Flow Integrative Founder: Ketamine Offers Powerful ‘Multidimensional Approach’ for Treating First Responders

Christi Myers is a veteran first responder with over a decade of real-world experience working in fire and emergency medicine agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and San Bernadino County Fire and Sherriff Department. Drawing from her own professional and personal experiences working as an EMS first responder, in 2020, Christi founded Flow Integrative, a mental health and wellness clinic outside San Diego pioneering in the responsible national-wide expansion of leading-edge ketamine infusion therapies. The clinic is dedicated to “helping our communities’ finest” by supporting the front-line workers who face chronic and complex trauma experienced in the line-of-duty.

Myers recently shared her early experiences in emergency medicine, her decision to launch her own clinic focused on first responders as an impact entrepreneur, and the incredibly positive outcomes she’s seen ketamine infusion therapies play in their lives.

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You’ve been a firefighter, paramedic and first responder for 25 years. What first led you to this line of work?

It was losing my dad to suicide — I was 15 when he took his life — and the impact that had on my mom. It put her deep into survival mode as a single parent; it really affected me deeply. She was working multiple jobs to keep us afloat, and I went to work at 14 to help contribute to the household as well. I started waitressing, and that’s when the fire department made its first impression on me. It inspired me and forever change the course of my life.

Back then in 1996, California was experiencing significant wildfires, affecting the lives of millions. I was only 16 at the time, when over 200 firemen came into the restaurant where I was working a shift that day. They were tired, dirty, hungry, and they were also a team of dedicate, highly-skilled professionals, fighting to save their community. I knew in that moment in my heart that a call of service in support of others was something I quite simply called to do. I can’t explain it, but I just knew. So by the time I turned 18 and was getting ready to go out into the big world on my own, I had already been preparing for how to become a wildland firefighting, to get into the fight like those crews who I’d served meals to, that had a lasting impact on me, years earlier. I wanted to become a smoke jumper. I wanted to work with the best of the best, out on the frontlines. It’s funny how these brief, yet formative experiences earlier in our lives can have such profound effects on out outlook and worldview, and shape our future. I’m now in my 25th year dedicated to service, and each phase is the next iteration of where it all started.


What was it about those firefighters that inspired you? Their work? Their culture?

Oh, it was the culture. It was the camaraderie. It was the smell of the fire itself. It was how they were just in it; immersed in the moment of doing things that most can’t begin the fathom, and few will ever do I mean, they were so dirty and tired and they just smelled like the fires they were fighting. The signs of the work they were doing out in field, the importance of it all was palpable. In reflection, of course, because of the loss of my dad, I was still chasing adrenaline. I was still in survival mode. I was still chasing that feeling, chasing my calling, chasing purpose. The thrill did that for me. We are the drugs, right? We produce them endogenously, and an adventurous life brings this to. We are catecholamines. It’s so fascinating. I was living it.


When did you decide to pursue the medical side of it?

I spent a total of nine years in municipal fire, and that’s where medicine found me. My calling to help people in my community was the same, but my mission was about to change,
so I went to EMT school, and then paramedic school after that. This opened the door of new opportunities for me, working for ground ambulances. I was hooked, and always looking to level up and do more, I began studying in flight medicine and subsequently became a flight paramedic. I loved the work and did it as long as I possibly could, right up until I was about five months pregnant with my son. Insert the next phase of my mission, and as a expecting new mother, that’s when was I recruited to teach. I became an adjunct faculty professor and started teaching my own EMT programs, and that unlocked a whole new world off opportunities for me. Eventually I got my master’s degree and earned tenure as a professor of emergency medicine.

 

You founded Flow Integrative in 2020, while you were working as a professor. What prompted the idea?

I experienced a spontaneous Kundalini event in 2016. It was a major awakening from suffering. My mom had just been diagnosed with cancer. My grandma had just had a major stroke. I was in the middle of a really ugly divorce. Those three things compounded so deeply into my spirit that it blew me wide open — and I started having these new ideas. Like they always say, the hardest steel is foraged by the hottest fires.

During this veritable inferno in my own life, ketamine was starting to make its way into our drug box as first responders. I had witnessed some men of caliber compromising themselves with narcotics. One person in particular really impacted me. His back pain was so incredible. He was taking morphine just to cope with daily life, and it ended up killing him. Tragic really. You can quickly begin to see why addiction is so prevalent in our profession, because no one wants to talk about what they see. It’s really hush hush. It’s taking care of our own, until it isn’t anymore. So now ketamine enters the first responder scene and, unlike morphine or fentanyl, it’s a drug that has some knowingness in it. You can use it for acute pain, chronic pain, abdominal pain, etc., but you can also use it for psychological; spiritual pain. It really allows for a multidimensional approach to how we help people in this field more holistically.


And how did you go about turning this idea into reality?

I live on a lake, and during Covid I went out paddleboarding a lot as a way to stay fit, unwind, and regroup On one of these trips out, I ran into my doctor, Dr. John Stroh, who is the medical director for my paramedic program. I said, “Hey, I have this amazing idea. I want to create ketamine infusion therapy for those who help and serve our communities the most by making this medicine more accessible and available to the men and women in need, under trained and qualified physicians’ I said I needed him to help me start it. He said yes on the spot, and right then and there, out on that lake, we got to work developing the concept and building it.


When you launched, you were a two-person team with Stroh doing the medical evaluations and you doing the actual treatments. How did you build the practice?

Yes, we did it all ourselves in the beginning. Lean, mean, and all in on making this thing a reality. I had a knack for administering this medicine and fell in love with the work, the mission, and the possibilities of helping more patients in need right from the start. Later we expanded Flow into a dual model by adding a mental health component complimented by the professional care of seasoned therapists. As far as building our client base, we did everything from scratch. A gritty self-funded startup through and through. We didn’t seek referrals. We did very little marketing. We literally just launched our website and started telling people about it by word of mouth.


