PT364 – Burning Man, Psychedelic Maturity, and Radical Hope

In this episode, David interviews Jamie Wheal: author of the global bestseller, Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work, and most recently, Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex and Death In a World That’s Lost Its Mind.

Wheal believes that in our current culture, we’ve over-fetishized our feelings and jumped too often at selfish psychedelic insights and short-term novelty instead of real long-term growth and maturity – that one’s constant search for freedom can become a prison in itself. As such, he founded the Flow Genome Project, an organization dedicated to human performance research and training, with a different attitude than we’re used to seeing: in their words, “ecstasis without the crave,” “catharsis without the cringe,” and “communitas without the cults.” 

He discusses Burning Man and what makes it so life-changing for people; the sliding scale of psychedelics and the need to regularly do a hard reset of our brains; neuroplasticity; his issues with virtual reality; what Hanukkah has to do with psychedelics; eschatothesia; permaculture and sustainability; and radical hope- the belief in an unknown future that one commits to nonetheless, even in the face of certain doom.

Notable Quotes

“Burning Man is, I think, arguably the most potent transformation engine ever assembled on this planet. I don’t think at any point in history have you ever had that many people – 70 to 80 thousand humans – gathered together at one time, all so concretely and coherently in a mind-blown and open state.”

“The relentless pursuit of freedom becomes a prison house of its own. So you’re not free; you’re actually incapable of committing to anything of lasting value, and therefore, because you have nothing of lasting value to ballast yourself or to justify sacrificing or trade offs, you’re forever seeking the new and the novel. And that just becomes a hamster wheel straight into the Hell realms. So I would say that the freedom of no escape, the freedom of finding your hill to die, the place to take your stand is a non-negotiable part of manhood.”

“Most of us are seeking fucking sugar high joy: distractions, diversions, novelties, quick fixes. And that’s the wrong kind of joy. That is not going to work. But deep, true, abiding joy – ‘We’re all dead men walking,’ ‘Today is a good day to die,’ [attitude], like Leonidas and Thermopylae …It’s that level of out-of-fucks, non-bargaining commitment that gets us access to the joy on the other side of all the facts.”


Jamie Wheal substack Researchers Share First Findings on Burners’ Transformative Experiences Prosocial correlates of transformative experiences at secular multi-day mass gatherings

Psychedelics Today: Erik Davis – High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, by Tim Wu Eschatology

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation, by Jonathan Lear Talmud “Do not be daunted by the enormity…” quote

Psychedelics Today: Wade Davis – Ayahuasca and a New Hope for Colombia “The Biggest Little Farm”

Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World, by Alan Weisman

Wendell Berry’s “Be joyful though you have considered all the facts” quote

PT363 – Cannabis and Psilocybin: The Complications of Legality Inside an Endless Drug War

In this episode, Joe interviews Reggie Harris: Advisory Board member of Decriminalize Nature and Founder of Oakland Hyphae, which organizes events like the Hyphae Cup (previously the Psilocybin Cup), and performs psilocybin potency testing through Hyphae Labs. 

As Harris is an activist with over a decade of political campaign experience and over a decade in the cannabis industry, this conversation focuses largely on his concerns over the burgeoning psychedelic industry not learning from the mistakes of a failing (at least in California) cannabis industry, as well as one of the key principles of Psychedelics Today: the need to end the drug war immediately and allow the people who got us here to once again live their lives freely. 

He discusses mycology, what a hypha is, and psilocybin potency; how an Eminem song changed his life; why he thinks Oregon is legalizing psilocybin much too quickly; why he thinks we should decriminalize now (and legalize later); the overbearing burden of cannabis industry taxes and how legacy operators are switching to psilocybin; the stories of Kole and Seth Rosenberg; why Mike Tyson is one of the most important influencers in psychedelics; and why “Fuck around and find out” has become a bit of a personal mantra for him and so many others looking to advance our quickly evolving psychedelic space.

