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With traditional painkillers wreaking havoc— experts are looking for better choices when it comes to chronic pain management.
Generally, when you think of LSD, you think of insane, quirky, books and films with bombastic characters being taken for the ride of their life. Maybe you think of the ‘60s, where those hippie vibes and love for all where the central focus of a culture steeped in drugs. What probably doesn’t come to mind, however, are the people that are living with chronic pain. Confined to homes and beds, or those struggling with the crushing depression that comes with chronic illness.
While lyseric acid diethylamide, better known as LSD is often associated with psychedelic experiences and near mystical journeys, researchers are looking to change these perceptions. Specifically when it comes to chronic pain management. And they’re doing it by asking patients to microdose LSD.
Difficulties in Pain Management
In the effort to find better alternatives for chronic and extreme pain management, researchers have turned to psychedelic therapies. While these therapies are in no way novel— used throughout history by any number of indigenous tribes, as well as having undergone rigorous study in the 1950s— the idea of microdosing LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelics is still in its infancy. Particularly in the realm of pain management.
Modern chronic pain management is a field of medicine that has seen a number of extreme disappointments, as well as catastrophic failures. Largely due to the opioid epidemic that is actively killing thousands of people each year, contributing to nearly 50,000 deaths in the US alone in 2019. Opioids are the most commonly prescribed class of medication for chronic pain, and have been for decades. With low efficacy and high likelihood of abuse, doctors globally are desperately searching for better options, and according to a study found from 1964– LSD may be that better option.
In 1964, just a few years before psychedelic therapy research was shut down largely due to Nixon’s war on drugs, Dr. Eric Kast discovered something truly exceptional about what was then considered a common street drug. Small, sub-hallucinogenic doses of LSD controlled the chronic and debilitating pain of cancer victims far better than that of either Morphine or Demerol— both pain control favorites of the present age. Not only did these microdoses of LSD more effectively control patients’ pain, but it controlled it much longer than either of the opiates that were given. Suggesting that LSD was not only a more effective analgesic (painkiller), but also much more safe.
This is because LSD, like many psychedelics, has an incredibly high therapeutic index. Which means that it is metabolized in the body quickly, presents a low risk to a large number of possible patients, doesn’t entail withdrawal symptoms, and has an extremely low likelihood to result in an overdose. To the point where one study states that “[classical hallucinogens] safety has recently led to considering LSD as one of the safest psychoactive recreational substances.” Despite unnecessary and unfounded public stigmatization.
Effects of Microdosing LSD
Unfortunately, this long held public perception, further exacerbated by questionable legislation and restriction, has made LSD and other classical hallucinogens extremely difficult to study. But, bright news ahead: they are being studied, and the results are incredibly encouraging. Particularly when it comes to liquid LSD microdosing, or microdosing psychedelic in general.
This is because hallucinogens are emerging as a potent force when it comes to battling both physical and emotional pain— without the need for lengthy regimens or high doses, and with an exceptionally low degree of abuse or addiction. Something that current gold standard medications— both for emotional distress and pain management— cannot say credibly. Using LSD for back pain, migraines, joint pain, and other types of chronic and debilitating pain may fill this gap in current pain management routines, specifically when used in a microdose setting.
Researchers from the Beckley Foundation revisited the idea of using LSD for pain management in 2020 and found promising results, urging the community to allow for more research regarding the practice. In their study, they found that small doses (20mcg) of LSD improved patients’ pain tolerance without inducing any neurological responses. Believing that this is caused by the way that LSD interacts with our neurotransmitters— most notably serotonin. While the exact pharmacodynamics of LSD as an analgesic are unknown, what was found is that the patient’s pain tolerance was “significantly increased”, pain perception was “significantly reduced”, and senses of unpleasantness and stress were also dropped. Which could suggest that LSD doesn’t only treat the physical pain, but could also assist in addressing physiological and emotional outcomes associated with chronic pain.
Microdosing LSD Benefits
Which, in and of itself, is incredibly promising for the future of medicine and quality of patient life. While studies are still slow to come to fruition, a number of them have been spurred along by anecdotal evidence— where patients microdose classic hallucinogens themselves, and report their experiences on forums, or directly to research facilities. While this data is important, it’s difficult to quantify and reproduce. Which means that if you plan on taking pain management into your own hands, you’ll need to know how to microdose LSD.
Microdosing LSD isn’t particularly difficult, but it’s made a whole lot easier if you can find pre-dosed, liquid LSD from a reputable seller. This is because it’s much easier to get the correct amount. The whole idea behind microdosing is to find the exact dose that is useful for you, without the psychedelic effects. This dose can vary from person to person, which means that what is effective for you may not be the dose that is the best for someone else. Finding the effective dose is easiest when you can take small amounts and know exactly how much you’re ingesting at any given time. Regular users of LSD can also build a tolerance to the drug, making it less effective if it is used too often— which also means that besides finding the ideal dose, you’ll also want to consider a beneficial schedule. These schedules can be found in a number of microdosing guides. Because the interaction between LSD and pain is still largely uncertain, it’s important that any microdoser pay close attention to what works best for them, and have a great dispensary on hand. Taking notes when you’re just beginning your therapy can also be beneficial. Not only for yourself, but for the vast number of others that could also benefit from using LSD to manage their own pain symptoms.