The Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami (UM) has received funding to study the combination of psilocybin and cannabidiol (CBD) for treating (and possibly preventing) traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that often accompanies it. The study is being led by UM professor Dr. Michael Hoffer, M.D.
Psilocybin is one of many compounds found in magic mushrooms (aka psilocybin mushrooms or psychedelic mushrooms). It is a prodrug of psilocin, the main compound responsible for the psychedelic effect of magic mushrooms. CBD is a bioactive cannabinoid that comes from the cannabis plant.
According to an article published on Inventum, $1.624 million in research funding for the project is being provided by the Toronto-based psychedelic research company Tassili Life Sciences.
Inventum says that about 40% of those suffering from TBI (and a condition called mild TBI or mTBI) also have PTSD. This situation is even more prevalent in members of the US military. The combination therapy of CBD and psilocybin may be able to treat both issues. Dr. Hoffer explained the interaction between the two conditions:
As a result, they’re disabled not just by the sequelae of the head injury, which can be dizziness, hearing disorders, memory issues, and headaches, but also posttraumatic stress symptoms that complicate the disability after the head injury.
He went on to say,
Our goal is to develop a prescription pill with these ingredients that treat mTBI and PTSD.
Inventum says the research is starting with the necessary proof-of-concept animal studies. Dr. Hoffer estimates these studies will run over the next 9 to 12 months. After that, they will work on determining optimal dosing and timing. If all goes well, Dr. Hoffer and his team plan to move on to human clinical studies in early 2021.
Understanding the Entourage Effect
The entourage effect is a phenomenon first suggested in medical cannabis research. There is some evidence that it is also at work with the compounds in magic mushrooms. But in both cases, virtually nothing is known about the mechanisms. And when CBD is combined with psilocybin in a pharmaceutical, the situation gets even more complicated.
Scientists don’t yet have the full picture of how CBD and psilocybin interact with their receptor targets to produce therapeutic effects. Understanding these mechanisms allows researchers to make formulations that preserve the benefits of nature’s cocktails while also having pharma’s precise dosing.
Relieving or preventing the suffering of those with TBI and PTSD with CBD and psilocybin would be a monumental breakthrough for medical research and psychedelic science. But, understanding the chemistry and pharmacology of these compounds alone and in combination with each other is fertile ground for continuing research.