienced after sex, and finally ego-death (which supplies a time for rebirth and transcendence). From helping individuals confront their fears of dying, to helping individuals confront sexual issues and achieve orgasm, to creating new beginnings for individuals on mental health or spiritual journeys, research and clinical studies are proving that strong doses of psychedelic substances like DMT, ibogaine, psilocybin, and MDMA are incredibly powerful tools.
Since the 1960s, psychedelics have been studied and used to help treat patients for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other treatment-resistant disorders. Due to the criminalization of psychedelic substances, these studies became dormant, and we lost years of research and growth in the field of psychedelic-assisted therapy. In the last 10 years, the rebirth of psychedelic-assisted therapy has once again brought out positive responses to treating mental health disorders. More and more research is being conducted to show how psychedelics can not only help people achieve ego death but feel more at peace with actual death.
And thanks to new technology, scientists, therapists, psychologists, and clinicians are able to record the effects of these substances in new ways using brain mapping technologies like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Read on to learn more about how psychedelics can help patients move towards death, improve life and sex lives, and change their mindsets for the better.
Psychedelics aren’t known to actually bring on the “little death” but they have been found to help people heal from sexual trauma, make sex better, and increase low libido.
What is this little death we speak of? It’s a french expression (la petite mort) that refers to the brief loss or weakening of consciousness after sex — that post-orgasm fatigue.
In a Vice article, New York psychologist, Neal Goldsmith, discusses how psychedelics enhance sexual experiences, saying it can be more “emotional, visceral, hormonal, or psychological.” For example, psychedelic substances like magic mushrooms and LSD enhance your sense of touch. Substances like MDMA, in particular, help to facilitate positive connections with another person by promoting the release of hormones like oxytocin and prolactin, which open pathways in the brain for trust and bonding.
MDMA also reduces activity in the amygdala, which regulates fear. This, Goldsmith says, is how MDMA can help patients who have suffered from sexual trauma. They’re able to “overcome the pain of their experience, and therefore engage in safe, consensual, and enjoyable sex.”
The growing use and acceptance of psychedelic-assisted therapy towards issues like trauma and low libido have allowed patients to become more open to discussing traumatic experiences, thus allowing them to explore and increase their sexual appetite.
It sounds like everyone could use a little death.
One of the greatest trials in psychedelic-assisted treatment that are currently being conducted and proven effective is the use of psychedelic substances to help people deal with major anxiety and depression related to diagnoses of terminal illnesses.
Research that began in the 1950s and ‘60s, showed the major potential for psychedelic substances to alleviate depression and suffering associated with terminal illnesses. Cancer, for example, is one of the leading causes of global morbidity and mortality. And, psychological and existential suffering is common among cancer patients, due to poor psychiatric and medical outcomes.
With the revival of this research on cancer or other terminally ill patients dealing with end-of-life anxiety, recent studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of these substances when administered in a safe environment.
In a study completed in Oregon, research showed that most terminally ill people who obtained prescriptions to intentionally end their lives were motivated by non-physical suffering. In an article titled, Taking Psychedelics Seriously, Ira Byock urges, “Given the prevalence of persistent suffering and growing acceptance of physician-hastened death as a medical response, it is time to revisit the legitimate therapeutic use of psychedelics.”
Just one session with psilocybin has been shown to provide substantial and sustained results in patients with terminal diagnoses or end-of-life anxiety.
A randomized controlled trial of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for patients with cancer led to “reconciliations with death, an acknowledgment of cancer’s place in life, and emotional uncoupling from cancer.” Participants made “spiritual or religious interpretations of their experience, and the psilocybin therapy helped facilitate a felt reconnection to life, a reclaiming of presence, and greater confidence in the face of cancer recurrence.”
One article combined the research from psychedelic-administered clinical trials between 1960-2018 to prove the effectiveness of these substances. The authors summarized their findings, stating that, “psychedelic-assisted treatment can produce rapid, robust, and sustained improvements in cancer-related psychological and existential distress.”
There is a lot that goes into understanding ego death. It begins with asking yourself, “what if your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions were never really yours?”
In the article, Why We Strive For Ego Death with Psychedelics, author Xavier Francuski discusses the idea that every single present part of you has been built by a series of collected beliefs, attitudes, fears, desires, and teachings throughout your life. Our ego, he says, is what we know and who we believe ourselves to be – and it’s incredibly hard to separate ourselves from this.
But underneath all of this, is a mystical, undefinable entity, referred to as the soul.
Ego death (also known as ego dissolution and ego loss) is defined as, “the shedding of individual ideologies, mindsets, and attitudes, becoming enlightened and one with the world.” Ego death transcends multiple experiences, helping to heal spirituality and cleanse the soul. In this state, all we know about ourselves disappears and we are left believing that who we are no longer exists.
Francuski compares complete ego death with nirvana – "freeing the soul from desire and the causes of suffering, achieving omniscience, and living in accordance with the basic truths of existence." But even Nirvana, he argues, is tethered to the realm of humans.
Meditation and mindfulness techniques have also been found to help shed layers of ego. But the most ubiquitous way that one might attain ego death is with psychedelics.
Ego death is a key feature of the psychedelic experience. In recent history, clinicians that study ego dissolution created the Ego Dissolution Inventory, a questionnaire that allows for a psychometric structure that measures ego death. In a massive study that had 691 participants complete the EDI with psychedelics, cocaine, and alcohol, findings confirmed a close relationship between ego-dissolution and the psychedelic experience. It concludes that the confirmation of the EDI will help to facilitate further studies of the neuronal correlates of ego-dissolution, relevant for psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Ego death can have a powerful and positive effect on mental health. In a recent study on ego dissolution, researchers at Maastricht University examined people before and after drinking ayahuasca in a ceremonial setting. The researchers discovered that positive emotion, satisfaction with life, and mindfulness abilities were “significantly related to the level of ego dissolution experienced during the ayahuasca ceremony”.
In an article for the BCC, a woman who participated in a DMT study stated, "It’s probably the most intense experience I’ve had. The sense that birth and death were just a transformation rather than an end was something that felt true.”
Ego death has been shown to reap positive effects when paired with psychedelic therapy. But like all psychedelic therapy work, it’s up to the client to take this insight and new perspective and actively integrate it into his or her life. “Ego death is just the beginning; the rebirth is the real journey.”
If you’d like to learn more about MINDCURE’s mission of knowledge and empowerment in the world of psychedelic-assisted therapy, check out our website to learn more about what we’re doing.
July 17, 2021
For thousands of years, many cultures have leveraged the power of breathwork with dance and music to transform consciousness. With roots in Eastern practices such as Buddhist meditation and Tai Chi, breath manipulation techniques have helped individuals achieve trance states of consciousness to facilitate physical and psychological healing, meditative relaxation, and spiritual awakening.
Research shows that today, guided breathing practices are capable of producing similar effects to psychedelic substances. As psychedelics enter mainstream therapy, MINDCURE’s immersive digital therapeutics (DTx) platform, iSTRYM, provides therapists and clinicians with easy access to exclusive breathwork protocols to support psychedelic therapy and aid healing.
The power of breathwork in healing lies in exploring the origins of a commonly repeated mantra during therapy: “Take deep breaths.”While this repeated advice grounds us in times of panic and pain, it also helps facilitate emotional and physiological development.
The historical significance of breathwork is found in multiple contexts and societies dating back thousands of years. Globally, Indigenous cultures have used multiple forms of circular breathing techniques as a rite of spiritual passage. For example, ceremonial breathwork journeys by the Kalahari Kung Bushmen of Africa incorporated elements of moaning, chanting, music, and dancing with shallow breathing to achieve “!kia,” a transcendental state of euphoria.
Similarly, “breath prayer” practices in Christianity can be dated back to 600 AD. By dividing and manipulating one’s breath around an even worded phrase from sacred texts, whole congregations would achieve an intimate spiritual connection. In another historical account, it was found that the practice of baptism involved submerging people multiple times underwater for prolonged periods to the point of drowning for spiritual awakening.
Meditation in Buddhism and yoga strongly emphasize the importance of attentive breathwork. Revered Buddhist monks like Thích Nhất Hạnh believe breath to be the most exalted life force and the ultimate connection between being and consciousness. For centuries, breathwork practices such as Pranayama have helped unlock ethereal pathways to strengthen the mind-body connection, release tension, and support healing.
Today, breathwork journeys have evolved to incorporate multiple elements of Western psychotherapy. By blending various breathing techniques with components of talk therapy, and artistic representation through music and bodywork, breathwork therapy has become a catalyst for mindfulness and mental health treatment.
While modern breathwork therapy may have roots in Eastern and traditional meditative practices, its inception can be traced back to the conscious-raising era during the 1960s and 1970s. The research on consciousness and the healing power of psychedelics by transpersonal psychologists Dr. Stan and Christina Grof lead to the birth of holotropic breathwork. In the “Principles of Holotropic Breathwork,” they discuss how “non-ordinary states of consciousness” can be accessed via a guided session of fast and shallow breathing combined with “evocative” music. By altering the composition of oxygen and carbon dioxide, the attendees enter a state of transcendental consciousness whereby the body’s self-healing mechanism kicks in.
Holotropic breathwork group sessions are facilitated by professionals that guide the healing process and help attendees achieve “wholeness” of psychological and psychological modalities. The group setting and elements of talk therapy also facilitate a sense of community as people work together in dyads to support and promote communal well-being.
Results from research done with holotropic breathing have remained consistent throughout the years. For example, a systematic review done in 2018 found that holotropic breathing can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Similarly, a study in 2017 found that holotropic breathing can help reduce symptoms of PTSD, including anger and confusion. Another study done in 2015 found that prolonged practice of holotropic breathing can positively alter temperaments and improve self-awareness and esteem levels.
Although the different types of breathwork practices formed during the conscious-rising era have similar foundations, holotropic breathwork remains most closely associated with altered states of consciousness and the exploration of psychedelic effects.
Despite this, the primary goal of breathwork in any therapeutic environment remains the same: support healing and encourage self-awareness. Advocates of healing through breathwork such as Niraj Naik believe that mindful meditation practice built upon breathwork and music can activate a “profound brainwave state” necessary to enhance focus and drive creativity. Built upon the principles of Pranayama techniques, his company SOMA Breath empowers people with tools and techniques that promote well-being.
As the field of breathwork continues to evolve, MINDCURE’s exclusive partnership with SOMA Breath helps disseminate principles of breathwork therapy with essential and exclusive breathwork protocols through the iSTRYM platform. Built specifically for therapists and clinicians, its vast catalog of digitized resources also includes several music playlists that support healing via psychedelic therapy. As we enter a new age of therapeutic healing, digital tools such as iSTRYM provide data-driven insights and resources necessary for ensuring a safe and transcendental psychedelic experience.
July 15, 2021
It’s safe to say that after years of exploring neuropharmacological effects, humans and psychedelics have had a complex heterogeneous evolutionary relationship. From mystical and recreational use to clinical trials in a controlled therapeutic environment, psychedelic treatments have given rise to the issues of set and setting in psychedelic therapy.
Psychedelics heighten our sensory modalities to both internal and external stimuli, thereby amplifying our experiences of them. However, changes in our mindset or physical environment can alter these experiences. At MINDCURE, we advocate the importance of a regulated therapeutic environment as researchers and users struggle with varying results of a psychedelic experience. As psychedelic therapy enters the mainstream, clinicians set out to explore the fundamentals of set and setting for a successful session.
Timothy Leary emphasizes the need for addressing set and setting in his 1964 guidebook for taking psychedelics, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He believed that the key to maximizing the benefits of a successful psychedelic experience lies in understanding the impact of internal and external characteristics.
According to Hartogsohn (2015), setting refers to the "physical, social and cultural environment," where the psychedelic experience happens (i.e., the therapeutic environment). He highlights the importance of social and cultural forces that have influenced the psychedelic experience over the years.
On the other hand, set refers to one’s “personality, expectation, intention, and preparation.” Set is further explored by Leary as “long-range” and “immediate.” The former is a manifestation of the “kind of person you are,” such as your desires, passions, conflicts, and fears, while the latter is your attitude or current mental state going into the experience.
Leary‘s manual encourages researchers and therapists to carefully “prepare” for a psychedelic therapy session by accounting for the “expectations” that a patient has about the experience itself. Hartogsohn believes that psychedelics are “mind-manifesting,” meaning they stimulate modular thoughts and magnify one's current awareness.
As clinicians strive to determine safe therapeutic practices, there is an apparent need for a digitized network of standardized therapeutic protocols and clear frameworks that will help clinicians prepare clients and clinical settings for psychedelic therapy.
The future of effective psychedelic therapy depends on the clinician's easy access to the client’s ongoing mental status. iSTRYM enables clinicians with essential patient data, thus allowing them to alter or deepen the treatment as necessary for successful breakthroughs.
To achieve an ideal setting in a therapeutic environment, clinicians must include the following essential principles in their practice. These are based on Leary’s understanding of the Immediate Set, thereby ensuring a positive holistic experience.
