To alter public perception and promote the acceptance of psychedelics as medicines, Gwella launched Mojo – a functional mushroom product to mirror the pharmacological effects of microdosing psilocybin. Developed with Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane mushrooms, its flagship soft chew is infused with 14 active ingredients to enhance energy levels and brain function through neurogenesis.
The company recently raised nearly US$2 million to develop a portfolio of adaptogenic and psychedelic mushroom formulations for health and wellness, which are available over-the-counter in legal jurisdictions.
PSYCH spoke with Gwella’s Chief Science Officer, Daniel Sanders, and the company’s Director of Product, Erin Cochrane, following the recognition of Mojo as Consumer Product of the Year.
‘Mojo was our entry product into the microdose realm,’ said Sanders. ‘It’s a clean and consistent energy that mimics a microdosage in terms of general flow state. We tailored the active components because some of them have different kinetic profiles. Some release over 40 minutes, others over 8 hours, and some take an hour to absorb. We had to tailor these components to deliver the same smooth curve over 90 minutes that you get with a micro dose. Through 2022 we’re planning on targeting specific use cases with new form factors.’
‘When we started, there were quite a few companies talking about functional mushrooms, about how they wanted to launch in the CPG space and then branch into pharmaceuticals. There were at least a half dozen companies in the nutraceutical space that got such an influx of capital that they decided to pivot fully into the pharmaceutical space, which is the long-term payoff.’
‘At Gwella we wanted to stay true to our roots, building a successful life sciences CPG brand first to gain trust in our psychedelic support products,’ commented Cochrane, Gwella’s Director of Product.
‘We really pride ourselves on novel formulations and it’s a big part of our value system. ‘We needed to challenge barriers and create what we wanted the future to look like. To have Mojo be the bridge product to bring people into the microdosing conversation took a huge amount of consumer education. It was great to receive the recognition we’ve been striving for, with appreciation that, although not a psilocybin-based product, the bridge we’ve created was valuable to the industry.’
With microdosing psychedelic medicines hitting the mainstream in 2021, with editorial features and documentaries on major media platforms, PSYCH asked Cochrane if the company was exploring psilocybin’s integration into its products.
‘We all believe in the power of these medicines. We’ve seen how they’ve changed lives, and the studies have shown their potential,’ declared Cochrane. ‘These are powerful substances that open doors and could create incredible ripples throughout society, so we definitely want to take part in that conversation. That being said, strategically we didn’t want our business model to rely on the short- or long-term legalisation of psychedelics – especially here in North America.
‘We have established partnerships with R&D facilities in legal jurisdictions, but decriminalisation doesn’t mean we can legally sell commercial goods. There are many considerations that need to be taken into account before we can integrate psilocybin into our products, but it is something that we are moving forward in parallel, alongside setting ourselves up as a trusted brand the community can look to for support tools, guidance and education. That way, when we do come out with a psychedelic product, we’ve already established the trust with consumers that it will be safe and effective.’
As legislation is created to decriminalise the consumption of entheogens, with the movement spreading like mycelium throughout the United States, PSYCH asked Sanders about projected timelines for federal regulation.
‘I think California sets some good precedent for what could occur. They’ve got a bill that’s been approved for both research and decriminalisation purposes, and over the next year or two we’ll see other jurisdictions follow suit. There will be so much medical information available that we’ll see states approve dispensaries similar to the roll-out of medical cannabis.
‘I’ve had lawyers here in Arkansas say in five years we’ll see federal medical programmes for both cannabis and psilocybin. I think that is a bit aggressive, but the thought process is that psilocybin will be approved within the same bills as cannabis.’
PSYCH asked whether this was wise, considering the contrast between the therapeutic applications of psychedelic medicines and cannabis.
‘If psychedelics aren’t included in these bills, there might not be enough money to push them through on their own,’ replied Sanders. ‘Bills don’t get approved if they’re not funded, as you have to collect signatures and each one of those signatures gets paid for. You have to generate community support to gather enough signatures, which costs money, and then signature collectors themselves are paid US$1 to US$3 per signature.
‘If something like this wasn’t underneath cannabis, we wouldn’t have such extensive public education on what psychedelics do and who they save. Without it, we’re going from a 2- to 5-year plan to 10 or 20.’
‘I find it fascinating how we create these systems,’ noted Cochrane. ‘At the moment there’s neither the consumer education nor support network for millions of people to dive into these substances. In Canada, conversations are taking place to bring therapists into the industry, but how do you scale psychedelic therapies for the masses?
‘I think the two- to three-year timeframe is reasonable, as it will take time to establish the systems needed to support the movement. I have a lot of hope, as there are great people leading the charge to bring these treatments online.’
With decriminalisation movements in the US legalising psilocybin-producing fungi, PSYCH was keen to learn whether this removed the onus on patents protecting psilocybin synthesis.
‘I’m all for full mushroom products, as I think that is how you receive the most complete results,’ said Sanders. ‘There are multiple active ingredients in psychedelic mushrooms, from psilocybin to psilocin, baeocystin and other analogues in relatively high concentrations, all which have a hallucinogenic effect of their own.
‘A lot of people are focusing on pure psilocin or psilocybin, choosing one analogue, as this is what pharmaceutical development requires. It requires you to conduct studies on a single compound before you can research multi-drug administration. Studies have shown the whole fruit to be more effective in some cases, and that would be my preference for Gwella products, but if we’re forced to use a single active ingredient by regulators, so be it.’
On the subject of the synergistic relationship between psychoactive compounds in psilocybin mushrooms, Cochrane provided an update from the industry.
‘There are companies researching the entourage effect within psilocybin-producing mushrooms and I’m very interested to see what they find. It’s a conversation that’s happening – natural psilocybin versus synthesised alternatives. There are arguments on both sides for cost, formulation and application, but proponents of natural psilocybin need the research to show symbiotic relationships between compounds are beneficial. It is a topic that is currently being researched and we’ll keep our ears to the ground for the results.’
The conversation turned to the future of the psychedelics industry, investor opportunities and Gwella‘s roadmap for 2022.
‘We are diligently continuing to build ourselves as a household name, outside of the medical segment for mushrooms, wellness and psychedelics. As we have seen the success of Mojo skyrocket, we are very excited to be launching our next products in Q1 of next year, which will be support tools for safe and effective use of psychedelics – both at home or in a more therapeutic type context.
‘Next year we will expand our functional product offering to address specific use cases, launch a platform to help capture trends in the industry, continue to provide educational content and look to raise further capital,’ concluded Cochrane.
For more information on Gwella and its functional mushroom product Mojo, please visit the company’s websites and follow on social media.