Insight 20223
August 31 – September 3 in Berlin
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PhD Candidate

Mauro Cavarra, MSc.

Maastricht University

Mauro Cavarra is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, clinical trainer and PhD Student. He received his M.Sc. at the San Raffaele University in Milan, IT and is currently pursuing a joint Ph.D. with the University of Messina, IT (Prof. Mento and Parisi) and the University of Maastricht, NL (Prof. Ramaekers and Kuypers). His main interests concern the optimization of psychotherapeutic interventions in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and the potential of such compounds in the treatment of chronic pain.

INSIGHT 2023 Topic:

Analgesic Effects of Psychedelics on Select Chronic Pain Conditions


Background: Chronic pain is a major cause of suffering and disability and is often associated with psychiatric complications. Current treatments carry the risk of severe side effects and may lead to limited or no relief at all in a relevant portion of this patient population. Preliminary evidence suggests that classical psychedelics (e.g., LSD and psilocybin) may have analgesic effects in healthy volunteers and in certain chronic pain conditions and observational studies reveal that they are used in naturalistic settings as a means to manage pain. Methods: In order to gain insight on the effectiveness of such compounds in chronic pain conditions, we set up a survey addressed to chronic pain patients inquiring about psychedelic use and the relief levels achieved with both conventional treatments, full psychedelic doses and microdoses.

We analysed data related to five conditions selected based on diagnostic homogeneity within each of them: fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraine, tension type headache and sciatica. Results: Except for sciatica, volunteers reported that psychedelics led to better pain relief compared to conventional medication in all examined conditions. More specifically, full doses performed better than conventional medication. Microdoses led to significantly better relief compared to conventional medication in migraines and achieved comparable relief in the remaining three categories. Implications for future research are discussed. Conclusions: Full doses and microdoses may hold value in the treatment of some specific chronic pain conditions.

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