Separating Fact from Fiction: A Skeptical Look at Psilomethoxin
Venturing down the coiling rabbit hole of psychedelics for three decades, my interest with the obscure tryptamine 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT has recently flourished in a manner that shocked even myself. Yet, not for the reasons one might presume.
It's not the drug itself that fascinates me, but the cultural fuss surrounding it. The buzz surrounding this specific tryptamine has been deafening as of late, with some hailing it as a "universal spiritual supplement," whatever that means. It's being touted by others as a potential breakthrough treatment that can help heal trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, traumatic brain injury, and a variety of other mental health conditions. But despite all of that, my doubts linger, for there is not a shred of proof to support these assertions. In researching this mysterious substance, I'm finding myself swimming in a sea of red flags, trying to navigate my way to solid ground.
4-HO-5-MeO-DMT (4-Hydroxy-5-methoxydimethyltryptamine), or as a church in Texas has literally trademarked "PSILOMETHOXIN," is a new player in the psychedelic game. It's the black sheep of the tryptamine family, with little known about its origins or effects. The only documented proof of its existence seems to be a dusty old paper published by scientists at the Pasteur Institute back in 1965. Nevertheless, underground chemists have been whispering about this compound for years.
So, What is It?
The Church of Psilomethoxin claims that this novel tryptamine is created in vivo (or “within a living organism”) by psilocybin mushroom mycelium, and that it was produced by feeding 5-MeO-DMT to the substrate before the fruiting stage of development. It would seem as though this is easier said than done. And it is important to note that a successful application of this technique does not appear in any scientific literature that I can find. A reputable journal publishing a peer-reviewed paper would be a sight for sore eyes, but that is nowhere to be found.
Alexander Shulgin explained that it could be possible to do this, but I find no evidence that he had any success doing so. It's not impossible to conceive of a methodology to produce 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT from 5-MeO-T and certain mycelium that contain psilocybin. However, it would certainly require substantial research and development, as well as access to advanced analytical equipment to track the progress and outcome of the process. Be that as it may, this group calling itself the Church of Psilomethoxin claims to have cracked the code in 2021.
However, as with all underground experimentation, their data and true results appear to remain shrouded a veil of rhetoric and half-truths. Claims of success are easy to make, but when it comes to science, proof is everything. And yet, when it comes to this particular experiment, there's a distinct lack of it. No chemical identification, no mass spectrometer fingerprint, no public data to speak of. It's the kind of thing that sets alarm bells ringing, and the only way to uncover the truth is to dig deeper, to keep asking questions, no matter how uncomfortable they might be.
And so, the million-dollar question remains: How can we be certain that what the Church of Psilomethoxin is selling is actually what they say it is? My suspicions were aroused, and my investigative work in writing this article led me to a damning conclusion: the 'sacrament' the Church of Psilomethoxin is selling to its followers is not 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT.
An in-depth analysis conducted by a reputable laboratory in California has validated previous results from a prominent chemist that I know and trust, establishing that the substance "psilomethoxin" does not possess the properties of 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT. Efforts to secure official statements from both the laboratory and my chemist friend have been unsuccessful, as they have both declined to comment on the matter publicly. This publication remains dedicated to following this issue and providing our audience with any updates as they become available. I urge both of them to come forward and make a public statement.
The Church of Psilomethoxin's Facebook page features this image along with wording suggesting this substance is helping veterans overcome some sort of trauma. This immediately raises red flags in my mind, especially when coupled with phrases like "testing phase," which implies that there are clinical trials being conducted with this substance. However, upon further investigation, I could not find any credible evidence of any past or present clinical trials involving psilomethoxin. It's important to be skeptical and fact-check information before accepting it as true, especially when it comes to unproven or experimental treatments for serious conditions like PTSD and TBI.
"Because the Church believes Psilomethoxin represents a reunion of spirit/nature with science/medicine, it has vowed to assist the medical and scientific community in studying the effects of Psilomethoxin. The Church believes this data can be used for the good of humanity and will ultimately serve the Church’s goal of making its sacrament available to all those who are aligned spiritually and ready to elevate their consciousness."
- The Church of Psilomethoxin
This sounds wonderful! But where is the existing data?
As with any new compound, it's also important to consider the risks and precautions associated with psilomethoxin. For one, the effects of psilomethoxin in larger doses could be unpredictable. The Church of Psilomethoxin has stated that this substance is intended to be micro-dosed. But I am being told, the dosage they recommend doesn’t seem to have much of an effect, even after long term use. After sifting through the flowery rhetoric on their website and social media, I have my doubts whether the folks at the Church of Psilomethoxin truly understand the supposed effects of their sacrament.
"Initial reports of Psilomethoxin indicate it is remarkably different from both 5-MEO-DMT and psilocybin/psilocin in some important and fundamental respects. Unlike these other scheduled tryptamines, Psilomethoxin does not alter sensory perception or cause any major mental disturbances (lacks any hallucinogenic qualities) as a micro-dose. The result is a sacrament that is best described as a “human optimization” molecule."
