Truffle Report - MINDCURE Health: CEO Kelsey Ramsden on Women's Health in Psychedelics — Truffle Talks Episode 6

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 GrowthOp – Could MDMA therapy treat chronically low sex drive?

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.

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The Dales Report – CEOs Kelsey Ramsden and Anthony Tennyson Talk Psychedelic Partnerships: “Further, Faster, Together”

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.

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Pharmacy Times – Expert: MDMA-Assisted Therapy Has Potential Benefits For Women With Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

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.

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Benzinga – MINDCURE's "Desire Project" uses MDMA to Treat Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) in Premenopausal Women

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.

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Benzinga – Psyched: Elon Musk Discusses Psychedelics, Delix Raises $70M, MINDCURE To Study MDMA In Female Sexual Dysfunction

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.

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Psychedelic Spotlight – Business Spotlight: October 1, 2021 Sexual Desire Disorder with MDMA

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.

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Psychedelic Health – Research to investigate MDMA psychotherapy for female sexual disorder

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.  

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The Dales Report – Could MDMA Be A Frontline Therapeutic For Women’s Sexual Disorders? MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden Says Yes

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.

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Benzinga – Digital Therapeutics And The Future Of Psychedelic Medicine

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.

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Baystreet.ca – Psychedelics Could Alter a Potential $2.5 Trillion Mental Health Market

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.

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The Dales Report – TDR’s Top 5 Psychedelic Developments For The Week Of September 27

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.

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Benzinga – MDMA (Or Ecstasy) Improve Sexual Desire in Women? MINDCURE Launches Research Program To Find Out

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.

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Psychedelic Spotlight – MINDCURE Targeting Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder with MDMA

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.

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Psychedelic Finance – MINDCURE Launches "Desire Project" To Treat Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder With MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy

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.

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Benzinga – Meet The Top 12 CEOs In The Psychedelics Industry

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.

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Psychedelic Finance – Geoff Belair | Chief Technology Officer, MINDCURE

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.

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InvestorsObserver – MINDCURE (MCURF) Releases First of its Kind Mental Health Digital Therapeutics Platform; Shares Decline

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.

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Mobi Health News – MINDCURE begins North American release of digital therapeutic for psychedelic therapy

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.

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Benzinga – InvestorBrandNetwork (IBN) Announces Latest Episode of The Bell2Bell Podcast featuring Kelsey Ramsden, Co-Founder & CEO of MINDCURE

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.

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InvestorBrandNetwork – Bell2Bell Podcast featuring MINDCURE Co-Founder & CEO Kelsey Ramsden

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.

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EMBS – Probing the Future of Psychedelics for Mental Health Conference

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.

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Women on Topp – 8 Simple Advice From a $50M Female Entrepreneur

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.

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Psychedelic Spotlight – Psychedelic Business Spotlight: July 30, 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.

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Action and Ambition – Kelsey Ramsden Establishes Multimillion Dollar Businesses

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.

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For the Love of Sports – #259 - Kelsey Ramsden - CEO of MINDCURE, Psychedelic Research and More

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.

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EMBody Radio – 108. Psychedelics as Tools for Healing, Performance, and Flow State | with Kelsey Ramsden of MINDCURE

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.

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The Dales Report – MINDCURE CEO Kelsey Ramsden on Exciting Ibogaine Synthesis Patent News

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.

Access the interview here.

Medium – Female Disruptors: Kelsey Ramsden of MINDCURE On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

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.

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The Black Diamond Podcast – Ep. 59 Kelsey Ramsden: MINDCURE & The Future of Psychedelics

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.

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Digital Therapeutics: Using Data to Drive Outcomes in Mental Health Care
Free white paper for everybody interested in solutions to the gaps in healthcare.

What You Get

A high-level overview of the gaps in mental health care and the need for data technology in optimizing clinical outcomes.

What You Learn

  • An understanding of where gaps in healthcare exist
  • An understanding of how silos affect care
  • Definitions of digital epidemiology, phenotyping, digital health, and digital therapeutics
  • The landscape of digital therapeutics softwares, their solutions, and potential issues
What Makes Female Desire Unique?
In the US alone, there are 9.5 million premenopausal women who are affected by HSDD. Learn more about Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) and what makes female desire unique.

What Is Female Desire & Why Is It Unique?

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.

About Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD)

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.

How to Increase Sexual Desire in Females With Medicine & Does It Work?

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.

How Can Psychedelics Help With HSDD?

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.

What Else Can Increase Sexual Desire in Females?

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.

  • Manage any stress and anxiety.
  • Prioritize healthy eating and a good night’s sleep.
  • Improve the quality of relationships.

About the Desire Project

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 28, 2022

What Makes Female Desire Unique?

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COVID-19 Disproportionately Affects Women’s Mental Health
COVID-19 has exposed insecure relationships, cost jobs and careers, emphasized financial stress, and increased domestic violence rates in Canada.

COVID-19 & Women’s Mental Health

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.

The Psychological Impact of COVID-19 on Women

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.

Homelife

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.

Work Life

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.

Access to Healthcare

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.

Conclusion

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.

Ibogaine May Help With Addiction, But What Else?
Ibogaine is largely considered the most efficacious medication for the treatment of opioid withdrawal and substance-related cravings. Can ibogaine’s behavior in the brain tell us about its potential to treat other related medical conditions? 

A History & Overview of Ibogaine’s Potential

Ibogaine’s history as an anti-addiction agent can be traced back to 1962 and New York City, when a heroin-addicted teenager, merely trying to alter his consciousness, noticed that the heroin withdrawal he usually experienced failed to materialize.

The teenager, a man by the name of Howard Lotsof, reported experiencing vivid hallucinogenic visions and an extensive review of his life, complete with hyper-logical interpretations of its significance.

Lotsof would go on to make important contributions to the world of ibogaine research, publishing hundreds of case reports showcasing people who had managed to break free from the shackles of addiction. His findings and impassioned promotion of ibogaine turned scientists on to the possibility that this atypical psychedelic may possess powerful anti-addictive properties.

One such scientist was behavioral pharmacologist Stanley Glick, who, having been swayed by Lotsof’s conviction, decided to intraperitoneally inject ibogaine into 13 morphine-addicted rats. Unsurprisingly, ibogaine, administered in 10mg/kg doses, was shown to be effective in decreasing morphine self-administration, an effect that lasted several weeks. 

A number of setbacks have slowed progress in the aftermath of promising preclinical evidence. For example, 33 ibogaine-related deaths have been reported in the literature linked to cardiotoxicity, an unfortunate reality that almost certainly invokes hesitancy among the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant approval for ibogaine-related research. 

However, thorough reviews have determined unsafe settings and administration of toxic doses to be the cause of these fatalities. After all, drug detoxification is a medical condition that requires expert supervision from trained professionals who understand the metabolic disruption involved. This is particularly so in the case of people addicted to hard drugs, who are already compromised and vulnerable as a consequence of their addiction.

In addition, researchers sustained a stifling blow after FDA-approved research to treat cocaine-dependent humans was stopped in its tracks after researchers discovered an association between ibogaine and cerebellar ataxia. I mean, of course they did. People who spend their lives looking for problems with drugs are going to find problems with drugs. Even so, one would expect exceptions to be made for therapy drugs that are obviously effective.

Despite these stumbling blocks, research has continued to show that ibogaine exerts profound anti-addictive effects. There is now an abundance of preclinical evidence demonstrating high success rates, and today, ibogaine is largely considered the most efficacious medication for the treatment of opioid withdrawal and substance-related cravings.

What Is Ibogaine?

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring indole alkaloid derived from the roots of a perennial rainforest shrub called Tabernanthe iboga. According to ethnobotanical literature, iboga, a chemically fascinating plant medicine bearing white tubular flowers and a yellow-orange fruit, has been used by the Indigenous peoples of Central West Africa for centuries. 

