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595: Beyond Conventional Medicine: The Healing Effects of Psilocybin with Gabe Charalambides

Imagine breaking free from years of anxiety and OCD, not with conventional medicine, but through a non-conventional transformative journey. This is the story of Gabe Charalambides, founder of Odyssey, the first legal psilocybin retreat in US history. 

In today’s episode, Ted sits down with Gabe to talk about his amazing journey, a story which offers powerful insights for busy professionals over 40 looking to find peace and personal growth in their hectic lives. 

He discusses his personal struggles with anxiety and OCD and how he finally found peace. He explains the safety profiles of different psychedelics, explaining why psilocybin is considered safer than ayahuasca and has fewer contraindications.  

He talks about the importance of setting, intention, and integration in the psychedelic experience, how psilocybin increases neuroplasticity, allowing for the potential to break habits and change behaviors, discusses microdosing and more. Listen now! 


Today’s Guest

Gabe Charalambides 

Gabe Charalambides is founder of Odyssey and a former aerospace engineer with a passion for mental health. Discovering Buddhism a decade ago and experiences with psychedelics lead Gabe to develop a deep fascination with psychological wellbeing.  

In 2019, he decided to leave the aerospace world behind to deepen his burgeoning interest in mental health. This led him to volunteering at Synthesis, spending extended time on silent meditation retreat, and working at MAPS and HealthRhythms. Gabe has an MS in Aeronautics & Astronautics and an MBA from Stanford University.   


Connect to Gabe Charalambides 


Linkedin: Gabe Charalambides 


You’ll learn:

  • Gabe’s journey from aerospace to psychedelics
  • Understanding psilocybin’s role in personal growth
  • Psilocybin and neuroplasticity: Breaking habits and changing behaviors
  • Who can benefit from psychedelic experiences?
  • The power of psychedelics in life transitions
  • Ayahuasca vs. psychedelics: A comparative insight
  • Microdosing and its implications
  • And much more…


Related Episodes:  

Ted Talk 196: Rythmia: How Drinking Ayahuasca Changed My Life (Again) 

Ted Talk 193: Journey Within: Seeking Clarity Through Ayahuasca At Rythmia 

334: How Plant Medicine Can Change Your Life with Gerry Powell 


Links Mentioned: 

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Podcast Transcription: Beyond Conventional Medicine: The Healing Effects of Psilocybin with Gabe Charalambides
Ted Ryce: Gabe Charalambides, thanks so much for coming to the show today. Really excited to dive into this with you.   

Gabe Charalambides: It's my pleasure to be here and great job on the last name. That was perfect. 

Ted Ryce: Thanks. Yeah, as you said, the Greek, you coached me through it and I got it right. So, it's very, very important. And Gabe, you're the founder of Odyssey, which is a place in Oregon that offers psilocybin experiences. And with the, and we'll get into this, why you're offering them but what I want to start out with is you're a former aerospace engineer and you have this story about what led you to getting into the world of psychedelics and then to opening this business. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, how that all started for you and why psychedelics? 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah, I'd be happy to. It's a bit of a long story. I'll try to keep it somewhat brief. But yeah, I was an aerospace engineer for about a decade leading up to this. And then there was just another thread kind of going in my life that led to this. And it can probably be traced back to just when I was a little kid. I was a little kid, I was five years old, six years old, I was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety. 

And so, I don't know what to attribute that to, but there is some, yeah, some amount of anxiety that seemed to be with me from quite an early age. Put on medication, taken off medication, wasn't super helpful. Fortunately, it wasn't. 

Ted Ryce: Like antidepressant medication, Gabe? 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah, you know, it was so long ago that I don't even remember exactly what it was, but it's something to try to address the kind of the, yeah, the obsessive type thinking and behaviors that I would have at that age. So, fortunately, you know, it wasn't totally crippling, and I was able to kind of go about my life, but it ended up just showing up in a variety of different ways, from social anxiety, quite a bit of social anxiety, to kind of weird nighttime anxiety, to, yeah, these obsessive type behaviors to a whole variety of situations.  

And then, yeah, that went on for many, many years. And then the first thing that I found that was genuinely helpful for this was not psychedelics. Despite where this is all going, it was meditation and Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy. I'm a pretty rational, secular type, but Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy kind of presented a way to, yeah, just changed how I reacted to the world and how I understood the world and how I responded to it. 

And it just brought me like much more peace and ease. And I'm also like very much a continuously trying to be better sort of person. And then Buddhism was presented to me as this, you know, it's a tool that you can use to train your mind throughout your whole life. And it's just kind of based on this premise that if you sit down and observe your mind and observe what it's doing, you can kind of see what defaults you are doing and see if some of the things that Buddhism claims are true for you and if not you can discard them but if they are incorporate them into your life.  

And I felt that they were very true for me and I started to feel much more peaceful and much more useful and then I had some psychedelic experiences a couple years later that felt very much part and parcel with my meditation practice it was almost a glimpse into where the meditation practice was going it was as though you got to inhabit the I'm stealing this quote from somewhere but it's that you can inhabit the same room as the Buddha for a short period of time but you can't stay there. 

I really love that and I think it pretty accurately described the experiences and those experiences were just filled with such awe and beauty and gratitude and aliveness and a sense of just deep aliveness and you feel so connected to yourself and reminded who you are. Just really, yeah, just filled me with life. And then I realized that meditation was kind of the longer, slower, truer path to becoming more of myself, becoming more of that person.  

