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By MycoMeditations

Introduction

These longitudinal surveys assess the long-term outcomes of guests who attend psilocybin-assisted retreats offered by MycoMeditations in Jamaica. The previous announcement of clinically significant improvements in PTSD symptomology highlights the success of the psilocybin retreat model in assisting those suffering with PTSD, with results comparable to those seen in MDMA-assisted therapy clinical trials.

MycoMeditations’ longitudinal surveys are not and do not attempt to constitute either an academic study or a registered clinical trial in their procedure, structure, or review process. However, insights drawn from this data convey a need for additional research into the mental health therapeutic benefits of psilocybin and points toward efficacy of treatment models outside of standard clinical and laboratory contexts. All data shared by MycoMeditations was analyzed and verified by a third-party academic partner.

This grouping includes results for depression, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety.

Much like the previously released PTSD data, MycoMeditations’ psilocybin-assisted retreat model led to clinically significant outcomes across depression, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety, respectively, according to client surveys. These results also suggested long-term efficacy, with significant positive results remaining one year after the retreat experience.

All data represented here was collected between July 2021 and October 2023 with the consent of MycoMeditations clients. 

Population: Real-World Clients

MycoMeditations clients involved in this survey, while seeking therapeutic outcomes for MDD, GAD, and SAD, frequently suffer from comorbid conditions such as other forms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, substance use disorder, other forms of addiction, and other mental illnesses.

This population is a more accurate representation of real-world sufferers in need of therapeutic intervention than is otherwise found in the participant cohorts of clinical trials, in which such comorbidities are often screened out.

Preparation, Dosing, and Integration Protocols

The optional surveys were completed by clients enrolling in the seven-day psilocybin-assisted retreat program at MycoMeditations, where they received preparation for their psilocybin sessions, three dosing sessions spaced on alternating days, and group integration on the days between each dosing session. After the retreats had concluded, clients were also encouraged to participate in two group integration sessions via Zoom. 

Clients were administered dried Psilocybe cubensis, which is cultivated on-site and encapsulated into 0.5g capsules. MycoMeditations’ dosing regimen is standardized around the use of encapsulated psilocybin mushrooms with an escalating dosing protocol over the course of the three (3) sessions. The dose for Session 1 is virtually identical for all clients, however, the MycoMeditations protocol takes many physical and mental factors into account when determining the ideal dose for Session 2 and Session 3, as a tailored dosing method was found to be most beneficial.

The average dose in dried, encapsulated grams of psilocybin mushrooms taken by guests in each of the three survey groupings is shown below:

Major Depressive Disorder

  • Session 1 = 3.73 (SD of ± 1.10) 
  • Session 2 = 6.79 (SD of ± 1.73)
  • Session 3 = 8.86 (SD of ± 3.10) 
  • Total Retreat = 19.38 (SD of ± 5.17)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Session 1 = 3.59 (SD of ± 1.07) 
  • Session 2 = 6.42 (SD of ± 1.61)
  • Session 3 = 8.40 (SD of ± 2.84) 
  • Total Retreat = 18.41 (SD of ± 4.62)

Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Session 1 = 3.65 (SD of ± 0.92) 
  • Session 2 = 6.24 (SD of ± 1.84)
  • Session 3 = 8.06 (SD of ± 3.53) 
  • Total Retreat = 17.94 (SD of ± 5.77)

Major Depressive Disorder Results

Major Depressive Disorder Psilocybin Retreat Results

The depression dataset was examined using the PHQ-9 rating scale. A PHQ-9 minimum score of 10 (considered moderate levels of depression) was selected as inclusion criteria for a baseline response to be included in the dataset. The baseline results included 172 participants.

The baseline dataset, verified by a third-party source, determined that people suffering from moderate to extreme levels of depression (average PHQ-9 score of 15.63) experienced clinically significant reductions in symptoms at the below timepoints following the retreat, with average PHQ-9 scores along with percentage changes in symptoms relative to baseline and sample size (n) shown below:

1-Month:  6.40 (59.05% reduction), n = 80

3-Month:  7.67 (50.92% reduction), n = 52

6-Month:  8.77 (43.89% reduction), n = 44

1-Year:       7.82 (49.94% reduction), n = 23

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Results

Generalized Anxiety Disorder psilocybin retreat results 

The generalized anxiety dataset was examined using the GAD-7 rating scale. A GAD-7 minimum score of 10 (considered moderate levels of generalized anxiety) was selected as inclusion criteria for a baseline response to be included in the dataset. The baseline results included 155 participants.

The baseline dataset, verified by a third-party source, determined that people suffering from moderate to extreme levels of generalized anxiety (average GAD-7 score of 14.74) experienced clinically significant reductions in symptoms at the below timepoints following the retreat, with average GAD-7 scores along with percentage changes in symptoms relative to baseline and sample size (n) shown below:

1-Month:  4.56 (69.07% reduction), n = 66

3-Month:  6.85 (53.53% reduction), n = 41

6-Month:  6.90 (53.19% reduction), n = 31

1-Year:       6.00 (59.32% reduction), n = 17

Social Anxiety Disorder Results

Social Anxiety Disorder psilocybin retreat results.

The social anxiety dataset was examined using the SM-SAD-10-Adult rating scale. A SAD-10 minimum score of 19 (considered moderate levels of social anxiety) was selected as inclusion criteria for a baseline response to be included in the dataset. The baseline results included 64 participants.

The baseline dataset, verified by a third-party source, determined that people suffering from moderate to extreme levels of generalized anxiety (average SAD-10 score of 25.17) experienced clinically significant reductions in symptoms at the below timepoints following the retreat, with average SAD-10 scores along with percentage changes in symptoms relative to baseline and sample size (n) shown below:

1-Month:  6.66 (73.56% reduction), n = 32

3-Month:  12.50 (50.34% reduction), n = 20

6-Month:  11.83 (52.99% reduction), n = 18

1-Year:       15.38 (38.92% reduction), n = 8

Overview of Conclusions

  • MycoMeditations psilocybin-assisted retreat model shows comparable positive outcomes as found within clinical research.
  • MycoMeditations survey data shows better outcomes than biopharmaceutical company Compass Pathways in their Phase 2 studies of their proprietary psilocybin analog one month after psilocybin session(s) in Major Depressive Disorder.
  • MycoMeditations survey reveals one of the first samples of long-term data revealing efficacy for psilocybin-assisted therapy in assisting with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder.
  • Clinically significant improvements maintained one year following retreat for each Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, and Social Anxiety.
  • Support for multiple, short-term psilocybin doses; potential for unique psilocybin-assisted treatment protocols.
  • Data supports the need for tailored dosing on numerous physical and mental factors rather than standardized dosing based on bodyweight.

MycoMeditations is proud to share these results in order to further demonstrate the validity and safety of psychedelic-assisted therapy in naturalistic contexts and retreat settings. The MycoMeditations retreat model demonstrably provides comparable levels of positive, lasting outcomes when compared to clinical settings for psychedelic-assisted therapy and clinical trials.

One month after retreat, MycoMeditations clients (n = 80) experienced 59.05% reduction in Major Depressive Disorder symptoms (15.63 at baseline to 6.40 one month post-retreat). In the research summary for Compass Pathways’ Phase 2 psilocybin analog study, participants (n = 79) experienced 37.62% reduction in symptoms three weeks after treatment, where least-squares mean changes from baseline to week three were −12.0 on the MADRS (31.9 to 19.9). 

Clinical trials examining the effects of psilocybin on either Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Social Anxiety Disorder are limited in number. MycoMeditations surveys reveal first-of-its-kind outcomes in the fight against anxiety disorders with psilocybin.

Retreat outcomes remained clinically significant one year after the retreat experience for each of the three disorders studied, indicating effectiveness in the MycoMeditations psilocybin-assisted retreat model. Few psilocybin clinical trials examine outcomes this far from treatment, which advocates for the long-term efficacy of psilocybin in general.

The survey outcomes highlight the benefit of three psilocybin sessions within one week when supported by trained psychedelic-assisted therapists during sessions and integration. The matching efficacy of multiple, short-term psilocybin sessions when compared to single treatments with prolonged periods between sessions as shown in clinical research indicates the safety, viability, and flexibility for varying courses of psilocybin-related treatments. This advocates for custom treatment options depending on unique patient needs.

MycoMeditations dosing protocols take into account numerous factors when determining the ideal psilocybin dse for a client. The optimal dose for each person varies significantly, and the MycoMeditations protocol realizes the need for a tailored approach to dosing in order to maximize benefits.

This data also emphasizes the utility of group psychedelic-assisted therapy, as MycoMeditations retreats are group experiences with up to 12 people assisted by therapists, with a typical facilitator-to-client ratio of at least 1:1.5, team to guests.