Iboga has become centrally integrated into a sophisticated, syncretic Christian religion called Bwiti in the countries of Gabon, Cameroon, and (to a lesser extent) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Followers of the Bwiti religion see the iboga shrub as the tree of knowledge as described in the Christian Bible.

Throughout the 19th century, the use of iboga became a central feature of resistance against French colonization, and since then, it has become increasingly important and politically relevant. 

According to American anthropologist James W. Fernandez in his book Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa, the people of Central West Africa mainly use iboga for two reasons. At low doses, it has energizing, stimulant effects that are used to stave off hunger and thirst and prevent fatigue on hunting trips. On the other hand, high doses of iboga are used sacramentally to induce dream-like visionary experiences during religious “rebirth” ceremonies and rites of initiation, which are typically undertaken before one enters adolescence.

To prepare iboga for ingestion, the root of the plant must first be dried. Once dried, the bark on the root is scraped off, sifted, and stored in a crystal goblet. In the Bwiti tradition, ceremony facilitators use a teaspoon to measure what they consider to be an appropriate dose. The facilitator then uses his fingers to carefully place the measured dose of iboga into the mouth of the receiver. Finally, the plant medicine is washed down with water, and smoked tobacco, whiskey, or honey may be offered to remedy its bitter taste.  

The root bark of the iboga plant is rich in approximately 80 indole alkaloids, the most abundant, most prominent, and most studied being ibogaine. Ibogaine is illegal in the United States and is similarly scheduled in Canada, the UK, France, and the Scandinavian countries, but is perhaps somewhat surprisingly unregulated in most countries.

The ibogaine molecule has a very impressive 3-dimensional structure that is quite complex and synthetically challenging to produce. Not only is ibogaine structurally complex, but it also has complex pharmacology that is yet to be fully understood.

How Does Ibogaine Work in the Brain?

Ibogaine has proven itself as perhaps the most efficacious treatment for addiction, but what makes it so? Well, that question has thus far proven difficult for researchers to answer.

Ibogaine appears to exhibit a polypharmacy effect, whereby it uniquely acts on a cluster of different brain receptors. The beneficial effects of ibogaine may be associated with the following mechanisms of action:

Naturally, this polypharmacy effect has made it difficult for researchers to associate observed benefits with specific mechanisms of action, but recent theories have tried. 

For instance, the up-regulation of GDNF, which is important for mediating the reset on dopamine neurons, has been associated with reduced ethanol intake.

The blocking of nicotinic alpha 3 beta 4 receptors in the habenula has been associated with reduced alcohol and nicotine intake. The habenula, a pair of nuclei located at the top of the thalamus that act as regulators of neurotransmitters, feed into dopamine cell body fields. So, ibogaine basically pumps the brakes on dopamine-mediated reinforcement. 

Ibogaine is a partial agonist of mu-opioid receptors associated with decreased self-administration of morphine. Its active metabolite, noribogaine, is a partial agonist of the kappa-opioid receptor, which plays a central role in the treatment of cocaine addiction

Other mechanisms of action speculated to play a role are ibogaine’s interference with dopamine and serotonin re-uptake, as well as its inhibition of NMDA receptors involved in pain, analgesia, and the regulation of long-term memory formation. 

Overall, ibogaine shows no clear preference for any particular receptor site. It appears likely that ibogaine’s targeting of multiple receptor systems and its long-lasting activity both play an instrumental role in the treatment of substance use disorders.

What Else Can Ibogaine Treat? 

So, what does ibogaine’s behavior in the brain tell us about its potential to treat other, often somewhat related medical conditions? 

Depression

Interestingly, ibogaine was once marketed in France as an anti-depressant under the trade name Lambarene. Lambarene was prescribed widely in France from 1939 to 1966 before its sale was ultimately prohibited. It seems reasonable to assume that ibogaine’s anti-depressant effects have been known about for quite some time, at least among the French.

Supporting this assumption is ibogaine’s apparent positive impact on depression scores, a measure typically incorporated in studies to further evaluate a drug’s effects. 

Research conducted by Dr. Deborah Mash and colleagues in 2000 and 2001 at the esteemed professor’s Healing Visions Institute located on the island of St. Kitts, reported significant and lasting reductions in depression scores after just a single dose administration of ibogaine. 

Subsequent research obtained highly encouraging results, reporting associations between ibogaine and mood improvement, as well as significant reductions in depression severity across three separate scales.

Additionally, studies investigating the efficacy of ibogaine in opioid-dependent participants have shown sustained reductions in depression severity at 3, 6, and even 12-month follow-up.

One study observed up-regulation of BDNF to be responsible for anti-depressant-like effects in ibogaine-injected rats. Interestingly, these effects were not reproduced by the widely prescribed anti-depressant drug fluoxetine (Prozac).

Blue words on a white background describe MINDCURE's Ibogaine Project as "Bringing real therapeutic solutions to market by furthering the science behind ibogaine's potential for various indications. A beaker, testtube, eyedropped, and Petri dish are pictured below text.

Two mechanisms of action stand out as the most likely explanations for ibogaine’s anti-depressant effects.

First, ibogaine’s high affinity to the serotonin transporter increases concentrations of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. 

Second, ibogaine’s antagonism of NMDA receptors, which is most likely responsible for its dissociative anesthetic effects, in combination with its ability to up-regulate BDNF, offers another plausible explanation. NMDA receptor antagonist and proven up-regulator of BDNF, ketamine, recently received FDA approval as a medication for treatment-resistant depression in adults.

Researchers at Imperial College in London hypothesize that the anti-depressant effects of psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms, lie in its ability to reduce activity in an interconnected network of brain areas called the default mode network (DMN). Hyperactivity in the DMN has been correlated with constrained, negative thinking patterns and repetitive, ruminative thought loops often observed in people with depression. 

The psychedelic experience dissolves these consolidated neural connections, thus enabling people to adopt fresh perspectives and new ways of thinking that coincide with significant reductions in depressive symptoms.

A forthcoming collaboration between the research team at Imperial’s Center for Psychedelic Research and DemRx, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, to conduct fMRI studies on healthy participants may help to shed some light on whether DMN disruption is involved in ibogaine’s enduring anti-depressant effects.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The potential of ibogaine to treat trauma-related psychological and cognitive impairment was recently investigated in a cohort of US Special Operations Forces (SOF) Veterans. Although SOF personnel experience symptoms of PTSD at rates similar to conventional forces veterans, they are exposed to substantially more combat scenarios and may be less likely to seek out professional treatment.

A single oral dose (10mg/kg) of ibogaine administered in a group setting was associated with scientifically significant reductions in PTSD symptoms. 

96% of participants reported that the treatment program employed was considerably more effective than any conventional treatments they had tried in the past, reporting that their symptoms were no longer elevated above clinical cutoffs.

Interestingly, 84% of participants in this study reported their experience to be one of the top five most personally meaningful experiences of their entire lives, rates similar to that seen in Johns Hopkins’ psilocybin research. The majority of participants reported that the treatment was spiritually significant and psychologically insightful, leading to desirable changes in the following markers of health: 

  • Sense of personal well-being
  • Mood 
  • Attitudes about oneself
  • Life satisfaction
  • Social relationships

It’s believed that ibogaine treatment facilitates the recalling and reprocessing of traumatic memories, and induces visionary experiences that incite personal reflection into the causes of one’s distress. 

The results of this study are especially pertinent considering the significant number of veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues, not to mention the disproportionate rates of suicide among veterans. In 2019, the suicide rate among US veterans was over 50% higher than that of the general population.

Considering the high number of veterans that either drop out of conventional treatment programs or simply don't respond to them, as well as the poor efficacy of treatment offered by Veterans Affairs, further research on ibogaine therapy is needed. 

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) recently published results of their phase 3 clinical trial investigating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy’s potential to treat severe PTSD. They garnered highly impressive results, with 67% of participants no longer meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD at 18-week follow-up.

