As Ketamine Therapy Booms, a New Self-Administered Treatment Option

a woman in a maze
Courtesy Ashley Batz | Unsplash

Ketamine therapy is on the increase. Now, there’s an at-home option following Wonder Science’s recent $4.6 million seed funding raise.

Residents in four states: California, New York, Florida, and Texas will now be able to take the psychedelic mental health treatment ketamine in the comfort of their own homes. Wonder Sciences anticipates that number rising to more than 19 states by the end of the year as Wonder Sciences launches Wondermed, a low-dose self-administered ketamine lozenge targeted at treating anxiety and other mental health issues.

The announcement follows the company’s $4.6 million in funding from Aubrey Marcus, founder of Onnit, NYT Bestselling author and AMP Podcast host; James Foster, CEO and chairman of Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. (NYSE: CRL); Aaron Stone and Randall Mays, SDG Impact Fund, Phyto Partners, Tejo Ventures, and Ambria Capital. The funding is the highest for an at-home ketamine provider to date.

Ketamine healing

The psychedelic medicine sector is booming—estimates put the revenue for the category at surpassing $3 billion by 2029. Much of that is driven by in-person clinics, like the Toronto-based Field Trip Health and Delic-owned Ketamine Wellness Centers.

One treatment form, Spravato, a nasal spray that contains pure S-ketamine, and is three- to four-times more potent than R-ketamine, is the first ketamine-based FDA-approved antidepressant. It works by modulating glutamate to treat depression.

Spravato nasal spray
Courtesy Spravato

Former U.S. Army staff Seargent Chase Chewning, 36, has done two in-person sessions at a Field Trip Health location in Santa Monica, Calif. At an open house event last month, Chewning told Ethos that he went into the process to address the loss of his father when Chewning was 19. But he says a lot of other things changed for him during his sessions.

“The treatment shows you so much more than you expect,” he said. Chewning says not only has he worked through a lot of the stuck emotions from his father’s death, but he has become a different person entirely, more relaxed, and less restricted by both his religious upbringing and time in the rigid military culture.

Chewning’s wife May Fakhriyazdi, who’s a nurse practitioner and clinic manager for Field Trip, confirms it. “Before the sessions, there was not a whole lot of flexibility or room for error, with Chase,” she says of his personality pre-ketamine. “Now he’s a totally different person, so much less judgemental about himself and everything else.”

Both of Chewning’s sessions were done on-site—one was a group session with several other participants, and one was one on one with a therapist. Both offered benefits, he says, both valuable in their own ways.

Like a number of people working with psychedelics to process trauma or mental health issues, Chewning has experimented with other substances, namely psilocybin. It’s currently only legal for therapeutic use in Oregon, but a number of cities are decriminalizing psychedelic substances for recreational use, including Washington D.C., and Denver, Colorado. Oregon has also decriminalized recreational use.

Field Trip Health’s Santa Monica clinic | Courtesy

But the use of self-administered psychedelic substances taken at home is now poised for a boom.

“While the medical community has largely agreed that ketamine is a successful treatment option for those struggling with anxiety and mental health issues, available treatments to date have been limited and often require a large investment of time and financial resources,” Ryan Magnussen, founder and CEO of Wonder Sciences said in a statement.

Wondermed

The low-dose Wondermed lozenge is taken at home, but the healing journey is not; Wondermed use comes with a pre-screening process to determine eligibility, including a meeting with a clinician through its telehealth platform. The platform also encourages weekly hour-long ketamine-assisted sessions “to enhance the brain’s chemistry for optimal, long-term success,” the company says.

The platform is also developing a database of partner mental health professionals to help patients connect with skilled service providers in their post-session therapy.

“The Wondermed protocol is centered on two tenants: effective integration and allyship,” said Dr. Abe Malkin, M.D., medical director of Wondermed. “Patients who’ve embarked on the Wondermed protocol report a dramatic increase in their mental health, with 92 percent reporting a decrease in their anxiety in the days following their first session. Our protocol is fast-acting and empowers patients to be self-healers with support from trusted allies. We believe this is a large factor in our success rate.” 

According to Wonder Sciences, the Wondermed home treatment has a 92 percent success rate for anxiety symptoms within 24-hours of the first session. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S., but fewer than 37 percent suffering from anxiety seek treatment. Depression is the third leading cause of disability across the globe. But conventional treatments are problematic. Aside from side effects that can include unhealthy weight gain or weight loss, and insomnia, treatment-resistant depression, identified as two or more treatments failing to alleviate symptoms, affects about 30 percent of patients.

Courtesy Leilani Angel | Unsplash

The Wondermed launch builds on a growing body of research that points to ketamine as a safe, effective, and non-habit-forming treatment option. Ketamine increases neuroplasticity in the brain, allowing for more adaptability and flexibility. The National Institutes of Health say that ketamine disrupts problematic “thought loops” that can contribute to anxiety. Unlike anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications, psychedelics including ketamine and psilocybin, have low failure rates.

Ketamine and psilocybin see much higher success rates, with single treatments often showing lasting benefits for several months to more than a year.

But despite the benefits, one of the biggest barriers to entry has been price. A single session at a ketamine center can cost more than $1000. Wonder Sciences says its Wondermed lozenge and telemedicine care package starts at $249 per month. That includes the telemedicine care with a Wondermed clinician to customize the program, optional check-in calls and direct support with the Wondermate team, lozenges for four self-led ketamine healing sessions, “musicologist-produced” soundscapes to accompany healing sessions, and a complimentary subscription to a platform offering guided meditations. 

“Wondermed is the most accessible ketamine-assisted protocol available,” Magnussen said. “We’re honored to play a role in impacting countless lives by helping people unlock their self-healing potential with a safe, scientifically-proven protocol.” 

Check out our list of luxury psychedelic wellness retreats for more information on types of healing.

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