The Future of Psychedelic Medicine: Two DIFFERENT Treatment Models

  • The future of mental health is psychedelic medicine
  • Two different visions for that future have emerged
  • How will this play out as psychedelic medicine moves forward?




Psychedelic medicine is the future of mental health. Increasing bodies of clinical evidence are showing that psychedelic medicine can/will revolutionize the treatment of mental health disorders much like the introduction of antibiotics revolutionized the treatment of bacterial infections.
 
This is important. A global Mental Health Crisis is spiraling out of control with already 2+ billion people suffering from treatable but untreated mental health disorders.

However, within the psychedelic drug industry and the psychedelic medicine community, a debate has emerged on how best to utilize the potential of psychedelic medicine to address this global mental health catastrophe.

The debate centers on whether a “pharma” based approach to psychedelic medicine or a more “traditional” approach is optimal for maximizing mental health.

For those new to the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs, several natural psychedelic substances such as ayahuasca and iboga have long histories of use by indigenous cultures, both as medicine and in tribal rituals. Some of this ritual use has even been incorporated into Westernized religion.
 
Ayahuasca is used for both its visionary and medicinal properties by a large number of peoples across Peru, Brazil, and other northern South American countries. Ayahuasca is also used as a central part of some Christian/syncretic religious groups – most notably the Santo Daime and Uniao do Vegetal churches – in rituals that focus on the spiritual experience that the ayahuasca brew can produce.

More recently, Western practitioners of psychedelic medicine have borrowed from these traditions to create very spiritual forms of psychedelics-based therapies – as a vehicle for both (mental) healing and personal growth.

Psychedelic Stock Watch reached out to one of the public companies that is pursuing this more traditional/spiritual approach to psychedelic medicine. We asked Douglas Gordon, CEO of Silo Wellness (CAN:SILO / US:SILFF) to more properly describe this approach to psychedelic-based therapy.
 
“At Silo Wellness, we believe Western approaches to psychedelic medicine should honor, acknowledge and integrate Indigenous knowledge and traditions, ultimately driving economic participation and tangible economic outcomes for those communities. We engage Indigenous facilitators who are instrumental in curating and operating our Jamaica-based psychedelic retreats, infusing them with local traditions and teachings.”

A heavy “traditional” influence. Such an approach to psychedelic medicine has strong support both from many practitioners as well as the majority of those who have participated in such journeys.

Call it the “Cadillac” of psychedelic medicine: a deep, holistic journey with maximum attention placed on set and setting, along with the full healing potential of psychedelic medicine. It is understandable why those in this camp wish to see this as the model for psychedelic medicine going forward.

Unfortunately, what this traditional/spiritual approach offers in terms of maximum benefits from psychedelics-based therapies, it loses in terms of scalability. It is simply not practical to get to the finish line in providing treatment to 2+ billion people with this Cadillac alone.

Enter the “pharma” approach to delivering healthcare services in general, and psychedelic medicine in particular.

Psychedelic Stock Watch also went to an expert to get a better description of this model for psychedelic medicine, Robert Barrow, CEO of MindMed Inc (US:MNMD / CAN:MNMD). Barrow has previous “hands on” experience in drug development with this pharma-based approach.
 
“Applying pharmaceutical approaches and expertise to researching psychedelic compounds means being open-minded and answering questions only with the clinical data available to us. It means being honest about what we know and what we don't know.

While there are decades of clinical research on these substances, much of the contemporary dialogue is driven by anecdotal experiences that may not be representative or predictive of broader outcomes. The seriousness of our global mental health crisis demands the most serious of attitudes toward clinical research and drug development.”

A more rigorous scientific approach.

Proprietary drug development. A merging of holistic psychedelic medicine with the conventional therapy model for delivering mental health services. Scalable treatment models intended to be delivered at a competitive (and even superior) price level versus conventional therapies.

Call it the “Honda” approach for psychedelic medicine. The commitment remains to provide a quality ‘vehicle’ for delivering these services. However, balanced with this are considerations of efficiency and scalability.

