A recent survey of over 150 volunteers has revealed that micro- and macrodoses of classic psychedelics may be able to alleviate chronic pain. Published in the “European Journal of Pain,” the study adds to the growing body of literature connecting psychedelics such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms), mescaline, DMT and LSD with reductions in chronic pain.
Although the psychedelic research field is still in its infancy, most studies focus on the potential benefits and risks of using psychedelics to treat a myriad of mental-health issues. However, researchers have also discovered that psychedelics may also have applications in chronic pain treatment. In the recent study, scientists found that classic psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin resulted in better pain relief in volunteers compared to traditional pain-relieving medication.
The research team surveyed 170 participants and focused on tension-type headaches, migraine, sciatica, arthritis and fibromyalgia. With the exception of sciatica, all the other chronic pain conditions responded to psychedelics, and patients reported reduced pain levels that started just a day after dosage and lasted up to three days after dosage.
According to the researchers, participants reported better results when they used full doses rather than microdosing. Furthermore, survey participants said microdosing seemed to deliver pain-relieving results that were comparable to using conventional antipain medications. Patients with sciatica did not report any statistically significant reduction in pain after taking psychedelics, indicating that hallucinogens may be more effective against certain pain conditions compared to others.
Unsurprisingly, LSD and psilocybin were the most commonly used psychedelics among the participants.
Prior studies have also found correlations between psychedelic use and pain relief. One double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study from the Netherlands’ Maastricht University found that LSD may have pain-dampening properties while research from 2021 revealed that psychedelic experiences led to improved pain scores in people with chronic pain. Another 2021 study on people with migraines found that even low psilocybin doses could deliver “significant” pain relief compared to people who took placebos.
The connection between psychedelic use and reduced pain is still largely unexplored, and most related research has been limited to relatively small participant pools. The researchers behind the recent paper acknowledge that their paper has limitations, such as the fact that it is based on retrospective self-ratings from people who self-administer hallucinogens, which can increase the risk of bias and limit the generalizability of the subsequent findings. The researchers say larger and more controlled studies will be necessary to fully explore the connection between pain relief and psychedelic use.
As many more companies such as Seelos Therapeutic Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) pour resources into psychedelic drug development, it is likely that the scope of efficacy of these hallucinogens could expand far beyond mental health and help with many other physiological ailments as this survey seems to suggest.
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