Decreased Perception of Pain: LSD’s Psychedelic Properties
A study presented in Journal of Psychopharmacology examined the potential pain management abilities of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). The ergot alkaloid derivative was given to 24 healthy volunteers who then showed significantly higher tolerance to pain during a cold pressor test, with mild side effects. The study stated that, “Controlled studies on the efficacy of LSD as an analgesic are virtually absent or dated”; it was used in the 1960s and 70s for terminally ill patients or those with cancer. At that time, patients did have pain relief, but some “experienced a psychedelic state…so disturbing that they refused a second administration of LSD.” This new study sought to find a dose that would provide analgesia but with fewer side effects.
In conclusion, the present study “indicated that LSD 20µg significantly reduced pain perception as compared with placebo, whereas lower doses of LSD did not” and that this dose “significantly increased pain tolerance…by about 20%”—similar to that observed after opioids—and decreased subjective levels of painfulness and unpleasantness. Analgesic effects of this dosage were still in effect after 1.5 and 5 hours, speaking to “a sustained efficacy profile for LSD” that may even outlast the study’s 5 hour time window. As for the physical and psychological symptoms experienced by the volunteers in the study, “LSD 20µg increased symptoms of anxiety, somatization, amnesia, depersonalization, derealization, and dissociation” but “the magnitude of these effects was small.” Further study of low doses of LSD is warranted.
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