By its very nature, cannabis isn’t about looking back. A new year means new strains, a new crop, and new states opening their adult-use floodgates. 2024 is looking brighter and brighter, Leafly Nation, but we think it’s also worth looking at how far we’ve come, and what resonated with us in 2023. We can’t keep pushing forward without acknowledging what worked and what didn’t to get us here, right?
So, we’ve compiled here our most popular stories of 2023. We saw some trends with our traffic—namely, you all seem to have an interest in optimizing your lives with shrooms, seeking out the heat when it comes to strains and products, and how to ensure cannabis gives you treats, not tricks. Did you find a new favorite cultivar or go-to product this year? We hope so. See you in 2024!
If you think interest in shrooms came out of nowhere, you haven’t been paying attention! Magic mushrooms, psilocybin, and other psychedelic plants and substances have histories that date back thousands of years to various civilizations, just like cannabis. As activists and legislators in more and more states and cities work to decriminalize and de-stigmatize them, sky’s the limit for what kind of role they’ll eventually play in our society and the world at large. If you’re feeling lost, these articles are a great place to start.
How to order weed delivery online with Leafly
Strains & Products
As we tally up the ever-growing list of cannabis cup and competition winners for the year, it appears that our readers are snobs. Just kidding—y’all just have amazing taste and refuse to letter for less. Our Head of Brand Experience and career terp sleuth David Downs has a keen eye for picking winners—many of the cultivars on his seasonal and monthly lists topped best-of lists, sold out, and won big awards.
Science, Lifestyle, and Politics
Beyond the weed itself, we love to see that our community of readers take their health seriously, and keep an eye on policy. Cannabis has so much potential, be it as a conduit for intimacy or a tourism draw, and that resonated with readers. And as the map of the US gets greener and greener every year (welcome, Ohio!), 2024 is sure to take us to even further heights.
Taking shrooms is a disorienting experience, and its not well researched into what happens when ladies go shrooming during menstruation. Here’s a little personal experience.
Does it matter if ladies go shrooming during menstruation?
The first thing to say here, is that there is really no research on this. Sure, its expected that psilocybin has some kind of effect on estrogen, and that estrogen can affect psilocybin trips (or vice versa); but there is little else to define what happens when shrooming during menstruation. And of course, like the rest of life, there is no one answer.
We ladies are a complicated group. We have constant hormone changes throughout the month, which can cause our moods to go up and down, particularly as we get closer to menstruation. And this is without adding in any drug. Women vary, sure, with some experiencing far more of this than others; but the reality of womankind, is that we live within quite a dynamic hormonal structure.
Now, think about it. Does a drug experience change depending on how we feel and our internal dynamics? Kind of seems like it would. We are told how important set and setting are for a trip, and that’s the part that’s outside of us. Any high we undertake in life, is likely to be affected by our own bio-physiology; and for a woman, menstruation is a particularly intense time for the body.
Just to get to menstruation, a woman’s hormones must substantially drop. These drops cause low hormone levels, which are associated with all kinds of symptoms; like soreness, headaches, and flu like symptoms, mood swings, anxiety, and sometimes extreme mood drops. So, it’s not like the rest of the month, and its not that out there to expect some drugs might affect a woman differently at this time.
Before getting into a personal experience, I do want to point out a suspected connected between psilocybin and estrogen. In terms of women’s menstrual cycles, psilocybin might be able to even out irregular menstruation, help with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), and polycystic ovary syndrome. These are not statements, as the subject must be further researched; but the idea these concepts have come up in some research, does indicate that psilocybin is affecting hormones somehow.
Me and magic mushrooms
Much like many young people in college, I did a fair number of drugs in my university days; although nothing too intense. For the most part, it was weed and alcohol, although other drugs got mixed in here and there over the years, and mushrooms were one. My clearest memory is sitting on some grassy field somewhere close to campus with a couple friends, and watching the sun come up. I didn’t do them all the time, but I never remember a bad time.
Things can change, though. And somewhere along the way, I became the kind of person who is more prone to bad trips. This was established for me with a bad acid trip, and a few MDMA experiences which were generally okay, but with a lot of stress and anxiety. It matters little what set and setting, or how relaxed I start out. I’m just one of those people that repeatedly doesn’t respond well.