MycoMeditations Mushroom to be encapsulated and used on psilocybin retreat

Self-Reported Client Data On Therapeutic Outcomes For Depression & Anxiety

By MycoMeditations

Introduction

MycoMeditations data on therapeutic client outcomes in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder consists of PCL-5 data from client surveys.

All data represented here was collected between June 2021 and August 2023 with the consent of MycoMeditations clients. The final results have been subject to third-party data analysis to ensure accuracy, consistency and transparency. Those clients whose responses are represented here were those who met or exceeded the clinically recommended cut off score of 31 on the PCL-5 for potential PTSD diagnosis.

This data is not and does not attempt to constitute either an academic study or a registered clinical trial in its procedure, structure, or review process.

Population: Real-World Clients

MycoMeditations clients involved in this survey, while seeking therapeutic outcomes for PTSD, do frequently suffer from comorbid conditions such as various forms of depression, anxiety, and/or alcohol use disorder (AUD) or other forms of addiction, among others.

As such, this population is more representative of a real-world pool of PTSD sufferers than is otherwise found in the participants of clinical trials, in which such comorbidities are often screened out.

Preparation, Dosing, and Integration Protocols

The survey, which was optional to participate in, was completed by clients enrolling in the seven-day psilocybin-assisted retreat program at MycoMeditations, where they received preparation for their psilocybin sessions, three dosing sessions spaced on alternating days, and group integration on the days between each dosing session. After the retreats had concluded, clients were also encouraged to participate in two group integration sessions via Zoom.

Clients were administered dried Psilocybe cubensis, which is cultivated on-site and encapsulated into 0.5g capsules. MycoMeditations’ dosing regimen is highly standardized for utilizing whole psilocybin mushrooms with an escalating dosing protocol over the course of the three (3) sessions. The dose in grams from Session 1 has an average SD of 3.69 ± 1.25. Session 2 has an average SD of 6.51 ± 1.66 and Session 3 has an average SD of 7.80 ± 3.17. The total dose over the duration of the retreat has an average SD of 18.00 ± 4.87.

Throughout this data collection period, MycoMeditations explored the impact of its all-inclusive psilocybin-assisted therapy retreats, particularly on clients who joined the retreat indicating PTSD symptoms in their baseline mental health survey. MycoMeditations utilized the PCL-5 for this study, which is a standardized self-report rating scale comprising 20 items that correspond to the key symptoms of PTSD.

Results 

The results of this data collection demonstrate that guests who indicated struggling with PTSD at baseline (average PCL-5 score = 43.04) showed a large reduction in self-reported PTSD symptoms at one-month post-treatment (average PCL-5 score = 17.90). Evidence suggests that a 5-10 point change in the PCL-5 represents reliable change (not due to chance) and a 10-20 point change represents clinically significant change. The study’s clinically significant reduction in PTSD symptoms among these guests is sustained at the 12-month mark post-retreat.

 

 

Given the comparable data points to existing psychedelic clinical trial results for PTSD and the continuously expanding potential for applications of psilocybin in therapeutic contexts, MycoMeditations hopes that this information will encourage the ongoing exploration of psilocybin’s “transdiagnostic applicability,” a term coined by renowned researcher Dr. Roland Griffiths to describe his hopes for psychedelic-assisted therapies.

The PCL-5 averages for 1-month, 3-months, 6-months and 12-months post retreat can be seen in the chart below:

 Timepoint n Mean (SD)
 Baseline 100 43.04 (12.97)
 1-month 39 17.90 (15.74)
 3-month 28 20.36 (16.66)
 6-month 20 22.05 (18.75)
 12-month 10 23.20 (22.68)
      

The data presented here do not account for a number of post-retreat lifestyle factors, including therapeutic support and approach to self-care undertaken by clients once back at home. Some clients did not complete or have not reached all follow-up assessment time points. While additional monitoring beyond the post-retreat integration window was not possible at this time, MycoMeditations is continually exploring ways to support the ongoing therapeutic treatment of its clients and always recommends full follow-up and integration procedures as well as continual, conventional mental health support and care in order to ensure the best long-term psychological outcomes.

MycoMeditations’ ongoing observations also examine outcomes for depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and OCD, where preliminary results will soon be released. MycoMeditations will continue compiling these additional data points and eventually conclude these observations. The finalized data will then be examined with an academic partner.

Overview of Conclusions

  • Results are long-standing, with minimal rise in symptomatology between one and 12 months post-retreat.
  • Results for MycoMeditations show greater and quicker outcomes shortly after treatment (when comparing 1-month data).
  • MycoMeditations results are comparable to the MAPS PBC Phase 3 trial outcomes. MAPS PBC data, utilizing the CAPS-5 scale, showed the baseline score of 44.0 fell to 19.6 (-55.5%) after 18 weeks. At three months post-retreat, MycoMeditations data, utilizing the PCL-5, showed a 52.7% reduction in symptoms between baseline (43.0) and three months post retreat (20.4). This is largely sustained at six months post-retreat with 48.8% reduction in symptoms.
  • Psilocybin in group therapeutic retreat settings may be a viable treatment for PTSD when supported with individual therapy.

About MycoMeditations

MycoMeditations operates legal psilocybin-assisted retreats in Jamaica for individuals seeking both therapeutic outcomes and personal growth. As a world leader in the evolving fields of psychedelic therapy and wellness tourism, its success is driven by its commitment to providing safe, life-changing, and spiritually-affirming experiences to its clients in beautiful natural settings. Guided by expert facilitators and mental health professionals, the MycoMeditations team brings together diverse skill sets and a deep knowledge base to create professional and personalized retreats, all while investing in the local Jamaican community. Since 2014, MycoMeditations’ unique psilocybin-assisted retreat protocols have helped over 2,000 clients by administering over 6,000 doses of therapeutic psilocybin.

Self-Reported Client Data on Therapeutic Outcomes in the Treatment of PTSD with Psilocybin

By MycoMeditations

 

Below you can take a look at all media that involves MycoMeditations to help you stay up-to-date with all the stories and news that follows our psilocybin-assisted retreat program. This post will be continually updated, so if you would like to learn more about our retreats through media coverage and news surrounding MycoMeditations, bookmark this page!

AFAR Magazine

At a Magic Mushroom Retreat, a Comedian Reluctantly Embraces Her “Healing Journey”

For Negin Farsad, traveling to Jamaica for a psilocybin retreat started as a gig. After a week of tripping, she found it was about much more than getting high.

Read the Article

Robb Report

I Tripped on Mushrooms (Legally) at a Therapy Retreat in Jamaica. It May Have Changed My Life.

At Bluefields Bay Villas, a boutique resort, MycoMeditations assisted an editor in coming face-to-face with childhood despair—and a rush of joy.

Read the Article

Fortune Magazine

The new leadership retreat: taking psychedelics with your CEO

A growing body of research suggests that psychedelics promote changes in unyielding behaviors, which could benefit personal and professional life.

Read the Article

Sunday Times

Trip of a Lifetime

Nothing could help Decca Aitkenhead process her grief after her husband drowned in Jamaica. Until she returned there for a magic mushroom retreat.

Read the Article

VICE

The Battle Over Psychedelic Therapy’s Future

VICE correspondent Charlet Duboc joined us on retreat as part of this episode’s coverage of the emerging field of psychedelic therapy. Coverage of MycoMeditations begins at 35:22 of the video.

Watch the Video

FodorsTravel

I Took 28 Grams of Magic Mushrooms at a Retreat in Jamaica—Here’s Why

A guest’s heartfelt account of her experience at MycoMeditations.

Read the Article

Seeking Distruption

My Psychedelic Summer

A guest shares about he and his wife’s experience together at MycoMeditations.

Read the Article

CNBC

Here’s how much ‘magic mushroom retreats’ like Goop Lab’s actually cost

CNBC coverage about MycoMeditations in 2020. Prices referred to in the article have since changed.

Read the Article

Reuters

Psychedelic mushrooms expand Jamaica tourism beyond sunshine and reggae

An overview of MycoMeditations Psilocybin-Assisted Retreats alongside reflections of psilocybin’s emerging use in Jamaica.

Read the Article

By MycoMeditations

 

Below you can listen to podcasts that have interviewed Justin Townsend, the CEO of MycoMeditations. This post will be continually updated with all new appearances, so if you would like to learn more about our retreats by listening to podcasts with Justin, bookmark this page!

Dualistic Unity with Andrew & Ray

Episode Description:

In this latest episode, we delve into a transformative journey with our guest, Justin Townsend. Our discussion orbits around the enlightening power of present-focused attention and the rich, often untapped fullness of our experiences. We explore the transformative impact of psychedelics, not as an end but as a means to rediscover forgotten pathways within ourselves. Justin, CEO of MycoMeditations, shares his unique blend of corporate and psychedelic experiences, offering a nuanced perspective on the intersection of modern therapy and ancient wisdom.

