Psychedelic Interest Booms

Despite global COVID shutdowns and declines in medical research funding not related to the pandemic, interest in psychedelic use to treat addictions and other psychological issues is booming.   

The rise in popularity is happening in the business sector and beyond. While specific industries suffered economic blows due to COVID, notable psychedelic companies either went public or secured millions in funding. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is conducting clinical trials involving psychedelic substances such as ibogaine, ketamine, and psilocybin. At the moment, ibogaine, a natural extract used in various countries to treat addiction, is a Schedule 1 drug and not approved for medical use in the United States.

There may not be a more optimal time to explore the therapeutic power of ibogaine. Over 15 million Americans suffer from depression, and some forms of depression have proven resistant to treatment. Millions suffer from substance addiction and co-occurring disorders.  

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Scientists Develop Synthetic Form of Ibogaine

University of California, Davis researchers have created a non-hallucinogenic version of ibogaine. The new substance could prove just as effective as the psychedelic original used to treat addiction and psychological illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

David Olson, an assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis, detailed the discovery in the December 2020 issue of Nature.   

In the study, a series of rodent experiments showed that mice decreased their alcohol consumption and experienced a delayed opiate relapse when given the non-hallucinogenic Tabernanthalog (TBG). The synthetic version is water-soluble and has fewer adverse effects than ibogaine. Olson says he’s optimistic that TBG can treat addiction and many illnesses related to addiction, such as depression and anxiety.

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