March 2, 2024

Daniel Carcillo, CEO of Wesana Health, is a living example of the power of psychedelics to help people with mental illness when standard care – and other forms of alternative treatments – have already failed. The former National Hockey League player said he was on the verge of suicide as a result of a traumatic brain injury sustained as a professional athlete.

“Nothing worked,” Carcillo said at the CNBC Healthy Returns Summit Tuesday, which covered everything from standard medicine to isolation tanks. “I started making plans to incriminate my family and take my life. I thought I had tried everything.”

Then Carcillo discovered various alternative medicinal mushroom-based treatments for inflammation and wellness, such as lion’s mane and turkey tail, and psilocybin – the compound in “magical” mushrooms – the former NHL player owes his life to being saved.

He says the day after a psychedelic trip, under the right attitude, he woke up and felt like he hadn’t felt in years: normal. And over the course of two weeks, his symptoms decreased in intensity before “almost fading”.

Medical uses for psilocybin include depression, PTSD, and other mental disorders. As clinical data grows, a recent flood of public offerings has raised billions of dollars for the emerging field of mental health.

The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

“I was more connected to myself and the others around me. I have three young children under the age of six and just wanted to hug them and get back to my beautiful wife,” said Carcillo of CNBC Healthy Returns. His penchant for negative self-talk turned to positive self-talk – “Many amazingly destructive thought patterns disappeared in two weeks,” he recalled – and today he no longer suffers from anxiety or depression.

His experience is anecdotal, but backed up by a growing body of clinical research into the use of psychedelics to treat a variety of mental illnesses, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Recent publications in the New England Journal of Medicine and Natural Medicine detailed the latest encouraging results on MDMA and psilocybin as potential breakthroughs in mental health drugs.

The data has caught the attention of Wall Street and investors including Kevin O’Leary, co-host of Shark Tank and chairman of the O’Shares ETFs.

This is a brand new field of medicine with such incredible potential.

Companies like Wesana Health, Compass Pathways, MindMed, and Field Trip Health are among an emerging class of stock market problems that, while high risk, raise billions of dollars on a promise that O’Leary says is real.

“The potential of psychedelics far exceeds the potential of cannabis,” O’Leary told CNBC Healthy Returns on Tuesday.

The investor said he was “pragmatic” about new uses for illicit drugs and that, as an investor, it made more sense to bet on psychedelics, where research is increasingly showing their effectiveness as medicine, than market bets on recreational drug use, which are always are still illegal in many jurisdictions.

“What interested me is the size and size of the market,” said O’Leary. “These possibilities have been ignored since the 1960s,” he said.

O’Leary has invested in MindMed and Compass Pathways as the market acceptance of psychedelic use in medicine has grown dramatically over the past year and a half and multiple clinical studies have been conducted.

“This is a brand new field of medicine with such incredible potential,” said O’Leary, adding that the way investors should look at it is based on the fact that we haven’t seen any new mental health drugs in decades have allowed more.

Also, according to O’Leary, investors need to remember that these are emerging companies with high risk and clinical trials can have binary results that can cause a billion dollar drug or company to go to zero. He has diversified his bets, saying he prefers to overweight companies with multiple attempts in progress, which has led him to a larger stake in MindMed than Compass Pathways.

“This is an exciting place. How many times can you invest in something that has never been done before?” he said.

Dr. Sharmin Ghaznavi, deputy director of the Mass General Hospital at the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics, said as a psychiatrist she has a front row seat for the number of mental illnesses dealing with people and the stories that arise in patients who “Have incredible reactions” to psychedelics.

“For far too many patients, current treatments are inadequate or do not help at all, and we owe it to these patients to investigate the promise of these compounds,” Ghaznavi said. She added that the medical community also owes it to these patients to conduct due diligence. “It’s still early … there’s a lot we don’t know,” she said, including what drugs are right for the right patients and in what dosages and treatment settings. “We need rigorous research in the years to come to optimize treatment delivery, maximize benefits, and minimize harm.”

Carcillo said it was important to keep collecting the data and letting them inform about the decision making and the way we are building that experience. “It will really show us what these drugs can do,” he said. “We just want to be a company focused on helping neurological wellbeing in the right ways and studying these drugs to treat a wide variety of diseases,” he said, from TBI to PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Citing the example of pioneering psychedelics researcher Rick Doblin of MAPS, whose rigorous data from clinical trials on MDMA for the treatment of PTSD was released this week, an industry landmark, he said companies should “stay close to the roadmap,” which they “. have used. “

Wesana plans to file for FDA approval and approval in Canada in the fourth quarter.

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