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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Apr 2023 - 7 Apr 2023

Commentary/Perspective, Psychology

Human Studies


2023 Apr 02



Are psychedelic medicines the reset for chronic pain? Preliminary findings and research needs.


Zia FZ, Baumann MH, Belouin SJ, Dworkin RH, Ghauri MH, Hendricks PS, Henningfield JE, Lanier RK, Ross S, Berger A


Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability, reduced productivity, healthcare seeking, and a contributor to opioid overdose in the United States. For many people, pain can be satisfactorily managed by existing medicines and comprehensive psychosocial treatments. For others, available treatments are either ineffective or not acceptable due to side effects and concerns about risks. Preliminary evidence suggests that some psychedelics may be effective for certain types of pain and/or improved quality of life with increased functionality and reduced disability and distress in people whose pain may never be completely relieved. Efficacy in these quality-of-life related outcomes would be consistent with the “reset in thinking” about chronic pain management increasingly called for as a more realistic goal for some people than complete elimination of pain. This commentary summarizes the rationale for conducting more basic research and clinical trials to further explore the potential for psychedelics in chronic pain management. And, if shown to be effective, to determine whether the effects of psychedelics are primarily due to direct antinociceptive or anti-inflammatory mechanisms, or via increased tolerability, acceptance, and sense of spirituality, that appear to at least partially mediate the therapeutic effects of psychedelics observed in psychiatric disorders such as major depression. This commentary represents a collaboration of clinical and more basic scientists examining these issues and developing recommendations for research ranging from neuropharmacology to the biopsychosocial treatment factors that appear to be as important in pain management as in depression and other disorders in which psychedelic medicines are under development.