The metaverse is promising to be many things. For sufferers of depression, it could bring relief via virtual psychedelic therapy sessions.
Psychedelic therapy sessions are coming to the metaverse. The Miami-based psychedelic startup Ei.Ventures says it has purchased a substantial plot of land in virtual world the Sandbox where it will facilitate wellness treatments.
Ei.Ventures says it purchased a 12-by-12 estate in the Sandbox—a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s blockchain gaming venture Animoca Brands. With help from its parent company Orthogonal Thinker, the metaverse purchase is the third-largest land sale in the network of 3D lands to date, valued at more than $2 million. Ei.Ventures has named the space PSLY.com, which is the name of Ei.Ventures’ forthcoming merger with psilocybin-based Mycotopia Therapies.
“The combination of our tech, cannabis, psychedelics, outer space, and crypto-related holdings will all be utilizing this exciting space,” David Nikzad, CEO of Ei.Ventures, said in a statement. “We are very excited to invite all of our portfolio companies and investors to be part of something extraordinary.”
The announcement comes after a record-setting year for the psychedelics industry. As innovations in applications, increased investments, groundbreaking research and legislation buoyed the nascent industry, acceptance is widening. Celebrities including Megan Fox and Will Smith have recently shared their experiences with psychedelics. Data published last October estimated the global psychedelic market would surpass $6 billion by 2026 following an “unmet need” for treatment of mental health issues.
In 2020, the World Health Organization estimated that more than 264 million people struggled with depression. While psychedelics like psilocybin hold potential across a number of wellness areas, treatment for depression is expected to make up the largest market demand for psychedelic therapies. Studies from major universities including Johns Hopkins have found psychedelics such as psilocybin show significant promise in treating depression, particularly treatment-resistant depression, which affects as many as 30 percent of patients prescribed antidepressants.
Healing in the metaverse
Virtual healing therapies in the metaverse could prove effective. Last November, Revitalist, a Tennessee-based chain of ketamine clinics focused on treatment-resistant conditions, announced its plans to launch “Revitaland” in the metaverse. It will allow patients to attend virtual mental health sessions with its mental health professionals in real time.
Revitaland will accept cryptocurrency and NFTs that will act as a rewards program after completing a set number of mental health sessions. Minted by META, the NFTs will give future trading flexibility to Revitalist patients in the virtual marketplace.
“In the past we were 100 percent focused on brick and mortar mental health clinics,” Kathryn Walker, CEO of Revitalist, said in a statement. “Technology allows us to span our offering around the globe in a much more efficient and effective manner. The Metaverse will not replace certain therapies such as Ketamine IV infusions however it will provide patients with optionality with regards to initial intake with a mental health provider and ongoing follow up sessions. Mental health doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t have borders and is only getting worse in today’s society. We want to reach as many people as possible and provide our mental health solutions to their every day lives.”
Other efforts already underway are bridging virtual reality and psychedelic healing. The platform Tripp raised $11 million to develop mindfulness experiences that emulate a psychedelic trip. The teletherapy platform Rey raised $10 million for its immersive mental wellness platform. And VR company Firefly VR partnered with Ketamine One to pair VR with psychedelic experiences.
Data show that VR can help with healing. One study that involved patients suffering from paranoia saw their phobias reduced by fifty percent after just one session. A recent Oxford study found a 38 percent decrease in anxiety in patients after just six weeks of sessions.
“The beautiful bit… is that there’s also a conscious bit of your brain saying [VR] is not real, therefore I can try things differently,” said Daniel Freeman, founder of Rey. “It doesn’t break the spell; it just enables you to make the learning.”
Plans for the PSYL.com land are expected to include “wondrous VR experiences of Hawaii, positive psychedelic trips, healing modalities, and much more.” Ei.Ventures says it plans to host guided therapeutic trips with therapists in the metaverse. Where psychedelics are legal for clinical use, such as Jamaica and Oregon, it will host patients on real-world psychedelic journeys.
“PSLY.com going to be a utopian space in the metaverse, it will be empowering to people in the most-high regard way,” Nikzad told Forbes. “This will be a new way to interact with your friends in general, and provide psychedelic therapy in particular.”
According to Nikzad, aside from venturing into the metaverse, Ei.Ventures is also working on a transdermal psilocybin patch aimed at clinical use.
He says the metaverse and offering virtual psychedelic therapy is the only way to scale the industry.
“Health and Wellness is a trillion-dollar market,” Nikzad said. “As we’ve now gone through COVID and are still in the craziness of it, these technologies will become much more important as communications and how financial transactions are handled is changing.”
Ei.Ventures’ announcement follows Atari’s recent land purchase in The Sandbox valued at more than $4 million, as well as rapper Snoop Dogg’s plans to create the Snoopverse—a virtual world in the Sandbox, according to Forbes.