Ibogaine, like MDMA, increases concentrations of both serotonin and dopamine in the brain, and so it seems reasonable to suggest that ibogaine may also have efficacy as a treatment for PTSD and other trauma-related conditions.

Psychiatrist and addiction expert Dr. Gabor Maté spent over 10 years treating opioid-addicted and mentally ill patients in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, an area notorious for high addiction rates. Widely considered the epicenter of drug addiction in Canada, the area’s high rates of addiction have certainly not been helped by the sudden extinction of ibogaine treatment centers in Canada.

Maté attributes much of his expertise on addiction to his time spent in Vancouver. One of the most powerful lessons he claims to have learned while working there is that all addictions are rooted in trauma.

Rather than asking “why the addiction,” Maté urges us to instead compassionately enquire about the etiology of addiction — namely, the pain that has caused it. If Dr. Maté is indeed correct, and all addictions do arise from trauma, then ibogaine’s apparent ability to successfully treat trauma symptoms may go some of the ways to explain its efficacy as an addiction treatment. 

The Future of Ibogaine Research

For now, ibogaine research is largely focused on its utility as an antidote to addiction (as it, perhaps, should be considering the extent of the havoc currently being wreaked by the opioid epidemic). The more scientific support ibogaine therapy receives as a cure for addiction, the harder it will be to ignore.

That said, ibogaine’s poly-pharmacy effect, in conjunction with its ability to reliably prompt mystical experiences, may broaden the scope of its therapeutic index. Studies reporting persistent positive changes in psychological, behavioral, and social functioning suggest vast therapeutic potential. 

Should ibogaine therapy prove to successfully re-organize complex brain networks in fMRI studies, we could soon see trials investigating its capacity to treat some of the following medical conditions associated with DMN overactivity:

  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Schizophrenia

In addition, ibogaine-induced BDNF release may have important implications for the treatment of neuropathic pain and currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. 

Another possible application of ibogaine therapy is in the treatment of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Previous research investigating the effects of the Amazonian plant-based brew ayahuasca on eating disorders reported reductions in eating disorder pathology, enhanced processing of painful memories, improved emotional regulation, and increased self-acceptance, as well as improvements in depression symptomatology and psychological well-being. Improved mental well-being, which is commonly associated with greater outcomes in people with eating disorders, has also been reported in ibogaine research. 

Author and self-confessed consciousness explorer Daniel Brett wrote his comprehensive book "Iboga: The Root Of All Healing" having become frustrated at the lack of attention being focused on ibogaine’s ability to enrich the lives of healthy people. After all, the iboga plant had been used for millennia by people in Central West Africa before they even knew what addiction was. According to Brett, ibogaine offers everything that the classic psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin do, if not more, including the ability to transcend ego, promote ecological awareness, and remove the fear of death. If this proves to be the case, we could see ibogaine being used for the betterment of well people in the future. 

Tabernanthe iboga is currently listed as a plant of concern on The Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to improper harvesting and illegal poaching. As a consequence, sustainable and consistent supplies of ibogaine are hard to come by, a problem that has recently been compounded by the ban placed on the export of iboga by the Gabonese government. 

However, this is where MINDCURE comes in. 

MINDCURE’s Ibogaine Project

Through its Ibogaine Project, MINDCURE is creating research opportunities by synthesizing pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine and producing preclinical evidence to advance a more comprehensive understanding of this fascinating compound's therapeutic capabilities.

With a reliable supply, MINDCURE makes ibogaine more accessible to researchers, providing them with the required materials to conduct what are now crucially important studies.

Infographic: Get to Know MINDCURE

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.

What Is MINDCURE?

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.

Psychedelic Science & Digital Therapeutics

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.  

Sources:

  1. Research and Markets. Digital Therapeutics (DTx) Market by Application. Research and Markets - Market Research Reports. https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/5390138/digital-therapeutics-dtx-market-by-application. Published July 2021. Accessed January 13, 2022.
  2. Female sexual dysfunction treatment market by type and geography - forecast and analysis 2021-2025. Technavio. https://www.technavio.com/report/female-sexual-dysfunction-treatment-market-industry-analysis. Published March 2021. Accessed January 19, 2022.
  3. Nosyk B, Anglin MD, Brissette S, et al. A call for evidence-based medical treatment of opioid dependence in the United States and Canada. Health Aff (Millwood). 2013;32(8):1462-1469. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2012.0846
  4. Vashishtha D, Mittal ML, Werb D. The North American opioid epidemic: current challenges and a call for treatment as prevention. Harm Reduct J. 2017;14(1):7. Published 2017 May 12. doi:10.1186/s12954-017-0135-4
  5. Rudd RA, Aleshire N, Zibbell JE, Gladden RM. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths--United States, 2000-2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;64(50-51):1378-1382. Published 2016 Jan 1. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6450a3

January 21, 2022

Infographic: Get to Know MINDCURE

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Infographic: Ibogaine, the Psychedelic Underdog
Ibogaine, the dark horse of psychedelics, shows great potential in treating various mental health issues. Check out our infographic on everything ibogaine!

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.

Sources:

  1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Wald MM. The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview. J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2006;21(5):375-378. doi:10.1097/00001199-200609000-00001
  2. Weatherall MW. The diagnosis and treatment of chronic migraine. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2015;6(3):115-123. doi:10.1177/2040622315579627
  3. Remes O, Brayne C, van der Linde R, Lafortune L. A systematic review of reviews on the prevalence of anxiety disorders in adult populations. Brain Behav. 2016;6(7):e00497. Published 2016 Jun 5. doi:10.1002/brb3.497
  4. Belzak, L., & Halverson, J. (2018). The opioid crisis in Canada: a national perspective. Health promotion and chronic disease prevention in Canada: research, policy and practice, 38(6), 224–233. https://doi.org/10.24095/hpcdp.38.6.02
  5. LaRosa J. $38 billion U.S. addiction rehab industry pivots to cope during covid-19 pandemic. Market Research. https://blog.marketresearch.com/38-billion-u.s.-addiction-rehab-industry-pivots-to-cope-during-covid-19-pandemic. Published July 27, 2020. Accessed December 7, 2021.
This Is How Past Negative Relationships May Be Affecting You Now
Healing from negative relationships can be crucial to overcoming HSDD and it begins from the inside. Read to learn more about how psychedelic therapy may help women heal.

TW: SA

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.

The Link Between Decreased Desire & Relationships

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.

Unearthing the Root of the Issue

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.

How can Psychedelic Therapy Help?

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.

How MDMA Affects the Brain

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.

The Desire Project

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. 

The Long, Grim Arm of Residential Schools
Canada's residential schools are not in the past. While fairly recent, such facilities affect more than the students that experienced their abuse. Intergenerational trauma is a severe mental health issue that psychedelics may have potential for.

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.

Intergenerational Trauma & Residential Schools

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.

What Happened in Canadian Residential Schools? 

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.

How Do Current Aid Systems for Residential School Survivors Work? 

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:

  • Be a former residential school student.
  • Be the partner or spouse of a former student.
  • Be raised by a former student or in the household of one. 
  • Be in relation with a former student and be affected by the intergenerational trauma caused by the former students' attendance at residential school. 

Various support programs are available across the country that are run by small organizations and charities. 

Do These Aid Systems Help? 

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.

What Is Intergenerational Trauma?

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.

Where Does it Start?

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.

How Does it Work?

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. 

What Do the Effects of Intergenerational Trauma Lead To?  

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:

  • Feelings of guilt and shame 
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling helpless and vulnerable
  • Issues with confidence and low self-esteem
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Substance abuse
  • Alcoholism
  • Other addictions (sex, gambling, etc.)
  • Hypervigilance
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty forming healthy relationships and attachment to others
  • Problems controlling irritability and aggression
  • Extreme reactions to and difficulty managing stress

How Is Intergenerational Trauma Treated? 

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:

How Can Treatment Improve? 

