Psychedelics, such as ketamine, psilocybin, and LSD, are powerful therapeutic tools capable of treating all kinds of mood disorders. Here is all the information you need to know about how psychedelic-assisted therapy works at Nushama.
What is Psychedelic Therapy?
Psychedelic therapy involves using psychedelics to address mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD and conditions like alcohol addiction. The therapeutic use of psychedelics in a controlled setting can make it easier for individuals to confront past traumas, reframe personal narratives, and resolve other challenges, leading to long-term positive outcomes.
How Do Psychedelics Work in the Brain?
Psychedelics are believed to affect the levels and activity of certain neurotransmitters. Classic psychedelics, like LSD and psilocybin, bind to serotonin receptors in the brain, leading to changes in mood, thought, perception, and behavior. In the case of ketamine, the primary action appears to be on glutamate receptors, which has the knock-on effect of increasing the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein encourages the growth and repair of neurons and synapses.
Is Psychedelic Therapy Safe?
Psychedelic therapy is safe under legal, medical supervision with the right set and setting.
Nushama has established 13 practices. which are comprehensively understood and ingrained at a deep level by the entire team through training:
- Set: preparation and integration
- Medical screening
- Medical monitoring
- Medically supervised dosing and delivery
- Clinicians informed by ethical guidelines
- Member-operated safety control
- Membership informed with the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM)
- Therapy team collaboration
- Medical symptom management onsite
- Experience focus: in-person ketamine journeys only
- Ecosystem collaboration
These practices that we’ve implemented ensure our members receive the highest quality of care in a safe and serene environment.
Is Psychedelic Therapy Legal?
The legality of psychedelic therapy varies by country and region. In some, certain psychedelics are illegal and classified as “controlled substances.” In others, they are decriminalized or legal for medical use under certain conditions. In the United States, for example, psilocybin and LSD are classified as Schedule I. However, some cities have decriminalized psilocybin, and clinical trials of psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression and anxiety are underway. Ketamine, uniquely, is legal off-label for medical purposes at the federal level and FDA-approved for anesthesia and chronic pain.
Protocol at Nushama – From Intake to Infusion
All Nushama members begin with a full medical and psychiatric intake to discuss their history and determine if ketamine therapy is right for them. This initial step involves having a thorough conversation with a doctor to evaluate the suitability of psychedelic therapy for the individual. During this discussion, you will cover your past experiences, current medications and take a full medical history. Expect to be asked whether you have done psychedelics before and what your goals are for treatment.
If you proceed, our research-backed treatment protocol involves six ketamine infusions, administered twice weekly for three weeks, plus a booster at a later date. While each person’s experience varies, a psychedelic ketamine journey typically lasts about 45-60 minutes, with most people returning to their ordinary level of awareness within 1-2 hours post-treatment. Of course, treatment at Nushama involves preparation and integration therapy during every ketamine session.
You will receive detailed instructions on the best way to prepare for your journey in the weeks leading up to your first infusion. On the day of the session, you will be taken to a secure and controlled environment, where you will be given time to settle in and feel at ease. Your doctor will explain the process and what you may experience. A guided meditation will help you concentrate on your intentions. You will also be given an eye mask, and noise-canceling headphones with curated journey music as you recline for the experience in a zero-gravity chair.
Next, you will receive your individualized dose of ketamine. At Nushama, the dosage is administered via IV for individuals so that it can be adjusted as needed. Your doctor will continuously monitor you to ensure that you feel comfortable, safe, and supported, and they can stop the experience altogether if necessary—it’s as simple as pressing the call button.
The impact of a ketamine infusion in therapy can be felt within minutes. Different individuals may have different experiences, but they will likely involve feelings of deep relaxation, euphoria, and altered consciousness. There may be vivid daydreams, visual patterns, and revisiting of past experiences, people, or events. These experiences are not side effects but essential components of the healing process. Some patients may experience “breakthroughs” and feel relief from negative, depressive, and obsessive thoughts. The effects of the therapy may last for hours to weeks, but typically, more treatment is required for more lasting results.
After the medicine’s psychedelic effects have subsided, it’s time to reflect on your experience. You will be given a drink and a snack to relax and feel comfortable before beginning the necessary process of integration. Integration involves you and your therapist exploring the significance of what you experienced during the psychedelic session. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of your trauma and learn valuable techniques moving forward. You will also receive a Nushama goodie bag as a reminder of the changes you’ve made, containing items like a gratitude journal, eye mask, and “Home” bracelet.
Life After Nushama
Treatment continues long after the protocol is complete. You will have continuous access to integration groups, and a seventh booster session is available if and when you need it. Nushama members are also invited to participate in sound baths, cacao ceremonies, meditation, holotropic breathwork, and more, including partner events co-run with organizations like Psychedelic Access Fund and The Lanby.
What Are the Benefits of Psychedelic Therapy?
Guided psychedelic therapy has the potential to enhance one’s sense of values and purpose significantly and can result in improved self-esteem, relationships, and outlook on life. One of the most well-studied psychedelics is ketamine, a proven treatment for severe depression and anxiety. It can also aid those struggling with addiction, reducing the likelihood of relapse.
Is Psychedelic Therapy Right For You?
The decision to use any type of medicine is a personal one and should be discussed with your primary care doctor before trying something new. It is vital to do your own research on the different psychedelics available and determine which one may best suit your needs. Don’t allow the stigma associated with psychedelics to stop you from seeking effective treatment for mental health issues. These molecules have demonstrated great potential in addressing mental health problems and may be beneficial for you.