A group of experts has recommended utilizing psilocybin, a chemical found in magic mushroom spores and fruit bodies, to help patients revive from comas. Their discoveries have been intriguing to say the least, and the research done so far suggests that psilocybin might be useful in the treatment of consciousness issues. However, doing so presents not just a slew of intricate legal issues, but also a slew of medical ethics considerations.
In this guide, we’ll break down how psilocybin is being used to treat consciousness issues such as comas and vegetation states. Psychedelic mushroom spores, particularly psilocybin spores, could prove very useful in the future of treating these complex conditions.
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To better understand how psilocybin is being used to treat comatose patients, it helps to understand exactly what being comatose entails and the nature of consciousness disorders.
Understanding Consciousness Disorders
Consciousness disorders are caused by serious brain damage. Levels of consciousness are typically affected by diffuse axonal injuries, some types of strokes, oxygen deprivation injuries, and brainstem injuries. Disordered awareness can be divided into three categories:
- Comatose states
- Vegetative States (also referred to as Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome)
- Minimal awareness states
At each of these phases, an individual may show varying degrees of attentiveness, self-awareness, and engagement with their environment, progressing towards emergence from a minimally conscious state. Medical professionals may use the Rancho Los Amigos Cognitive Recovery Scale to detect distinct phases of recovery when a person suffers a traumatic brain injury (such as from a vehicle accident). Clinicians can use the Coma Recovery Scale in a rehabilitation setting to track improvements in arousal and awareness of the surroundings for those suffering from consciousness problems. The Coma Recovery Scale could be used to monitor responses to psilocybin therapy in such individuals.
The Latest Findings of Psilocybin as a Treatment for Comatose Patients
Neuroscientist Adrian Owen conducted a study in 2006 to test the responsiveness of a woman in an unresponsive state. His findings were substantial– When asked to imagine playing a game of tennis, the woman’s brain activity lit up similarly to a healthy person’s brain. The findings determined that she was, indeed, responsive.
While Owen’s study did not involve the use of psilocybin, his findings were the beginning of change. Now knowing that some individuals with consciousness disorders are able to respond to external stimuli via brainwave monitoring, many researchers are looking into different ways to possibly communicate with such individuals or rouse them from their condition.
Some researchers recommend starting with healthy participants who are either drugged or asleep to explore how psilocybin impacts awareness and complexity in such situations. Only if those results are good and the trial design has shown to be safe will they move on to individuals with any type of awareness disorder.
There is currently no such experiment, and doing any form of research on persons with awareness problems is fraught with ethical issues. They are unable to offer consent or express whether or not what is being done is harmful to them. Psilocybin, on the other hand, is beginning to acquire momentum in the medical world in a variety of ways. Clinical studies for DoC sufferers might start as soon as next year. In 2018, the FDA designated psilocybin as a “Breakthrough Therapy” for studies in treatment-resistant depression. DoC patients are a distinct group, with often harmed brains and co-morbid disorders. It doesn’t follow that just because it’s declared safe for depressed individuals, it’s also safe for DoC. So, what does the future hold for psilocybin therapy in people with DoC?
Study – “Psychedelics as a treatment for disorders of consciousness”
One recent research study by researchers Gregory Scott and Robin Carhart-Harris hypothesized the use of psilocybin in DoC patients.
“Based on its ability to increase brain complexity, a seemingly reliable index of conscious level, we propose testing the capacity of the classic psychedelic, psilocybin, to increase conscious awareness in patients with disorders of consciousness,” the abstract of the research study reads, “We also confront the considerable ethical and practical challenges this proposal must address, if this hypothesis is to be directly assessed.”
The study combined a wealth of notable research that supports the use of psilocybin for conditions that involve the brain– notably when it comes to increasing brain complexity.
Until recently, it was widely considered that, in terms of states of consciousness, brain complexity is highest during normal wakefulness, because all other measured lowered consciousness states had lower complexity values. The discovery that brain complexity values measured during the psychedelic experience transcend those reported in regular waking awareness was so significant. Psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and ketamine all caused increases in brain complexity in human participants that were greater than those found in normal wakefulness. This discovery has been confirmed using a number of complexity measurements and measuring methods, including EEG, magnetoencephalography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, the degree of intricacy rises in direct proportion to the subjective intensity of the psychedelic experience.
[Sources: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28422113/, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29548884/ ]
Gregory Scott and Robin Carhart-Harris’s compilation of evidence of psilocybin (and other psychedelics) as an effective treatment for brain conditions also included increasing conscious awareness, increasing arousal, etc. Unfortunately, the Scott-Harris study is simply a collection of other studies. There has yet to be any clinical trials or actual studies done on DoC patients with psilocybin. However, this could soon change as psilocybin continues to be a hot topic in the scientific community in the context of medical treatment for brain-related disorders and illnesses.
