Hartle, a stage four cancer patient, was the first legal recipient of psilocybin-assisted therapy in Canada. He shared his experience on our podcast and he and provides tips for those interested in psychotherapy to treat anxiety caused from a fear of death
The First Man to Receive Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy in Canada
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The first legal recipient of psilocybin-assisted therapy in Canada was a 52-year-old Saskatoon Man named Thomas Hartle. He was granted a federal exemption to use psilocybin mushrooms as a therapy for anxiety surrounding his stage four colon cancer. The Canadian non-profit company TheraPsil helped him to file his documentation with the government and also facilitated his first session, which was administered through a professional, Dr. Tobin. Hartle describes himself as “plain white bread” whose family only really knew medications with labels on them. But after receiving his terminal diagnosis in 2016, his family began to look for more natural remedies.
As for many people with terminal diagnoses, having stage four colon cancer came with uncertainties and discomforts regarding Hartle’s health. This led him to seek alternative care. He had been using “traditional Chinese herbalism [practically as] an adjunct therapy” to chemo. However, further down the line, he discovered research papers via a Google search through the free online medical database PubMed on psilocybin.
How Hartle Found Psilocybin Therapy
Every two weeks, Hartle gets chemotherapy. A common condition caused from that treatment is called neuropathy. It is essentially nerve damage that causes loss of feeling in the fingers and toes. Previously, he had turned to Chinese herbalism for adjunct support in general wellbeing. He began researching herbs that could support the nervous system and discovered Lion’s Mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus). However, once fungi caught his attention, he found promising studies from Johns Hopkins University on psilocybin-assisted therapies for anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Specifically, psilocybin is a psychoactive molecule found in Psilocybe mushroom species.
Well, Hartle researched to see what options were available in Canada. In time, he found a new organization called TheraPsil, a patient advocacy group with a Section 56 exemption for purposes from the Office of Controlled Substances. Moreover, they help people by making a path to psilocybin-assisted therapies. Thomas Hartle was their first patient to complete the registration process. It took 60 days from application to approval. And during that time, Hartle grew his own psychedelic mushrooms to use as a safe source of medicine.
The Outcome of Hartle’s First Psychedelic Experience
Next, Hartle has exhibited profound benefits from a single session with psilocybin. For those who like to quantify efficacy, TheraPsil used an Anxiety Rating Scale with a range of 0 - 56, His psilocybin therapy before and after score went from a 36 to a 6.
For the therapy, he took a 7-gram dose of psilocybe mushrooms he grew himself. The dose was spread out over an hour and a half. He was accompanied by Dr. Tobin, the founder of TheraPsil, and arranged for the session to be in his own home.
He specifically curated a comfortable environment in a spare room to assist with the session. During the event, he laid down on a nice bed with blindfolds and a pair of headphones playing the “John Hopkins Psilocybin Playlist” (5).
As for the outcome, Hartle shares that what he got most out of the therapy was a shift in consciousness. The experience gave him a “sense of comfort that… the end of life isn’t the end of the experience.” He was able to feel something that doesn’t contain any aspects of his current life.
During the session, Hartle was with a professional to help him overcome any difficulties. However, he didn’t have a difficult time at all. Even with his difficult-to-detect cancer — where tumors are lined throughout the abdominal cavity without a means to know how big they are — he was able to overcome the anxiety of death. Now, he isn’t afraid to die.
At the time of our interview, he had only had one therapeutic session. “I’m probably the most positive person I know,” stated Hartle.
If You Are Interested in Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy
If you are based in Canada, connecting with TheraPsil is straightforward. Hartle says it’s “a series of emails with information to our government.” The company communicates with The Office of Controlled Substances and the Minister of Health on your behalf. Essentially, the non-profit helps you to file the documentation because they are a patient advocacy group.
If you are not based in Canada, check out our podcast show, “Mushrooms, Molds and Mycorrhizae: Down the Rabbit Hole with Tradd Cotter,” and read the podcast’s blog post as well. There you will learn about The Blue Portal. It is a psilocybin-assisted therapy retreat program based in “Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Cahuita, Costa Rica” (9). Furthermore, applications are open for 2022.
Other than the process of getting a session scheduled, Hartle’s advice for people interested in going into the therapy is to “bring to the table… a very open mind.” The experience will change the way you will think about things; often providing a means to a new point of view on tough topics like death. In essence, psilocybin facilitates changes to the way someone thinks, which will in turn change the person they are.
Tips for a pslocybin assisted session
A psilocybin-assisted session is quite a hands-off experience. If you’re to encounter any difficulties, having a professional nearby who can help you is very important. Hartle shares that he was lucky to not have a challenging time during his first session. It was actually “peaceful and serene.” He does mention that some people may have experienced more “traumatic life issues growing up,” which can account for more difficult sessions. Nonetheless, it seems that luck may not have been the only thing that prompted his pleasant experience. So, don’t worry, below are his tips for a good trip.
