The Psilocybin Industry: A Conversation with Ron Shore
Where is psilocybin headed? Recent societal vindication of psilocybin and other psychedelic therapies are paving a prominent future for these substances, especially in psychiatric therapy. But how do we navigate this resurgence for the better? What conversations should be had, what questions should be asked, and who should we trust?
These are big questions that will evolve with the industry. Today we welcome Ron Shore, who has spent years studying clinical applications for psychedelic therapy and collecting related data to initiate conversations around these important elements. Ron is a PhD candidate at Queens University who has spent years in the public health world. Ron offers a needed perspective on the growing economy of psilocybin and other entheogens.
"We need to realize these are culturally protected, important plants that have cultural significance that we can't ignore, and it would be extractive colonialism to do that. So that's my biggest concern."
"If you listen to Francoise Bourzat's teachings, essentially what she argues is that consciousness is a mushroom. And if you think of it when you realize this, and you think about what this experience is to be be mushrooms, when you've taken a dose of psilocybin...you feel that change in consciousness, if you think about what mushrooms are there, fruiting bodies that pop up from this underground hidden network of unbelievable intelligence and information sharing, that mycorrhizal network and mycelial network, and that sharing information and intelligence are really mushrooms or the intelligence of the forest. And that's what we're consuming."
- Combining neuroscientific and traditional ceremonial settings for psychedelic healing spaces
- Revisiting psychedelic science with new understandings in neuroscience & psychiatry
- The importance of maintaining and respecting all cultural elements without cultural appropriation
- The economy of psilocybin — what is it like now? How will it progress and what should we be aware of as the industry grows to ensure we uphold cultural and economic equality?
- Attempts to patent natural psychedelic substances such as ayahuasca
- Behind the scenes of psychedelic clinical trials and how we can improve by being more inclusive
- Obtaining funding for psychedelic research
- Steps that industry leaders and influencers can take to be in their highest integrity while doing this work
- Resources and thoughts on educating ourselves on the psychedelic history
- Psilocybin and associated alkaloids of psilocybe mushrooms
- The current state of scientific literature on synthetic or ‘pure’ psilocybin compared to the natural biomass of psilocybe mushrooms
- Animal studies with psilocybin
- How psychedelics influence your brain physiologically
- How consciousness is a ‘fruiting body’, and therefore, a mushroom ;)
- Dimensions healing :https://dimensionshealing.com/
- Ron Shore’s website: https://www.ronshore.ca/
- Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines: https://chacruna.net
- Francoise Bourzat: https://francoisebourzat.com/
- Michael Pollan's books: https://michaelpollan.com/books/
- Landmark study on neurogenesis: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2021.06.008
- Robin Carhart-Harris’s publications on psilocybin & other psychedelics: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=7_MD_w0AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao
You're listening to the mushroom revival podcast. Today on the show we welcome Ron shore, who has spent years studying clinical applications for psychedelic therapy and collecting related data.
Ron's background in public health and community oriented benefit provide a much needed perspective on the growing economy of psilocybin and other entheogens. Ron is also literate in neuro physics. So we discussed some of the juicy brain chemistry involved in psychedelic substances, especially our beloved psilocybin so turn into a relevant and valuable conversation on the ethos of psychedelic industry as well as some cognitive science.
I'm Ron shore, and I'm a I'm an interesting background and current position. So I'll give you a bit of a broad view overview. I'm a doctoral candidate at Queen's University. And I'm also a teaching fellow so I've taught at Queen's for about 15 years. And I also teach at the University of Ottawa, part time professor, my doctoral research is specific to the clinical application of psilocybin. And as part of my doctoral research, I do scoping reviews, which are an active knowledge synthesis. To summarize what we know about psilocybin given the rapid expansion in the State of the Science, it's a kind of important function. So, and I, I am an industry consultant, I have a background, I spent 25 years in community and public health prior to the psychedelic work. And really, I came out of the AIDS movement and the harm reduction movement. So I started a needle exchange in our city in Ontario, Canada here in the early 1990s. That grew into a large multi program Community Health Center specifically for people who use injection and illicit drugs. So that's kind of my background, I got involved in psychedelic stuff through my teaching at Queens, I teach drug studies, and obviously psychedelics are fascinating molecule, or molecules to teach. And then they they kind of rose to prominence as a novel and possibly very efficacious treatment for mental health and addiction. So that got my interest even more. And that's what prompted my decision to go back and do a doctorate in this. I have a master's in health policy and a Bachelor's in philosophy. But more recently, I got hired by a company called dimensions, dimensions healing, to help start a series of retreat centers, they're very interested in silicided, and other expanded states of consciousness and how we might be able to craft a program that is kind of customized to maximizing the power of set and setting and combining other modalities into a nature retreat setting and try to have kind of optimal healing gains. So I'm helping develop the kind of program design and the protocols for that dimensions healing. So my title with them is managing director, clinical services, policy and research for dimensions healing.
