At Carlsbad, California-based CB Therapeutics, Hurd will focus on creating business partnerships with companies in the psychedelic, cannabinoid and food tech industries.
In May, CB Therapeutics won a patent covering the use of microorganisms to produce psychedelic tryptamines and their analogs, including psilocybin and other molecules.
In the following interview, Hurd explains the psychedelics’ role in her transition from working in senior neurology and neuroscience positions, and why she believes psychedelics could potentially help improve mental health at large.
The responses have been lightly edited.
Drug Discovery & Development: Psychedelics are getting a lot of attention as potential therapies for conditions such as anxiety and depression. What is your take on the field?
Hurd: I see psychedelics as providing a huge opportunity for healing. I have experience with my fair share of psychedelic journeys, which has been really valuable and supportive.
Throughout my career in psychedelic coaching, I have seen psychedelics play a massive role for people in that area. So considering where we are as a society with mental health, I think psychedelics could help.
Mental health is a big challenge when you factor in everything we’re experiencing in the world and society. Those conditions can create a lot of anxiety, fear, depression and mental health challenges overall.
The ego plays a huge role in our limiting beliefs, traumas and and overall emotions. And so when you can completely disassociate from that with the support of psychedelics and see pureness and openness, that creates a lot of freedom and healing for people.
DDD: What did your work in psychedelic coaching entail?
Hurd: I worked on the preparation and integration of psilocybin specifically. I worked with groups and one-on-one.
My personal plant medicine/psychedelic journeys guided me more into a position I was more passionate about. That’s when I started my consulting company working with psychedelic companies and offering psychedelic coaching.
I soon realized how valuable it would be to use my strategic business development experience by working with a psychedelic company, which led me to CB Therapeutics
DDD: How does informal psychedelic coaching compare with psychedelic clinical trials, which draw more from modern psychiatry?
Hurd: I think both approaches can take the stage at different times. I believe it’s very individualized. Sometimes, a traditional therapeutic approach may work better than coaching or a ceremonial approach. It depends on what an individual’s needs are and what they’re experiencing.
DDD: What inspired you to join CB Therapeutics?
Hurd: I love CB Therapeutics’s direction in terms of what they’re offering in the psychedelic space. If I can be a part of a company at the forefront of an industry with massive potential to make a difference in the mental health space, I want to be a part of that. This is why I gravitated to being a part of CB Therapeutics
CB Therapeutics has created great credibility in the industry. We have a DEA Scheduled I License and our technology has proven to produce any molecule and it’s done carbon negative, which speaks to the support of our environment
DDD: Do you think psychedelics will disrupt the traditional market for antidepressants such as SSRIs?
Hurd: I believe there’s absolutely a population who does need to be on SSRI medication. Psychedelics could play a huge role in treating depression, especially when you add the therapeutic aspect of treating not just the symptoms but getting to the root cause. What is creating the anxiety and depression? Is it through past traumas? Is it through recent societal experiences? I believe psychedelics can help identify that root cause when used in a therapeutic setting.
DDD: MDMA is also getting attention for its potential to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Hurd: Yes. Yes, our technology has confirmed MDMA, psilocybin and a dozen additional psychedelics.
DDD: The topic of microdosing psychedelics has also been getting more attention. What is your opinion on that?
Hurd: If we focus on psilocybin, there’s this side of it that offers the healing benefits for depression, anxiety and other conditions that are related to mental health. But this amazing side of microdosing also provides creativity and uncovering blockages. I see it shining in business aspects where your team wants to focus on a particular project or develop new business-related ideas. You can leverage microdosing to guide you and allow that to be part of the experience for business growth, team collaboration and creating a deeper connection within your team environment.
The company MUD\WTR allows microdosing at work. Their CEO, Shane Heath, has encouraged interested employees to microdose to enhance creativity.
What is nice about microdosing is that it is so subtle. It affects everybody differently, but you’re not hallucinating. You can do all things life-related without going into this intense experience.
It’s also supporting the creation of new neural pathways.
We have our subconscious, where we have our trauma and limiting beliefs. Microdosing essentially streamlines the connection and the communication between the conscious and the subconscious, allowing you to go into those deeper subconscious spaces and develop new creative ideas.
DDD: A significant number of people remain skeptical or even fearful of psychedelics. Do you see that as a barrier?
Hurd: Now you see institutions and companies doing clinical trials on psychedelics. There’s so much data in clinical trials right now. I believe that’s what we need as a society. That’s what will help continue bringing these medicines to the forefront for mental health. That falls under the educational umbrella.
People speaking about their experiences, I think, is helpful too.
DDD: While attention is building for psychedelics in mental health, Big Pharma is largely on the sidelines. What is your sense of where the market is headed?
Hurd: I think there’s a huge opportunity. I’ve seen a few different numbers in the billions of dollars for what the psychedelic space could end up being worth, but there’s a lot of uncertainty now. I believe MDMA, psilocybin and ketamine will play a huge role in the direction of psychedelics.
DDD: In terms of tryptamine psychedelics, psilocybin seems to be getting the most attention. What is your take on the molecule DMT?
Hurd: I think DMT is very valuable and has the potential to again offer a lot of healing for people in the proper context. The actual journey is itself short. There needs to be a foundation that goes into the process and integration.
In the psychedelic space, there’s set and setting. Set is your mindset going into the experience, and then set is the environment you’re journeying within. It needs to be a safe, comfortable space for you to let go and be on that journey. Who’s the person that’s guiding you? Do you trust them? All of those factors play a huge factor.
There are a lot of psychedelic frameworks that are working well.
Filed Under: clinical trials, Drug Discovery, Drug Discovery and Development, Psychiatric/psychotropic drugs, Women in Pharma and Biotech