Grounding is essentially derived from meditative healing. It’s primarily an attention focusing tool to help clients control their inner feelings. The best way to begin is by placing your feet flat on the ground and taking deep, calculated breaths. This motion of rooting oneself helps induce feelings of calm and composure. Grounding is most beneficial when clients find themselves in an anxious or troubled mental state.
Surrender is fundamentally the most important principle of psychedelic therapy. People are preprogrammed with preconceived notions that may hinder their ability to let go and fully immerse themselves in the psychedelic experience. According to Leary, the best way to detach yourself from any expectations is by “turning off your mind, relaxing and floating downstream.”
Rather than completely disqualifying your preconceived ideologies, become a spectator to your discomforts. Curiosity helps in the healing process by allowing you to take note of every thought, pattern, and feeling before letting it go. This teaching experience becomes a guiding source for understanding the root cause of your inner turmoils.
Intentions help establish the therapeutic purpose or goal. They guide your psychedelic experience and also act as an anchor to keep you grounded, especially during anxious episodes. If you find it difficult to set your intentions, start by asking yourself simple questions like what led you to therapy and what are you hoping to achieve?
Setting accounts for the physical attributes of a therapeutic environment. Traditionally, psychedelic experiences were most successful when undertaken in a familiar outdoor space or a comfortable indoor area. Today, therapists can build safe therapeutic environments by incorporating comforting elements like a couch, music, and neutral tones in the space.
iSTRYM’s integrative platform provides clinicians with access to individual patient-level data that can help them set up therapeutic spaces for a supportive healing journey. Since music is a key ingredient in achieving an enlightening entheogenic experience, the platform also offers a vast library equipped with aiding the therapeutic experience by reducing anxiety, enhancing memory function, and others.
At MINDCURE, we understand the need for building safe and effective therapeutic environments that foster healing. As a catalyst of meaningful change, we strive to build systems and digital resources for transcendental experiences. Head over to our blog for more information on our research, products, and future aspirations.
July 6, 2021
It's safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the society in which we live. Everyone has been impacted in both physical and mental ways by the effects of larger societal changes and also personal challenges that we’ve faced along the way.
Slowly, it feels like the world is starting to open up again.
And if you’ve been feeling some anxiety about reopening, you’re not alone. Concerns like body image being different after a year spent at home, what it will be like in crowded spaces, seeing friends you might not have spoken to in over a year — the anxiety-inducing instances seem endless.
Some of the ways that you can help ease the reopening anxiety you may be feeling is through the integration of breathwork and music. If you haven’t heard of breathwork before, we’re not surprised. Although it’s been practiced for centuries with proven physical and mental impacts, it’s only starting to enter the mainstream as a therapeutic practice.
Breathwork has been proven to help patients manage stress and reduce anxiety, results comparable to the effect psychedelics can have. SOMA Breath is a global school that combines ancient breathwork techniques based on pranayama with modern science to provide breathing techniques that manipulate the depth and rate of breath.
Like breathwork, music has also been found to be a key proponent in helping to alleviate stress and anxiety. This is why our partnership with LUCID is the perfect complement to a healthy mental wellness journey.
With the iSTRYM app, therapists gain access to music designed for psychedelic-assisted therapies and specific psychedelic compounds that change in real-time based on patient feedback, AI-backed insights, and biometric data to intelligently perfect the experience.
The mind is a muscle, and after a long stretch at home during the pandemic, the best way to exercise it is with a little music, some patience, kindness ... and maybe some microdosing.
Whether as a new remedy or as a replacement for traditional anxiety medications, microdosing is one method people are taking to in order to ease reopening anxiety.
According to a study by LifeSearch, one in 10 adults are currently microdosing, which is a 43% rise since the start of the pandemic (from 7 to 10%).
Microdosing is the consumption of very small, routine doses of a psychedelic drug, like LSD or psilocybin, for reasons other than achieving hallucinogenic side effects. More often than not, people microdose to help their minds. A study by Psychopharmacology found that 79% of people who microdose reported improvements in their mental health.
While microdosing psychedelics is gaining popularity, it's not for everyone (and also, it’s not legal in most places). So, if microdosing seems too daunting for you right now, another great solution to combat nervousness, distractions, fatigue, and more is non-psychedelic mushroom supplements. Non-psychedelic, or functional, mushrooms have the ability to give you the peace and mental clarity you need to get through the day.
At MINDCURE, we understand the anxieties that COVID-19 has influenced about re-entering society. And those anxieties are on top of an already detrimental mental health crisis occurring around the world. It’s part of our mission to develop tools, medicines, and resources that promote mental health care.
October 27, 2021
If you’re like most people, you were likely aware — too aware — of stress already. Yet, it's often something we're expected to deal with without really understanding how. Is there a right way to manage stress?
We understand many of the common tools we can implement, but combined with nootropics, functional mushrooms, and health supplements, you give your mind and body the upper-hand.
Stress is often a scapegoat for medical issues, and for good reason! It can have lasting effects on our minds, bodies, relationships, habits, and overall quality of life. In fact, mental health issues like stress cost the world $1 trillion in lost productivity alone.
Of course, some stress is good. It drives day-to-day demands, even making some people their most productive. For others, however, it causes a lack of focus, chaos, and frustration. While positive stress can cause creative problem solving, negative stress is a complete blocker.
Stress affects everyone differently. Physical and mental reactions, or stress symptoms, are your body’s natural response to threats and danger. It’s called the “fight or flight” response. You may experience symptoms like:
Stress exists in three types, and each requires special attention and a specific treatment plan.
Acute stress is caused by momentary challenges that provoke an immediate response, such as a sudden conflict or impending deadline. Severe acute stress, usually following a life-threatening situation, can lead to prolonged issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Episodic acute stress describes frequent episodes of acute stress. It’s prevalent in professions that encounter repeated risk or conflict.
Chronic stress involves a build-up of sustained or regularly occurring pressures that can’t be immediately resolved and that don’t afford an appropriate amount of time for recovery.
Our jobs, education, and goals provoke a lot of pressure, between deadlines, responsibilities, doubt, poor communication, and task overload. While this kind of stress contributes to our growth, it can also lead to burnout.
Students, especially, are discovering new stressors daily as they learn to balance growing responsibilities and relationships. Teens need extra support to combat sleeplessness, agitation, and restlessness so they can lay the foundation for stress management.
From covering bills and taxes to preparing for the future, money ripples throughout our entire lives. And what about the expenses we can’t see coming?
Financial stress contributes to health, relationship, and work stress. Those who suffer from financial stress are more likely to experience sleep issues, headaches, relationship strains, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.
Stress is a major contributing factor to relationship issues, whether romantic or not. Misdirected stress can affect communication and spark fights. Unmanaged stress is known to influence sex life in terms of erectile dysfunction and low sex drive, which, for obvious reasons, can lead to more stress.
If you struggle with managing your time, it likely seems to get worse the more you work at it. But time management is the solution, not the issue. Poor time management practices contribute to the inability to focus and other major symptoms of stress.
Health anxiety affects between 4-5% of people in this digital age of unlimited health forums, WebMD, and other resources (accurate or not). While some are educational and even preventative, many amplify anxiety (not to mention screen addition and fatigue).
Try these methods to transform stress into productive and healthy practices.
Talk it out: Whether with friends, family, or a therapist, talking about your stress can alleviate the pressure from within you and give you a fresh perspective on issues.
Start a calendar: Prioritizing is key. Break tasks into chunks, with deadlines and personal goals to help you paint the big picture.
Give yourself breaks — you deserve it: Take time for yourself to reset your mind. Don’t neglect the hobbies and passions that make you who you are.
Exercise and practice mindfulness: Under stress, your body releases chemicals that increase your energy. If you don’t get this energy out, it builds up in negative ways. Stress relief doesn’t have to take up much time. Incorporate breath work, stretching, mindful practices, and exercise into your day that will refocus your energy on what needs to get done, rather than overwhelm your brain.
Cut out caffeine: While it’s something many of us rely on, your brain can benefit from friendlier stimulants with fewer side effects, like functional mushrooms and adaptogens.
January 21, 2022
It feels like everyday a new app goes viral that promises to better our lives, whether that means allowing us to access the latest viral trends, a book to read while we’re waiting in line, or personal transportation to get you from point A to B. We’re inundated with apps that provide us, in their own ways, with that little hit of dopamine.
One field that, until recently, had yet to join the app brigade is health care. The industry took a backseat when apps hit popularity, growing by the billions in the spaces of ecommerce and entertainment in the 2010s (and continue to do so). Health apps lacked user-friendly interfaces and any abilities beyond general information, data collection of pre-entered symptoms, or answers that didn’t immediately suggest you have cancer.
With the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning being applied to the latest technology, digital health care and its capabilities are now growing exponentially, offering patients and clinicians opportunities to put health back into their own hands.
At MINDCURE, we're producing an app dedicated to mental wellness that uses data and AI to create an optimized experience for psychedelic-therapy clinicians and their clients, improve care practices and headspace respectively, one day at a time.
Whether we want it or not, our interactions with technology have become a crucial aspect in our lives. The data and tools are here with the ability to be put to use for the benefit of mental health, but what's missing is the platform to pull it all together securely and efficiently.
Digital therapeutics, also known as DTx, are addressing patient needs through the use of apps and wearable monitoring devices.
Common features of these apps include:
Digital therapeutics not only collect, but analyze all of this data that can lead to personalized treatment plans, reduce the risk of complications, and make communicating between clinicians and clients easier by tracking moods and external environment in and out of therapy sessions.
The biggest benefit of digital therapeutics platforms is the ability to address unmet patient needs that traditional therapy and treatment fail to cover. The modernization of therapy is finally here. According to McKinsey, as of 2018, investment in the industry has topped $1 billion with an ever-growing interest.
Dr. John Brownstein, a Computation Epidemiologist from Harvard University and advisor for MINDCURE, has been working for the past several years on healthcare that utilizes “the digital phenotype.” A phenotype being the set of observable characteristics an individual can have resulting from the interactions of its genotype with the environment.
Dr. Brownstein's 2018 GoogleTalk addresses the digital phenotype as the way in which our health state can be recognized by the clues in the interactions we have digitally. His main research asks, how can we harness non-traditional information to inform health. He says, “data is siloed by the different companies that own it, but to be able to collect and analyze all of that data could lead to infinite insights.” Digital phenotyping would be able to really match what people are experiencing in the real world.
Health care systems need to find better ways to interact with patients and to collect data that could potentially drive outcomes. Dr. Brownstein believes voice-based tools are going to play a huge role as these apps continue to be developed. Citing Gartner Inc., he mentioned that, in 2020, 50% of all searches would happen through voice, and by 2022, 55% of all US households will have a smart speaker.
Since 2017, MINDCURE has been working to create a digital therapy app to fill in the gaps Dr. Brownstein mentioned in his talk, and more: the gaps seen in modern mental health and psychedelic treatment that have yet to be addressed on a larger scale.
iSTRYM solves issues with efficiency, transparency, and security by providing clinicians and patients with real-time data regarding patient care, procedures, protocols, and other resources for those struggling with mental health concerns.
iSTRYM’s seamless application equips patients as active participants in their own mental wellness journey.
Partnered with LUCID, Speak Ai, and SOMA Breath, the goal of iSTRYM is to disrupt the healthcare industry by ushering in the next generation of mental wellness apps. Using AI, the app contains strategic data loops that continually update insights to provide accessible and innovative technological resources, optimizing the use of patient data to support both diagnoses and treatments.
The app records data like weather, location, mood, heart rate, and other metrics that take place after therapy sessions and throughout the integration process. It then records commonalities among patients to steer clinicians towards better diagnoses, treatments, and personalized care.
Partnered with Speak Ai, the app also uses machine learning to analyze natural language processing to drive insights. Founder of SpeakAi, Tyler Bryden said it best, “by developing solutions with empathy, we can improve the level of care to help people avoid, navigate through, and recover from crises.”
Technology, he says, can play a major role in enabling these potentially life-changing and individual therapies to succeed at scale.
The app fills in the gaps that have been found between clients, researchers, and therapists that usually cause disparities of critical insights coming from psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions. iSTRYM connects patient feedback and clinician expertise in one place.
Using AI, iSTRYM technology and its partners are finding ways to enhance quality therapy through speech, music, communication, and daily inputs from patients that are qualified into tangible assets to inform treatments.
iSTRYM is developing as the leading digital therapeutics tool helping to heal the world’s pain.
June 30, 2021
Regardless of your occupation or industry, the pandemic has changed how we work. For many of us, it’s lessened the gap between work and home life.
With areas reopening from strict lockdowns, businesses aren’t exactly returning to life as we know it. Companies small and large (including Google and Microsoft) seem to be in no rush to call back employees to the office.
While there are many benefits of remote working, it can lead workers to burnout, anxiety, depression, and ultimately skew productivity. For many people, the hardest parts of working from home involve not being able to go to work, socialize with colleagues, and work in a peaceful, work-tailored environment.