So I read when I was doing some research on you that you aim to combine neuroscientific and traditional ceremonial practices for psilocybin psychotherapy. Yeah, and I was just wondering if you could comment on this. I mean, obviously, it makes a lot of sense from the patient's perspective, but you know, coming at it from your perspective of providing the space, Why do that? And how are you doing that? How are you like, developing the protocols or the
That's that's a great question. If you take a step back, and you look at the evolution of kind of psychedelic literature and science, there's almost two distinct streams, or paths, and one is the more contemporary kind of biomedical psychedelic assisted therapy, clinical trials. Really, there's a foundation in neuroscience that Robin Carhartt, Harris, Imperial College and others have really helped to evolve a narrative that helps us understand the importance of brain connectivity. So that's kind of the the clinical side and the neuroscientific side, we really had a massive explosion in our ability to understand the nervous system and the brain over the last 30 years. The imaging technology available now far exceeds what we had 1015 years ago. So it's an exciting time to be in neuroscience, we're learning a lot about who we are and states of consciousness. The problem is, these are issues that historically we've not done a great job with, we've to do a really poor job of understanding drugs and drug effects. And there's an enormous stigma and obviously, criminalization there. And we don't really have a lot of comfort around notions of spirituality or consciousness and who we are really in terms of fundamental identity. And there's been obviously a kind of spiritual chiasm and Rift and a lot of parts of the developing world as people certain seats, secret returned to nature, that kind of thing. So the neuroscience is fascinating in terms of even the benefits of forest therapy, the benefits of kind of moving people into the parasympathetic nervous system as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system that fight or flight. And the problem in contemporary culture is its massive overstimulation that we all suffer from as a result of advanced industrial technological capitalism, screentime productivity, you know, social conflicts, those things so I think that the neuroscientific side just shows us a way We can kind of improve our health based on real measurements and real insights. And so that's exciting. So that's kind of the one stream of psychedelics. And that's really what's pushing, you know, say maps and the MDMA trials, the fascination was psilocybin that's come out of largely Carhartt Harris's work and Johns Hopkins and all the trials. So that's legitimate and bona fide and super interesting. The other side to the equation that often gets forgotten that I'm particularly interested in is more of the cultural and anthropological lineage. So what is it about the human fascination with psychoactive molecules? I think we can, it's fairly well established that in terms of human history, really back to back to Neanderthal times, we've had a conscious relationship on a ritualistic basis with psychoactive plants like cannabis and opium and or ghats, that would have occurred in infected grain, psilocybin am Anita. So all these things is a rich human history. And for those of us kind of in the West, wondering our lineage, you just have to go to ancient Greek culture to realize that, you know, the luminaries of Western thinking, Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, all of these gentlemen, got the benefit of participating in the eleusinian mysteries that went on for close to 2000 years. And really, it's at the Foundation, even of Christianity. So without getting too much into into that stream. More recently, people from the west and the northern hemisphere have been interested in in kind of plant medicine, whether it's the forest medicine of Iosco, or the kind of mushroom journeys that came out of the magitek region in Mexico. And we need to understand culturally, the the lineage of those understand the importance of the relationship of those plants and those modalities to the cultures which we need to protect. So you almost have this chiasm emerging in psychedelic research between the scientific model that is verging towards, let's get these drugs approved, so we can prescribe them, it's the new psychiatry, then you have another stream, which is more looking at the importance of psilocybin mushrooms, all of these other kind of psychedelic are entheogenic plants and their relationship to culture and spirituality. When you look on that side, you realize that plant medicines have always been used communally within group settings, a huge part of the purpose of these kinds of traditions was to inculcate or strengthen a certain cultural worldview within their communities, Bond teenagers to the elders, that kind of thing. And I'm concerned that the the western model, if it goes really psychiatric, or medical, or patent pharmaceuticals, it's not honoring the medicine, and it's going to really limit the gains we can have with we took a more cultural approach, and we look at community and we build solidarity, and it's about relationships to each other. So what I mean, when I'm talking about blending, the neuroscientific and kind of the group ceremonial is, is first of all, it'd be very mindful of cultural appropriation, we need to understand and present our lineages, we need to recognize the genocide and history of colonialism that comes to these plants. So really, at any group getting started in this field, I think your first step needs to be honor and recognize that and then kind of declare and find your own lineage and how you fit into this without appropriating other cultures. But the more recent kind of scientific literature coming out of Imperial College looks at the experience of group psilocybin retreats like synthesis Institute in the Netherlands. And what we're finding is that people who sit in ceremony together have added benefits because of the experience of communal tasks. We're all struggling for belonging. So that's that notion of the importance of social solidarity, togetherness, realizing we're connected to each other, and obviously the nature. And so I'm interested in combining the neurological but doing it more in a group setting and looking at building community, I come from a community health background. So to me, it's always about people's connections or sense of belonging. So I think it's just the you know, where things are at in terms of the evolution of psychedelics, I think everyone's realizing, individually in terms of psychological benefit, there's an application, but then the larger issues have to do with decriminalization, legalization, people, growing mushrooms, people using them, how do we use them, you know, with respect and with benefit, and really reducing the adverse experiences and the known risks. And that's a huge part of what my doctor is on.