And then psychedelics would kind of give these occasional jump starts in that direction. So that led me to just becoming super, super fascinated with the human mind and with whatever was going on with these psychedelic experiences. I didn't have a lot of friends, family, colleagues who were interested in this stuff, so I just kind of stumbled into my own. So, I spent a lot of time outside of aerospace reading about it, reading the research, reading books. 

And I remember, you know, I couldn't, I was doing my PhD in aerospace, but I just couldn't get excited about the research. And then on Saturdays, I would read Johns Hopkins research papers on psychedelics for fun. I had to take the crap out of them. And I was like, wow, this is what am I doing? Like, there's something very organic, organic going on here. And so, then I decided to, after working in aerospace world for a while as a, as an engineer, decided to take some time off. 

And I want to explore kind of what else is out there, figure out what I want to do with this next chapter of my life and figure out if this blossoming interest in mental health and psychedelics is, is worth, is worth pursuing. And around that time I found out about, you know, I was, I was someone who had a number of lower dose recreational style psychedelic experiences, uh, but had it had the deeply therapeutic 

Ted Ryce: Like in your, was that before Buddhism? 

Gabe Charalambides: It was sort of, I had the very first one pretty young, like in high school. At the time, you know, no interest in mental health, no interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, but it was still a wonderful experience. And then I discovered Buddhism a couple of years later, and then I had some more psychedelic experiences, and then they started to merge together. So, it was kind of mix and matching. Yeah, mix and matching a little bit.  

And then, yeah, so I decided to take a year off. And then, yeah, okay, so I was just jumping back to where I was at. I was looking for my first therapeutic dose of psychedelics, like a heroic dose, the put on eyeshades, listening to music, to exactly the format that they would do in research trials, but I was pretty scared. You know, I'm like a calculated risk taker. I've heard urban legends. Am I going to lose my mind? What is this? I'm a pretty sciencey person. I'm pretty off put by new agey crystal astrology type stuff.   

I really wanted to find an environment that I felt safe in, that I felt like, okay, I can do this in an environment with people that I trust, and that I can, you know, in case something happens, they're kind of there and they can screen me and they can do everything. And so, the closest thing that I could find, there was a Psychedelic Retreat Center, this was back in 2019, in the Netherlands, that was partnering with Imperial College and contributing to research. And that really spoke my language. That was like, okay, cool. These people like seem legit. 

And then, you know, got to know and talk to them and was very impressed with generally how they were operating and how they handled everything. So, I went there myself. And then as part of that, I just started volunteering with them for they had an opportunity to kind of welcome people who are interested in deepening their interest in this. And so, I was like a volunteer facilitator volunteer trip sitter for about a month and got to be a part of a number of their weekends that they're doing.  

And it was one of the most incredible experiences. Just to see how much people, a lot of the clientele were flying from the United States, spending a good chunk of money to fly halfway around the world for this experience and just having these really, really beautiful experiences. And I thought even then that, hey, if this ever became legal in the United States, how wonderful would it be to open up one of these and help bring these experiences to the folks who might be a little bit wary of a lot of the woo woo, like I was. 

Yeah, because I, you know, I really do think that they're not just for just, they're not, they're not hippie. They're not new agey. Like they're really for, you know, there's some people that they're not for, but they're really for a lot of people and they can bring such a wide variety of folks from ages to different things they're struggling with. Um, yeah, it's just these wonderful, incredible experiences. And I wanted to make them more approachable and accessible to folks. So that happened. That was back in 2019. There was no signs of legalization in the United States at the time. So I just kind of tucked it away. 

And I thought, you know, maybe, who knows, who knows, maybe someday. Uh, and then fast forward one year. Um, and I went back to school, uh, with the hopes of, yeah, I was doing a business degree, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I want to start a company, wanted to work in mental health, and then around that time, Oregon passed measure 109, which legalized centers exactly like the place that I just finished volunteering at, um, which I, you know, my eyes just immediately went super wide.  

I couldn't even believe that this was happening. Uh, and then they decided to take their time and figuring out how to license it and regulate it. You know, these are big experiences and they shouldn't be rushed and they should be done with careful supervision.  

And so, the industry actually opened only less than a year ago, in about June and July of 2023. So, I know I'm jumping ahead a little bit, but yeah, what they legalized, they didn't legalize dispensaries, they didn't legalize stores, they can just go buy mushrooms, they legalized the experience.  

So, they legalized, hey, if someone is looking for a guided therapeutics, psychedelic experience, then they could go to Oregon and have this under the idea that, hey, this is going to be very regulated. You're going to be using mushrooms that are pure.  

They've been tested to make sure we know exactly how many milligrams of psilocybin are in them. They're going to be administered at particular facilities that are trusted and are safe. We know that everything is going to be above ground here. It's going to be administered by people, by facilitators who've gone through licensing programs. 

So, they've done everything to make sure this is as above board as possible to provide someone with a guided psilocybin experience. And so that's a bit of a meandering story there. And then spent a lot of time in business school exploring a variety of things. I worked at some psychedelic companies during that time and really got to know the whole psychedelic landscape from psychedelic research to healthcare, to clinical trials, to what's happening in Oregon, to decriminalization. 

So, it was a wide foray and then I just kept getting more and more excited about creating a place that would offer these experiences. Um, and so yeah, we can, we can jump into where we're at today, but yeah, we started, we opened our doors in September of last year. 

Ted Ryce: Yeah, thanks for sharing all that, Gabe. And actually, it was a perfect explanation because I'm super protective of my show, who I have on it, especially when it's a situation where I feel like I have a lot of experience. Maybe I'm an expert sometimes.  

