Natural Psychedelics: Synthetics’ Untapped Alternative

July 28, 2020

In the nascent yet burgeoning psychedelics industry there is an unsettling trend: the vast majority of resources and attention are being devoted to synthetically-prepared versions of what were originally naturally-derived compounds. Filament Health has been founded to present an alternative. As the leading publicly-traded natural psychedelics extraction technology and drug discovery company, Filament will demonstrate the safety and efficacy of naturally-extracted psychedelics.

How many caffeine users prefer a synthetic tablet to a shot of espresso?

How many people prefer artificial to natural vanilla extract?

How many prefer artificial blue food dye?

The examples may be gratuitous, but the point remains.

It’s not surprising that synthetic psychedelics have jumped to the forefront. The processes for their creation are relatively simple and well-known thanks to the early work of Albert Hoffman, a pioneer of psychedelic synthesis in the 1930’s-1950’s. Synthetic processes create single-compound preparations which are easy to work with and easy to measure. They don’t contain many impurities which could interfere with the active ingredient or be harmful on their own. This is what makes them very attractive from a pharmaceutical development perspective. But is the pharmaceutical pathway the best pathway to unlock the vast potential of these substances? The arduous and lengthy drug approval process necessitates high drug prices to be profitable. Spravato, a ketamine-based drug, is priced at several thousand dollars per month without significant production cost. In the case of psilocybin, the production costs associated with scaling up the synthesis process in a manner consistent with cGMPs are not yet known but appear to be rising significantly from an already-high starting point. It is not unreasonable for companies pursuing a synthetic pharmaceutical avenue to expect a return on their significant investment. They should be lauded for advancing psychedelics and psychedelic science. But will these high costs limit broad adoption? Will insurers and consumers pay? Given that there are multiple urgent crises that psychedelics could potentially alleviate we need to come up with better and greater options — fast.

Teas, tinctures, broths, extracts are all versions of the same thing. They remove the active ingredient from the raw plant or fungus to provide an alternative delivery form which might be more palatable, more concentrated, or more standardized and consistent. Most importantly, extraction allows for homogenization and therefore standardization to a known quantity of the active ingredient per dose of extract. This is especially vital in psychedelics, where altering a dose by even a few milli- or micrograms can significantly impact the effect. It takes experience and know-how to deliver a consistent supply of standardized extracts but the processes for doing so are well-understood. In this way one of the most important perceived downsides of naturals — consistency — can be overcome. The development of novel processes for extraction, purification, standardization, formulation and delivery can present opportunities for intellectual property generation, overcoming another perceived downside to naturals, namely the ‘lack of IP possibilities’. Sticking with natural means leveraging thousands of years of traditional and cultural consumption and learning, all of which is lost with synthetics.

Perhaps the biggest potential advantage of natural extracts is their ‘messiness,’ meaning the presence of multiple compounds in the extract other than the primary active ingredient. Human receptor sites are not universally standardized and identical. It’s possible that a combination of natural compounds could have a greater effect, or one with fewer side effects, than a single compound preparation. We are only just scratching the surface of the potential of these other compounds or ‘secondary metabolites’. They deserve to be studied closely to see if they can be beneficial either in combination or alone. Natural extracts provide the best avenue to study these compounds.

With large-scale production the cost of cultivating the natural feedstocks for extraction will fall precipitously, bringing the costs of extracts down as well. Why should the cost of a psilocybin-containing extract of a psilocybe mushroom be significantly higher than the cost of a reishi or lion’s mane extract? Imagine a world where a safe, standardized dose of psilocybin can be had for a few dollars, as opposed to a few thousand dollars.

The point is not to invoke a Huxleyan dystopia and declare that synthetics are bad. If they prove to be efficacious and safe (which is what we are seeing so far) they can help alleviate the suffering of many. The point is to show that responsibly produced natural psychedelics will provide a solution with many advantages both known and yet to be proven. Many of their perceived downsides have been overblown to the point that they are dismissed out of hand. With decades of combined experience in natural extraction we view this as extremely disappointing and feel duty bound to address this problem.

To this end we have founded FIlament Health. Filament will be the leading publicly-traded natural psychedelics extraction technology and drug discovery company with its mission get get safe, natural psychedelics in the hands of everyone who needs them — as soon as possible.