Neonminds: The Gift of Neuroplasticity

The mind is a work of art like no other. 

Coursing through the neuronal pathways of our uttermost powerful organ is the lifeblood of everything we know and everything we are. 

Until recently, we hadn’t known too much about how the various states of the brain interact with one another; even today, like yesterday, we’re likely operating under the relatively naïve assumption that we have it all mostly figured out. 

Neuroscience, with its innovatively invasive methods of studying the brain, has revealed more than we could previously have imagined — even while such revelations have brought more questions than answers.

Like tubes of neon light, whereby atoms become excited as they move around hitting one another, transferring energy and producing a lot of heat, the neuronal pathways of the brain likewise see the movement of thoughts and the habituation of thought patterns, pulsating with energies of a different kind. 

As voltage is applied to the electrodes in the tube (of neon light — to stay with the analogy), the gas inside is ionized; the electrons of the gas change energy states and release that energy in the form of photons (light). The color of the light ultimately depends on the type of gas in the tube.

I find this to be an especially fitting representation of neuroplasticity. 

The way our thoughts move around, hitting one another, gaining or losing energy; the way they ionize our habitual thinking patterns and the way that they release energy in the form of light, which we can comfortably equate to our ideas, ambitions, revelations, realizations.

The mind is, by any stretch of the imagination, a seemingly untamable beast. Just when we think we have it figured out, we realize that we know next to nothing. 

But we try. And in our continued attempts, we form new pathways of discovery. 

And while we may not have all the pieces of the puzzle snapped together, we can work with what we have in order to do some rather remarkable things.

Take, for instance, addiction. 

While we used to know very little about the workings of an addicted mind and while we toiled around in the subconscious realms of conscious thought to try and decipher something useful, we couldn’t get too far in terms of uncovering anything that had proved tangibly productive. 

Until we came to better understand the concept of neuroplasticity. 

Neuroplasticity encompasses the brains ability to formulate new neuronal connections over time. It’s the source of our adaptability, our development, our progression and evolution.

And so what better application of the concept than to addiction — of breaking or reforming habituating thought patterns.

At the junction in which we find ourselves today, we still lack the necessary skills to be able to rewire our brain without some form of an assistive catalyst; in other words, unless we’re expert meditators or able to professionally self-psychoanalyze our minds, we usually need external help. 

This help comes in a variety of forms, and none other has proved to be as effective and as prolific as psychedelic-assisted therapy. 

From MDMA therapies of decades past to modern LSD-assisted approaches, psychedelics have changed the game in not only crisis intervention but also general conscious maintenance, and no particular substance has shown the kind of potential that psilocybin has.

Companies are now recognizing the powerful potential that psilocybin-based products have, not because they’re selling a pleasing experience or a trending product, but because they’re offering something that’s tremendously difficult to come by: a new way to think, a way to reformulate thought patterns from the ground up.

And no company seems to be doing this better than Neonmind.

A subsidiary of Biosciences Inc., Neonmind is “exploring psilocybin as an innovative treatment approach”, per its own words.

Specifically focused on weight loss (through playing at neuroplasticity), the logic is sound: “We know that psilocybin is known to activate serotonin receptors, and that serotonin can curb cravings, shut off appetite, and reduce eating.”

While clinical trials are underway and while legislation is slowly inching towards a promising legalization of psilocybin, Neonmind currently offers more legal alternatives in the form of medicinal-mushroom-supplemented coffees. 

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Penny White, CEO of Biosciences Inc., regarding the ways by which Neonmind is pioneering the new territories of interest with respect to psilocybin and other medicinal-mushroom products 

Ultimately, it seems to me that we’re in for something we haven’t ever really experienced with regards to a new commodity that, as the stigmas surrounding it fall apart, promises something we have never even imagined we could experience on this kind of level.

Why is NeonMind choosing obesity in particular, and what other applications can be foreseen in this context?

Obesity has become an epidemic. It is one of the biggest health issues the world is facing and is responsible for 37% of the burden of disease globally.