Tip 1: Have a trained therapist.
Having a trained therapist who knows what they are doing is a top priority. Also, being in a session with a professional that does not thwart the experience into what they believe the therapy should be like is ideal. Hartle also thinks that a person’s mind and body knows how they are messed up, so they are most likely to know how to fix it.
Tip 2: Create a good clinical setting that is comfortable & homey. Being with nature in the outdoors is a great option too.
Having a comfortable setting and/or being in nature for your session is keen. Moreover, Hartle states that many people have successful sessions taking psychedelics in outdoor environments. The environment that you consume the medicine in is crucial to the overall experience.
Tip 3: Get your perfect dosage.
Having the perfect dosage is vital. Hartle states that the stepped dosage was good. This allows the user to gauge the amount of mushrooms over a specific period of time. For example, taking seven grams over the course of an hour and a half rather than taking all the mushrooms in one go. Over time, these quantities will be standardized for people to know what a typical dose is for treatment.
Tip 4: Source a good strain of mushrooms.
Having a high-quality strain of psilocybin mushrooms is essential. Hartle shares that you “can’t just have [one of] the 200 kinds of mushrooms that are available.” He recommends there to be a standardization and regulation of the mushroom strains that works best. All psychedelic mushrooms will have different effects, which is why the standardization is needed. Some provide more visuals while others have more physical usefulness. The more these are researched, the better the treatment selections will be.
Tip 5: Listen to a good playlist.
Having a good playlist to listen to during the session is vital. Hartle provides an excellent discourse on how music as medicine can be personalized to further the treatment specifications for each individual. Listening to music is key to providing a well-rounded and good experience. Luckily, there’s the John Hopkins Psilocybin Study Spotify Playlist.
Tip 6: Try to maintain a meditation practice before the session.
Having a consistent meditation practice may help the nerves going into and sustaining the psilocybin session. Hartle actively practices meditation for “at least an hour a day.” However, you can start with a daily one minute meditation practice then work up to five. What’s more, he believes his practice is what allowed him to have a peaceful psychedelic experience. In his session, he started to meditate and find his comfortable places. This act made the “transition from normal consciousness to altered consciousness” almost soothing.
Connect With Thomas Hartle
In conclusion, a common theme after taking psilocybin mushrooms is a huge growth in compassion. We see that in Thomas Hartle’s advocacy work. He wants this therapy process to be widely known so that people who are also suffering can become aware of this treatment that is available to them.
For those searching for psilocybin-assisted therapy as cancer patients, or are currently receiving it, Hartle is very interested in connecting. Please, be free to email our support team directly if you would like us to connect you with Thomas Hartle.
To hear more from Hartle, check out our podcast. It is a very intimate show with lots of personal testimonies about the fear of death, anxiety, and depression. Mush love!
Podcast Show Notes & Works Cited
- TheraPsil Canada: https://therapsil.ca/
- Research Paper: “Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5367557
- PubMed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
- Thomas Hartle’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.hartle
- John Hopkins Psilocybin Study Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6eD2isTqIlgmoywT4ie3LR
- YouTube: TheraPsil’s Channel. https://www.youtube.com/c/Therapsil
- YouTube: Thomas Hartle’s Channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/kemosambul
- Book: How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan https://michaelpollan.com/books/how-to-change-your-mind/
- The Blue Portal: https://mushroommountain.com/blue-portal/
- Wikipedia: PubMed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PubMed
Welcome Welcome everyone to another episode of mushroom revival podcast is a podcast dedicated to bridging the gap between you our amazing beautiful, incredible listeners and the wonderful wacky world of mushrooms. We bring on experts and guests from all around the world. to dive in deep into this world of mushrooms, we are mushrooming the culture around mushrooms, we're unbelievably obsessed with the power of mushrooms. So let's dive in.
Today we have a super special guest, Thomas Hartle, tuning in from Canada, and he is the first person in Canada to be legally administered psilocybin as a therapeutic session. So Thomas, thanks for agreeing to spend some time with us and share your personal stories.
Very nice to meet you guys.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself, and just maybe the quick origin story of how you ended up being the first patient? Yeah, this most certainly is not a place that I would have pictured myself in, you know, five years ago, say,
I am what I would consider fairly plain white and bread as people go, I'm fairly boring. I'm a 52 year old, married for 50, perme, 26 years now. I have had stage four colon cancer since 2016. So I was diagnosed, almost five years ago, now it's getting pretty close, I'm doing my very best to get a new high score coming up here fairly quick. I have had anxiety that I have had been treating with the various over the counter medications, prescriptions from my family doctor for the past year and a half, I would say. And, of course that is a direct result of, you know, having stage four cancer and, and things like that. I was introduced to psilocybin, through some research that I had done looking for answers for that. And came across the Johns Hopkins studies, which looked to me like a really solid piece of evidence in favor of pursuing that further. And that was kind of my introduction to things.
