Over the last few months, we’ve seen the levels of stress, mental health issues, and addiction rise to unprecedented levels. The high costs of medicine and therapy, coupled with most countries imposing restrictions have had a severe impact on people’s mental health, much of which is likely to stay with them for a long time.
To combat this issue and meet the new challenges to mental healthcare, new research is needed. US biotech company MindMed works to research and develop medicines and therapies involving psychedelic drugs.
Psychedelic drugs such as LSD, DMT, psilocybin, MDMA, and mescaline can be harnessed to have therapeutic effects for patients. MindMed’s experimental therapy projects include Project Lucy (addressing anxiety with LSD-assisted therapy) which is in Phase 2B, the development of 18-MC to treat causes of addiction, and LSD Microdosing to treat ADHD.
Last month, MindMed has also announced the approval of a new study on the effects of different doses of mescaline. The study is to be conducted in Switzerland, at the University Hospital Basel Liechti Lab. “This study will, we believe, provide the first modern research data on mescaline regarding dosing and mechanism of action in humans”, said Dr. Matthias Liechti, Ph.D. and M.D. of the University of Basel.
According to the president of MindMed Dr. Miri Halperin Wernli, mescaline can have a powerful effect on enhancing communication within the brain. That does seem to be how psychedelics work – even the American regulators agree. Unlike the SSRIs, they don’t appear to present any negative side effects but do have long-lasting anti-depressant effects.
Are psychedelics the answer?
According to Dr. Sara Tai, they aren’t the answer on their own. Many mental health issues occur as a result of our environment – and treating them requires more than making changes in the brain. She explains that “A drug-centered, dose-response approach in psychedelic research may, misleadingly, communicate that mental health issues are simply the result of some deficit that needs to be rectified and the drug alone is the vehicle of change.”
Indeed, there’s no magic wand solution to mental health issues as they vary from person to person, and that means that effective solutions are individual-focused. However, psychedelics can act as a catalyst for creating conditions that allow a patient to approach their issues from another perspective, according to Dr. Tai. Thought leader Deepak Chopra, whose foundation has formed a partnership with MindMed earlier this year, seems to agree.
Whether on its own or combined with CBT or other therapies, it does seem that psychedelic drugs can play a significant role in helping people deal with their mental health problems. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of MindMed’s research and seeing the extent of its practical applications.
YouTube: Understanding The Psychedelic Medicine Industry – Q&A with Kevin O’Leary and JR Rahn
Photo credits: The images used are owned by MindMed and have been provided for press usage.
Sources: Kimberly Drake (MedicalNewsToday) / National Center for Biotechnology Information / Allie Nawrat (Pharmaceutical Technology) / Dr. Sara Tai (MentalHealthToday) / David E. Carpenter (Forbes)