Healthcare Tomorrow: How Mindbloom Is Transforming Psychedelic Therapy
With respect for the indigenous peoples who have been using psychedelic plant medicines for thousands of years (the first wave); and a nod to the invention of LSD in the 60s and the research it spawned before all psychedelics were banned in the U.S. (the second wave); the third wave of psychedelic medicine is upon us.
What does this mean exactly?
Rick Doblin, PHD, the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), calls this era “the global renaissance of psychedelic research.” He discussed the wise use of psychedelics as healing and inspirational tools in his April 2019 Ted Talk which has close to three million views. In it, he quotes his mentor and pioneering psychedelic researcher, Dr. Stanislov Grof, who said “Psychedelics are to the study of the mind, what the microscope is to biology and the telescope is to astronomy.”
Psychedelic advocate, educator, and entrepreneur Paul F. Austin describes “the third wave” of psychedelics on the landing page of his public benefit corporation of the same name:
It’s about integrating intentional, measured, and responsible psychedelic use into our everyday lives. It’s about paying tribute to the civilizations who paved this path while making way for a future where psychedelics are decriminalized. It’s a time to fuse ancient wisdom with modern-day science to spur transformation and healing—individually, collectively, and for society at large.
The Marriage of Psychedelics And Science
Western medical professionals have begun to embrace the use of psychedelics for the treatment of chronic mental health disorders with esteemed research institutions such as Johns Hopkins, Imperial College in London, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) leading the way with funding by nonprofits like the Usona Institute.
One such psychedelic with FDA approval as a “breakthrough therapy” for anxiety is ketamine. In fact, ketamine is currently the only legal psychedelic medicine for treating emotional disorders.
On August 13, 2019, NIMH Director Dr. Joshua Gordon discussed the efficacy of ketamine in an article on the FDA’s approval of new drugs for post-partum and treatment-resistant depression. He shared that “numerous careful NIMH-sponsored studies have consistently demonstrated that ketamine rapidly reduces depressive symptoms when given intravenously.”
Gordon shared that in the past two decades much of this research was conducted by the NIMH Intramural Research Program. Findings have been promising, revealing that “ketamine has strong, rapid effects on treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and bipolar depression, as well as in reducing suicidal thoughts.”
Too Good to Be True?
Intravenous administration of ketamine poses some problems with regard to accessibility.
For one, it’s expensive. A benefit of the newer esketamine is that it can be delivered through the nasal passages. A purer form of the active ingredient S-ketamine, more of the drug can be administered by this method as well. The results of esketamine studies have also been promising. Gordon reported that “clinical trials demonstrated that esketamine, delivered intranasally, had robust antidepressant effects in patients with TRD.”
Due to possible side effects like dissociation and hypertension, as well as the potential for abuse, Gordon spoke of the need for continued research and investigation on the use of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and the importance that it be administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional in a healthcare setting.
But what if ketamine could be safely administered orally, under the guidance of a trained healthcare professional, and from the comfort of home? This is where innovative healthcare companies, like Mindbloom, have risen to the challenge.
Mindbloom: Psychedelic Therapy for the Masses
Mindbloom is a mental health and wellbeing company whose founders describe what they do not as work but as their calling. Founder and CEO Dylan Beynon partnered with scientific director Dr. Casey Paleos “to increase access to science-backed psychedelic medicine treatments.”
Their starting point? Reducing the cost of ketamine therapy by over 65 percent.
Beynon brings his Wharton-trained business acumen and a deeply personal connection to mental health and wellness to the enterprise while Paleos is a psychiatrist and psychedelic researcher. Paleos has been using ketamine therapy in private practice since 2016. He also worked as co-principal investigator for the NYU-Bellevue Ketamine for Depression Study and is currently co-principal investigator for the MAPS-sponsored MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD Phase 3 Clinical Trials.
The Mindbloom Method
Mindbloom offers clinician-prescribed, guided psychedelic therapy. Their methods are science-backed, created by expert psychiatrists, and led by trained, qualified facilitators. What does this entail? And is it right for you?
The ketamine treatment offered by Mindbloom is designed for people suffering from treatment-resistant depression and anxiety disorders. Before embarking on a therapeutic psychedelic journey with Mindbloom, candidates go through a series of steps, including an online assessment; a video consult and psychiatric assessment with a clinician; and setting intentions.
For individuals determined to be a good match for guided ketamine therapy, a Mindbloom clinician will provide support in preparation for the first session. This includes helping patients prepare mentally and physically for the experience, review intentions, and share tips and advice. This will also entail determining an appropriate dose of ketamine for therapeutic purposes.
Mindbloom started as an in-person clinic, but after Covid-19’s arrival in 2020, they now offer a fully virtual treatment. Patients now have their sessions via telemedicine from the comfort of their homes. Along with the prescribed medicine, Mindbloom clients receive a “Bloombox,” which contains a journal, an eye mask, blood pressure monitor, and other items to assist with their journey.