Transcendent Therapeutics – One Doctor’s Dream for Psilocybin
One potential game-changer of DoC patients and treatment with psilocybin is Dr. Hyder Khoja. Dr. Hyder Khoja hopes to treat coma patients using psychedelics by 2021 in order to bring them back to awareness.
Dr. Khoja earned his PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering in 2003 after working as a plant scientist. Since then, he has worked to have an effect on a variety of different disciplines. In the life sciences, he has been at the forefront of innovation. Extracting lipids from algae to make biofuel is one of his noteworthy contributions. He’s also employed marijuana in conjunction with capsaicin to treat fatty liver disease in a unique way. However, Dr. Khoja’s current endeavor, Transcendent Therapeutics, promises to produce “Coma Resurrection Therapy” using substances like psilocybin, LSD, and DMT.
Understanding comas is necessary for Coma Resurrection Therapy to work. From a car accident to a stroke, any variety of head traumas can result in comas. While many coma patients wake up, some remain unconscious for long periods of time, unable to be awakened. Dr. Khoja, on the other hand, claims that the definition of a coma is out of date. He believes that psychedelics may be able to re-establish awareness in coma sufferers.
Dr. Khoja points out via a recent interview that there is a problem with the connections in coma patients’ brains. The neuronal networks that allow awareness to emerge may have been destroyed by traumatic brain injuries, which are common causes of comas. These patients are trapped in this state because of the broken circuits. Dr. Khoja, on the other hand, believes that psychedelics can possibly rekindle these ties. He claims that this might be the key to awakening awareness and consciousness.
Dr. Khoja’s mother was put into a coma owing to complications from brain surgery, so he understands the importance of this novel method. Three weeks after the procedure, she awoke. When Dr. Khoja’s mother awoke, all they could observe was a small amount of eye movement, according to him. She then closed her eyes for another two years, and she was merely laying in a vegetative condition on the bed. Witnessing this, as well as learning that there are no therapies available for these individuals, provided the foundation for Coma Resurrection Therapy. While Dr. Khoja’s concept is still in its infancy, the potential discoveries his business may make via study and testing are intriguing.
Potential Ethical Concerns in the Use of Psilocybin in Unresponsive Individuals
The self-awareness dilemma is one ethical problem that comes up when psilocybin use in DoC patients is brought up. While the ultimate objective is to restore awareness, what if doing so causes someone to become more aware of their circumstances, their condition, and their quality of life, resulting in mental or physical pain?
There’s also the ominous prospect of a poor vacation. Those who use psilocybin with the help of others can handle any anxiety that may emerge. However, because DoC patients are unable to communicate, the terrible trip might occur in a fully solitary individual, a circumstance that scientists have never seen previously in healthy participants’ studies. These findings are concerning, but as with any other intervention, ethics should be considered. Psychedelics do not offer any special ethical concerns; they are simply another type of new medicine that may or may not be beneficial for this clinical objective. More intrusive treatments, such as deep brain stimulation, are already being explored on these individuals, raising the question of whether or not that is ethical.
Researchers should not test anything just because a population sorely needs alternatives. However, fear of psychedelics should not deter individuals from trying them, and that a well planned, safe experience is worthwhile.
Conclusion – The Future of Psilocybin Use in DoC Patients
Given the challenges of assessing consciousness in animals, a step forward in understanding the potential of psilocybin use in DoC patients would be to conduct the experiment in sedated healthy human volunteers, measuring complexity with scalp EEG and either LZC on spontaneous EEG signals or PCI, as well as repeated behavioral measurements of consciousness before and after psilocybin administration. Furthermore, integrating spontaneous EEG, LZC, and PCI data in the same sample might provide insight into their inter-relatedness, or even separation, and differential importance for conscious awareness.
While extrapolating data from sedated volunteers to patients with DoC presents significant challenges, excellent results would reinforce the need for a psilocybin research in DoC patients. In humans, a sleep experiment might be conducted to investigate the idea that psychedelics enhance complexity and awareness level in non-REM sleep, possibly through encouraging REM sleep. Experiments comparing psilocybin to stimulant pharmaceuticals might help address the issue of whether drugs that increase conscious content (like psilocybin) have more substantial impacts on brain complexity and conscious awareness than those that boost arousal more specifically.
We hope you have enjoyed this information. Don’t forget to take a look at our collection of Mushroom Spore Syringes and mushroom spores for sale at Hidden Forest Mushroom Spores to start your microscopic research today.