- The Church of Psilomethoxin
Initial reports from where? Calling it a "human optimization" molecule seems like a way of saying something and nothing at the same time. "Human Optimization" is simply the marketing doublespeak standing in the way of actual data. One can never truly know if this mysterious supplement operates like Psilocybe mushrooms or in the same fashion as Onnit's Shroom Tech, for example. But, what I can appreciate about Onnit is their transparency in revealing the contents of their products and providing explanations for their intended effects...and they aren't a church with a "Lead Oracle" as their CEO.
Because they are promoting this stuff as something created with Psilocybe mushrooms and 5-MeO-DMT, there is much more than a hint that this tryptamine is a psychedelic substance in larger doses. When it comes to Psilocybe mushrooms and 5-MeO-DMT, there's no denying the hallucinogenic properties of these substances. They are both incredibly powerful psychedelics, leaving no doubt in the minds of those who have experienced them. They are two of the most potent and mind-altering psychedelic substances on the planet.
Someone I met is currently experimenting with larger doses of psilomethoxin. Thus far, he has experienced no results, positive or negative. And with the amount he is consuming just to get a feel for this stuff, he isn’t exactly micro-dosing. He first tried 150mg, then 250mg the following day, then 350mg, then 500mg. Nothing.
He recently took the plunge and consumed 1000mg. With one gram, he said that he started to feel the onset of what felt like a mushroom trip with very mild visuals that subtly reminded him of DMT. Then, it quickly fizzled away.
It's possible that this compound holds potential benefits, and might even induce a psychedelic experience at higher doses, but the uncertainty surrounding it heightens the risk factor. It's obviously important to be cautious when using any new substance. But it's also important to ensure that the substance is safe for consumption, and that it has been properly tested and is not harmful to human health before selling it online and encouraging people to ingest it. I should mention here that my source is an experienced psychonaut and this so-called 'Shulgin method' for assessing the strength of a substance should be used with the utmost caution.
Unlike other tryptamines, Psilomethoxin does not alter sensory perception or cause any major mental disturbances (lacks any hallucinogenic qualities) as a micro-dose.
- The Church of Psilomethoxin
It's a given that anything intended for micro-dosing will also be consumed in larger doses by some individuals. Conveniently suggesting psilomethoxin only be micro-dosed, there probably shouldn't be noticeable short-term effects, it should lack any hallucinogenic qualities because that's what microdosing is all about – taking sub-threshold doses of these substances on a regular basis. Be that as it may, working his way up to 6x of their recommended dosage, my source mostly noticed a strong feeling of disappointment from spending 300 bucks on this stuff.
The Results vs The Claims
The results the Church of Psilomethoxin is claiming are indeed intriguing, but as a skeptic, I must remind you that the research on psilomethoxin is very difficult to find. When 5-MeO-DMT is added to psilocybin mushrooms during the mycelium stage, it is possible that the resulting substance could produce psychoactive properties. However, without being able to find any scientific research or studies on the substance, it is difficult to determine the safety or effects of psilomethoxin.
Let me be clear, both psilomethoxin and 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT do exist. But the notion that it's grown in psychedelic mushrooms that have been fed 5-MeO-DMT? I'll believe it when I see some hard evidence. Even if it is, it's still an 'unnatural' natural product, with unknown pharmacology, side effects, toxicity, etc. And don't be fooled by the guise of being a church - that won't absolve them from the repercussions that will inevitably arise from the misuse of this mystery substance.
And let's not forget, if that lab in California and my chemist friend (who independently came to the same conclusions) are correct and it turns out that this 'psilomethoxin' the church is selling to its members isn't actually 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT - or worse yet, if it's found to contain trace amounts of a controlled substance like ketamine or psilocin - this will result in a shit-hitting-the-fan situation I would not want to be anywhere near.
I contacted the Church and requested some clarifications. They were kind enough to respond:
"I will say that in your inquiry there is a suggestion in the second paragraph that we are somehow connected with treatments. This is patently wrong, as we are not a medical organization or treatment facility; nor have we ever represented ourselves as such. Moreover, we have never made any medical claims. Any statements made by our members regarding any mental or physical benefits they receive by working within our spiritual/religious model are not medical claims being made by us. We are a Church."
- Greg Lake - Co-founder/Lead Oracle Church of Psilomethoxin
In part, my inquiry came from the Church suggesting miraculous and profound life changes in military veterans who were involved in the initial testing phase of their sacrament (from the image above). Also, their image post about the Veteran Initiative saying, “It’s time for new solutions.” If they are not talking about solutions to issues such as PTSD, then what problem is this solution addressing for these veterans?
And then there is a blog post on 360ImpactHealth.com with information stating "Learn how plant medicines, including Psilomethoxin, can help heal trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, TBI and other mental health disorders."
This blog post then links to a podcast titled, “Ian Benoius: Healing PTSD, TBI, Anxiety and Depression with Plant Medicines and Psilomethoxin." Ian is the co-founder Church of Psilomethoxin. In the description they write, "We will discuss the benefits of each plant medicine, including Psilomethoxin, and the ways those who suffer from mental or health conditions that can be helped by plant medicines can get the help they need in the most legal way." If they are not making any medical claims, they certainly aren't making an effort to correct those who do so on their behalf.