In fact, about 28% of people think that working from home can harm mental health. That's because the rate of productivity begins to evaporate as time passes. A Stanford report highlighted how working from home can improve productivity by 13%. And while it sounds like paradise, it’s quite the opposite for some. Maintaining a healthy work balance and healthy practices are key to driving productivity and avoiding burnout.
The good thing, however, is that there are ways to solve this problem and encourage individuals work productively, confidently, and (while it’s still work) happily.
If you’ve been struggling, check these five tips to boost productivity when working remotely.
Home is home. Many are not equipped for the work environment we’ve been thrown into. If distractions are a big challenge for you, these are some things to consider:
Humans are social animals, and we need social interaction. Being stuck at home can leave people distressed due to their inability to go out and have fun. Here's your reminder to reach out to your friends. You’re already on Zoom — why not repurpose it for a night of catching up each week?
Host work dinners, online conferences and meetings, or have interesting group chats with your colleagues. Consider talking on social media and staying in touch with each other so that you have someone to talk to.
It’s important to take regular breaks during work to freshen your mind. Every remote worker should indulge in wellness and mindfulness practices.
Be sure to take walks, stretch a little, and exercise your eyes after every few hours to feel relaxed. These habits can increase your attention span and improve workflow.
Screen fatigue is a real issue. Those who have jobs that require hours in front of a computer screen can end up feeling tired and dizzy. For such people, it is important to give a little break to their eyes by looking around and following mental health care practices. Nootropic supplements like MINDCURE's Lion's Mane Focus contains all-natural lion's mane mushroom powder, known to enhance mental clarity to give you the concentration you need to zero in on work. Alternatively, if you're finding yourself falling asleep at your desk, you made need to focus on your diet. When caffeine doesn't cut it, maybe it's time for a different kind of nootropic, such as MINDCURE's Reishi Energy.
Meditation and breathing exercises can be of help as well. Control your breath while focusing on something positive. Believe it or not, a little breathwork can make you a better remote worker.
Consider your home office as a traditional office. Just like you stick to a routine at work, try to stick to it when you’re working from home. Start early in the morning, take a lunch break and intermittent smaller breaks. “Clock out” or finish your work at a specified time each day.
Esure to meet all deadlines even if you do not have a manager asking you to be on time. By being careful about deadlines and routines, you will be more productive and be able to beat burnout.
Remote working can be taxing, and while ease is the biggest benefit of working from home, the fact remains that it can derail your energy and result in both fatigue and depression.
Don’t be afraid to seek help of any kind, whether it’s a job-related issue or a mental health issue. The more you delay things, the worse it will get. If you have work problems, discuss them with your manager. If you feel depressed, take steps to improve your mental well-being.
Work from home (WFH) jobs have gotten a boost during COVID-19 due to the lockdown. However, they will still be in demand after the coronavirus lockdown ends. This is why it is important to be aware of ways to stay productive when working from home. We hope these tips will solve the problem for you.
June 23, 2021
The LGBTQ+ community has quite the intertwined history with psychedelics. And, it hasn’t always been smooth. As we celebrate this pride month, let's take what lessons we can from the past and help foster acceptance and pride-positive spaces within the psychedelic-assisted therapy movement.
Queer people (defined here as non-normative) have long been involved in the world of psychedelics — from ancient to modern, Indigenous to mainstream medicines.
In an article for Chacruna, Gregory Wells, a licensed psychologist, tells the history of psychedelics and the LGBTQ community by first acknowledging two-spirit, blended spirit, and third gender peoples that have existed in Indigenous tribes throughout history. Wells writes, “In many tribes, they were greatly respected and said to be more human and more spiritually gifted, as they embodied characteristics of both woman and man. It was also not uncommon for these people to be apprenticed to the tribal shaman or healer.”
Fast forward to the 1950s and '60s in the United States. Psychedelic research and clinical studies were ramping up throughout university and college campuses. Ram Dass (formerly known as Richard Alpert), along with Timothy Leary and Andrew Weil were members of the infamous Harvard Psychedelic Club.
Their earliest work at Harvard involved using LSD to conduct psychedelic research, including conversion therapy, in attempts to “cure” homosexuality.
Many psychiatrists at the time believed that homosexuality was an illness. In 1962, a study conducted by Joyce Martin claimed to have helped cure half of the 12 gay men of their homosexual proclivities with LSD.
Four years later, Leary, the same prominent voice of the psychedelic counterculture who coined the phrase, “Turn on, tune in, and drop out” told Playboy that, “LSD is a specific cure for homosexuality.”
And it wasn’t until years later, after his own healing, that Ram Dass spoke openly about his internalized shame as a gay man and the need for healing in the gay community.
On the other side of this history were gay liberation movements fueled by psychedelics, such as club culture and The Cockettes.
The Cockettes were an avant-garde psychedelic-hippie-theatre group, known for political parody, gender-bending and blending, and LSD. These are another great example of the connection between gay liberation and psychedelics as they were all about celebrating sexual experimentation and free love.
Did you know that LSD also played an important role in the design of the iconic symbol of pride?
In his posthumous memoir, Rainbow Warrior: My Life in Color, Gilbert Baker recalls a night in a San Francisco nightclub, “riding the mirror ball on glittering LSD and love power.” It was that moment, “in a swirl of color and light,” that he knew exactly what kind of flag he would make. The year was 1978 and he popularized the rainbow as a global LGBTQ symbol.
It was during these later years in the '70s and '80s that LGBTQ activists and leaders like Dennis Peron played pivotal roles in the interlacing of the psychedelic and gay liberation movement. During the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, Peron led the fight for the medical use of cannabis. “Legalized cannabis would not be where it is today were it not for Peron’s activism,” says Wells.
Today, members of the queer community are still very much involved in the psychedelic movement, attending and presenting at psychedelic conferences and panels, and more importantly, “coming out of the psychedelic closet in droves.”
And as the new wave of the psychedelic movement continues, Wells hopes that more people will feel emboldened to come out of the psychedelic closet.
Historically, psychedelic therapy culture has been dominated by white, cis, middle-aged men. And while they believed in the power of healing with psychedelics, they also ascribed a heteronormative definition to healing.
With the legalization of psychedelics like LSD and MDMA on the horizon, the movement for accessible healing with psychedelics requires a radical rethink of Western psychedelic culture, seeking justice and inclusion.
Vice’s article notes, “In LGBTQ communities, incidents of depression, anxiety, and addiction are far higher than in the larger population. In the US, LGBTQ youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide.”
Psychedelics can be a powerful way to explore and even reconstruct gender and sexual identities — helping people to embrace and affirm who they really are, says Alex Belser, a clinical researcher at Yale University who works on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. “If a person has been fighting their sexual identity, the neuroplastic window of opportunity is a critical period for them to shift to a new way of understanding themselves and relating to other people in their lives,” Belser continued.
Education about the lived experiences of LGBTQ people is at the core of new psychedelic-assisted therapy spaces. Creating safe spaces in which queer people can take psychedelics, and opening doors to historically hostile medical institutions, could help to heal the decades-long trauma these communities are still recovering from.
Coming out or dealing with trauma related to identity is always a process of healing and introspection, and one that could greatly benefit from guidance and support. Psychedelics (and more importantly psychedelic-assisted therapy) promotes this healing and introspection through training, counselling, and supportive means.
As Nese Devenot wrote, “the oppression and alienation of both psychedelic and queer people results from a common cultural prejudice against those who experience and interact with the world differently from the dominant and traditional population.” She goes on to say, “Queer is, by definition, whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant”.
MINDCURE is helping to lead the way for inclusive, safe psychedelic spaces. To learn more about what we do, check out our website.
June 17, 2021
Is psychotherapy failing us? If you dig enough online, you’ll find varying stats on the success rate of psychotherapy. That’s because the way we measure effectiveness has largely been contended among professionals and researchers.
Without the right insights, how can we objectively measure efficacy in care and improve therapeutic methods?
Why are we taking shots in the dark with mental health care?
In this post, we’ll point out issues around communication and individualization, and how digital therapeutics platforms are tackling these issues to help drive efficacious therapeutic outcomes.
Therapy isn’t perfect. Aside from the (dying out) anti-therapy stigma that has kept people suffering in silence, therapy itself is known to be somewhat flawed.
To state the obvious, not everyone who needs help and healing benefits from the status quo in therapy.
There has never been a one-size-fits-all option in therapy. In fact, it’s hard to generalize “therapy” in one word, with all the various indications, treatment options, and specialists. But in terms of personalization, we’re sure you’ll agree that personalization could be stronger. With people in need of care grossly outnumbering trained professionals, how can we bring individualized treatment options to mental health care?
A network? A cloud? A database? An integration?
Is it that easy?
Attached to the need for individualization in therapy, communication routes can improve care drastically for both clinicians and their clients.
Patients can’t always communicate what they need to in order to describe their status. Oftentimes, they just don’t know. They arrive in therapy hoping a clinician can map out their trauma and steer them to feeling differently.
Along with that, clinicians lack access to patient information. To no fault of their own, trained professionals have to make do with gaps in the communication of information that could be crucial to healing is sometimes lost somewhere between and even within sessions.
There’s a world of untapped internal signals that clinicians lack access to, which could give them the power to alter and improve healing journeys.
Aside from in the patient-therapist relationship, gaps exist between mental health professionals, including clinicians and researchers. Without a network, the industry suffers from disparities in care in terms of in the protocols that are proven effective.
Technological developments aim to correct for issues including communication gaps and personalization.
Digital therapeutics provide evidence-based therapeutic interventions to drive outcomes in therapy.
Digital therapeutics can improve mental health care by digitizing patient data from internal signals, language, sentiment, heart rate, and onboarding records. Imagine having everything you need to improve your practice, all in the same place, without having to worry about security or oversight.
Technology in this space, such as MINDCURE’s iSTRYM platform, provides clinicians with a global database of treatment protocols, a dashboard for patient records, and a direct connection to patients being onboarded, undergoing therapy, and integrating therapeutic practices into their daily lives.
iSTRYM integrates its partnership with Speak Ai to effectively collect and analyze data and offer AI-driven interventive suggestions. It also enables therapists to curate music that ushers patients through their healing journey.
Data is a mental health care professional’s best friend. It supports diagnoses and decisions around treatment options. It enables clinicians to see what’s working and what’s not. But data needs to exist somewhere that’s accessible and usable to help direct care. By digitizing protocols and user data, clinicians can access insights beyond their current toolkits.
Technology has come a long way. It’s time we took advantage of the developments that platforms offer in the mental health space. Better tools lead to more direct data, deeper insights, and stronger care overall.
June 16, 2021
In the last five years, psychedelic therapy has once again boomed after a long hiatus since psychedelics were criminalized starting in the late ‘60s. Clinical trials were put on pause, and unfortunately, we lost years of research potential.
Clinicians, researchers, and psychonauts are now back in drive as psychedelics are once again being studied for their powers to enhance new therapeutic practices. With that, psychedelics may soon find their place within the mainstream health-care system.
Just recently, the California Senate approved a bill legalizing the possession of psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD, and MDMA — for adults 21 and older.
Moreover, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic studies (MAPS), expected its treatment using MDMA to be approved by 2022.
Current research demonstrates that psychedelic-assisted therapy has shown to improve mental wellness in patients dealing with trauma, PTSD, addiction, migraines, and treatment-resistant mood disorders — and the research is far from concluded.
But, with all the healing that psychedelic-assisted treatments can offer come risks of serious harm without essential safeguards in place. It is our hope at MINDCURE to inform and foster these safe spaces within the branch of psychedelic-assisted therapy to ensure that while we wait for legalization, the steps forward are not sullied by malpractice and/or abuse.
Since its inception as an underground practice, psychedelic-assisted therapy has involved quite a few factors that allowed for sexual misconduct. Its criminal nature contributed to the risk of abuse, preventing people from developing systems for accountability and recourse that are normally available in other communities.
Practitioners have often informally taken on the role of therapist or guide for colleagues or friends. With this, roles aren’t always clearly defined, complicating issues of power and influence.
In 2020, Quartz detailed claims of sexual abuse within the psychedelic therapy community and brought forward against clinicians involved in a MAPS clinical trial. What’s worse, the article went on to mention the efforts that were put in place by leaders of the psychedelic community to silence these claims for the fear that these stories of sexual abuse would undo all the progress thus far.
In the ever-continuing wake of the METOO movement, these claims are disturbing to find in a community built on understanding and healing. Patients were suffering from sexual abuse and subsequently silenced.
This is but one example highlighting the issues that can arise in treatments with highly vulnerable patients, due in part by the power imbalance with therapists and the obvious triggers of mental health.
In particular, MDMA (the substance used in the MAPS trial) has been studied and noted (since the ‘80s) to “create feelings of sexual arousal and emotional intimacy that can make patients more vulnerable to sexual pressure,” as noted in the head of MAPS, Rick Doblin’s Harvard University doctoral thesis.
The bottom line is that “clinicians are in a position of authority over clients,” said Carole Sinclair, chair of the Canadian Psychological Association’s ethics committee. The potential for abuse is potent by taking advantage of that authority.