Thanks for saying that. And I, you know, obviously, it's, it's very complex. And obviously, cultures all around the world have been using these entheogens for 1000s and 1000s. of years. And currently, especially in North America, there seems to be the shroom boom. And it is a Renaissance, you know, again, from the 60s of this sudden mass interest of, you know, psilocybin and these other entheogens What are your thoughts on the growing economy of psilocybin therapy and the good, the bad and the ugly? And I know you touched upon it in what you just said, but on the economic side of it, what what are your thoughts?
Yeah, I know Alex, you're you're definitely honing in on probably the most critical issue in terms of moving forward in this kind of space. And I was fortunate I when I taught at University of Ottawa last fall, I had a woman participate in our class who was a 77 year old second Kind of pioneer and therapist out of San Francisco. And she was greatly helpful to me and kind of understanding where we're at now compared to say, late 60s, early 70s. And what she would say, and it's Maria Manzini, who's founder of the women's visionary Council and has done terrific work in psychedelics, I think she was actually part of Leary's kind of commune in upper New York State at one point. So she's a remarkable woman, lots of great kind of writings on this, but what she talked to me about a lot was that the matrix is different now. So and what she means by that is the cultural beliefs, how interested and what the level of awareness is in terms of popular culture of of the benefits, possibly of entheogens, and how we're defining them. So I think the big difference now compared to early on in the 60s and 70s is the A, we've learned the lesson from those times, and then B culture has changed. We have a much more progressive culture in terms of awareness of social justice issues, equity issues, we got a long way to go. But for me psychedelics as a totally new industry and a totally new sector. This is the kind of litmus test for what kind of values we want to have as an industry, what are the what are the operating principles? How do we act? How do we behave, and combine the fact that we're talking about sacred medicine here, so you have an added sense of honor and respect, we need to uphold, let alone recognizing issues of indigenous reciprocity? So I think, you know, the North Star pledge, and companies kind of looking at making values and ethics pledges is a start. But my concern, obviously is, is if there are efforts to and I'm sure you know, this to patent psilocybin are various compounds, there were there was an attempt to patent Daya wasco, about 20 years ago. And we need to realize these are culturally protected, important plants that have cultural significance that we can't ignore, and it would be extractive colonialism to do that. So that's my biggest concern. And I think as much as I study the clinical trials and love the advancement of the medicine and the science, we have to realize clinical trials are designed to advance regulatory drug approval. So even in my case, when I'm looking at, you know, the 11 clinical trials that I study, really intensively which are the silicides trials for clinical benefit in a range of disorders from substance use to end of life distress, to obsessive compulsive disorder to treatment resistant depression, my favorite trial is the one for long term, demoralisation among long term care of AIDS patients or people with HIV AIDS in San Francisco is a really excellent trial, they were more inclusive, so they brought more people in, and they didn't screen out people in a way that a lot of clinical trials do in order to get really good outcomes. And in terms of publishing their results, they're really honest about how hard it was. And the struggle is when you actually bring people in who have bipolar disorder. And you're treating with psilocybin, the gains are there. But it just, it's more work than if you're looking at people who don't have a complexity or comorbidity and a lot of the trials really focused on older people, white people, professionals, they do very well, they'd get it, they get 12 hours of kind of preparation and integration afterwards. So there, my question is, if you're going to learn from that, and then incorporate it in kind of mainstream culture, the science is behind the practice, meaning this massive explosion due to the economic interest is driving a surge of new clinics and treatment modalities and new treatment protocols. That is probably ahead of the science. And I don't see that that's like it's a negative, because I think that's where change happens. And really, science tends to be about there's about a 10 year gap. That's why it's remarkable even just like the evolution of vaccine development so rapidly, during COVID generally, science takes a lot more time. So I think for me, the concern is if we're going to learn from the science and learn from the cultural histories, and then adapt that and modify it into into a contemporary setting with real people, what are we doing? What are the values? What's the profit motive, and again, for me, the nice thing about my work with dimensions is when I talked to them about indigenous reciprocity, and I talked to them about equity and inclusion. From a corporate level, the belief in the support is there. I think people realize we need to do things differently as an industry. But there's so much happening right now, I say, this is a really contested space right now, the language hasn't really settled and what we're doing. And you know, we know who the major players are, but I'm not quite sure how this will all settle. So my concern is obviously, if you look at the history of capitalism, we know what the risks are. And if you look at the history of Big Pharma, we know what the risks are. So I think we we just need to make sure that the psychedelic sector, it stays grassroots community based, people centered, and really looking at these as as an opportunity for healing pathways. I don't think entheogens are a silver bullet, but they do give us they open the door they open a significant portal to understanding a different sense of life and reality and who we are and our connection with people. But afterwards that requires support and integration and ongoing community dialogue. And, and I think for me, I think the companies will rise above are the ones who truly understand the cultural issues, the population health based issues, aren't looking for short term profit aren't looking for new patents, but are really motivated by a sense of betterment for everyone. And you know, I I come from a public health sector where I worked with people who had severe chronic multiple addictions and homelessness. And the reality is for those of us who do psychedelic research, it's really hard to get public funding. I'm someone who, prior to all of my my Ph. D funding applications, I always had great success in funding applications. And talking to other graduate students across Canada anyways, we can't get funding for psychedelic assisted research from the standard silos. So what that does is it creates an opportunity for the private sector to fund really good research in science early and look at really good program development as a way of helping to expand this treatment, which will eventually cut I think, filter more into kind of publicly managed and publicly kind of funded but I think right now, we're just developing the whole modality and the interest is predominantly coming from people in the private sector, and a lot of people who came out of the cannabis industry and and and kind of learn the lessons from that and are driving the psychedelic kind of growth. And so it's a super interesting time. So I'm not opposed to the notion of private companies, obviously, I'm getting involved with one because I believe that we can do good work there. But I think it just comes down to a matter of ethics value vision, how you're defining what you're doing, how you're setting up your programs, and kind of what your relationships are with the larger world.
