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The Emerging Science of Psychedelic Therapies for Our Wellbeing

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Psychedelic Therapies
PHOTO | Martina
Eaze

This month, the city of Dever Colorado made the landmark decision to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. It’s the first U.S. city to do so. More famously known as “magic mushrooms” these intoxicating yet non-addictive fungi grow naturally throughout most of the United States. And yet, psilocybin and psilocin have been illegal in the country since 1969, when the use of psychedelic drugs became widespread in consumer culture.

In Denver, the initiative to decriminalize passed with a narrow margin—50.6 percent of voters approved the bill. Dubbed Initiative 301, the bill makes the personal possession of magic mushrooms among those 21 and older one of the lowest law enforcement priorities. The bill also prevents city authorities from spending money on resources dedicated to prosecuting or pursuing criminal charges against adults who possess or consume the mushrooms.

The recent change not only makes Denver the most psychedelic-friendly city in the United States, but it also represents a major shift in cultural, political, and even medicinal views on mind-altering plants and other natural products. Westerners have found themselves amidst a revived psychedelic therapies renaissance, a renaissance supported by a new wave of scientific research.

A New Psychedelic Renaissance (Yet Again)

This unique time period in Western culture has recently been dubbed the second psychedelic renaissance. All jokes comparing modern-day millennials and free-loving hippies aside, the “second psychedelic renaissance” is, in reality, far from the second. Back in the 1960s and 70s, psychedelics were first introduced to a consumer-focused capitalist culture. Yet, the use of mind-altering plants and periods of intense social drug consumption have dotted history books for generations.

Take, for example, the mid-1800s when European elites had their first taste of hashish. The habit was originally picked up by French soldiers in Egypt, who brought the compressed cannabis resin home with them after the French invasions led by Napoleon Bonaparte. The almost hallucinogenic experiences the hashish provided lead to a slight cultural obsession with hallucinogens among those who could afford the substances, and novelists like the great popularized the hallucinogenic experience through their writings.

As early as 1729, Chinese Emperor Yung Chen issued the first rulings criminalizing the recreational use of opium. While opium is not a hallucinogen, a growing culture of recreational drug use and addiction originally propagated by Portuguese imports of the plant into China inspired Chinese leadership to continue to crack down on opium trade over the next three centuries. It is important to mention, however, that unlike psychedelic drugs, narcotics such as opium come with a high risk of addiction.

These are simply examples from the last three hundred years. And yet, if archeological evidence is any indication, human civilizations across the globe have always had some sort of relationship with psychoactive substances — just recently, archeological researchers in Bolivia found evidence of a 1,000-year-old pouch that contained traces of five different psychoactive plants.

The tradition of medical cannabis consumption in China is thought to date as far back as 2,737 BC when mystical Emporer Shen-Neng is believed to have introduced cannabis and many other plants into medical practice. Shen-Neng is believed to be the father of traditional Chinese medicine, although the medicinal uses of cannabis in China were not recorded until the first or second century A.D.

More recently, however, this old tradition has been reintroduced to Western scientific practice. After medical researchers took a brief hiatus from psychedelic research during the late 70s, through the early 90s, psychiatrists and other medical professionals are once again exploring the opportunities of these unusual and transformative therapies.

For the city of Denver, greater tolerance for psilocybin may provide the first of many long steps toward decreasing barriers for researchers and other psychedelic proponents who hope to develop the medical and spiritual legitimacy of the psychoactive experience.

The Vast Potential of Psychedelic Therapies

The most profound implications of psychedelic medicine lie in the arena of mental health. In 2016, the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans provided glimpses into the brain on LSD. Colloquially known as “acid”, LSD is considered a classical psychedelic capable of radically altering cognition and cultivating feelings of harmony and oneness with the universe.

When put under the MRI machine, the brains of those on LSD did something magnificent — they lit up, nearly all the way up. Normally, when the human brain processes visual imagery, very specific regions of the brain activate. These regions are the visual cortex and the visual association areas that normally process information taken in by the eyes.

After an injection of LSD, however, brain scans revealed that networks across the entire organ were activated, linking portions of the brain that do not typically fire together. The psychoactive truly inspired a whole-brain experience. According to the leading scientists on the experiment, those that were given LSD were “seeing with their eyes shut.”

Brain scans of the effects of psilocybin extracted from mushrooms have made similar findings. In 2014, research published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface used functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) to map the effects of the psychoactive substance on communication pathways between various processing networks in the brain.

Similar to the LSD study, the brains of patients given psilocybin were extra-active. The psychotropic compound caused a marked increase in connections between various networks, transforming normal pathways into a super-highway system with dense web-like construction.

Psychedelics, it would seem, encourage a unique explosion of brain activity that links up previously remote pockets of the mind. This mind-melting may have long-lasting positive effects to boot—research suggests that the “mystical-type” experiences inspired by psilocybin provided some of the most meaningful moments of spiritual significance in the lives of study participants.

Depression

Some of the most groundbreaking research in psychedelic therapies are occurring in the arena of depression. A handful of trials have examined the potential of psychotropic therapies in depression in patients with life-threatening illnesses, yet hallucinogenic therapies may be useful in treatment-resistant depression as well.

