(TMU OP-Ed) – America’s failing drug policies are once again at a crossroads as more citizens are starting to come to the realization that their government has been lying to them about the effects and risks of many ‘illicit’ substances.
After decades of scare tactics and ‘reefer madness’ propaganda, states are now lining up in droves to legalize cannabis. As Americans continue to learn more about the plant once dubbed a public menace, numerous scientific studies have been published refuting the decades-old claims of authoritarian drug warriors. Now America’s relationship with another drug is being thrust into the spotlight and has many citizens questioning the government’s claims that it is harmful.
‘Magic Mushrooms’: A Brief History
Historians believe that psilocybin mushrooms (or ‘shrooms’) have been used by numerous cultures throughout human existence dating as far back as 9,000 BC, however, it wasn’t until the 20th century that mushrooms became popular in the US. In the 1960’s hallucinogenic substances became popular among the ‘hippie’ movement and began garnering support from scholars, such as renowned Harvard Psychologist Timothy Leary. In response, the government began cracking down on the use of hallucinogens and in 1978 declared psilocybin a schedule I substance under the Psychotropic Substances Act.
Thankfully science is once again disproving many of the claims used by the government to justify banning a substance that has been widely used for thousands of years, and we’re finally beginning to learn more about the extent of its effects.
Here are 14 reasons why it’s time to legalize psilocybin mushrooms:
1. Mushrooms are one of the safest recreational drugs, even the media admits it
Despite attempts to paint psilocybin as a dangerous drug, a Global Drug Survey of over 120,000 participants has found that only .2% of respondents who took psilocybin reported that they sought emergency medical treatment. In fact, deaths from psilocybin overdose are so rare that a lethal dose is still difficult to calculate.
2. Psilocybin can help cure depression
Clinical studies have found that psilocybin “can promote enduring changes in personality, attitudes, and optimism, as well as improvements in mental health.” Additionally, the FDA has approved a project to develop treatments for depression using Psilocybin.
3. Researchers are using psilocybin to treat PTSD — and it’s working
Psilocybin has been shown in lab tests to reduce fear in traumatized mice, increase the growth, and repair of brain cells in the hippocampus. In a double-blind study, researchers with Johns Hopkins University also found that over 50% of participants rated their experience with psilocybin as one of the most meaningful experiences of their life.
4. Mushrooms vs. opiates.. The choice is clear
While deaths from ‘magic mushrooms’ are extremely rare, deaths from opiate overdoses are increasing at an astonishing rate, killing 59,000 people in the US in 2016 alone. To add insult to injury, the government’s own data proves that mushrooms can stifle opiate addiction, reducing the risk of opiate dependence by 27% and abuse by 40%.
5. Shroom tea > Booze
It is no secret that alcohol is a leading killer in the United States. What you may not know is that a 2015 proof-of-concept study found that alcohol abstinence rates among participants increased after being given psilocybin. The study also found that participants were more likely to stay sober as they had maintained their abstinence during follow-ups to 36 weeks.
6. Psilocybin reduces behavioral traits associated with criminal behavior
According to a study published by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD, and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior.” The findings of the study suggest that “treatments making use of classic psychedelics like psilocybin could well hold promise in reducing criminal behavior.”
7. Bye, Bye Ego!
A 2011 study found that a psilocybin ‘trip’ can ‘dissolve’ a person’s ego and alter their personality for over a year. The study concluded that people became increasingly open to new experiences for up to 14 months which positively affected their creativity and increased their curiosity.
8. So long cigarettes!
In addition to treating drug and alcohol addiction psilocybin is also being studied for its ability to help people quit smoking. A 15-week study conducted in 2014 found that 80% of participants had continued smoking cessation after one week. The study also found that smoking cessation rates substantially exceeded rates commonly reported for other behavioral and/or pharmacological therapies.
9. Nervous about you cancer diagnosis? Ask you doctor about the benefits of mushrooms.
While early research in the 1960’s first suggested a therapeutic use of mushrooms to help cancer patients deal with the existential dread that accompanies a cancer diagnosis, new research is beginning to help us understand how psilocybin helps alleviate the psychiatric distress that is common among cancer patients.
10. Stop obsessing and start relaxing
A double-blind 2006 study concluded that psilocybin was safely used in subjects with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was associated with acute reductions in core OCD symptoms in several subjects.