This episode is a testament to the courage of confronting our inner darkness and the resilience found in self-acceptance and authenticity. We discuss the delicate balance between scientific rigor and the shamanic approach in psychedelic therapy, emphasizing the importance of living an integrative, authentic life. Our conversation is a deep dive into the nuances of psychedelic experiences, their therapeutic potentials, and the journey towards self-realization. This episode is a must-listen for anyone intrigued by the intersection of modern science and ancient wisdom, and for those seeking a deeper understanding of their own psyche. Join us in this enlightening discussion where the unspoken theme is the transformative power of self-awareness and the journey towards a unified self.

Developing Meaning with Dirk Winter

Episode Description:

Are you curious about psychedelic retreats? Join us for an insider’s perspective with Justin Townsend, CEO of MycoMeditations, the oldest and largest psilocybin mushroom therapeutic retreat center in Jamaica. We discuss the process of safety screening, and the potential of using psychedelics to overcome trauma, ease depression, and reconnect with our authentic selves.

Justin shares his personal journey, from tech startups, to the European psychedelic underground, to learning and teaching breathwork and meditation, and then joining MycoMeditations in Jamaica. Having facilitated thousands of healing journeys, he shares how these retreats can provide unique insights into our individual and collective human condition. We probe the metaphysics of consciousness and healing and examine how psychedelics can influence belief and faith, which can alter our physiology and bring greater understanding and meaning to our lives.

As we conclude our conversation, we reflect on Carl Jung’s concept of Individuation and Integration, and the transformative stories of guests at MycoMeditations. We discuss life and work in Jamaica, and highlight the importance of surrender and authenticity. We invite you to immerse yourself in this captivating world of psychedelic therapy – a world that promises to challenge, inspire, and transform.

Adventures Through the Mind with James W. Jesso

Episode Description:

The journey of bringing psilocybin therapy to the masses continues.

And the complexities of doing so as a retreat business, without being contorted away from your ethos by the economic force of the modern corporate world, while also maintaining the capacity to provide safe, positive, and effectively healing experiences for your guests, is the topic of this episode of the podcast.

Specifically, we feature an interview with Justin Townsend from MycoMediations retreat centre in Jamaica to talk about the complexities described above, as well as the nuances of his team’s therapeutic framework for group psilocybin therapy in natural contexts.

Justin Townsend is the CEO and Head Facilitator at the psilocybin therapy retreat centre MycoMeditations.

Throughout his career he has worked as a business leader across a range of industries, helping innovative companies identify opportunities, communicate their vision and deliver profitable products. But he has also been on a personal quest to explore alternative healing therapies to combat his own anxiety and depression.

Over the past 20 years Justin has delved into both transpersonal and Jungian depth psychology, explored psychedelic modes of healing and developed meditation and breath work techniques, which he taught in Germany.

After attending a private retreat with MycoMeditations in 2017, he saw the opportunity to combine his unique business skills with his interest in alternative healing methods. Justin joined the MycoMeditations team soon afterwards, becoming partner and CEO in 2019.

He is on the show for this episode to explore two specific topic themes:

  1.  The business side of running a successful psilocybin retreat centre in the economic context of the modern corporate world without losing your ethics in the process
  2.  The therapeutic framework and philosophy that MycoMeditations holds for their retreats and their guests.

In effect, these are the two sides of the conversation. Where the first half is all business, and the latter half focused in the therapeutic end of things (with a brief return business ethics at the very end).

Some of the things we cover on the first side of the conversation: Justin’s journey from the corporate world to running an psychedelic psilocybin therapy retreat centre; psychopathology and integrity in the corporate world and how good people end up doing bad things; the nuances around running a financially successful psychedelic retreat centre without ethical sacrifices; what it means to be building what they call “gold-standard for group-facilitated psilocybin therapeutics in natural settings”; data propriety; and supporting peer-reviewed research.

In the other half of the conversation we explore: why MycoMeditations holds an entity “non-shamanic” framework for their psilocybin work; how to support someone who has a beyond Western framework experience from a non-shamanic framework; helping to prevent post-psychedelic hypomania from evolving into psychosis; differentiating between psychosis and a “normal psychotomimetic response”; non-pharmacological interventions for psychosis and psychotomimetic responses; as well as The Golden Shadow and the dangers of golden-shadow projection in both psychedelic therapy and spiritual communities.

The Psychedelic Therapy Podcast with Maya Health

Episode Description:

There are only a few places in the world which offer legal access to high impact psilocybin retreats. MycoMeditations, stewarded by today’s guest Justin Townsend, is leading the way in sustainable, ethical psychedelic healing that takes into account the unique environment and needs of Jamaica and its people.

On the show, we discuss Jungian-depth psychology and other therapeutic modalities used at MycoMeditations. We talk about the value of a comprehensive, holistic team of caregivers for cathartic experiences. We review the efficacy of psilocybin as compared to ketamine therapy and ayahuasca ceremonies. Finally, we discuss the landscape of psychedelic healing in Jamaica and the importance of ethical entheogenic businesses.

MycoMeditations is a retreat that combines the powerful healing of multiple, high-dose psilocybin experiences, a safe and caring group environment created by a knowledgeable support staff, and serene locations to catalyze life-changing transformations.

As a business leader and startup advisor in a range of industries including the health care space, Justin Townsend has also been on a personal quest to explore alternative healing therapies to combat his own anxiety and depression. Over the past 20 years, Justin has delved into both transpersonal and Jungian psychology, explored psychedelic modes of healing and developed meditation and breath work techniques, which he taught in Germany. Justin joined the MycoMeditations team in 2017, becoming partner and CEO in 2019. As a retreat facilitator, Justin draws inspiration from the profound healing he is privileged to witness and believes that psychedelics offer an exciting path forward for mental health.

The Benzinga Interviews with Lara Goldstein

A business leader and startup advisor in several industries including the healthcare space, Justin’s 20 years of experience exploring psychedelic therapies for wellbeing -and current work as a facilitator- inform his quest for providing truly thoughtful experiences for people wishing to undergo psychedelic modalities of healing.

The Mushroom Show with FreshCap

Episode Description:

In this episode of The Mushroom Show, we test 4 different types of mushroom jerky (so you don’t have to) and figure out which mushroom makes the best one. The answer might surprise you. We also cover everything you need to know about the growing trend of “psilocybin retreats”, what they’re like, how people are benefitting from them, and what’s the reason behind the increased popularity in recent years. Finally, we interview Justin Townsend, the head facilitator and CEO of MycoMeditations, a long standing psilocybin retreat in Jamaica.

Funga with Milana Abensperg und Traun

Episode Description:

Justin is the CEO and Head Facilitator at MycoMeditations. Based in Jamaica, MycoMeditations is one of the few legal psilocybin retreats in the world. Over the past 20 years, Justin has delved into both transpersonal and Jungian depth psychology, explored psychedelic modes of healing, and developed meditation and breathwork techniques, which he taught in Germany.

I was introduced to Justin just as I was formulating the concept around Funga. I view him as a mentor because he has given me fantastic guidance and advice and is also one of the most knowledgable people I have come across surrounding psychedelics. This episode discusses topics such as the difference between ayahuasca and psilocybin, psychedelic synchronicities, and his imposter syndrome. I apologize for the slight background noise, as we needed to record this podcast remotely. Please don’t let that stop you from listening! There is so much to learn from Justin; he is one of the most knowledgeable people I have come across surrounding psychedelics.

Mycopreneur with Dennis Walker

Episode Description:

Justin Townsend is the CEO of MycoMeditations, a world class psilocybin mushroom retreat center in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.

We learn about the dynamics of the legal magic mushroom industry in Jamaica, the practicalities inherent to running a premium operation in the mushroom retreat space, the flow of a week at a mushroom retreat with MycoMeditations, and the net positive benefits of having such an operation present on the island of Jamaica.

In Pursuit of Better with Jordan Simon

Episode Description:

Justin Townsend is the CEO for Jamaica-based MycoMeditations, a pioneer and leader in wellness tourism that has been helping thousands of people through its legal psilocybin-assisted retreats. Through his expertise and leadership, Justin has helped shape the psychedelics renaissance. As psychedelics continue to play a larger role in mental health, more and more people are seeking effective therapies that address the root of their depression, anxiety, PTSD or other conditions. Many of these individuals are pursuing treatment through the trust of psilocybin-assisted retreats. Justin has worked in many aspects of the psychedelic industry, including as a retreat facilitator where he has personally led retreat-goers through psilocybin-assisted therapy. His firsthand knowledge and in-depth field experience has positioned him as an industry thought leader. Be it an expert or novice, Justin shares his wisdom with his colleagues, guests and media in thoughtful and visionary ways. He leads with education and makes surveys a part of the success story at MycoMeditations.

Inside and Beyond Podcast with Natalia Fomichenko

Episode Description:

In this episode we discuss the benefits of psilocybin retreats for mental and physical health, the impact of psilocybin on the brain, and contemplate the nature of mystical experiences.