So did you see a pamphlet somewhere at a doctor's office? Or were you googling alternate like end of life or cancer anxiety treatment?
You know, oddly enough, not a lot of pamphlets on psilocybin out there.
But I was actually looking for a treatment for mine neuropathy that I had at the time. So I don't know if you guys are familiar with that or not. But some of the types of chemotherapy that they use cause a condition called neuropathy, which is where you lose the feeling in your fingers and toes. So it's a nerve damage sort of a thing. And I was looking for ways that I could combat that or assist with that. And I have been going through a lot of traditional Chinese herbalism while I've been looking for, for solutions for that. And they had some studies in Japan. You come across the john hopkins studies, I do an awful lot of research on a place called PubMed. Its location where a lot of researchers publish their papers. So if you are ever looking for the same papers that your doctors read, you can go there and you can see these.
And how is your cancer now with your new approach with traditional Chinese herbalism and using psilocybin?
I'm using the traditional Chinese herbalism to kind of be an adjunct therapy, I guess you could say. So, yes, I definitely still have stage four cancer. I am on active chemotherapy every two weeks. So every two weeks, I've got three days of chemotherapy that I take and this is my Recovery Week. So I finished up around a chemo on Sunday, I've had four days, and this is, this is what I look like four days after chemotherapy.
What would you say is the hardest part of this journey? You know, I feel like, most everywhere in the world, we're afraid of death. And I don't hear of many cultures, really embracing it. And, and if they are, it's very rare. And so to hear that, you know, you have a certain amount of days to live. Usually, a lot of people block that out, and they're terrified of death. And so to hear that, you know, I could see as being very hard, or, you know, I hear a lot of people saying the chemo treatment is worse than the cancer itself for having to tell your family or, or, or going through the mushroom trip and seeing some crazy things that what would you say is, is kind of the hardest part?
You know, I would say that there's a lot of truth in, in elements of all of those things, you'll most certainly, for me, like the the idea of death itself is less of a problem than the idea of not being there for my family when they need me for for things. You know, my life circumstances, I have two amazing kids, they both happen to be on the autism spectrum. So they do have some challenges that other people don't have, in terms of dealing with life and problems. So for me, that has probably been the more difficult part is the idea that at some point, they'll need me for something, and I'm just not going to be there. So in terms of difficulty, that's probably number one. Of course, there's the the uncertainty of you know, what comes after this, you know, when he dies at the end of things, you know, is there anything after that? All those unknown questions, you know, what, what comes next is there, you know, heaven and things like that everybody wonders, I don't really consider myself to be a religious person, I would consider myself to be a spiritual person. You know, I definitely believe that there is more to the universe and to life than what we just experienced here. So, for me, my search was to try to find some answers for those questions as to what comes next or even ways to deal with the the idea that I'm just not going to be around?
And how is your family dealing with this? It's been almost over four years now.
Yep. It's, uh, you know, I think I have done a relatively good job of protecting my kids from the idea that stage four is as a terminal illness. My family is fairly on board with the idea that we try to, you know, experience each day as fully as we can. You know, we have had an awful lot of relatives who have passed away from cancer. You know, my immediate family has been, you know, grandparents, you know, parents in laws, cousins, you know, things. There has been, you know, a remarkable number of people in our family who have passed from cancer and yet my kids seem to feel that my chances are pretty good. I know whether that's, you know, an unfair thing for them or whether that's you know, just a positive aspect but I would much rather than you know, be focused on trying to maintain how I am as opposed to being worried about how much time I have left.
How would you say that your perspective on on life has changed you brought up how you're a spiritual person and kind of grasping with those deeper questions of you know, what happens when I am gone on this plane and the next that I'm not sure what it is. How is your you seem like a really happy I mean, positive person for for someone in your situation. And I'm sure it's it's not easy every day and it's been a roller coaster. Mr. How is your perspective and life changed? Since when you found out in 2016?
Well, you know, I'd have to say, I'm probably the most positive person that I know. It's really been very foreign for me dealing with this whole concept of anxiety. It's, it's not natural state for me. And I know, you know, for some people, they deal with anxiety on a daily basis for years on end, and I just haven't had to deal with that. And as a result, I didn't really have a lot of good tools in my toolbox. For for dealing with that. Having the the silicides been, for me, has given me the chance to experience consciousness in a form that is other from the way that I normally experienced it. And on a day they day to day basis. And being able to experience consciousness as something that not only isn't me, but doesn't have any elements of any of this life, as a part of it, and having that experience be complete and full, and, you know, whole in itself and Okay, was a way of showing me that there are other elements to our reality and our existence that we're not aware of. And that perhaps the transition from living to not living could be as simple as the transition from waking to sleep. It's very comforting for me.
