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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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.

A unique natural selective kappa-opioid receptor agonist, salvinorin A, and its roles in human therapeutics

2017 | Cruz, A. P. M., Domingos, S., Gallardo, E., Martinho, A.

This review (2016) examines the psychoactive properties and therapeutic potential of Salvinorin A, a kappa-opioid receptor agonist that is the bioactive constituent of the indigenous plant Salvia divinorum. Next to highly potent psychoactive properties as a dissociative hallucinogen, preliminary scientific evidence also indicates it may have broad-range therapeutic applications for treating addiction, inflammation, pain, and depression.

Registered clinical studies investigating psychedelic drugs for psychiatric disorders

2021 | Gill, H., Lipsitz, O., Lui, L. M. W., McIntyre, R. S., Rosenblat, J. D., Siegel, A. N., Teopiz, K. M.

This review (2021) summarizes the study characteristics of all ongoing registered clinical trials investigating psychedelic drugs for psychiatric disorders and identifies that their majority focuses on investigating MDMA and psilocybin for treating depression or PTSD, while only 30% of their results are published.

Anti-inflammatory activity of ayahuasca and its implications for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric diseases

2021 | da Silva, M. G., Daros, G. C., de Bitencourt, R. M.

This review (2021) examines the antioxidant, anxiolytic (anxiety), and antidepressant effects of ayahuasca, with a particular emphasis on its anti-inflammatory action yielding therapeutic benefits for disorders related to neuroinflammatory factors.

Unauthorized Research on Cluster Headache

2008 | Sewell, R. A.

This commentary (2008) recalls the history of unauthorized research on cluster headaches that started out from individual claims in online forums to the implementation of systematic surveys conducted by medical professionals. Psilocybin, LSD, and LSA (contained in Hawaiian baby woodrose and morning glory seeds) now appear to be at least as effective as the conventional medication to treat cluster headache.

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).

Self-Medication for Chronic Pain Using Classic Psychedelics: A Qualitative Investigation to Inform Future Research

2021| Bornemann, J., Carhart-Harris, R. L., Roseman, L., Spriggs, M. J.

In this qualitative study (n=11) people living with chronic pain who self-medicate with psychedelic drugs were interviewed. Participants reported improved pain scores during and after psychedelic experiences across a range of psychedelics. Positive Reframing and Somatic Presence were identified as playing a role in improving well being. Participants employed other techniques including mindfulness, breathwork, and movement.

Relief from intractable phantom pain by combining psilocybin and mirror visual-feedback (MVF)

2018| Chunharas, C., Furnish, T., Lin, A., Marcus, Z., Ramachandran, V.

This case study (n=1) investigates the combination of psilocybin (0.2 - 3 g dried mushrooms) and mirror visual-feedback (MVF) to provide relief from intractable phantom pain. The study found that the Psilocybin-MVF pairing demonstrated synergistic effects in eliminating acute and long-term phantom-limb pain (PLP) and decreased the recurrence of its episodes.

Case Report: Ketamine for Pain and Depression in Advanced Cancer

2018| Atayee, R., Bruner, H. C., Sexton, J. D.

This case report explores the potential of ketamine (35mg/70kg) for pain and depression in advanced cancer. It demonstrated how a patient suffering from neuropathic pain from advanced cancer and severe depression showed a dramatic decrease in pain and resolution of severe depression symptoms post an intravenous infusion of ketamine.

Population scale data reveals the antidepressant effects of ketamine and other therapeutics approved for non-psychiatric indications

2017| Abagyan, R., Atayee, R., Cohen, I. V., Makunts, T.

The study evaluates population-scale data for clarity on the antidepressant effects of ketamine and other therapeutics approved for non-psychiatric indications. It shows that patients with ketamine demonstrated a significantly lower frequency of reports of depression, pain, and opioid-induced side effects, as compared to patients who used other combinations of drugs for pain. The conclusion supported ketamine's potential in pain management pharmacotherapy.

Ketamine for Refractory Chronic Migraine: an Observational Pilot Study and Metabolite Analysis

2021| Denk, W., Katz, D., Lauritsen, C., Lovett, J., Moaddel, R., Schwenk, E. S., Silberstein, S. D., Torjman, M. C., Wainer, I. W.

This metabolite analysis and observation study (n=6) found that both lidocaine and ketamine infusions significantly reduced pain, with ketamine providing slightly more relief. But a week after each treatment, patients were back at the same level of pain. This is the first study to investigate if one of ketamine's metabolites, (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine, could reduce pain.

Collective self-experimentation in patient-led research: How online health communities foster innovation

2019| Bailey, J., Kempner, J.