Notable Quotes

“I think [that] all we’ve got to do is catch the right politician with drugs, and then the right political parties will start hollering: ‘End the DEA!’ I’m waiting on it. I never thought I’d hear these people start saying ‘Defund the FBI,’ so I think there’s hope.”

“I’d much rather try to hold the wall for a year or two or even five more years and give legacy operators a chance to get their business together, to get their paperwork together, to save up some money, to get their infrastructure together; so that when the wall does come down, they’ve either built something that somebody can buy for a fair price, or they can actually compete. I just want to give people like myself a fair shot at something that they’ve all helped build.”

“I watched a lot of the cultivation decisions being made and crafted and I watched who was making the decisions. I think Oregon is going to be a cautionary tale that the rest of the country uses, again, as to why you don’t want to legalize quickly.”

“You see prices on the street at an all time low, but you still see the people who try to operate within the legalized framework being crushed by being taxed through the nose. You can’t write anything off, you get taxed through the nose, you can’t really bank [any money], you’ve got to pay extra expense because of the nature of your business, and a lot of people make it hard to stand up. It’s funny – as I watch the cannabis industry; in 2018, when they legalized, everybody wanted to play by the rules. Everybody wanted to comply. And so, they cut a lot of the brokers off that they dealt with [and] a lot of relationships were altered because people wanted to go legal. But then when they tried to play around in the legal space for a year, year and a half, and they realized that they were being taxed into oblivion, people opened that back door right on up.”


Hyphae Labs

Oakland Hyphae Substack

Reggie Harris Linktree Can Psychedelics and Capitalism Co-Exist? 3 Things I Learned at the Oakland Psychedelic Conference Hyphae Mycologist with a Microscope: Alan Rockefeller William Padilla Brown Wants To Save The Planet With Mushrooms

YouTube: Eminem- My Fault Breckenridge City Colorado Legalizes Marijuana

Psychedelics Today: PT324 – Amanda Reiman, Ph.D., MSW – Web3, NFTs, Cryptocurrencies, and A Deeper Relationship With Plants OS ep 49 – Kilindi Iyi – The Mushroom and our trans-human future (Joe’s interview with Kilindi Iy from his first podcast) Aaron Rodgers Defends Ayahuasca, Says He May Be ‘Called’ to Take the Psychedelic Again Will Smith Comes Out of the Psychedelic Closet Dave Chappelle’s Marijuana And Psychedelics Parties Don’t Concern Local Sheriff NBA Will Not Randomly Test Players For Marijuana Again This Season Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year We Own The Night

The Cannabis Connection podcast: Dave Hodges- Church of Ambrosia & Zide Door 3/11/2022 Uncle Ben’s Mushroom Tek Guide: Fruiting, Colonization Time & Yield

PT319 – Kole – Activism and Trust: A Cautionary Tale From Someone Who Got Caught

Psychedelics Today: PT351 – Seth Rosenberg – The Trauma In Being Arrested and The Injustice of the Drug War

YouTube: Willy’s World

Psychedelics Today: PT236 – Dr. Carl Hart – Drugs: Honesty, Responsibility, and Logic

Psychedelics Today: PT348 – Steve DeAngelo – Cannabis and Psychedelics: Industry, Consciousness, Justice, and Joy California Cannabis Growers Are Suing the State Over Legal Loophole for Large Marijuana Farms Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022 Colorado Psychedelics Legalization And Psilocybin Therapy Measure Qualifies For November Ballot

Psychedelics Today: Addressing Abuse in Psychedelic Spaces

PT362 – Psychedelic Storytelling: Transforming Out Loud

In this episode, Victoria interviews Cory Firth: Chief Storyteller at the Nikean Foundation, one of the world’s leading charities funding psychedelic research and advancing education.

Rick Doblin has famously said that while the FDA responds to data, it’s stories that most resonate with people, and the current direction of the Nikean Foundation is rooted in that idea – that there is a massive population of “psychedelic seekers” who could likely benefit greatly from the psychedelic experience, but who just need to hear that one special story that inspires them to take the leap towards change. While the efficacy of psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is proven over and over again in study after study, most people don’t connect with that data – it’s the nuance and human connection in personal stories that cut through the “drugs are bad” media bias, and Firth believes that as more people share their transformational tales – who “transform out loud” – society can really change for the better. 