Help Existing with Rachel Krantz

Episode Description:

Today I’m talking with Justin Townsend, CEO and Head Facilitator for MycoMeditations. His company operates legally in Jamaica doing psilocybin-assisted retreats. Participants attend for seven days, work with licensed therapists throughout, and trip three times.

You’ve probably heard about some of the potential therapeutic applications of psilocybin, and changes in states like Oregon, which legalized the medicine for therapeutic use. I’ve heard predictions that as psychedelic therapy spreads, there will soon be a huge need for tens of thousands of therapists trained in this modality.

I picked Justin’s brain about what people who are interested in working in this emerging industry should know. We also delved into why psilocybin is therapeutic in the first place, and the results his team has seen with attendees.

Podcasts with MycoMeditations CEO, Justin Townsend

By MycoMeditations

 

Experiencing psychedelic therapy for healing and exploration is a balancing act between feeling safe, challenging ourselves and, of course, the costs involved.

Jamaica and Oregon are two of the very few places where you can receive legal psilocybin therapy across the whole world right now. For many, Oregon comes with the comfort and familiarity of home, while a tropical destination like Jamaica offers adventure and the time to shift away from the regular patterns of life.

You may be like many Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and others from countries beyond wondering which of these legal avenues for psilocybin therapy is best for you. Both have benefits, but which one is worth the trip?

How to Choose Between Psilocybin Therapy in Oregon vs. Jamaica

Psilocybin is a powerful medicine. The time, energy, money, courage, and commitment required to work with it is no joke. Investing in your well-being deserves serious contemplation.

The world of psychedelics is new and exciting. Some will brave the Amazon to drink ayahuasca with a shaman or take truffles in the streets of Amsterdam. Others will risk mushrooms in countries like Mexico and Costa Rica where psilocybin retreats exist in a legal gray zone. Navigating the hype requires making smart decisions about your safety and comfort to experience a meaningful and healing experience.

Oregon and Jamaica are the most popular legal options. However, what counts as “legal” differs between the two. If you hold a current medical license, security clearance, or professional certification that is regulated under U.S. federal law, consulting legal opinion before proceeding with treatment in Oregon is a good idea. The legal risk may be lower when you travel to a country where the treatment is fully legal, like Jamaica.

The U.S. Department of State occasionally releases travel advisories against countries like Jamaica due to concerns over crime, however, the country overall is a safe place with a positive regard towards tourism. Retreat locations are far from the crime in urban centers, which is the root cause of the advisories. There is minimal time spent in the larger cities beyond a quick airport pick up.

Before quickly assuming that either is better than the other, there are many variables to consider when choosing the right type of psilocybin experience.

Factors to Consider Between Oregon and Jamaica for Psilocybin Therapy

  • Legality – What level of legal risk are you able to take? Are you comfortable accessing psilocybin where it’s legal under state law but illegal under national law, or would you rather travel to Jamaica where it’s legal nationally?
  • Location – How far are you willing to travel? What makes you feel safe and comfortable? What makes for a fulfilling adventure?
  • Dose – How much psilocybin might you need based on your background and the mental health condition you are seeking to treat? Can you access an adequate dose?
  • Facilitation – Who is facilitating and what qualifies them to do so? Are the facilitators more from a clinical, mental health background, or a shamanic, Indigenous background?
  • Cost – How many sessions of psilocybin therapy and how much psilocybin are you receiving? What else is included in the experience?
  • Reputation – How long has this provider been offering psilocybin therapy? What are their outcomes and how do people review the experience with them?
  • Group size – How many people are participating and how much support is there? How much privacy or group work will there be?
  • Preparation and Integration – How does the provider assist with preparation before and after psilocybin therapy? How deep is the work they will offer?

Assessing the above factors in your options for psilocybin-assisted therapy, whether at a retreat, clinic, or privately will allow you to make the most informed decision about what feels like the best fit for you.

Many of these factors can be deceptive because qualities not immediately obvious can make all the difference in your experience.

For example, two retreat centers may have a similar number of therapeutic support staff, but one may have a particular therapist with a background in Internal Family Systems (IFS), Somatic Therapy, or Transpersonal Psychology. There may also be a facilitator who you truly connect with who has faced similar struggles as you, shares your cultural background, or comes from a similar profession.

These details can make all the difference in psilocybin therapy progressing towards personal transformation. That particular therapist working from a certain therapeutic framework that resonates with you might strike the right cord amid a deep journey, opening doors that were previously closed. A facilitator you see yourself in and connect deeply to may spark profound realization. These nuanced factors can make all the difference when seeking healing, meaning, and a new, positive approach to life through psychedelic medicine.

Learn as much as you can about the providers you are considering to make the best choice. Study a retreat’s itinerary or a practitioner’s credentials deeply and establish familiarity with available options. Reading reviews can be a way to see a bit of yourself in somebody who had an experience with a certain provider and how it went for them, so read as many as you can.

Choosing an experience is not only an intellectual decision—tapping into intuition and checking in with how you feel in your heart matters too.

Psilocybin Dose for Depression or Anxiety: How Much Will You Need?

Psilocybin isn’t a quick fix. The vast majority of people will require multiple psilocybin sessions to get sustained benefits. One session can certainly be a catalyst for changing your life, but when done right, there is a compounding effect with each session of psychedelic therapy.

Maximizing your experience means finding your optimal therapeutic dose, which is unique for everyone across different moments and will vary depending on the context in which you are working with psilocybin.

psilocybin mushrooms in Jamaica

For many, an initial session involves getting comfortable with what psychedelics are like. As one becomes more comfortable with psilocybin, it’s possible to use higher doses to go deeper. Over multiple sessions, comfort within a group and the facilitators grows and the individual learns to work with the medicine. With the resulting flow of emotions, new insights emerge and healthy patterns begin to take place.

Finding the right mushroom dose requires some experimentation. Everyone has a different response to psilocybin. Many folks need two or three grams of mushrooms for a threshold psychedelic experience. Others may want or need a stronger journey with between four and seven grams, or sometimes more.

Individuals who have recently been on—or are still on—antidepressants may require doses upwards of ten grams to enter a substantial enough altered state for therapeutic gains. Antidepressants numb one’s emotions, and also impact the receptor sites that psilocin (the active alkaloid in psilocybin) must bind with, causing disruptions to the usual process.

Psilocybin is most effective when it allows people to tap into important feelings, heighten neuroplasticity, and shift their belief systems. With the dosing range established, it can be dialed in to optimize the intensity and trajectory of the psychedelic experience. When treating long-term mental health conditions resistant to pharmaceutical interventions, multiple doses of mushrooms may be necessary, too.

What’s a “Heroic Dose” of Mushrooms? Is It Enough?

Oregon psilocybin laws have imposed regulations on what an acceptable dose of psilocybin is, which caps out at five grams of dried mushrooms, often called a “heroic dose” in some circles. In Jamaica, there are no limits on dose.

For many people, a single five-gram session will be impactful. It may even be overwhelming without adequate preparation or support. But for others with treatment-resistant depression and/or anxiety, multiple larger doses are often needed. These strong and often long-established neural patterns require a larger disruption to trigger change. Certain personality types, like folks who are highly analytical or less in touch with their emotions, will also typically require higher doses than others.

Learning how to navigate and surrender to high doses is also a skill to cultivate. Throughout multiple sessions and increasing doses, one can learn how to engage with and learn from mushrooms. By navigating multiple high-dose sessions, confidence and trust are built between you and the medicine. Single psilocybin sessions can certainly be impactful, but there is a depth that develops with multiple experiences arranged closer together.

psilocybin mushrooms growing from mycelium

Psilocybin has a dose-response relationship. All substances work in this manner, with a minimum effective dose required for effects like opening a window of neuroplasticity—the growth of new neurons and changing of circuitry in the brain—which research links with improvements in mental health.

Another important factor with dose is tolerance. The body rapidly develops a tolerance to psilocybin, making the compound less effective when sessions are close together.  Low to moderate doses for sessions in close succession may not be enough for some people to overcome the tolerance factor.

Mushroom retreats in Jamaica such as MycoMeditations regularly surpass the five-gram dose limit set in the state of Oregon. Taking tolerance into consideration and steadily increasing doses over three sessions, experienced therapists and facilitators in Jamaica have the flexibility to optimize each guest’s dose and maximize therapeutic outcomes.

Psychedelic Therapy in Jamaica or Oregon? No Substitute for Experience

Choosing the right facilitation is the difference between a beautiful, healing psilocybin experience and an uncomfortable or even dangerous one.

Skilled facilitators will make you feel comfortable before, during and after psychedelic experiences. By having their own psychedelic experiences and spending a great deal of time with people in altered states, they can empathize with your process. Many facilitators are drawn to their work because of their own transformational experiences and a desire for others to have the same opportunity.