The thing is, mushrooms are now associated with so many great things, right? Well, as a writer and interested user, I started taking microdose amounts, and that was fine for the most part. So I decided after many years, to try a full trip again. No heroic doses, no big ones even. I didn’t go over the equivalent of 1.5-2 grams in dried weight, although I took capsules, rather than actual mushrooms.
When I made the plans to take them with a friend, I had not considered my period. But the day before I was meant to do it, I got it…two days early. I decided, for science if nothing else, that I would go through with the trip, anyway. I did some requisite searches, realized there wasn’t much out there in terms of information, and went for it.
Shrooming during menstruation
As a person who is prone to bad trips, but was only planning a small dose, I had no idea what to expect. Would it calm down my not-so-bad, but still existent cramps? Would it throw me into some crazy uncontrolled mood? Would it help, or would it hurt, or would it do nothing at all?
At first I found it to help a bit. For the first hour or so after it kicked in, I felt fewer issues. But then it changed. The cramps started heavily. And with them, my anxiety rose. Beyond the cramping, I began experiencing powerful hot flashes as well. Now, I cannot say with any certainty if this was a function of my natural cycle, or if the shrooming had an affect on my period. I get these symptoms anyway, and I can’t predict when during menstruation they’ll hit, so there’s no clear answer. But they did continue intensely through the trip.
I didn’t take more at that point, it didn’t seem like a good idea. The cramps also seemed to dampen the psychedelic effects of the mushrooms. I don’t know if this has to do with prostaglandins which are released during cramping, and which are a main reason for feeling sick when menstruating, but it could have been. Prostaglandins are inflammatory, and when cramping, you can expect to feel the worst. For this reason, and the timing, I certainly don’t rule out that my natural cycle, simply overrode the good effects of the mushrooms.
What I can say, is that they didn’t exactly help. It’s not like I went from having cramps to not having them; or from a bad mood to something more level. Whether the mushrooms actually increased cramping or anxiety, I certainly can’t say. But it seemed quite possible to me at the time. It’s also quite possible that someone who ordinarily does better with mushrooms, might have a better time during menstruation.
The problem with trying to decipher this, is that menstruation is such a strange and, well, messed up time. Some women get by without feeling much, or without a lot of changing mood issues; but for some, it’s a real problem. It’s several days per month when things really aren’t working well. When things can be downright bad. And anything that might provide relief or an answer, is useful.
In the case of a regular bad trip, the drug wears out of the system, and the negative symptoms end. This is pretty standard. It might be uncomfortable for a little while, but afterwards things settle back into a norm. It’s highly infrequent, and barely noted, that a person has an issue after the drug wears out of their system.
For me, it was actually hard to tell when it wore off. Since I did not take the kind of amount that leads to intense visuals, it wasn’t about waiting for hallucinations to stop. For the most part it was an intense body high, only, with some mild brightening of colors. Because of the discomfort from the cramping, it was actually quite difficult to know when the trip was over.
And since I was in the middle of my period, it was hard to know if the psilocybin at all intensified the standard menstruation issues, or if the menstruation issues were simply strong enough to counteract the drug. I knew by the end of the night it was over, but there was certainly less of a line this time around.
While I found it to be an interesting experience; from here on out, any shrooming experimentation for me will likely be kept away from menstruation. Regardless of my experience, we should see expansion on this general topic in the next few years to come. Perhaps mushrooms really do increase cramping for some; and perhaps for others, they can actually help ease symptoms.
Sometimes its hard to know what you’ll get. In the case of me shrooming during menstruation, it wasn’t the most fun experience I’ve ever had; but it was certainly a learning one.
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Psychedelics cause hallucinations, sure; but can they also help you see? Is there a connection between psychedelics and eyesight?
Visions vs eyesight
It’s common knowledge that psychedelics (DMT, LSD, psilocybin, mescaline) cause hallucinations in users. These hallucinations can be related to any of the five senses: sight, taste, hearing, smell, tactile; and involve creating an experience that is not consistent with reality. This idea of seeing things differently, is emphasized by the bright, squiggly, trippy designs used to represent psychedelics and their accompanying trips.
Creating visions is quite different from regular eyesight. A vision, in this circumstance, is something not consistent with regular eyesight. It involves seeing things that aren’t there, or seeing them more or less clearly than when not on a drug. The colors might look brighter, objects might look distorted, and things like depth perception, might be off.