He discusses the value of storytelling in affecting change on multiple levels; the idea of integration as an ongoing practice; the wisdom gained through trauma; and the trust and vulnerability required to be able to share a powerful story. And to practice what they preach, he and Victoria share their own personal stories of healing with the help of psychedelics. We hope they’re stories that someone out there needs to hear.

The Nikean Foundation is aiming to build the largest collection of transformational stories, and they want to hear yours. You can join in by sharing your story at their website, or by sharing the site with a friend. You can submit now, but they officially launch this storytelling project next week, on October 14 at Horizons NYC, where Victoria, Kyle, and David will be! If you haven’t bought a ticket yet, use code PSYCHEDELICSTODAY-NY-17 at checkout to receive 17% off, and when you’re there, come say hello!

Notable Quotes

“Everybody who gets into psychedelics in a transformational way does so because of a friend or a colleague or someone in their family that tells them a story about how they were able to experience them and find some healing potential. …One of the main ways people get into this is through stories. How can we put a little gasoline on that fire and see how it can evolve?”

“You can’t change someone’s mind unless you show them how you changed yours.”

“My goal, eventually, is to have enough stories where someone who’s seeking something can come to the site and see another story of someone who looks like them, in their position – but in the future, where the potential has been reached. They see the potential in themselves. They see the potential of the transformational mechanisms of psychedelics, and they’ve gone through it, and now they see that it’s possible for them.”

Links The Nikean Foundation

Psychedelics Today: PT342 – Spencer Hawkswell – The Right to Psilocybin in Canada: TheraPsil’s Charter Challenge (Tim Ferriss) MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD Psychedelic Integration List- Mental Health Support Practitioners by Location

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, by Michael Pollan Where the Psychedelic Revolution Is Headed, According to the Guy Who (Arguably) Started It (Rick Doblin’s discussed quote is here) Psilocybin Therapy Offered Cancer Patient Thomas Hartle More Than He Could Have Asked For David Nutt’s Drug Harm Ranking scale.

PT361 – Mycology and Evolutionary Genomics

In this episode, Joe interviews Jason Slot, Ph.D.: Associate Professor of Mycology and Evolutionary Genomics at Ohio State University, and founding member and scientific advisor to the Entheome Foundation, which has the goal of publishing 200+ fungal genomes by 2023 – starting with all the psilocybin-producing species.  

Slot talks about evolutionary genomics and his process: how he looks for interesting gene clusters in the genomes of different fungi to hypothesize what these clusters could be responsible for, how different species interact, and how these genes and species have evolved over time. He discusses the state of mycology in 2022 and the booming interest in functional mushrooms; the regulations around psilocybin and how they all relate to the dispensing of mushrooms; the weirdest things he’s seen in the complicated process of mushroom reproduction; substrate supplementation (with different enzymes, tryptophans, or even DMT); and just how much there still is to discover in the world of mushrooms and other possible plant medicines. 

He also discusses illumina high throughput sequencing; tetrapolar mating systems; Paul Stamets’ P-Value scale and the hayflick limit; mushroom parasexuality; horizontal gene transfer; and a lot of other scientific aspects of the unique studies of a mycologist. If you’re interested in psilocybin-producing mushrooms and want to explore mycology more deeply, this episode serves as a great introduction.

Notable Quotes

“It’s a small field, but I think that it’s growing. I think we have a lot more interest coming in because the growth of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms is just ridiculous. It’s a huge industry in the making.”

“I do crazy evolutionary analyses with all the fungal genomes I can get my hands on, and then find something interesting in the evolutionary history, and then I find an organism that’s got that particular gene or gene cluster that I’m interested in. It gives rise to interesting hypotheses.”