Other times, I just have a lot of experience. Psychedelics, I wouldn't call myself an expert by any means, but I've had a lot of experiences recreationally, where I was trying to recreate the 60s in my teens in the early 20s. And we actually did, you know, take the Tibetan Book of the Dead with what his name was his name, Timothy Leary and all that.  

And I've had people reach out to me a lot on the show and from various retreat companies, but I chose not to have them on because I just didn't feel, I felt like they were gonna come on and talk about, you know, in particular, Ayahuasca is very popular. I've had, I went to Rhythmia in Costa Rica, had two incredible, but quite challenging Ayahuasca experiences.  

And, you know, what I really liked about reading your story and about Odyssey is that well, I would just say like this, I didn't want to do ayahuasca. I had done a bunch of stuff. I have read all about ayahuasca. I wanted to get into neuropharmacology or psycho neuropharmacology when I was a teenager, cause I liked doing drugs and that just seemed like, you know, I wanted to learn more about it. I thought there was something there. It wasn't just party time.  

As I said, I tried to have some meaningful experiences and not just like, whoa, man, I'm tripping hard experiences, and I really feel like we're in a situation where places like yours are catering to the person who is like me where I didn't want to go down to I ended up going to Costa Rica to Rhythmia. But I didn't want a full-on traditional experience with ayahuasca in particular. 

I wanted to be with medical professionals. What if my heart starts going crazy? I don't want the shaman to consult the spirits if I go into cardiac arrest. I want modern medical care. And part of the issue, and something that you referred to that I think is super important, is that the dosing. In ayahuasca, it's you know, it's hard to know what the dose is. It's just people who've done it for a long time. You have no idea how much DMT or Harmaline you're getting. 

And so, when you talked about like, hey, we're having these licensed facilitators, we're having these mushrooms that have been tested for the right, so we know what the dose is and creating an experience that I felt was somewhere in the middle.  

Because some of, and this could just be my own, you know, just reading about some of the places. I don't want to go to a very stiff Dutch psychoanalyst who, you know what I mean? That could be fine. But I didn't want full on like, let's go and let's go explore the spirit world type of experience either.  

And so it seemed like you were offering the best of both worlds where you're really catering to create a less, let's say hospital like clinical experience while avoiding the total craziness that can happen with psychedelic experience as well. So, do I have that right? 

Gabe Charalambides:  Exactly. Yeah, you've got to totally, Ted, I so appreciate that you've got that already even just by looking at our website and discovering this that makes me be happy to feel like we've done a good job with the website then because that's exactly right. 

And I think that there is a balance there and we can get into exactly what are the scales that we're talking about here as a clinical versus spiritual, what is it exactly? 

But yeah, we wanted to create an environment that feels warm and not overly clinical, right? Like this is a very human to human experience and you wanna be with someone that you feel, yeah, it's like this is a big experience for someone and you don't wanna feel like this is, you have an unempathetic person in a cold sterile environment that they're just not even gonna react to you. And so, yeah, and then on the other end, you know, shamanism has this very long, rich cultural history. 

And, you know, for certain that's definitely don't want to be disparaging in any way to what they're doing over there. But I think that's just not for so many folks. And so I think I'm glad that, you know, people can still go to Costa Rica and Peru and if they want to have like a traditional shamanistic experience, which does, you know, work with the spirit world, then they can do that.  

And then for the many folks who I think, you know, like, like you and me, or at least for our initial experiences are very interested in, yes, something that feels safe, that feels professional, that feels like, hey, these people can take care of me and they know how to handle these situations. So yeah, I appreciate that. You, yeah, I think you get what we're going for. 

Ted Ryce: Yeah, yeah, very cool. And that's why I really want to because as I said, I just delete a lot of the emails that I get. It's like, don't really want to talk about the power of Mother Ayahuasca with you, right? I feel like and I keep bringing up Ayahuasca and I actually want to get into this a little bit too, the differences because it's really important and I don't think a lot of people know like psilocybin, ayahuasca, ibogaine.  

So, something that really turns me off about some of the experiences, the retreat places is some of the language, right? I mean, for some people it's right up their alley. It's like, yeah, let's use this lingo and we can all feel very connected with it. But for me, it was like I could see how people would be more divisive. 

And so, I thought you did a really good job with your with your website and the way you come across. 

 I want to talk now about the options because Ayahuasca is super popular Ibogaine is less popular, but people, let's say it's been used for a long time psilocybin, well has a long history as well of use, but I really feel like it's probably the best place for most people to start. 

I had an experience, I've had experiences on ayahuasca because of the DMT and the harmony. And if you're not, if you're listening right now, you don't know what that is. The DMT is like that part that makes you feel like you're in another world and it creates all the benefits.  

But then there's another chemical in ayahuasca that helps it last longer in your body so that it takes effect. The issue is, I was like, is this healing or my, do I have serotonin syndrome right now? And with psilocybin, it's really, again, I'm not the expert here and I wanna hear this from you. It's the safest one. So, why psilocybin? How safe is it? Did you try any of the other things? And I would love to get into that. 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And feel free to redirect me to, I'll try to touch on what you just mentioned, all the different points, but let me know if I miss any. So yeah, simply on the safety profiles. Yeah, that's right. You know, psilocybin and ayahuasca, I think they have more in common than they, they actually are fairly similar experiences, fairly similar substances, they're classic psychedelics. I mean, some people will swear to you that no, ayahuasca is like this, and psilocybin is like this, and this has this. 

You know, some people will swear that, but I think in reality, like they actually are fairly, fairly similar. Um, that being said, yeah, ayahuasca does have more hard contraindications. Like you, it is widely considered to be quite dangerous to be on SSRIs, uh, while taking ayahuasca and then the vast majority, maybe all ayahuasca retreat centers will have you taper off a well in advance of a retreat, which, which can introduce its own risks, but yeah, it has more hard contraindications.  