This digital ethnographic study investigates how online health communities use self-experimentation to determine their treatment protocols by examining the case study of clusterbusters, a platform that came into being when a self-experimenter reported that LSD had prevented his usual cluster headache cycles on an internet forum. This example typifies how a rare disease being responded to with an even rarer form of intervention is cultivated through the collective experimentation of patient communities embedded in social networks who engage in collective forms of knowledge production.

Salvia divinorum: from recreational hallucinogenic use to analgesic and anti-inflammatory action

2019| Coffeen, U., Pellicer, F.

This review (2019) examines the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and psychoactive properties of the hallucinogenic plant Salvia Divinorum and its bioactive (analog) constituents.

Self-Rated Effectiveness of Microdosing With Psychedelics for Mental and Physical Health Problems Among Microdosers

2019| Dolder, P. C., Hutten, N. P. W., Kuypers, K. P. C., Mason, N. L.

This survey study (n=410) showed that those with mental & physical health problems self-rated the effectiveness of microdosing as higher than conventional treatments in regards to ADHD/ADD and anxiety. They rated it as less effective than a high dose of psychedelics.

Long-lasting analgesic effect of the psychedelic drug changa: A case report

2019| Ona, G., Troncoso, S.

This case study (n=1) describes the analgesic effects of repeated changa (unspecified amount of DMT) treatment administered to a 57-year-old male doctor who was suffering for 10 years from chronic fatigue and persistent pain due to fibromyalgia.

Increased use of illicit drugs in a Dutch cluster headache population

2019| de Coo, I. F., Ferrari, M. D., Fronczek, R., Haan, J., Naber, W. C., Wilbrink, L. A.

This survey study (n=756) of those with cluster headaches found that they used more illicit drugs (including psychedelics) than the general population. For those who used them, about 50% said that psilocybin and LSD reduced both the attack frequency and duration of cluster headaches.

Indoleamine Hallucinogens in Cluster Headache: Results of the Clusterbusters Medication Use Survey

2015| Gottschalk, C. H., Schindler, E. A. D., Sewell, R. A., Shapiro, R. E., Weil, M. J., Wright, D. A.

This survey study (n=496) found that indoleamine hallucinogens such as psilocybin and LSD are reportedly comparable to or superior in efficacy against cluster headaches than conventional treatments. Importantly, infrequent and non-hallucinogenic doses of these substances were reported to suffice for this effect to occur.

Psychoactive substances as a last resort—a qualitative study of self-treatment of migraine and cluster headaches

2017| Andersson, M., Kjellgren, A., Persson, M.

This qualitative study (2017) examined self-reports from online forums about psychoactive substance use for treating migraines and cluster headaches, and found that psychedelic tryptamines, primarily LSD and psilocybin, were frequently reported to lessen both their frequency and intensity of pain at sub-psychoactive doses.

Psychedelic drug assisted psychotherapy in patients with terminal cancer

1972| Goodman, L. E., Grof, S., Kurland, A. A., Pahnke, W. N.

This early study (1972) describes the use of LSD-assisted psychotherapy for patients with terminal cancer. Results suggest significant improvements on various clinical assessments.

The non-hallucinogen 2-bromo-lysergic acid diethylamide as preventative treatment for cluster headache: An open, non-randomized case series

2010| Bernateck, M., Halpern, J. H., Karst, M., Passie, T.

This open-label, case series study (n=6) investigated the efficacy of the non-hallucinogenic LSD-analog BOL-148 (3 doses of 2100µg/70kg) for treating cluster headaches within a clinically diagnosed patient sample. The results show that three single doses of BOL-148 within 10 days can either break a cluster headache cycle or considerably improve the frequency and intensity of attacks, even resulting in changing from a chronic to an episodic form, with remission extending for many months or longer.

A Qualitative Study of Intention and Impact of Ayahuasca Use by Westerners

2021| Bathje, G. J., Fenton, J., Hill, L. C., Pillersdorf, D.

This qualitative interview study (n=41) found that ayahuasca use by Westerners (in group settings), led to many sustained positive outcomes. These related to mental health, substance use, interpersonal relationships, and also creativity, physical health, connection to nature. Two participants indicated problematic experiences (sexual assault, enduring psychotic symptoms).

Response of cluster headache to psilocybin and LSD

2006| Halpern, J. H., Pope Jr, H. G., Sewell, R. A.

This qualitative interview study (n=53) assessed the efficacy of psilocybin and LSD to treat cluster headaches and found that a single dose was often sufficient to terminate a cluster period and that subhallucinogenic doses were also often reported to be effective treatments.

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.

A low dose of lysergic acid diethylamide decreases pain perception in healthy volunteers

2020| Dolder, P. C., Feilding, A., Holze, F., Hutten, N. P. W., Kuypers, K. P. C., Liechti, M. E., Mason, N. L., Ramaekers, J. G., Theunissen, E. L.

A low/micro (20 µg) dose of LSD increased the pain tolerance of participants (n=24).


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.