As it stands now in the US and Canada, psychologists are prohibited from having sexual relationships with therapy clients for two years after completing treatment. Sinclair, went on to point out that a sexual relationship is considered abusive because it takes advantage of the trust and dependence of the therapeutic relationship.
And as psychedelic therapy swiftly marches towards full legalization, these claims demonstrate that there aren’t sufficient protocols to protect patients from sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse is prevalent throughout society, occurring in both standard and psychedelic-assisted therapy. While psychedelic therapy has the added risk of putting patients under the influence, it requires exceptional patient protections apart from those of traditional psychiatry.
As scientific research pushes psychedelic therapy towards legality, there are growing demands for protocols to protect against and discipline sexual misconduct.
Such protocols for treatment, trials, and studies would ensure:
The good news is that psychedelic-assisted therapy and its practitioners are responding swiftly to implement and ensure these protocols are being followed.
In the ‘80s, after well-known practitioners were found to be engaging in abusive sexual behavior, clinical trials implemented a rule that ensured two therapists per patient, providing both practical and therapeutic benefits.
After the allegations in 2018 the MAPS clinician, stronger safeguards were established to “eliminate future ethical violations by these and any other prior, current, or future therapists working for MAPS,” according to a statement released in 2019. MAPS also began to warn subsequent patients about the potential for sexual abuse, listing “emotional openness” as a risk.
MAPS is currently “continuing to develop appropriate channels for receiving and addressing grievances,” Doblin said in an email to Quartz.
For psychedelic-assisted therapy to be safe, a board of ethics is needed to help monitor and sanction its clinicians. A successful board is one that is collectively appointed by the community and not chosen by the organization.
And when therapists are regulated, equipped with ongoing training and supervision, patients will have some kind of recourse and trust in their health providers.
For example, iSTRYM connects clients with reputable sources of information and vetted clinics offering psychedelic-assisted therapy and trials.
At MINDCURE, safety is at the forefront of everything we do. To read more on our research, our commitment to safe psychedelic-assisted therapy treatments and our hope for the future check out our blog.
June 10, 2021
Psychedelic therapy isn’t a new concept but it’s still not legal or accessible in many places around the world. While some US states and Canadian provinces have started to acknowledge psychedelic therapy as a suitable and legal option for healing, it has been an uphill battle and many people deserve credit for kick-starting our psychedelic revolution.
In this article, we’ll have a look at six highly influential people in the psychedelic space who have influenced our access to knowledge around psychedelic substances and their therapeutic uses.
Rick Doblin has dedicated a large portion of his adult life to promoting the various medical uses of psychedelics. It was even the topic of his dissertation at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
The 67-year-old man, best known for founding MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), is working hard to secure FDA approval for the use of MDMA (i.e., molly or ecstasy).
Like many other experts, Doblin believes that MDMA can be used to treat health issues including PTSD. He has run several clinical trials on veterans from Israel, Canada, and the US. During an interview about his research, he had this to say:
“PTSD is a disorder of fear; MDMA reduces fear. Also, people who have trauma have learned to be suspicious, and they often don’t have trust for people because they’ve been betrayed or attacked or in some way traumatized. By stimulating the release of oxytocin, MDMA promotes what we call a therapeutic alliance. We know from psychotherapy-outcome research that the therapeutic alliance is the most important factor in whether patients get better.”
Known as the father of psychedelic therapy, Timothy Leary is one of the most popular players who studied the benefits of psychedelics in the 1960s at Harvard.
Unable and unwilling to find volunteers, he decided to use LSD himself and developed a new philosophy of personal truth and mind expansion through his experiences.
His brave claims cause a ruckus forcing the feds to ban the drugs. He, however, continued his research even after leaving Harvard and became a popular figure of the counterculture of his times.
A published author, Leary gave the world the eight-circuit model of consciousness in his critically acclaimed book Exo-Psychology (1977). He liked to bill himself as a "performing philosopher" and occasionally gave lectures around the world.
Called "the most dangerous man in America'' by former President Richard Nixon, Leary has been to 36 prisons yet we can’t make a list of psychedelic rock stars without mentioning him.
Tom and Sheri Eckert invested years of hard work to create an acceptable legal pathway to enable the use of psychedelic mushrooms in therapy for addiction, anxiety, and depression. Together, these psychedelic activists founded the Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS) with the goal of bringing psilocybin-assisted therapy to the state.
Tom and Sheri were instrumental in making psychedelic treatment legal in Oregon. They're credited with making the Psilocybin Service Initiative possible, a successful ballot petition designed for the 2020 Oregon elections.
In 2020, Sheri passed away due to cardiac arrest.
Known widely as Baba Ram Dass, Richard Alpert was a spiritual teacher, author, and psychologist who worked closely with Timothy Leary during his time at Harvard University.
In 1962, he assisted Walter Pahnke, a Harvard Divinity School graduate student, in his "Good Friday Experiment". This study led to his dismissal from Harvard in 1963. Despite not being illegal, the study highly controversial and brought a lot of negative press attention due its unorthodox methods.
Hamilton Morris is a scientific researcher known for directing and creating the successful TV show Hamilton's Pharmacopeia in which he travels to various locations around the world to interact with different cultures and actually try different psychedelic substances.
Hamilton works as a scientific advisor for MINDCURE, bringing a wealth of knowledge from his research and practical experience psychedelic substances.
Known for hosting The Tim Ferriss Show, Tim is a big name in the world of psychedelics, regularly taking to social media to promote knowledge into psychedelics.
He regularly donates to different organizations that conduct psychedelic research. In fact, he was Psychedelics Invest’s #1 most influential person for 2021 due to his contributions to the industry.
These were some of the most influential people in the world of psychedelic treatment. Check out our team to learn more about the rock stars involved in MINDCURE's mission to change the face of mental health care with psychedelic substances.
June 8, 2021
You’ve probably heard the saying that music is food for the soul. So, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that music is becoming a reliable healing tool used in psychedelic therapy.
Of course, music has been used to guide and support therapeutic experiences for years. However, recent digital developments are helping to integrate personalized music to intelligently guide people through psychedelic experiences, whether in clinic or at home.
Music has been used as a healing tool for centuries.
According to the American Music Therapy Association, “The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is at least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato.”
Music therapy is a recognized treatment option in the US. It gained popularity after World War II when paramedics noticed the impact of music on the wounded. They recognized music’s ability to help people cope with both emotional trauma and physical pain.
Such development influenced institutions to study the impact of music on our mental and physical health. Studies show that music has the power to alter mood. It can influence us to feel sad, happy, relaxed, excited, or energized. It can even help us think and reconnect with our minds and souls. It’s also been researched for its ability to help people accept reality, particularly when coming to term with diagnoses.
But how exactly does it work?
Music directly affects our brains. Listening to music releases mood-influencing chemicals in the brain, including endorphins and dopamine. It also impacts cortisol and Immunoglobulin A.
Additionally, music is used in vibroacoustic therapy for people suffering from Parkinson's disease. The vibrations have been shown to led to improvements in symptoms, such as tremors, and improve motor functions.
These are some of the reasons why music is a part of psychedelic therapy.
Music used in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can include jazz, movie soundtracks, folk, world music, classical, and more. Most clinics or organizations use instrumental music with little to no vocals. This is because lyrics or words can cause thoughts to derail.
The purpose of the music is to support and evoke emotional experiences surrounding tense memories and thoughts. It works to create a supportive “set and setting” to help drive targeted therapeutic outcomes. The combination of music and psychedelics helps to emotionally steer the patient through their trauma, enhancing the opportunity to confront such issues.
While it’s common to use soothing music during traditional therapy, music used for psychedelic therapy isn’t always calm. It isn’t designed to sit in the background, its purpose is to be in a position where the listener gets a general narrative arc. It’s the clinician's job to adjust this narrative to deepen or alter the emotional response, leading to breakthroughs.
It isn’t uncommon to start with slow and quiet music and gradually move to more inviting tunes. Most experts use intense music during the middle, or height, of an experience, building up and decreasing the intensity to calmer tunes as is needed.
Music in psychedelic therapy serves many purposes. Stanislav Grof, a famous Czech psychiatrist, notably used music in his clinical work with LSD in psychotherapy for end-of-life-anxiety.
An Imperial College London researcher, Mendel Kaelen, found that “listening to music under the influence of LSD results in a stronger emotional response.”
She further studied the specific responses and how music combined with psychedelic therapy can help beat depression. She found that listeners use music as their ‘guiding’ source. However, listeners who did not like music (in general or the music being played) didn’t report positive outcomes.
Research also shows that people find their ‘best’ memories more pleasant when under the influence of psychedelics. Similarly, their ‘worst’ memories were reported less intense. It is believed that music helps spark these memories and, MDMA in particular, gives people the strength to face them.
Experts believe that the type of music can influence thoughts. Spotify is home to playlists compiled by professionals and psychonauts alike, tailored for specific psychedelic sessions. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University even released a playlist that they’ve used during studies.
The future of psychedelic therapy takes this knowledge into account. At MINDCURE, we’ve developed a cutting-edge digital therapeutics platform that personalizes music according to patients and indication. By partnering with LUCID, iSTRYM empowers clinicians to guide patients through their psychedelic healing experiences.
iSTRYM’s Music & Healing feature provides exclusive music designed for specific indications and compounds. Clinicians can make real-time adjustments throughout the healing session based on their client’s internal data, guiding the experience as necessary.
At the same time, patients gain personalized care with the combined support of their mental health professional and intelligent music. They can then return to their custom soundscape post-session to reconnect with their newly discovered state of mind.
Music has been proven to accompany, guide, and facilitate emotions and, in the process, create a safe space for people to let go and relinquish psychological control.
June 2, 2021
MINDCURE’s proprietary digital therapeutics platform, iSTRYM, is opening big doors for the mental health industry. But changing the face of mental health care is no easy feat and requires various components working in tandem.
A major component that’s helping iSTRYM accurately capture data and develop valuable insights around patient status is Speak Ai.
Speak Ai Inc. is a software company focused on extracting and structuring deep insights from a holistic combination of audio, video, and text. Together, MINDCURE and Speak Ai are empowering digital therapeutics to help optimizers take hold of their wellness journeys and assist clinicians in making more accurate diagnoses and effective treatments.
Speak Ai provides MINDCURE with an API for in-therapy and post-therapy journaling that structures unstructured data and maps how people are going through their healing journey. It works by processing and structuring large amounts of audio, video, and text data collected using speech recognition, language processing, sentiment analysis, and named entity recognition.
Put simply, named entity and sentiment analysis are forms of language processing. Named entity involves analyzing audio, video, and text and extracting entities (brands, people, events, percentages, and more). Sentiment analysis involves identifying positive and negative instances from recorded conversations in therapy or unstructured notes. Speak Ai is further developing this to enable users to analyze core emotions.
Speak Ai nicely formats this data along with merged biometric data from devices (like Oura Rings, Google Fit, and Apple Healthkit), and meta-data (location, time of day, and weather). iSTRYM then displays the collected insights back to users. As more media is added, Speak Ai and iSTRYM analyze both individual and multiple entries over time to unlock insights and make large libraries of qualitative data more quantitative.
Access to reliable data is lacking in the healthcare field, with digital therapeutics in its infancy. That’s thanks to the complexities of technology, language, communication, the number of variables, healthcare, and humans.
With great data comes great responsibility. So, where does machine learning come in?
For example, while the technology has advanced dramatically, automated transcription still struggles to provide fully accurate results. So, how in a clinical setting, with music, mumbles, crying, and whatever else, can they be reliable? Users, such as clinicians and their clients, review and update recordings, which then informs and trains the Ai’s machine learning. Through iSTRYM and Speak Ai, users can also request trained transcribers to help them clean up their automated transcripts. With multiple ways to make those changes, the system and analysis improve accuracy over time.
Along with transcriptions, machine learning plays a huge part in identifying patterns in patient data. Say you’re more expressive on rainy afternoons, the technology will pick up on the pattern and become better equipped to make more informed suggestions for dealing with agitation. At the same time, your therapist gets updated on your status, thus improving communication and minimizing the gaps between sessions.
In structuring data sources like objective speech data and personalized information, machine learning can make compelling suggestions and predictions based on what’s working and what’s not in order to avoid downward spirals and foster positive growth. “That’s something iSTRYM and our team is undertaking together and we’re very excited to be a part of it,” said Tyler Bryden, CEO of Speak Ai.
With iSTRYM, clinicians can better monitor patients before, during, and after treatment to help develop more personalized healing journeys and ensure consistency in care protocols and dosing.
It also cuts down on time spent in therapy and on diagnostics. “For example, if you’re going through conventional therapy, you often focus on recounting the most recent events, in the days or weeks leading up to your therapy session,” says Bryden. “You sometimes miss the chance to move forward on the deeper issues when focused on what you have to tackle now. For some, that is a lost opportunity to face the challenges in our lives and start to make changes that lead to healing.”
“We’re able to present insights in such a way that clinicians can better process in order to make more informed decisions with a wealth of contextual information. From a patient standpoint, it also promotes the ability to work on self-healing, rather than be completely dependent on time spent with a provider.”
