The first medical clinic to mix psychedelics with therapy in the Okanagan will open next month in Kelowna.
Fraser Johnston, co-founder and CEO of EntheoTech, said in an interview that patients will tap into the ketamine-induced dream state to discover different perspectives and ideas about their lives and experiences.
Ketamine itself has anti-depressive effects. However, the multidisciplinary EntheoMed Ketamine Suite team also benefits from the journey.
“We’re actually encouraging the psychedelic state, or disassociative state that comes with ketamine. That’s where people have these transformational ideas about themselves, about their personality, about their reality,” Johnston said.
“We’re really trying to refine that altered state and then teach them tools on the back of it, so that it really creates positive long-term results and lasting change.”
Physicians, nurses, psychotherapists, and psychedelic facilitators at the accredited private clinic will use ketamine for patients with treatment-resistant depression, as well as those with other mental health issues.
It opens April 4 at 1835 Gordon Dr. inside the Capri Center Mall.
They are now accepting patients.
At the start of the four-week process, patients come together in a group where they work with a psychedelic facilitator to do breath work and talk about what to expect in an altered state. The following week they have a dosing session and the next day they meet with their therapist. The format then repeats.
During an intramuscular ketamine session, the patient appears to be asleep. They have a blindfold and a weighted blanket. It can feel like an out-of-body experience, Johnston said.
The cost of the program is $5,600 and includes three ketamine injections, four individual psychotherapy sessions, four group integration sessions (including mindful breathing and movement), and two meditation sessions. Insurance companies cover between 10% and 30% of the cost, which is the psychotherapy part of the treatment.
EntheoTech is currently working to provide more evidence that it is a safe and beneficial treatment to encourage insurance companies to help fund more of the costs for patients.
First synthesized in 1962, ketamine is approved by Health Canada as an anesthetic often used in veterinary and emergency medicine. It is also used as an illicit recreational drug, under the name “Special K”.
“Looking at what happened in the ’60s, there was almost this cavalier attitude about psychedelics, ‘Everyone should take them’ and ‘these are wonder drugs,'” he said. . “Psychedelics are a tool, they are not a panacea. We need to be able to teach people how to use the tool correctly and in the right setting. »
There are plans for more clinics in places like Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.
The first in the Okanagan is to validate and prove the model. It also makes sense because the company is located here, Johnston said.
EntheoTech has broad representation from the medical and academic communities.
The company’s chief medical officer is Dr. François Louw. He is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UBC, as well as co-founder of the Bill Nelems Pain and Research Center.
“There is an urgent need for compassionate mental health care that carefully balances new and traditional medicines in a safe setting, helping people recalibrate and change the trajectory of their lives,” Louw said.
In addition to its clinics, the Kelowna-based bioscience company also researches and develops psilocybin formulas to reduce chronic pain, as well as alleviate mental health issues and opioid overuse. EntheoTech has a genetic catalog containing over 200 unique strains of psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
The opening of the clinic was announced on the heels of a new ketamine study from UBC Okanagan. Researchers from UBCO and the University of Exeter found that ketamine had significant antidepressant and antisuicidal effects.
Their recent study, analyzing over 150 global studies on the effects of sub-anaesthetic doses of ketamine for the treatment of mental illness, was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
“We found strong evidence that ketamine provides rapid and robust anti-depressant and anti-suicidal effects, but the effects were relatively short-lived,” said UBCO doctoral student Joey Rootman. “However, repeated doses seemed to have the potential to increase the duration of positive effects.”
The study suggests that ketamine may be helpful in treating other disorders, including eating disorders, problematic substance use, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety.
“As many as one in five Canadians will suffer from a mental illness this year, and the reality is that existing treatments don’t work for everyone. As a result, many Canadians are curious about new approaches to help with these serious conditions,” said Zach Walsh, professor of psychology at UBCO, who led the study.
“We need a lot more information about how these interventions might work – for example, administering the drug is only part of the treatment. We need to determine how much and what type of psychotherapy would best complement the drug intervention to truly maximize the potential benefits.
“That being said, this is a really exciting time for ketamine research. If it can provide the relief that early evidence suggests, it could be one of the most important developments in mental health treatment. for decades.
To visit entheomed.ca to book a consultation.