Absolutely. And it's heartwarming to see these two sides kind of approaching one another, you know, the grassroots, the homelands, the communal settings, and then the private sex companies. And it's, it's encouraging to me because the mushrooms itself, that seems to be embedded in the lessons, I'm enthusiastic, and I'm optimistic about it, do you have any a bullet point practical things that people in this space can do if say, someone who was once in the cannabis industry is listening to this and they want to get involved in suicide? And and be really careful and acknowledge these communities? And all you know, all of that? Do you have people that you talk to books to read?
Yeah, great questions. I would say, first of all, Lera people should do their own work. I think doing your own shadow work is really important in the psychedelic sector, honesty, and transparency, I think our core values, people will only align with you if they believe in what you're doing, and you're sitting true to the medicine. So I think first of all, we all need to do our own work, whatever our practices, whether it's meditations or we're participating in entheogenic rituals, or we're doing mindfulness, whatever that is yoga, people need to be doing their own therapy, we need to be coming to terms of their own shadow, because whatever we bring into this space, it's going to be magnified. And if you want to bring these medicines, to new people, we need to make sure our container is kind of clean. And that takes a lot of work. So that's the first thing I would say. Secondly, the work should always be guided by your relationship to the medicine. That's how I got involved in this community. And that's how I got involved in the opportunity I'm involved in now is just by sitting in, in medicine circles with people or doing work with people and really being part of understanding what's different about this space. And then building networks and networks really dependent. That's how the brain works. That's how ecology works. And my Sileo works, networks are decentralized, they're sharing, there's reciprocity. So I think as long as you know, we're operating, knowing that we're, we're part of something much larger than us. This is a wave kind of working through society that I think none of us really have. What we certainly don't have control over and none of us has a perfect perspective, because we're just too limited in our view, and entheogens teach us that. So we need to trust in the medicine, we need to trust in ourselves that comes back to being in a place of integrity all the time, as much as you can. So I think it's it's a sector I would like to see slow down a little bit and be really thoughtful and mindful about how we're doing it bringing the right people. And that's been a neat thing about for me working with dimensions is being able to bring in indigenous consultants, healers who do different kind of paradigms and modalities and try to combine those with psychedelics so that we have an optimal kind of outcome. And for me, a lot of it is designing the flow of a retreat center, like what are you doing with people when they get there and why and that should all be backed up with with with science and then understanding the psychedelic literature. So I think people need to do their homework and do their reading. And so for me, a huge influence for me is Francoise Boras at so you may know, her book consciousness medicine. They have a new school of consciousness medicine to kind of expand some of her teachings. I think if people really want to understand mushrooms, I think Francoise probably got the strongest truest voice and I'm fortunate to be able to kind of get to talk with her once in a while and kind of helped me in kind of my path in this. And obviously, you know, I think popular media, I think the Michael Pollan book, how to change your mind opened a lot of doors for people. And I think he's, I've liked Michael Pollan's work for a long time, he wrote a book on drugs called the botany of desire, probably 15 years ago. That's really good. So I've taught from that book for quite a while at university. So I was pleased with his new book, I think it's a simplification and the biggest concern I have is sometimes the popular media will make it look like every time you take mushrooms, you're gonna see God, or you're gonna have some sort of overwhelming mind blowing transformational experience. And we know that's possible. And we know that's possible. And that's kind of what we're, that's the message of the medicine to some degree, but it also isn't always we have a quick fix kind of attitude. I think a lot of people want healing quickly or a connection to God quickly or something a reconnection and it takes more work than that. I think the medicine teaches us that. So I think for me, Paul and made it look a little a little easier than than the work actually is. So I think for people to really just do some deep reading, there's the history of, you know, for me, I learned a lot from the history of Iosco scholarship, kind of came out of, you know, South America, I think shukr una is an amazing kind of organization and website for probably the most insightful kind of current kind of commentary on what's happening in psychedelics. And then, you know, for me, it's understanding the traditions and the ancient history of these. So I think people can read widely read deeply, there's lots on mushrooms, and mycology, there's a lot of entry and tree communication. There's lots on the importance of retreat and stepping away from from, from mainstream society, at least a time limited basis. So you can reset your nervous system reset your thinking, because we're all so caught up into these rigid hyperactive patterns that really limit our experience of life. And, you know, that's really just a matter if, you know, people trying to open to the fact that this normal operating everyday consciousness that we've been raised in, and society encourages us to operate on daily basis is just one form of consciousness, there's multiple others, and you only have to get into the woods or sit by a great body of water and you feel something different. And I think just really developing a literacy around those experiences. And so, you know, histories of mysticism are important to understand the yoga philosophy, deep kind of sense of non dualism, all of that Alan Watts is one of my favorite writers, anything like that. They say, there's so many amazing writers in this area. Marlene Dobkin de Rios is probably one of my favorite writers, and she's an early Iosco scholar. So she's, I think, got a really good insight into some of the nature of these experiences. So and listening to wonderful podcasts like yours. I mean, there's so much people can tune into now that it's not for lack of information, we just need to go looking.