Seasoned facilitators carefully design Set and Setting for the most therapeutic experience possible. Set and Setting heavily influence psychedelics. ‘Set’ is your mindset and ‘Setting’ is the environment where the journey takes place. Facilitators you want at your side will earn your trust and curate a safe environment that supports the process of working with psilocybin mushrooms, or any other psychedelic.

psychedelic facilitators in training

Skilled facilitators aren’t just folks who have taken a lot of mushrooms, though. Psychedelic use has a long history of mentorship, such as shamans teaching their apprentices.

Today, quality training programs keep the spirit alive with those who have years of experience guiding new facilitators—familiarizing them with navigating altered states, observing apprentices, giving feedback, and collaborating with colleagues for an ideal client experience. Many programs and books provide in-depth historical and technical knowledge of psychedelics and while this is of value, the most important piece of the puzzle is experience.

Translating personal psychedelic experience into skilled facilitation requires study, practice, and self-discipline. Modern facilitators are often psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors and social workers. Others are coaches or people who have completed psychedelic training programs. There is currently no standard for training globally and facilitators and psychedelic retreat centers are often recommended based on reputation and time spent in their field.

In Oregon, facilitators are granted psilocybin licenses through the Oregon Health Authority. Newly minted state regulations require 120 of training and forty hours of practical experience guiding psilocybin experiences and integration. Facilitators do not have to be therapists to be approved to work with psilocybin legally and are not allowed to call their work psychedelic therapy. The program is new, with about 600 people receiving psilocybin in Oregon in 2023.

In Jamaica, there are no set regulations for facilitators, although the Jamaican Psilocybin Industry Working Group, which includes leadership from local retreats, is working to standardize best practices. Instead, retreat centers are left to establish their standards, psychedelic retreat models and training programs.

Cost Benefit Analysis of Oregon Psilocybin Treatment Centers

The most obvious factor to examine is cost—but what might not be obvious is how to get one’s money’s worth. Do you travel abroad for an all-inclusive and evaluate the best options? See a therapist in Oregon? Or work with somebody underground in other States? Most will cost thousands of dollars, so it’s not an investment to take lightly.

psilocybin mushrooms growing from substrate

One-on-One Psilocybin Therapy Clinics in Oregon

In Oregon, a single psilocybin session at a new clinic with a trained and licensed facilitator can cost up to $3400. Costs depend on the practitioner’s experience, training, location, overhead, licensing fees, and the price of grown or synthetic psilocybin.

At a minimum, a package should include a preparation session, six or more hours for the psilocybin experience and an integration session. This price may seem expensive, but holding space for a psilocybin trip is no casual affair for a single person and requires expertise, especially when dealing with mental illnesses related to trauma. These psychedelic treatments can be akin to surgery. Psilocybin therapy is a delicate process to be handled carefully by experts along with adequate time across preparation, the session(s), and integration.

One session can have a big impact, but it’s worth noting studies with psilocybin and depression involve multiple sessions and many hours of therapy. A single session with preparation and integration is a great start, but to explore deeper, compounding healing effects of psilocybin, multiple sessions along with additional therapy, or access to countries such as Jamaica may be required, which comes at extra cost.

One thousand dollars for a single session is often an entry-level price point for underground work. Underground guides or tripsitters might be found at lower costs, but a realistic budget for a trained, licensed psychedelic therapist is around $1500-$3000+. Hotels, transportation, food and time off work all need to be budgeted for as well, along with potential self-care practices often included in retreats. Even when traveling from neighboring states like Washington or California, let alone from states such as New York or Florida, the costs can add up.

Accessibility is also currently an issue, with waiting lists upwards of thousands of people at some psilocybin clinics in Oregon.

Psilocybin Retreats in Oregon

Licensed psilocybin retreat centers in Oregon are few and far between at the time of writing. The psychedelic industry stateside is still finding its legs, but retreats are a great escape from everyday life. At a retreat, healing has space and time to emerge, as opposed to being forced back into the bustle of daily life when a clinical session ends. Not to mention skipping awkward hassles like taking an Uber to a hotel after being in psilocybin therapy all day.

Oregon psilocybin retreat costs may broken down into three separate categories:

  • Venue – The location of the psilocybin session starts at $500.
  • Facilitation – Whoever guides the experience can cost anywhere from $500 to over $2500.
  • Psilocybin – Depending on whether grown or bought synthetically, expect to pay $70 to $600+.

On the lower end, one can have a single psilocybin experience with a few others for $1000. These amount to a “day trip” with light preparation and integration with facilitators. These types of sessions should only be for wellness purposes, as this often is not an adequate amount of support for trauma work.

Multi-day, immersive Oregon mushroom retreats in 2024 range from $3500 to $5500 for three to five-day experiences with one or two psilocybin experiences at lodges in Oregon’s ancient forests and misty mountains. While costs for retreats are higher overall, the value of each dollar includes more than psychedelic therapy. Licensed guides and legal psilocybin are included, along with meals and additional activities like yoga, meditation, massage, and structured integration time. At the time of writing these centers are so new that public reviews of the retreats surveyed don’t exist.

Psilocybin Retreats in Jamaica

All-inclusive psilocybin retreats in Jamaica have been running for nearly a decade and fine-tuning their services and protocols. Due to the fact that many people are unaware of the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms in Jamaica, the retreats also often don’t typically have long waitlists.

Complemented by warm locals, crystal waters, vibrant flora, and integration in the sunshine, travel takes us outside of our usual routines, people and habits. Psilocybin mushrooms aside, travel has always helped put distance between us and our familiar lives to support our health and wellbeing in numerous ways.

lignum vitae tree in rural jamaica

Upon arrival, accommodation, food, activities, transportation, support staff, trained facilitators, specialized facilities and psilocybin mushrooms produced by master growers are all provided.

Take MycoMeditations, where pricing starts at $5950 for an 8-day retreat that includes:

  • Three guided psilocybin therapy sessions
  • World-class facilitation from trained and highly experienced therapists
  • Zero limits on dosing to optimize outcomes
  • 20+ hours of group therapy (preparation & integration)
  • Experience, having guided over 2000 guests on successful journeys
  • Utilization of the most effective therapeutic frameworks
  • Dedicated hospitality teams
  • Intimate group sizes
  • Tropical retreat settings
  • Massage, meditation, and yoga
  • Authentic Jamaican cuisine
  • In-depth post-retreat integration

MycoMeditations also works mostly with therapists who already have psychedelic certifications. Facilitators undergo on-site training, mentorship and observation. Only once completing six retreats, totalling 18 psilocybin experiences, upwards of 100 hours of facilitation, and over 100 hours of group integration, are staff qualified as facilitators. After training and working together for so long, the team works together seamlessly to provide the best care for each guest.

How to Choose Between Oregon vs Jamaica for Psilocybin Therapy

Both Oregon and Jamaica have their merits.

Oregon is familiar and close to home for North Americans, but still finding its legs. Expensive licensing for centers and facilitators have kept costs high, limiting the services that practitioners can feasibly offer. Limits on five-gram doses by the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act will prevent some people from breaking through long-held patterns and accessing the emotional content leading to the insight and growth they deserve.

Psilocybin facilitators in Oregon undergo state-approved training programs and hold official credentials, but are not necessarily therapists. Oregon is breaking important ground but is still in the early days of an experiment.

Traveling to Jamaica is a bigger journey that can be more expensive upfront. There is no licensing system in Jamaica, making a comprehensive review of retreat options essential.

The country has no limits on dosage and psilocybin is fully legal, meaning the protocols implemented are proven by real-world results—not committees and policy, but by what works.

The freedom of Jamaica has allowed MycoMeditations’ decade of experience to establish its own gold standard for psilocybin-assisted therapy, built from a continual refinement of methods, procedures, and delivering the outcomes their guests seek.

a psilocybin mushroom

Psilocybin in Oregon or Jamaica: Which is Best for You?

By MycoMeditations

 

Not all psychedelic substances are the same.  Choosing between substances like ayahuasca or psilocybin mushrooms is more than a matter of chemistry as each is used in different contexts.

The use of ayahuasca and magic mushrooms goes back thousands of years. Although, modern use cases for psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca are being integrated into a society hungry for solutions to dismal mental health and what some call a “crisis of meaning.”

Ayahuasca and magic mushroom retreats may use elements established by indigenous peoples to work with these unique compounds. However, the exploding interest in psychedelics from advances in scientific understanding and a modern therapeutic emphasis are changing the use of these medicines in contemporary societies.

In this article, we explore the difference between psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca. From ancient use to modern evolution, chemical compounds, physical and mental effects, and what to expect at a retreat.