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:

  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Decreased sexual desire (especially in women)
  • Anxiety (especially related to end-of-related)
  • PTSD/Complex PTSD
  • Intergenerational trauma

How Can Psychedelics Help to Treat Mental Health Issues Caused by Trauma?

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.

How Opioid Addiction Is Different From Other Addictions
Prescription opioids were promised to relieve pain but quickly developed their own epidemic, both in terms of addiction and death. Where do you turn to when the drug expected to help you heal actually harm you more?

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. 

What Are Opioids?

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: 

  • Naturally Occurring Opioids: Often referred to as opiates, natural opioids are harvested from the seeds of poppy plants. Types of natural opioids include morphine, codeine, and thebaine (paramorphine). 

  • Semi-Synthetic Opioids: Deriving from natural opioids and processed in a laboratory, semi-synthetic opioids include hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and the infamous and illegal heroin. 

  • Synthetic Opioids: Binding to the same opioid receptors as natural opioids, these are entirely made of chemicals in a laboratory. Synthetic opioids include methadone and fentanyl. 

Why Are So Many People Becoming Addicted? 

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 

  • Personal or family history of substance abuse 
  • Low income/poverty
  • Unemployment 
  • History of mental illness
  • Seeking out thrills with risky behaviors 
  • Age
  • Undergoing extreme stress for long periods
  • Having problematic family members or friends

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.  

What Are the Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal?

Someone dependant on opioids may experience some or all of these withdrawal symptoms:

Early symptoms (within 24 hours of the last dose):

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and joint aches and pains
  • Lacrimation (teary eyes)
  • Runny nose
  • Overheating and excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive yawning 

Symptoms after a day or two since the last dose:

  • Dilated pupils and light sensitivity
  • Chills and goosebumps on skin
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure 

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. 

How Can Opioid Addiction Be Treated?

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 (Dolophine, Methadose)

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 (Suboxone, Zubsolv, Buprenex, Sublocade, Belbuca, Butrans, Probuphine)

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 (Revia, Vivitrol)

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. 

Why Are Current Treatments Not Very Effective? 

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. 

Psychedelics as a Treatment Option 

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. 

How the Ibogaine Project Could Be a Game-Changer

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. 

Why Clinics Should Offer Holistic Healing
When it comes to the individual, each part (body, mind, spirit) relies on the rest. So, why do most treatment methods of healing focus on one at a time? Holistic healing is an integrative healing practice that can benefit clinics, clinicians, and patients by providing an all-encompassing approach to wellness.

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.

What Is Holistic Healing? 

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. 

What Does a Holistic Healing Clinic Look Like?

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:

  • Patient education on lifestyle changes and self-care to promote wellness (including diet, exercise, psychotherapy, relationship, spiritual counseling, and more)
  • Acupuncture, chiropractic care, homeopathy, massage therapy, naturopathy, and others
  • Medications and surgical procedures

Why Is Holistic Healing Necessary? 

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.

How Can Clinicians Improve Care for Patients With Tech & Psychedelics? 

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.

The Psychedelic Vacation: Tripping Without the Travel
As psychedelics enter a new era of healing and spirituality, vacationing may be in the form of a much shorter but more powerful trip. 

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.  

Rebooting the Mind With Macrodosing

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. 

Now.

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.

Tips for Tripping Safely

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:

  1. Potential for “in Between” Doses?

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. 

  1. Don’t Do It Alone: Grab a Friend

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.

  1. Don’t Take Set & Setting for Granted

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. 

  • For starters, make sure the environment is not too bright, noisy, or high-traffic. 
  • You may also want to have some snacks and water around because some trips may last longer than anticipated. 
  • Finally, practitioners also recommend having something to doodle on because some folks may find it helpful to draw or write as a means of dealing with their feelings.
  • Take notes throughout your journey, including mood fluctuations, thoughts, and realizations.
  1. Build In Ample Down Time

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.

  1. Be Prepared for Intense Emotion: Good & Bad

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. 

Psychedelic Retreats: A Travel Alternative?

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. 


Healing Without Borders: Final Thoughts

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.

Why Are the Holidays So Hard on Mental Health?
The holidays are a time for family reunions, good food and joyous celebrations. But the disruption in routine, potentially challenging family situations and an onset of seasonal affective disorder can also make this festive time incredibly hard. 

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.

Managing the Winter Blues With Psychedelics & Therapy

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

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. 

Mental Health Help Through the Holidays

Luckily, there are several ways to help individuals manage SAD and get the most out of the holiday season.

Light Therapy

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/Cognitive Behavioral 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.

SSRIs

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.

Psychedelics & SAD

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

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.

Meditation

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.

Can Psychedelics Promote Women's Brain Health?
December 2 is Women’s Brain Health Day. Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and depression disproportionately affect women. Here are some statistics and programs focused on promoting knowledge and solutions for women’s brain health.

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.

The Prevalence of Women’s Brain Health Issues

To start, take a look at these stats on women’s brain health, according to Stand Alone:

  • 70% of people with Alzheimer’s disease are women
  • Women who face early memory changes decline twice as fast as men
  • Women suffer from depression, stress, and anxiety twice as much as men
  • Women take longer and have more severe symptoms from concussions
  • Women are four times more like to have multiple sclerosis
  • Women are more likely to die or have worse outcomes from stroke than men

Despite these statistics, the majority of research into these disorders continues to focus on men.

Initiatives Focused on Women’s Brain Health

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

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. 

The Connection Between Women’s Sexual & Mental 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.  

Privacy vs. Personalized Care: Can We Have Both With Digital Therapeutics?
Navigating the digital mental health revolution can bring us to fears of our privacy and security. With digital therapeutics, can we have both?

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.

Data Collection Tools in Healthcare: Countering Controversies

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.

HIPAA Regulations & Digital Therapeutics

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.

Digital Health Solutions: Revolutionizing Personalized Care

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.

5 Digital Health Tools That Are Changing Healthcare 
From wearable technology that tracks your personal health and exercise data to telehealth calls with a medical professional from the comfort of your own home — read on to learn about five digital health tools that are transforming the way we do healthcare. 

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.

What Does Going Digital Mean to Therapy?

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:

Top Tools in Digital Healthcare

1. Telehealth

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?

2. Wearable Technology

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.  

3. Artificial Intelligence

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. 

4. Data

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.

5. Digital Therapeutics

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.

Are Psychedelics Addictive? 
The general definition of “addiction” can be greatly misleading when referring to psychedelics since they are unjustly scrutinized under the label of common “drugs”. In a previous article, we challenged the stigma and fear around what we call drugs, pointing out the level of harm associated with various substances, both legal and illegal.

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.

Defining Addiction

The True Definition

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.

The Complex Definition

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.

How Addictive are Psychedelics: The Final Verdict

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

Are Psychedelics Addictive? 

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Whatever Happened to Ibogaine Treatment Centers in Canada?
The sudden extinction of ibogaine treatment centers in Canada warrants a deeper investigation especially after a steep rise within research and therapeutic settings. Despite this, ibogaine usage is on the rise again.

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.

Ibogaine’s Past Use in Canada

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.

The Beginning of the End: How Ibogaine got Cancelled

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 Revival of Ibogaine-Assisted Psychotherapy

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.


Can Psychedelics Break Through the Many Masks of Trauma?
War and trauma are no strangers. Since the 1960s, psychedelics like MDMA have assisted therapy in having a profound impact on helping veterans cope with PTSD.

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).

What is PTSD?

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.

Symptoms of PTSD in Veterans

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.

Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD

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.

How are Psychedelics Used to Treat Trauma?

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.

Breakthroughs With MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD

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.

Healing Trauma With Psychedelics

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.

Transitioning to Other Worlds: End of Life Care with Psychedelics
Can psychedelics support people at the end of their lives? Since as early as the 1960s, psychedelics have shown promising results in helping people faced with a terminal illness or grappling with the conclusion of physical existence to cope.