Is your treatment protocol different for first responders than with a general population?

Absolutely. We’ve built so many different high-focused and custom tailored protocols and parameters depending on the specific type of person we’re working with, like someone in military special operations, for example. We work with some high-profile clients and we make sure their dosing is minute, about 2/10 of what we’d deliver for someone else, because you can’t ask patients who have always been in control in all other aspects of their life to now relinquish that control over all of their senses all at once. Effective treatment in these cases needs to be measured and gradual. If you take away their visual control, if you take away auditory control, they will feel very vulnerable or even guarded, so we go much lighter than that. First, we want to cultivate their trust, and then slowly introduce them to the dissociative effects of the medicine.

We’ve been building highly customized protocols like this for many, many different kinds of people. We’ve built matrices to see where the greatest outcomes are being produced relative to the patient type . After three years accruing a wealth of knowledge supported by significant research and supporting results in large sample groups, we have created a substantial amount of intellectual property around these treatments, and this is actually a very important part of our business and treatment models. Licensing out this information and best practices to other ketamine clinics enables them to not only improve outcomes, but also do so more cost effectively while also saving time by using our proven protocols, that we closely assist them in implementation all the way into practice.


How does your licensing model work?

We give doctors and prescribers access to everything, all our research, finding, and knowledge repository, data and patient-care matrices, you name it. We support our licensees end-to-end through programming. Then we train them, again, not only to provide better, more effective treatment plans, but also in a way that’s more streamlined and economical. We’ve built protocols for how to dose, how to sit with the medicine, how to put together superbills for insurance reimbursements, and even Q&A scenarios about how to answer questions over the phone and in the field.. It gives doctors all necessary parameters and case studies for different patient types, which helps them formulate a better business plan to best meet the unique needs of their practices and patients. We’ve already delivered positive ROI on this for our licensees. Our licensing fee is $50,000 for the year, and the ROI on that is 90 days. We call it “Powered by Flow.”

 

Speaking of insurance: Last year, you partnered with Dr. Bronner’s, who began offering ketamine treatments to employees as a health benefit through Enthea. How is that going?

Oh, it’s been incredible. Dr. Bronner’s covers 100% of the costs of the treatments through Enthea’s program. This enabled us to build protocols for even more patient types, from OCD to bipolar disorder. We were able to build one heck of an infrastructure and all the different variables that came with those learning curves and those lessons to beta test.

That was one of the greatest opportunities I’ve been given to create an industry standard and normalize this treatment as medically supervised, but with a mental health component because everyone is focusing on integration.


Will you begin working with MDMA if and when it gets approved by the FDA? If so, what differences do you anticipate from a business perspective?

Yes, we will definitely be working with MDMA. From a business operations perspective, MDMA produces a much longer journey, so we’ll have to build and tailor protocols for that, that make sense. With MDMA, this is where moral integrity comes in. We’ve already seen what can happen if people aren’t of integrity and start crawling in bed patients. When love is being cultivated and love is being felt, how it’s being anchored and how the space is being during the journey held is a top priority. You can only meet people to the depth that you’ve met yourself, so if the providers haven’t sat with this medicine, and if they haven’t been doing the work, then the patients aren’t not going to receive the degree of benefit from it.


Do you believe MDMA will be as useful as ketamine in the treatment of first responders?

I think it’s all developmental. I think these drugs are coming online in the exact order that we’re ready to evolve. Ketamine journeys last approximately 45 minutes. It teaches you how to drop in to your own essence, how to navigate your consciousness, how to become aware of your awareness that then transcends the reptilian and survival, allowing your heart to now come online.

MDMA helps you drop into your heart space, but if you just drop into your heart space without first transcending your reptilian/survival space. You’ll have a confusion of understanding; it’s all interdimensional.


Then is psilocybin the next link in the developmental chain?

Absolutely. Psilocybin is neural engorgement. I mean, we are mushrooms. Our brains evolved with mushrooms, and again, psilocybin is a much longer experience. I do see the benefits of microdosing psilocybin, though. I see it helping with the Adderall crisis and getting people off of antidepressants. Then, you do the macro doses when you’re ready to rewire your nervous system and your inner circuitry.

Finally, 5-MeO DMT comes in, because 5-MeO is one of the greatest forms of consciousness. The problem, of course, is we’re harming so many toads in the process, so we need the synthetic version, but again, all of these medicines form a developmental chain.


As someone who works within the medical model of psychedelics, how do you feel about the state-regulated models that are now opening in Oregon and Colorado? Do you see risks to the growth of nonmedical use?

Well, I definitely believe all these substances should be decriminalized. It should not be punitive to take them. People are going to do it regardless, right? Did we not learn from cannabis? There’s people doing life for cannabis, for God’s sakes.

As far a medical vs nonmedical, I believe that ketamine infusion therapy has so much intelligence behind it that it’s where we should start developmentally as a society to start normalizing more of these viable treatment options for people in need. That’s where we collectively can learn about altered states of consciousness. Then we can pursue the legislation that allows people to access these medicines on their own. That’s we can have gain a common understanding and collective awareness about them and how they can benefit our society. Then, we can offer these medicines just as openly as we offer cigarettes and alcohol. I mean, 1,300 people a day die because of obesity. Nobody’s regulating sugar consumption, and we can show that’s worse than heroin. Yet, we’re giving our children juice box after juice box after juice box, because misunderstood social norms are unfortunately superseding medical treatment efficacy in many cases.

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