Various studies have found that psychedelic substances may be used in the treatment of chronic pain, depression and anxiety, among other indications. Research by Imperial College London looked into the effects of self-medicating psychedelics for the management of chronic pain. While it didn’t evaluate the substances’ effectiveness in treating chronic pain, the study opens the door to different clinical trials that will be carried out in a couple of years.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months. Estimates show that roughly 20% of the global population lives with chronic pain. Severe and debilitating chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia have puzzled clinicians for years, given the unclear causes of the conditions. This means that most treatments for these conditions are unsuccessful. This has led most patients with these indications to turn to self-medication in an attempt to manage their conditions.
For their research, scientists at Imperial College London conducted interviews with individuals who self-medicate with psychedelic substances to manage chronic pain. Their objective was to make ready-for-future clinical trials and observe how the substances may change a person’s perception of their pain.
Julia Bornemann, the study’s lead researcher, had open conversations with 11 patients who suffered from chronic pain and used psychedelics to self-medicate. Every patient was asked to rate how their level of pain changed after their psychedelic sessions. All testified to the substances’ analgesic effects, with nine of them admitting that during the experience, they had partial or complete analgesia.
The researchers note that while this is an exceptional discovery considering the patients had suffered from chronic pain for about a decade, the results should be taken with a grain of salt. This is because the researchers’ objective wasn’t to evaluate the effectiveness of psychedelics in treating chronic pain but to lay the groundwork for future trials.
The author of the study, James Close, asserted that new research designed to evaluate the effectiveness of psychedelics in the treatment of chronic pain would be carried out soon. Close, who is a psychedelic research center honorary clinical research fellow, added that Bornemann and he would head a team of researchers for a small study that would focus on brain activity in individuals with fibromyalgia who underwent psilocybin-assisted therapy.
The small mechanistic study is set to begin in 2022. In addition to this, Close notes that he’s seen promise in the use of psychedelic substances and is hopeful for the future. This hope isn’t misplaced given that companies such as Delic Holdings Inc. (CSE: DELC) (OTCQB: DELCF) are already offering psychedelic remedies (i.e., ketamine infusions) legally in a number of jurisdictions, and research is underway to commercialize other treatments.
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