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?

The Final Face-Off: Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy in Dying

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.

What’s the Difference Between Palliative and Hospice?

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.

Your Health at the End

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?.

How Psychedelics Help Individuals During End-of-Life Care

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.

A Little History of Psychedelics in End-of-Life Care

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. 

What Does the Future Hold for Psychedelics? 

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.

A New Hope for Battling Opioid Addiction
The psychoactive substance ibogaine shows promising outcomes.

"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.  

A Brief History of Opioid Addiction

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:

  • The number of drug overdose deaths increased by nearly 5 percent from 2018 to 2019 and has quadrupled since 1991
  • Over 70% of the 70,630 overdose deaths in 2019 involved an opioid
  • From 2018 to 2019, there were significant changes in opioid-involved death rates
  • Weekly counts of drug overdoses were up to 45% higher in 2020 than in the same periods in 2019

Hope May Be on the Way

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.

Sustainable Therapies, Digitized Results

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.

What Do Women Want? The Controversies Around Female Desire
Controversies surrounding reduced female desire hinder sexual liberation, promote objectification, and support exploitation. An acknowledgment of these is the first step in distinguishing decreased desire and recognizing a need for effective solutions.

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.

The Controversies Preventing Effective Treatments for HSDD

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.

Controversy 1: Is Decreased Sexual Desire for Real?

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: 

  • emotional bonding 
  • erotic or explicit
  • visual or proximity
  • romantic or implicit cues 

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.

Controversy 2: DSM Drama

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.

Controversy 3: Is the Women’s Libido Pill Really a One-Stop-Shop Solution?

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.

Controversy 4: Is Society Policing Treatment for Decreased Desire?

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

What Women Want vs. What Women Get

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.

Body or Brain?: An Intimate Look at Relationships & Mental Health
Our sexual health plays a large role in the state of our mental health and in turn, impacts our intimate relationships. The growing promise of research in the field of sexual desire, with a specific lens focusing on women, can reap great benefits for individuals’ overall mental wellness.

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.

The Cyclical Nature of Sex & Mental Health

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. 

The Benefits of Sex

Having sex regularly in a trusting relationship reaps a heap ton of benefits for both your body and mind.

Psychological benefits include:

  • Better self-image
  • Higher rates of happiness
  • Stronger bonding
  • Notable stress relief
  • Better sleep

Biological benefits include:

  • Improved physical fitness
  • Enhanced brain and immune function
  • Lower pain levels
  • Promotion of weight loss
  • Positive cardiac benefits

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.

What is Decreased Desire?

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:

  • normalize and depathologize variation in sexual desire
  • get educated on the natural course of sexual desire
  • emphasize the dyadic, age-related, and relative nature of SDD
  • challenge the myth of spontaneous sexual desire
  • promote open sexual communication
  • assist in developing joint sexual scripts that are mutually satisfying
  • search for personal sexual needs
  • deal with relationship issues and unmet relationship needs
  • stimulate self-differentiation

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. 

How Can Decreased Desire Affect Your Relationship?

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:

  • a major life change, such as a new baby or a recently diagnosed illness,
  • a stressful work situation or physical injury
  • an indirect physiological component, such as a change in medication regimen or diet

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.

Understanding Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is one of the most common types of female sexual dysfunction that can affect women of all ages. Read on to learn more about fHSDD, its causes, and the current tools available to help.

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. 


What Exactly Is Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder?

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! 

A Little History of Female Sexual Desire Issues

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.

What Causes fHSDD?

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:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Neurological disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Advanced age
  • Painful sex (such as vaginismus)
  • Depression or anxiety (linked to certain antidepressants)
  • Relationship problems
  • Guilt or shame regarding sex associated with religious or cultural beliefs
  • Sexual or emotional abuse
  • Low self-esteem or poor body image

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. 

What Are the Current Solutions for fHSDD?

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.

The Future of HSDD Treatment

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.

The Psychedelic Solution to Sexual Liberation
The modern discourse on sexuality is essentially a revolution for sexual liberation, built upon the connection between psychedelics and sexuality. MDMA’s desire enhancing properties counter female sexual dysfunctions by facilitating sexual healing, enhancing feelings of intimacy, and heightening pleasure.

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.

Can MDMA Improve Decreased Sexual Desire in Women?

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.

Low Libido & Decreased Desire

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?”. 

Euphoric Sex & Prolonged Orgasmic States? Oolala!

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.

MDMA AKA the Love Drug

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.

The Desire Project: MDMA’s Shining Glory

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.

A Tribute to Psilocybin: 9/20 is Magic Mushroom Day
September 20th is known to psychonauts as Global Magic Mushroom Day. Read on to find out more about the magic behind these mushrooms.

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!

Getting to Know Psychedelic Mushrooms

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.

How Did Magic Mushroom Day Come to Be?

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. 


What Global Magic Mushroom Day for? How can People Participate?

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:

  1. Having a potluck or picnic
  2. Foraging for wild mushrooms
  3. Taking a mushroom cultivation workshop
  4. Holding a panel on magic mushrooms
  5. Spending a night by the campfire
  6. Hosting a psychedelic integration circle
  7. Having a dance party
  8. Joining an online psilocybin webcast
  9. Hosting a psychedelic movie night
  10. Getting involved in a community bike ride

Where Do Mushrooms Grow & How Are They Consumed?

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.

What Are the Effects of Magic Mushrooms?

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.


Why Do People Take“'Shrooms”?

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.

Psilocybin in Psychedelic therapy

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.

A Day in the Life of a Trip Sitter
The role of trip sitters has evolved through the years, yet their support and guidance through enlightening and challenging sessions remained unwavering.

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.

Defining the Trip Sitter

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.

The Origins of Trip Sitting

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.

 

The Process of Holding Space Ritualistically

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.

Modern Day Trip Sitters

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.

Pre-Trip Preparation

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.

Trip Day Features

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

A Day in the Life of a Trip Sitter

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Can Psychedelics Help You Understand the Meaning of Life?
Indigenous peoples have taken advantage of psychedelics for centuries to get in touch with their divinity.

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.

The Psychedelic Experience

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.

Used for Centuries

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."

How Psychedelics Work

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.

The Costs of Ignoring Addiction
Addiction is a staggering statistic that continues to grow throughout Canada and the US with about only 10% of those afflicted seeking treatment. Could psychedelic therapy with ibogaine help change that?

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.

How Addiction Solutions Fail: Deaths & Dollars

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.

The Social & Economic Costs of Addiction

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? 

Ibogaine to Curb Addiction

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. 

What is Ibogaine?

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 Costs of Ignoring Addiction

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Who’s Winning The Drug War?
The war on drugs has been a long and arduous one, but is it coming to an end? Read on to find out more about the history of the war on psychedelic drugs and a future of psychedelic therapy without stigma.

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.

The History of Psychedelic Stigma

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.

A Resurgence of Research

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.

The Psychedelic Landscape

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:

  • A 2014 paper concluded that LSD administered in a medical setting is safe and can bring lasting benefits
  • A 2015 study observed that the drug enhanced the emotion evoked from listening to music — an effect the authors believed could be useful for psychedelic-assisted therapy
  • A 2017 paper found that LSD, when taken in a controlled setting, increased sociability, trust, and feelings of openness. The same observations have also been found with the controlled use of MDMA
  • In 2019, Denver became the first city in the US to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, Oakland soon followed
  • In 2020, the state of Oregon voted to legalize psilocybin for mental health treatment at licensed centers and to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of all drugs, with the law becoming effective February 1, 2021
  • In 2020, Washington DC passed an initiative to decriminalize the cultivation and possession of entheogenic plants and fungi 
  • California is currently reviewing bill SB-519, which would decriminalize a variety of psychedelics, including psilocybin

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.

Psychedelics in the Market

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

Who’s Winning The Drug War?