So just to go on more of a scientific front of breaking, breaking down, specifically, philosophy cubensis, which a lot of people use in this space. Has there been much research on the effects of, you know, different molecules present, right from psilocybin versus cillessen, verse nor cillessen, verse biosystem, northbay, Asst. And then all the beta carboline that are, are popular now. Has there been much research into that? Or is it just specifically, you know, psilocybin, pure, isolated compound? And if you're lucky, the full mushroom itself?
Great question. And I love hearing you discuss all the other alkaloids, particularly in the whole organic biomass. So I guess the short answer is, there's some science, there's not enough yet. But I think that's the future, pretty low on the biological side, in terms of understanding the pharmacological potential of the whole biomass of, of not just philosophy, mushrooms, but all the other functional mushrooms that I know that you folks are, understand and appreciate. So we're really just beginning on that. So I would say there's not a robust body of literature on that. Part of what we do as part of my doctorate is we're looking at all the animal studies as well, using psilocybin I have ethical concerns about animal studies. I'm not doing them, but I want to understand the literature and what they found. The there's some really interesting things that suggest the whole biomass has greater benefits than using synthetic psilocybin alone. All of the clinical trials just to acknowledge you synthetic psilocybin, that was psilocybin was originally synthesized by Albert Hoffman, based on some some mushrooms brought back by Watson, which were taken without consent really, or full informed consent or understanding from Maria Sabina. That created an enormous issue for Sabina in the mass attack, she had her house burned, there was all sorts of difficulties in the community, so that we need to acknowledge that was an active of expropriation. So our knowledge of psilocybin kind of comes from that. So I don't think we can improve our relations with indigenous people until we understand and acknowledge those, those pivotal points in history. So, but psilocybin synthetically from my understanding, and I've not used it, but talking to people have say it's very comparable as an experience, but I can't vouch for that. And I'm much more interested in the entourage effect of all the other alkaloids you mentioned. Much like with cannabis, it's the combination of the different kind of chemicals that create this kind of holistic experience. And I would rather go to the natural medicine, but I think, you know, we're also rediscovering em, Anita. And I know Kevin finis done some really neat stuff to try to get us to revisit m Anita and there's companies now looking at the benefits of M Anita so I think the mushroom world is just about to explode in terms of understanding the the nootropic benefits of all these different chemicals and all of these different organic compounds because really, we're returning to understand our true pharmacological storehouse is nature and its relationship to nature, where we're going to find healing. So I'm excited. We're all that we'll go. But the synthetic psilocybin has definitely been what all the trials focus on. So I don't think that means the trials aren't generalizable to the whole mushroom, but I think there's added benefits with using the whole mushroom and even if you look at just mastertech traditions, they would eat them in pairs. There's a way of understanding and appreciating this You heard of the medicine that is a little bit lost when you're looking at a capsule. But you can still kind of understand at least most of our pharma, cuticles and capsules really are derived from nature. And it's about time we kind of understand the roots of some of the medicine. So I think that'll really expand and explode in the next 10 years.
Yes, and you yourself have studied what you call the neuro physics of psilocybin. And, you know, from the few people that we've talked to about this, we don't really understand consciousness scientifically. So it's like, how do we help to explain changes in consciousness, you know, but what can you say about like the physiological differences in the presence of psilocybin? And if you could also allude to doing one macro dose session versus micro dosing over a period of time, like, Do you notice any differences?
For sure. No, those are super good questions. So first of all, in terms of understanding the neurological changes that that occur as a result of these entheogenic are, you know, in the case of psilocybin magic mushrooms, we're talking about serotonergic agonists. So you know, chemically it's related to LSD and DMT. So we're looking at and, and and mescaline, although that's slightly different in terms of chemical structure, and has more of an amphetamine component, but they all have certain things in common. And one of the things they have in common is this kind of mechanism of action on the brain.