Eyesight is how your eyes see in general, sans drugs or devices; and can be affected by different eye disorders. Diminished eyesight is commonly seen in the form of near or farsightedness; as well as a result of other eye issues like glaucoma. All of these can impair how well a person actually sees, regardless of whether their brain is coming up with a bunch of hallucinations, or not.
If a person is on psychedelics and having visions that provide the ability to see more clearly, this ends at the end of the trip, right? Well, what if that isn’t true? What if psychedelics can have a lasting affect on eyesight? Some research indicates its possible that psychedelics can improve certain vision problems, over longer periods of time.
Research on psychedelics and eyesight – colorblindness
If LSD or magic mushrooms could immediately cure eye vision issues, we’d all know about it, and such a usefulness would likely make tripping, that much more of a common thing. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. But just because they can’t immediately cure all seeing issues, doesn’t mean that they aren’t associated with benefits to vision.
A study was published in May, 2023, which investigated this issue, based on wider survey data taken a few years before. The survey data indicates color-blindness can improve long term, after using psychedelics. The study itself is on only one participant, though, so the provided data is very much limited. Even so, the case report shows how a subject with red-green colorblindness (aka deuteranomalia), reported an improvement in color-blindness after consuming magic mushrooms.
The subject ate five grams of dried magic mushrooms, and then self-administered the Ishihara Test (which assesses the degree of colorblindness). He found that he had peak improvement after eight days, and that improvements persisted for at least 16 days. It’s impossible to say if the effects lasted longer, as at this point, there were other substances used, which could skew results.
In terms of the survey results that spawned this investigation, they came from the Global Drug Survey (GDS) 2017, as can be seen in this investigation, called Improved colour blindness symptoms associated with recreational psychedelic use: Results from the Global Drug Survey 2017. GDS is an independent research firm based out of London, which provides the world’s largest online drug survey.
That year, a new question was added to the ‘psychedelics’ section, which specifically asked those who had used LSD or psilocybin in the last year, and who had colorblindness, if they saw any change in their vision. While this was only meant to collect information, there were enough clear and positive response, to create interest for researchers.
47 responses were able to be categorized, while 23 specifically mentioned an improvement. The length of time for improvement varied between respondents, from a number of days, to several years. Investigators posited that “Improved colour blindness may be a result of new photisms experienced in the psychedelic state aligning with pre-existing concepts of colour to be ascribed a label”. They go on, “Connections between visual and linguistic cortical areas may be enhanced due to disorder in the brain’s neural connections induced by psychedelics allowing these new photisms and concepts to become linked.”
Earlier research concluded it was the other way
This is not the first study into this topic. As it turns out, another, from 1982, included 46 subjects. In this study, called A chronic impairment of colour vision in users of LSD, investigators make the opposite point when it comes to color discrimination. The study used the 46 test participants, along with 31 controls. The measurement on color discrimination was made two years after LSD use, meaning there was a lot of space in between for confounding variables, including the use of other drugs.
The control participants scored better than the LSD users in color discrimination, two years after. Investigators also found that those from the LSD group with flashbacks, performed worse than those without flashbacks. Study authors concluded that “some users of LSD may have a sustained or irreversible impairment in colour discrimination.” Though there are a million holes to drive a truck through here, and while it gives a more negative answer than current thoughts indicate; it does bring up that psychedelics like LSD, can still have effects, long after use.
I’d be remiss not the mention that this study came out not long after drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms were made fully illegal; and very much in a time period when all public information on such drugs, was negative only. It stands to reason, considering the growing collection of positive research into these compounds and their effects today, that most likely anything to come out then, was in the vein of painting such drugs in a negative way. Just something to consider, as there was literally no positive research into LSD, coming out in 1982. Yet today, there’s nearly nothing negative.
DMT and glaucoma
So far, most of the limited research into this topic, is related to colorblindness. But there’s another story to pay attention to when it comes to psychedelics, and improving eyesight. This time its about DMT specifically, and a new analogue medicine made by the company Pharmadrug. Pharmadrug is a specialty pharmaceutical company that focuses on creating controlled substances and natural medicines.
