In the rapidly evolving landscape of mental health treatments, an unexpected contender has emerged—psilocybin, the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms.

Thousands of years of indigenous practices, recent psychedelic booms, and now clinical trials have all underscored its potential in treating conditions like depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), cluster headaches, substance use disorders, and more. But as this unconventional therapy gains traction, a critical player in healthcare finds itself at a crossroads: the pharmacist.

Despite Big Pharma's infamously prohibitionist past when it comes to plant medicines, and its central role in criminalizing them, the human beings that make up the frontlines of these corporate machines are a surprising, yet welcome, ally.

In this article we share the results from a recent groundbreaking study, diving into Canada's pharmacists' perspectives on psilocybin and shedding light on their knowledge, comfort levels, and potential roles in dispensing this novel therapeutic option.

What is psilocybin?

Psilocybin, found primarily in the Psilocybe genus of magic mushrooms, has shown promise in treating neurologic disorders such as anxiety, depression, and more. In other words, it increases desirable states and reduces undesirable states. It is also increasingly used to optimize cognitive function, improve mental performance, and promote long-term brain health.

Once ingested, psilocybin is converted into psilocin in the body, and it primarily interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, particularly the serotonin 2A receptor, which is responsible for the benefits of magic mushrooms, such as enhanced mood, brain function, memory, and creativity.

Read: How to Microdose Magic Mushrooms

Both Health Canada's and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's endorsement of further research indicates a growing interest in psilocybin as a therapeutic option. In Canada, where mental health issues pose a significant burden, the potential benefits of psilocybin cannot be ignored.

The pharmacist's psychedelic dilemma.

In the hallowed halls of Canada's pharmacies, a silent revolution is stirring. Beyond the neatly stacked shelves of conventional medications, a new era beckons—one where psychedelics, the enigmatic compounds derived from plants and mushrooms, are challenging the status quo of mental health treatment. At the heart of this revolution lies psilocybin, the main psychoactive component of magic mushrooms.

A study conducted in November 2023 with licensed pharmacists in Canada reveals intriguing insights into this revolution:

  • A staggering 73% of pharmacists lack formal education about psilocybin, highlighting a significant gap in their knowledge base.
  • 40% had fewer than one conversation per month about psilocybin
  • 60% of pharmacists have never received questions about psilocybin.

Furthermore, despite its therapeutic potential, pharmacists are not comfortable enough with their knowledge to make recommendations (75%), monitor usage (57%), or recommend doses of psilocybin (64%) to patients.

The findings illustrate the need for urgent educational initiatives to empower pharmacists with the necessary knowledge and confidence.

Dispensing hope: The pharmacist's role in psilocybin therapy.

Pharmacists, often considered medication experts and accessible healthcare professionals, could play a crucial role in the integration of psilocybin therapy. However, the study reveals serious knowledge limitations that are currently hindering their ability to effectively address patient concerns.

Unfortunately, the lack of education on psilocybin takes us back to the days of cannabis legalization. To this day, there is little formal education on the power of the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids. However, unlike with cannabis, and despite not being comfortable enough with their knowledge, the study revealed that pharmacists do in fact feel they should play a role in dispensing, monitoring, and making therapeutic recommendations—similar to other prescription medications.

The study also introduces a compelling angle on the pharmacists' dispensing role in the process of psilocybin therapy. Unlike the distribution model for cannabis, pharmacists express interest in having psilocybin available in pharmacy dispensaries, emphasizing the need for specialized training and the ability to recommend and monitor its use.

An urgent call for the future of health.

The study unveiled how ill-equipped to support psilocybin therapy Canadian pharmacists are as of this writing. While pharmacists express openness to embracing psilocybin as a therapeutic option, the lack of education and guidelines poses a significant hurdle.

To harness the potential of psilocybin in mental health treatment, there is an urgent call for creating clinical practice guidelines and accessible educational materials. As mental health continues to be a prevalent issue in Canada, incorporating psilocybin education into pharmacy curricula becomes imperative.

As pharmacists stand on the precipice of a new frontier in mental health treatment, the path forward lies in equipping them with the knowledge and confidence needed to navigate the complexities of psilocybin therapy. The potential benefits for patients and the healthcare system as a whole cannot be overstated, making this a critical juncture in the evolution of Canadian healthcare.

However, while we believe that regulations and pharmacists are an indispensable part of the health care system, we must be careful to over-regulate and over-restrict these medicines. While these medicines are the beacon of hope humanity has needed to address its increasing mental health crisis, there is also a place for them in day-to-day use, from optimizing mental performance to offering a healthier alternative to alcohol.

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Taking the next step: Connect with a psychedelic-assisted therapist in Canada.

In your pursuit of mental well-being through psychedelic therapy, consider connecting with experienced professionals who specialize in guiding individuals through the intricacies of psychedelic experiences.

Our psychedelic-assisted therapist directory is a valuable resource, featuring therapists adept at working with various psychedelic substances. Whether you are preparing for a trip, seeking assistance during the journey, or focusing on post-trip integration, these therapists bring a wealth of expertise to help you navigate each phase of your psychedelic experience.

The professionals in our directory work with a range of psychedelics, from psilocybin to ketamine, and cater to your needs through personalized support to enhance the therapeutic benefits of your journey.

Embarking on a psychedelic journey can be transformative, but having the right guidance is essential. Visit our directory today and explore a network of professionals ready to accompany you on your path to mental and emotional well-being.

What are your thoughts on the role of pharmacists in dispensing psilocybin magic mushrooms? Share your thoughts, questions, concerns in the comments below.

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