This article is sponsored by Numinus
The potential for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy as a novel treatment for mental health is a hot topic as of late. From Netflix documentaries to reform sweeping the country, there is an ever-growing sense of acceptance from the general public about the use of psychedelics in mental health care. A recent federal survey found that this has catalyzed a rapid increase in the use of psychedelics, among American adults.
Amid this, one company that seeks to pave the way for the future is Numinus, a Canadian enterprise whose use of evidence-based psychedelic therapies is working to change the landscape of mental health. Their program—which includes psychedelic production, research and clinical care—is part of an industry paradigm shift, aimed at healing, rather than managing, symptoms for depression, trauma, pain, and substance dependence.
For Payton Nyquvest, the CEO and co-founder, the impetus for Numinus was deeply personal. “I had struggled with severe chronic pain, really since birth, and grew up in a household that struggled with substance abuse,” he says, when asked about his first experience with therapy. “When my mum got sober when I was 12, she said, ‘Sorry about the last 12 years. You might want to start working with somebody to address some of the stuff that might come up.’”
Read: What is Ayahuasca?
Taking his mother’s advice, Nyquvest set out to not only gain some clarity about his life, but to find an alternative to over-the-counter medicine in order to manage the chronic pain and autoimmune issues he had dealt with since childhood. “I was really out of options,” describes Nyquvest, after a string of emergency room visits, “This was a last-ditch effort to save my life.”
Nyquvest adds with a chuckle that his journey is not the “cliche story” of “guy in finance does ayahuasca and thinks he’s been chosen to tell the world.” Instead, after experiencing complete relief from his pain while in Costa Rica on an ayahuasca trip, Nyquvest says he just simply wanted to give back to the medicine that had saved him. “I knew that there was something behind this that was bigger than me,” he recalls.
After three months of meetings with MAPS, Health Canada, and countless advocates within the psychedelic community, Nyquvest decided that it was time to find his voice. It was during his second trip to Costa Rica that a chance encounter gave the future CEO the mental clarity he was looking for.
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“I felt like I had finally understood the level of complexity and depth surrounding the experience. It was the last night of my stay and I remember telling my wife that I felt like, for whatever reason, the universe was telling me to reach out to Gabor Maté.” His wife simply shrugged, rolled her eyes and replied: “let’s get dinner.”
It was later that night, at dinner, that Nyquvest would find himself seated next to the famous physician’s daughter. “We never spoke about her father,” Nyquvest notes. “But we shared our stories and when I got back from my trip she had sent me an email saying, ‘I really think you should talk to my dad.’”
With the support and guidance from his new mentor, Nyquvest began work on helping Numinus take shape. “We wanted to make our services accessible to as many people as possible. Our goal was to empower communities to heal themselves using these tools.” Partnering alongside MAPS, The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Numinus was able to help train practitioners in the use of psychedelic-assisted therapy.
“With these types of therapies, the outcome really does come down to the therapist and the setting,” explains Nyquvest. “The ability to research this in a real world setting means that, once approved, we will be able to take care of a larger number of people that can really benefit from our programs.”
Read: The Ayahuasca Privilege
Nyquvest says Numinus’ focus on integration—whereby a person processes their psychedelic experience, often with the support of a trained specialist, after the journey is over—is what sets them apart from other psychedelic therapy clinics.
Their two-part business model includes Numinus Bioscience, a Health Canada-licensed lab and production facility, and Numinus Health, which provides infrastructure and protocols for practitioners using psychedelic-assisted therapy. Using this two-pronged approach, Numinus is working to offer a vast amount of services and programs to people in need of relief, while keeping reciprocity and reverence for the traditional, indigenous use of plant medicines at the core of its values.
It also provides cultural safety and humility training for all their clinicians, highlighting and working towards combating the challenges indigenous people face in healthcare. “These medicines and practices that we use have been around for an extremely long time,” Nyquvest states. “It’s very important for us to avoid the colonial mistake of simply taking from the land without providing a sustainable solution.”
It’s all a part of a holistic, rather than purely clinical approach, that Numinus hopes to take within the psychedelic movement. And this means, the therapies themselves extend beyond the medicines, too—into experiences and community building.
Earlier this year, Numinus hosted an immersive event series, titled Music As Medicine, to explore and celebrate the role music plays in psychedelic-assisted therapy and mental health. The live music event featuring recording artists—Jon Hopkins, East Forest, and Superposition—was something Nyquvest says is the first of many, adding, “Music, community, and connection have always played an important role in sacred ceremonies and is an integral component of psychedelic-assisted therapy and integration. Through the Music as Medicine series, we are celebrating an emerging genre of meditative music, and exploring the role that music can play as part of the healing process, while building connection across a community.”
The community that Nyquvest talks about is steadily growing. With clinics already up and running in Utah and Arizona, Numinus is keeping a watchful eye on regulation changes in the United States. “In places like California and Colorado, we see people who are more well versed in psychedelic therapy,” explains Nyquvest, but “we also see states like Texas starting to use alternative paths for treating veterans suffering from PTSD so it’s all very exciting to see where we are headed.”
When asked about his plans for the future, Nyquvest says his focus is on reaching as many people as possible. “Our approach is to provide the tools and education to expand the depth of services we are able to offer,” he says. “Whether it’s with ketamine, MDMA, or traditional talk therapy, we want to offer a robust, holistic experience for anyone who is suffering.”
For information about psychedelic-assisted therapy and to find a clinician near you visit Numinus.