In 2017, for example, researchers from Imperial College London found that psilocybin seemed to press the brain “reset” button in patients with clinical depression. The study found that after taking the psychedelic, activation of brain regions responsible for fear and anxiety became less active. Further, the brain’s “default mode”, so to speak, became more stable after treatment.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Back in 2006, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that psilocybin was effective in reducing the acute symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The study, however, only included nine total participants. More recently, however, a clinical trial of psilocybin for OCD is underway at Yale University and the Heffter Research Institute. The trial contains 30 active participants, although the final results will not be published until 2022.

Addiction

Research from 2014 and 2015 tested the effects of psilocybin therapies in patients suffering from tobacco and alcohol addiction. The studies, which were conducted as proof-of-concept trials, found that treatment with the psychoactive compound decreased cravings for alcohol and nicotine for several months after administration. Alcohol cravings were reduced for up to 36 weeks after a psilocybin treatment. Tobacco cravings were also significantly diminished after six months of treatment.

End-of-Life Psychological Distress and Anxiety

Several human studies on psilocybin have been conducted in patients with depression and anxiety associated with life-threatening cancer diagnoses. In one 2016 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, psilocybin inspired positive changes in mood, depression, and anxiety levels in cancer patients six months after treatment with the psychoactive. An improved mood, however, wasn’t the only benefit reported by the patients. 80 percent of study participants also reported improvements in quality of life, spiritual satisfaction, and improved life meaning.

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Culture

Maximize Your Dry January Enjoyment With Daytrip CBD Beverages

Daytrip has developed a range of natural, premium CBD beverages that delight the senses and open the mind to new possibilities.

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PHOTOS | Daytrip

Do you feel like you overindulged over the holiday season? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. After all the festivities of the Christmas and New Year’s period, some people decide to commit to a month of sobriety, otherwise known as ‘Dry January.’

Researchers at the University of Sussex have been studying Dry January since 2014. They have discovered that participants can expect to have better health – and a healthier bank balance.

But fear not! Dry January doesn’t mean forgoing all things deliciously effervescent. In fact, why not use this opportunity to embark on a new facet of your wellness journey by swapping out sugary sodas with sugar-free CBD beverages.

Daytrip craft natural, premium 100% water-soluble CBD drinks that absorb quickly into the body to maximize the cannabinoid’s bioavailability. CBD is an oil-based product, so when the technology doesn’t create a fully water-soluble CBD, the end product can’t effectively absorb into the body.

For this reason, Daytrip is different from other CBD drink options. The company has developed proprietary Foliole Nexus Technology, leveraging high-frequency energy to minimize the hemp-derived CBD’s particle size, enabling the cannabinoid to provide a near-instant effect and deliver consistent results.

Then, they infuse CBD into sparkling water and a botanical terpene profile to create four delicious flavors — cherry, coconut pineapple, lemon lime and tangerine — that can be used to create CBD cocktails that promote a happy effervescent feeling.

The Daytripper

  • 3/4 cup lemon lime Daytrip CBD sparkling water
  • Ginger – muddled
  • ¼ cup peach nectar
  • 1 lemon wedge

Combine all ingredients in a glass and garnish with lemon and a ginger shaving.

The Daytripper

The Bubbly Brunch

  • 1/2 cup Tangerine Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 TBSP elderflower syrup
  • 1 lime wedge squeezed into glass

Combine all ingredients in a glass.

The Fiesta

  • 2 oz Cherry Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
  • 5 oz tequila
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice

Combine all ingredients in a glass and garnish with cherries and orange slices.

The Fiesta

Endless Summer

  • ½ can Coconut Pineapple Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
  • 1 shot clear rum
  • 2 slices of fresh pineapple Ice

Muddle one slice of pineapple and pour in Daytrip Coconut Pineapple, rum and ice. Garnish with the second pineapple slice

Firmly rooted in California culture, Daytrip embraces all that the Golden State represents; getting away from the grind and sharing good vibes.

Whether you’re at the beach, on the slopes, or simply in your own back yard, Daytrip wants to help you maximize your enjoyment.

Use code DRYJAN to save 20% off your purchase.

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The K.Haring Collection Is the Embodiment of Functional Art

The new K.Haring Collection is the epitome of his artistic style — vibrant yet sophisticated, stylish yet accessible and extremely enjoyable. 

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K.Haring Collection
PHOTOS | K. Haring Collection

Keith Haring is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of the 1980s. His graffiti-inspired artwork depicted simplified people, barking dogs and flying saucers worked into tightly arranged patterns. He drew inspiration from popular culture that surrounded him in New York City and beyond, his work could be found in all its bright, graphic glory in the streets, in clubs and the subway.

So it makes perfect sense then that the new K.Haring Collection is the epitome of his artistic style — vibrant yet sophisticated, stylish yet accessible and extremely enjoyable.

“The art world has long had an intertwined relationship with cannabis and has in many ways been instrumental in the advancement of the industry,” said Sasha Kadey, Chief Marketing Officer of Greenlane and Creative Director for the K.Haring Collection.

