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From Fungi to Neurogenesis: How Blue Light Unlocks Psilocybin's Potential

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Introduction


The world of fungi has always been a fascinating area of exploration, with a multitude of species offering remarkable properties for human health and well-being. Among these are the psilocybin-containing mushrooms, known for their mind-altering properties and increasingly studied for their potential in promoting neurogenesis – the process of forming new neurons in the brain. Mycologist and inventor Paul Stamets has patented a novel method of stimulating the production of neurogenic compounds from mycelium (the root-like structure of fungi) using specific wavelengths of light. In this blog post, we will summarize the key elements of Stamets' patent and delve into the possible implications of this groundbreaking research.



Paul Stamets' Patent: A Summary


One goal of Stamets' patent is to explore the induction of neurogenic compounds related to psilocybin and psilocin, which are not illegal and thus do not violate any statutes in the United States or other countries. The method focuses on using blue light stimulation in the 280-420 nm wavelength range to elicit precursor molecules to psilocybin and psilocin production from the mycelium, primordia, or fruiting bodies of psilocybin mushrooms or their close non-psilocybin relatives.


The process involves exposing mycelium to specific wavelengths of blue light, which activates the production of shikimic acid and antioxidant polyphenols, while simultaneously stimulating tyrosinase, leading to melanization and inhibiting other enzymatic pathways. This results in the production of psilocin, psilocybin, and other tryptamines from the mycelium in psilocybin-active mushrooms and their relatives.


By modifying the wavelength and frequency of light exposure, including pulsing the light, it is possible to fine-tune the expression of active neurogenic ingredients. This allows for the creation of novel compositions with potential medical significance in repairing neuropathic damage, promoting neurogenesis, and facilitating synaptic integrations.


Read the Patent

Neurogenesis patent
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.00MB

Key Elements of the Patent

  1. Light-induced bioactive compound production: Stamets' method relies on the induction of bioactive compounds from mycelium through light stimulation. Blue light, in particular, has been shown to activate shikimic acid production, which gives rise to aromatic amino acids (phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan). These amino acids serve as precursors for the formation of ergot alkaloids, lysergic acid, psilocybin, and psilocin.

  2. Customization of neurogenic compounds: By adjusting the wavelength, exposure time, and intensity of light, it is possible to influence the expression of neurogenic compounds. This opens up possibilities for creating medically significant compositions that can be tailored to specific therapeutic applications.

  3. Potential applications: The patent proposes a wide range of potential applications for the neurogenic compounds derived from this method. These include repairing neurons, removing amyloid plaques, improving mental health, cognition, agility, and enhancing the overall "ecology of consciousness." The inventor also suggests the possibility of using these compounds to help amputees activate articulable prostheses and improve cyborg technologies by allowing neurons to grow into and mesh with computer interfaces.

  4. Enhancing production through vibration and sonification: Stamets' patent also suggests that the production of active principle ingredients from mycelium can be further enhanced by using vibrational actions, such as pulsed sonic vibration or sonification, in combination with light exposure. This approach can be customized to optimize yields and improve the overall effectiveness of the method.

Potential Implications and Future Directions


The implications of Stamets' patent are far-reaching, as it opens up a new avenue for exploring the untapped potential of light-induced neurogenesis. By carefully manipulating the type, duration, and intensity of light exposure, researchers can potentially develop novel neurogenic compounds that could be applied in various therapeutic settings.


In the realm of mental health, these compounds could potentially be utilized for treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mood disorders. By promoting neurogenesis, these compounds may help enhance neural plasticity, facilitating the formation of new synaptic connections and improving overall brain function.


Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, could also potentially benefit from this research. The patented method may pave the way for developing targeted therapies that can slow down or even reverse the degeneration of neurons, remove amyloid plaques, and protect the brain against further damage.


Moreover, the patent hints at the possibility of using these neurogenic compounds to improve the integration of neural tissue with computer interfaces. This development could revolutionize the field of brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, leading to more seamless interactions between humans and machines, and offering a range of applications in areas such as prosthetics, virtual reality, and even direct brain-to-brain communication.


Challenges and Considerations


As with any groundbreaking research, there are challenges and considerations that must be taken into account. For one, the safety and efficacy of the neurogenic compounds derived from this method will need to be thoroughly investigated through preclinical and clinical trials. This will be crucial in ensuring that any potential therapeutic applications are both safe and effective for human use.