It has more implications with the heart, it has more cardio issues. So, it is broadly speaking, a more physiologically dangerous substance. Still not the most, you know, still not terribly dangerous, but it is more dangerous. And psilocybin, yeah, it's less dangerous. It has some risk factors, and you know, not everybody should be doing this. There are a certain number of physiological indications that's like, oh, if you do, if you are taking lithium, actually, maybe we can dissect these into the various elements.  

But so, there are a couple of mental contraindications, prescription indications and physical indications for folks who should not be doing psilocybin. And those are, you know, if you have yourself, or even a direct relative who has psychosis, who has bipolar schizophrenia, might not be such a good idea. If you have yourself or history of severe cardiac disease, it might not be such a good idea. 

If you were on the drug lithium, you definitely should not be doing psilocybin. But aside from that, it is, broadly speaking, quite a physically safe substance. If you are an SSRIs, you can take psilocybin.  

At least the latest research seems to indicate that is a safe combination. There's a chance it might have a blunting effect on your experience, but it's broadly speaking safe. And then there's a whole set of, okay, is this good for me at this point in my time, at this point in my life? 

Because we like to make sure that people are coming at this from a place of, you know, they have some stability in their life because suicide can be a big experience. It can introduce some temporary instability into someone's life. So, you want to make sure that someone is well supported. They have a therapist. They have friends. They have loved ones that they can talk to about this and be there for them in the weeks and months after the experience.  

We like to make sure that people have healthy expectations for what this is that this is, they're not expecting this to be, hey, I'm gonna do this and I'm not gonna do anything else and it's just gonna solve all my problems.  

We like for this to be a piece of someone's ongoing work where maybe they're seeing a therapist, they have a meditation practice, they journal, they reflect, they've been thinking about this for a while and that they now decide, hey, maybe this is gonna be the adjunct that I need to really supercharge kind of my other practices. And yeah, we'd like to make sure that people have done their research and have some intentionality behind us.  

So I know I'm already kind of getting into, you know, why, why would someone want to do this? Um, but yeah, so picking back up a little level, it is safer than ayahuasca. It's probably speaking quite a physically safe substance. Uh, there are some people that shouldn't be doing it, but overall, yeah, it is, it is, you know, physically quite safe. 

Ted Ryce: Yeah, that was perfect. And just curious, did you have other experience? Did you try Ibogaine and ketamine and ayahuasca, but chose, like, what is your story with choosing psilocybin? 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah, I have. I haven't I continue to try to, I haven't tried Ibogaine, but yeah, ketamine, MDMA. I have not, sorry, I have not. Ibogaine is the one, no, and Ibogaine is even, I'm curious. I'm curious. My, you know, my understanding is fairly limited. It seems like it's even more intense than ayahuasca, has even more, it really does have severe cardiac implications. You need to be like medically monitored for sure during it. It's a long trip, but it does seem to have some pretty incredible properties like for folks who are suffering from opioid addiction, it can like work wonders.  

So that's, you know, we can get into that, but anyway, I haven't tried Ibogaine, I have tried Ayahuasca, psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, ketamine. So I've, you know, tried many of these and yes, I love, I do love psilocybin, it's probably my favorite. And in terms of, you know, why are we working with psilocybin?  

That is, that's actually primarily due to legislation. I mean, one of them is, Oregon explicitly passed, they call them psilocybin services. So, this is, hey, in Oregon, you can go there for a guided psilocybin experience.  

You can't do ayahuasca, you can't do LSD, you can't do anything else. So, you know, if we had access to LSD, would we try that? Possibly. I do, yeah, certainly have a big affinity, a natural affinity for psilocybin, but we are kind of dictated by rules and regulations. But we have decided to not offer ketamine, because we could technically offer ketamine, and that's for a variety of reasons.  

One, psilocybin and ketamine are radically different experiences. Ketamine acts more as a dissociative, where it kind of, yeah, it can kind of disconnect you from your body and allows you to view your life from this more kind of passive view. And it can be very helpful for some folks. I personally haven't loved it. I haven't gotten a lot of value out of it. And whereas psilocybin is almost the opposite. 

Ted Ryce: Gabe, really quick, you did ketamine in a therapeutic context. 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, that's right. Yeah. 

Ted Ryce: And then it didn't really do much for you. Yeah, interesting. I'm asking because I did ketamine recreationally in I think my 20s a couple of times and then when I was at clubs, but recently now there's ketamine clinics and then they marketed as something that's really powerful for I believe depression or anxiety or maybe both. Yeah, so that's interesting. 

Gabe Charalambides: Right, that's right, yeah. And I'll just add a couple sentences that and can keep going. You know, Katamine, I try to leave my own kind of personal biases and preferences out of it because, you know, just because something works for me doesn't mean it's going to work for someone else. Or just because something didn't work for me doesn't mean it's not going to work for someone else. So, you know, we try to follow the research. We try to look at what is the most promising research, what seems to help the most people. 

 It does seem like IV ketamine infusions can have this like very strong antidepressive effect that seems a little bit more short-lived, that maybe you can extend effects if you had psychotherapy.  

So I'm definitely not anti-ketamine, but I just I feel I have more conviction in psilocybin, and it's what we can do. It's what's unique to Oregon, and so that's why we're focusing on it. But yeah, just because it didn't help me doesn't mean it's not going to help other people. 