“The K.Haring Collection will help our mission to destigmatize and elevate the cannabis experience.”

The ten-piece collection is being released through Greenlane Holdings Inc and includes some of Haring’s most recognizable work in four colorways. It includes all of the essentials for an elevated smoking experience: bubblers, rigs, water pipes, tasters, spoon pipes, glass trays, and catchalls. A collaboration with BiC completes the collection with eight distinct lighters in bold hues that feature a range of the artist’s dynamic designs.

Peep the full collection below.

K.Haring Tray, $60

K.Haring Collection

K.Haring Spoon, $50

K.Haring Rig, $180

K.Haring Collection

K.Haring Bubbler, $120

K.Haring Water Pipe, $220

K.Haring Collection

K.Haring Taster, $30

K.Haring Angel Catchall, $60

BiC collaboration

The K.Haring Collection is available now from haringglass.com.

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BigMike & Humanity Heroes Help Los Angeles’ Homeless on Skid Row

Humanity Heroes is the non-profit started by BigMike Straumietis, founder and CEO of Advanced Nutrients, to help society’s most vulnerable.

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Humanity Heroes
PHOTO | Casey Rodgers/AP Images for Advanced Nutrients

The coach doors opened onto a filthy street. It was a sensory overload of sights, sounds and above all else, smells. This was my first visit to Skid Row, a neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles, whose homeless residents have found themselves marginalized by society.

It wasn’t where I had expected to find myself the weekend before Christmas. The week before, I had interviewed BigMike Straumietis, founder and CEO of Advanced Nutrients, at MJBiz in Las Vegas, during which he spoke passionately about his non-profit charity, Humanity Heroes. When it transpired I would fortuitously be in L.A. on 12/21, I jumped at the chance to help.

BigMike launched his initial organization, Holiday Heroes, in 2016. This year, as a sign of BigMike’s commitment to helping those that need it most, Holiday Heroes has grown and expanded into Humanity Heroes, creating a year-long effort to help the vulnerable instead of only once a year at Christmas.

It has the same ethos and mission: to help cultivate sustainable communities by providing them with the tools necessary to strengthen their foundations and propel them toward lasting change.

“Holiday Heroes was very limiting, so we thought we’d change it to Humanity Heroes,” BigMike told me as we handed out backpacks. “It opened up a lot more versatility for us to help. The goal of Humanity Heroes is to grow it as big as we possibly can, to help people who need it and give back to society.”

BigMike hands out backpacks to some of society’s most vulnerable on Skid Row. PHOTO | Casey Rodgers/AP Images for Advanced Nutrients

I have followed the successful businessman’s philanthropic passion project for years and admired the generosity and humanitarian nature of the work BigMike does for the community. For the last four years, BigMike and his team head to Skid Row to hand out backpacks stuffed with things like blankets, gloves and toiletries. To date, the organization has donated more than $450K in nonperishable items — packaged in over 5,000 backpacks — to the Los Angeles homeless community. My husband and some of our friends joined volunteers from Advanced Nutrients and My Friend’s House Foundation to hand out food, coffee, clothing and conversation to the residents of Skid Row.

“It’s helped the homeless down here on Skid Row quite a bit,” BigMike told me. “There’s a lot of folks here, they know about us, they know what’s in the backpacks and they’re lining up to receive them. And I gotta tell ya, it’s how it makes you feel. The volunteers here, I’ve talked to a lot of them, it makes you feel really, really good to get out and participate and to give back. And I encourage everyone to do it. Whether it’s Humanity Heroes, or any other type of charity, go and help. It will make a difference in your life.”

He’s right.

“These folks down here are going through some hard times and we’re here to help them get back on their feet and back into society,” said BigMike.

Part of that is making them feel like society hasn’t forgotten about them. That they matter, that we see them and that they haven’t been forgotten about.

“A lot of people drive past homeless people, they forget about them,” BigMike continued. “Instead, they should be driving by thinking, ‘What can I do to help?'”

Advanced Nutrients Founder and CEO BigMike Straumietis, left, teams up with My Friend’s House Foundation’s Founder Tiffany Rose to pay it forward this holiday season on Skid Row on December 21, 2019 in Los Angeles. PHOTO | Casey Rodgers/AP Images for Advanced Nutrients

I asked him why Advanced Nutrients is partnering with My Friend’s House Foundation, another L.A.-based non-profit that’s dedicated to helping the homeless and economically disadvantaged.

“They are down here every Wednesday from 12-2 pm feeding a lot of folks,” he told me. “And it’s not about us. It’s about the community collaborating and getting together — we’re stronger together than we are apart.”

I asked him why he believes corporate philanthropy is so important.

“I first started in Bulgaria in 2012, where I helped with handouts to those who have nothing,” he said. “It just happened. I started in Bulgaria and I brought it here. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

BigMike would love roll out Humanity Heroes on a global scale. “First, we have to get the situation here in L.A. taken care of, get a system and a pathway that works then roll it out all over the world,” he said.

How can people help, I asked him.

“It’s easy. Visit joinhumanityheroes.org— it’s that simple to help.”

Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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