In spring of 2022, the company announced that it had created, in conjunction with Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI), a novel device meant to deliver consistent amounts of its DMT-like drug, right to the eyes. The idea of this device and medication, is to lower the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma, which is the main reason for glaucoma-related vision loss. The device is meant to keep levels consistent at all times.
Using DMT, along with the delivery device, comes from the ideas that DMT can reduce intraocular pressure; and that a consistent dosing instrument, can take away the issue of rising pressures during night time, or other times when a drug cannot be taken. The ability to do this is thought to be related to activation of 5HT-1a and 5HT-2a serotonin receptors. As all psychedelics are known to increase serotonin, this indicates other psychedelics have the property of improving eyesight in some cases, as well.
At the time of this announcement, the company was already in the planning stages for human trials, using an already accepted model of primary open glaucoma. The goal of the company is to file an application for a new investigative drug, and conduct trials to get official approval.
PharmaDrug CSO Paul Van Slyke had this to say about it: “We are excited to announce that our recently fabricated proprietary medical device, designed to deliver controlled release of tryptamine-based pharmaceutical agents, has now progressed from the concept stage into a functioning prototype.”
Psychedelics are gaining popularity for their ability to help with psychological issues, and are currently under research for a plethora of other benefits. It seems one of the many things psychedelics might be able to do, is improve certain problems related to eyesight, like colorblindness and glaucoma. And lets be honest, if they’re good for these things, they might have other benefits yet undiscovered, for eye health.
This is the second time that the eye disorder glaucoma has garnered positive attention for an illicit drug. Along with epilepsy and treatments for cancer and AIDS wasting, one of the primary uses of medical cannabis in the late 1900’s, was for glaucoma. This was subsequent to it being found in the 70’s that components of the plant bring down intraocular pressure. Since then there has been more research into cannabis for eye health.
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Magic mushroom therapy is rising in popularity, in the US and beyond. A holistic health center called Tierra Adentro, exemplifies what this therapy process looks like in Mexico.
Tierra Adentro is an independent holistic health center in Guadalajara, Mexico, in the state of Jalisco. It combines “medicine, psychology and ancestral wisdom with the medicine of the earth.” The center does this with both group and individual sessions, which are facilitated by a therapist who gets acquainted with client issues and needs prior to the sessions. The idea is to treat symptoms, while investigating root causes.
Like any other drug-assisted therapy, it involves preliminary sessions in which medical histories are taken and problems are discussed. This is followed by sessions involving magic mushrooms in prescribed amounts. Last, patients enter integration sessions meant to help them put everything together, and make sense of their issues and responses. All of this is preceded by a general admissions process. We’ll get to all that soon.
Tierrra Adentro’s medical team includes neuro-psychiatrists, and psychologists, who work with systemic psychology and ontotherapy. According to their website, “We seek a comprehensive and effective approach to healing, focusing on identifying the mental and emotional origin of illnesses.” The stated goals are to help patients with general health and spiritual exploration, as well as personal growth; help with addiction and anxiety issues; and creative problem solving.
“Using a combination of clinical care, psychotherapy, and ancestral medicine, we work to help our patients connect with positive emotional states that have a direct impact on their health.” In order to do this, “We trust in the ancient wisdom of power plants, known as ‘holy children’, which have been used by indigenous cultures for millennia.”
What is the actual program?
We hear a lot about psychedelic-assisted therapy, and other drug-assisted therapy. But what exactly does this mean? And what does a client get for their money? Each program out there is a little different. Tierra Adentro has its own way. To start with, every client goes through an administrative process. That’s the first step.
Tierra Adentro is housed in a place called Casa Cariyas, a holistic health center in Guadalajara. Following the first step, Tierra Adentro offers a package that includes the following services, which take place onsite. This is not a retreat that happens all at once, but a treatment program that spans several weeks.
Four personal sessions with a doctor (specialist) – This is for a general medical review, and understanding the physical health of the client. From this, the mushroom dosing regimen and treatment plan, are created. This happens in the first week.
Four personal sessions with a psychotherapist – This is to discuss personal history, and any psychological issues that are present. This also helps define the overall treatment course. This takes place during the first week, as well.
Two group healing sessions – These are usually three hours long, and take place in the evening from 5pm-8pm. Healing topics are discussed, along with the dynamics for carrying out the treatment processes. This happens in weeks 5-6.
