This post is written in partnership with Nue Life. They’re a next-gen mental wellness company that believes in the power of psychedelics to catalyze lasting change, and we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
Trauma with a capital T. That’s what we’re talking about.
Not the “little t” traumas like our first heartbreak or even (to a point) struggling to find our place in school, but the life-changing type that, if left unaddressed, can shape who we are and the ways we face the world.
As women, the trauma we’re potentially exposed to is exponential. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most common trauma we’ll experience is sexual assault or child sexual abuse, with one in three of us destined to experience a sexual assault in our lifetime.
But while we may be acutely aware of that statistic, our exposure to trauma certainly does not end there. We’re also more likely to be neglected or abused in childhood, experience domestic violence, or have a loved one suddenly die (1)—that includes miscarriage.
The unique grief of traumatic loss is something Sonam Kline, Director of Nue Life Health, knows intimately. In 2021, Sonam found herself entrenched in it.
Two years of fertility struggles had culminated in yet another devastating miscarriage—this one taking place on her birthday. Her grandmother had recently succumbed to Covid-19, and her father was suffering from neurosurgical complications following a traumatic brain injury. All the while, her young niece battled through cancer surgery and treatments.
What do we do with grief like that? In times when we feel so buried in our pain that we can’t figure which way is up, nonetheless begin to dig ourselves out?
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It’s times like these that cause way too many of us women to take an antidepressant. But if you’re anything like Sonam, you seek out psychedelic therapy instead.
Yes. Psychedelic therapy.
New advances in psychedelics show promising results for restorative healing. Nue Life is at the forefront of psychedelic treatment, offering ketamine therapy that can be done in the comfort and safety of our own homes.
It’s a fast-acting and effective way to deal and actually heal long term, and it gets real deep, real meaningful, real fast.
That’s an important treatment avenue for us women to be aware of, seeing as we are twice as likely to develop PTSD, and that when we do, we’re more likely to experience a longer duration of posttraumatic symptoms and display more sensitivity to stimuli that remind us of our trauma (2).
Sonam had previously explored the healing powers of plant-based medicine and psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA in a therapeutic space, but when she heard of Nue Life’s mission of improving mental wellness with ketamine-supplemented therapy, she was captivated by their mission to heal people at scale, and the accessibility of the treatment.
If you’re at all familiar with ketamine therapy, you probably know that typical protocol involves an IV infusion in a medical setting. Nue Life prescribes oral ketamine rapid dissolve tablets to be taken at home alongside the guidance of a full-service therapy app and a “sitter” present for safety and support.
It’s that sort of ease and accessibility that allowed Sonam to begin healing in the midst of all her life’s chaos. And so, she entered into her first Nue Life ketamine experience with the intent to heal the trauma of her most recent miscarriage and her father’s recovery.
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It was a tear-jerking journey. Sonam reconnected with the spirit of her unborn daughter who assured her that miscarriage is only physical and that she’d stick around until the time was right to be conceived. She also reminded Sonam that time isn’t linear, so not only will she still become a mother, but she already is one. Her journey concluded with the comforting embrace of her late grandmother. The effect was exactly the healing she was looking for—and then some.
“It was like being wrapped in an angel’s wings with all of the love and warmth and security in the world. I reflect on this moment every time I feel overwhelmed, and it helps bring me back to a place of centeredness.”~ Sonam Kline, Director of Nue Life Health
Okay, but is it actually safe, and how exactly does ketamine work?
Yep! Ketamine has FDA approval, and multiple clinical trials have shown its profound ability to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, bipolar illness, and PTSD. It’s also shorter-acting and more predictable than other psychedelics.
Let’s get science-y: the nerdy how of ketamine therapy
Think of your brain as a post office (very science-y, yes?).
Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and all those lovely conditions are a bit like our brain’s version of a labor shortage. Namely, we’re short on three neurotransmitters you might know by name: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Their job is to send communication between our brain cells.
Conventional antidepressants are kind of like hiring managers that increase the amount of neurotransmitters in our brains. The idea is that more neurotransmitters equates to a better ability to facilitate communication between our brain cells, thus, theoretically, giving us a mental health boost.
But if, in real life, we were to increase post office workers without increasing our delivery people, we’d still have a delivery problem. Similarly, antidepressants are an improvement to the system, but they’re not quite…there yet. Time for a new hiring manager: ketamine.
Ketamine works similarly to traditional antidepressants, but increases levels of glutamate, the most abundant chemical messenger in the brain.
Let’s call glutamate our brain’s mailmen (or women). When we increase the number of delivery dudes and dudettes, bam! There’s a greater impact on more brain cells at one time—a lot more complete communication going on. That’s super important to our brains when it comes to healing trauma and its resulting mental disorders. Here’s why:
Untreated depression and stress can cause damage to the brain over time. Antidepressants might help to slow or stop the damage that mental health conditions cause, but slowing and stopping don’t really get us back to where we want to be. We’re still damaged; we just aren’t getting worse.
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One of the major factors that lends to ketamine’s superpowers is how it increases neural plasticity, or the brain’s ability to form new connections between neurons (3). And ultimately, that translates to better learning and memory in the brain—pretty important when we’re talking about learning to heal sadness that literally kills your brain.
So, essentially, ketamine has been scientifically proven to begin repairing the brain (4)—and it does its work fast.
For many people, oral ketamine provides a rapid antidepressant effect within hours of the first dose, unlike SSRIs, which often take weeks to begin working. During Nue Life’s ketamine-supplemented portions of therapy, the increase of glutamate introduced to our brains helps us begin to neurologically patch up the root cause of our suffering, not just the symptoms.
It helps us make new connections that help us hold on to little bits of our healing.
