We dive deep into how psychedelic therapy is rising and taking the tourism industry by storm.
Many millennials see magic mushrooms as a component of music festivals, full moon parties, or as an attribute of a weird stoner kid who’s always talking about transcendence and spiritual experiences. However, the notions towards magic mushrooms are beginning to change, in significant part because of the wellness retreats that have loads of people flocking there.
Although South America has been home to several ayahuasca ceremonies in the past, these “all-inclusive magic mushroom retreats'' are quite different because they are taking place in countries where psilocybin and psychedelics are legal. These ceremonies are quite luxurious, and they range from rustic guest houses set right beside the beautiful shores of Jamaica to the lovely jungles in the middle of the Netherlands. In these retreats, you can expect to find some serious luxury like high-quality cuisines, lovely furnishing, as well as picturesque views.
These retreats bring together professional therapy and luxurious spa treatment, with psychedelic mushrooms used as the primary agent for transcending to a higher state. This is a place where you get to have a great mind-altering experience in a safe space and luxurious surroundings instead of a sketchy house party.
The reason for the astronomical growth of these retreats? The founder of the Synthesis retreat in the Netherlands, Paul Austin, attributes it to the high demand that these retreats are catering to. With the retreat set against the beautiful sand dunes of Zandvoort, the house is quite like something you would see on ad Designs.
It’s not everyone that is attracted to the idea of taking a trip to the Amazon and laying on a mat for a week, and spending all that time puking. Many want to enjoy comfort and convenience while enjoying some top-quality food.
And this new rise of retreats causes people to focus primarily on their psychedelic experience. Some people might have a hard time getting used to staying in the jungle and this could cause them to gain less from their experience.
An experienced mushroom microdoser said that his three-day retreats always sell out. And it’s not people you would immediately attribute to magic mushrooms and psychedelics that are the main participants in these retreats. There are a lot of wealthy tie and suit-wearing people who look for these retreats to help them grow spiritually and all to boost their productivity. There are all kinds of business professionals, and even people from the medical field, entertainment, as well as entrepreneurs.
So many people turning to magic mushrooms points to the way our culture is becoming more and medicated. People in the west are just beginning to realize that synthetic medication does not provide the kind of great long-term benefits that plant-based ones do. These plant-based medications like psilocybin work to reconnect areas of the brain that have not been working efficiently, and this helps in the healing process.
At So Medicine retreats in Mexico, they are also looking at the possibility of a female-only retreat in the future, as well as a sliding cost scale so they can also help people who don’t have enough money but need the therapy.
A lot of people have the belief that spirituality does not go together with science but research is beginning to show what Shaman healers have been trying to say for many years. A lot of it is a result of many studies that came out in the 1960s when psilocybin was seen as a breakthrough compound for mental health. Over a thousand published studies and six international conferences had been held relating to drugs before 1965. However, issues surrounding morality and legality caused this research to come to a halt. Now, institutions like Imperial College London and John Hopkins are performing research on the potential use of psilocybin in treating a wide range of health conditions.
Scientists are still not completely sure about how psilocybin works but an analogy that is commonly used is that of an unbaked vase. Psilocybin works to take your mind into an acute plastic state just like how ceramics are put into a kiln. “When your brain is in this state, it is malleable”, says Matthew W. Johnson, an Associate Behavioral Science, and Psychiatry Professor at John Hopkins University. So, your mind will be moved to change and reflect in a much quicker way than it would normally.
This was definitely what happened to a young British man named James, who visited the Dutch retreat organized by the Psychedelic Society not too long ago. He seems to still be on a high, and he describes the experience as the best thing he has ever done.
His short flight to Amsterdam was a no-brainer to him. He had about five grams of psilocybin ruffle on the first day and participated in an integration workshop the next day. They recommended materials to read, talks to listen to, and also had them journal and take walks through nature.
In Jamaica, at Myco Medications, things are a bit more intense. The guests there take three doses of psychedelic mushrooms and this helps to place their brains in an open state. All kinds of negative emotions and thoughts can be broken down by this and further dosing, allowing the person to function happily.
There still seems to be one drawback relating to retreats, and it is quite big. Background checks! All mushroom retreats currently run an application process where you will have to state your medical history. If you have suffered from psychosis or such mental health conditions, then you will not be accepted into the retreat. However, there is no way you can verify the information each person puts out.
Over at the Synthesis retreat, the guests are asked to sign waivers while Sol Medicine works with psychologists that are trained on intake, so they can screen out people that show signs of these conditions.
However, some participants in these retreats have said the application is quite “easy to flunk”.
There are some risks attributed to these retreats and bad trips do happen sometimes. Katherine McClean, who is a research scientist, has performed several legal clinical trials of psilocybin, and she advises that people who go for retreats should ask some serious questions before they go. They need to know what kind of medical and clinical training the facilitators have been through, and also check the laws regarding the use of psychedelics in the country they are visiting.
Having such a trip might be the wish of many travelers, but at a time when the rules in wellness travel are changing, it looks like magic mushroom retreats will continue to come out from the underground.