“They’re organisms with their own existences. We tend to think of a mushroom as a tool for therapy, or we think of a mushroom as a product or something like that. But these are organisms with their own rights to exist and thrive as they would.”


Ohio State University: Center for Psychedelic Drug Research & Education

Entheome: The Entheogen Genome Project

Psychedelics Today: Brian Pace and Jason Slot – Neurochemical Ecology, and the Evolution of Psilocybin Mushrooms Illumina High Throughput Sequencing Nanopore DNA sequencing Penis Envy Mushrooms Review: The Shocking Truth Behind The World’s Most Psychedelic Shroom Parasexual cycle (Paul Stamets) Biotransformation of tryptamine derivatives in mycelial cultures of Psilocybe Horizontal gene transfer What Is the Stamets P Value® System? Hayflick limit

Convention on Biological Diversity: About the Nagoya Protocol

PT360 – Kanna: Love and Wholeness Through Nature’s Alternative to MDMA

In this episode, Joe interviews Stephanie Wang: Founder and CEO of KA! Empathogenics, which has created the first-ever empathogenic supplement chew with the primary ingredient of kanna. 

Similar to our exploration of kratom with Oliver Grundmann, Ph.D., this episode dives deep into a plant rarely talked about in psychedelic circles: kanna (or Sceletium tortuosum), a succulent native to South Africa. As a natural serotonin reuptake inhibitor and serotonin releasing agent, kanna’s effects sound very similar to those of MDMA (heart-opening, feeling surrounded by love and wanting to connect, an increase in energy, hunger suppression), but with a lot more: sleep improvement, a decrease in gut inflammation, increased focus and awareness, and a feeling of brain recalibration and true homeostasis (and it’s legal!). KA!’s first product is their kanna chew: a healthy, pH-neutral snack with no sugar, preservatives, caffeine, or artificial sweeteners, made with the intention to “restore full spectrum aliveness for all human beings.” 

Wang breaks down the science behind why kanna works, its history with the Khoisan people of South Africa, her first kanna plant ceremony, contraindications and what pairs well with it, how you should take it and how long it can last, and why she chose KA! as the name for her company. She and Joe also talk about their shared past with Evolver, the complexity in the simple question: “How are you?”, the care needed when making comparisons, society’s move towards self-directed healing and more natural foods, and the question of whether or not every modern culture is truly ready for psychedelics and natural plant medicines.

Notable Quotes

“It was amazing to experience kanna in a ceremonial setting where it was incredibly expansive and heart-opening. That’s literally how it feels: You just feel this oneness and you feel enormous love. You feel everything around you is love, everyone is love. And what it also had an effect on is how we were relating to each other in that setting. So imagine that you’re in a place where nothing matters. Nobody cares what you look like, where you came from, what job you have, how much money you make, what social strata [you’re in]; nobody cares. All you care about is meeting each other in that heart-centered space, in a very human and intimate space.”

“One out of five Americans (at least) suffer from some kind of mental health issue. …[Something] you talk about a lot in your show is this wholeness: we are far more than just our minds. We are bodies, we are hearts, we are spirit as well. So really looking at that as a whole is tremendously important, and kanna is one of those amazing plants that starts to connect you to that understanding.”

“What we look for a lot, in terms of our own healing, is in nature already. And instead of trying to tease out, ‘Okay, here’s the active component and let’s just isolate this, patent this, etc. and then make a drug, and then…’ – that’s, to me, an old model, actually. And what happens is then… the wholeness is lost. …There’s a reason why this particular plant evolved this way and has all these properties.”

Links (KA Empathogenics)

Facebook: Evolver Boston (for a piece of Joe’s history) Khoisan people Lost Khoisan Tribe (and kanna usage)

Psychedelics Today: The Intertwined Prohibitionist Histories of Psychedelics and Kratom This Legal Supplement Made Me Roll Like I’d Taken MDMA

NIDA: What are MDMA’s effects on the brain? Revised estimates for the number of human and bacteria cells in the body What is kA rating?

