COMPASS Pathways is NOT “Giving Mushrooms to Depressed Patients”

COMPASS pathways is not giving mushrooms to depressed patients.

The New York Post published an article titled, “Startup plans to give mushrooms to depressed patients.”  The article is about COMPASS Pathways of London.  COMPASS Pathways is using psilocybin technology to treat depression in humans.

Here’s the problem with the New York Post’s title: COMPASS Pathways is not giving mushrooms to depressed patients.  To the contrary, COMPASS Pathways is administering psilocybin to depressed patients.

Mushrooms contain many different molecules.  Psilocybin is one of those molecules and it gets the most attention.  When ingested, psilocybin is converted by the body into the active molecule psilocin.  Psilocin is the active chemical that is responsible for much of –but not all of–the psychoactivity in magic mushrooms.

Magic mushrooms contain many different molecules. Several of those molecules are psychoactive. Psilocybin is currently the most talked about of those psychoactive molecules. Unfortunately, the media continues to confuse mushrooms with the molecules in those mushrooms. This is an important distinction when discussing potential therapeutic products.

However, in addition to psilocybin, magic mushrooms also comprise many other psychoactive molecules.  For example, the following tryptamine molecules are present in various types of mushrooms:

  1. [3-(2-trimethylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate
  2. 4-hydroxy-N,N,N-trimethyltryptamine
  3. Baeocystin (aka [3-(2-methylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate)
  4. 4-hydroxy-N-methyltryptamine
  5. Norbaeocystin (aka [3-(aminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate), and
  6. 4-hydroxytryptamine

Additionally, the molecule phenethylamine (PEA) has been shown to exist in several species of magic mushrooms.  This is important because phenethylamine behaves like amphetamine in humans, acting as a central nervous system stimulant.  (This fact is probably worth keeping in mind when using mushrooms to treat people with mental conditions).

The above molecules are important to the overall pharmacology of magic mushrooms.  These are psychoactive molecules and likely modulate the effects of psilocybin and/or psilocin.  For example, the presence of PEA has been correlated with the occurrence of negative side effects for people consuming psilocybin mushrooms.

Magic Mushrooms are DIFFERENT from Isolated Psilocybin

Bottom line: We would be better off not confusing (a) magic mushrooms with (b) individual molecules inside those mushrooms. These two things are not equivalent.  They are more accurately described as entirely different compositions.

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