A recent review of scientific psychedelic research has suggested that hallucinogens such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and LSD may be more effective at managing pain compared to opioids. The review indicates that classic psychedelics may be effective at mitigating the physical agony caused by pain disorders such as fibromyalgia and injuries.
Furthermore, the review noted that the efficacy of these substances can increase over time because they can simultaneously help patients deal with symptoms of mental anguish as well, essentially killing two birds with one stone in a way traditional pain medications such as opioids never could.
The past couple of years have seen psychedelics take center stage in many scientific and mainstream discussions due to their purported efficacy against numerous mental disorders. Studies have found that these compounds can alleviate hard-to-treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant depression with few side effects, especially when paired with traditional talk therapy.
On the other hand, opioids can be extremely effective at first, but continued use causes patients to suffer increased tolerance to the medication, addiction and even life-threatening respiratory depression. If psychedelics could function effectively as opioid substitutes, which the study suggests, patients with chronic pain disorders would have a safer, side-effect-free treatment option for their physical pain.
Given that many patients with chronic pain go on to develop issues such as anxiety and depression, psychedelics could also be instrumental in soothing their emotional and psychological distress. Psychedelics have proven to be especially effective at providing long-term relief against disorders such as depression with minimal doses, making these hallucinogens a viable multipurpose treatment for chronic pain patients.
Research has found that psychedelics tackle pain differently. While traditional opioids alleviate pain by blocking pain signals in the central nervous system, psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD are especially effective at treating nociplastic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia because they act on serotonin receptors.
The review notes that researchers have been studying psychedelics for pain treatment since the mid-1960s in small-scale studies that pointed to LSD as a potent painkiller that was superior to even opioids in conditions such as gangrene and cancer. However, even though many Americans now use LSD and psilocybin to self-treat cluster headaches with relative success, modern research into their pain-relieving properties has been limited. Further research into the connection between psychedelics and pain coupled with large-scale clinical studies could result in the development of psychedelic-based treatments for pain.
The work being done by enterprises such as Compass Pathways PLC. (NASDAQ: CMPS) could also clearly establish the role of psychedelic substances for other clinical conditions in addition to pain, which aren’t being treated effectively with the existing medications.
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