Psychedelics: Their Limited Understanding and Future in the Treatment of Chronic Pain

Cureus. 2022 Aug 25;14(8):e28413. doi: 10.7759/cureus.28413. eCollection 2022 Aug.


Psychedelics are hallucinogenic drugs that alter the state of consciousness substantially. They bring about psychological, auditory, and visual changes. The psychedelics act on the brain, implying that they have a powerful psychological impact. One of the main factors contributing to disability worldwide is pain. The majority of people deal with pain on a daily basis. Living with chronic pain affects daily life and has social implications. Chronic pain can be associated with any disease that may be genetic, idiopathic, or traumatic. The standard management of pain is done with pharmacological intervention and physical therapy. However, with time, patients may become resistant to a particular class of drugs. As these drugs do not help in treating the cause of pain, they act by blocking receptors and suppressing nervous systems, as this pharmacological intervention is not a permanent solution for pain management. Long-term use of the pharmacological intervention, which acts by suppressing the nervous system, may develop other side effects on the body. These standard therapies are not as effective in managing pain. The opioid class of drugs has good pain-relieving properties but causes addiction; it needs therapeutic drug monitoring to monitor that it is not abused. Since the first synthetic psychedelic was developed, until today, we have had a fair chance to understand its effects and side effects.​These drugs are very potent and effective. They have shown promising developments in the field of clinical psychology. There is upcoming research on psychedelics' use in treating pain disorders. In this article, let us understand the effect of psychedelic drugs on the brain and body and how they modulate pain. Even today, the precise mechanism of chronic pain is still not understood completely. Psychedelics' application and uses in future medicine and pain management are being studied. Understanding psychedelics' effects on the brain and how they function allows us to link how they might be used to treat chronic pain.

Keywords: chronic pain; drug trials; medicine; psychedelic drug research; psychological effects; serotonin receptor.

Publication types

  • Review