Ayahuasca vs. Mushrooms: How to Choose a Psychedelic Retreat

Before booking a retreat, it is important to examine the type of environment you want to have your psychedelic experience in, as well as your needs and intentions. With the huge variety of backgrounds and approaches from providers across numerous countries offering psychedelic retreats, it is important to select a retreat that most closely resonates with you and your goals.

Different retreats will have unique frameworks for relating to the medicine experiences and providing integration. Based on this framework, the staff will support you in a way that aligns with their process and the retreat will attract people that resonate with this approach to the medicine.

Are you looking for a therapeutic retreat with elements of psychotherapy that you might be most familiar with?

Are you wanting to experience psychedelic medicine authentically through another culture with the help of a shaman?

Are you trying to explore consciousness and spirituality through more of a wellness lens? Or are you hoping to heal trauma and overcome mental illness?

It’s important to ask these questions, as they will help guide you to a retreat provider that is best able to offer the support that will fit with your goals.

A popular term in psychedelic circles, “setting an intention,” means asking “Why do I want to do this?” Some people may be seeking healing. Others, personal development. For another, it may be spiritual exploration. There are countless reasons to seek out a psychedelic experience, each highly individual.

An intention is typically a simple and personally meaningful statement to assist people in navigating and making meaning from psychedelic experiences. Intentions could be statements like “I will stay curious,” requests like “Help me find ease,” or questions like “Why am I here?”

Understanding why you will spend time, money, and a great deal of energy on what many claim to rank as one of the most significant experiences of their lives is essential. Intentions matter because they will guide you to the right retreat centers, therapists, facilitators, and groups of people you will share the experience with.

Once you know your motivations, the next step is to find the right retreat. Here are some questions to consider before signing up for a retreat:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What am I hoping to accomplish?
  • Where will I be the most comfortable?
  • Who do I want to be around?
  • What modalities will the facilitators be using?
  • What kind of support do I want?
  • What is the ratio of guests to facilitators?
  • What substances are best for me?
  • Which protocols are in place?
  • How does integration with this group work?

With an understanding of why you want to join a psychedelic retreat, it is easier to choose between ayahuasca and mushrooms. Specifically, there are some differences between:

  • Active components of each substance
  • The context they are taken in
  • What the psychedelic experience is like

What are Psilocybin Mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms are naturally occurring fungi growing worldwide and have rich historical use. Mushrooms appear in the rock art found at ancient sites. References to mushroom use appear on most of the world’s continents. We know the Aztec and Mayan people of Central America used mushrooms, calling them the “flesh of the gods.”

When Spanish colonists suppressed the use of mushrooms, the practice continued in secret, until 1955 when a Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina shared mushrooms with an American banker, Gordon Wasson. These “magic mushrooms” soon became a cultural sensation leading to the discovery of new psilocybin species and their introduction into the Western world through scientific research and the 1960s counterculture movement.

After decades of prohibition starting in the early 1970s, psilocybin mushrooms have returned to the spotlight of clinical research and at psilocybin therapy retreats. Now, scientists and therapists have found newfound curiosity for the psychological impacts and psychedelic effects of the psychoactive compound “psilocybin.”

What is Psilocybin?

Psilocybin is one of many active compounds found in psychedelic mushrooms and appears to only occur in fungi. The most common is psilocybe cubensis, but we know of approximately 180 species within the category of “magic mushrooms”.

Scientists are still learning how psychedelics work. So far, we know when psilocybin is consumed, it is converted into the active compound, psilocin, which interacts with receptors in our nervous system. Different receptor sites are associated with different functions in the body. Psilocybin interacts with many receptors, but special attention focuses on the 5HT2A receptor. The 5HT2A receptor appears to be the key receptor with which all classic psychedelics interact with, creating consciousness-altering effects.

What is Ayahuasca?

No one can confidently say how long ayahuasca has been in use. The origins of ayahuasca consumption are in the Amazon rainforest of South America. Tribes practicing ayahuasca traditions with minimal interference from the outside world have kept the relationship between ayahuasca and “vegetalismo”, or learning from plants and spirits, strong. These traditions, now commonly called “shamanism,” are a big part of ayahuasca ceremonies.

The worldview and traditional medicine of the Amazonian people is a complex world of relationships a shaman navigates to facilitate healing. The culture surrounding the ayahuasca experience remains somewhat mysterious to outsiders, but its reputation has inspired researchers to study the psychedelic brew.

Ayahuasca is a mixture of several different plants. The core of this mixture is the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis). Combining these plants and drinking them makes the compound N-N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the main active alkaloid responsible for the ayahuasca experience, bioavailable inside the human body.

What is DMT?

DMT is a naturally occurring compound found throughout nature. It is produced in the human body and many plants. Usually, DMT inside the human body is broken down rapidly, making psychedelic effects short if smoked in its pure form or nonexistent if eaten. DMT is broken down by an enzyme in the body called monoamine oxidase.

People in the Amazon figured out that ingesting the ayahuasca vine prevents the breakdown of DMT because it contains other active compounds known as “monoamine oxidase inhibitors.” Researcher Dennis McKenna documented how the Banisteriopsis caapi vine “inhibits” the activity of MAO, allowing DMT to be consumed in an orally active form.

DMT’s molecular structure is very similar to psilocybin, and both interact with the body in comparable ways. Each compound binds to similar receptors but creates different reactions, along with interacting with different groups of receptors. Despite similarities between their physical and mental effects, there are some differences between the two substances.

Ayahuasca vs. Psychedelic Mushrooms: What’s the Difference?

While both medicines generally share positive outcomes when taken responsibly, the journey mushrooms or ayahuasca will take people on to arrive at their goal is different. As they say, it’s not the destination but the journey. The actual experience of each substance will depend on the dose, preparation, and “set and setting.”

Set and setting are linked to achieving desired results with psychedelics and are key differences in the psilocybin vs ayahuasca conversation. “Set” means the mindset one has going into a trip. Mindset includes:

  • Expectations
  • Personality
  • Emotional landscape
  • Knowledge and research
  • Framework of understanding

“Setting” refers to the environment an experience occurs within. Considerations here are:

  • Comfort
  • Safety
  • Legality
  • Other participants
  • Facilitators

Researchers, therapists, and group facilitators spend a great deal of time creating the ideal setting and mindset for psychedelic experiences, as they both feed into one another. The emphasis on these concepts is strong because data shows clear connections to optimal set and setting leading to improved outcomes.

The clearest distinction between psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca is not just their effects, but the context in which they are consumed within.

Effects of Mushrooms and Ayahuasca

Both psilocybin and ayahuasca are classical psychedelics. They are comparable because they induce altered states involving:

  • Visual distortions
  • Visions and memory activation
  • Amplified feelings and emotions
  • Cognitive insights and introspection
  • Dissolution of the ego, or “Default Mode Network
  • Changes to heart rate and body temperature
  • Physical reactions such as nausea, sweating, shaking, or yawning

The compounds also show groundbreaking potential in the laboratory as a much-needed mental health treatment. Psilocybin has even progressed to clinical trials and is dubbed a “breakthrough therapy” by the FDA, paving the way to widespread legal access.

On average, both experiences last for about 4-6 hours. Both substances may help people with a growing list of other tough-to-treat conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • OCD
  • Body Dysmorphia
  • End-of-Life Distress
  • Chronic Pain
  • TBI-Related Symptoms

Psilocybin and ayahuasca both require screening for mental and physical health concerns. Reputable retreats will have a detailed application process and firm knowledge of what is and isn’t safe. Asking questions of retreat organizers should be easy and the answers should be clear.

Ayahuasca – What to Expect

Ayahuasca is often held in a group ceremonial setting. A ceremony is typically led by traditional healers who have trained extensively in the jungle as part of an apprenticeship that includes learning directly from the plants and spirits. Shamans work with a unique set of tools been passed down through generations of curanderos in their lineage.

The shaman often speaks very little and instead sings icaros, which are healing songs said to be delivered by the spirits of the plants. Relationships with various plants, animals, and spirits may also be part of the healing work, and to navigate these, shamans will sing, pray and work with other healing plants, such as tobacco.

Ayahuasca traditions often focus on “cleansing”, and a powerful function of the ayahuasca brew is “la purga” or “the purge.” This comes in the form of strong physical effects like vomiting, diarrhea, crying, or shaking. From the Amazonian perspective, these responses are good and open one up to deeper work with ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca sessions can be both very challenging and beautiful. Ayahuasca can draw attention to aspects of one’s life, leading to profound life changes and spiritual growth. This experience creates insight and meaning into how someone has arrived where they are in life, often through what people describe as direct communication with the spirit of ayahuasca.

Preparation for Ayahuasca

A significant part of ayahuasca is preparation. Ayahuasqeros do extensive dietas, often in isolation in the jungle to learn their craft, involving abstinence from sex, media, and many foods. Participants in an ayahuasca retreat will be asked to undertake similar restrictions on food, sex, and perhaps other activities. A typical ayahuasca diet will restrict red meat, cheese, salt, sugar, and refined or fermented foods.