I think it's great that Ian is doing work with various plant medicines and veterans with PTSD. I commend him for that. Ian seems like a really good guy with a genuine interest in helping people. I'm curious though, what role does psilomethoxin play in that work? In that interview, Ian overtly describes psilomethoxin as a medicine. But a medicine is used for the treatment or prevention of an illness.
So, are we to understand that psilomethoxin is being discussed in a podcast titled “Healing PTSD, Anxiety and Depression with Plant Medicines and Psilomethoxin,” and also, psilomethoxin is a medicine, but they have never made any medical claims? They're wading into murky waters, blurring the lines of ethical and legal boundaries. At 52:47 in that interview, while discussing psilomethoxin as a medicine, the host says, “There are literally millions of people dying right now that can be saved with this beautiful medicines that are saving lives.”
Ian responds, “Yes.”
Can you see how this is causing confusion?
Moreover, this was in the same podcast interview discussing psilocybin's use in treating veterans for trauma-based mental illnesses. The host then mentions how a person cannot develop a tolerance to Psilomethoxin and how this is especially helpful with veterans with PTSD for daily support. This was Ian's cue to correct her by saying that he is not connected with treatments and that he is not making any medical claims. But he didn't do that. Speaking the truth isn’t only about the things we say, but the suggestions we make in certain contexts along with the things we are not saying.
The outstanding problem with psilomethoxin is this: There are too many gaps left for the user to fill in on their own; the results leave far too much to the imagination. It's a substance that poses more questions than answers as it provides ample room for personal interpretation. It promises a lot but appears to deliver so very little. But then again, so does the Christian Eucharist, but the holy sacrament in the Christian Church isn't 300 bucks for 28 grams. I don't mean to offend anyone's faith, but let's be real here - you must have faith in order for the Eucharist to truly have an effect. I'm seeing no difference in the sacrament of the Church of Psilomethoxin.
Look, if I'm wrong with my assessment of psilomethoxin, I will eat my words and correct myself immediately. Honestly, I want to be wrong. Who wouldn't want a new breakthrough treatment that can help heal trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, TBI, and the variety of other mental health conditions some claim this stuff can help with? But I feel the Church of Psilomethoxin owes it to its members and to the rest of us to present some actual data because not doing so is only going to lead to more and more suspicion.
So in the end, I remain skeptical, and in this article, I'm presenting only my opinion and my findings. But, I feel compelled to impart upon you that multiple individuals I am familiar with, who are all exceptionally well-versed in this subject matter, have declared the Church of Psilomethoxin to be nothing more than a scam and cult. There is only one way to sway this growing public opinion and I hope I have shined a bright light upon that path in this article.
I wouldn't call them scam artists. More like misguided dreamers, who thought they could conjure a miracle mushroom chemical into existence without doing their due diligence. I feel as though they put the cart before the horse, building a church and trademarking a fancy new name for their so-called sacrament before bothering to see if it actually worked, or before finding out what it actually is. It's a common trap, thinking something's simple until you try to do it. And when you don't scrutinize your results, wishful thinking, confirmation bias, and the placebo effect can snowball out of control.
The pungent aroma of Psilocybe mushrooms wafting from the bag leads me to believe that they have indeed attempted to create 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT in the manner that Shulgin theorized. For me however, I feel I have more than enough reason to believe that what they are selling to their members is not 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT. I don't think these people began this venture with nefarious intent, just that they got swept up in the hype and excitement of a possible new semi-synthetic tryptamine. But if they keep ignoring evidence that questions or even disproves their claims and continue to blindly push this stuff out into the world, that's when it becomes unethical.
If these veterans are indeed experiencing relief from PTSD and other ailments with psilomethoxin – via macro or micro doses – that is awesome. But I still think this is because they are ingesting something closer to Psilocybe mushrooms, not 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT. To me, it seems as though this Church has found a loophole and discovered a way to sell an altered version of Psilocybe mushrooms online. Either way, I wouldn’t want to be around when the black boots meet the front door.
I won't say anything about the rumored cult-like nature of this Church. That's not for me to decide. I do think the title of "Lead Oracle" might be a bit much, but I can see the benefits of becoming a church when it comes to certain issues like this. Just like Ian Benoius mentioned in an interview, if you don't use your freedoms, you'll lose them. It takes a lot of courage to strive for what this Church is trying to accomplish. And ultimately, I hope they succeed in their endeavors.
Whatever this stuff is, I think there is some real potential there. I just don't think it's ready for the public yet. As I said, and I could be wrong, I don't believe it is actually 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT. It could be something completely new and revolutionary, but until we can verify exactly what it is and what it does, this church should take things slow and do more research. Luckily, in some parts of the US, research like this is legal now, so there's no better time to dive deeper into this substance. It's worth the time, money, and effort to invest in finding out more about it. Who knows, with enough research, it might even get FDA approval for treatment. But in any case, doing their due diligence would be a big step in the right direction.