As psychedelics grow in popularity, particularly ketamine due to a legal medical loophole, new questions have popped up. Like, if this treatment is so good, why can’t it be offered to employees of a company? Well, that’s exactly what specialty soap maker Dr. Bronner’s, and the Enthea Psychedelic Healthcare platform are doing, offering workers psychedelic healthcare. Read on to find out more.
Though most psychedelics are still Schedule I, interest in their healing abilities has gotten to such a fever pitch, that psychedelic healthcare options are now being offered for employees. Dr. Bronner’s might be the first, but companies interested in their employees’ well-being, will be quick to look into methods that help keep employees happy and working well. We report on everything related to the emerging field of medical psychedelics, and offer the best stories going on today. Sign up for The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter to stay on top of everything newsworthy in the industry. Plus, as products and deals become available, be first to get access!
Who are Dr. Bronner’s and Enthea?
Before getting into what they’re doing together, let’s first get into what they are. Dr. Bronner’s is a family run business that specializes in natural soaps, with the business dedicated to producing socially and environmentally responsible products. It’s product catalogue consists of shampoo, body soap, toothpaste, lotion, balm, laundry cleaner, coconut oil, shaving cream, sanitizer, and apparently, some delicious looking fair trade chocolate bars.
The company produces organic and fair trade products, many of which are vegan, and which hold the same certification as organic foods. According to the company, it uses no synthetic preservatives or foaming agents in its products. The company takes part in regenerative organic farming projects, and soil enrichment and tree-planting programs, as well as using 100% post-consumer recycled packaging, and aggressive waste and water-use reduction techniques.
While Dr Bronner’s is certainly not the most highly advertised brand, it has continued to do well, with a sales increase from $4 million in 1998 to $122.5 million in 2018. Dr. Bronner’s is big on activism, and has paid out over $8 million of its sales income to different charitable causes during that time, including $5 million to MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies), which is the company currently spearheading trials for MDMA, which were designed in conjunction with the US’s FDA.
Enthea Psychedelic Healthcare is a company that provides safe and affordable access to psychedelic treatments, and which is on its own personal mission to get psychedelic assisted therapy into general healthcare coverage for companies. The non-profit benefit plan administrator “provides health plan benefit riders and single case agreement services for psychedelic healthcare.”
The company works with a list of provider networks, which include practitioners for ketamine-assisted therapy and psychedelic-assisted therapy, all of whom have the proper certifications and credentials. The company aims to help create healthcare plans that are affordable for companies, and which provide workers with all necessary healthcare options, including psychedelic therapy. The company deals with medical policy development, manages provider networks, and administers benefit plans.
What’s the news on psychedelic healthcare?
On February 28th, 2022, Dr. Bronner’s released a press statement regarding a partnership between the family-owned company and Enthea Healthcare. This makes Dr. Bronner’s the very first company to offer its employees access to psychedelic therapy as part of its mental healthcare benefits. This is currently in the form of ketamine therapy only, as ketamine/esketamine are the sole drugs which are legal for this treatment right now.
According to the press statement, the partnership came out of a shared appreciation for psychedelic assisted therapy, with the belief that these practices should be a standard part of healthcare offered to employees. Says Dr. Bronner’s President, Michael Bronner, “The health and well-being of our employees is the primary driver in how we think about benefits and compensation. Offering coverage for ketamine assisted therapy is in the interest of providing tools to our workforce to have the best quality of life and best options for mental healthcare.”
Continued Bronner, “Our family and company are no strangers to depression and anxiety. We are deeply concerned about the mental health crisis society is facing, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Considering all our advocacy on this issue, this employee benefit is the next logical step.”
Dr Bronner’s offers all of its employees quality health coverage, making no differentiation between high-ranked and low-ranked employees on this matter. Healthcare is offered as a no-deductible PPO health insurance plan for worker’s families as well. The company pays the entire health premium costs as well as all deductibles, so employees don’t need to make out-of-pocket payments. The company very obviously cares about quality of life for its employees, and sees ketamine as a way to further overall worker health and satisfaction.