The data that iSTRYM and Speak Ai optimize feed into the ultimate goal of creating healing outcomes. Where privacy and comfort are involved, it comes down to what the patient wants and what makes them the most comfortable.
Speak Ai and MINDCURE believe in the importance of integrating data collection across a combination of platforms in the most subtle and naturalized ways possible, while still ensuring the critical accuracy of insights.
Trust is an enormous factor in the work of both MINDCURE and Speak Ai, two companies determined to build accuracy and comfort into how data is collected, handled, understood, and stored.
Thanks to machine learning and Speak Ai, iSTRYM is developing as the leading digital therapeutics tool helping to heal the world’s pain.
May 28, 2021
That’s a great question — if you’re joking.
One song has a very special connection to LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) or acid. Can you guess?
The particular song, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, was released on this day 54 years ago (May 26, 1967). If you haven’t noticed, it contains the letters LSD as some kind of apparent acrostic reference to the drug. The irony is, this Easter Egg was completely coincidental, according to songwriter, John Lennon.
While “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” quickly became iconized as the anthem for the psychedelics space, Lennon insisted throughout his life that the title was a coincidence, originating from artwork crafted by his then 3-year-old son, Julian.
The artwork depicted a school friend, Lucy – floating in the sky with diamonds. While the image is Googleable, it is hard to make out. However, once Julian announced its contents, Lennon immediately set off to write about it. He claims the song also pulled inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, a work with its own heavy associations with hallucinogens.
Of course, the blatant references to psychedelics (and other drugs) throughout the band’s discography, along with the song’s trippy atmosphere, dream-like imagery, and title, make his explanation hard to accept.
But then again, that's not to say LSD didn’t play a part.
Psychedelics and music have paired perfectly overtime, from ancient rituals to modern therapy, and all the counterculture in between. Both psychedelics and music have profound effects on the mind.
Music groups like The Beatles helped tailor an entire culture of peace, love, and healing. Beyond such sentiments, psychedelic research shows that LSD can affect how we make meaning. Ever found yourself struggling to decode a Beatles song? What on earth are they talking about? It’s no surprise that Paul McCartney has stated that drugs like LSD played an obvious role in band’s creative process, supporting long-held suspicions that The Beatles’ experimentation with LSD contributed to their writing of albums Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), and Magical Mystery Tour (1967).
LSD has only been around since the mid-’40s but it quickly gained prominence in the music scene for its abilities to influence artists’ creative drive. Where cannabis has historically been tied to reggae, jazz, and hip-hop, LSD took on more radical associations when the hippy movement, psychedelic rock, and anti-war demonstrations erupted in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Psychedelic drugs go beyond helping artists express themselves. Research shows that LSD can help listeners find meaning in seemingly meaningless music. That’s because LSD helps individuals make personal connections. It alters how the brain responds to music in terms of sensory processing, memory, emotion, and original thoughts. That's part of what makes the combination so effective in therapy.
Clinicians use music to help their clients navigate emotionally through their psychedelic therapy sessions. What makes music and psychedelics so useful in a therapeutic setting is the opportunity they create for clients to access parts of their psyche that are normally closed off, whether due to trauma or anxiety.
LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA are known to encourage new perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors. Even the great author and psychonaut, Aldous Huxley, insisted on LSD’s abilities to mitigate end-of-life anxiety, having it administered to assist in his own death 3 years before its outlawing. Although, he’s not known for any music, Huxley was praised for his imaginative works, such as Brave New World and The Doors of Perception.
At MINDCURE, we research and develop psychedelic solutions to improve mental health. We’re also the developers behind iSTRYM, a digital therapeutic platform providing clinicians and their clients with personalized healing tools to drive therapeutic outcomes.
By partnering with LUCID Music, MINDCURE’s iSTRYM gives clinicians access to exclusive music designed for specific indications and compounds to help guide their clients’ healing. By integrating machine learning, and collected data, mental health professions are able to deepen or alter the patient’s experience as necessary.
Psychedelics can heal the world, and MINDCURE is leading the way.
May 26, 2021
Are psychedelics intrinsically bad because they’re illegal? Do they turn people into erratic, violent monsters? If you’ve read our post on the stigma affecting psychedelics, you’ll know how flawed that ideology is. Yet, it’s an opinion held by so many, despite the therapeutic powers that psychedelics harness.
Fear of psychedelics peaked in the 1960s — a time when access to recreational psychedelics and a counterculture that rejected war and authority seemed to grow in correlation. In fear of abandoning civility and societal control, governing bodies outlawed psychedelics, including many promising research programs.
As a result, researchers are now playing catch-up to understand the abilities and risks of psychedelics, as well as to develop protocols for safer and more effective use in clinical studies and psychotherapy.
In this article, we’ll dig into the different contributors to the fear around psychedelic drugs in order to promote safety and highlight the concerns of merit.
The topic of psychedelics tends to make people blush or go wide-eyed — in some places, this is the care still for marijuana. What makes people afraid of psychedelics?
Fear of Getting the Wrong Goods
For some, fear arises from sourcing, purchasing subpar, unknown, or unwanted products from strangers. Without regulations, these risks are very real for substances like ecstasy and molly, both street drugs that many assume to be pure MDMA, but are often cut and mixed with other drugs and substances.
Fear of Being Under the Influence
Others may fear the altered state of consciousness — the temporary impairment, unfamiliarity, increased anxiety, affected motor skills, nausea, and possible hallucinations. It’s the fear of the unknown, including the duration of the trip. These concerns are based on an accurate understanding of some of the effects of drugs like psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD. Ye, some of these fears are incentives for others — an exploration into the unfamiliar, through the doors of perception.
Fear of Long-Term Effects on the Body & Mind
Researchers consider psychedelic drugs physiologically safe. While they don’t lead to addiction or dependence, and no overdose deaths have occurred from “typical doses” of LSD, psilocybin, or mescaline, researchers are studying the long-term effects of psychedelics on the mind and body. Studies show many positive long-term effects, such as a sustained “openness” to others’ viewpoints and enhanced relationship with nature, along with several medicinal benefits for issues like addiction, pain, depression, trauma, and anxiety.
We could talk about the dangers of misinformation, fear mongering, and stigma all day. However, while psychedelics are proving to be powerful tools for spiritual and mental healing, certain psychedelic substances can involve plenty of risks and side effects that warrant attention. Here is what the science says about the dangers of psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD.
Psilocybin is the psychedelic substance that makes magic mushrooms so magical. It contains a very low toxicity level, no direct lethality, and no withdrawal symptoms with chronic use. Studies and clinical trials show that careful screening, preparation, monitoring, and professional administration of psilocybin in a clinical setting prevents psychological distress and behavioral issues.
However, research also shows that when using multiple doses during the same session, or when mixing it with other substances, psilocybin has been linked to some “long-term negative outcomes,” with single high doses tied to medical emergencies. The drug’s ability to impair one’s judgment could lead to negative outcomes when put in a position that does not support one’s safety, such as operating machinery or driving.
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) promotes feelings of euphoria, energy, sociability, sensations, and sexual arousal. While it may also be known as ecstasy or molly, such street drugs are often mixed with other substances, inflating the risks of unwanted reactions.
As is the case with other psychedelics, setting and climate can greatly affect how a person reacts to MDMA. Compared to psilocybin, MDMA can affect one’s physical well-being. This is especially true in clubs or raves where ventilation is poor, hydration is low, and alcohol and other drugs are used. Without considering these factors, people who use MDMA can experience kidney (renal) failure, irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), body temperature issues (hyperthermia), blood clots (DIC), and liver damage.
While MDMA has several safety concerns and lethal potential, many issues arise from regulatory issues, recreational use without a controlled set and setting, and the use of MDMA with other substances.
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), or acid, has been called one of the greatest tools for the exploration of consciousness.
LSD comes on like a daydream. Its effects include enhanced sensory perception, elevated mood, accelerated and broadened thoughts (around meaning, relationships, objects). Psychedelic researchers claim that LSD strengthens memory and suppresses the ego. Medically, it shows potential in treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, dependency issues, and fear of death for people with terminal illnesses.
Researchers claim that serotonergic psychedelics, such as LSD, have a solid safety profile when they’re administered in carefully controlled clinical settings.
LSD has low physiological toxicity and dependence, no physical withdrawal symptoms, and no evidence of organ damage even at very high doses. The increase in excitement and activity can lead to harm for those with cardiovascular disease, pregnancy, epilepsy, and psychosis.
In recreational use (which excludes microdosing and psychedelic-assisted therapy), a trip is more or less the point. A trip can be pleasant or fun, but it can also very likely be disturbing, uncomfortable, or else pretty unpleasant. Among various qualities, one of the reasons psychedelics are so effective as tools in psychotherapy involves the opportunity that they create to confront traumas, repressed memories, and ignored issues. So, it’s possible that some of that can come up to harsh one's mellow.
This is what’s known as a “bad trip” or dysphoria. It occurs in around 20% of recreational uses. Often depicted in pop culture as hallucinations and confusion, a bad trip can be terrifying, all thanks to the same psychological effects that users expect to experience.
A bad trip may vary depending on the substance and dosage. According to a comparative review of hallucinogens, a bad trip on psilocybin can involve feelings of “anxiety, mania, delirium, psychosis, acute schizophrenia, [and] collapse of the self.” Such feelings of losing one’s mind depend on the mood of the individual and "set and setting" where the psychedelic experience is taking place.
In order to avoid a bad trip, researchers suggest avoiding psychedelics if psychotic and psychiatric disorders run in the family, designating a safe environment with trusting participants, and involving informed and prepared guides to monitor and support participants throughout a psychedelic experience.
Psychedelics are incredibly powerful spiritual and mental healing tools with the power to alter one’s mind in various ways, including interrupting habits, perspectives, and even personalities.
Approved researchers and clinicians must take into account several factors before administering a psychedelic substance, including the toxicity of the substance, any preexisting conditions of the patients, dosage, set and setting, the patient’s mood, and the list goes on.
Psychedelic therapy involves a large, approved dose of a psychedelic medicine that’s administered by a professional in an approved clinical space, with strategic monitoring and guidance.
Importantly, researchers and clinicians believe the key to healing is not the medicine — psychedelics act as a vehicle to allow individuals to become more susceptible and open to therapeutic guidance in therapy as they face traumas, mindsets, and root issues to their suffering.
Click here to find out more about how psychedelics can heal the world.
May 24, 2021
If you’re just getting involved in Canada’s psychedelics space, you’ve likely come across the words “section 56 exemption” at least once. This may not seem terribly exciting at first, but to researchers, clinicians, and people with terminal illnesses, it represents a gateway to change and broader treatment options.
To get the general idea, a section 56 exemption can enable an approved medical professional to prescribe and even ingest select controlled substances without legal consequence, in order to better treat people with otherwise treatment-resistant conditions.
These exemptions are the first step toward achieving medical recognition for psychedelic substances, such as MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, and ibogaine that are being studied for use in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in Canada.
It’s easy to imagine laws and regulations as moral guidelines, set in stone. But, they’re not. When it comes to controlled substances that show incredible and unique potential in treating serious and often treatment-resistant conditions, researchers and clinicians are putting in the work to develop safety protocols and evidence of efficacy to gain medical and therapeutic recognition.
The professionals who want to use and explore these incredible substances have to first apply for a section 56 exemption through Health Canada.
It’s important to take a step back to understand the big picture and our current barriers. Before we explore the CDSA, its section 56 exemptions, and what that means for Canada’s health care industry, let’s try to understand how we got here.
Psychedelic research went on hiatus in the ‘70s following the US’ War on Drugs. The building tensions, escalating stigma, and need for drug control laid the foundation for regulations in Canada, which eventually developed into the CDSA we know today.
Drug control in Canada started way back in 1908 with the Opium Act. Leading up to 1923, cannabis, cocaine, morphine, and other opiates were added and prison sentences increased, as a way to combat black market drug sales.
As well, the Food and Drugs Act was established in 1920 to control the sale of acceptable drugs and health products.
From 1929 to the 1960s, Canada relied on the Opium and Narcotics Act for drug regulation.
The Narcotics Control Act took over from 1960–1990s, without really differentiating one drug from another. It was met with much contention and many attempts to decriminalize drugs, reduce consequences for possession, and reform drug policy.
Among these, Le Dain Commission recommended the gradual decriminalization of illicit drugs, but failed. Taking after America’s War on Drugs, Canada continued down the road of prohibition. This resulted in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) in 1997, which consolidated the Narcotics Control Act and the Food and Drugs Act.
Thanks to regulation exemptions, we’ve seen a few progressions since then. Cannabis was first approved for terminally-ill patients in 1999, acknowledged for medical use in 2000, and gained legal status for recreational use in 2018.
Canada has a long history of controlling substances, but it's not alone in its moral rule over the masses. As a governing body, the Canadian Government has a responsibility to protect us from harm and minimize abuse. But are we able to actually break down and understand what makes some substances illegal? At least with psychedelics, the question is, are current regulations based on safety or confused morals?