So quick aside here, since this episode was recorded, there was a study released by Yale University on July fifth that showed a single dose of psilocybin can increase the density and size of dendritic spines, which are like protrusions on a neuron, you can think of them like the very tips of routes, or perhaps more appropriately, like the hyphal tips protruding from a rising morph. So this increase in size and density was recorded in the frontal cortex of mice, which is not human, but it is mammalian, while so much still needs to be investigated about this, the standing evidence for neurogenesis occurring thanks to a dose of psilocybin has a lot more weight for it, than against it. And if you are curious about this, we've linked the publication in the show notes as well as a few other related articles. So be sure to check that out.
So here, we need to obviously honor the work of Robin Carhartt. Harris, who's probably the leading neuroscientists in this field, and he's got a couple key concepts that he's been introducing over the last really 10 years. So if you if you're interested in reading more Carhartt Harris's work is dense, but he creates a narrative and one of the things that's interesting is understanding the brain is so complex, but people are fascinated now with the brain more than they were even a couple years ago, because neuroscientists have given them some tools for making sense of it. So there's a narrative, we're overlaying it to make sense of this unbelievable combination of billions of neurons and interconnections we do not understand. And, you know, there's considerable debate whether consciousness is even generated in the brain, there's considerable arguments that say consciousness is external, that somehow we just kind of tune into it. And that changes the notion of self and brain. But what Carhartt Harris has done is introduced some really key concepts that I think are worth building on. And one is this notion of the entropic brain. And he's got papers on this, he really builds on previous work by another neuroscientist named Karl Friston. And what Friston said is that the brain is a predictive machine. Essentially, we're constructing our experience of the present by looking at all the the probability and the spread of data inferences from our past and then making a construction, which predicts our reality, because the reality is we're over, we're overwhelmed by sensory input. So we need to kind of decide what we gate and how we form a perception and how we form concepts. So this notion of a predictive brain is such that you predict the future based on your past. So you can see there that the brain in many ways is constructing reality. So carreteras takes that notion, which is again, Karl Friston, it's called the free energy principle, which is that the brain operates with such massive consumption of glucose and oxygen that it really looks to simplify. And it looks to simplify from a biological perspective, what we perceive and how we interact by giving us certain kind of standardized structures of understanding reality. So what psychedelics do is they blow that apart, and that creates a condition of what Carhartt Harris would call entropy, or uncertainness, or randomness. So if you think about someone's macro dose experience, and you've taken anywhere from you know, a gram and a half to five grams of philosophy, mushrooms, generally in the coming up period, one of the most common side effects and the most noteworthy adverse experience from the clinical trials is what we call transient anxiety and distress as people's sense of perception of the world. their sense of self, their sense of reality, what to do, how to behave falls apart. Because of the the neurological actions of the molecule to explain in a minute, you have this kind of anxiety that can rise and we know that the single leading preventable harm associated with psychedelics which is the bad trip is preventable through preparation. proper attention to setting guidance through this experience. And so it's not necessarily that people have a difficult time coming up that matters, but how long that stays. So if it stays and they can't get out of it, tendency is that's going to create some psychological distress for them after the experience. And but that's, again, the thing entirely addressable. But that just explains that state of entropy. So what's happening is normally, the way your brain works is, it's a little bit rigid, it settles into patterns. And we settle into movement patterns in terms of even our bodies, and we settle into thinking patterns and emotional patterns. And if they get really rigid, and deeply entrenched, they can become things like OCD, or the constant rumination of depression, and anxiety. These are repetitive structures that the brain is repeating the same patterns. PTSD is a classic example of this. And so which is indicative of simply how the brain works, we we fall into these patterns to make sense of an overwhelming array of information and have traumatic experiences, but they can our thinking patterns can become pathological or not helping us and I'm not a big fan of putting labels on people being an art comes to consciousness, I think we really need to revisit how we conceive of mental health. There's no you there's not enough empirical evidence to justify the diagnostics we work under to say that the real exists, or it helps to diagnose someone with with some of these things like depression or anxiety. And they're so widespread, and our treatments are relatively ineffectual. It's created what's called the triple crisis in psychiatry. So we need a new model of understanding the brain in itself. So I think what psychedelics do is help us understand that part of how we get out of these deep, rigid thinking patterns of feeling and behavior and cognition, is by challenging ourselves. And that can be I think, anybody entropy can come even if you're like, you have a job and used to doing the same thing every day, and then something changes and you have to learn something new that's good for your brain. And