Can Psychedelics Treat Chronic Pain?

A Promising New Study Lays Groundwork for Future Clinical Trials

Evan Lewis-Healey
4 min readNov 30, 2021
Retrieved from Max Pixel

Psychedelics are proving to be a wonder drug for applications beyond treating anxiety and depression, and chronic pain may be no exception.

A recent publication by Imperial College London has investigated the effects of self-medicating psychedelics for chronic pain. Although the study was not conducted to assess the effectiveness of psychedelics in the treatment of chronic pain, the research opens the door to a number of clinical trials that are planning to be conducted in the next several years.

Chronic Pain — A Persistent Problem

Chronic pain can come in many forms, but is broadly characterized as lasting pain for more than three months. The condition is more commonplace than you may think — around 20% of the global population has to live with it.

More serious and debilitating chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, have been causing doctors to scratch their heads for decades now; there is no explicit underlying cause of the condition, which means that treatments are rarely very successful.

Some patients are treated with antidepressants or opioids if the pain is relatively low-level. However, treatment can go as far…



Evan Lewis-Healey

PhD candidate at Cambridge University. Studying the cognitive neuroscience of altered states of consciousness.