The use of hallucinogens for healing and self-care is not a new phenomenon. These psilocybin mushrooms are legal in countries such as Jamaica and the Netherlands, where individuals have long been known to ingest them as part of a spiritual journey. However, interest is growing in the scientific community about the medical applications of these types of drugs.
Similarly, a new health and wellness business model has emerged in recent years: the psychedelic spa and retreat. These facilities and sensory-focused experiences allow individuals to feel the healing powers of these drugs in a controlled and safe environment with direction from specialists.
Many of these facilities feature medical screening and an exhaustive application process to ensure prospective visitors can safely take psychedelics such as ketamine, psilocybin mushrooms, and ibogaine. Below are four psychedelic spa and retreat experiences worldwide that tree everything from depression to addiction or.
Mindbloom, located in New York City, became the city’s first legal guided psychedelic therapy facility when it opened in March 2020. Seeking to help individuals manage common mental health conditions including depression and anxiety, Mindbloom’s clinical protocols were developed by prominent psychedelics researcher Dr. Casey Paleos.
Visitors must undergo an extensive screening and psychiatric evaluation before being approved for the guided ketamine therapy. Sessions occur in an upscale, spa-like setting and cost between $150 and $250 per person. Participants complete four one-hour sessions to achieve desired results and take ketamine via sublingual tablets or intramuscular injection.
Dr. Paleos, who also acts as Mindbloom’s medical director, has researched the use of ketamine and other psychedelic drugs in academic and clinical settings for more than a decade. Individuals who are depressed or chronically anxious often experience negative, repetitive thoughts due in part to a diminution of the density and quantity of synaptic connections between nerve cells in the brain, he explains in a video on the company’s website.
Ketamine, when taken under medical supervision in controlled environments, can help remedy this. “Within a couple hours of treatment, a reversal of the withering of those [brain synapses] that we see in depression and anxiety [occurs],” said Dr. Paleos. “You get back to this healthy state of kind of a robust web of interconnections that sort of restores the available paths that a neural impulse or circuit has to go down.”
Truffles Therapy (Netherlands)
In contrast to the hour-long sessions offered by Mindbloom, Truffles Therapy in Amsterdam, Netherlands, delivers a comprehensive spiritual healing retreat. Guests participate in group therapy sessions, yoga, guided sound bath sessions, and outdoor recreation.
Coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, and sexual intimacy with fellow guests are all prohibited. However, the mushroom “truffle,” which grows beneath the soil and contains high levels of psilocybin, is fair game. In fact, it’s a critical component of the psychedelic retreat.
Guests first microdose these truffles before taking a handful of truffles in a controlled group setting. The retreat lasts three days and starts at €1,200 per person. In a blog post for City A.M., Steve Dineen describes his experience at Truffles Therapy and how he and many of those in his group have since noticed improvements in mood and lowered anxiety levels.
Synthesis Retreat (Netherlands)
Another popular psychedelic retreat in the Netherlands in Synthesis Retreat. Founded by Paul Austin, the business also utilizes the truffle part of magic mushrooms to help individuals deal with mental health conditions but takes a different approach in doing so.
Rather than outdoor sessions, it offers transformational experiences at one of four retreat centers: Venwoude, De Hoorneboeg, Herberg, and Zeeveld. Ensuring visitor comfort is a priority for Synthesis Retreat and, to that end, it offers warm and inviting accommodations and quality food. Visitors also receive private coaching and post-ritual screening to ensure maximum efficacy and safety.
Retreat outcomes range can include heightened states of creativity, the ability to process childhood experiences, intellectual epiphanies, and synesthesia, or the ability to see sounds. Visitors take the truffles under medical supervision and only those who pass a thorough health screening can participate. Moreover, Synthesis maintains a partnership with the Psychedelic Research Group of Imperial College London to further ensure its programs are as safe and effective as possible.
Clear Sky Recovery (Mexico)
Derived from a plant in the African rainforest, ibogaine is regarded for its ability to fight opioid and methamphetamine addiction, although there are varying accounts of the drug. It’s true that it can alleviate intense withdrawal symptoms of these drugs, but only for a short period of time, i.e., one or two weeks. It can, however, be useful in detox centers. This is the agenda of Clear Sky Recovery in Cancun, Mexico.
Launched by Dr. Alberto Sola, Clear Sky Recovery is a peaceful and luxurious facility at which guests generally stay for one week and receive three ingestable doses of ibogaine hydrochloride. The drug halts cravings and withdrawal symptoms and gives those who take it dreamlike visions. In addition to the natural effects of the drug, guests participate in post-treatment psychotherapy, yoga, and nutraceuticals.