In the CDSA, controlled substances are scheduled based on their potential for harm and abuse, starting at schedule I (which includes psychedelics like ketamine and MDMA), schedule II, schedule III (which includes psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, and DMT), and so on. Ketamine is authorized for medical, scientific, or industrial purposes in Canada, but illegal to possess without authorization.
Since its debut, the CDSA has faced criticism around the scheduling of drugs, the severity of punishments, and the intentions of the act. Yet, it has remained relatively unchanged as Canada’s drug rule book.
However, section 56 of the CDSA allows for some wiggle room and implies hope for the future of how we understand, control, and use drugs.
In short, section 56 of the CDSA details the possible legal exemptions for all controlled substances.
According to Health Canada, an exemption enables researchers (physicians, veterinarians, and other researchers) to purchase, possess, and use a specified quantity of a controlled substance for research purposes that include in vitro utilization, administration to animals, and human clinical trials. Different application forms are required for different purposes, whether scientific purposes or clinical studies.
Section 56.1 states that the Minister may grant an exemption if it’s believed to be necessary for medical or scientific purposes, or in public interest.
Subsections dictate the Minister’s authority in approving exemptions for controlled substances and the activities involved, in terms of how a controlled substance is obtained and where it’s provided (a supervised consumption site). It’s stated that the Minister’s decision is made public, and that a reason must be provided for a refusal.
Section 56.2 states that the supervisor at a supervised consumption site may offer alternative pharmaceutical therapy before administering a substance that is obtained in a manner not authorized under the CDSA.
Psychedelic substances have offered cultures around the world opportunities for deeper insights, rebirth, and healing processes that were otherwise inaccessible.
Psychedelic research is uncovering incredible potential in clinical trials. Patients of pain, sexual dysfunction, addiction, trauma, brain injury, depression, anxiety, and other challenges could see breakthroughs from psychedelic-assisted therapy under the care of trained medical professionals.
Of course, section 56 isn’t specific to just psychedelic drugs. In fact, before 2018, practitioners required an exemption to prescribe, sell, provide, or administer methadone. That’s no longer the case, and an exemption is no longer necessary. According to Health Canada, amendments such as these can help give Canadians better access to treatment options.
That’s what’s fueling the optimism behind psychedelic-assisted therapy. Section 56 exemptions are giving physicians, therapists, and people with terminal illnesses access to psilocybin, MDMA, and other psychedelics for alternative treatment. Other cases include the ability for researchers to use psychedelics to understand their effects, a process that was used by the founding psychedelics researchers in the ‘40s-‘70s.
With the current renaissance of psychedelic research, as well as the disruption of the mental health space, organizations, investors, and lawmakers are being pushed to consider psychedelic substances to assist in psychotherapy. It’s a long-awaited breakthrough on the way to better treatments in Canada.
May 18, 2021
Mental Wealth – a phrase you may or may not have heard before. While it fits under the umbrella of mental health, mental wealth is distinctly its own concept, based on supporting your wellness and growth.
So, what exactly is mental wealth? Some kind of vault filled with mental gold?
Put another way, mental wealth reflects the value you place on your mental wellness. That doesn’t necessarily mean money, but includes the time and resources you afford yourself in order to maintain healthy, mindful practices.
While these two terms may sound similar, they have unique connotations involving mental wellness. Breaking down these terms can help individuals map out their mindset to better understand their healing journeys.
Mental health envelopes your overall wellness or mental status – including the ups and downs, the good and bad, and whether you’re improving or declining.
Going back to that vault metaphor, imagine mental wealth as a bank or collection of go-to supports. And instead of just boring old gold, it’s filled with a system of mindsets, practices, technology, and habits. And yes, these tools all yours, specific to your needs and struggles.
Social media shows us snapshots into the lives of people who seem naturally mentally healthy. The comparison makes mental health struggles all the more difficult.
The truth is, you can’t really know how another person invests in their mental wellness, the steps they take, or their status in general. As inaccurate as these snapshots are, they’re a reminder that pain and solutions are entirely subjective. Everyone has struggles and finds remedies that work for them — such as exercising, meditating, and microdosing.
Now, imagine a snapshot into your own mental health. Are you granting yourself the same amount of attention you’re giving to others?
Mental wealth involves knowing yourself deeply. It’s an investment — one that we believe should be a top priority for anyone.
Like any investment, there are ups and downs, good days and bad ones. And if you’re focused on your mental health, you know that not everything that contributes to your growth is exactly pleasant. Breakthroughs in therapy are challenging and even painful. After all, that’s what makes mental health supports so valuable.
Constructive mental health takes a wealth of personalized wellness tools and practices.
Whether supporting mental wellness at-home or in-therapy, no one said you had to heal on your own. Mental health tools, such as the functions provided by MINDCURE’s iSTRYM platform, support individuals in their journey to build mental wealth by utilizing data and insights that are specific to their needs, struggles, and goals.
iSTRYM also helps individuals and their therapists track progress, provides personalized AI-driven interventions, and strings together an A-team of wellness tools, such as breathwork by SOMA, music by LUCID, and language and sentiment processing by Speak. Together, these tools paint a full picture of client’s status to develop better clinical relationships and drive efficacious therapeutic outcomes.
MINDCURE is the company bringing Mental Wealth to mental health care. We develop psychedelic research programs as well as supply clinicians and their clients with supportive and integrative tools.
We're the team behind iSTRYM, a digital therapeutics platform driving personalized therapeutic outcomes in mental health care.
October 27, 2021
People are using all kinds of therapies to feel healthier and happier. A simple Google search will show tell you that the concept of "psychedelic therapy" involves the use of psychoactive drugs — both natural and synthetic — for therapeutic benefits. Through specially granted government exemptions, psychedelic therapy is an exciting new option for people struggling with pain and mental illness.
Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is gaining momentum in North America as clinical trials bring healing opportunities to life, with a number of clinics globally offering psychedelic therapy with various psychedelic substances.
Psychedelic therapy transforms traditional therapy by using psychoactive drugs like LSD, psilocybin, ibogaine, MDMA (ecstasy), 2C-B, mescaline, and DMT for their therapeutic benefits. It combines powerful, deeply researched substances with guided talk therapy and other tools to drive therapeutic breakthroughs.
Rather than ingesting pharmaceuticals to ease the symptoms of issues such as depression, psychedelic therapy helps individuals unlock root causes and do the work to solve them. Each session takes place in a highly monitored setting and usually involves an overnight stay. Under the guidance of a psychotherapist or trained professional, psychedelics can help therapy clients access their psyche, memories, and traumas in order to better understand the underlying issues to their pain. The psychotherapy first helps individuals prepare for the psychedelic healing journey and then helps integrate their growth into everyday life.
We may often consume pills without fully understanding their effects, believing this to be our only option. MINDCURE's research and development focuses into psychedelics like MDMA with The Desire Project and ibogaine with The Ibogaine Project aim to help bring psychedelic-assisted therapy to the mainstream.
As a growing industry guarded by stringent regulations, many people seeking solutions to treatment-resistant conditions travel to clinics outside of Canada and the US.
Recently, MINDCURE has partnered with Alberta based ATMA Journey Centres, the first government approved psychedelic journey centers in Canada. With multiple locations, ATMA provides immersive experiences with proven results. While they offer a variety of services, integrated therapy with psychedelics is their focus.
Health Canada recently started to approve individual applications of section 56 exemptions for people who wish to get access to controlled drugs like MDMA and LSD for therapeutic purposes. ATMA was the first private sector clinic in the country to deliver legal psychedelic-assisted therapy, treating a patient with a terminal-illness using psilocybin. This makes ATMA one of the most reliable names in the field.
ATMA has also launched a training program in conjunction with Wayfound Mental Health Group Inc. to train mental health workers with the skills and insights to work with psychedelics in a clinical setting. The first session sold-out quickly as the mental health community looks to innovation to heal a world in pain. MINDCURE contributes funding and its proprietary digital therapeutics technology, iSTRYM, to bring efficacious outcomes to ATMA's clients.
Here’s what the organization’s Co-CEO, David Harder, had to say:
"While Health Canada continues to increase access to legal psychedelic-assisted therapy for patients through their recent section 56 exemptions, there is a growing need in the mental health industry for therapists to have the appropriate training and knowledge to facilitate this important work."
Psychedelic therapy is said to be suitable for people struggling with serious treatment-resistant conditions, including trauma, PTSD, stress, addiction, and anxiety.
It's noted to influence individuals positively and for an impressively extended period of time after even a single session, compared to other treatment options.
Some reports suggest that psychedelic therapy can also be used to help individuals improve relationships, reduce stress, confront inner demons, boost creativity, solve problems, and feel generally lighter. At MINDCURE, we're determined to continue driving the research that revolutionizes mental health care.
Safety is a great concern. Since psychedelics are incredibly powerful, some associated with dangerous side effects and risks, researchers and clinicians are working to develop safety protocols to ensure patients experience their healing journey with confidence and comfort. Approval for clinical trials and psychedelic therapy depends on certain health conditions depending on the substance. For example, ibogaine was once unregulated in Canada and available for clinical use, but after a patient forged a EKG test to hide a pre-existing heart condition, he landed in a week-long coma and ibogaine joined the Pharmaceutical Drugs List. Now, ibogaine is being manufactured to continue clinical studies that will help researchers and clinicians better understand its uses and risks.
The scheduling and restrictions of psychedelic substances limits access, directs approval, and ultimately works to ensure that psychedelic therapy protocols are safe and efficacious before they can be administered. The ones that have made it into approved clinics have shown just that and there's incredible hope for the rest.
October 27, 2021
From policymakers and advocates to media personnel and the general public, there's a worldwide debate around making drug use safer by adopting different approaches. For example, Canada’s fight against the Overdose Crisis has compelled a nationwide argument for and against the legalization and decriminalization of drugs. The dictionary definition of legalization dictates something that was once prohibited is now officially permissible by the law. However, in terms of psychedelics such as ibogaine or psilocybin, the definitions warrant a much deeper understanding.
At MINDCURE, we're determined to challenge the stigma against powerful medicines, while also sharing resources that can empower a deeper knowledge of the risks and dangers of substances. We're even producing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine to supply researchers and promote therapeutic usage of psychedelics for mental health and well-being. Yet, as the world progresses, we find ourselves in an ever-evolving legal climate surrounding the access and use of psychedelics.
When drugs are decriminalized, their production and sale are essentially still illegal. However, criminal charges and penalties for personal use and possession are significantly reduced to fines or the lowest level of legal sanctions. For example, Oregon's decriminalization initiative, Proposal 44 or the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act (DATRA) ensures reduced prison sentences and criminal punishments for drugs scheduled from one to four including, psilocybin, heroin, LSD, and ayahuasca.
However, the type and limit for reduced sanctions can vary depending on the model of decriminalization adopted. According to the International Drug Policy Consortium, and the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the decriminalization model must use best practices under public health principles adhering to and advocating for basic human rights. Thus, in theory, the use of psychedelics for medicinal and therapeutic purposes is justified. However, the judicial and legal systems would argue otherwise.
On the other hand, legalization refers to the complete removal of criminal sanctions against drugs that were once deemed illegal or banned. For example, the Cannabis Act provides a regulated framework for the possession, sale, and production of Cannabis in Canada.
It's argued that decriminalization can help make drug use safer and ultimately save lives. This is perhaps because it adjusts the way we think about drugs. When drug use is not treated as a criminal offence, it automatically becomes a health and social issue. This way, the fall out of drugs are addressed at the root level of the problem (e.g., housing, healthcare, etc.) rather than just with handcuffs and criminal charges. By establishing a decriminalized response to the possession of drugs, people’s connection to health and social systems can be strengthened. For example, people will be encouraged to call 911, especially in overdose cases. Although drug-related Good Samaritan laws prevent criminal charges at the scene of the overdose, there is still some apprehension when reaching out to the police.
Country-wide decriminalization eliminates any fear or stigma associated with drug possession, thereby increasing access to care. This is perhaps why approximately 59% of Canadians are in favour of decriminalizing drugs, and government officials such as the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and British Columbia’s chief public health officials have also publicly shown support for decriminalizing drugs to overcome the Opioid Crisis.
However, the decriminalization of drugs does not ensure a safer supply of drugs.
Decriminalization is essentially a harm reduction approach. Research and implementation of decriminalization models across the world have found a reduction in overdose and disease rates. For example, in Portugal HIV transmission among people who inject drugs has decreased almost 85% while HIV rates in the Czech Republic are less than 1%. There are also economic and social benefits of implementing decriminalization and legalization models. For instance, the Californian Justice System saved almost $1 billion in 10 years following the decriminalization of cannabis possession in 1976.
However, the overdose crisis is primarily led by the illegal and unreliable supply of drugs. Since decriminalization does not ensure a safer supply model, illegal drugs made with harmful contaminants will continue to prevail in society. Without legal frameworks regulating drugs, overdose rates will remain undoubtedly high even with a decriminalized model in place.
Nevertheless, the decriminalization of drugs remains an essential step in fighting the stigma and regulating psychedelics use such as ibogaine, in therapeutic environments.