Yeah, that's an interesting point you brought up about how shifting your consciousness is not as indirect or foreign, as it seems, because we do this every night when we sleep, and then you consume a simple mushroom or a tablet, and you're still in the same body. But your consciousness is on a whole other plane, and really nothing in this realm has has been altered that much.
No, no, no, I don't know whether you guys are experienced in your actual use of psychedelics, or whether you have just had a chance to experience it through your guests. But, you know, I have to say that, from my very limited experience that I have had with psychedelics, and to be very clear, I have had one therapeutic session. And that has been something that has given very dramatic and significantly good impact on my overall quality of life. It's it's difficult to quantify, but I did some anxiety and depression scale testing prior to doing my therapeutic psilocybin session. And I can tell you that prior to the session on the anxiety scale, I scored a 36. And I believe the scale only goes to 50. So anything over 30 on that scale is considered pretty high. Following the psilocybin session, as in, like the next day, I redid the tests, and my score was a six. So I mean, if you want to quantify how much my life improved in terms of anxiety, going from a 36 to a six is really significant.
And when was this test, and have you taken one since then?
So I got my approval to take psilocybin as a therapy on August the fourth, I did my therapy session on August the 12th. And the testing was done just immediately prior and immediately after that. So haven't had another test since although that's on my list of things to do. I can tell you that the amount of clutter in my head with anxious thoughts is still in a very manageable place. I would say. Once in a while you still get you know the occasional busy heads sleepless night but by comparison, below, I'm sleeping through the night without sleeping aids. You know, I get through the day without having to take something for anxiety attacks. Literally I'm focused just on The wellness aspect of things at the moment
So you went from googling and finding John Hopkins and these results of psilocybin mushrooms and take us through the journey of from that point to sitting in a room and and being the first illegal recipient of of magic mushrooms in in Canada.
Yeah. So once once I decided that my anxiety was at a point that I really had to do something about it. And I was aware of the Johns Hopkins studies, I started looking for places here in Canada that had studies running. So you know, obviously, anybody could hop on the internet and go pick up some shrooms from someplace and have yourself you know what trip that's it's not difficult to obtain, you know, any substance that a person wants to get. But at the same time, you really are not sure what you are getting in that sort of an instance because it's illegal in Canada, it's a completely unregulated thing. So, you know, are you getting genuine psilocybin mushrooms? Are you getting, you know, some shirataki mushrooms with fentanyl? Yeah, who knows. So I started looking for someplace that I knew would have a safe source of psychedelics. silicided. And I found out there isn't anything in Canada, like literally no studies whatsoever. There are no doctors, there is no government programs, there's nothing. But I did happen upon a group called Thera. So here in Canada, there still is a patient advocacy group that very specifically takes stage four cancer people like myself, and assists them with the process of filing these. In Canada. It's a section 56 exemption applications. So you sand off a series of emails with information to our government. In this case, it's the Office of controlled substances and the Minister of Health. Probably something different down in the states there. I'm sure your systems are quite a bit different from us I, I am familiar with the initiative that they were doing in Oregon recently, I have had a chance to appear on one of their press conferences as a as a patient who was experienced in it. I digress. Once I got in touch with their cell, they helped me put my application together. It was about 60 days from when I first did my application to when I got approval. And during that time, I started the process of growing my own mushrooms. So really the only safe source that I could think of would be to actually produce it myself. And I do have some experience with growing cannabis, which I use for treating my chemotherapy symptoms. So I I started using the cannabis at the same time I got my cancer. So again, my whole introduction, Introduction to everything. You know, in terms of plants has happened since I've had my cancer.
Did you you have no prior experience with cannabis or mushrooms and this was the kind of ignition?
Really very plain white bread lifestyle up until this point. I am really about as the plane and you know, ordinary suburbia as you get.
Once you grew them, and you harvested them, did you go into hospital to take them? Or did you do him in the comfort of your own home? Did you have a doctor there with you? Or how did that process go?