11. What’s in your medicine cabinet?
By 2025 the global headache medicine market is expected to top $7.8 Billion, so it should come as no surprise that pharmaceutical companies want to keep you in the dark about the ability of psilocybin to treat headaches. Popular over the counter pain relievers kill over 16,000 every year, but those days may soon be over thanks to a 2018 study revealing the power of psilocybin as an anti-inflammatory agent.
12. Fight the power!
An article published the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London found that psychedelic experiences make people more resistant to authoritarians. Ironically this may be the reason psilocybin was criminalized in the first place.
13. Psilocybin isn’t just for humans, bees love it too!
In 2017 several species of bees were placed on the endangered species list, but the news isn’t all doom and gloom. According to a research article entitled “Extracts of Polypore Mushroom Mycelia Reduces Viruses in Honey Bees.” Psilocybin mushrooms have a powerful effect on bees and have the ability to help them fight the viruses that have decimated colonies.
14. Drugs have already won the war on drugs
America’s ‘war on drugs’ has been raging for decades, while drug addiction rates have gone nearly unchanged despite trillions being spent and millions of drug arrests every single year. If this policy is examined with any sense of objectivity it is obvious that our drug policies have failed. The time has come for a smarter approach. In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to end their war on drugs and over a decade later drug use in the country has plummeted. Earlier this year, incoming Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a plan to follow Portugal’s lead by legalizing all drugs in an effort to fight drug cartels that have ravaged the country.
Perhaps it’s time America took a lesson from our neighbors to the south.
Humans May Have Found a Way To Not Only Stop Aging – But To Reverse It as Well
Humans have long to reverse the effects of aging and prolong their lives. Whether this was due to a love of power, a love of wealth or simple human anxiety about the loss of youth, tales about immortality can be found in the folk tales of countless cultures.
And while aging is a wholly natural process, humans have always struggled to fight against it – be it through science and medicine or through the search for supposed cures such as the mythical Fountain of Youth.
And now, Israeli scientists have claimed to have figured out a solution not only to the process of biological aging – but to reverse it as well, simply by administering pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
In a study published Nov. 18 in the peer-reviewed journal Aging, the scientists claim to have showed how aging could be reversed in two key biological clocks in humans related to aging and illness by administering high-pressure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
When humans grow olders and their cells divide, the sequences of DNA at the end of chromosomes – known as telomeres – grow shorter with time. After the telomeres become too short, the cell is unable to replicate and eventually dies.
While telomere shortening can keep rogue cancerous cells from multiplying rapidly, this also results in genetic aging. As a result, geriatric cells that aren’t able to divide – also known as senescent cells – accumulate throughout our lives, and are one of the key causes of aging.
In the clinical study, 35 people aged 64 or older were given hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) for 90 minutes a day, five times a week over the course of three months. Blood samples were collected from subjects prior to the treatment, after after the first and second months of the trial, and two weeks after the trial ended.
The patients didn’t have any lifestyle, diet, or medication changes during the study. However, their blood revealed major increases in the telomere length of their cells and a decrease in the number of their senescent cells.
For the researchers, the results of the study offered proof that the process of aging is reversible.
“Researchers around the world are trying to develop pharmacological and environmental interventions that enable telomere elongation,” Prof. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University told the Jerusalem Post. “Our HBOT protocol was able to achieve this, proving that the aging process can in fact be reversed at the basic cellular-molecular level.”
The groundbreak study, he added, “gives hope and opens the door for a lot of young scientists to target aging as a reversible disease.”
The oxygen treatment also improved subjects’ attention, ability to process information, as well as subjects’ executive functions, the researchers said.
While attempts to halt aging through modifying one’s lifestyle or intensively exercising can provide “some inhibiting effect on telomere shortening”, the hyperbaric oxygen treatment is more effective, said Efrati’s partner at the Shamir Medical Center, Chief Medical Research Officer Amir Hadanny.
“In our study, only three months of HBOT were able to elongate telomeres at rates far beyond any currently available interventions or lifestyle modifications,” Hadanny said.
The study could open the door to a radical new approach to medical problems and medicine in general.
“Today telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging,” Prof. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University told the Jerusalem Post. “We are not [just] slowing the decline – we are going backwards in time.”
‘We Are Going To Have Famines of Biblical Proportions in 2021,’ UN Food Agency Warns
The head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has delivered a stark message to the world: huge populations across the globe are facing severe “famines of biblical proportions” in the near future due to the coronavirus pandemic.