Ted Ryce: Yeah, I appreciate you saying that. And I was just curious about your experience because it's something I would try, but it's something that I'm also like, I can't connect the dots between my recreational experience because I'm always I've always been paying attention to that.  

Like how is this, how is this, what neurotransmitters might this be working on, right? And what the benefits of that might be. And I just can't connect it to a big improvement in say mood, but psilocybin, you don't, I've never had to work, I mean, just after the experience you feel a lot better.  

And so, I guess the question that I have for you is like, for the people, there's, some of the research that I've looked at, and I haven't read a lot, Gabe, I'm mostly reading about like, how do macronutrients affect hormonal, you know, like all this nutrition and supplement stuff, but one of the more scientific argument, let's say that I've been exposed to is that psilocybin increases neuroplasticity.  

So, if you're looking to break a habit, for example, it can in the right context, and I think that's something you and I should talk about because if you go to a Norwegian death metal concert, taking psilocybin is going to be very different than a therapeutic context. 

So, in a way, it's partly the, let's say, substance or drug or psychedelic, whatever you want to call it. But it's also the experience. However, when it comes to the, what psilocybin does in the brain, is that what it's, is that what the thinking, the current thinking is it improves neuroplasticity, so you're able to kind of change your thinking or behaviors or thoughts more easily. 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And you know, the research community is still figuring out what is the mechanism of change, like what is actually happening that's causing this. But certainly there have been some pretty fascinating studies that say, yeah, it does really open up the neuroplastic window. And there's actually a nature paper published fairly recently that says, oh, it's psilocybin reopens the critical learning period. And so depending on how you want to look at this, yeah, it does, it does do exactly that.  

And there, I think there are a couple of helpful analogies that you can think of, which is, you know, if you're, let's say you're metalworking and you have a kiln and you heat up metal, you can think about that as the psilocybin experience. 

And then you have kind of this critical window that you can reshape it into something that you want it to be. And then it'll harden again, but hopefully it'll harden into a new form that is more what you're doing.  

So, whether you want to think about it as metalworking or there's a good cooking analogy where you can think of, hey, let's spend some time gathering ingredients in some sense, the psilocybin experience, and then you have all this stuff to cook with. 

Um, so it's also, also helpful to think about in that more psilocybin experiences are not necessarily better. Uh, it's not just like, let me just keep doing one after another, one after another. It's more like do one. Now you have this window. Now let's make some changes in your life.  

And then maybe at some point in the future, do another, the last analogy I'll give, cause I think at some point you don't need it anymore, but, uh, is a skiing analogy where you can think of, Hey, you know, you've got your brain, the longer you go through life, the kind of the deeper, the deeper you get into neural ruts of some kind, certain thought patterns, certain beliefs, that you can think of them as forming grooves in your brain. And that's just hard to break out of over time.  

And you think you can think of a psilocybin experience as a fresh sheet of snow that falls down and kind of filled those in. And so, you have an opportunity to, you know, skim some fresh powder, form some new tracks. And yeah, just kind of, it really helps shape new identities, new beliefs, new thoughts, whatever other changes you want to make in your life, it can certainly help bring those to fruition. 

Ted Ryce: Yeah, and I think that's such an important, like in my coaching program, one of the things that I teach is like, why is so hard to change? Because people have a belief that, well, I just need to, I just need a diet. I need to exercise. I need more discipline.  

But what people really need is to evaluate like what's real, what's in the way. Cause people know, especially now, in this age that we're in with that people are inundated in over informed about what to eat and how you know they might have some confusion and maybe there's some paralysis by analysis there but everybody knows like I shouldn't be eating donuts for breakfast lunch and dinner everybody knows that they shouldn't drink so much alcohol. Right?  

We all know, maybe we're not sure about the extremes, but we all know like generally what to do, but we have a hard time doing it because life gets busy. You don't feel like doing it. You constantly see yourself falling back into old patterns. And so one of the things that I teach in my coaching program to come back to it is how habits get formed, right? And how we all have plastic brains. 

Or our brains all have neuroplasticity we can change in fact we do change when iPhone took away the home button I was pissed off for about you know 20 minutes until I realized the touchscreen was way more intuitive but that was an example of a pattern that I was in and I got really upset when it got even though it seems like a silly thing I got kind of annoyed when it got interrupted.  

And psychedelics can help create change if you're having trouble doing it on your own or if you're let's say doing well but you're looking for a bit of a boost. What are your thoughts about that and do you view it differently or how would you describe your views? 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah. You know, I would say is the question kind of who is this for and should you be doing this? How should you be thinking about it? If you're someone who's like, well, I'm wondering if the psychedelic experience is for me. Is that kind of the framing? 

Ted Ryce: Yeah, because I just to go back to the conversation we were having earlier where I brought up some of the people. So, the stigma around psychedelics, it's like very hippie people talking about crystals and chakras, and then more recently, the ayahuasca community where people, you know you'll meet people who I had an incredible experience, life-changing experience.  

And then you meet people who like, well, after my ayahuasca experience, I can see, I know the future, right? I literally had someone tell me that, by the way. It's like, great, so where do I invest my money? What's the next big Apple or Amazon? So just helping people understand from a more, because I attract a more science... 

Let's say whether they're well versed in science, like, you know, medical doctors and veterinarians and, or if they're just drawn to science because they feel there's more confidence from doing studies on certain things, just helping that person understand like, yes, what is the benefit here? What is the more practical benefit? 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah, certainly. Okay, that's helpful. Yeah, yeah. Well, one I would, I would start by saying, I really do believe that these experiences are possibly the most powerful and if not the most certainly one of the most powerful personal growth tools that we have available to us, like, like full stop. 

