Del Jolly is a key figure in psychedelics research right now, specifically as it applies to medicinal mushrooms like psilocybin. Del worked with leading CBD brand, Charlotte’s Web before co-founding both Unlimited Sciences, a research non-profit, and Umbo, a functional mushroom brand.
If you’re new to the topic of microdosing and psychedelics, I hear you. The truth is that microdosing has quietly taken off here in LA more than you might imagine, and the anecdotes I’m hearing are impressive. Now it’s time for the science to catch up.
Our first story on psilocybin was with Elissa Goodman, juicing advocate and something of a wellness straight arrow in my book. If you’re new to this topic — or still highly skeptical, you can read her profoundly useful story on microdosing HERE.
Back to Del. As co-founder of Unlimited Sciences, Del has become deeply involved with Johns Hopkins University and their Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. The center’s very existence (the nation’s first and operating with $17 million in philanthropic funding) adds a layer of legitimacy to substances heretofore were considered some of the most illicit out there.
We talked with Del about Johns Hopkins impressive undertaking, how he sees this field shaping up in the near future, plus his take on the functional mushrooms so many of us are better acquainted with.
Necessary interjection: By no means do we recommend that you experiment with psychedelics on your own. There are clinics and practitioners across LA and NYC currently that offer certain psychedelic services. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.
Johns Hopkins Psychedelics – A Chat With Researcher Del Jolly
Name: Del Jolly, Unlimited Sciences Co-founder and Umbo Co-founder, President
Can you explain your work in a nutshell? Unlimited Sciences is a psychedelic research non-profit that utilizes the power of community to better understand psychedelic science. With Umbo, our co-founding team is made up of elite performers. We’ve designed functional mushroom products from that perspective.
Which psychedelics are the focus of most of your work and why? Unlimited Sciences has been working on a real world psilocybin study with Johns Hopkins. This study is tapping into the world of mushroom users to better understand how they are benefiting — or potentially harming themselves. The community has been using mushrooms for thousands of years, and the U.S. believes they hold a depth of knowledge.
Tell us about your functional mushroom brand, Umbo. There are three categories of mushrooms. Gourmet — think cremini and portabella. Medicinal mushrooms, which contain the hallucinogenic psilocybin, and will eventually emerge as a treatment for various ailments such as PTSD or treatment-resistant depression. And then lastly, functional mushrooms. These include lions mane, cordyceps, reishi, turkey tail, shiitake and many more. These will typically be sold as supplements. These mushrooms are adaptogens that can adapt to your body’s various needs.
We believe Functional Mushrooms have as much if not more potential to help humanity than psychedelic mushrooms. Lion’s mane, turkey tail, reishi, cordyceps and more are proving to be spectacular for health—brain, gut, nervous system health. There is so much that functional mushrooms can help with. We see it as an entire food group we have been missing. And Umbo will contribute 2% of its profits to psychedelic science.
What are the greatest areas of promise for psychedelics? What excites you most? Psilocybin is being looked at and used for treatment of anxiety, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s. Allison O’Kelly’s research with psychedelics as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia is worth exploring.
Psychedelics are proving to help with treatment of resistant depression, cluster headaches, anorexia, end of life anxiety, and so many other ailments.
I think the greatest potential of psychedelics is simply their potential to help people see the connectedness of everything. From the environment to each other, understanding how connected we are could lead to helping us treat each other and this world better.
Can you explain some of the theory around this change in perspective? This is the complexity of psychedelics. They lead to perspective changes which are only accessed when the default mode network of the brain is temporarily shut down, allowing people to access repressed memories. It’s really hard to explain.
It’s the difference between reading and reading comprehension. I can tell you all about it, but until it’s experienced, it’s very difficult to comprehend. The science has to do with shutting down the default mode network allowing for access to other regions of the brain.
Public perception must be a big issue in your research mission. What do you want people to know? Yes, I think the fact that major universities like John Hopkins are raising millions of dollars to open psychedelic wings at their institutes is big enough to show that psilocybin is an important area of research.
It’s also notable that so many professional athletes are using psilocybin for cognitive health. Pro athletes are highly aware of what they put into their bodies to help them optimize health and performance. The fact that they use these substances makes an important impression. My co-founders Rashad Evans and Jake Plummer at Umbo are exploring psychedelics as an option for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, the brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas.
Psychedelics hold promise to help address a wide range of ailments. The laws prohibiting research around these compounds are dated and have left millions without access to options that could support their health and wellbeing. It’s time to change that. I want people to better understand the issues so that when it comes to vote where they live, they understand and support the progress of this valuable research.
You’ve played an important role in the hemp industry too. Do you see psilocybin following a similar path? I don’t believe a psilocybin industry will come to life the way hemp and cannabis have. Psilocybin is anti-addictive and very cheap to produce. $15 worth will provide a huge experience that isn’t desirable to repeat more than maybe one or two times a year.
The legislation that is moving forward now does little to support the development of private supplement companies.
some pros like Dr. Daniel Amen aren’t fans of what they see in brain scans of chronic marijuana users. Do you have any thoughts? I’m a believer in liberty. Let’s utilize common sense when using any substance, but let’s not punish the collective just because a few bad eggs use it incorrectly. I know many people who use marijuana who are CEOs, professional athletes, veterans, and so on.
Inappropriate use of anything can kill you. I’m not a fan of what alcohol does to people, but we allow people to participate and use it—it’s the world’s most dangerous drug, every day.
Microdosing has become a popular trend among wellness devotees. Can you explain why microdosing can be so beneficial? Many people are usually using a “stack” that includes lion’s mane mushrooms, psilocybin, and niacin as a nootropic. Many are reporting great benefits.
I personally believe it might be more the fact that they are introducing mushrooms into their diets for the first time. Imagine if we removed and then reintroduced vegetables into your diet. During that reintroduction, you’d start to see tremendous benefits. That could be what’s happening with the reintroduction of mushrooms into these people’s diets.
Using psychedelics conjures the fear of a loss of control—maybe even mental harm, for some. Can you address this? Absolutely. These are incredibly powerful substances and are not for everyone. They cause hallucinations and can trigger mental health ailments in some. People with a history of mental illness should refrain from use. Those who are not ready to address serious issues that may come up should avoid as well.
Preparation and integration are key components of having a beneficial experience. These shouldn’t be handled lightly.
Who are microdosed psychedelics for? What recommendations do you have? I think people who are looking for natural options can benefit from microdosing. I’d avoid anything on the internet. Check local regulations. For those lucky enough to live in one of the few cities that have decriminalized psilocybin, I’d suggest taking a class to learn how to grow your own. There is a lot of power in being able to farm your own medicine.
What are some of the larger concerns about psilocybin use you’re addressing through research? The potential to help with a lot of serious ailments is what we hope to learn more about.
We think the community is using psilocybin in ways that the academic institutes don’t even fully understand. For example, I’ve heard of people using it for facial tics. Currently, I’m unaware of any university that is studying psilocybin for this. What other ailments could the community be using psilocybin for that we’ve not yet discovered?