In 2011, I embarked on a life-changing journey to South America with Fast and Furious star Michelle Rodriguez and a group of friends.
Our quest was to find a shaman who would guide us on a psychedelic journey with indigenous plant medicines. But it wasn’t as simple as just driving up to a hotel or weekend retreat.
Getting to the shaman required us to hike for three days through muddy trails, over hills, up and down mountains, and finally into the jungle.
As I waded through tangled vines, what struck me was how fertile the environment was. Plants were growing everywhere, bursting with colors and exotic smells.
Our guide showed us different varieties of plants along the trail and explained how the native people have used them for thousands of years. As he handled each leaf or squeezed each berry, he would explain its medicinal properties and cultural significance.
And in that moment, I could see that South America and Central America were about to become the pharmacy of the future.
The respect and knowledge these cultures have for plant-based medicines is incredibly palpable. We now know that some of the most healing plants in the world are coming from this region and are beginning to supply the medicine cabinets of other countries.
I’m happy to see this happen…
Because who better than people who have been using these plants for millennia to educate us on their healing properties and share their bounty?
And that’s what I want to talk to you about today… Before I get to it, a little bit about myself…
Psychedelics Concierge to the Stars
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mike Zapolin… but all my friends call me Zappy.
At 23, I’d made it to the top on Wall Street and had become the youngest vice president in history at one of the most prestigious investment firms.
Over the years, I’ve met and worked with numerous celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Quentin Tarantino, and Lamar Odom.
And as a futurist, I’ve been identifying megatrend categories for decades…
For instance, I was an early pioneer in the internet domain-naming industry.
In 1998, before the internet really took off, I had a hunch and bought Beer.com for $80,000. Two months later, I sold it for $7 million… an 8,650% return on my initial capital.
I went on to own many of the world’s top domain names, including CreditCards.com, Music.com, and Diamond.com… I even had my own Super Bowl ad in 2000.
My knack for identifying early-stage trends naturally drew me to the psychedelics industry… And I’ve spent the last 15 years personally researching psychedelic medicines and their therapeutic powers.
My advanced insight into cutting-edge products and new investment opportunities in this space has earned me the nickname “Psychedelics Concierge to the Stars.”
That’s how I came across Michelle Rodriguez… And how psychedelic medicine helped Rodriguez deal with and process the death of her Fast and Furious co-star Paul Walker.
Earlier this year, I joined Daily editor Teeka Tiwari and his chief analyst, William Mikula, in launching Palm Beach Special Opportunities.
We launched this newsletter because we believe it will help you profit from what Teeka calls his “next trillion-dollar trade.”
The Trillion-Dollar Trend
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 800 million people worldwide suffer from mental health disorders.
And in 2019, the American Foundation to Prevent Suicide estimated there were 1.38 million suicide attempts in the U.S. alone.
Suicidal ideation is often the result of a mental health condition like depression, anxiety, stress, or trauma.
Overall, we estimate the global mental health epidemic costs society $3 trillion in health-related expenses and lost productivity.
To help treat these issues, physicians prescribe antidepressants and other drugs. But their side effects can be brutal, including weakness… digestive problems… fatigue… drowsiness… weight gain… anxiety… and even suicidal thoughts.
And of those patients willing to go through such terrible side effects, one paper found that 40–60% of people who took antidepressants didn’t see improvement.
That’s why many in medical science are looking for a solution… They need an alternative to traditional antidepressants.
Research in psychedelic compounds shows they can treat some of the most severe and expensive medical conditions in the world… And they do it better, faster, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional medicines.
- In 2017, the FDA granted “breakthrough therapy” designation to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. (The designation allows companies to speed up development and review of drugs intended to treat a serious condition.)Phase 3 clinical trials should be complete this year, meaning the FDA could approve the treatment as early as 2022.
- In 2018, the FDA also granted a “breakthrough therapy” designation to Compass Pathways. The company uses psilocybin (a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in fungi) for treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
- Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson recently released its own FDA-approved drug, Spravato, to treat people suffering from depression. It’s a fast-acting nasal spray that uses a chemical cousin of ketamine, the so-called party drug “Special K.”
- In 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs approved the psychedelic ketamine for the treatment of PTSD.
This last development is particularly impactful.
Right now, the rate of retired and active-duty military personnel taking their own lives is a staggering 20.6 times per day. This approval could help lower that rate and save thousands of lives.
What I Learned in the Amazon Rain Forest
About 25% of all pharmaceutical drugs are derived from plants that grow in the rainforest.
For example, quinine is an alkaloid with a long history of treating malaria, as well as lupus, arthritis, and nocturnal leg cramps. The Quechua, an indigenous group that still lives in Peru and Bolivia, originally discovered quinine in the bark of cinchona trees.
The Quechua’s mix of ground cinchona and water was eventually introduced to Europe and became known as tonic… Antimalarial rainforest gin and tonic, anyone?
As remarkable as the plant-based medicines are that have come from South and Central America, what’s even more remarkable is less than 5% of plant species in the Amazon have been studied for their medicinal potential.
The plants in this region – and the local people who hold the knowledge of their healing properties in their DNA – are a treasure that’s still in the beginning phase of discovery.
I’ve seen first-hand the incredible healing these plants provide. And I’m excited that people in the Western world are starting to access them.
And that’s why I joined Teeka and William.
By coupling my expertise in the psychedelic space with my background on Wall Street, it’s been easy for me to analyze and select the most disruptive companies in this space.
And now that I’ve joined Teeka, we plan to bring this trillion-dollar idea to Main Street.
One way our analysts have found to get broad exposure to this trend is through the Defiance Next Gen Altered Experience ETF (PSY). It holds a basket of companies working on psychedelic and cannabis-based therapeutics.
These are early-stage companies on the very cutting-edge of the biotech space. That means there’s a significant risk that some will fail to see their therapies reach the mass market.
PSY spreads this risk out across many different companies in this space… but always remember to do your homework before investing… and never invest more than you’re willing to lose.
Co-editor, Palm Beach Special Opportunities