Ted Ryce: I agree with that.  

Gabe Charalambides: So, no matter, and you know, personal growth looks very different for many different people and they're growing in very different ways. So it's hard to articulate into one particular thing, but there's a high probability that if you're someone that cares about growth, and you're interested in this, it could probably bring a lot of benefit to your life. So very, very wide umbrella.  

We find that there are certain, we call them archetypes, or certain types of folks are at certain stages in their life that they seem to get quite a lot out of this. And we see them kind of coming through Odyssey.  

And it's often if you're at a time of transition in life, you might be on the approach of retirements, you might be at the end of one career. You might be an empty nester. You might be, you know, just graduating. You're wondering what to do with your life. But these can be really powerful for help elucidating, you know, what are my priorities? What do I care about? What matters to me in this world?  

What really do I want to spend my time doing? Because these, yeah, these tools just make you feel like the best version of yourself. And it's like, that's where you want to be making your decisions from, right? Feeling like this is who I am at my essence, at my core. I mean, that can you know, just feeling that leads to all sorts of wonderful things. And part of it is like, now I have clarity in what matters to me and how do I want to spend this next, next chapter.  

So, this generally speaking, what to do with this next phase of my life. It's a very, it's a great time for an experience like this. I also, you know, we talked to a lot of folks who are in their fifties and sixties, forties, fifties, sixties are the most common for us.  

And, you know, oftentimes people have gone through some hard things in the past five, 10 years, whether it's a divorce or some issues with their children or health issues, there suddenly appears a lot of these challenging situations that people can kind of feel a little bit stuck in. Like they have something happens and then they have a feeling that kind of is just with them that won't go away. And then, you know, then they feel stuck in that. They're not sure what to do. They go to therapy, they try all these things, but they're just, they have a hard time getting through that. And that's again, where a psilocybin experience can be really helpful to get, to kind of unlock that next phase. 

To get unstuck from where you're at, to help things move again. So, you can, in some sense, you can think of that as healing from a trauma of some kind, but of some challenging life circumstance, that change that happened that you're trying to move past from. That's another great time. And then there's folks who are just generally saying, hey, I wanna be more creative. I want to, I guess this stems back to feeling most connected to yourself.  

And what are the changes that I can make when I am my most me? Maybe you're the most creative, you're the most productive, you're the most whatever, but it really, you know, if you think about mental health and flourishing as a spectrum of, it's not perfect, but you know, very, very sick to total flourishing. No matter where you're at this, they can help you move along that path. 

Ted Ryce: I agree with that 100%. My dad died in 2020 of poor health and I won't get into my story, but we've had some family tragedies and psychedelic experiences, including psilocybin, but also ayahuasca as well helped me get back to a good place. And one of the regrets that I have is, although I don't think he would have been able to do it due to his poor health, it was to have him have one of those experiences just to see if it shifted him a bit.  

And so, if you're listening right now and you had any of the experiences that Gabe talked about, whether that's from being an empty nester and your identity is a bit in flux because you were just a parent doing everything for the kids and now you're like, what do I do with my life? I don't know what to do. Or if you've been through something and if you've listened to the show, you know. 

You know what I've been through and my family has been through, it can really help. And I agree with you, Gabe, you said that there's probably no more powerful modality, method, whatever you want to call it, that we have compared to, you know, psychedelics is it. It just, right, there are certain I think you agree or you've already said this, but there's certain conditions that need to be met.  

Let's get into this. Who should definitely not? I mean, you mentioned the situation with like if you're on lithium or if you have certain, you know, severe heart disease, something like that. But who do you who tries to come to you and you say, you know what, we don't think you should do this right now. 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah, you know, it's usually, and I really do think, yeah, there are folks who shouldn't, but, you know, I think there is a lot of heart for some of the population that I think is eligible for, I mean, is a good candidate. And I don't, this is an experience that I don't, you know, you don't wanna push on people, like this really does need to come from someone, but it's just like, watch how to change your mind on Netflix and see if this really resonates with you, then like, probably it's worth exploring. 

But yeah, I mean, and just to reiterate a little bit before where it's like, we want to make sure that people have some stability in their life, that they're, you know, they have a good support network around them. They're intentional about this, they have healthy expectations, they're not expecting it to be a simple bullet. It's part of an ongoing practice.  

We like to work with folks who generally are over the age 30. I mean, you can do it younger, but there is still this general idea that, oh, if you have a family predisposition to a psychotic disorder, this may be a precipitatory event.  

And it seems like for males, if you're gonna develop schizophrenia, it happens by the age of 25. For females, it's up to 30. So, to be on the side of safety, we generally prefer to work with folks who are 30 or older. It's important to know, do you have any family history with schizophrenia or bipolar? If so, then you should exercise some caution.  

So yeah, generally speaking, if there's a presupposition to a psychotic disorder, you're an unstable place in life. You're hoping that this is just going to solve everything.  

You don't have anyone to talk with about this in your life. Those would all be red flags and we would say, hey, maybe this isn't the right time for you to be doing this.  

Or maybe there's other tools that you should explore before going down this path. But that's a fairly small set and really, yeah, I mean, I guess I suppose I wouldn't be doing this company if I didn't have so much conviction in this, but there really are a lot of people who I think could benefit from this. 

Ted Ryce: Yeah. And as I said, I agree with you and I, and I wish more people would try, uh, Gabe, neuroscientists talk about top down and bottom up when it comes to, let's say approaching how you're, let's, let's talk about, you know, personal development so we can listen to podcasts like this.  