Furthermore, it is essential to consider the ethical implications of using neurogenic compounds in various settings. For instance, the use of these compounds in enhancing cognitive abilities or brain-computer interface technology raises questions about fairness, privacy, and the potential for misuse. As this field continues to evolve, it will be crucial for researchers, policymakers, and society as a whole to engage in open dialogue and establish guidelines that ensure the responsible development and application of these powerful tools.


How to Stimulate Production of Psilocybin Precursors


UV lights are essential at producing non-psilocybin compounds.
UV lights

To use UV lights to stimulate the production of psilocybin precursors, you can follow these general steps:

  1. Choose the right organism: First, select a suitable psilocybin-producing mushroom species or a close non-psilocybin-producing relative that can produce the desired precursor molecules.

  2. Cultivate mycelium: Grow the selected fungus on a suitable substrate, such as sterilized rice, in a controlled environment. Mycelium should be allowed to colonize the substrate for at least one week and up to 16 weeks.

  3. Select appropriate lighting: Obtain UV lights that emit the desired wavelength, which is in the range of 280-420 nm, with a focus on blue light. Ensure that the lights are powerful enough to provide an intensity of 50-1,000 lux. LEDs or fluorescent lights specifically designed for the UV range can be suitable options.

  4. Prepare the setup: Place the colonized substrate in plastic bags or glass vessels that allow the transmission of the selected UV wavelengths. Position the UV lights above and below the horizontally arranged bags or vessels to ensure maximum light exposure to the mycelium.

  5. Control the light exposure: To stimulate the production of psilocybin precursors, expose the mycelium to the UV light for a short duration of 1-5 days. You can also experiment with different light exposure schedules, such as 12 hours of blue light followed by 12 hours of red light. Pulsing the light or using a combination of wavelengths can also help modulate the expression of active neurogenic compounds.

  6. Harvest the compounds: After the exposure period, you can harvest the neurogenic compounds from the mycelium. This can be done by washing the mycelium using cold ethanol and water or other solvents and extraction processes known in the field of natural product extraction.

  7. Analyze and isolate the compounds: Use analytical techniques such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), mass spectrometry (MS), or nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to identify and isolate the desired precursor molecules from the extracted mixture.

It's important to note that cultivating psilocybin-producing mushrooms is illegal in many jurisdictions, so it is crucial to check and adhere to local regulations when working with fungi that produce controlled substances. Always prioritize safety and legality when exploring the production of neurogenic compounds. With that said, Paul's patent does suggest that under proper guidelines, it's possible to cultivate non-regulated compounds related to psilocybin that have neurogenic properties.


By following these steps and adjusting the parameters as needed, researchers can potentially stimulate the production of psilocybin precursors and other neurogenic compounds in mycelium using UV lights. This method provides a powerful tool for the development of novel therapeutic agents and a deeper understanding of the untapped potential of fungi and light in the realm of neurogenesis.


It is essential to emphasize that working with controlled substances like psilocybin is illegal in many jurisdictions. Always prioritize safety and legality when working with any compounds, and follow local regulations.



That being said, here is a simplified extraction method that can be performed outside of a laboratory setting:

  1. Harvest the mycelium: After the UV light exposure, carefully remove the colonized substrate from the bags or glass vessels, and separate the mycelium from the substrate as thoroughly as possible.

  2. Freeze the mycelium: Place the harvested mycelium in a freezer-safe container and freeze it overnight. Freezing helps break down the cell walls, making it easier to extract the compounds of interest.

  3. Prepare the solvent: Choose a suitable solvent for the extraction, such as food-grade ethanol or isopropyl alcohol (IPA). Ensure the solvent is safe for consumption if you intend to use the extract for personal use.

  4. Blend the mycelium: Remove the mycelium from the freezer and blend it into a fine powder using a blender or coffee grinder.

  5. Combine mycelium and solvent: Add the powdered mycelium to a jar and pour the solvent over it, ensuring the mycelium is fully submerged. Stir the mixture to ensure even distribution.

  6. Soak and shake: Allow the mycelium to soak in the solvent for a few hours or up to a day, shaking the jar periodically to maximize the extraction of compounds.

  7. Filter the mixture: Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, coffee filter, or cheesecloth to separate the liquid from the solid mycelium.

  8. Evaporate the solvent: Transfer the filtered liquid to a shallow dish or tray and allow the solvent to evaporate. Depending on the solvent used and the desired consistency of the final extract, this process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days. Ensure that the area is well-ventilated and away from open flames or sparks, as solvents can be flammable.

