Psychedelic Therapy, Acupuncture, and the Rise of Holistic Wellness
Conversations with "fertility goddess" Dr. Jill Blakeway, psychadelic pioneer and MAPS Founder Rick Doblin, and Elix Founder Lulu Ge shed light on why this is such an important trend.
From Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop to the Netflix documentary The Game Changers, alternative medicine has made its way to the mainstream for the American consumer. While pharma companies hope that the vast majority of American doctors continue their approach to medicine through the prescription of their drugs, many new approaches focused on alternative medicine solutions are starting to make their way into our lives more regularly (over 33% of Americans have tried an alternative medicine solution) with very promising results.
Here, we highlight three of what we deem to be some of the hotter trends in alternative medicine and why the leaders in their categories believe they’re here to stay.
While the ancient practice of acupuncture started over 3000 years ago in China, the industry has now made its way to the U.S. with over 11,500 practitioners actively administering well over 10M appointments a year and a global CAGR of 14.5% between 2018-2023. Eastern medicine practices are now meeting the west to cure sports injuries, treating fertility challenges, reduce migraine pain, and much more. With acupuncture tables nationwide now being used to treat so many ailments we asked Dr. Jill Blakeway why.
Dr. Jill Blakeway, the Founder of Yinova Center, is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Described by the New York Times as a “fertility goddess,” Jill is widely recognized as one of the top Acupuncturists in New York City and one of the leading authors about the topic.
Why do you think acupuncture is one of the top alternative medicine trends in the landscape of holistic health?
Acupuncture has stood the test of time and has been used for thousands of years because it works. Our patients tell us that they appreciate the measurable progress they make under our care and that they enjoy the treatments which make them feel relaxed. I also think people respond positively to the field because practitioners are licensed and board certified and therefore held to set standards, both educationally and ethically. This gives patients confidence in their practitioners.
How do you see the use cases and potential for acupuncture evolving in the next five to ten years?
Acupuncturists don't just give treatments; they are also knowledgeable fertility health coaches. At Yinova our team have Masters Degrees or Doctorates in their subject and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to advising patients on how to take their own health in hand and make changes that help their body to perform optimally. I think over the next decade we'll see patients seeking Chinese medical advice both virtually and in-clinic with acupuncture being just part of a Chinese medical treatment plan that includes herbal medicine, lifestyle advice, dietary suggestions, massage, exercises, meditation, and breathwork. Some of these services will be offered virtually and some in the clinic. Already at Yinova we are seeing an upsurge in the popularity of our virtual services including one-on-one coaching and group classes.
With 51.5M Americans and growing struggling with mental illness, a massive shortage of therapists and an efficacy rate of antidepressants teetering around 50%, in some studies, patients globally are looking for a better solution. Although early, that solution might be psychedelic assisted therapy.
On August 16th, 2017, following incredibly promising early results in clinical trials that showed upwards of 68% efficacy after 12-months, the FDA granted breakthrough therapy designation for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)*. Meanwhile, Psilocybin is also showing promising results for people with depression, and we now have a $2.5B+ publicly traded psychedelics company in Atai Life Sciences that was backed by Peter Thiel.
To understand what all the hype is about and why this is the next frontier, we asked Rick Doblin (founder of the non-profit organization MAPS and pioneer of the absolutely critical clinical psychedelic research):
“Psychedelics are an important category in the landscape of holistic health because they offer unique properties for deep healing, which go to the core of people’s problems rather than just treating symptoms. I see the use cases and potential for psychedelics evolving in the next five-ten years from treating individuals with a wide range of clinical conditions to treating family members and then to group therapy. Also, we’re going to see a shift from using single psychedelics to using sequences of different psychedelics to eventually using some psychedelics in combination.”
*If you haven’t seen the documentary 'Trip of Compassion,' we highly recommend it.
Women’s health has been top of mind at Primary as we’ve developed our thesis within healthcare. Add in the rise of herbal supplements, which is growing at 6.2% YoY, and clinically supported drug free companies like Nutrafol (profitable and projecting $150MM of revenue in 2021), and it’s easy to see why we view clinically supported herbal supplements as one of the top alternative medicine trends today. One category within chronic care that is getting a lot of attention is hormonal health. Lulu Ge, the inspiring Founder behind Elix, helped us understand why.
Why do you think herbal treatments are an important unlock for hormonal health, and how do you see the menstrual wellness space maturing over the next five-ten years?
Elix is the first platform to personalize clinically proven herbal treatments based on thousands of years of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) research for chronic care, beginning with formulas that support menstrual and hormonal health. Rather than applying a temporary band-aid to fix symptoms, TCM uses pattern diagnosis to identify the underlying source of imbalances and recommend root cause treatments. Given this holistic approach, Chinese Medicine’s herbal treatments can be more effective at targeting the chronic imbalances that may lead to painful menstruation, menopause symptoms, low libido, hair loss, fatigue, anxiety, and the wide variety of conditions that are connected to our hormonal health.
As the menstrual wellness space continues to mature over the next decade, consumers are increasingly seeking brands and communities that help them tune in and learn more about their cycles and their bodies so that they can take charge of their own health. Elix is proud to empower our community members with education, insights, and tailored herbal treatments that enable them to heal holistically. I’m excited to see more growing awareness and conversations about the importance of menstrual health to our overall health, wellbeing, fertility, and longevity.
What key product learnings has Elix had thus far?
Elix offers tailored herbal formulas (i.e. the physical products) in addition to a complementary online health assessment (i.e. the digital product) where people can learn more about their cycle, the root cause of their symptoms, and see the recommended herbal treatment best for them. Over 100,000+ people have already completed the Elix Online Health Assessment. Click here to read our summary findings from the data gathered in our first year.
With Cycle Balance, our tailored herbal formula for menstrual and hormone wellness, we’ve received thousands of messages from women in all 50 states sharing how these herbals have helped her finally regain control over her cycle and her life. 35% of our user base is taking Elix to manage symptoms of chronic conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, ovarian cysts, and fibroids. We are kicking off our first clinical study this year and excited to contribute to much-needed research that expands the repertoire of proven herbal remedies for chronic conditions that impact the lives of so many women.