Taking “the Medicine”
María Sabina, a traditional Mexican healer, is the woman historically credited for introducing magic mushrooms to the world (5).
Hailing from the Sierra foothills of Oaxaca, Mexico, Sabina used hallucinogenic Psilocybe mexicana mushrooms (a tradition of her peoples for thousands of years), to lead healing ceremonies and rituals to cure serious illnesses and connect with the divine (5).
While her story’s ending is a tragic one—riddled with someone’s perhaps unintentional exploitation of her culture—her decision to share her healing mushrooms with the world opened an entire new frontier of potential healing with psychedelics (5), albeit decades down the road.
Psychedelic healing using natural substances is clearly, by no means a new science. As Indigenous oral history specialist LisaNa Macias Red Bear is quoted as saying (5), indigenous peoples “used this medicine before Jesus Christ walked this Earth.”
Psychedelic therapy, however, with the use of man-made substances like ketamine and (perhaps, soon) MDMA, is a practice that is newly legalized, and quickly gaining scientific favor.
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Still, as psychedelic medicine evolves, some things in Nue Life’s treatment remain the same. Support and a carefully laid out administration process are absolutely crucial. As they say, it’s not just “the medicine” that heals people—people heal people.
That is to say that Nue Life goes beyond the prescription of ketamine and some online journal prompts to get us processing and healing. Each of their programs include a therapeutic ecosystem of ketamine therapy, an interactive companion app, and virtual aftercare programs that include participation in clinician-led integration groups and one-on-one health coaching sessions to help us discover, grow, and expand.
How the hell do I start on a journey like this? It seems equal parts terrifying and exciting.
I feel that question. And it’s one I had for the company when we sat down for a chat. I had a specific loved one in mind as I inquired as to the whole process. So, here’s how it works.
You select one of Nue Life’s two treatment programs, nue.reset or nue.you. Each has been carefully and precisely ordered to maximize ketamine’s healing properties.
If you can’t decide which is for you, a member of Nue Life’s welcome team will help you select a journey that meets your needs.
If you’re getting vibes of Nine Perfect Strangers here, you’re not the only one. And if you’re like me that’s intriguing as hell. Here’s where the proverbial rabbit hole takes you next (all through a smartphone, app, by the way):
Like those in the medical field, Nue Life firmly adheres to the principle, “First do no harm.” So, you go through an onboarding process so that Nue Life can get to know you well enough to actually help you.
Nue Life looks at your onboarding info to assess your mental and overall health and see if you’re a good candidate for ketamine therapy.
Provided all goes well and escalation is not required due to, say, traumatic brain injury, or epilepsy, it is during this session that your initial dose of ketamine is determined based on your desired therapeutic experience and health history.
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Health Coaching Session
Mindfulness and intentionality are key to creating a plan for therapy. Just like our days can be set into positive motion when we begin our morning with meditation, or speaking affirmations, so can our therapy sessions be directed with a specified intent.
This session can come before or after your first session, or at any time throughout your multiple ketamine experiences.
Select a “Sitter”
Pick a loved one to sit, sober, alongside you. They’ll receive training ahead of time so that they’ll know ahead of time what to expect and how to best support you through your journey.
As you move through your prescribed doses, you’ll share insights and feedback via the app with your clinician, to ensure your experience is safe and productive.
These help alchemize your treatment insights into lasting and positive changes in behavior.
Profound Healing that Sticks—& is available to most.
While full healing doesn’t happen in one day and depression symptoms are likely to return, people do note marked improvement by the end of just six Nue Life ketamine sessions (6).
“I felt capable of positive change for the first time in years.” ~ Chelsea Greenwood, via Insider article, “Antidepressants didn’t help me with my depression. I turned to ketamine therapy instead.”
“I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel completely ‘healed,’ but I do feel that I’m starting to feel more like my ideal self after completing just a few sessions—I feel more ‘whole.’” ~ Sonam Kline, Director of Nue Life Health
That’s not a unique result. Nue Life’s research shows that of their 650 treatment-resistant patients, over 60 percent realized a “clinically significant” reduction of symptoms after just six ketamine sessions. (7)
As I thought back to the dear one I felt would benefit from the increasingly undoubtable power of ketamine therapy, I had only one more question: is this something that’s financially affordable?
Try ketamine therapy for about the same price as talk therapy (& take 15% off using code EJ15) >>
With 3 percent of the population suffering from an anxiety disorder and less than half of them able to access help, the question was a fair one.
For most, it’s affordable-ish.
With the average cost of a traditional therapy appointment alone being between $100 and $250 dollars, Nue Life costs just slightly above that amount when broken down per session. Nue.reset includes:
>> 1 month of telemedicine care,
>> 6 ketamine experiences,
>> 4 integration group sessions,
>> 1 health coaching session, and
>> 3 months of companion app membership.
So, at $208 per ketamine experience (the nue.you program brings that cost down to $153 per experience), Nue Life’s ketamine therapy is comparable to the cost of talk therapy (plus, they offer financing).
Rediscover who you are beneath the trauma.
If we women look around us, it’s almost a guarantee that we know someone who has experienced some form of woman-specific trauma that sticks to our being like tar.
In a world where we can’t make rapid enough changes to shift society and end the most common traumas we’re likely to experience as women (childhood abandonment, women’s sexual assault, and domestic abuse, to name a few), ketamine therapy just might be the treatment that can mend our minds so that we can heal on a transformative level.
Ladies, it’s beyond time we step out of the tarry trauma suits that keep us stiff and stuck, and step into a lighter, new way of living. Nue Life just might be able to help.
Take your first steps toward a new life with ketamine therapy with 15% off using code EJ15 >>
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