We can take it a bit deeper and maybe listen to an audio book or read a book. You can, you know, think about your life, you can go to therapy and talk about it. And that's all great. You can go to cognitive behavioral therapy, and you can start to examine your core beliefs and reframe what you're, you know, the stories that you're telling yourself based on those beliefs. And that's all great.  

You can also do that, and that's the top down approach using cognition to help with cognition, right? Or with cognition, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. And there's also the bottom up approach, which is I don't have to talk to you about my problems. I can go and exercise and I'll feel better. Right?  

By adjusting the, let's say, neurochemistry of my brain and hormones and all the other things that happens, the circulation coming to my brain. I just feel better without, regardless of what, you know, what I think my problems are. And  psychedelics fall under that too. You don't have to believe in it, per se, you don't have to, you know, the experience is so powerful. You know, it just works. And I guess there are situations where it definitely doesn't work.  

But like some people, I don't know what it is with, what the situation is with psilocybin, but I saw a lot of people in ayahuasca and they were in the ayahuasca retreats and they were just, yeah, they drank a ton, which was totally freaky when they told me, but they didn't really have a powerful experience.  

So, the point being like this helps you in a way where you don't necessarily have to study meditation. I meditate as well, but most people they're not gonna do it. It takes a lot of, I mean, I think you should do it if you're listening. I think everybody should meditate. I think you should be taught in schools.  

I almost think it's borderline a crime not to teach some form of emotional regulation in school, especially, you know, in the more chaotic years of people's lives and their teens. But this is something you don't have to like develop a skill with.  

Or like you, you went and did a silent retreat for a month. That's a big ask. This is something you could spend a few days with and have a huge change. And even then, I've never done a I did a overnight meditation retreat.  

And even though I meditate almost daily, I meditated today, for example, already. You know, in fact, that's what I'd like to ask you, how does it compare? How do you view the two?  

Like in the in your toolbox, there's the psychedelics, there's the meditation, you've done this month long meditation retreat, how do you view the two in your toolbox? 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, that's a fun question. And yeah, I'm excited to explore it. You know, a lot of people, it's a fairly common story to say, to hear someone got interested in, their interest in meditation led to psychedelics and conversely, someone might've not meditated before and then they have a psychedelic experience and then they just know that's like, oh, you know what, this is like meditation is what I need to do to continue this. 

And so really it does seem like, and this is a quote from Roland Griffiths, who's the Johns Hopkins researcher, the late Johns Hopkins researcher, but, you know, he says, um, second Elks are like the rocket. Maybe I'm going to misattribute this, but it was either Sam Harris or Roland Griffiths, but whatever that second Elks are like the rocket ship that will just like take you, we'll bring you there really quickly. It's a little bit crazy, but we'll take you there. And then meditation is kind of the tried and true path that will slowly get you there. 

But it is, and this is something Sam Harris said, is like, had he not had the psychedelic experience, he wouldn't have been convinced that there was a there there, that there was a reason to be doing all of this meditation. And so like, yeah, they can give you a glimpse into this other way of being this other state that can then be cultivated by meditation practice.  

So, a lot of times, yeah, people will report that there, if they had a meditation practice before, it is now supercharged after a psychedelic experience or they just suddenly get it more or they saw something that they just can't haven't seen during a meditative experience.  

And you know, some people are able to get to that same intense area through a silent meditation retreat. It's by no means a guarantee. Like I, you know, yeah, I've spent about a month on some meditation retreat myself and super glad I did it. Uh, I didn't have anywhere, anything, any anything close to what I feel on my psychedelic experiences.  

So, it's, it's even, yeah, it's just really not a guaranteed way of getting there. It has its own benefits. I'm generally pro those as well. Although both of these, that I'm gonna keep ranting a little bit and you can bring me back if you need to, but there's a lot of the same kind of warnings that apply to psychedelics as with meditation retreats where any kind of this intensive style for folks who have previous positions to schizophrenia or psychosis, either one of these can be precipitating effects. 

So, there does seem to be like, if you go to a Vipassana retreat, they'll often tell you a lot of the same warnings and caveats that you would prior to a psychedelic experience, which is if you have, you know, a mother with schizophrenia and you haven't done this before, like you may want to exercise caution here, which raises the really interesting question.  

It's like, wow, there does seem to be some very fascinating link between these two that I think the world is still trying to figure out what it is. Like they both, we've done fMRI studies of seasoned meditators and those on psychedelics. 

And they look similar in very interesting ways. They both seem to quiet down the default mode network, which is the part of the brain that's responsible for all this self-referential processing for worrying about yourself or thinking about the future, for worrying about the, thinking about ruminating on the past.  

It highlights this part of the brain, which is the default mode network. And an overactive default mode network is associated with anxiety and depression, all sorts of difficulties, and both psychedelics and meditation seem to quiet down the same part of the brain.  

You know, there is some like inextricable link between these two that I think we're still figuring out what it is. But they are, yeah, they're coupled in this really beautiful way. 

Ted Ryce: Yeah, fascinating. And I can only imagine what it's like to sit there for a month. Yeah, interesting, interesting. Where'd you do it, by the way? 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, and I will, I can't claim I did it for a month straight. I did a 10 day one and then a 14 day one. So, it was 24 days in total split between two retreats. So, I can't claim the month long meditation retreat, but I did my first one that was in Nepal.  

And you definitely, this is just part of my year of traveling. So, you definitely don't need to go to Nepal or Burma or Myanmar to do this. But I did my 10 day in Nepal and then the 14 day in Myanmar. 

Ted Ryce: Interesting, yeah. So, and still that's still a huge feat. I often jest when people are, you know, there's a, especially in the States, there's a talk about mental toughness. It's like, and they're, you know, it's like workout twice a day or, you know, do all these hard things. It's like, you know what, just try to meditate for 10 minutes. 

