Vancouver-based Numinus is on the cutting edge of psychedelic treatment

The venture is personal for founder and CEO Payton Nyquvest.

Credit: Numinus

The venture is personal for CEO Payton Nyquvest

The exterior of 2555 Commercial Drive looks about as innocuous as a building can look. As you scan the grey facade sandwiched between two financial institutions on a Vancouver block that likely has a story or two to tell, you’d never know that the upstairs plays home to a company that’s innovating in one of the province’s newest health and wellness frontiers.

Up on the second floor, plants, comfortable couches and fancy tables and desks dot the colourful but not-too-distracting rooms where natural therapy company Numinus strives to make an impact on health through the use of psychedelic medicine.

It’s a personal matter for founder and CEO Payton Nyquvest, who has dealt with chronic pain since birth, at one point so much so that he was getting hospitalized three to four times a week. A finance executive, Nyquvest had never had a psychedelic experience. “I was sort of out of options,” he recalls. “One week with psychedelics and I never had any chronic pain symptoms again.”

In 2018, Nyquvest founded Numinus to help others access psychedelics to heal both body and mind. Since then, the variety of treatments available for conditions like PTSD have boomed—the growing market for psychedelic-assisted therapy is estimated to be in the US$2.5-billion range.

Numinus was the first company to gain permission from Health Canada to grow and extract psilocybin for research. It also offers ketamine therapy, while substances like MDMA are available through a Health Canada program. After acquiring Utah-based Novamind last year, the company now has clinics across North America, from Arizona to Montreal, as well as a massive research facility on Vancouver Island.

Numinus, which is publicly listed on the TSX (NUMI), posted first quarter revenues of $5.7 million earlier this year. It has some 350 employees.

“As MDMA and psilocybin become available, these are very powerful tools,” says Nyquvest. “A hammer is a tool— you can use it to build a house or hit yourself in the hand with it; it depends on who’s using it. I think it’s extremely important that, while there’s this huge amount of interest in psychedelics, we stay rooted in what our best practices are, and how we make sure people are getting the training and the support they need.”

The goal is to think about it “almost like knee surgery,” says Nyquvest. “It’s an intervention, and with it, we need a lot of support. If someone was to go in for knee surgery, there’s prehab and rehab that need to be done. You can go out and play basketball or whatever you were doing, but you’re probably going to blow your knee out again. Whether it’s PTSD or MDD [major depressive disorder], you can have these very cathartic life-changing experiences, but it takes work and it takes commitment. And that takes time as well.”