So part of the approval process has some very specific guidelines as to what I am allowed to have and use and things like that. So the guidelines cover things like where am I going to get it from? And in this case, I'm of course growing my own. How am I going to store it locked up and things like that must be used in the presence of a practitioner. So it doesn't have to necessarily be a doctor or therapist is fine in the case of here in Canada. And once the the process was approved, then Dr. Bruce Tobin, who is the founder of parasail volunteers can I'm here to Saskatoon to do a session with me. So we did the session here in my home in the comfort of a spare room, which is I kind of set up for the purpose. So it decent lighting some pictures of family, some, you know, odds and ends that have a sentimental value, things like that. The session itself takes place, just laying down in a comfy bed with a blindfold and earphones on listening to the Johns Hopkins psilocybin playlist. And I took my first dose at about 1130. In the morning, I did a total of seven grams, which I took two and a half, and then another two and a half an hour. Pardon me 45 minutes later, and then another two grams after that. So total of seven grams over the course of hour and a half. The session lasted till sometime between five and 6pm, I would say so very much feeling fairly grounded by 6pm.
Can you talk about your state of mind going into this? I mean, you express that you had pretty high anxiety, which is why you approach this, but I could definitely picture people, people's anxiety being even more turned up right before the session? Or were you just super excited to get this goodness in your body? How did you feel?
Yeah, pretty anxious, not gonna lie. You know, it's, it's an unknown quantity. So anytime you do anything that's unknown, whether you know, you're going for a job interview, or whether you're bungee jumping, you know, you have these elements that you've never experienced before, and you don't know, and having, you know, psilocybin was no different for me, I was definitely very nervous going into it to anxiety, rapid heart rate, things like that. The nice part about the psilocybin, once I had actually taken it, and headphones in such a, I meditate on a fairly regular basis. So I meditate probably at least an hour a day. And that is, for me, the easiest transition for me, as the onset of the psilocybin was taking place, I was meditating and trying to find, you know, my comfortable places. And with that, I was able to make that transition from, you know, normal consciousness to altered consciousness in a fairly, I guess, peaceful sort of a way. So not very traumatic for me,
And how did your family react to this? And how are they supportive of you?
Well, you know, my, my wife doesn't necessarily know as as much as I do about the use of psychedelics. But, you know, she is very supportive and has always been supportive. Even when I come up with an idea that sounds a little crazy, like, you know, using cannabis for treating, you know, the chemotherapy symptoms, that it sounds a little wacky in a family that has not had a lot of experience using anything that doesn't have a prescription label on it. But having seen the results of using that plants, they were very supportive of my expectation that I would have some good results out of this. And having seen the results of it, you know, they are definitely in a different mindset from where they were prior to taking the psilocybin, I would say.
And, and during this session as well. Did you have any moments that he wanted to back out and you were like, wow, this is really overwhelming. And was was the doctor there? Could you talk through some things that were coming up with him and..?
For sure. So I'm with Dr. Tobin. Dr. Tobin is a very firm believer in the internal healer. So the premise behind that is, is your own subconscious is very familiar with the things that you have difficulty with. And a lot of the times your own ego can get in the way of that being able to access some of those things that are difficult for you. So the psychedelic assisted psychotherapy. therapy is a fairly hands off sort of a process. So if I were to run into any difficulty, for example, I have a professional there who could help me out. But at the same time, he recognizes that it's very important for me to access anything that is difficult. For my own personal session, I was very fortunate that I did not have as many challenges as some people have my own experience I found to be really peaceful and serene. That seemed to be what I needed out of it. There are people who have, you know, a lot more traumatic life issues growing up that they, they have to deal with, and I most certainly am familiar with some people who have had very challenging sessions. I'm very fortunate that mine was not as challenging as some people.
Do you think that a lot of that, or a big portion of that ease and serenity came from your meditation practice?
I would have to say that it was definitely a contributing factor to that. I'm having taken cannabis for a number of years now. And some of it is very significant doses. If any of your listeners are familiar with cannabis, they're probably aware that some of the higher doses of cannabis can be, you know, every bit as uncomfortable and traumatic as you know, a psychedelic session can be. For me, cannabis is not one of those things that I can take recreationally, it for me causes muscle spasms, and makes me feel very chilled, it causes a very adverse physical reactions for me in terms of what it does, for side effects, in terms of treating the chemotherapy, fantastic, better than anything else, but it has those negative elements to it as well. I was very pleasantly surprised that psilocybin to me was the polar opposite of what cannabis does. So where cannabis for me causes anxiety and muscle spasms and very unpleasant effects. The psilocybin for me, I found was very relaxing, and serene and calming. So it takes all of the buisiness in your head and eases that to a place where you know you can deal with it. As opposed to the cannabis that kind of winds you up and away you go.
So were you the first person to do this under TheraPsil. And what's the progress with this organization now?
I so I'm the first person in Canada who has been able to do this as a legal therapeutic session, there were originally four of us who got our applications approved at the same time. To my knowledge, I believe we're now up to 12 individuals here in Canada who have got their approval. I am aware of at least four of those people who have had a therapeutic session to date. So there have been a few other since myself and I have had the privilege of chatting with some of those people as well. varying degrees on satisfaction with their results, but not a single person that I have talked to, has thought that having the psychedelic assisted therapy was a bad idea. Every single person that I've talked to, has had at least some measure of success out of it.