the same way of psychedelics. That's why psychedelics can really be positioned as neurological, educational, beneficial instruments they just make they help us make us smarter, they get the brain into more of a critical state, where it's more alive and responsive. And so what psychedelics can do is these habitual rigid thinking patterns can be disrupted by psychedelics during the effect of the molecule. And as it wears off, what you have is a reset pattern. And this is where Dave Nichols and a lot of his work out of the states really helps us understand the importance of this reset. Because as your as your neurological patterns of communication, under psychedelics get thrown into entropy, or what Carhart, our so called anarchy, the captain on top controlling, everything kind of loses control, and you have new novel connections. So people can have new ways of experiencing things, new ways of seeing problems, different feelings around past experiences. So it brings us the possibility of the new. And for people to have behavioral change, or for therapy to work, they need to experience the state, they're trying to get to somehow some taste of it. So what psychedelics do is give you a time limited experience of a more critical brain state that allows for different experiences, largely because the way your brain is communicating is radically different. So instead of these rigid communication patterns between the different hubs, and you've probably seen the famous diagram, here's your, your brain on placebo, and here's your brain on on psilocybin and the one on psilocybin has these crazy networks and all this interconnectivity, which is exactly what happens. So your prefrontal cortex, which is the house of your, your ego, that's your, the very front of your low, you know, the temporal lobe of your front of your cerebral cortex, your prefrontal cortex is the most recently kind of evolved biologically, it's the seat of higher executive function, but also ego self rumination autobiography. So if we can just and that's what's overdeveloped. in contemporary states, we still have the same brain and body we did, you know, hundreds of 1000s of years ago when we lived in nature. So really, the pace of technological change has exceeded our body's ability to grow and adapt, which has created all these mental health conditions. So that state of entropy created by psychedelics, really what's happening is parts of your brain are communicating, that stopped communicating earlier on due to trauma, cultural reasons, environmental reasons. And the thing that I'm most fascinated about with psychedelics, when it comes to the neuro chemicals is serotonin. And we know these are serotonin agonists. But serotonin itself maybe a carryover from earlier photosynthesis days and our genetic evolution, literally coming from the water and coming from the evolution of plant and water. There's, there's a role of serotonin in that. And it's so environmentally cute. So a lot of our internal serotonin levels have to do with a perception of environment, which then tells us we're not separate, independent, sovereign rational beings disconnected from our environment. Your very neuro chemistry is completely in meshed in your environment. And that's what serotonin helps us understand. That's it. psychedelics help us understand. But neurologically, it really just has to do with disrupting the normative patterns we've settled into. And that's why a lot of people argue, you know, I remember particularly, you know, years ago, it was more of a conversation that, you know, thank you doc seem to do really well for older people. And I think that the clinical trials part of the bias and they tend to be largely white and upper middle class. Professionals but also they tend to be older. And because you have so much past autobiographical content as you age and you kind of aging as part of like the sediment and trying to stay new and fresh and have childlike eyes, and that learners mind psychedelics can really help people rediscover that. So we know they're also and this is where it gets super crazy. The newer information coming out of kind of more the kind of basic lab work is that the serotonergic agonists five ht to AR and how they work, not only do they do something about our prefrontal cortex, but these very chemicals are associated with very neurogenesis and the neuro development of the prefrontal cortex of your brain in general. So when we add more of these agonists to, you know, developing brains, they grow faster. So I'm simplifying the research really bluntly here. But it's just to say that there's something about psychedelics Iosco, this has been proven, it increases your serotonin transporter kind of levels. So you're not just getting like a neural plasticity and in terms of ability to learn something new. Because psychedelics ability to create neuroplasticity is unbelievably clear. But they may actually create neurogenesis, which is the development of new cellular material in the brain, which is almost unheard of. So that's why, you know, we have a medical officer of health in our company here. dimentions, named DJ cook, and he's a neuroscientist. And his background is predominantly stroke recovery, traumatic brain injury, brain cancers, we feel intuitively and we're in the middle of writing kind of a white paper on this. So the application of the serotonergic psychedelics and psilocybin in particular for things like stroke recovery, concussion recovery, traumatic brain injury, early onset Alzheimer's, and the application of other mushrooms for that is clearly emerging as well in terms of lion's mane. That's a whole other realm we've really not got into yet because we've been so fascinated more of the clinical trials that get depression, addiction, that kinds of thing. But there's a whole other sector, we think it's going to bear a lot of fruit.
Yeah, that's exciting to me. I love that the conversation of psilocybin coming into the human body as you're not just like a psycho therapeutic thing, but like, you know, something physiologically therapeutic?