  9. Collect the extract: Once the solvent has evaporated, use a scraper or spatula to collect the resulting extract. The extract can then be used for various purposes, depending on the compounds present and the intended application.


White, branching mycelium growing on a round, nutrient-rich agar plate in a controlled environment.
Example of mycelium growing on agar

Remember that this is a simplified extraction method and may not be suitable for isolating specific compounds or achieving a high level of purity. Always use caution when working with solvents and chemical processes, and consult relevant laws and regulations before attempting any extraction involving controlled substances.

Here's a list of equipment and materials you might need for the extraction process:

  1. Freezer-safe container: To freeze the mycelium.

  2. Blender or coffee grinder: For grinding the mycelium into a fine powder.

  3. Food-grade solvent: Ethanol or isopropyl alcohol (IPA) can be used for the extraction process. Make sure to choose a solvent that is safe for consumption if you intend to use the extract for personal use.

  4. Glass jar with a lid: For soaking the mycelium in the solvent.

  5. Fine mesh strainer, coffee filter, or cheesecloth: To separate the liquid extract from the solid mycelium.

  6. Funnel: To help pour the liquid through the filter without spilling.

  7. Shallow dish or tray: For evaporating the solvent to obtain the extract.

  8. Scraper or spatula: To collect the extract once the solvent has evaporated.

  9. Gloves and safety goggles: To ensure personal safety while handling solvents and other chemicals.

  10. A well-ventilated area: To safely evaporate the solvent, reducing the risk of inhalation or fire hazards.

Remember to prioritize safety and legality when working with any compounds and to follow local regulations.


Tools to make extraction more efficient


Here are some chemistry tools that can make the extraction process more efficient and potentially yield a higher-quality extract. Here's a list of additional equipment you might consider using:


  1. Magnetic stirrer with a hot plate: To maintain a consistent temperature and ensure even mixing during the extraction process.

  2. Erlenmeyer flask: To hold the solvent and mycelium mixture on the magnetic stirrer.

  3. Separatory funnel: For more efficient separation of the liquid extract from the solid mycelium or any remaining solvent.

  4. Rotary evaporator (rotovap): For faster and more controlled evaporation of the solvent, resulting in a purer extract. This equipment is more expensive and requires a vacuum pump.

  5. Vacuum pump: Required for using a rotary evaporator to create a vacuum for controlled evaporation.

  6. Glass syringe: To collect the purified extract after the evaporation process.

  7. Graduated cylinder or volumetric flask: For measuring liquid volumes accurately.

  8. pH meter: To monitor the pH of the solution, which can affect the extraction efficiency.

  9. Analytical balance: For the accurate weighing of mycelium and extract.

While these tools can improve the extraction process, they may also increase the complexity and cost. It is important to weigh the benefits against the investment and consider your level of experience before purchasing or using advanced chemistry equipment. Always prioritize safety and follow local regulations when working with chemicals and compounds.


Conclusions


Paul Stamets' groundbreaking patent paves the way for a promising new approach to harnessing the neurogenic potential of psilocybin-related compounds. By using light, particularly blue light in the 280-420 nm wavelength range, to stimulate mycelium, researchers and practitioners can legally and efficiently explore the benefits of these powerful compounds. By exploring the capacity of blue light to stimulate the production of neurogenic compounds from mycelium, researchers have an opportunity to develop innovative therapies for a wide range of neurological disorders and applications. As this field continues to advance, it will be exciting to witness the discoveries that emerge from the intersection of mycology, light, and the human brain.


Colorful, abstract illustration of the human brain with intricate, interconnected neurons symbolizing cognitive activity and mental processes.
An artist's depiction of the human mind including neurons.

As we continue to understand the intricate interplay between light exposure and mycelium's production of neurogenic compounds, we open the door to a wealth of potential medical applications. From promoting neurogenesis to aiding in the treatment of neurological disorders, this innovative method has the potential to revolutionize the field of neuroscience and improve countless lives. By embracing this cutting-edge research, we take one step closer to unlocking the full potential of fungi and shedding light on a brighter future for brain health.


In conclusion, Paul Stamets' patent on light-induced neurogenesis offers a fascinating glimpse into the untapped potential of fungi and the power of light in shaping the future of neuroscience.


Recommended Resources and Products on Amazon


Books on psilocybin, mushrooms, and mycology:

UV lights and light exposure equipment:

Home chemistry and extraction tools:

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