Certain types of obesity and eating disorders are sometimes associated with mood disorders or past trauma. And when you look at the classical features of addiction on a neurobiological level — food cravings overlap. So, when you consider how psychedelics have been shown to work on substance addictions and mood disorders such as depression, we thought that it may be an effective tool to change eating habits by changing the neural pathways in the brain. Psilocybin activates serotonin receptors, and serotonin is related to food cravings and appetite.

The neuroplasticity that psychedelics may be able to reduce our pavlovian-like responses to environmental and emotional stimuli, essentially wiping the mind clean and clearing neural pathways that are responsible for actions associated with a negative relationship with food.

We are conducting a preclinical trial at the University of British Columbia that examines this and specifically how psilocybin could be used as a treatment for weight loss. We are also designing a Phase 2 Human Clinical Trial. We are now also developing the plan for the psychotherapeutic support for the patients throughout the trial, which will likely involve two or three medium to high dose psilocybin sessions.

As social stigmas ease with respect to psilocybin in general, what lesson can we take from the overdue appreciation towards these substances that have grown alongside us throughout history?

I believe that once people understand the therapeutic power of psychedelics, the old beliefs will fall away. I don’t think that this is just a psilocybin issue. I think that in general there are stigmas around all mental health treatments, but the fact is that effective medical treatment can transform people’s lives, so it is crucial to educate people about these treatment options. If there are effective treatments for any illness that include the administration of psychedelic compounds, then we should all be taking steps to make these treatments known. This can be done through education and through the media.

Like cannabis, we’re seeing a pretty powerful pivot with respect to psilocybin and, with it, an exploding new industry. How difficult is it to pioneer through this new territory when dealing with regulations, legislation, continued stigmas, uncertainty, etc. and how is the fine line between caution and ambition navigated?

We are currently focused on two distinct go-to-market strategies. Firstly, we have developed a line of mushroom coffees that contain medicinal mushrooms such as lion’s mane, and cordyceps. These are completely legal and are available in Canada and can be ordered online at

Secondly, we are also engaged in preclinical research into potentially therapeutic uses of compounds found in psychedelic mushrooms. We have filed five U.S. provisional patent applications for the use of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances to promote and cause weight loss, reduce food cravings, treat compulsive eating disorder, improve quality of diet, treat or regulate obesity-associated diabetes, treat obesity-associated abnormal regulation of blood glucose and aid in the prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure and other obesity-associated illnesses.

It has always been important to our team to do things above board and do not cut corners. We are skilled at navigating regulations in emerging industries such as psychedelics and cannabis. We have a team that features strong scientific and legal expertise.

And at the same time, it is encouraging to see that Health Canada has been embracing therapeutic use of psilocybin. Health Canada is clearly open to the potential that these compounds have to benefit society as a whole. This is evidenced by their recent exemptions granted to palliative patients, giving them access to psilocybin.

It is also encouraging to see more and more regions in other areas loosening or eliminating legislation around psychedelic mushrooms. Denver, Oakland, Chicago, and Santa Cruz have made moves at the city level in the United States.

I believe that the old attitudes are changing. There is more and more research being done and as we continue to see such promising results — the evidence simply cannot be denied. So far, the research is showing that psilocybin has tremendous potential to solve issues ranging from depression to PTSD and more. I also believe that there is an overarching trend in healthcare — both mental and physical, and particularly in the wake of the opioid crisis, that is moving more people to look for more natural, plant-based solutions such as mushrooms.

Can we expect any services to be offered in conjunction with the products from Neonmind (i.e. Mind-tracking/habit-forming educational programs)? Similar to how weight loss has shifted from offering mere products to offering a rehabituation of individual experience (i.e. if we compare Weight Watchers with the more trendy Noom).

We are currently developing the plan for the psychotherapeutic support for the patients throughout our clinical trials. Frank Russo has been added as an advisor and consultant to assist the Company in selecting or developing music playlists for its clinical trials or for use with treatments to support optimum mental health. Dr. Russo is an expert working at the intersection of brain health, psychology and music. He will assist our team in examining the intersection between psychedelics and music, the neurological impact of both and related therapeutic implications.

To learn more about what Neonmind is doing, follow along on Twitter or visit the website