Does psilocybin contain anti-inflammatory properties?
One thing you probably don't like is that they are anti-inflammatory drugs. Like aspirin or ibuprofen. It turns out that there may be a reason for that. The data is unequivocal if you are a mouse, because the studies have already been done. And Dr Charles Nichols is working to extend this research to humans.
One thing you probably won't find is that they are an anti-inflammatory drug. Like aspirin or ibuprofen.
It turns out there may be a reason for that. The data is unequivocal if you are a mouse because the studies have already been done. And Dr Charles Nichols is working on extending this research to humans.
Even among their fans, psychedelics are not the kind of substance that lends itself to frequent use. And that fact might explain why science has so far failed to notice their (apparently powerful) anti-inflammatory properties. When hallucinations, "mystical experiences" and time dilation are listed on the package, who will notice a reduction in joint pain or a less asthmatic feeling in the chest?
According to Dr Nichols, these kinds of anecdotal reports from psychedelic users are not uncommon - but as he continues this research, these comments are more common in the form of "actually, now that you mention it..." statements. For most people, it's simply not front-of-mind - if they notice it at all.
But given that more than 50-60% of people will suffer from chronic inflammation as a disease mechanism at some point in their lives, a possible therapy is very valuable. And - better late than never - science is now actively seeking answers in this new area, with funding coming from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and private disease foundations.
Researchers in the field of psychedelics are often hampered by the War on Drugs, a cultural wet blanket of influence that extends to the IRBs (Institutional Review Boards) who approve or reject the proposals of potential researchers.
Dr Nichols, however, seems to be effectively avoiding the negative stigma of psychedelics (something his father, Dr David Nichols, also did). In part, this is because studies of the anti-inflammatory properties of psychedelics have nothing to do with their "metaphysical" or psychological aspects. Inflammation, it seems, can be fought at doses so low that no psychedelic effects can be observed.
(Of course, you can't exactly ask a mouse if it's hallucinating, so researchers look for proxy behaviour. But like drunk teenagers who can't hide their drunkenness from their parents, stumbling rodents are easy to identify if you know what to look for).
Will the mouse studies translate to humans? Which psychedelic compounds pack the most anti-inflammatory punch - and have the least unintended side effects? And are there cases - such as clinical depression - where the psychological and physiological effects can be directly related and perhaps even complimentary?
Want to know more? Listen to this podcast with Dr Charles Nichols on this interesting topic.