What does psychedelic healthcare mean for employees?
Starting on January 1st, 2022, Dr. Bronner’s employees have received this new coverage, which offers, as an initial health benefit, integrated ketamine sessions with specialized counseling, for the improvement of mental health issues. Enthea plans to expand its offered treatments to include psychedelics legalized in the future, including MDMA and psilocybin, which both have FDA breakthrough therapy status, and which are currently undergoing trials.
Lia Mix, Enthea’s CEO, makes a great point when she states: “We anticipate both human and financial return on these organizations’ investment in covering psychedelic healthcare”, an interesting way to look at it considering how much time and money is lost by companies because of employee mental health issues. How much? According to nsc.org, “employers that support mental health see a return of $4 for every dollar invested in mental health treatment”, as per research released by the University of Chicago’s National Safety Council and NORC.
The same analysis went on to say that employers “spend over $15,000 on average annually on each employee experiencing mental health issues.” The analysis also gives some other interesting statistics, like that mentally distressed employees on average use about $3,000 more yearly for healthcare services than their non distressed peers, and that the cost for days lost is averaged at approximately $4,783 every year per employee. This leads to an average turnover cost of $5,733 each year per employee.
Given these numbers, and that 85% of employees report they feel distressed at work simply from the workplace alone (without factoring in all the distressing outside-of-work issues that one faces in life), it certainly makes sense for companies to provide the best possible mental healthcare benefits to their employees.
Ketamine for mental health
Ketamine and esketamine are two sister drugs that share the same chemical formula of C13H16ClNO. Ketamine was found first, in 1962, by Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company. By 1970 it was cleared by the FDA for use as an anesthetic. When this happened, despite an already existent understanding that ketamine could be used for pain relief, and that it did have an effect on affect, it was not approved for anything more, and has not been since that time.
On the other hand, esketamine was discovered in 1997 in Germany, while researchers were once again looking for an anesthetic. It was discovered during testing that esketamine was good for depression, though this was at least partially understood before this time in regards to standard ketamine. Esketamine is technically called ‘S-enantiomer’ ketamine, whereas the ketamine used in clinics is called ‘racemic’ ketamine.
A racemic mixture refers to a compound that contains “equal quantities of two enantiomers, or substances that have dissymmetric molecular structures that are mirror images of one another.” In this case, R- and S-ketamine. Enantiomers refers to a “pair of objects related to each other as the right hand is to the left—that is, as mirror images that cannot be reoriented so as to appear identical.” Esketamine is therefore S-ketamine only (get the name?), while racemic ketamine includes both enantiomers.
While some studies say esketamine is “reported to be less prone to psychomimetic side effects, such as derealisation and hallucinations”, like this study from 2009, entitled Comparison of racemic ketamine and S-ketamine in treatment-resistant major depression: report of two cases, the general consensus seems to be that they both do the trick, with only minor differences between them.
Apart from major depression, for which the US government approved esketamine in 2019 – along with suicidal ideation, which was approved in 2020, ketamine has shown useful for a number of other psychological issues. Not only has testing uncovered benefits for those suffering from anxiety and PTSD, but with women experiencing postpartum depression, and people with eating disorders. To take it a step further, it’s been known since the 1964 prisoner studies that ketamine offers a safe way to treat pain. Yet this has yet to be an approved feature of the drug, despite the safety of ketamine, and the growing opioid epidemic that claims in the neighborhood of 70,000 deaths per year.
With this new deal between Dr. Bronner’s and Enthea, psychedelic healthcare is now underway. Given how quickly the industry moves, perhaps we’ll see this as a standard part of healthcare options for employees within the next decade. Certainly, if a company wants a good return on investment into its employees, it’ll be quick to look into whatever methods help keep employee populations happy and unstressed.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.