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Nanaimo researchers growing medical mushrooms for Health Canada

Researchers in the field of mental health are increasingly looking to produce natural psychedelics as a treatment option, and some of the country's leading research in that field is happening in Nanaimo.

At a secret location in the Harbour City, researchers at Numinus Bioscience have spent years developing medical psilocybin mushrooms.

"We have actually created the first natural psilocybe mushroom product that has been accepted by Health Canada," said Sharan Sidhu, vice president of scientific research innovation and lab operations with Numinus Bioscience.

Under strict guidelines from Health Canada, the team at Numinus – which describers itself as a mental health service provider and research facility – had to create everything from scratch.

"From what we can tell we probably grew the first legal psilocybin mushroom since the 70s," said Payton Nyquvest, CEO of Numinus.

To create their mushrooms, cells have to be developed and validated, then incubated to create clones. Those clones eventually get used to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms.

"We don't have a blueprint for this. This is the first time that this has happened," said Sidhu.

From start to finish, the process takes eight to 12 weeks.

"Our product is a tea bag and it contains or delivers 25 milligrams of psilocybin," said Sidhu.

The tea will be used in the first phase of an upcoming clinical trail using a natural form of psilocybin.

Someday, it could be prescribed to Canadians to treat conditions like depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

"Science is really backing that up, showing the effectiveness of those treatments" said Nyquvest.

The clinical trail for the natural psilocybin tea has been approved for 500 participants and is expected to begin in June.

"The research that we continue to see around psychedelic assisted therapy continues to be extremely compelling," said Nyquvest.

Currently, psychedelics are only available through Health Canada's special access drug program.

"[We] have to be very thoughtful and intentional about how we roll out the access to psychedelic therapy," said Nyquvest. Top Stories

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