Did you feel these? You know, positive results long after the session? And and what exactly were those results? And how long did you feel that?
For for myself, what I have gotten out of this session is this direct experience of consciousness being other than just Thomas? So I have this sense of comfort that you know, the the end of life isn't the end of experience. And for me that is you something that would be impossible to get in any other way. So, you know, I could meditate for years and years and years and probably achieve. Probably a good sense of that serenity, but I don't have years and years. In years to meditate, you know, I have stayed for cancer, I don't know how long I have, could be, you know, could be I have some years left, it could be I have a couple of months left, my particular kind of cancer is really difficult to detect, which is part of where my anxiety came from. I know that I have cancer in, say, 42 of the 50 places that they look in my abdominal cavity. So you know, I know that I have tumors everywhere on my digestive system. What I can't tell you is, how big those tumors are, how close those tumors are to, you know, plugging my intestines or or rupturing an intestine. I can't tell you any of that stuff. And my doctors can't tell me either. So that sense of unknown is counterbalanced against these feelings that you know what? It isn't the end of things. And if I happen to die this afternoon, I don't feel that's the end of it. Not looking forward to it, and I'm not in a hurry. But at the same time, I'm really not afraid of it either.
Do you feel that you would reach to this therapy again? I mean, it's been three months since your session. And it seems to have kind of leveled out and you took what you need from it, and it's sticking with you. But are there ever days where you feel like I could really use another session with the psilocybin and just get that reminder, reinstalled?
Yep, I am starting to get to the point where I feel like I could benefit from having another psilocybin session. So I'm currently in the process of trying to find a therapist who is local here to Saskatoon, who would like to participate in a session. Again, one of the difficult challenges that we have here in Canada, because it's illegal is that there are not a lot of therapists who are experienced with it. Therapy still is currently in the process of trying to get the same section 56 exemptions for other therapists to be able to experience psilocybin. So you will have, you know, psychedelic assisted therapists who are trained and experienced in the actual use of the psychedelics themselves, which I think is vitally important. I mean, would you go and take swimming lessons from somebody who didn't know how to swim? No, it wouldn't make sense. The short answer, I guess, and I tend to babble a little bit, I apologize is three months after my session, I still have the occasional aha moments that you get from experiences that you have had from the psychedelic, but I am starting to see a little bit of the mental buisiness creeping in on the edges. And I think, probably in the next little while here, it would be a good idea for me to have another session to reinforce the the experience that I've had, and maybe learn some new lessons.
Mushrooms for me, I dealt with clinical depression for many, many years and, and also severe anxiety and, and was suicidal at points and have tried to take my own life and I had one psilocybin, my first psilocybin experience was, say nine years ago now and I took a huge dose, and it was not intentional, because I didn't, I didn't know what a dose was, or normal amount. And so I took a which to be honest, was probably for my benefit to go, you know, zero to 100 really quick all in and from that moment, you know, I got off the meds that I was taking, and I was using alcohol and cannabis and other bad habits as to kind of mask the symptoms. Exactly. And so it took a while for me to unravel those tendencies in many many different sessions with many different plants but it's funny I'm at the point now where there's a saying you know, once you get the message hang up the phone, and I already you know, I it Not that I know everything I'm I know nothing whatsoever, and I have so much more to explore and to learn and heal, but, but it you get to a point where, you know, you know the message, and maybe you need a refresher every once in a while, but, but the message is there. And, you know, I, I'm, I'm curious for you, I had this experience of this one time I was raining and had it was just after, you know, a really depressive episode, and I remember going out into the rain and being like, Look, I almost the night before I tried to take my own life. And I was, I was so close to death that I was like, you know, beforehand, I would be like, I don't want to get wet. You know? And then after this moment, it was like, well, I almost died. And so now it's a second chance and what is to get wet? What does that even mean? And, and to let go a lot of the, the ego control and, and these, these fears and so I'm, I'm curious if you've made a bucket list or have done things that you wouldn't normally do, like, take mushrooms and smoke weed. And you, I don't know, if you have a bucket list now or have have done, you know, extraordinary things that you just wouldn't do before 2016 that maybe you were too scared to do or wouldn't think to ever do or put off to a distant thing. I don't know, if you've been bungee jumping or anything crazy, or, or it is as simple as you know, spent more time with their family.