The ayahuasca diet is thought to increase one’s sensitivity to ayahuasca while removing distractions. The regime also includes mental preparation for what will likely be an intense experience. The diet also avoids potentially dangerous interactions with certain foods or medications. With ayahuasca in particular, certain medications (like antidepressants) must be avoided as they could cause harmful and potentially lethal interactions.

Psilocybin – What to Expect

Psilocybin makes people very sensitive to the environment and their inner experiences. Small moments can seem huge and meaningful, while emotions can surface in powerful ways. With trained professionals to help prepare, navigate, and integrate a psilocybin experience, it is possible to harvest a significant amount of meaning from a mushroom journey.

At this point in history, psilocybin is used in many different contexts. Indigenous practices and the history of psilocybin inform modern use, but the therapeutic use of psilocybin is generally very different from its traditional settings. Many practitioners still administer psilocybin mushrooms in ceremonial settings. However, the use of psilocybin in the modern world is increasingly evidence-based and supported by modern, therapeutic approaches.

Lessons learned from clinical trials with psychedelic-assisted therapy now inform the use of psilocybin mushrooms. Now many practitioners working with psilocybin have a mental health background. Similar to therapy, clients are guided through preparation and integration with an emphasis on the psilocybin experience. Practitioners are also trained in how to best support people during the session. While some have found personal growth through self-directed psilocybin journeying, we now know that the journey to healing from conditions like depression, anxiety, and addiction means including preparation and integration support from professionals.

Preparation for Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin mushrooms require significant mental and emotional preparation but do not require a special diet or abstaining from sex. A high dose of psilocybin often generates intense challenges but may lead to profound cognitive insights, emotional breakthroughs, and mystical experiences. Taking time to prepare one’s mindset before a psychedelic experience helps manage expectations, anticipate challenges, and puts the mind a bit more at ease.

Preparation for psilocybin involves considering set and setting, establishing trust with facilitators and therapists, and establishing personal intentions. Most medications, like antidepressants, do not pose a serious risk but can diminish the effects of psilocybin. It’s recommended to discontinue medications with professional support before a retreat.

An ayahuasca diet might last for weeks, but before mushrooms usually a few hours of fasting is recommended beforehand. Because psilocybin mushrooms can cause nausea, attention to food intake is important. Vomiting is rare, and restrictions on sex or social interactions are not typically part of mushroom preparation.

Choosing Between Ayahuasca & Magic Mushroom Retreats

The safety of both magic mushrooms and ayahuasca has stood the test of time, particularly alongside skilled and professional facilitation. Selecting a psychedelic retreat means honestly considering your personal preferences for the set and setting best suited for you.

Ayahuasca can be accessed legally in South America. Vetting shamans is essential because in parts of the world with less economic opportunity, poorly intentioned impersonators do take advantage of uninformed travelers. However, traditional curanderos with good training and integrity help many people every year. Taking ayahuasca involves being open to interacting with an old and different culture. There may be language barriers, and understanding the worldview of people from the Amazon won’t happen during a short retreat.

The best ayahuasca retreats should be trauma-informed, but the quality of facilitation varies so be sure to find centers with well-trained support staff, ideally with a mental health background. A safe ceremonial setting will be led by an experienced shaman with an adequate amount of trustworthy support staff. It is important to ask how many people will be at an ayahuasca retreat, as large groups can lead to less individual support.

Ceremonies are often led with prayers, medicine songs, icaros, tobacco, offerings, and other traditional healing technologies. Proper preparation before ayahuasca and integration afterward is essential for a safe and comfortable experience, which requires doing your homework to find trustworthy retreats, shamans, and facilitators.

Psilocybin can be accessed legally in a few countries, such as Jamaica and the Netherlands. Current retreats may draw some influence from traditional use, but practitioners utilizing psilocybin typically work through a psychological or transpersonal lens. Using relatable concepts and language assists people from Western countries in preparation, integration, and ultimately understanding of their psilocybin experiences.

Psilocybin retreats should also be trauma-informed, and many still lack the necessities for the best care. The highest quality retreats employ facilitators with strong mental health backgrounds and keep retreat sizes optimal for the number of staff to provide the proper level of support.

The MycoMeditations experience provides numerous trained therapists to best care for guests seeking psychedelic-assisted therapy with a modern approach. People can receive psilocybin-assisted therapy in an intimate setting of no more than 12 guests with a high staff-to-guest ratio of about 1:1.5. Hours of preparation and integration is provided daily to ensure that guests get the most healing from their psilocybin experiences.

If you’d like to learn more about MycoMeditations, we invite you to read through the rest of our website and apply if you wish to join us on retreat.

Ayahuasca vs. Psilocybin Mushroom Retreats: The Ultimate Guide

By MycoMeditations

 

“I can honestly say that I am not the same person as when I left,” says Montgomery, a participant at MycoMeditations Psilocybin-Assisted Retreats in Jamaica. A mother and wife from Louisiana, she says, “The inner critic is no longer screaming, and there is peace within me that has never existed before.”

Travel experiences like people, food, new culture, and natural beauty leave an impact. But the connections, challenges, and emotions lead to self-discovery and are the memories we take home.

The power of travel changes us, a phenomenon known as transformational travel. And as more people seek experiential travel, self-development, and healing, the call abroad to experience plant medicines like psilocybin or ayahuasca retreats is felt by many.

For years, the next adventure could only happen outside the walls of spas and all-inclusive resorts. But the new frontier is balancing an outer journey by going inward, with transformational retreats teaching tools like meditation, yoga, and psychedelics while still enjoying the comfort of a retreat.

While there is some skepticism around parts of the wellness space, a safe and well-facilitated psilocybin mushroom retreat is one of the most reliable ways to create a truly meaningful and significant experience. The healing and transformation possible with psilocybin are well documented by research and thousands of years of traditional use around the world.

What is Transformational Travel?

If you are seeking more from travel, you are not alone. Recent surveys show 57% percent of people ranked transformative travel as high importance, which essentially means a trip that changes you. The Transformational Travel Council, an advocacy group for “good travel”, says it focuses on “intentionally traveling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world.”

Perhaps part of the transformative travel trend is spiraling mental health conditions around the world. The World Health Organization estimated in 2019, one in every eight people live with mental health challenges, with anxiety and depression being the most common. People continue to prioritize travel with each passing year, both in younger generations and older generations.

 

Travel and Personal Growth

The state of mental health demands alternative approaches and exploration. Travel is known to already provide a slew of mental health benefits, such as relaxation, life satisfaction, and personal growth. Studies back up the benefits a new adventure has to people’s lives:

  • Happiness and outlook – 80% said travel improved their mood
  • Increase energy – 94% of travelers had more energy at work after travel
  • Lower stress levels – 75% said travel lowered their stress

Other research shows how travel to a new destination can connect with creativity, creating the understanding that can transform our lives. Psilocybin pairs well with this, with many researchers and artists showing that psychedelics can increase creativity too, while perhaps one of the most potent tools to turn a short trip into a transformation that lasts.

For the next trip to contain new ideas, break the daily routine, and leave the comfort zone, real adventures into something a bit more unknown are often needed. It’s true a relaxing vacation or yoga retreat might offer some relief, but all too often, we return to daily life only to simply restart old patterns. To truly make a positive change and embrace new perspectives, we need to leave our comfort zones, with psilocybin being a powerful tool for the task.

Psilocybin Retreats for Depression, Anxiety, PTSD & More

Psilocybin is emerging as a much-needed tool to shake up existing systems of therapy struggling to keep up with the state of mental health. At a psilocybin-assisted retreat, guests step outside these old patterns and routines.

A week-long retreat takes travelers into a deep dive of beauty, challenges, insights and emotions that, in combination with therapeutic support, lead to transformation. All while relaxing poolside or enjoying the sights in between. And, the lessons learned from mushrooms tend to last, with studies showing benefits from a few trips lasting over a year in some cases.

The results of psilocybin research are already shifting narratives and questions about what therapy is and could be. In particular, psilocybin can be an effective tool to treat:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Addiction

“This psilocybin retreat has changed my life from anxiety-ridden routine to a softer, calmer human,” reports Montgomery one month after her journey, adding, “My family is amazed at the transformation.”

The results have even given the FDA an open mind, along with other government agencies around the world, granting psilocybin status as a “breakthrough therapy.” A big feat for a substance researchers suggests works by giving people “mystical experiences”, which connect people to spirituality, meaning, and creativity. The move by governments will accelerate its study and adoption around the world.

Where is Psilocybin Legal?

Despite the enthusiasm around psychedelic medicine, psilocybin remains illegal on most of the planet. A transformational travel experience is about stepping outside one’s comfort zone, but that doesn’t have to mean doing something illegal.

