From Drug to Natural Medicine
We will be highlighting some fewer known facts about the D-word: Drugs. Society seems to be wakening to the reality that this world has become largely consumed by drugs, or rather, consumed by consuming drugs. We are here to help place more awareness to the dangers of more general drug use and to encourage people to take a break from substances to make space for reflection and physical and mental detox.
If you are abstaining from alcohol, nicotine or another substance, I invite you to use our micro dosing protocol to help you through the month. I understand it may seem contradictory to use a so-called “drug” in order to help abstain from another “drug”, but there are many misconceptions about drugs including psilocybin and I am here to clear up a few discrepancies for you. Yes! That means we are de-stigmatizing drugs- all of them- and especially the ones that have the potential to have positive impact, such as psilocybin.
Remove Good/Bad language from your vocabulary when speaking on “psychoactive drugs”
The first important lesson: there is nothing inherently good or bad about a drug, however, using a drug without conscious awareness or consideration for how it is impacting the neurophysiology of your brain, and subsequently the other organs and systems of your body, and life can be incredibly harmful. Even a drug as seemingly innocent as caffeine can have fatal side effects for people living with certain medical conditions. And the undeniable truth is that all psychoactive drugs will impact us in some way or another- it’s time we start normalizing this truth and speak openly about the consequences!
What classifies something as a psychoactive drug?
What is most important is that all drugs have one thing in common- they pass through the BBB in the brain. The BBB (aka Blood Brain Barrier) is a structural and functional barrier designed to protect the brain from destructive molecules such as viruses, fungi, parasites or bacteria that may be floating around the body. Drugs can cross over this barrier and thus impact the neurobiology of the brain. As the entire body is incredibly interconnected, this means that once the drug influences the brain it will subsequently begin effecting the other organs and systems of the body, or the other way around.
The Brain is your body’s best friend and Vice-Versa
It is so important to remember, the brain is never isolated!!! It is a vast, intelligent organism that communicates constantly between the other organs in the body. Just like going for a run and having physical exercise impacts the physiology of your actual brain cells, putting a drug into your body and altering your brain chemistry will always impact your body. This would explain why symptoms of body aches and muscle cramping exist in some people with alcohol addiction. The medical term for this is alcohol neuropathy which is when the nerves throughout the body become damaged from excessive alcohol intake. So, when you ingest a drug, try to not only think about its impact on the brain but also your heart, lungs, nervous system, kidneys, liver, etc etc. It’s a lot to think about and therefore it’s so important that we have a general understanding of the psychoactive substances most of us are ingesting on a daily basis.
Duped by Dopamine
There is one commonality between all addictive drugs which is that they all play a role on the dopamine reward system pathway. The exception that psilocybin has when compared to most other classified psychoactive drugs is that it does not play the same role in this system, thus this eliminates the element of having an addictive quality. This principle applies to many other psychedelic substances which is becoming more and more recognized through psychedelic research. This goes to say, you don’t have to worry about becoming addicted to psilocybin whether you are taking a macro or micro dose.
Not all psychoactive drugs are created Equal!
If I would begin listing the extensive list of psychoactive drugs on the market today you would surely lose my attention, if you haven’t already, so I’ll spare you the misery. The list includes substances that are grown as wild and natural plants, lab created substances and street drugs- which are often the most addictive and fatal ones available. Each psychoactive drug is so unique in its biochemical makeup that it is foolish to label them all into one category.
In fact, this is somewhat recognized on an institutional level which is why they have been categorized into “schedules”. There are currently 5 distinct schedules and they are meant to be ranked according to levels of abuse potential, and whether there is a currently approved medical “need” or application for the substance. Unfortunately this list is biased by politics and there is much controversy as to the accuracy and relevance of the schedules as they exist today.
When ingesting a substance, keep in mind the variables that contribute to the actual manufacturing of this drug. Is it nature grown, or lab grown? Has the substance been tested for pollutants and toxins? Is the drug pure or mixed with other potentially harmful molecules? These days the quality of natural/organic wine versus conventional wine can even make a remarkable difference when considering its overall impact on the body.
Are you still with me?
This information is dense but it is important to understand that there is a long history of the idea of a psychoactive “drug”, and the word itself is heavily weighted. Unlearning everything you know about drugs may take some time, but we’re here to help. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team and we will guide you toward resources to help you make more informed decisions in the future.
Additionally, I hope this article will aim to destigmatize the word “drug” and provide a deeper understanding to what classifies a substance as a drug and at which point you can detect if you have an unhealthy relationship with a substance.
Is psilocybin technically a drug?
Psilocybin is a member of the psychedelic class of drugs. The word drug itself sounds a bit harsh and loaded. You may find it intimidating, off-putting and have several assumptions about this word with associations such as cocaine, heroin, and other “street drugs”. Allow me to fill you in on a little secret…. Many things we consume daily are considered drugs, albeit more socially accepted drugs, they are still drugs. This includes alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and yes, even sugar.
So … by now you must be wondering..
How about psilocybin? Is it really a drug, and can it help me or does it have potential to harm me?
Psilocybin is technically considering a drug under the class of hallucinogenic psychedelic drugs. It is a naturally occurring substance derived from specific types of mushrooms native to the Americas including Mexico, The United States, and South America. Psilocybin can be ingested either through the mushroom itself or it can be extracted and isolated through chemical processes. Psilocybin is a non-addictive substance meaning that it is not influencing the dopamine-driven reward system pathway. There is currently no research to support that Psilocybin has any negative effect on the organs of the body including the brain however, there are certain contraindications in which individuals should receive medical clearing before ingesting psilocybin.
- Those with heart disease
- Pregnant individuals
- Suffering with a severe drug addiction including symptoms of withdrawals
- Alcohol abuse
- In the middle of a life crisis
- Family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
- Taking drugs with MAO inhibitors including Marplan, Emsam, Parnate
If you have any doubts whether you fall into one of these categories, please consult your physician. While psilocybin is a safe drug, everyone responds differently and therefor consideration and respect is a must. Please reach out to our team with any questions!
If Psilocybin does not work primarily with dopamine, then how does it work?
A brief explanation of the chemical mechanism of this drug is that it begins as the psilocybin molecule and later converts to the active ingredient psilocin. Psilocin activates many neurotransmitter receptors although it is best known for its affinity for serotonin receptors (aka 5-HT2A receptors). Serotonin is known for its role in regulating mood, cognition, reward and memory. It is interesting to note that most of our estimated 40 million brain cells are influenced by serotonin. Additionally, it’s important to note that although we have serotonin receptors in the brain, most of its supply is found in the digestive tract! (remember when I told you how interconnected our brain is to the rest of our body?!) What is powerful about psilocybin is that it has been found to have a positive impact in regulating the release and uptake of serotonin and does not leave the body in a state of withdrawal or dependence.
The final important note to make about micro dosing psilocybin is that while a microdose does impart beyond the BBB, it is a subperceptual dose meaning that it is not high enough of a dose to alter the state of consciousness of the mind. When you think of drugs it is important to consider the dose and the body’s tolerance. Taking a subperceptual dose has very little potential to do any damage or disruption of any kind, and yet still has potential for benefiting the health and overall wellness of the mind and body!
A truly miraculous drug if you ask me, in the right set and setting, for the right individual and in it’s right timing, this is a drug to rave about.
In the Psychedelic and Scientific Community therefor Psilocybin is often referred to as Natural Medicine or plant medicine.
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