There is a recurring debate in academia on the legalization and decriminalization of psychedelics these days. This is perhaps because common legalization, and decriminalization models and definitions are not generalizable to psychedelics. For example, although there are multiple clinical trials with psychedelics like MDMA, ibogaine, and psilocybin underway to help speed up the legalization process, there will still be restrictions to access and usage. In this case, despite the FDA-approved status, these otherwise legalized drugs will essentially be treated as rescheduled ones.
In a similar occurrence, one may argue that exemptions, such as Section 56, are an essential step in the medicinal recognition of psychedelics. However, they still prohibit nationwide personal possession, thereby obstructing safe and regulated usage.
Even as the psychedelic landscape shifts rapidly, the legalization and decriminalization of these drugs will require consistent case-by-case evaluation. There will be underlying differences in definitions and perceptions, especially when determining the rules and regulations for distribution, access, and usage.
The revival of psychedelics in therapeutic environments has revolutionized the vision and understanding of modern medicine. To ensure a safer supply and consumption of psychedelic drugs, MINDCURE is building essential systems that home protocols for administrators and users through a cutting-edge digital platform, iSTRYM. By synthesizing Ibogaine, our team at MINDCURE is eliminating any harmful and unpredictable elements that otherwise increase overdose risks.
September 9, 2021
Imagine a wonder drug with the power to eradicate withdrawal symptoms and cravings, giving those struggling to overcome addiction an opportunity to begin healing.
The wonder drug is real and people who have experienced ibogaine treatment for addiction claim that it saved their lives. However, most of those individuals had to travel to countries where laws permit its use in therapy.
The truth is, there’s a lot to learn about ibogaine before it can be used in treatments in the Canada and the US. But that’s a good thing! With so much power, researchers and regulating bodies recognize the need for a deeper research into ibogaine to minimize risks.
With that, let's check out some of the hurdles involved with ibogaine and how MINDCURE helps.
Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance derived from the bark and roots of a West African shrub, Tabernanthe iboga.
Over the years, ibogaine has taken on various uses. Due to its hallucinogenic effects when used in large doses, ibogaine became an entheogen in rites of passage in West Africa. Its stimulating effects, when used in small doses, qualified it as a prescribable antidepressant in France throughout the 1930s until adverse effects took it off the market.
Since the 1960s, ibogaine has been suggested as an effective anti-addictive tool based on both research and personal experiences. Aside from mitigating withdrawal symptoms from drugs like opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, and nicotine, research is exploring ibogaine’s potential in treating several other mental health issues.
While its indications are promising and expanding, the lack of research, safety concerns, and narrow supply of ibogaine are keeping it from mainstream therapeutic practices.
First, a bit of background.
Ibogaine is currently being used to treat drug addiction in some countries; however, the drug is on schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in the US. Additionally, after receiving “serious and fatal adverse reaction reports associated with the use of ibogaine,” Health Canada added ibogaine to the Prescription Drug List (PDL) in 2017, in order to “mitigate the potential harms associated with the use of unauthorized ibogaine products.” However, it still has to undergo three phases of clinical trials before it can be prescribed for use in therapy. Qualified researchers can apply for ibogaine access here.
And, although research is a huge component that will help identify ibogaine’s further uses and shape protocols for clinical use, ibogaine is extremely rare and difficult to synthesize. In order to prove ibogaine’s medicinal capabilities, researchers need access to a supply for use in clinical trials; however, with the iboga plant quickly going extinct, access is extremely limited. Aside from the financial cost, extracting ibogaine from its natural source is not exactly sustainable and importing can be prohibited, limiting access for those who seek to research this amazing plant medicine.
More than that, even if there was a steady supply for clinical use, large doses of ibogaine can pose several serious safety concerns, including ventricular arrhythmia — irregular heartbeats that can lead to cardiac arrest. Ibogaine itself is linked to a few such deaths. Despite its clear potential for treating various indications, and as one of the top identified options to combat addiction, regulating bodies identify ibogaine’s cardiotoxicity and neurotoxicity as too risky.
Disheartening? Researchers don’t think so. In fact, it’s a motivating factor in the work of psychedelic research and only highlights the need for synthetic pharmaceutical grade ibogaine and clinical protocols.
At MINDCURE, we're committed to supporting efficacious psychedelic therapy. We believe psychedelics can change the face of mental health care and therapy for the better.
We’re creating a new opportunity for healing in response to the growing need for efficacious treatment options in the midst of an increasing opioid epidemic and mental health crisis. Current efforts for issues like opioid addiction are falling short, with 90% of those struggling unable to access the help they need. A new model for addiction therapy is desperately needed.
By synthesizing ibogaine, MINDCURE is helping researchers and clinicians get the resources they need to develop better care with psychedelic substances.
In order to support researchers and, eventually, clinicians, MINDCURE is providing a steady supply of consistent and regulated ibogaine so that researchers may identify and prove medicinal uses and develop protocols that can be used in clinical settings.
January 6, 2022
What happens when things go digital?
From streaming, ecommerce, and online banking, to Zoom meetings and social media — most aspects of our lives have become more accessible, secure, and efficient thanks to digitization.
With the rest of the world running online, mental health care is starting to catch up with innovative technological advancements. But the industry is no stranger to the pangs involved with lacking digital resources.
Communication and data gaps have made it challenging for clinicians to do their jobs in helping individuals heal. Their clients continue to suffer with disorders thought to be treatment-resistant. The lack of transparency into patient status prevents accurate diagnoses and targeted treatment methods.
Digital therapeutics are here to change all of that with integrative, data-backed toolsets to drive therapy outcomes.
With digital therapeutics in their infancy, real-world examples beyond intention are few. Therefore, new and developing platforms, such as MINDCURE’s iSTRYM, are laying the foundation for digital therapeutics in mental health care and psychedelic therapy.
Digital therapeutics, or DTx, are more than just software products used in therapy settings; they’re defined by their intention to deliver clinical outcomes.
By taking advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning, DTx software processes user-data and then provides therapeutic interventions to "prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease," according to the Digital Therapeutics Alliance.
With millions of people suffering from mental health issues around the world, the industry cannot afford to maintain on its current route. That’s why DTx platforms offer so much value to individuals and care workers.
Individuals in need of mental health care greatly outnumber mental health workers. On top of this, research shows that COVID-19 and its connected factors (job loss and isolation) are only increasing mental health challenges — not to mention, the already existing informational gaps. With lockdowns occurring around the world, digital solutions are proving more necessary to connect clinicians with their clients, as well as with other health care professionals to support the vastness of conditions and protocols.
Digital therapeutics help optimize mental health care by providing a more in-depth and user-friendly view into client status. For clinicians, access to client-data can enhance assessment accuracy and treatment efficacy.
iSTRYM has the ability to enhance care beyond traditional psychiatry by keeping clinicians and their clients aligned on the goals and steps they take toward healing.
As a platform for clinicians and an app for clients, iSTRYM brings together a plethora of partnered tools to give users all the help they can get in one place.
MINDCURE is a life-sciences company and industry leader uniquely tying together mental health care, digital therapeutics, and psychedelic healing. With our digital therapeutics software, iSTRYM, mental health care will never be the same. iSTRYM offers clinicians and their clients transparency, security, personalization, and support that surpass clinic walls.
MINDCURE is committed to building accuracy and trust into everything we do, from doing the research to creating digital tools, synthetic psychedelic substances, and partnering with integrated therapy clinics.
February 4, 2022
Opiate addiction is a global crisis.
Opiates refer to controlled prescription drugs derived from opium, a naturally-occurring chemical found in various plants and seeds. Used to treat pain, these drugs have a high rate of abuse that can result in addiction.
It is believed that nearly 1 percent of people who are prescribed these pain killers end up developing an addiction. This might sound like a low number but it runs into millions considering nearly 300 million of these prescriptions are written in the US alone (per year).
In fact, in 2019, approximately 50,000 people in the US died from opioid-related overdoses. The situation has been worsening and the medical and pharmaceutical communities are struggling to find solutions to this problem.
Recently, ibogaine has come out as a promising solution to opiate addiction. In this article, we’ll talk about ibogaine including the benefits and risks associated with using it to fight addiction.
Derived from iboga, a West African shrub, ibogaine is a psychedelic substance that has historically been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including depression. Ibogaine isn’t new to the world of medicine and has been used since the 1860s.
While it is yet to be approved for treatment by the Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada, it’s being used to treat opiate addiction in some parts of the world.
Ibogaine itself is classified as a Schedule I drug in the US and is on the Prescription Drug List in Canada due to its potential for abuse and the lack of research. However, research into ibogaine is becoming more available as MINDCURE is developing pharmaceutical grade ibogaine for research and clinical use.
The understanding of ibogaine is developing. The drug is known to produce stimulating effects when in small doses and can reduce pain, which is often the root cause of opiate use. However, unmonitored and unregulated large doses can have serious consequences without the supervision of treatment professionals, and for people with existing cardio vascular issues, ibogaine use can lead to cardiac arrest.
According to the neuroscience book series, Progress in Brain Research, small doses of iboga root bark can trigger euphoria and a dose of 5 mg/kg of a person’s weight can cause stimulatory effects. Increasing the dose can launch a visual phase that can last up to 4 hours followed by a deep, introspective stage that can give patients valuable insights into their behaviors.
Alternatively, in a clinical setting, researchers believe that administering large doses of ibogaine can help fight cravings and addiction for those fighting opiate addiction.
Dr. Bryce Pardo, a cannabis and opioid researcher suggests that, “The benefits of treating opioid use disorder with ibogaine would be immense.” He admits, however, that, “From time to time you hear stories that, in patients with existing CVD, it can cause death.”
Research on the topic of ibogaine is ongoing. US Federal agencies allocated more than $700 million to ibogaine-related projects between 2008 and 2018.
A Mexican team of researchers studied 30 individuals seeking ibogaine-based treatment for opiate abuse and found these results:
According to the team, ibogaine can temporary pause on it. This can give people struggling with addiction the opportunity to begin healing. Additionally, a team of researchers found that the use of ibogaine can lead to the resolution of patients’ opioid withdrawal syndrome within two days.
Researchers acknowledge that ibogaine as a medicine is not sufficient in treating addiction, but could benefit psychotherapy. One study that consisted of 75 patients found ibogaine to be effective when used with psychotherapy. However, most researchers agree that information on the topic is scarce and more research is needed to determine the efficacy and safety of ibogaine treatment.
Ibogaine is one of the more promising points of hope in this massive crisis. Check out how MINDCURE is helping to bring ibogaine research and treatment to life by manufacturing ibogaine for research and clinical use.
November 11, 2021
The world of medicine is changing at a fast pace.
Thanks to technology, it's possible for patients to get the care they need without having to go to a hospital or clinic setting. COVID-19 and our inability to receive therapy and assistance face-to-face is causing acceptance of digital therapy to fast-track to a state of commonplace.
Innovations in the field are addressing patient needs with the help of mobile apps and wearable monitoring devices. Wellness innovation is reshaping our idea of health and strengthening the connection between mind and body.
Let’s talk about digital therapeutics, its many benefits, and how it’s changing the industry.
Digital therapeutics, or DTx, refer to a new and fast-growing trend in the mobile health (mHealth) market for life sciences that include software products used to treat medical conditions.
We have seen a sudden influx of innovative apps made to allow patients to control their health. More and more known companies and startups are jumping on the bandwagon to rule this emerging market.
These apps work like customer wellness tools; however, their main focus is to deliver clinical outcomes.
Here are some of their features:
In addition to this, digital therapeutics can be effective in overall patient wellness and health management as they provide support through different stages of a person’s health care journey.
They come with the ability to not just collect and synthesize but also analyze patient data. This can allow clinicians to personalize treatment and reduce the risk of complications.
Digital therapeutics are not a fad. The technology used in the industry can be used to address unmet patient needs that traditional therapies and treatments have failed to cover.
Digital therapy stays with you, beyond the session or treatment, making a wellness journey a true example of integrated therapy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems to be in favor of DTx as the organization recognizes the need to modernize its approach.
In order to boost the industry, the FDA came up with a Software Precertification (Pre-Cert) Pilot Program that launched in 2017. The purpose of the program is to regulate the market and it’s a good indication that the program has the FDA’s blessings.
Digital therapeutics are not only beneficial for patients but for med-tech and pharmaceutical companies as well. They require little investment and provide an easy way to create new and innovative products, especially when compared to costs associated with a traditional pharmacology or drug device.
Many companies are shifting R&D investments away from core product lines and toward transformational innovation. Digital therapeutics also offer an opportunity to extend product life cycles, differentiate products in development, and fill gaps in the market that traditional medicine might not be able to address.
The best thing about the concept is that it benefits both providers and patients.
It's believed that the future is digital. We are moving towards a future where AI, digital sensors, and health wearables will be used to treat people.
While upfront costs may seem high for some patients, it is believed that digital therapeutics will be able to help patients save money in the long-run. Total investment in the industry has topped $600 million with a growing interest in the field.
Digital therapeutics might be the future but it doesn’t come without its challenges, including a lack of experience in the field and the need to educate consumers and clinicians. Not everyone likes the idea of relying on machines and trackers. Plus, digital therapeutics cannot help in all medical-related fields.
