Numinus makes a play to link psychedelics and mental health as it looks to bring its therapy into the mainstream

It’s difficult to hear the word “psychedelic” without immediately thinking of tie-dye and VW buses, but Canada-based mental health care company Numinus is working to advance innovative treatments and safe, evidence-based psychedelic-assisted therapies. The goal is to change that dated perception and expand the integration of psychedelic-assisted therapies into mainstream clinical practice.

CEO and co-founder of Numinus Payton Nyquvest’s own experience with chronic pain, the mental health issues it caused and his eventual relief through psychedelics propelled him to set up Numinus and advocate for the use of psychedelics in healing. The impetus was to give other people the opportunity that he had through the controlled use of psychedelics.

“At the time when we started the company, there was really no corporate interest within the psychedelic space. It was primarily just not-for-profit and academic groups,” Nyquvest said. “There were a lot of conversations with MAPS [a Canadian organization pushing for access to legal and regulated psychedelic medicine in the country] and Health Canada and a lot of the leading institutions just starting to ask what can we do to help.

"The response was unanimous that there was nobody really building the service side of actually delivering psychedelic therapy and all the associated mental health infrastructure that's necessary to make psychedelic therapy really effective.”

It is that infrastructure and assisted psychotherapy that make psychedelics work in treating issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders and certain functional neurological disorders.

Numinus operates in both the U.S. and Canada as a mental health service provider with a focus on psychedelic therapy. In addition to traditional mental health services, there is also ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, which is the first psychedelic that’s legal in both countries. MAPS has been running clinical trials with psychedelics testing MDMA for over 35 years and is now in phase 3 for PTSD with the hopes of it being legal next year. Numinus has been the trial site for some of those trials as well as others for LSD and psilocybin.

Pharma interest in psychedelics has been low; one of the reasons, Nyquvest says, is that the industry relies on repeat prescriptions, but psychedelics don’t work that way.

“The MAPS protocol is three doses with MDMA, and potentially never needing to take another dose ever again. So from a drug pharmaceutical standpoint, it's limited in regards to opportunities for those larger pharmaceutical companies, at least at this point. I think it would be naive to think that at some point, you might see involvement there, but we haven't seen it yet.”