You know, and most high performers have a much harder time with that than working all night or working out twice a day. And so anyway, so I love that. Thanks for sharing.  

And although you say you don't have to go to Asia, I did some meditation studies in Thailand, did my overnight, my baby Vipassana there. I would say that if you can swing it, if you're interested in that it creates the change in environment, especially culture, how different it is culturally.  

It can be quite powerful. But again, like you said, Gabe, you can also go to Sedona or wherever the hot places in the States. However, I would come back to your assertion your point where, you know, I've been meditating for eight years. I lived in Asia for two years traveling around, and I've never had any meditation experience or any of the other things that I've done come even close. Like just, it's not even in the same ballpark with effectiveness.  

Although I do meditation every day. And of course I wouldn't do any psychedelic experience even weekly would be a lot, at least in my opinion. But yeah, it's quite powerful. What are your thoughts on microdosing? 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, I'm in again, you'll probably get this from the ethos of our of our company, but very, we try not to claim anything that science doesn't support or do any practices that we don't have enough scientific backing for. So the vast majority of psychedelic research has been with the macro dose, you know, the large dose done in a room with eyeshades on listening to music a lot in the last eight hours, facilitated by guide preparatory work after before integration work after. 

So that's what the vast majority of the research has been doing. There have been a very small number of studies on microdosing in part because it's just hard to study. Uh, that it seems like many of them just say, Oh, it just seems to be placebo. Um, we don't know for sure. Some studies say maybe it's more, but we don't know. 

So, there isn't scientific backing saying that microdosing does work. Uh, so we don't, we don't do it. Um, and I think with the right framing can still be a really helpful thing. Like, you know, placebo effect is enormously powerful. And if you believe that this is going to help you, like in the studies, they found that whether or not you got the microdose, you still did better.  

So, I think that, yeah, I think probably people will improve microdosing whether or not that's due to the psilocybin. Jerry is still out on that. But I think it can also be a nice, a nice way for someone to dip their toes into this, which is like, well, this thing called psilocybin is really crazy maybe I can at least start by microdosing. And so that serves a very different function, but it gets you a little bit more comfortable with psilocybin in general.  

So, I would say generally speaking, I'm not advocating for it. I'm not saying microdosing is gonna change your life. It probably will help most people who try it, but we don't know what the mechanism is. And then the only caveat I'll give there is that it does seem like it might have some heart implications. So, if you have some heart issues, it might not be the best idea to microdose. 

Ted Ryce: Because you're doing it so frequently. 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, yeah, it seems that it has some effect on valves in the heart. And again, it's so early that I don't we can't say conclusively one way or the other. But I've had some heart issues myself. And so like, I don't microdose for that reason. 

Ted Ryce: Interesting. Yeah, I wasn't aware of that because you think like, oh, well, but here's the thing, you know, psilocybin in ayahuasca, it does, you feel the cardiovascular effects. I mean, your heart rate increases. So, so that would, that would make sense if you're spiking your blood pressure and heart rate more frequently versus just doing it one time for a couple of hours. Fascinating. 

Well, Gabe, yeah, this has been a fascinating conversation and I really hope that people listening, it'll either help some people on the fence do something about it. 

Now they don't have to go down to South America. They can go to Oregon and have, let's say, a more gentle experience in Oregon at Odyssey, at your company, and also plant the seed, at least, in the minds of some people who. 

I know it must be really hard for some folks who maybe grew up a bit more conservatively. Alcohols and caffeine are the only drugs that are acceptable. And here's this thing that was like the devil in the 60s, but now it's making this resurgence.  

And even politicians and military personnel are looking into psychedelics as a way to help. And so certainly if you're listening right now and you're curious about it, definitely go and check out Odyssey, which is at That's and you can check out what Gabe is doing there. There's a frequently asked questions, there's retreats, there's private sessions, and you get to see the team. Looks like you put together something really great here.  

And just one other thing that I would mention, Gabe, is your vibe. I'm not sure if you're part of who's facilitating them, but you know, even if you're not, not your vibe. It's like, okay, this guy I feel okay around versus some people who, let's say, yeah, I don't know, well, a bit more delusional, you know, without going into a lot of detail, a bit more delusional. So, you see more even keeled than a lot of folks that I've talked to who facilitate or have a business in the psychedelic sector, let's say.  

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, I appreciate that. Yeah, that warms my heart to hear. And that's, yeah, that's in some sense what I'm going for. I think that's an important piece of making this feel more approachable and accessible to folks and to know that, yeah, you don't have to be super far out to really benefit from these experiences. So yeah, I appreciate you saying that. And it was a delight to be on. And yeah, just really enjoy the chance to chat with you. 

Ted Ryce: Absolutely. Who knows, maybe we can have you back on, tell some stories about some clients and some of the transformational stories because that might be interesting to dive into. Hearing about some of the people who came to you, what their story was, and then how an experience at Odyssey in particular helped them and what that process was, not just during the experience or the ceremony, but afterward as well. 

Gabe Charalambides: Yeah, we’d love that. We’d love that. And in the interim, we have just a smattering of testimonials on our website right now. So, some folks from OCD to troubles with substances to just generally kind of life refreshments in a sense. So, we don't have many up there yet. So it would probably be helpful to chat in more detail about that. But yeah, so maybe a part two in the future at some point. 

Ted Ryce: Sounds great. All right, well thanks again. Really appreciate your time today and what you're doing. 

Gabe Charalambides: My pleasure Ted. 

Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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