Johns Hopkins researchers have spent nearly two decades studying the therapeutic qualities of psilocybin—the psychoactive ingredient of so-called magic mushrooms—on treating afflictions such as addiction disorder, depression, and anxiety. But should it become the first psychedelic drug approved for medical use, psilocybin may face a rather mundane hurdle to widespread use: health insurance.
The drug’s psychoactive effects last anywhere from four to six hours, during which time its users require constant monitoring by medical personnel. It’s a lengthy and expensive proposition insurance may hesitate to cover, says Johns Hopkins psychedelics researcher Alan Davis.
Enter toad venom as a potential alternative to the magic mushroom. Well, sort of. The psychoactive drug in question, 5-MeO-DMT, is most often consumed via synthetically produced vapor but can also be harvested from certain plants or the venom of the Colorado River toad. And preliminary studies suggest that it may combat depression and anxiety just as effectively as psilocybin, requiring a much shorter duration to reap the benefits.
Picture a 5-MeO-DMT psychospiritual retreat, or perhaps a more informal group session at someone’s home. As music plays in the background, attendees check in with one another, talking about how they feel and what they hope to achieve by taking the drug. One by one, they take turns inhaling a vaporized form of the drug as a facilitator stands by to ensure their safety.