In recent years, there has been a shift towards the use of hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs. The once-taboo topic has become the focus of pharmaceutical and biotech companies as a solution for treating mental health disorders and boosting productivity. This interest has been made more relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated existing and sparked new mental health challenges, driving more people to seek safe and more accessible mental health solutions.
In fact, a 2021 Global Drug Survey found that nearly 50% of patients microdosing psychiatric drugs and psychedelic drugs during the pandemic significantly reduced their dependence on prescribed drugs, largely due to lack of access.
The mental health angle of microdosing is a slight contrast to Silicon Valley’s trend among more senior workers that have been reported to microdose magic mushrooms (or psilocybin) in particular as a way to achieve a competitive, creative edge over younger career professionals, as well as manage the high stress-loads inherent in Silicon Valley jobs.
The microdosing profile of psychedelic drugs often includes THC, CBD, magic mushrooms (psilocybin), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). The NIH classifies microdosing as taking between 5%-10% of a full dose of a psychedelic without a hallucinogenic high.
PLAYERS & LEGAL SAYERS
In 2017 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted a “breakthrough therapy” designation for MDMA, and again in 2019 for psilocybin for the treatment of mental health disorders including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which broke down regulatory barriers for clinical testing. In 2021, clinical testing from a phase 3 trial has brought psychedelics even closer to FDA-approved therapy status.
Biotech players are capitalizing on the progress seen in clinical trials and are developing microdosing therapies in anticipation of the FDA’s green light. Among promising players are Mindstate Design Labs, Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals, and Osmind, at least two of which maintain a practitioner-guided approach. These companies are combining new technologies with equally newly developed psychotherapy treatments for a wide variety of issues.
London-based creative design studio, NewTerritory, is taking pending FDA approval and the biotech industry developments to the next level. NewTerritory’s conceptual brand, Human Nature, was inspired by the Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research findings on the potential for psychedelic mental health treatment as part of a proof-of-concept of the role that microdosing psychedelics can have in the wellness industry.
“We wanted to shine a spotlight on how [psychedelics] could become part of our every day or every other day,” said NewTerritory creative director, James Ravenhall, proactively highlighting the commercial potential for legalized psychedelic drugs. And with the psychedelic industry poised to reach $10.75 billion by 2027, this kind of competitive edge can place new businesses ahead of the competitive curve.
THE TECH BEHIND THE VISION
Human Nature aims to reimagine consumer drug use experience by likening it to that of other socially acceptable stimulants, like coffee and alcohol, by “attempting to relinquish some of the stereotypes associated with the heavily synthetic and overly mind-altering notion of psychedelics,” says Ravenhall. Human Nature does this by incorporating a ritualistic wellness practice into the user experience.
Human Nature’s offerings bundle several technologies and wellness concepts. Among its most easily identifiable technology is the ‘spacer,’ an inhalation device similar to THC and CBD vaporizer pens. The spacer comes with four uniquely sculptured cartridges that are specific to each psychedelic substance. The cartridge mini-sculptures extend from the spacer for easy recognizability by the user while visually representing each substance, with naming that equally reflects each drug’s function: ‘Dream’ for melatonin, ‘Relax’ for CBD, ‘Focus’ for LSD, and ‘Create’ for psilocybin – two of which have already been legalized for recreational use.
The spacer is accompanied by a smart-tech app as well as a biometric patch. The patch is worn on your skin and takes biometric data, including blood sugar, blood pressure, and respiration rate. This information is sent to the app, which relays this information to the cartridge as a determinative for individualized dosing. The app could feature guided meditation and the ability to track bodily changes when the accompanying patch is being worn.
Although there are many vaporizer pens already on the market, Human Nature’s spacer is unique in that the technology incorporates breathwork practice often seen in yoga. The low-pressure inhaler encouraged users to breathe in by employing slow, controlled breathing exercises, which contributes to a calm and relaxed state for regulated drug delivery.
While this kind of product offering may look like something out of a futuristic movie, the technology already exists and is ready for development and application deployment. Ultimately, legislation is the deciding factor for when this kind of product becomes available.
The scientific evidence for cannabis and psychedelic microdosing is strong and points to a mental health treatment option that is accessible, destigmatized, and ultimately effective.