Magic mushrooms have hit the news in a big way over the last few years, with a series of highly publicized studies suggesting they may be an effective treatment for depression and other psychological ailments. However, the effects of psychedelic drugs can be unpredictable, with some people finding the experience overwhelmingly scary. To try and address this problem, a psychedelic research and development company is now attempting to create a strain of magic mushroom that only ever causes good trips.
It is well known that the psychoactive effects of hallucinogenic mushrooms are predominantly produced by a molecule called psilocybin, although many of these fungi contain a range of other compounds that may influence the psychedelic experience by interacting with psilocybin – a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.
Little research has been conducted into these other molecules, although a company called CaaMTech has spent the past year or so investigating the properties of several psilocybin analogs, and believes it may have identified one that can completely eliminate bad trips. Speaking to Double Blind, CaaMTech founder Andrew Chadeayne explained that a compound called aeruginascin may well be the key to ensuring a positive mushroom experience.
“We want to come up with a way to at least give people the option of increasing the probability for a euphoric experience versus a dysphoric experience,” he said.
Inspiration for the project came from a paper released in 1989, which analyzed the experiences of a number of people who had inadvertently ingested magic mushrooms. Many of these accidental trippers reported feelings of anxiety, panic, and a “deep dysphoric mood”, although those who had consumed a mushroom species called Inocybe aeruginascens all described extremely positive experiences.
Since I. aeruginascens is the only mushroom known to contain aeruginascin, study author Jochen Gartz concluded that “aeruginascin seems to modify the pharmacological action of psilocybin to give an always euphoric mood during ingestion of the mushrooms.”
Due to the small sample size and lack of proper scientific testing, however, this observation has been widely challenged. Much more research is needed before such definitive statements about the effects of aeruginascin can be made. For one thing, the trimethylammonium structure of aeruginascin means that it is unlikely to pass through the blood-brain barrier, making it seem unlikely that it could possibly be psychoactive.
However, Chadeayne told Double Blind that his company’s latest research – which remains unpublished – has revealed that a metabolite of aeruginascin called 4-OH-TMT does in fact pass the blood-brain barrier and bind to the same serotonin receptors that most psychedelic drugs act upon.
“We’re really the only people in the world to know that this is active at the serotonin receptors,” he said, before explaining that the company won’t be advocating the use of aeruginascin until it has conducted rigorous tests into its safety and efficacy.
And just in case you were thinking of going out and searching for some I. aeruginascens, bear in mind that aeruginascin is similar in structure to a toad venom called bufotenidine, which has been speculated to cause temporary paralysis when ingested in high amounts.
Be cool and wait for the research.
[H/T: Double Blind]