PT359 – Art, Philosophy, Sexuality, and “Psychedelics Tonight”

In this episode, Joe interviews Sawyer Hurwitz: filmmaker, producer, editor, and augmented reality collage artist who releases animated art under the name, “Psychotronic Solutions.”

He is also the director and lead editor of something we’re quite proud of here at Psychedelics Today: our new TV show, “Psychedelics Tonight”; a series of 30-minute episodes hosted by Joe and Kyle exploring lesser-explored psychedelic compounds, presented through ALTRD.TV. Episode 1, “Investigating Iboga – The African Plant with Sacred Roots,” premiered last night, and a new episode will air each Monday through October at 6 p.m. PST. Since this podcast was recorded while the show was still being filmed, they don’t go into it much, but we will be having more in-depth discussion after season 1 finishes, and want to know what you think! To watch for free, click the link in our bio or head to ALTRD.TV and search for Psychedelics Tonight. 

Hurwitz discusses his past of feeling almost addicted to LSD exploration; his art and how LSD helped him overcome the classic artist’s restrictive “I’m not good enough” paradigm; Sarajoy Marsh’s Trauma-informed, Brain-sensitive Yoga being used in prisons to essentially create wellness communities; psychedelics and creativity; Nietzsche’s notion of Apollonian and Dionysian forces; entropy and negentropy; the relationship between psychological unwinding and sexuality and his realization (during a psychedelic experience) that he was queer; and how artists can differentiate themselves in a world where art is more readily available than ever.

Notable Quotes

“[LSD] helped me relinquish the idea that I am creating and that I am anything, and instead, just succumb to the process and engage with the medium in the way that one would a lover. And again, maybe that’s too heady or silly, but just being present with the art is what I think allows it to reach its fullest blossom, and just trusting the fact that I’m doing the best I can.” 

“I think that love on a spectrum and sexuality on a spectrum is so much more chaotic than the firm binary that we’ve put [faith] into for so long. And again, if psychedelics are something that open up your perspectives, it allows you to sort of break models that you’ve been born into and raised with. And for a lot of people, that’s discovering that their experience (wherever it falls on that spectrum) is maybe outside of what we’ve been calling the norm for a long time, as opposed to necessarily what is the norm. I suspect that the norm is that the experience of love and sexuality is so, so, so, so much more diverse than we’ve been characterizing it as for a very long time.” 

“I think that a lot of the drive for art comes from a need to communicate love and connection, and in a lot of ways, that connection is the experience of God. And I think that, in a sense, art comes from almost a divine place in that regard, and psychedelics are also a tool for us experiencing that. Again, I’m not a religious person by any means, but psychedelic experiences are often spiritual experiences, and I think it’s because they touch on the same thing: what it means to live in oneness with the world.” 


Psychedelics Tonight

Instagram: @psychotronicsolutions

Psychedelics Today: PT311 – William Leonard Pickard – LSD, Fentanyl, Prison, and the Greatest Gift of All: The Natural Mind Trauma-informed, brain-sensitive yoga training

Be Here Now, by Ram Dass

The Way of the Psychonaut Vol. 2: Encyclopedia for Inner Journeys, by Stanislav Grof, MD, PhD

YouTube: Let’s Talk: Psychedelics and Queer Identity (a Psychedelics Today webinar) Eros and Thanatos: Freud’s two fundamental drives

The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche Negentropy

Screenshot from the opening of the animation, “Weird Trip.” Check out the full piece and more at

PT358 – Contexts of Use: Exploring the Various Paradigms of Psychedelics

In this episode, Kyle interviews Clinical Psychologist, past guest, and Founder of the Psychedelic Society of Vermont, Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D.

This episode was recorded live in front of a small audience at the Railyard Apothecary in Burlington, VT, shortly after the Psychedelic Science & Spirituality Summit, which Joe and Kyle attended (hosted by Barnett’s Psychedelic Society of Vermont). They reflect a bit on the conference (perhaps the best one Kyle has attended) and Kyle’s history in Vermont, but most of their conversation revolves around exploring  the various contexts of use around psychedelics – how our current paradigm of a heavy focus on medicalization and treatment of disorders misses a huge portion of real-world use: self-improvement, ceremonial, celebratory/recreational, and to even help with addictions. 