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The LGBTQI+ Community Has Been Excluded from Psychedelic Research, But That May Be Changing
We look at the relationship LGBTQAI+ community and traditional therapy and how psychedelic healing is being reclaimed as a way of embracing the self and owning sexuality. What does the future of psychedelic therapy offer this community? How can we trust science to continue on its path to inclusion?

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.  

LGBTQI+ Left Out of Psychedelic Research

"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.

Psychedelics & Progression into a Technicolor Future

"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.

How Women Inspired the Psychedelic Revolution
We explore the barriers women experienced in the psychedelic industry, as well as the contributions they made to our current knowledge.

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 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 Heath, 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 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?

Women's Contributions to Psychedelic Medicine

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 necessity 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 because. First, I want to talk about what was holding them back.

The Barriers for Women in Psychedelic Research

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.

Behind the Scenes: The Wives of Psychedelia, a Framework for Guides & Sitters

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.

The Price of Risk: Maria Sabina

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. They 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'll shed light on more women pioneers of psychedelics.

See the original post in Green Entrepreneur.

The Female Pioneers of Psychedelics
Women have influenced the science of psychedelics throughout history, despite unequal opportunities, prejudice, and social obstacles that women faced.

Let’s talk about women who were ahead of their time, the curious, the risk-takers. These are 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. However, 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.

Valentina Wasson

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.

Mabel Dodge Luhan & Adelle Davis

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 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.

Laura Huxley, Joan Halifax, & Eileen J. Garret

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.”

Mary Barnard

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.

The Future of Psychedelic Research

All these women have shown us that psychedelics are proven resources for our evolution and treatment. They blazed the trail for our current research 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.

September 8, 2021

The Female Pioneers of Psychedelics

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Putting Data to Use in Psychedelic Therapy
Digital medicine is working to back psychedelic therapy with data technology, machine learning, and improved visibility into patient status. Read on to learn how data and platforms like iSTRYM are helping improve the lives of psychotherapy patients and clinicians.

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 Pursuit for Concrete Insights in Psychotherapy

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.

Data Collection, Analysis, & the Greater Good for Mental Health

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 honed 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.

iSTRYM, Machine Learning, AI, oh my

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.

Using Psychedelics and AI to Treat Brain Injuries
People with TBI often seek therapy for depression or addiction issues. See how MINDCURE aims to help them with our psychedelic research and digital therapeutics technology.

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.

A Psychedelic Renaissance

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.

The Artificial Intelligence Factor

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.

Canada is the New Hotbed for Psychedelics
The success of the cannabis industry, recent exemptions for psychedelic therapy, and the need for effective mental health treatments are reviving psychedelic substances as tools to assist in psychotherapy in Canada.

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.

What Are 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.

  • Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound that gives “magic mushrooms” their name. Medically, psilocybin is researched for its ability to kick addictions, treat depression, and reduce end-of-life anxiety. Psilocybin is not currently recognized by Health Canada to have any medical benefits.
  • Ketamine is known for its dissociative effects, used in hospitals, clinics, and even once in a war, to pull people out of their pain. It, too, is being researched for its mental health benefits, and is often cited as the last resort, yet most effective treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the studies, research, and calls for exemptions to use and prescribe other psychedelics, ketamine is the only medically recognized and prescribable psychedelic 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.

Canada’s Psychedelic History

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.

1950s

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.

LSD Research

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.

Stigmas, Abuse, & Shutdown

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.

3 Factors Driving Psychedelic Interest in Canada

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:

1. The Global Mental Health Crisis

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.

2. The Recent Success of the Cannabis Industry

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.”

3. The Revival of Historic Psychedelic Studies

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.

Looking Forward

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.

Beyond Your Fitbit: What’s Next for Wearables?
Wearable technology has made it easier to track your steps, receive notifications, and even visit museums virtually. Now, wearables are changing the world of medicine. Read on to find out how iSTRYM is disrupting the mental health industry, making wearables part of the revolution.

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

What Exactly is Wearable Technology?

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.

Different Types of Wearables

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.

Wearables in Health

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.  


How iSTYRM is Optimizing Care

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.

What are Digital Therapeutics?

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:

  • Basic tips and guidance on how to deal with common problems such as insomnia, mood disorders, and dietary issues
  • Data collection and analysis functions to help people gauge their health
  • Predictive and interventive tools to identify future health issues and find the right treatment path before a situation worsens
  • Motivational or cognitive stimulation to cause behavioral change
  • Ability to connect or link with wearable devices and medical equipment to record data that can be used to understand patients’ health
  • Integrations with drug regimens to answer complex questions about situations and illnesses like cancers and asthma


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.

The Groundwork & Phases of Clinical Research Trials: How Psychedelic Medicines Will Prove Effective 
Clinical trials may be long and arduous, yet their importance in psychedelic research remains unscathed.

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.  

Defining the Stages of a Clinical Trial

Discovery Phase

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. 

Preclinical Studies

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.

Phase 1

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. 

Phase 2

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

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. 

FDA Approval

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. 


Reviving and Supporting Psychedelic Research

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.


Integrating Psychedelic Healing Past the Clinical Setting
Aside from the trip in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, the other 95% of the healing journey includes integration practices into everyday life. Change isn't easy, but certain digital health tools can support!

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.


Integrating Psychedelic Healing into Everyday Life

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. 


What is Integration

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 in Psychedelic Integration

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.

Why Do We Need to Integrate Psychedelic Experiences?

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.


What Can Integration Look Like:

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:

  • Examining the meaning of visual and/or somatic experiences that arose
  • Exploring the emotional impact of the psychedelic experience
  • Contextualizing the “story” of the journey
  • Grounding insights into meaningful behavior change
  • Understanding a “bad trip” or difficult experience
  • Exploring how to live from a newly recognized truth
  • Examining how to share your experience with others
  • Managing cravings or desires to continue psychedelic exploration
  • Setting intentions for further journeys based on what arose

Integrating Psychedelic Healing with iSTRYM

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.

Indigenous Knowledge of Plant Medicines: Building on Reciprocity in the Psychedelic Community
The future of psychedelic psychiatry depends on reciprocity, inclusion, and reconciliation with Indigenous communities and their knowledge of plant medicines.

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.

The Origins of Plant Medicines

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.

Different Plant Medicines & Their Uses Among Indigenous Communities

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.

Peyote

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

Magic Mushrooms

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. 

Iboga

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.

Psychedelic Decriminalization and Reconciliation With Indigenous Cultures

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.

Protecting Indigenous Knowledge of Plant Medicines

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.

Before the Trip: Preparing for Psychedelic Sessions
Preparing for psychedelic sessions can profoundly influence the healing journey. Communication, set and setting, digital therapeutics: these are essential factors to promoting successful psychedelic therapeutic outcomes

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. 


What Does it Mean to Prepare for Psychedelic Therapy?

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.


How to Prepare for Psychedelic Therapy Sessions

Keep in Touch

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.


Ask the Important Questions

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. 


Establish Intentions

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. 

Prioritize Set and Setting

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:

  • Getting restful sleep
  • Practicing meditation
  • Asking any remaining questions

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:

  • Dimming the lights to turn the focus inward
  • Recommending comfortable, loose clothing
  • Providing familiar and comforting supports, like scents or sounds that help create a calm environment

How Does Preparation Optimize Therapeutic Outcomes?

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.

Psychedelics: Big Death, Little Death, Ego Death
In the community of psychedelics, “death” is revered. Find out more about the different kinds of death you can experience with psychedelics and why they are important to your mental wellness journey.

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.

Defining Different Kinds of Death & Psychedelic Rebirth

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.

Little Death: Sexual Healing with Psychedelics

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.

End-of-Life Care & Psychedelics

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.”

The Death of the Ego

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.

The Power of Breathwork in Healing
Breathwork has ancient roots and is likened to psychedelic experiences making it an ideal tool in psychedelic therapy. With SOMA Breath, MINDCURE's iSTRYM digitally optimizes a traditional practice.