Well, if you, if you listen to Francoise burrs that's teachings, essentially what she argues is that consciousness is a mushroom. And if you think of it when you realize this, and you think about what this experience is to be be mushrooms, when you've taken a dose of psilocybin, and I'll get back to your micro dosing question in a minute here, but when you when you take a larger dose, and you feel that change in consciousness, if you think about what mushrooms are there, fruiting bodies that pop up from this underground hidden network of unbelievable intelligence and information sharing, that myco rhizome network and mycelial network, and that sharing information and intelligence are really mushrooms or the intelligence of the forest. And that's what we're consuming. So they speak to you, and they teach you that so you're being mushrooms, and you realize consciousness itself, is coming out of this mycelial network, which is maybe this invisible field around us. It's there. It's what we're breathing in from the trees around us. It's the energy, we're picking it from other people, all the information that's shared. So I really love that notion that consciousness itself is a mushroom, it's a fruiting body. So it pops up into this underground network will will thrive will sporulate and then decay and then seed the next generation. And that's exactly what life is we're beings between between states were between being born and dying. And we're these fruiting bodies and understanding consciousness in that context really makes us understand how nurtured we are and how connected we are to the world. So those larger doses of mushrooms, I think, help us see that the micro dosing, I have a bit of a different take on micro dosing and the science on micro dosing is still early, the jury is out, to be honest, the best book summarizing the the kind of neuroscience and the trials and our understanding of micro dosing is Torsten Patsy's book, the science of micro dosing, which just came out last year. And I think we have to acknowledge the literature's out I think people are self reporting a lot of gains, I think that has a lot of validity. But when we're trying to really evaluate it, we're not really sure if they have the benefits, we hope they do, but I'll tell you my take on it, which is that that's framing it as the wrong problem, which is that you know, and when I got originally more involved in the mushroom work and field, I obviously did my work to relate to the spirit of the mushroom and then used it consciously and I microdose for fairly close to a year and in different kinds of regimes and, and and kind of application kind of schedules and the thing for me that it did was it brought me it's almost like a plant Diana and if you know people who've done this in the Amazon or go for a walk at ceremonies or you know going into a diet and really you're simplifying your diet, you're just getting to know one plant. And there's you know, dozens of different plants that you know, I asked shamans will use and be and people are kind of off on their own in the woods and just maybe eating rice and fish but you know, tincture derived from the bark of a tree or a plant and they're doing that for a month and and so you get this profound understanding of what that molecule is and what has to say to you and I think microdosing is the same. It's a bit of a plant teacher. And I think what it does is it gets that molecule into you every day. I think there are neurological benefits, but I think Also, a lot of people I know who microdose their dose is higher than subclinical. So they are feeling effects. And what I found is if you got into that just low dose and not microdose, is you really have to be strong and your spiritual practice because you're so sensitive with the serotonergic agonists do Is it really heighten your sensation. So I think if you're if you're doing a low dose of psilocybin or your microdosing, obviously, you want to start by not having to work or going out and just kind of get a sense of how it feels and get to know it. But I think for me, the gain was really it really developed my spiritual practice, because you're implementing on a daily basis, and it helped me understand the spirit of the mushroom a lot better. But I can't as someone who studies this at this point to say that micro dosing psilocybin is going to have clear neurological or mental health effects based on the molecule. I think it's what you make of it and your relationship to it. And even like Fadiman and Stamets who have popularized, the kind of micro dosing schedules have begun to, you know, change their schedules or say, really, they're, they're trying to figure it out as well. So we haven't figured out everything. But I would say it's always beneficial to consider putting a natural healing agent into your body on some way that's appropriate for your day, there's, there's not going to be a lot that you lose, I think the only thing that I want to make people aware of is if you can't chronically microdose. And you have any genetic predisposition towards valvular issues in your heart, there is a correlation between chronic microdosing and the potential for having cardiac issues, cardiac arrhythmias and vascular problems, and that's been established. So I would always encourage people microdosing, take big breaks between don't do it every day. And just making sure you're not developing tolerance. Because if you do take small amounts every day, your body's gonna get tolerant, and then you're losing some of the gains. And I think it's more a matter of making sure you have big breaks in between. So generally, people always ask me like, well, if I'm going to do mushrooms, what's the perfect schedule and, you know, I think for people to do the larger doses or macro doses with a lot of preparation, good intention, the right setting and the right support. four times a year is really good for keeping you honest, and on practice and learning and taking away tools that then you can integrate integration is so important. And then if you're gonna microdose just make sure you're giving yourself good breaks in between doses FTD. If you do a couple days in a row, give yourself 234 or five days, don't microdose all the time, do it just when you feel you need that relationship and get conscious with the medicine again, and I think that's where the real gains are.
Totally. Yeah, absolutely.
And that's just with that sometimes psilocybin not all the other wonderful functional mushrooms that you can do lots of things.
Definitely, definitely. Well, we unfortunately have to wrap this up. I have a million other questions. I would love to ask and keep this conversation going. We have our first in person team meeting ever, which is Oh my gosh. Yeah, we have a new team that we put together during COVID. And we haven't face Yeah, everyone. Oh, I think we have one on one meetings with, you know, various people, but we've never had the whole team together. So that's amazing. Congratulations. Yeah. Alright, fam. Thanks again for tuning in to another super exciting episode of the mushroom revival podcast. Big thanks to Ron shore for joining us. I personally had an amazing time talking with him and really appreciated his insights into this magical world of mushrooms.
Yeah, great conversation. It's great to know folks like him who have communal values and a keen sense of empathy are on the playing field. Let's keep it up and shoot for the stars.
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