Ketamine is taken orally, under the tongue, and activates within 10 minutes. Patients are monitored by an in-person “peer treatment monitor,” often a close friend or loved one, and a trained acilitator as they explore the workings of the mind for the hour-long introspective journey. The client’s clinician is always standing by to help with any questions or adjustments to the treatment protocol.
Afterward, patients use reflection and journaling to integrate their experiences. Patients may be prescribed up to four sessions every one to two weeks by clinicians, during which time they are supported in turning insights gained into actionable plans. Options for advanced treatment include:
- 1-to-1 integration sessions
- Group therapy
- Additional programs focused on conditions like anxiety
To get the most of your experience, Mindbloom advises patients to use the psychedelic therapy mantra “Trust, Let Go, Be Open” to the fullest extent possible.
Mindbloom psychiatric clinician Chelsea Tersavich graciously shared her experience working in this innovative field.
Interview with Mindbloom Psychiatric Clinician, Chelsea Tersavich, PA-C
Chelsea Tersavich, PA-C
Chelsea Tersavich, PA-C, is a psychiatric clinician with extensive mental health and primary care experience from her military career. During her 11 years of service, Ms. Tersavich treated thousands of soldiers as a battalion physician assistant and specialty clinic medical director. She was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Aviation Provider of the Year awards, among many other accolades.
In her role at Mindbloom, Chelsea Tersavich conducts psychiatric evaluations and has facilitated ketamine therapy sessions for over 250 clients. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from American University and a master’s from the Interservice Physician Assistant Program. Ms. Tersavich was also a recipient of the PA Foundation’s 2020 Nutrition Outreach Fellowship.
What makes Mindbloom a pioneer in the field of psychedelic therapy?
Mindbloom’s ketamine treatment model provides support from the beginning to the end of the client’s experience at the fraction of a cost of other psychedelic therapies, all from the safety and comfort from the client’s own home.
How does Mindbloom personalize ketamine treatments for individuals?
No two treatments are alike at Mindbloom. Personalization begins when clients choose their licensed clinician for their initial consultation after reading through short bios. They choose their guides the same way. As clients go through their programs, the clinician-guide team listens to each person’s past experiences and co-facilitates their treatment sessions to create unique integration experiences.
Integration includes journaling and mindfulness practices such as yoga, breathwork, meditation, exercising, or envisioning changes to troublesome behaviors—all to support the therapeutic experience.
Who guides patients’ psychedelic experiences? What qualifications do guides possess and/or training do they receive?
Guides are psychedelic coaches that support clients throughout their therapeutic journey in close coordination with the clinical team. We very selectively recruit guides who are compassionate and have deep-rooted interest in psychedelic healing, and they all undergo extensive training when they join the team. They also bring their own diverse backgrounds and certifications and training from organizations such as Being True to You, the Zendo Project, Nonviolent Communication, and the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Who might not be a good candidate for psychedelic therapy?
Mindbloom’s clients are people struggling with depression or anxiety, including those with “treatment-resistant” depression. These clients do not meet exclusion criteria that could pose an increased risk to an individual’s health should they take ketamine.
Several examples of this criteria include prior diagnosis of schizophrenia, uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), and individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding. A more comprehensive list of eligibility and exclusion criteria can be found on our website.
What challenges does the psychedelic medicine industry face? What untapped opportunities exist?
There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding around psychedelic medicines. There is a stigma around psychedelic medicines like ketamine, which some people first think of as “an animal tranquilizer” or a “party drug.”
Psychedelic substances such as psilocybin (found in “magic mushrooms”), LSD, and MDMA are still categorized as Schedule I by the FDA, despite research that clearly demonstrates their medicinal applications. In turn, many people then assume they are dangerous. This categorization also makes researching them difficult due to the more strict requirements and regulations around them.
Additionally, people think of the “free-love hippie” stereotype when they think of psychedelics and don’t see them as valuable medications. These stereotypes are starting to shift as research around psychedelic substances shows promise in treating anxiety, depression, addiction, and other mental health issues.
Where is Mindbloom headed? What kinds of therapeutic experiences/psychedelic medicines would you like to offer future patients and what further innovation might they entail?
Mindbloom’s mission is to increase access to safe and effective mental health treatments, and we’re continuing to expand to additional states. We’re also working with experts to conduct research and develop additional content and programs to help our clients continue their growth and healing. We’ll continue to monitor the FDA approval pipeline for emerging psychedelic medicines and hope to make these powerful tools available to our clinical team in the future.
A Closing Note: Paving the Way for Therapeutic Psilocybin Use
With the passage of measure 109, the state of Oregon is leading the way in the use of psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic or “magic” mushrooms for the treatment of chronic mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
The measure allows for legal use in supervised, state-licensed clinics. Myles Katz, co-founder of a legal psychedelic retreat center in Amsterdam with Paul F. Austin, moved to Oregon to help pass and implement the measure.
While psilocybin has been decriminalized in Oakland and Santa Cruz, California; Denver, Colorado; and Washington D.C., it is still categorized as a Schedule I drug with the Food and Drug Administration. Phase three studies of both psilocybin and MDMA need to be completed to gain FDA approval for use in psychedelic-assisted therapy.