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.

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

2021 | Daros, G. C., da Silva, M. G., 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).

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.