They discuss MAPS and MDMA use for PTSD; psilocybin for end-of-life depression and alcohol use disorder; ibogaine for getting off opiates; Chris Bache, high dose LSD sessions, and preparing for death; how dietas are better preparation for an experience than what most studies call for; Jon Dennis’ fight for religious use of psychedelics; decriminalization vs. legalization; how psychedelics helped Barnett connect with the spiritual and communal aspect of 12-step programs; the beauty and pitfalls of celebratory/recreational use; and how there’s really no wrong door when it comes to how one uses psychedelics (as long as it’s safe and respectful).

For regular listeners, this episode may be a bit introductory, but it may also be a great episode to share with your friends who are starting to become interested in this exciting new world. Do you want to attend a live recording and ask the guest questions? Keep an eye on our events page for the next one!

Notable Quotes

“How do we integrate the science that’s happening (the research) with what’s already happening out there in communities? There are people using psychedelics in ceremonial use, [for] celebration, [and] for recreation, and I want to integrate it all, because there’s no wrong door here, I think.”

“That’s a highlight for me: how psychedelics can change our minds; not so much in terms of treating depression or PTSD or addiction, but really challenging us to see ourselves and the world differently, whether we have a psychiatric condition or not.”

“I think we need to embrace all paths, and that’s why I also think decriminalization may not go far enough for some people. That’s an argument out there. I believe in decriminalization, I believe in legalization. Again, there’s no wrong door here. We can medicalize, we can decriminalize, we can legalize, ‘recreationalize,’ buy LSD in Walmart, whatever. I think that having the broadest mind possible and recognizing that there are potential benefits and keeping safety top of mind [is key].”

“I was lucky enough to get really sick from alcohol and wind up in the hospital and eventually wind up in rehab. And I’ve said this publicly before: I don’t think I would have been receptive to the message of recovery in a 12-step based program, which has a lot of spiritually associated with it and there’s a tremendous amount of fellowship and community that comes with 12-step programs. And I had a sense of that because of my LSD use before I got sober. So coming into recovery knowing what I knew, having experienced what I experienced; it was a little bit easier for me to be receptive to that community, that fellowship, that message of spirituality, of surrender, of honesty and openness, willingness – all the principles in a 12-step program.”

Links Psychedelics Tonight

Psychedelics Today: PT326– Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D – Addiction, Recovery, and Competency in Psychedelic Therapy

Psychedelics Today: Kyle and Joe – Contexts of Psychedelic Use

The Psychedelic Renaissance: Reassessing the Role of Psychedelic Drugs in 21st Century Psychiatry and Society, by Dr. Ben Sessa

Psychedelics Today: PT229 – Dr. Matthew Johnson – What is Consciousness? MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD

Pubmed: Why MDMA therapy for alcohol use disorder? And why now? Ibogaine

Psychedelics Today: PT294 – Andrew Tatarsky, Ph.D. & Juliana Mulligan – Vital Psychedelic Conversations (good episode about ibogaine) Hallucinogenic Drug Psilocybin Eases Existential Anxiety in People With Life-Threatening Cancer Magic mushroom compound performs as well as antidepressant in small study Comorbid Patterns with Alcohol Use Disorders research After Six-Decade Hiatus, Experimental Psychedelic Therapy Returns to the V.A. Psychedelics and Eating Disorders A New Way To Quit? Psychedelic Therapy Offers Promise For Smoking Cessation Johns Hopkins Receives Grant for Psilocybin Research in Smoking Cessation

Psychedelics Today: Chris Bache – LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven

LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven, by Christopher M. Bache

Psychedelics Today: PT293 – Stanislav & Brigitte Grof – The Evolution of Breathwork and The Psychology of the Future

LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research Into Realms of the Human Unconscious, by Stanislav Grof Vermont Governor Vetoes Bill On Safe Drug Consumption Sites And Harm Reduction

Psychedelics Today: Oregon, Measure 109, and Community Access: The Final Vote H.R.1308 – Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993

The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries, by R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck Mescaline

Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic, by Mike Jay Bill Wilson, LSD and the Secret Psychedelic History of Alcoholics Anonymous

A picture of Kyle and Dr. Barnett from the live event

PT357 – Precision Psychiatry, Ketabon, and The Stress Response System

In this episode, David interviews drug developer, clinical psychiatrist, and Chief Medical Officer at HMNC Brain Health; Dr. Hans Eriksson. 

Eriksson discusses the complexity of the human brain and his fascination with the ability for simple biological interventions to affect really profound disorders – that while psychotherapy and community can have a major effect, sometimes a simple chemical can fix everything. HMNC Brain Health is currently in Phase 2 trials for Ketabon, a ketamine-esque prolonged-release oral capsule which early studies show does not include any dissociation – something a lot of people do not want. And, as a lot of current medicine is guess work, they have also created a blood test (and are working on other predictive diagnostic tests) to identify specific common markers to show who will most likely respond to specific interventions. This work is firmly rooted in the idea of precision psychiatry, with the theory that there will be far fewer patients with treatment-resistant depression if their physicians are able to see which treatments will actually work for them ahead of time. 

He fully explains the stress response system and Vasopressin system, discussing the likely links between stress response dysfunction and depression; and goes into much more: his thoughts on Compass Pathways’ phase 2 data; the famous Escitalopram vs. psilocybin study; how much of progress can be attributed to psychotherapy vs. the compound itself; why it makes sense to study a new compound on top of SSRIs rather than on its own; AI and machine learning; and how science is truly beginning to come to terms with the fact that all systems in the body are connected.

Notable Quotes

“I was really fascinated by the understanding that on one level, this extremely complex system of the human brain (probably the most complex system in the known universe) can find some of the explanations regarding its functioning in chemicals [and] in compounds of different sorts interacting with targets, receptors, transporters, etc.; and that this can have a profound effect on how we feel and think. And this link between, on one hand, basic biology, and on the other hand, this complex emotional world that is being a human, is so fascinating.”

“If someone comes into the hospital after a car accident and needs a blood transfusion, no one would ever think the thought that: ‘We take any blood we have in storage.’ They would check what blood [type] you have. …But still, in psychiatry, when someone comes in with a severe depression, we hand out an SSRI typically as the first-line treatment. But think: if you could have a tool that could say, ‘Okay, but you belong to the 30% that has a very good likelihood of responding very well to a medicine that corrects your stress response system,’ that could lead to [a] much shorter path from the interaction with the healthcare [provider] to actually overcoming the depression.”

“One area that I expect to be developing quite a lot in [the] coming years is to understand how the brain is affected by things that are ongoing in other parts of our bodies; for instance, things such as peripheral inflammation: Does that affect the brain? The composition of the gut microbiome in our guts: What effect does that have on the brain? I think we are probably moving into an era where we see the brain not only as an isolated world swimming around in the cerebrospinal fluid protected by the blood-brain barrier, but actually as more of a dynamic part in our bodies.”

Links COMPASS Pathways announces further positive results from groundbreaking phase IIb trial of investigational COMP360 psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression Trial of Psilocybin versus Escitalopram for Depression

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry

Psychedelics Today: Amanda Feilding – The Beckley Foundation: Changing Minds through Psychedelic Research The Vasopressin System: Physiology and Clinical Strategies

YouTube: Amanda Feilding on Trepanation The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life

PT356 – Investing in Psychedelics and The Rush to Improve on the Classics

In this episode, Joe interviews Brom Rector: podcaster and founder of Empath Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in psychedelic medicine startups.

