Magic mushrooms are gaining attention for their potential in treating mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction. With investor interest in the psychedelics industry re-emerging, researchers, scientists, and venture capitalists are discussing what could be the most significant breakthrough in psychiatric medicine in 40 years. This is a promising development, especially as existing psychiatric drugs often cause severe side effects and are frequently ineffective. Pharmaceutical companies have not developed a new class of medications for mental illness in four decades.
With 137 trials using psychedelic substances showing positive results, former Gov. Rick Perry lobbied the Texas Legislature in 2021 to allow therapists to administer psychedelics to people with PTSD. Psychedelics have been found to be effective when combined with talk therapy for a range of conditions. The race is on to refine psychedelics into medications that provide precise effects on patients. Venture capitalists understand the size of the current psychiatric medicine market and the potential value of new therapies. They invested more than $330 million into psychedelic startups between July 2020 and July 2022, according to Crunchbase.
However, while many see promise in the new developments, concerns remain around the medicalization and patenting of substances from plants that communities have gathered and used to improve mental health for generations. Many activists want federal and state governments to legalize the plants, and while psychedelics are mind-altering, they are not addictive or more dangerous than many legal substances. The hope is that the new therapies will bring much-needed relief to those struggling with mental health conditions, while also being mindful of the ethical implications and respecting the cultural heritage of the substances being used.