Are Baby Boomers suddenly rediscovering their hippie roots from the 1960s? No.
Rather, awareness about the many potent medicinal properties of cannabis has spread. And as the age demographic that has the most health problems (and most-serious health problems), senior citizens have been gravitating toward medicinal cannabis use in steadily increasing numbers.
Is the same trend about to repeat itself with psychedelic drugs?
It’s very possible.
Seniors still have the most health issues. Even with the benefits derived from medicinal cannabis, many areas of seniors healthcare are still in need of better treatment options.
Psychedelic drugs offer great promise in a number of these areas. Depression and anxiety are two rapidly worsening mental health issues where psychedelic drugs are showing exciting potential as a solution.
Those health issues affect all age levels. However, a 2016 clinical study reported that 80% of terminally-ill patients receiving psilocybin therapy experienced reduced levels of depression and anxiety. Senior citizens represent the majority of those with terminal illnesses.
Ketamine and MDMA are two psychedelic drugs that are seen as having potential pain-management applications. Chronic pain is another medical problem that tends to be more severe with age.
More specifically to seniors, Eleusis Ltd. is presently in early clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s disease with microdoses of LSD.
This is exclusively a senior’s health issue. It’s one of the most endemic medical problems that confront senior citizens. And existing therapies generally offer poor treatment outcomes.
If successful, this one medical application alone would raise psychedelics usage rates among seniors dramatically. However, Eleusis CEO Shlomi Raz strongly believes that LSD in particular may have a multitude of medical applications for more complex neurological disorders.
In a February 2020 interview, he made the following observations.
“Most biotechnology companies try to develop a [Alzheimer’s] drug that hits a single target and nothing else. But Alzheimer's is a complex disease with multiple therapeutic targets, and as single target approaches continue to fail, there is a growing and widespread belief that a successful therapeutic approach will have to hit multiple targets simultaneously.”
“LSD in particular seemed like an attractive candidate for such a therapeutic approach, as it is capable of potent and prolonged activation of the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmission receptors implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, and specifically the serotonin 2A receptor.”
Other complex neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease may also benefit from the “multi-target” efficacy of psychedelic drugs. These are degenerative conditions and thus those with the greatest treatment needs will be older patients.
Of equal significance is that Eleusis’s focus on an Alzheimer’s treatment that requires only micro-dosing. This greatly increases the potential for market penetration for a number of reasons.
- Safer and better tolerated
- More convenient (no medical supervision required)
If the psychedelic drug applications currently being researched exclusively involved (larger) “experiential” doses of psychedelic drugs, then perhaps senior citizens would never be a large potential consumer base for these substances.
However, at the microdose level (where there are no psychoactive drug effects) consuming a psychedelic drug becomes no different than any other medication.
Psychedelics continue to demonstrate superior efficacy (in many medical contexts) to existing pharmaceuticals in current clinical trials.
If this R&D translates into a new class of (highly effective) drugs, then seniors may become the biggest growth market for psychedelic drugs just as they are for medicinal cannabis.