You know, bucket list, yes. my bucket list more has experiences on it, then things, you know, I there are a lot of people that I would like to have a coffee with, you know, I would like to sit down and have a chat with people like Paul Stamets or Dennis McKenna, who have got a great deal of experience in this field. And I would like to increase my knowledge on some of these plants, that would be good. Now, I have been spending a lot of my time doing education and advocacy, things like this. Since I have had my psilocybin experience, and since I now realize that it has these healing benefits that would affect 1000s of people. And, you know, let's, let's just take a look at what's happening with COVID. I mean, how many hundreds of 1000s of people do you think are anxious right now in America or Canada? I'm thinking it might be a few. If you could take people like that, and provide them with a with a dose or two and psych psychotherapy session that would reinforce those things. If you could eliminate the anxiety that these people are feeling for years at a time, what what impact would that have on your society, I'm happened to think it would be something very profound and positive. If If other people had the same increase in empathy, that I now have the the general caring for your fellow person, that would be I think, very healthy. So my bucket list that I currently have, is trying to reach as many people as I can to try to provide as much benefit into the world as I can. I don't know how much time I have left. But I think that I have reached quite a few people in in my message so far. And I think people are seeing that. If somebody is boring in white bread as I am can reach out to something as crazy as psychedelics for therapy, then maybe it isn't such a crazy idea.
I couldn't agree more. And it's a lot like Michael Pollan's book just making this approachable to the seemingly most distant demographics from doing something like plants. And yeah, thank you. I mean, we found you from the press that you agreed to be in. And I hope that these personal stories touch other people and that anyone else in a similar position resonates with this and gets inspired to follow in your footsteps and maybe live a beautiful rest of their lives. You took psilocybin in the comfort of your own home with a facilitator? What could you say to this institution on how they could improve it? Because this is definitely going into a clinical setting. And they'll probably be so many different ways to administer it. But yeah, what would you say to make it as impactful and comfortable as possible?
Yep, I would say things that would probably improve the process and benefit people on a going forward basis. Having a clinical setting that feels as comfortable and homey as possible, that is good. Some people also have good success taking psychedelics in an outdoor environment. So having nature and comfortable environments, probably very up there on the list. Having trained therapists, very, very important. So you definitely want to have therapists who are familiar with how it works. And don't try to bend the experience to what they think it should be, as opposed to just what it is. Because I guarantee that you know, how you are messed up, and you probably have a good idea of how to fix it. I think the ego is one of those things that gets in the way of, you know, people admitting to problems and what their potential solutions are. And of course, psilocybin, taking the ego out of the way is a good way to deal with that. The stepped dosage, I think was very good. Having consistent dosages, I think is very, very important for people to accept this as a standard treatment. So you can't just have you know, the the 200 kinds of mushrooms that are available, there has to be some sort of a standardization, as in this is how much psilocybin typically works for people in a dose within, you know, this deviant. And if you if you have a regulated mushroom that is being grown, I think that's probably a good way. I understand that they have had some good luck with the synthetic psilocybin I'm, I'm not sure how I feel about just using that I think you can probably get a benefit out of it. But I do have a strong belief in the entourage effect. I think there's a lot more in there than just the psilocybin itself in the same way that cannabis has, you know, 100 different cannabinoids, and they have different effects on you, depending on your strains. Exactly the same for mushrooms. I think some mushrooms are as I understand it, more dominant for visuals, some are more you know, a physical experience. And having the research and encyclopedic knowledge of these things would give a better treatment option to people who are looking into it. Having a good music playlist, that would be another one on the list. So I had kind of a thought the other day on this was one of my posts psilocybin aha moments. Music To me, now sounds a lot more conversational. as kind of a weird thing to say. But I finally figured out the other day why that was. And I realized that I am hearing different tones of speech inflection, in music. So in the same way that you know, you can follow the the tune in in music. I'm hearing speech patterns reflected in that music. speech patterns. The inflections that we use in speech patterns are how we express emotions. And the emotional expression of music is being expressed in the same way through these musical inflections. So I think what would help that would be if somebody smart were to take, say, an AI algorithm. Check our speech patterns for how our inflections express emotions and then apply that against a library of music. So we could have options available to therapists who know that somebody is dealing with, you know, say a traumatic event from there. Heard or grief or anxiety or any of these things, he, a therapist would be able to specifically target these types of musics with different types of intensity and get a more targeted result.
And I think that's where we're heading is personalized, personalized everything to be honest, but, and I think we're at a turning point where it can be possible. And, you know, with the help of AI, and with the help of biotechnology, and then just teeming with smart scientists, for the help of humanity, and help of the world, it goes beyond helping humans it can be, you know, personalized help for our environment. And, and, and beyond. So I think that is going to be the turning point of, of going from one size fits all to everybody is their own unique individual. And, you know, everything is curated to that specific individual, whether that's beneficial or not, we're seeing it with ads now on Facebook and Instagram. So I'm sure it can be of great benefit and and the other side, but hopefully, we can stick to the beneficial things like curating individualized health care sessions, and, and, and really, really help people's lives. And what I'm curious as a patient yourself, what advice do you have for other patients who are looking to work with psilocybin who've maybe never even heard of it? Or have heard of it, but are a little skeptical? Or there's, there's lawful barriers, blocking them from from getting treatment? or whatever other issues or barriers they have to overcome? What advice do you have for them?
