A new Psilocybin producing bacteria
According to a recently published report of a study conducted at the Miami University in Ohio, researchers have successfully engineered a bacterial strain that can produce large amounts of psilocybin.
Psilocybin is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the United States federal government. This means the drug is illegal to possess and not regarded to have any medical benefits or uses. Psilocybin is considered to have a high potential for abuse, which is in contrast to anecdotal evidence from users.
However, an increasing number of research studies and anecdotal reports are showing that the drug can help those with depression and PTSD. Several researchers are also known to be working on ways to enhance its mind-altering effects to mitigate various mental illnesses. In other words, it is now emerging that psilocybin does have medical benefits contrary to its classification as a Schedule 1 drug.
So the news that a special bacterial strain has been made with the ability to produce large amounts of psilocybin is really good news, especially for scientists. More psilocybin means scientists can conduct more or larger experiments to reveal more about the medical benefits of psilocybin. It also means they are now closer to the possibility of mass-producing psilocybin drugs in the future for treating various conditions.
Previously, researchers used to get psilocybin from psilocybin mushrooms aka magic mushrooms. The quantities they used to get were relatively small compared to what the newly engineered bacteria can now produce.
The researchers involved in the Miami University study, who include professors and students majoring in biological and chemical engineering, produced the new strain of psilocybin-making bacteria by introducing magic mushroom DNA into the DNA of E. Coli bacteria. They used the same genetic engineering process used to make bacteria produce silk, biofuels, and insulin.
According to the researchers, the engineered bacterial strain, which they baptized pPsilo16, can produce 1.16 grams of the compound per liter of culture media. This quantity is more than what any other genetically engineered organism can produce. The pPsilo16 bacteria produces the psilocybin as a waste product since it does not need it to survive. The waste product can then be easily be separated from the media for use.
The researchers are now embarking on improving the bacterial strain to make it a more efficient producer of psilocybin. They are, however, also trying to tone down the excitement generated by their work. They are saying the technology will take some time to further develop, and that it may be a while before the industrial production of the drug becomes a reality.
Nevertheless, what they have done is still commendable and has demonstrated that in case regulations are relaxed, it is feasible to produce psilocybin in such a way that it becomes available for wide medical and recreational use.
Although this is a landmark research study, it is important to note that this team of researchers is not the first team in the world to make bacteria produce psilocybin in the lab. A team of researchers at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) did it in 2017. They did it by isolating the enzymes that produce the drug in magic mushrooms, and engineering bacteria and fungi to test if they really were the right enzymes. Having proven the enzymes were the right ones, they developed a “recipe” that can be utilized for the industrial production of the substance. So this new study by Miami University scientists is more of an improvement of what has already been done. And it serves to show that more scientists are becoming interested in psilocybin and its capabilities, which is good news for everyone especially those with mental illnesses.
What exactly is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a powerful psychedelic compound that occurs naturally in a special strain of mushrooms known as psilocybin mushrooms. The mushrooms are also known as magic mushrooms in some quarters because of the psychedelic or trippy experiences they trigger e.g. euphoria, altered consciousness and changes in perception.
Psilocybin is classified as a psychedelic drug because of its powerful mind-altering effects. It is in the same class of drugs as LSD, DMT, and mescaline. And it goes by many names in the streets including agaric, Amani, liberties, liberty caps, golden tops, blue meanies, mushies, and shrooms.
Legally, its use is restricted in quite a number of Western countries including the US as mentioned earlier. However, according to many reliable publications and news reports, the laws against the psilocybin are largely unenforced.
Although the compound exists naturally and was initially only available as a crude extract of magic mushrooms, it was successfully isolated in 1959 by a now-renowned chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann. It is now available in many forms.
The Known Benefits of Psilocybin
In many wellness centers, especially in countries where psilocybin is legal, magic mushrooms are replacing ayahuasca and marijuana as the go-to medium for mental wellness. This is because more and more people are just beginning to discover its powerful euphoric and mind-revealing effects.
Since time immemorial, magic mushrooms have been used for spiritual purposes by various cultures around the world. They were primarily used as spiritual sacraments because consuming them was thought to transport users to a new dimension. Studies such as this one conducted by Harvard researchers have proven that the use of psilocybin significantly increases religious experiences. Many societies that have preserved their traditions still use psilocybin mushrooms alongside other compounds for spiritual purposes.
Nowadays, magic mushrooms are mostly used by young people to provide euphoria. Many who use them have reported higher consciousness, out-of-this-world euphoria, and mystical experiences. Sometimes the substance is used alone, while other times it is combined with other substances to enhance its or their effects.
Researchers also now recommending the use of the compound for PTSD, anxiety, and depression. This is because several studies and a growing number of anecdotal reports have shown that psilocybin can help to stop PTSD events, and can alleviate even treatment-resistant depression.
The Side Effects of Using It
Even though psilocybin is becoming increasingly popular around the world, like many other drugs, it comes with side effects. Some of the known side effects, particularly related to taking too much of it, include psychosis, hallucinations, panic, paranoia, nervousness, anxiety attacks, and nervousness.
When combined with other drugs such as alcohol, it could trigger panic reactions that could, in turn, result in suicide or self-injury.
Other Compounds That Provide Similar Experiences to Psilocybin
In case you are interested in getting the same kind of mind-revealing and euphoric experiences as those produced by magic mushrooms, you should check out our store. We’ve got a wide range of herbal incense and C-liquid products that can produce fantastic experiences. Try them to discover what you’ve been missing.
Obviously psilocybin can still be harvested from mushrooms, we talk about the legality of psilocybin mushrooms and magic mushroom growing kits in a previous article that you can find on the Flight AMS blog.