MINDCURE's iSTRYM tool offers a secure and adaptive digital therapeutics platform that puts data to use. Along with connecting clinicians and experts of various conditions and illnesses, our AI-driven mental wellness digital therapeutics tool, allows users to collect and monitor data that can be used to make better therapeutic decisions, in concert with professional support. iSTRYM paves the way for better mental health care and psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how iSTRYM can help you.
May 15, 2021
A “love drug” in many ways, from increasing sexual arousal and closeness to helping people overcome traumas that affect relationships and self-worth, MDMA is being researched to push beyond stigma and toward psychiatric use for trauma and anxiety treatments.
MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a synthetic drug with stimulating and hallucinogenic effects. It’s known as ecstasy, E, or X, when in capsule form and molly when powdered; however, these drugs may contain other substances.
It was first synthesized in 1912 by German pharmaceutical company, Merck, with the intention to control bleeding. Since then, MDMA has appealed to various groups.
As a psychotherapeutic tool in the 1970s, it was known as “Adam” for seemingly reverting subjects to a “natural state of innocence before guilt, shame, and unworthiness.” It dominated throughout the ‘80s as a party and rave drug, eventually joining LSD, heroin, magic mushrooms, and other drugs in controlled substances acts around the world.
Today, MDMA remains a schedule I drug in Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and the US’ Controlled Substance Act.
Despite the hiatus these laws caused for psychedelic research, the 1990s saw MDMA used in clinical trials to help relieve pain in terminally-ill patients, laying the framework for protocols and paving pathways for regulatory approval for MDMA and other psychedelics in psychedelic-assisted therapy. In fact, in 2017, the FDA designated MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD as a breakthrough therapy.
MDMA has gained popularity for its euphoric effects and ability to trigger sexual arousal, empathy, trust, closeness, and other socially positive emotions. For many psychiatrists, MDMA shows potential in assisting in psychotherapy (or talk therapy), especially for its ability to encourage openness in expressing emotions and communicating past traumas.
These emotional and mental reactions are triggered by the increased release of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Dopamine increases energy and reinforces behaviors by influencing the brain’s reward system. Norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure. Serotonin triggers hormones that affect sexual arousal, trust, emotional closeness, elevated mood, and empathy. Together, these neurotransmitters can create a chemical euphoria, but of course, at the cost of risks and side effects.
MDMA is a powerful substance with potential for abuse as well as risks tied to environment, dosage, and quality.
With the central nervous system firing on all cylinders, the body struggles to deal with heat. Without a controlled environment with excellent air-flow, breaks, and hydration, individuals can experience dehydration and hyperthermia (overheating), even leading to brain damage, organ failure, and death.
Along with these risks, what you want is not always what you get. While the names for street drugs vary, so do their ingredients. Depending on where you live, ecstasy and molly could mean different things and could be mixed with other substances like bath salts and speed. “Molly” (short for molecular), is often misunderstood as being pure MDMA; in reality, it is an illegal and therefore unregulated substance, which amplifies the risk of ingesting unwanted harmful chemicals.
Additionally, when under the influence of MDMA, users can be more vulnerable to sexual abuse, and therefore, a safe and trusting environment is essential.
The risks of MDMA are serious, as with most medicines. Misinformation and stigma only fuel the dangers involved. That’s why scientists and medical professionals are developing best practices and informing protocols for MDMA-assisted therapy.
MDMA is likely to involve unpleasant moments while patients face their deepest traumas in therapy sessions. However, in a controlled clinical setting, with a medical professional to administer a regulated dose and guide patients through their healing journeys, MDMA is safe and potentially life-changing for people with treatment-resistant disorders.
MDMA currently has no recognized medical use in Canada; however, researchers are working to prove the drug’s potential effects on:
Click here to see a list of MDMA clinical trials in the US.
In conventional talk therapy, feelings of shame, anxiety, fear, and ego can block progress when seeking treatment for issues like PTSD and depression. MDMA can help breakthroughs happen and ultimately lead to healing.
According to MAPS psychiatrist and principal investigator, Dr. Ingrid Pacey, MDMA removes that fear and allows patients to face issues. “It means you can talk about something really difficult without being terrified. You may still feel distressed but you can go there.”
At MINDCURE, we’re committed to uncovering the healing power of psychedelic substances to help individuals overcome mental health issues.
By developing technology, synthetic psychedelics, and research, we’re fuelling psychedelic knowledge and laying the foundation for safe, efficacious healing in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
May 7, 2021
Context is key, but when someone mentions “drugs,” you might imagine “Just Say No” ads, those teenagers melting away on the couch, tye-dye and withdrawals.
But really, aren’t we all on drugs? — whether caffeine, alcohol, cannabis, Xanax or other. Pharmaceuticals, controlled substances, and some nootropics may be synonymous with “drugs,” but they don’t define one another. Heroin does not define drugs any more than caffeine does.
With anything, we generalize according to the worst case scenario. In terms of drugs, we call this the likelihood for harm and abuse.
How much of what we rely on — from our drug classing system to the definition of “harm” — do we take for granted based on stigma, things we’ve heard and worst case scenarios? These things affect us beyond casual conversation. In fact, they can empower as much as our definitions and government regulations.
So, what’s a drug? It depends on who you ask.
The governments that control them? The public who needs, uses or fears them? The scientists who discover and research them?
Definitions online tend to agree that a drug is a substance that alters the body's function physically, psychologically, or both. Some draw the line between legal and illegal drugs.
The World Health Organization defines “psychoactive drugs,” which “affect mental processes, e.g. perception, consciousness, cognition or mood and emotions.” The WHO’s World Drug Report 2019 includes stats on depressants, stimulants, and cannabis and hallucinogens. It states that 270 million people have used drugs in the last year.
The Australian Government defines drugs as “substances that change a person's mental or physical state.”
The Canadian Government is careful not to define drugs in general. Health Canada provides context around drugs as “prescription and non-prescription pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, and sanitizers with disinfectant claims.” Aside from these, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act states that a “controlled substance means a substance included in Schedule I, II, III, IV or V.” Canada takes after the UN’s drug classification system, in which “schedules” are used to class substances based on potential abuse, as well as potential harm to oneself and to others.
What is harm?
The Lancet, an online peer-reviewed journal, published a chart categorizing 14 the “Most Dangerous Drugs” — from alcohol to mushrooms, with cannabis smack in the middle. Each has its own “drug harm score,” which meshes a number of factors based on harm to self and harm to others. Impairment, dependence, and loss of tangibles and relationships are in the “harm to self” category. Community, economic and environmental costs, crime and injury, and family adversaries are in the “harm to others” category.
While we’re on the topic of definitions, let’s talk about impairment and dependence. Impairment means diminished functionality, rather than harm. In contrast, there is no mention of the cognitive functions that some drugs promote.
Dependence also has negative connotations. Yet, many people depend on legal pharmaceuticals: blood pressure medication, insulin, blood thinners, pain killers, diarrhetics, heart medication, puffers and even laxatives. These drugs provide functions that the body is lacking. And of course, as with anything else, overuse can cause harm.
But not everything makes the chart — certainly not laxatives. Despite landing last place, psilocybin (or magic mushrooms) is currently categorized by Health Canada as a schedule III (3) drug, making “sale, possession, production, etc. ... prohibited unless authorized for clinical trial or research purposes.” That mushrooms are classed as the least harmful does not let them off the hook. Until we can prove the medical necessity for psilocybin, we can’t risk the potential for “harm,” whatever that entails. See here for the effects and risks associated with psilocybin, according to Health Canada.
When we ask “what is a drug,” what we really want is to answer “what makes certain drugs illegal?” And when we’re met again with the harmful factors mentioned in the drug chart, you’ll note that the most harmful drug is legal: alcohol.
Definitions have much to do with stigma. Related to our exploration of the definition of drugs, the stigma behind psychedelics is being challenged in an attempt to obtain medical recognition for psilocybin.
The journey of psychedelics, from research to criminalization, seems to have been influenced by misdirected panic. Despite promising psychedelic research in the 1950s, cultural stigma formed against “delinquents” and “hippies.” These notions threatened the society and way of life at the time. Where did this stigma come from?
Rather than being promoted for their therapeutic potential, psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline took on negative associations due in part by messages of anarchy and protests. Psychedelic drugs became largely connected to insanity, self-harm, and rebellious attitudes against war and police. These factors did not play well for psychedelics, regardless of the suggested effects on cancer, addiction, depression, anxiety, and trauma.
The revival of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes is changing how we look at psychedelics. We’re seeing a shift in attitudes due to the focus on mental health care. Science is challenging the psychedelic stigma by consciously disrupting the status quo for the benefit of wellness.
The cannabis industry’s ability to overcome stigma and reenter the market, both medically and recreationally, is enough to question the practicality of our drug rankings. After all, alcohol, too, was once illegal. Yet, that changed without an inkling of medical or therapeutic basis.
Is it possible that psychedelics just got a bad rap?
Of course, alcohol’s legality is not the reason for this article, nor should it infer that anything else should be legal. Instead, we must look to the research into the benefits of psychedelics to achieve medical recognition and inform therapeutic uses of such drugs.
January 6, 2022
Although considered by Health Canada to be "substances with no medical value," psychedelic substances like psilocybin and LSD are being evaluated by researchers for their potential ability to treat a variety of health conditions. And while the research we have on psychedelics' therapeutic effects is promising, the psychedelic movement has many more challenges to face.
One of the greatest challenges associated with the psychedelic movement is the negative stigma associated with psychedelic use.
From the stereotype of psychedelic users as "hippies" to movies depicting psychedelic users as drug addicts and violent criminals, it's easy to see how these cultural beliefs took over. Anti-drug legislators are often quick to espouse the "dangers" of psychedelics. Many of them rely on anachronistic and outdated depictions of psychedelic users across movies and TV. Others may simply speak from a more abstract place, citing deeply ingrained cultural beliefs as reasons why psychedelic use should not continue.
But just how much truth is there to such a negative stigma, anyway? Are people who take psychedelics criminals? Addicts? Something more?
Getting away from these myths, the real-world tells us that psychedelic drug users are far more complex—and more prevalent—than you might have been led to believe. The best way to tackle these outdated ideas about psychedelic users is to confront them head on—with plenty of data to support our argument, of course.
So what do psychedelic users actually look like? What is microdosing, how does it work, and who is it for?
One of the most prevalent assumptions about psychedelic use is that it's an "underground" activity, only enjoyed by young adults at raves or clubs.
The reality is, however, that far more people are trying psychedelics than you might expect.
Heck, everybody's doing it!
A 2013 research paper sought out to determine how many people across America were using psychedelics found that there were nearly 32 million lifetime psychedelic users in the US in 2010. Authors of the paper also noted that the rate of psychedelic use among baby boomers is similar for people aged 21–49.
In 2018, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services released the results from their National Survey on Drug Use and Health. They discovered that a whopping 22.9 million people (8.7% of Americans) reported prior use of psilocybin.
The number of psychedelic users across America is also rapidly expanding. A 2020 report published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that the use of LSD jumped 56.4% between 2015–2018. This was consistent across all age groups including people 26–34 and 35–49.
This data shows us that psychedelic use is far more prevalent than you might think. It also tells us that many different types of psychedelic users at all ages—not just millennials—exist. And since many of the people polled were lifetime users, we can safely say they benefit from reoccurring psychedelic use.
I know what you're thinking—doesn't that make recurrent psychedelics users addicts? Of course, psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD aren't physically addictive. At the same time, behaviors can be. But when it comes to abusing substances, psychedelics are, put bluntly, kind of too much of a pain in the ass. While a macrodose can be fun and exciting, it can also take a lot of preparation and energy, so it's best saved for a special occasion, with spiritual or personal goals set to achieve.
Microdosing is a whole other ballpark.
One type of psychedelic user steadily growing in numbers is the microdoser. A microdoser is a person who routinely ingests small amounts of psychedelics for therapeutic benefit. LSD and psilocybin are the most commonly microdosed psychedelics for their cognitive and creative benefits.
The idea behind microdosing isn't to "trip," but rather is based on consuming a non-perceptible dose—a dose so small you can't consciously feel any effects.
There are many negative stereotypes that can come to mind when thinking of a microdoser. Some people might assume a microdoser's continual use means they're a drug addict. Others might conjure images of wealthy Silicon Valley "tech bros" using LSD to enhance their productivity. And at the other end of the spectrum, some people may assume microdosers are unmotivated, lazy hippies that just don't want to grow up.
Select individuals may enroll in psychedelic-assisted therapies. These users may also experience the cognitive biases that microdosers encounter. Unfamiliar groups might view these users as mentally unfit, or as lost causes. Films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest may swim in their mind's eye, conjuring images of wild patients and unconventional therapies. These groups may even fear microdosers, believing them to be deranged, violent, or otherwise dangerous criminals in need of rehabilitation. Others may view psychedelic treatment facilities with the same contempt and fear they show for psychiatric facilities depicted in popular media.
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