Safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases

This double-blind, placebo-controlled study (n=12) showed that LSD (200 μg, 2 sessions) in combination with psychotherapy was safe to use and trended towards a positive effect on end-of-life anxiety.

Abstract

“A double-blind, randomized, active placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted to examine safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)-assisted psychotherapy in 12 patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases. Treatment included drug-free psychotherapy sessions supplemented by two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions 2 to 3 weeks apart. The participants received either 200 μg of LSD (n = 8) or 20 μg of LSD with an open-label crossover to 200 μg of LSD after the initial blinded treatment was unmasked (n = 4). At the 2-month follow-up, positive trends were found via the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) in reductions in trait anxiety (p = 0.033) with an effect size of 1.1, and state anxiety was significantly reduced (p = 0.021) with an effect size of 1.2, with no acute or chronic adverse effects persisting beyond 1 day after treatment or treatment-related serious adverse events. STAI reductions were sustained for 12 months. These results indicate that when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety, suggesting that larger controlled studies are warranted.”

Authors: Peter Gasser, Dominique Holstein, Yvonne Michel, Rick Doblin, Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Torsten Passie & Rudolf Brenneisen

Notes

This paper is included in our ‘Top 10 Articles Introducing Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

Although there hasn’t been many studies with LSD for end-of-life anxiety (and depression), there have been a few that are summarized in a meta-analysis by Vargas and colleagues (2020).

This paper is included in the meta-analytical review by Galvão-Coelho and colleagues (2021) that found psychedelics to improve mood (for those with mood disorders) both in the short and long-term (up to 60 days).

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