Breathwork & Psychedelic Experiences

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.

A Historical Account of Breathwork

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.

Contemporary Breathwork Practices 

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.

The Future of Breathwork in Psychedelic Therapy

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.

Set & Setting: Why Environment Matters in Psychedelic Therapy

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.

What Is Set & Setting in Psychedelic Therapy?

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.

Achieving the Ideal “Set” in 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.

1. Ground Your Attention

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. 

2. Surrender Your Preconceived Notions

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.”

3. Be Curious

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.

4. Set Your Intentions

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? 

Perfect the “Setting” in Psychedelic Therapy

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.

Post-COVID Anxiety: Microdosing & Meditating Your Way to Reopening
Is the thought of reopening giving you anxiety? Read this article on some ways to help ease that anxiety as you make your way back into the world.

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.

Music, Mindfulness, & Medicine (Oh my)

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.

The Macro Effects of 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. 

5 Major Causes of Stress & How to Manage Them
To help raise stress awareness, MINDCURE has compiled information and resources to help manage stress and stress symptoms for better productivity and mental health.

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.

The Importance of Stress Management

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:

  • Hives and eczema flare-ups
  • Headaches
  • Anger and irritability
  • Fatigue, restlessness, and sleep issues
  • Forgetfulness
  • Cravings
  • Impotence and low libido

Types of Stress

Stress exists in three types, and each requires special attention and a specific treatment plan.

Acute Stress

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

Episodic acute stress describes frequent episodes of acute stress. It’s prevalent in professions that encounter repeated risk or conflict.

Chronic Stress

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.

5 Most Common Causes of Stress

1. Work & Education

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.

2. Financial Stress

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.

3. Relationship Stress

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.

4. Time Management

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.

5. Health 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).

Ways to Manage Stress

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.

Is Another App What We Need to Feel Better?
These days, there is an app for just about everything. Healthcare like psychedelic-assisted therapy is finally joining the masses, trying to make mental wellness just a click away.

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 Therapy

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:

  • Analyzing data and helping people gauge their health
  • Predicting future health issues and finding the right treatment path before a situation worsens
  • Using motivational or cognitive stimulation to cause behavioral change. This can improve the overall health of the population by allowing biopharma companies to adhere in a better manner while also allowing health care providers to offer measures that could prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases
  • Connecting or linking with wearables, such as watches and fitness trackers, to record data that can be used to understand patients’ overall mental status


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.

How Consumer Tech Is Changing the Landscape of Healthcare

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. 


An App Like iSTRYM

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.

5 Tips to Boost Productivity When Working From Home
COVID-19 brought remote work to the mainstream. Try these tips to boost productivity and avoid burnout when working from home

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.

How to Boost Productivity & Avoid Burnout When Working Remotely

1. Find the Right Space

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:

  • Ensure your space is properly lit —natural light is always best!
  • The temperature should be under control. A room that is too hot or too cold will make you uncomfortable, lose concentration, and be less productive.  
  • Put your phone on silent, close the door so that others cannot disturb you, and set boundaries with your family members or roommates (if you’re sharing the space). Distractions cause people to lose focus and rush through tasks.
  • Prioritize ergonomics. Your chair and desk should be comfortable and compliment your height.

2. Don’t Neglect Your Friends

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.

3. Improve Focus with Exercise & Meditation

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.

4. Imagine Yourself in the Office

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.

5. Seek Help When You Need It

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.

Love & LSD: The Complicated Relationship Between Pride & Psychedelics
This month, as we celebrate Pride and the ongoing journey towards acceptance and inclusivity for members of the LGBTQ community, it's important we look back on the overlapping history of Pride and psychedelics.

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.

A Spectrum of History

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 More “Prideful” Side...

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.

Queering Psychedelia

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.

Therapy in a Digital World
Without the right insights, can we objectively measure and improve therapeutic results? Digitization is brings personalization, security, and efficacy to mental health care.

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.

The Issues Affecting Outcomes in Therapy

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.

The Issue of Under-Personalization in Therapy

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?

Where Are the Gaps in Therapy?

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.  

Understanding Digital Therapeutics

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

Therapy in a Digital World

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Advocacy & Safe Practices in Psychedelic Therapy
Psychedelic-assisted therapy is a new forefront in both the world of psychedelics and therapy, while the rules are still being written. Here is what you need to know to create and foster safe spaces.

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.

Why We Need to Talk About Safety

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.

How Can Safety & Advocacy Be Integrated into Practice?

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:

  • Stronger oversight in clinical trials
  • Tighter sanctions to prevent abuse
  • Strict regulations that govern who can provide psychedelic-assisted therapy

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.

The Future of Psychedelic Therapy 

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.

Psychedelic Rock Stars: The Names You Should Know
Hamilton Morris, Rick Doblin, Timothy Leary. These are some of the top influential people experimenting with and promoting knowledge of psychedelics for the greater good of mental health care.

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.

The Biggest Influences on Psychedelic Knowledge

1. Rick Doblin

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.”

2. Timothy Leary

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.

3. Tom & Sheri Eckert

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.

4. Richard Alpert 

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.

5. Hamilton Morris

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.


6. Tim Ferriss

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.


Conclusion

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.


What Part Does Music Play in Psychedelic Therapy?
Music plays an important role in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, teaming with psychedelic medicines, clinicians, and data-back technology to guide patients through psychedelic healing experiences.

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.

The Science of Music Therapy

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 & Psychedelic Therapy: The Connection

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.

The Right Type of Music for the Right Indication

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.

Speak Ai: How Does Machine Learning Play a Part in iSTRYM?
Machine learning makes mental health care predictions and suggestions based on data collected from patients and therapists to better protocols and personalized care.

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.

The Technology Putting Data to Use for Better Treatments

How Does Speak Ai Integrate With iSTRYM & Connected Technology?

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.  

How Data Collection & Machine Learning Help Therapists & Optimizers

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.”

Building Trust Into Every Aspect: Privacy, Data, & Comfort

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.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds: The Marriage Between Music & Psychedelics
We're celebrating the anniversary of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by exploring the world of LSD-inspired music.

What do The Beatles Have to do With LSD?  

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.

The "Story of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

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.  

Why Are Music & Psychedelics So Closely Tied?

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.

Psychedelics & The Artist

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.  

Psychedelics & The Audience

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.

Combining Music & Psychedelics in Mainstream 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.

Psychedelic Fear: Facing Off With Bad Trips & Other Consequences
MDMA, psilocybin, and LSD are powerful psychedelics with incredible healing powers. But with power comes great responsibility.

Why Are People Afraid of Psychedelics?

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 Fear of Taking Psychedelic Drugs

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.

The Risks & Side Effects of Psilocybin, MDMA, & LSD

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

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.

Possible Side Effects of Using Psilocybin:
  • Hypertension
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Worsening pre-existing psychosis
  • Sweating
  • Uncontrollable laughing, burping, or yawning

MDMA

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.

Possible Effects of Using MDMA:
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Reduced sleep and appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle pain
  • Lock jaw and involuntary teeth grinding/clenching

LSD

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.  

Possible Side Effects of Using LSD:
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Delusions and flashbacks when not under the influence
  • Dizziness, numbness, and weakness
  • Dry mouth and sweating
  • Reduced sleep and appetite
  • Tremors  

What Is a Bad Trip?

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.

The Power of Psychedelic Drugs

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.

What Is Section 56 & Why Does it Matter to Canadians?

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.

Section 56: The Route for Legal Psychedelic Therapy in Canada

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.

A Brief History of Canada’s Drug Regulations

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?

A Quick Look Inside the CDSA  

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.  

So, What Is Section 56?

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.

How Does Section 56 Affect Psychedelic Therapy?

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.

What Is Mental Wealth?

How Does Mental Wealth Fit into Your Mental Health?

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?

Just about...

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.

What's the Difference Between Mental Wealth and Mental Health?

