Professors at the University of Guelph will be able to do research on magic mushrooms using ones that they have grown themselves.
The university were recently granted a dealer’s license by Health Canada to grow and cultivate the mushrooms that produce psilocybin, a controlled substance that creates a psychedelic effect, and other compounds.
They said in a news release that the university is one of the first institutions to be granted such a license.
The mushrooms will be grown under the supervision of Drs. Max Jones and Gale Bozzo, both with the Ontario Agricultural College’s Department of Plant Agriculture, and have been waiting two years to receive the license.
“I’ve been working with medicinal plants for a long time. So, I have a general interest in this,” said Jones.
There are over 200 species of mushrooms that produce psilocybin according to Jones.
“People think magic mushrooms are a single type of mushroom that produces the chemical,” Jones said. “But in reality, it’s actually a group of mushrooms. And they are not only producing psilocybin but a whole plethora of compounds.”
Dr. Melissa Perreault, a professor in the Ontario Veterinary College’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, believes some of those compounds could help those who are suffering from depression or schizophrenia.
“There are many already working with psilocybin,” said Perreault. “But we’re interested in the potential biological activity of some of the other compounds in these mushrooms and whether they have any therapeutic value alone or in combination with psilocybin.”
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There have been similar studies done on cannabis where professors explored which compounds deliver medicinal and therapeutic benefits.
“THC is the main compound (in cannabis) that gets you high, but it also interacts with other compounds in the plant,” said Jones. “There are hundreds of different kinds of cannabis and each have slightly different effects.”
Jones hopes by being able to grow and cultivate these mushrooms, they will be able to create a reliable supply that can be used for future research.
“If one researcher does a study and another wants to reproduce that study, they want there to be a public source of mushrooms so they can test the same material,” said Jones. “Unlike pharmaceuticals, it is typically not a single chemical that is having the effect. So if you are doing clinical trials (and) don’t have re-producible starting materials, then it is hard to get re-producible results.”
The research team also hopes to develop a synthetic medium to grow the mushrooms. Currently, they are grown on grains or manure, but the team aims to develop a more consistent and reproducible medium.