By Laura LippertThe science of psychedelics has been growing rapidly in recent years.
In the UK alone, more than 400 new research papers have been published in the past three years alone, while the number of applications has increased dramatically.
So how does one get started on the quest to understand how the world’s most popular drug is helping people with pain?
Dr Ian Drexler, an assistant professor at the University of Oxford, and his colleague Dr David Nutt, a senior lecturer at King’s College London, have developed a new study which shows how psychedelics could be useful in the treatment of pain.
Psychedelics have long been used as a means to explore inner worlds, and the latest research has shown that they can also be used to relieve chronic pain.
A new study from the Oxford team suggests that these substances could help people with chronic pain and anxiety cope with chronic conditions.
The study was led by Dr Drexlers team, and involved studying people with multiple sclerosis, arthritis and other conditions.
They had participants take either a placebo or a low dose of the psychoactive compound psilocybin, which has the psychoactivity of LSD, and also experienced a series of physical and psychological tasks.
They found that people who took the psilocin experienced significantly better outcomes when compared with those who did not.
The participants who took psilo had significantly lower pain scores compared with the placebo group, and their physical and mental health improved significantly.
Dr Drexl said:”The results of this study are a significant step forward in the search for effective interventions for chronic pain, and we hope that other researchers will follow our lead.”
Psychedelic medicines have a long history in the world of medicine.
They were first synthesised in ancient times by the Greek chemist Hippocrates, who was a keen collector of exotic plants, and used in his treatment of chronic pain in the 16th and 17th centuries.
However, the first clinical trials on psilic acid were done in the 1950s, and only a handful of people actually experienced its effects.
But this new study shows that it could work in the clinic.
“The study shows we can use psilos and psilopramide, two well-established medications, together to deliver significant benefits to people with painful conditions,” said Dr Dexler.
“These findings are of great importance in terms of the research in this area, as they show that psilor in combination with other treatments could offer significant potential treatments for the chronic pain community.”
In addition, these studies highlight that plimoxystrophy, the drug used in our study, is a safe, effective, and potentially useful agent for the treatment and prevention of multiple sclerosis.
“Psylotherapy, the treatment currently in use, is based on a combination of techniques which include cognitive behavioural therapy, massage, acupuncture, deep breathing, physical therapy, and meditation.
The aim is to change the brain so that the body is able to respond to its own pain signals.
Dr Nutt added:”There are so many questions that need to be answered, such as how exactly these compounds affect the brain, and what the underlying mechanisms are, and how they are related to pain.”
It’s possible that phelimydrocannabinol (PCP) and phetochrome P450 (PPP), two other common psychoactive compounds, have effects on the brain that are similar to psilone, so that we can apply the same treatment methods to people that use these drugs to manage pain, but without having to change any other parts of their body.”
Dr Dexlers team hope to develop a new drug to treat pain for a range of chronic conditions in the future.