WFP head David Beasley has warned for the past several months that due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and accompanying lockdowns, nations in the developing world are faced with devastating famine and mass starvation unless action is finally taken.
However, with countries in the developed Global North facing their own budget crises and sharp economic downturns due to the ongoing health emergency, funding for the WFP that was previously available to help alleviate hunger and avert global famine won’t be available in 2021.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Beasley noted that his agency’s staffers regularly risk their lives feeding millions of hungry people in refugee camps, conflict zones, and the sites of natural disasters, but the current global crisis makes it important for him to send “a message to the world that it’s getting worse out there … (and) that our hardest work is yet to come.”
In April, Beasley delivered a similarly urgent message to the U.N. Security Council, where he remarked that despite the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic, the world also stood “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could see “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within months if critical action wasn’t taken.
And with the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 being awarded to the World Food Program last month for its vital work providing alleviating mass hunger and boosting food security in conflict zones, Beasley has been struggling to use the win to break through the news cycle and remind people of “the travesty that we’re facing around the world.”
“We were able to avert [famine] in 2020,” Beasley said, adding that the WFP needs further funding or “we are going to have famines of biblical proportions in 2021.”
The agency is currently hoping that it can get an additional $15 billion for the next year to deal with the growing scope of the crisis.
“If I could get that coupled with our normal money, then we avert famine around the world,” he said.
World leaders must be prepared for the looming disaster as well as the critical role the WFP plays. As the organization says: “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos.”
In April, Beasley warned that about 135 million people faced “crisis levels of hunger or worse” in 2020 and that the number could rise by 130 million may be pushed to the brink of starvation by next year. However, on Wednesday he told AP that the number of people facing severe, crisis-level hunger had already risen to 270 million.
He added that three dozen countries could experience critical levels of hunger or famine if the WFP isn’t given the funding it requires.
According to a joint analysis by WFP and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, these countries include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somali, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Yemen.
Researchers: Microbots Will Soon Enter Human Colons to Deliver Medical Payloads
Calling it “rough terrain,” a team of researchers at Purdue University is exploring the insides of a living colon like never before, using microscopic robots the width of a few follicles of hair. Perhaps most incredibly, the anal bots require no batteries and are powered via an external electromagnetic field.
Scientists have long believed the use of microbots (and perhaps someday even nanotechnology) inside the human body could bring about a revolution in medical diagnostic abilities and drug delivery. Mechanical engineers at Purdue believe they have passed a critical first test in this journey by creating tiny robots that are controlled remotely and can efficiently deliver a payload without inflaming any tissue reactions in the notoriously sensitive colonic region.
Biomeedical engineer Luis Solorio described one of the challenges the team faced:
“Moving a robot around the colon is like using the people-walker at an airport to get to a terminal faster. Not only is the floor moving, but also the people around you. In the colon, you have all these fluids and materials that are following along the path, but the robot is moving in the opposite direction. It’s just not an easy voyage.”
Mechanical engineer David Cappelleri, also from Purdue, says the tiny robot is controlled magnetically while being monitored through ultrasound imaging.
“When we apply a rotating external magnetic field to these robots, they rotate just like a car tire would to go over rough terrain. The magnetic field also safely penetrates different types of mediums, which is important for using these robots in the human body.”
So far, the team has experimented only on live anesthetized mice and pig colons. Scaling up could be a challenge, says associate professor Craig Goergen, who points out that while the colon is a good entry point for this type of microscopic robotic research, the terrain can present some tough sledding.
“Moving up to large animals or humans may require dozens of robots, but that also means you can target multiple sites with multiple drug payloads.”
As outlined in the team’s paper, which was published in Micromachines, tests on payload delivery involved the microbots being marked with fluorescein dye in a saline vial; they imitated drug delivery mechanisms by steadily dispatching the dye over a period of time. These tests were conducted outside of the mice and pig colons.
The researchers say the tiny robots are expelled from the body via regular waste elimination. While the research is promising, scientists say coordinating multiple microbots for use inside a human body is still years off. However, the implications for such a procedure are huge.
“From a diagnostic perspective, these microrobots might prevent the need for minimally invasive colonoscopies by helping to collect tissue,” adds Goergen. “Or they could deliver payloads without having to do the prep work that’s needed for traditional colonoscopies.”
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