Psychedelics and Pain

Psychedelics and pain is one of the 'psychedelics and ...' topics that we're currently making a page for. At this moment you can find all papers (in our database) on this topic below.

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Our vision is that psychedelics can be used worldwide to better the lives of as many as 450 million people who suffer from mental health problems. Our information hopes to make that vision come to life just a little faster.

Pain Research

Here will be a narrative, readable, summary of the research.


In our literature study we came across the following studies of note. Browse the meta, review, commentary articles for an overview. Check out the individual studies for specific experiments and observations.

The Efficacy of Ketamine in the Palliative Care Setting: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature

2019 | Frankenthaler, M., Goldman, N., Klepacz, L.

This comprehensive review (2019) compared the efficacy of ketamine treatment for pain and depression within palliative care across administration route and dosing regimen. Efficacy of pain treatment exhibited generally inconclusive and mixed results, but studies that administered ketamine either epidurally or intrathecally demonstrated significant analgesia, in contrast, to subcutaneously or intravenous administration routes. Depression was improved across all relevant studies and was sustained the longest during a daily dosing regimen, whereas a single or a multidose did not exert effects beyond 7 days after administration.

Nonanesthetic Effects of Ketamine: A Review Article

2018 | Blaise, G., Eldufani, J., Nekoui, A.

This review (2018) examines (preliminary) evidence of the medical benefits of the non-anesthetic effects of ketamine, as well as supporting evidence of the effectiveness and tolerability of ketamine for improving pain conditions, depression, memory function in Alzheimer's disease, and brain damage after stroke. It also examines underlying mechanisms that exert these effects by stimulating or blocking certain neuroreceptor pathways.

Neuroendocrine Associations Underlying the Persistent Therapeutic Effects of Classic Serotonergic Psychedelics

2018 | D’Souza, D. C., Schindler, E. A. D., Sloshower, J. A., Wallace, R. M.

This review (2018) proposes that psychedelics may exert their effectiveness on certain pathologies through the neuroendocrine system (hormone release due to stimulation of the nervous system).

Chronic pain and psychedelics: a review and proposed mechanism of action

2020 | Bruno, K. A., Castellanos, J. P., Furnish, T., Halberstadt, A. L., Woolley, C., Zeidan, F.

This review (2020) investigates the (limited) research on psychedelics for chronic pain and notes the limitations op opioids (and the current epidemic of use).

Effects of serotonin 2A/1A receptor stimulation on social exclusion processing

2016| Hock, A., Kraehenmann, R., Pokorny, D., Preller, K. H., Scheidegger, M., Seifritz, E., Stämpfli, P., Vollenweider, F. X.

This double-blind, randomized, counterbalanced, cross-over study (n=19) examined the effects of psilocybin (15.05mg/70kg) on the neural response to social exclusion via multimodal brain imaging. Psilocybin reduced activity in key brain regions involved in social exclusion processing, specifically the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC) and the middle frontal gyrus (MFG), related to decreases in the experience of social pain and reduced affective distress following social rejection. Reduced response to social exclusion also related to psilocybin changes in the experience of self.

A rapid positive influence of S-ketamine on the anxiety of patients in palliative care: a retrospective pilot study

2020| Cordes, J., Falk, E., Grau, I., Kienbaum, P., Lutterbeck, M. J., Neukirchen, M., Schlieper, D., Schwartz, J., van Caster, P.

This retrospective pilot study (n=8) investigated whether the purified enantiomer S-ketamine (17.5mg/70kg) has a positive impact during the treatment of pain for patients within palliative care, and found that it alleviated psychological distress, depression, and anxiety.

The use of illicit drugs as self-medication in the treatment of cluster headache: results from an Italian online survey

2015| Bracaglia, M., Coppola, G., Di Lorenzo, C., Di Lorenzo, G., Pierelli, F., Rossi, P.

This online survey study (n=54) aimed to evaluate the use of illicit drugs for self-medication amongst individuals who suffer from cluster-headaches and found that cannabinoids, cocaine, heroin, LSD, LSA, and psilocybin were commonly used for such purposes. Although this was not the primary focus of the study, survey respondents reported a significant prophylactic effect from hallucinogenic agents even if consumed only on to three times per year, usually at subhallucinogenic doses.

Low-dose ketamine as an adjuvant for pain control in a cancer patient: a case report

2020| Fattakhov, E., Galea, J., Kaur, G., Patel, S., Singh, A. B., Tatachar, V.

This case report outlines the efficacy of repeated low-dose ketamine infusions (<35mg/70kg) as an adjuvant pain control medication for a terminally-ill cancer patient. The patient reported a sustained reduction in pain level and a reduction of total opioid usage in response to three consecutive ketamine infusions, which implicates its utility for improving the treatment of refractory pain within palliative care.

Psilocybin dose-dependently causes delayed, transient headaches in healthy volunteers

2012| Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Sewell, R. A.

This study (n=18) found that psilocybin frequently caused mild to moderate delayed and transient headaches in healthy volunteers in a dose-dependent manner.

Exploratory Controlled Study of the Migraine-Suppressing Effects of Psilocybin

2020| Cozzi, N. V., D’Souza, D. C., Flynn, L. T., Gottschalk, C. H., Lindsey, H., Luddy, C., Pittman, B. P., Schindler, E. A. D., Sewell, R. A.

This double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study (n=10) finds that a medium dose of psilocybin (10mg/70kg) significantly reduced migraines (headaches) in the two weeks after dosing.

Attenuation and anticipation: A therapeutic use of lysergic acid diethylamide

1972| Kast, E.

This open-label clinical study (n=128) investigated whether LSD (100μg) can alleviate death-anxiety in terminally ill patients by decreasing the anticipation of their illness, and found that the administration of LSD was universally well tolerated. Specific effects included a general lift of mood that lasted for 11-12 hours, acute pain relief that lasted 12 hours, decreased the total pain intensity for 3 weeks, and diminished concern over the anticipation of death for up to 3 days after administration.

Low dose ketamine reduces pain perception and blood pressure, but not muscle sympathetic nerve activity, responses during a cold pressor test

2020| Belval, L. N., Cimino III, F. A., Cramer, M. N., Crandall, C. G., Hendrix, J. M., Hinojosa-Laborde, C., Huang, M., Moralez, G., Watso, J. C.

This randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled, lab-based trial (n=22) tested the hypothesis that low dose ketamine blunts perceived pain, and blunts subsequent sympathetic and cardiovascular responses during an experimental noxious stimulus. The authors found that low dose ketamine administration attenuates perceived pain and pressor, but not MSNA burst frequency, responses during a CPT.


This section compares the research with psychedelics to other therapies, medicines, or treatments.


This section highlights the various measures used and their use in research.


Who are the top researches in this area, the ones who have done the groundbreaking research.


What do we not know at this time? Where are the gaps in our knowledge and are we closing it?


The companies that are actively engaged in researching this topic or (planning to) provide therapy focussed on this topic.

Outside Academia

This section highlights everything done outside of academia, from popular press to books and non academic research.