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.

How to Build Mental Wealth

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.

Bringing Mental Wealth to Mental Health Care

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

What Is Mental Wealth?

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Clinics in Canada Offering Psychedelic Therapy

Psychedelic Therapy in Clinical Settings

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.

What Is Psychedelic Therapy?

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.

Psychedelic Healing in Canada

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."

How Can Psychedelic Therapy Heal People?

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.


Is Psychedelic Therapy Safe?

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.

What's the Difference Between Legalizing & Decriminalizing Psychedelics?
The definitions of legalization and decriminalization warrant a much deeper understanding of the law when it comes to psychedelics.

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.

Decriminalization vs. Legalization of Drugs

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.

Decriminalization: A Necessary Step?

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. 

Impacting Overdose & Disease Rates

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.

Impacting Access to Psychedelics

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 Way Forward

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.

Why We Synthesize Ibogaine
Ibogaine has potential in treating mental health issues like addiction, yet the lack of resources is preventing research and clinical trials from bringing ibogaine treatment to Canada and the US.
Ibogaine has potential in treating mental health issues like addiction, yet the lack of resources is preventing research and clinical trials from bringing ibogaine treatment to Canada and the US.

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.

The Importance of Synthetic Ibogaine for Psychedelic Therapy

What Is Ibogaine & What Can it Treat?

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.  

The Issues Affecting Access to Ibogaine

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.

Why We Synthesize Ibogaine

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

Why We Synthesize Ibogaine

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Digital Therapeutics & the Promise of Revolutionary Mental Health Care
Innovative therapeutic support tools, called digital therapeutics, provide data-driven insights and suggestions that support clinical outcomes for mental health care providers and patients
Innovative therapeutic support tools, called digital therapeutics, provide data-driven insights and suggestions that support clinical outcomes for mental health care providers and patients

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 harder for clinicians to do their jobs in helping individuals heal. Their clients then 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.

What Are Digital Therapeutics?

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, digital therapeutics 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.

What Will Digital Therapeutics Do for Mental Health?

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 only 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.

What Does This Mean for Therapy?

  • Less time spent in clinic
  • Targeted treatment methods
  • At-home support for patients
  • Stronger clinician-client relationships
  • Better clinical outcomes

Who Will Benefit From iSTRYM DTx?

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.

  • Connecting clinicians: iSTRYM provides a database of protocols that connects clinicians to a growing repository of mental health procedures. This database eliminates data silos and ensures the best care standards in psychedelic therapy are up-to-date and accessible to treatment facilities worldwide.
  • Optimizing the healing journey: Stronger relationships can help clinicians monitor and assess treatment methods and outcomes to offer better care. iSTRYM provides clinicians with a full picture of a patient’s status before, during, and after therapy sessions.
  • Personalizing mental health care: By integrating with wearables and other devices, iSTRYM, can digest user data and insights collected from language processing and biometric data. This data is then interpreted by machine learning to offer individuals supportive healing suggestions.
  • Supporting individuals at-home and in-session: Individuals in their healing journeys need all-around support. iSTRYM ensures personalized care by offering exciting mindfulness tools with various spiritual and science-based daily practices, music, breathwork, journaling, and more.  

Leading the Mental Health & Psychedelic Revolution With DTx

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.

Ibogaine: Is it the Best Solution for Addiction?

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.

What is Ibogaine?

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.

Using Ibogaine to Treat Addiction

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.”

What Does Science Say?

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:

  • Around 33% relapsed in less than 30 days
  • Around 60% relapsed in less than two months
  • Around 80% relapsed in less than six months
  • 20% made it past the six month mark without requiring any aftercare
  • Slightly over 1% (4 individuals) went above the one year mark after a single treatment

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.


What Are Digital Therapeutics?
What are digital therapeutics and how are they bringing clinicians together with psychedelic protocols and patients?
What are digital therapeutics and how are they bringing clinicians together with psychedelic protocols and patients?

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.

Defining Digital Therapeutics

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:

  • Offer basic tips and guidance on how to deal with common problems such as insomnia, mood disorders, and dietary issues
  • Analyze data and help people gauge their health
  • Predict future health issues and find the right treatment path before a situation worsens
  • Use motivational or cognitive stimulation to cause behavioral change. This can improve the overall health of the population by allowing biopharma companies to adhere in a better manner while also allowing health care providers to offer measures that could help prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases.
  • Connect or link with wearables such as watches and fitness trackers to record data that can be used to understand patients’ health.
  • Partner with a drug regimen to answer complex questions and address complicated situations like cancers and asthma.
  • Digitally link with medical equipment to track blood pressure, sugar levels, etc.

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.

What Are the Main Benefits of Digital Therapeutics?

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 and Its Challenges

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.

MDMA: The Love Drug Helping People Heal
MDMA research is continuing to push beyond stigma and toward psychiatric use in order to assist in treatments for trauma and anxiety.
MDMA research is continuing to push beyond stigma and toward psychiatric use in order to assist in treatments for trauma and anxiety.

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.

What Is MDMA?

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.

How Does MDMA Affect the Body?

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.  

The Risks & Dangers of MDMA

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 Use in Clinical Settings

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:  

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety in terminally-ill patients
  • Social anxiety in autistic adults
  • Female sexual dysfunction

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.”

Healing the World With Psychedelics

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.

What Is a Drug: The Stigma Behind Psychedelics
As the global mental health crisis calls for more effective treatment options, the definitions, classing system, and stigma behind drugs are being challenged.
As the global mental health crisis calls for more effective treatment options, the definitions, classing system, and stigma behind drugs are being challenged.

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.

Who Gets to Define Drugs? 

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.

Defining Drugs & Harm

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.

The Stigma Plaguing Psychedelics

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.

Psychedelics & the Future of Mental Health Care

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.

Microdosing Psychedelics: More Common Than You'd Think
Despite the stigma attached to psychedelic substances, drugs like psilocybin and LSD are being evaluated for their promising potential to treat a variety of different health conditions. These benefits aren't being left to the labs, as microdosing, macrodosing, and lifetime use gains popularity.
Despite the stigma attached to psychedelic substances, drugs like psilocybin and LSD are being evaluated for their promising potential to treat a variety of different health conditions. These benefits aren't being left to the labs, as microdosing, macrodosing, and lifetime use gains popularity.

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?

Psychedelic Use is Common & Expanding

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.

What is Microdosing?

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.

Stereotypes Associated With Micro & Treatment Dose Personas

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.

"Asking for a Friend": Inside the Psychedelic Movement With Kelsey Ramsden
The Overlooked Power of Ketamine Infusions for Mental Distress
Lessons from the Land: Psychedelics and the Environment
Customized Care & Precision Medicine in Psychedelic Treatments
Can We Heal Desire With MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy?
Ending Opioid Addiction with Ibogaine
Sex, Drugs, and Therapy: Healing Sexual Trauma with Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy
Sustainability, Reciprocity, & Regenerative Strategies for Psychedelic Research
Ibogaine's Enormous Anti-Addictive Potential
A New Paradigm of Mental Health Care: The Preventative Potential of Psychedelics
MIND CURIOUS Goes on Summer Break
Beyond Mind and Body: Intersecting Sexuality, Spirituality, and Psychedelics
What Integration Actually Means to Psychedelic Medicine
Psychedelic Trips and Spiritual Tradition: Redefining Healing with Transformative Experiences
Abandoning Expectations in Healing: Uncut with Bruce Sanguin
Similar Interests, Different Parties, and the Scientific Process of New Medicines
Meeting God: The Bond of Psychedelics & Religion
Queering Psychedelic Research: A Pride Special
Breathwork and Non-Ordinary States with Niraj Naik
Unpacking Our Inner Traumas with Psychedelic Experiences
Music & Healing with Psychedelics
Hacking Into Your Inner State with Digital Therapeutics and Psychedelic Therapy
Welcome to the Conversation About Psychedelics