June 25, 2020
Field Trip Health, Inc., the world's first mental wellness company focused on psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, is opening the first medical centers—first in Toronto, then in New York and LA—dedicated exclusively to the administration of psychedelics, in a “spa-like” setting.
So what exactly happens at one of these types of psychedelic therapy clinics? You're going to find out in today's podcast and also discover what kind of biohacks, self-quantification tools, supplements, and more could potentially be combined with plant medicine for enhanced efficacy.
My first guest on today's show is entrepreneur and visionary Ronan Levy. Ronan is a co-founder and the executive chairman of Field Trip Health, Inc.; partner at Grassfed Ventures, a venture capital and advisory firm focused on the cannabis and biotech industries; and a member of the board of directors for Trait Biosciences Inc., a leading biotech company in the hemp and cannabis industries. Prior to his current roles, Ronan co-founded Canadian Cannabis Clinics and CanvasRx Inc., the latter of which was acquired by Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) in 2016, after which he served as senior vice president of business and corporate affairs for Aurora. A lawyer by training, Ronan started his career as a corporate lawyer at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP and legal counsel at CTVglobemedia Inc. (now Bell Media Inc.) He holds Juris Doctor and bachelor of commerce degrees, both from the University of Toronto.
My second guest on today's show, Marshall Tyler, is a scientist with a deep interest in psychoactive molecules. He spent his academic career at Cornell and Harvard, exploring the intersection of chemistry and biology in an attempt to unravel the molecular basis of neuropsychiatric disorders. He subsequently worked as a leading scientist at PLUS, one of the largest cannabis edibles manufacturers in California. Marshall's passion lies in guiding research to arrive at a deeper understanding of consciousness with the ultimate goal of enhancing wellbeing.
MAPS Capstone Challenge
In the recent podcast episode, “What Happens During A Psychedelic Journey: Dr. Matthew Johnson On Psychedelic Treatment Rooms, The State Of Psychedelic Research & The Future of Psychedelic Therapy.,” I talk about the MAPS Capstone Challenge. My friend Tim Ferriss has helped to organize a $10 million challenge pledge for MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies.
Why is this important?
Tens of millions of people worldwide suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Millions more have suffered from emotional and physical abuse but never get diagnosed. On top of that, PTSD is notoriously difficult to treat and cure. Conventional treatments fail all the time. Never before has the treatment of trauma been more relevant. In good news, it appears that one odd candidate—MDMA-assisted psychotherapy—can produce results that practically defy belief. As one actual patient put it in the Trip of Compassion documentary, “I felt like I went through 15 years of psychological therapy in one night.”
Now, let’s look at data instead of anecdote: In MAPS’ completed phase 2 trials with 107 participants, 56% no longer qualified for PTSD after treatment with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, measured two months following treatment. At the 12-month follow-up, 68% no longer had PTSD. Most subjects received just 2–3 sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. All participants had chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD and had suffered from PTSD for an average of 17.8 years. On August 16, 2017, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to MDMA for the treatment of PTSD. There is a clear path ahead to make MDMA a legal medicine for millions of people suffering from PTSD. And just as important: If we succeed on this path, MDMA will also set precedent and open the door for dozens of other therapeutic compounds, including psilocybin.
The MAPS Capstone Challenge will help provide the funds—$30 million total—needed to complete the studies required for FDA approval of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. MAPS has already raised $10 million. If another $10 million are raised by September 10th, this will unlock a $10 million challenge pledge that Tim Ferriss has helped put together, alongside PSFC. Half of the pledge comes from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, and the rest is split equally between Tim; James Bailey from Bail Capital; Peter Rahal, the founder of RXBAR; Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS; and an anonymous donor.
This challenge pledge is all or nothing. If MAPS fails to raise $10 million by September 10th, they do not receive the $10 million challenge pledge. There is no partial credit, and there is a real urgency. This $10M challenge pledge was announced in Tim's recent interview with Rick Doblin, the founder of MAPS. Every dollar matters, so if the spirit moves you, please consider giving what you can by clicking here. If you can contribute $100,000 or more over two years, please get in touch with Rick and his team by emailing [email protected].
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-What psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy entails…10:00
- Using psychedelic molecules to catalyze the effects of psychotherapy
- The most popular psychedelics currently:
- MDMA for treatment of PTSD
- You want a small window of time in which the psychedelics act for maximum treatment efficacy
-The work of Field Trip…13:00
- Build a new infrastructure to support psychedelics as they become more mainstream
- The current infrastructure (psychiatry, hospitals, doctors, etc.) are not ideal for psychedelic treatments
- Set and setting are critical: Proper mindset, and proper setting for the treatment
- Explore different psychedelic molecules for future treatment
- The “spa” experience at Field Trip:
- Beautiful and approachable setting
- Greenspace, zero-gravity chairs, juice, and coffee, etc.
- Not a “transactional” experience like a doctor's visit
-The importance of music in treatment…19:20
- Music specifically tailored to enhance the trip
-A variant of ketamine Field Trip is using…22:30
- Racemic ketamine
- The body will break down ketamine into 20 different molecules
- Intramuscular delivery mechanism
-How Field Trip incorporates psilocybin into their practice…29:06
- Currently illegal to grow in the U.S. and Canada
- Researched in Jamaica (Univ. of West Indies)
- Learn about different strains within psilocybin
- What grows in Jamaica stays in Jamaica
- Oregon is soon to vote on a bill that would legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy
-Other molecules that will be more common in future treatments…35:30
- The “gold standard” treatment is yet to be determined
- Each individual has differing needs, conditions, etc.
- Exercise caution when recommending supplements to offset the effects of a psychedelic trip
-How a psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy session is conducted…39:45
- Biohacks are not common: “Is there enough evidence to justify their use?”
- “No shaman” policy at Field Trip
- Protocol is mainly physician-driven currently
- Nurse administers the psychedelic; abundance of caution employed
- The goal is to treat the patient and send them on their way
-Prepping a patient on breathwork before a session…45:30
- Holotropic breathwork can mimic a psychedelic session
- Breathwork during a session may not be in the patient's best interest
- Restraint in trying new things so that the patients will be open to what they do offer
-The patient experience from booking the appointment, to the treatment, and beyond…50:00
- Care coordinator walks through the process to determine if the treatment is appropriate
- Must have tried conventional treatment before going to Field Trip
- Psychiatrist assessment
- First dosing session: meet doc, therapist, physical. Around 45 minutes in length
- Adequate time to recuperate after the session
-Dream scenarios in the emerging landscape of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy…54:15
- Nuances of both psychedelics as well as the disease states
- “Depression” is a blanket statement that can cover a wide array of disorders
- Discover the most efficacious chemical combinations
- Research on the set and setting for the experience
- New and similar companies are emerging (they deeply admire Field Trip's business model)
- Psilocybin is on the horizon; however, we don't know when exactly
- At-home ketamine therapy (be very cautious)
- They are no “cure-alls” i.e. it may not have any effect on a person
-Microdosing between the therapeutic protocols to enhance the therapy…1:03:30
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
- BGF podcast on MDMA for the treatment of PTSD
- BGF podcast on holotropic breathwork
- BGF podcast on HRV with Dr. Jay T. Wiles
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