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Psychedelic-assisted therapy clinic to open in Kelowna

FILE. Ketamine is being used in depression treatments. Getty Images

Psychedelic-assisted therapy will soon be available in Kelowna.

The EntheoMed Ketamine Suite is set to open on April 4 inside Capri Centre Mall and will offer a program that delivers intramuscular ketamine paired with psychotherapy, preparation and integration.

The aim, according to a press release from the clinic, is to foster greater personal insight and lasting psychological change for people suffering chronic pain, treatment-resistant depression, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD and other conditions that affect mental health.

“There is an urgent need for compassionate mental health care that carefully balances new and traditional medicines in a safe setting, helping people recalibrate and change the trajectory of their lives,” said Dr. Francois Louw, clinical associate professor at UBC’s Department of Family Practice, co-founder of the Bill Nelems Pain and Research Centre and chief medical officer at EntheoTech.

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EntheoMed’s intramuscular ketamine-assisted therapy is provided by a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, psychotherapists and psychedelic facilitators for an integrative wellness experience.

“Psychedelic medicine is showing promise as a safe and effective way to treat mental health,” said Michael Ocana, clinical assistant professor at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and EntheoTech’s head of psychiatry.

“A new healing paradigm is needed as many are not responding to current medical and psychotherapeutic approaches. We are pleased to have assembled a world-class medical team including Ketamine Specialist Dr. Anita Sanan.”

Dr. Sanan said mental health wellness is just as important as any other type of health care, be it diabetes or cardiac disease.

Read more: ‘Canada’s first psychedelic-enhanced psychotherapy centre’ changing how we treat depression

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“It’s time to shift beyond traditional approaches to mental health and explore innovative, evidence-based solutions to help people optimize their healing journey,” she said.

The team at the clinic is waiting for regulations to evolve so the focus can be on psychedelic medicines to promote positive change in what they call the global mental health crisis and destigmatization of psychedelics in the Okanagan and beyond.

Along with its clinic network, EntheoTech has a genetic catalogue containing over 200 unique psilocybin-containing mushroom strains and is pursuing analysis of different compounds, extraction methods and formulations of these medicines, while developing products and protocols for micro and macrodosing to positively alter the human experience.

Most psychedelics are banned in Canada, though in 2021, exemptions have been granted to use psilocybin therapy as a treatment for mental health conditions.

Ketamine has long been legal for medical use and most commonly used as an anesthetic during surgeries. Its street name is Special K.

Read more: Men are less likely to seek help for mental health — and the pandemic is making it worse

It is also used to treat acute pain in an emergency setting. Ketamine is sometimes prescribed at low doses for severe chronic pain and is given intravenously, intramuscularly, intranasally and sublingually for the treatment of major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, and suicidality at medical clinics throughout North America and Europe.

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In the 1950s, Canadian researchers in Saskatchewan were considered world leaders in the research of psychedelics to treat a variety of diseases, including depression and alcoholism. But LSD pioneer Timothy Leary helped usher in the counterculture movement of the ’60s, and psychedelics became synonymous with hippies. As a result, the U.S. and Canada banned them in the 1970s, essentially putting an end to any research projects.

In recent years scientists have begun looking for alternatives to anti-depressants, which a study from McMaster University suggests are hard to kick because of extreme withdrawal symptoms.

Just last year, researchers at the University of Toronto launched the Centre of Psychedelic Studies, where they’re looking at the effects of psilocybin.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, meanwhile, are well into a study looking at the impact of MDMA on patients with PTSD.

— with files from Mike Drolet 

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