I think one of the most important things that a patient can bring to the table is a very open mind regarding this. The way that a psychedelic works is very different from the way that traditional medications work. So you know, if you take a traditional antidepressant, you, you take a pill, it takes effect, it changes the way that you are feeling while it is in effect. And then it wears off, and you go back to feeling the way you felt before. With a psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, what it did for me was to change my way of thinking about some things, so it gave me a different perspective on death, so death, and the dying process looks different to me now, not because my feelings about it are dulled. But because my information about the experience has changed. So, it has changed me as a person in the ways that I think about it. Oh, yeah, you know, you taking a regular medication is, you know, not so different than going to the bar for drinks, right? So while you're at the bar, you're you're drinking, you're, you're having a good time, and the alcohol is affecting your mood while you're there, you know, and then you go home, and, you know, it wears off and you know, you're left with a hangover again, right. Whereas the the psychedelics, you know, it changes your idea about, you know, even alcohol, for example. So, I don't necessarily feel the need to alter my thinking in order to change my experience, right? People who are self medicating with with alcohol or prescription medications, right, you're trying to escape from whatever it is. And the escape mechanism is what causes your anxiety. So when you take the psilocybin and and you're no longer escaping, you're actually facing the things that your are upsetting to you or, or that you're having trouble dealing with. When you actually face that and deal with it. You no longer need to self medicate with the other things.
We have one final question and we ask all of our guests on our show the same question and Given your experience, I'm really curious of what, what you have to say. But the question is, if mushrooms had the microphone, and could say one thing to the whole human race, what do you think they would say?
Yep, that's a, it's an interesting one. And I think my answer to that would be that somehow as people we see ourselves as being us, and nature. And the fact of the matter is, is that there isn't any us and nature, we are nature, it's just us. And if people would recognize that, you know, we are not fighting the planet, we need to be working with the planet. And we need to be working with the plants, we need to be working with the animals and the fungi and things to produce more biodiversity and more health, the planet, healthy planet, healthy us, it's not complicated. I was very surprised to learn that. on a cellular level, we've got these gateways between cells and our cells communicate with photons and things between them, there is so much more of this complicated dance happening within us on a quantum level that I had never even heard of, there is so much more going on inside of us that, you know, there is a whole universe and there really is a billions of cells in you. And you are not in communication with an individual one of them. I think it's, you know, not so different with us and nature and the world. You know, functionally, we are a single cell in this huge organism that is our world. And just like the cells in our body, I think, you know, every cell in your body has a specific purpose, and it contributes to the well being of the whole. And if you look at us, in that same context, what role are humans playing in the purpose of this organism that is the world.
That was beautifully stated.
I'm so excited that you came on our show. And I'm deeply grateful for the stories that you shared and your perspectives. And I think this is really helpful for a lot of our listeners, and just bringing back that connection with not only ourselves, our connection with ourselves, but but redefining what ourselves actually means. Where can people follow you, I don't know if you are on social media, or, you know, or if you want a shout out any of the organizations that you work with, or anything else.
You know, I don't do a lot on social media, I suppose I probably could. I'm very easy to find on Facebook. And I have myself a YouTube channel that occasionally throw some things that I think are interesting onto. I am very interested in meeting people who are like myself, exploring these new frontiers. I like talking to people who have also got some stage for cancer stories that they they share.
And thanks for being open to speaking with anyone who might be listening to this and going through similar things. That's really special. Yeah.
And thank you for tuning in. And shrooming in, whether you are listening or watching or both. If you are listening on Spotify, or iTunes or anything other any other audio streaming platform, you can watch a video portion of this on our YouTube. And if you're on YouTube, Hello, thanks for tuning in, hit that subscribe button and like the video, tell your friends all about mushrooms. And if you have a loved one that is suffering, maybe with with cancer, send them a John Hopkins Google search and they might be our next guest on our podcast.
And if you happen to be in Canada, and you are interested in psychedelic therapy, either as somebody who is trained as a therapist or somebody like myself who needs therapy, I would strongly encourage you to contact TheraPsil. Thank you.
Yeah. And we're always looking for future guests future topics that we can dive into. So please reach out if you have any suggestions. And we love each and every one of you. Thank you so much we can do without all of our listeners. And, as always, much love and may the spores be with you.