A new study, led by researchers from Maastricht University with assistance from the Beckley Foundation and published in Journal of Psychopharmacology, suggests that ingesting small, non-psychoactive doses of the hallucinogen LSD can serve as an effective pain reliever.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial tested varying non-psychoactive amounts of LSD on 24 subjects. Three different LSD microdoses were tested (five, 10, and 20 micrograms) alongside a placebo across four sessions.
During each session, the subjects completed a Cold Pressor Test (CPT), a common exercise used to gauge a subject’s pain threshold and pain tolerance. The subjects placed their hand in a cold bath of water for as long as possible. Pain is then measured based both on how long they can hold their hand in the water as well as subjective reports of the degree of pain they experienced.
While the five and 10 microgram doses proved relatively unimpactful, the researchers saw “remarkable” results for the 20 microgram dose compared to placebo. The results were comparable to those seen from many common opioid painkillers, such as morphine and oxycodone.
The study appears to give credence to a long-held assertion by the psychedelic community that LSD can act as a powerful analgesic. However, while early experiments proved promising, research and testing dried up in the late 1960s when governments around the world began controlling these substances more strictly.
These findings are yet another important reminder of the wide range of uses of many hallucinogenic substances that are as of now largely written off by society at large. Perhaps most importantly, they suggest that LSD could perhaps be a helpful painkilling alternative to opioids, which are highly addictive and account for over 50,000 deaths in the United States alone every year. By contrast, LSD is not habit-forming and has a wide range of other benefits.
What more can we do to help usher psychedelic research into mainstream discussions about how best to take care of ourselves and our communities?