One group immersion session using mushrooms – This is generally a 10-hour total immersion session, that takes place on a Friday or Saturday, from about 2pm–1am. It’s broken down into four parts: conference segment, reflection and awareness segment, velada segment, and closing segment. It happens in week 8.
One closing session (integration) – This is a three hours session, in the evening from 5pm-8pm. It’s meant to address the topics that came up over the treatment course, and the issues that clients are working on, moving forward. It happens in week 9.
Is mushroom therapy legal in Mexico?
It kind of is, although, like many things in life; its legality depends on how you look at things. In Mexico, magic mushrooms are quasi legal for spiritual use, so long as they are picked from the wild, and not meant for commercial sale. Technically, since 1984, Mexico’s Ley General de Salud outlawed both psilocybin and psilocin. In fact, whereas some countries, and the UN, only did it halfway by illegalizing the compounds, but not the physical plant; Mexico went all the way. The entirety of psilocybin-containing fungi are illegal.
Weirdly enough, magic mushrooms, and their component parts, were not a part of the 2009 amendment that decriminalized other drugs, including synthetic compounds like MDMA and LSD. This is perhaps because mushrooms can be grown by anyone, and leaving them out was Mexico’s way of not encouraging an illicit market.
BUT, if all this makes it sound like magic mushroom use is definitely illegal in Mexico, this is not exactly true. Not only do current drug laws banning mushrooms not apply to native cultures (or, rather, they are not enforced by law enforcement), but there is a loophole. Possession, sale, transport, and cultivation are all illegal commercially; but mushrooms that grow on their own in the wild, are fine, (or, rather, not a target of law enforcement.)
While this might not technically make them legal according to the law, the government does not enforce the law when it comes to wild mushrooms. Grow kits, spores, and mycelium are also perfectly legal, and openly sold. These products fall into one part of the magic mushroom loophole, in that they don’t contain active compounds, and so are not illegal.
Tierra Adentro is not selling mushrooms; and if its not cultivating its own, it seems the standard rules are gotten around. Plus, the whole thing is for spiritual purposes, so we’re not looking at recreational use. It’s certainly gray area; and if the government changes its mind, there could be problems. For now, at least, it seems Mexico has bigger issues than magic mushrooms on its hands. Due to the country’s large variety of naturally-growing mushrooms, Mexico has a large, and growing, magic mushroom tourism industry today.
Is this the same as other mushrooms programs?
When we pick a doctor, we generally know the basics of what will happen; but in reality, every doctor, and every practice, has specifics particular to them/it. This is the same for any medical facility or healing center. Some things are similar, or the exact same; while other factors vary depending on different philosophies, or different methodologies.
The basic model is that of drug-assisted therapy, and most clinics designed for this purpose, follow the general formula. It goes: some form of intake, assessments, therapy sessions, and integration at the end, to sum it all up. This model can be expected in most centers. However, whereas some programs might only do one mushroom (or other drug) session, some might make it two, or three, or even more. Sometimes there are multiple integration sessions. Sometimes its strictly one-on-one, and sometimes strictly in groups. The details change, but the setup remains about the same.
This idea comes from the middle of last century, when psychedelic drugs became a part of the psychiatric treatment world; through its creator Albert Hoffmann, and early practitioners to use it, like Humphry Osmond and Ronald Sandison. The drug-assisted therapy model was born at that time; first through self-experimentation, and then as therapeutic practice. This ended with prohibitive laws; but a recent resurgence has encouraged new research, which strongly indicates magic mushrooms (along with other hallucinogens), can have beneficial effects on those suffering from psychological issues.
As a patient, this should be looked-for and expected; especially as the idea of mushroom treatment gets bigger, and more accepted. We all know that, especially when industry gets big, corner cutting and bad behavior tend to make their way in. In the future, there are likely to be a lot of low-level venues popping up, and less emphasis put on actual therapy. For now, the industry is still small and growing, and facilities like Teirra Adentro, lead the way in providing an introduction to mushroom therapy.
For those looking for a therapy option, Tierra Adentro, and similar facilities, offer this; while maintaining a comfort and safety level for participants. This doesn’t exist in the US beyond Oregon at the moment, so for those interested in taking part in such treatments, you might want to consider a trip to Mexico. Those interested in learning specifics of this program, including pricing options, can fill out the initial form here.
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