In a recent roundtable discussion between the CEOs of three of the leading companies in this space – MindMed, Cybin Inc (CYBN), and Field Trip Health (FTRP) – efficiency and scalability were common themes, in discussing both drug development and the delivery of psychedelics-based therapies. CEO Barrow explicitly noted that all three were pursuing the pharma approach.

For those in the psychedelic medicine community who are committed to the more spiritual/holistic approach, they are concerned that this quest for efficiency will come at the expense of sacrificing some of the overall therapeutic benefit.

We asked Douglas Gordon to represent that viewpoint.
 
“There’s no doubt that psychedelics offer an important - and natural - opportunity for us to address decades of underwhelming results from a host of pharmaceutical drugs that many mental health experts deem inadequate. However, the pharma-based model can often be exclusionary through highly limited patient pools for FDA and medical trials.”

For their part, the public and private companies pursuing the pharma approach to psychedelic medicine have an obvious commercial incentive. With increased efficiency and scalability come stronger profit margins and much higher growth rates.

Hence the debate. But is there really a reason to indulge in such a debate?

On the one hand, we have a gargantuan health crisis with an enormous and imperative need to deliver these next-generation therapies to the 2+ billion people in need as quickly as possible. That’s a pretty strong argument in favor of the pharma approach.

On the other hand, as Psychedelic Stock Watch regularly observes in covering the science of psychedelic medicine, these therapies are being aimed at some very pernicious conditions.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment-resistant depression (TRD), "suicide" headaches, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are among the assortment of difficult-to-treat diseases and disorders targeted by psychedelic medicine.

Even the best of these next-generation psychedelics therapies can’t deliver 100% success rates in treating such conditions. In a world with only the “pharma” approach to psychedelic medicine, we would likely continue to see significant numbers of people fall through the cracks in terms of still not being able to obtain satisfactory outcomes for their mental health.

Given the reality in terms of both the acute needs of individuals and the massive overall need for these services in society as a whole, it would seem obvious that we need both a Honda and a Cadillac as vehicles for psychedelic medicine – and perhaps even more therapeutic permutations.

We need the best that psychedelic medicine can deliver in meeting acute mental health needs.

Today, one American dies every 5 minutes from a drug overdose. One American dies roughly every 10 minutes via suicide, generally connected to untreated/poorly treated depression. Roughly every hour, another U.S. veteran kills themself due to untreated/poorly treated PTSD.

Clinical studies are showing amazing potential for psychedelics in treating addiction, depression and PTSD. With so many lives directly at stake, we can’t afford to sacrifice quality for efficiency.

Yet, we also need the most efficiency that psychedelic medicine can deliver in meeting the (gigantic) overall mental health needs.

With 1 out of 4 people on the planet already in need of treatment, rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse (in particular) are spiraling out of control thanks to oppressive Covid lockdowns and “mandates”.

The percentage of Americans suffering from depression has nearly quadrupled since the start of Covid with 80 million Americans now exhibiting clinical symptoms.

U.S. drug overdose deaths increased by 16% in 2021, after soaring by more than 30% in 2020. Overdose deaths in the U.S. have doubled in the past 6 years.

Conventional therapies for both depression and addiction are woefully inadequate. Psychedelic medicine can generate potent relief for both depression and addiction.

One psychedelic drug can’t possibly meet all of the (immense) needs for better healthcare to address the Mental Health Crisis. That’s why both corporate and public institutions doing such R&D are exploring the medicinal potential of several different psychedelic drugs.

Similarly, one treatment model is also unlikely to meet all our mental health care needs.

Go to a mental health clinic for therapy. Visit a retreat to undergo a mental health journey.

The destination is better mental health for the 2+ billion people currently in need of better options. Almost certainly, it’s going to take more than one vehicle to get all these people to that destination.
 
Mental health (cover) by sewcream is licensed under Adobe Stock
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