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A round-head red mushroom growing in the wild with leaves underneath.

Flesh of the Gods

Possibly the world’s oldest drug, magic mushrooms or shrooms are about to hit the mainstream. No, they’re not becoming legal (yet) but rather the U.S. Federal government has granted researchers funding to study the benefits of psilocybin, the primary psychoactive ingredient in shrooms.

More specifically, the US$4m grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will go towards assessing mushrooms’ impact on helping people quit smoking. But that’s also what vapes claim to solve, so what other benefits are there, apart from boosting the enjoyment of a rave? 

Well, apparently a lot. Psychedelics reportedly help treat depression and even manage alcohol addiction. And despite the U.S. government ceasing funding into psychedelics back in 1970, more research continues to come out as the private sector didn’t get the memo. Data Bridge Market Research estimates the global pharmaceutical psilocybin market will reach US$6.9b by 2027. 

Here are two examples of existing trials. St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney trialing the use of psilocybin to stop or reduce methamphetamine use. And Compass Pathways’ (NASDAQ: CMPS) has COMP360, a psilocybin therapy being tested for use in treatment-resistant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and major depressive disorder.

Shrooms are breaking into the cultural mainstream lately, with Harry Styles claiming they boosted his creativity and Joe Rogan infamously using them to record a 3.5 hour podcast with Post Malone. Now it’s the scientific community getting onboard with the growing belief that mushrooms might just be one of the next great wonder drugs.