Very few countries in the world can offer legal psilocybin, and even though retreats in places like Mexico or Costa Rica offer plant medicines, they aren’t actually legal yet.

Stepping into another culture and a new ecosystem opens people up to surprises long before they arrive at the retreat. But the challenges and perspectives from interacting with a foreign land are just the warm-up to psilocybin mushrooms which can be a difficult journey, albeit a rewarding one.

Transformative travel focuses on an inner shift, so while psychedelic tourism is just beginning, Jamaica has become the one of safest places for many to have their first psilocybin experience as a result of the mushroom’s legal status on the island.

Psilocybin Retreats in Jamaica

The good news is that psilocybin retreats in Jamaica can be held openly in a supportive, safe, and comfortable environment. The nature and soul of the Caribbean island have long been a destination for those who love transformational travel, relaxation, and adventure.

Our retreats feature an attentive support staff that maintain the needs of each guest within tranquil surroundings. By removing distractions and maximizing comfort, the psilocybin sessions and integration process facilitated by our experienced team of professionals unfolds amidst an environment of swaying palms and beaches. This is complimented by yoga classes, massages, and social time immersed nature.

This is accompanied even further at luxury options like MycoMeditations Concierge Retreat in Bluefields Bay. Integration discussions unfold casually throughout the week during breakfast overlooking the sea, relaxation time on a private beach, and alongside sunset appetizer hour which is followed by a 3-course dinner where a personal chef caters to all dietary needs.

Group Psilocybin Experiences Lead to Meaningful Personal Connections

Going through such deeply personal journeys and sharing about the experience openly within a group of people fosters a sense of profound connection, which is significantly healing in it’s own right. A psychedelic journey might happen within, but it’s navigating the ups and downs of a retreat that inspire friendships that can last a lifetime. It is not uncommon for those going through a therapeutic psychedelic experience within a group setting to say something along the lines of, “I’ve never shared this with anybody, not even my spouse.”

“I never in a million years would have expected to become so open and vulnerable with these people – in ways I haven’t been able to be with some of my closest friends and relatives,” shares Tamara from North Carolina.

Once again, research backs psilocybin’s potential to create transformation and other plant medicines as a group. Not only is doing psilocybin as a group connected to improved therapeutic outcomes but increases social connection. Psilocybin works through connection, not just to ourselves, the natural world, or spirituality, but with other people.

“Sessions were beautiful and illuminating and, sometimes, very challenging and sad. I moved through lots of unresolved grief about childhood loneliness and loss.” says Stephen from Minneapolis before adding, “I knew that the group setting offered would be good for me, but, honestly, I wasn’t prepared for how wonderful it was to heal with a group.”

Transformational Journeys for the Ultimate Travel Experience

How far would you travel to change your life? How deep? Travel has changed a lot. With well-worn backpacker trails and resort towns, finding authentic experiences has become its own adventure.

But what could be more fulfilling than a personal journey within, alongside like-minded seekers of healing and growth, supportive and personable retreat professionals? What if you could explore yourself in the deepest way possible while experiencing a level of luxury matching the most exclusive resorts?

This kind of transformation is now a possibility. MycoMeditations is one of the longest-standing psilocybin-assisted retreats in the world, having been host to nearly 2000 guests. In fact, “Life changing experience” is the most used phrase on our TripAdvisor page, indicating how transformative safe, therapeutic psilocybin mushroom experiences can be. If you’re interested in attending our retreat, we welcome you to apply today.

psilocybin capsules by ocean

Why Psilocybin is the New Transformational Travel Trend

By MycoMeditations

 

At MycoMeditations, we understand the difficulties of living with depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Psychedelics are gaining traction as a way to better tackle these challenges, and various options ranging from microdosing protocols, ayahuasca retreats, ketamine clinics, and psilocybin retreats like our own are emerging for people to try.

Microdosing in particular has gained popularity as a way for people to try psychedelics in an attempt to improve their mood or conditions. News outlets from The Guardian to The New York Times and National Geographic have written extensively about this growing trend, and microdosing retreats have started to appear.

We, however, are not a microdosing retreat. Read below to learn the differences between microdosing and what we do at a MycoMeditations retreat.

What Is Microdosing?

Microdosing is defined as taking 5-10% of a full psychedelic dose, usually LSD or psilocybin, as a way to get the supposed mental health benefits of the drug without the active psychedelic effect. Typically, people will take a sub-perceptual amount of their chosen psychedelic every other day or so, depending on the method they choose.

The popularity of microdosing largely comes from it providing a way for people to try psychedelics without a full-on psychedelic experience. Effective microdosing means you shouldn’t be feeling any of the psychedelic effects. This is far less anxiety-inducing when compared to taking a large dose of psilocybin. Microdosing is also a convenient way to try psychedelics in your regular, everyday life without disrupting regular executive functions. It appears to give people a chance of receiving all of the benefits of psychedelic therapy without the possibility of having the dreaded “bad trip”, right? Not so fast.

This supposed convenience of avoiding challenging psychological experiences is actually what makes microdosing a less than ideal psychedelic treatment. To reap the real benefits of psychedelic therapy, people must be willing to face what frightens them. The benefit of taking a high dose of psilocybin when done intentionally in a safe, supportive setting with time to effectively integrate the experience far outweighs the benefits that will come with microdosing.

So how would we compare microdosing with what happens at MycoMeditations psilocybin-assisted retreats? Are you considering trying a microdosing retreat? Continue reading to learn the differences between our methodology and microdosing.

 

Comparing Microdosing to What Happens at MycoMeditations

If microdosing is a term that everybody can recognize by now, then you might call what we do at MycoMeditations macrodosing. Instead of taking sub-perceptual amounts of psilocybin mushrooms (0.1g, 0.2g) as with microdosing, we provide guests with high doses in the range of 3-15g of dried psilocybin mushrooms during their stay with us. The amount generally increases in this range throughout the retreat week with each of the three dosing sessions. The dosage depends on many personal factors for the guest that we determine through our protocol.

Why do we work with such high doses? We repeatedly see that people with intractable cases of depression and anxiety simply need to be pulled out of the negative mental pattern they are stuck in. This is where the Default Mode Network, or “DMN” comes in.

The Default Mode Network describes the state of our brains when we are at rest. The DMN is often associated with activities such as daydreaming and self-reflection. For many people with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, the DMN essentially causes them to negatively ruminate constantly.

Psilocybin has been proven to reduce activity in the Default Mode Network, which allows the brain an opportunity to create new neural connections. This process is greatly enhanced when taking larger doses compared to microdosing. With the DMN offline, people have a window for novel experiences. They can learn to better relate with themselves, others, nature, or society. This rich, new experience then factors into the brain’s neural connections when the DMN comes back online. With effective psilocybin therapy and integration, the Default Mode Network takes this fresh experience into account and helps the individual find a “new normal”.

MycoMeditations psilocybin-assisted retreats also create cathartic experiences. Besides the process involving the Default Mode Network, psilocybin also acts as a chemical key to open people up to deeper layers of the mind, which isn’t possible in the same way with microdosing.

With higher doses of psilocybin mushrooms, many of the emotions and feelings that have been subdued, ignored, or forgotten begin to emerge. These are often experiences that stem from childhood and our earliest encounters in life, at times even including somebody’s birth process. High-dose psilocybin therapy allows somebody hours of time to work with their most deepest, core emotions and memories. In this time, an extraordinary amount of healing can be done. Microdosing simply will not open you up to this level of depth.

Here’s an analogy to describe this: Imagine the various layers of soil being your mind. You have the topsoil all the way down to the bedrock. Microdosing, as with conventional therapy, can help in doing work at the uppermost layers, as they can activate new perspectives, insights, and create subtle shifts. Whereas at MycoMeditations, providing larger doses of psilocybin is like drilling into the bedrock. These deeper layers (of our psyche) is where our problems stem from and where trauma is buried.

High-dose psilocybin therapy aims to go to the root cause of psychological suffering, including dealing with traumatic experiences. In order to cope with trauma, an individual’s psyche often uses defense mechanisms such as repressed memories, or dissociative amnesia.

Of course, these types of psilocybin experiences can be challenging and frightening. That is why we staff our retreats with trained therapists and facilitators and provide guests ample time each day to reflect and integrate their experiences.

Microdosing may ensure you won’t have difficult experiences. However, our position is that courage to face uncomfortable feelings is needed to heal.

That isn’t to say that these experiences on high doses of psilocybin mushrooms are always difficult — often they are the most blissful experience someone will ever have! The key is being prepared and supported, because the therapeutic outcomes can be tremendous with high-dose work.

We hope this helps you understand the differences between microdosing and our work at MycoMeditations. At the end of the day, regardless of whether an individual chooses to explore a microdosing retreat or high-dose psilocybin retreat like ours, healing is defined by nobody besides you.

Microdosing vs. MycoMeditations Psilocybin-Assisted Retreats

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