Rector talks about which companies he sees succeeding, which companies are set up to fail, which he is investing in, and why the current crash in psychedelic business (where everything was once over-hyped and now we’re being overly skeptical) is a good thing. He believes that with the current focus on medicalization, the psychedelic community is being ignorant over just how big of an industry will exist outside of that paradigm, and finds it interesting how many people are focused on creating new compounds: How can anyone really improve on the classic psychedelics? 

Other than a focus on the business side of psychedelics, this was recorded in-person, and the conversation goes to a lot of other places: the theory of psychedelics damaging heart valves; the connection between Oprah, MDMA, and Mormons in UTAH; Xanax as a psychedelic security blanket; why so many psychedelic-friendly people love microdosing but have never had a deep experience; logical positivism and why “evidence-based” sounds pretentious; the DSM-5; Colorado Initiative 58; the power in branding and the emergence of high-end packaging; Mike Tyson; Compass Pathways; Christian Angermayer’s leaked memo; ibogaine; Dr. Zee and the next generation of Shulgins, other ways of knowing; and much, much more (just look at how many links there are). 

Notable Quotes

“The tech, future-y, optimist version of me that likes the idea of progress and experimentation at all costs loves it, but it’s also like: mushrooms have been around for like 2,000 years. In business, in order to succeed, you need to improve on something, and usually not just an incremental improvement either – you need to make a big improvement, otherwise no one really cares. Can you imagine what a 10x improvement over psilocybin would be? I can’t really imagine that.”

“You see all these …sketchy Canadian companies, and a lot of them are just making the slightest modifications to these molecules, calling them something new, sending out a bunch of press releases, raising money for investors; and is that – this bullshit thing started by this random company, going to replace psilocybin? I don’t think so.” 

“I’ve heard a lot of different companies talking about trip-stoppers as a big business plan, and I don’t know, dude. It’s interesting; the thing to me (and this is just my personal gut reaction about this) is in my experience, the moments immediately following when I thought I wanted the trip to stop is when I learned the lesson.”

“I think that they may realize eventually that this IP stuff may be helpful for them to achieve dominance in the pharma space, but it’s not going to prevent people from growing their own mushrooms, [or] people from seeking decriminalized care under Measure 109 or [in] Denver. …People are just kind of being willfully ignorant of how big this non-FDA market for psychedelics is going to be, I think. And maybe the people at Atai think that they can stop it by lobbying or something, but I don’t think they think they can do that. The people are going to speak, and the people want shrooms.” 


Apple podcasts: ”Brom Podcast” (formerly “The Integration Conversation”

Brom Podcast: 35: Sam Banister – The Art and Science of Designing Novel Psychedelic Compounds

Psylo: Psychedelic-inspired medicine to treat mental illness Do Psychedelics Carry A Heart Risk? Is MDMA Neurotoxic? Numinus to Acquire Novamind, Creating the North American Industry Leader in Psychedelic Therapy and Research Psychedelic Bulletin: MINDCURE – A Canary in the Psychedelic Coal Mine?

Psychedelics Today: PT233 – JR Rahn of MindMed – LSD, ADHD, and Decriminalization

Psychedelics Today: The Teafaerie – Psychedelic Emergenc(y), Shamanism, 5-MeO-DMT and more! Drugs and the Meaning of Life

YouTube: Alex Jones – Magellan is a lot cooler than Justin Bieber Logical positivism Election 2022: Colorado psychedelic legalization and decriminalization guide

Twitter: Zeus’ post (LSD atomizer, not a DMT pen)

Apple Podcasts: Hotboxin With Mike Tyson

Psychedelics Today: PT351 – Seth Rosenberg – The Trauma In Being Arrested and The Injustice of the Drug War Legal status of ibogaine by country

Twitter: Depressed panda meme

YouTube: Linton Kwesi Johnson – Inglan Is a Bitch

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, by Michael Pollan Investors Are Debating Who Should Own the Future of Psychedelics

Psychedelics Today: PTSF 41 (with Mendel Kaelen of Wavepaths)

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (Vol. 1 & 2): 50 Years of Research, Edited by Dennis McKenna

The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications, by Christian Rätsch