OPEN Foundation

Medicine

Associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and markers of physical health

Abstract

Background: In recent years, there has been significant research on the mental health effects of classic psychedelic use, but there is very little evidence on how classic psychedelics might influence physical health.

Aims: The purpose of the present study was to investigate the associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and markers of physical health.

Methods: Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2015-2018) with 171,766 (unweighted) adults aged 18 or above in the United States, the current study examined the associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and three markers of physical health (self-reported overall health, body mass index, and heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months) while controlling for a range of covariates.

Results: Respondents who reported having tried a classic psychedelic at least once in their lifetime had significantly higher odds of greater self-reported overall health and significantly lower odds of being overweight or obese versus having a normal weight. The association between lifetime classic psychedelic use and having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months approached conventional levels of significance, with lower odds of having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months for respondents who had tried a classic psychedelic at least once.

Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest that classic psychedelics may be beneficial to physical health. Future research should investigate the causal effects of classic psychedelics on physical health and evaluate possible mechanisms.

Simonsson, O., Sexton, J. D., & Hendricks, P. S. (2021). Associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and markers of physical health. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 35(4), 447–452. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881121996863

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Single, Fixed-Dose Intranasal Ketamine for Alleviation of Acute Suicidal Ideation. An Emergency Department, Trans-Diagnostic Approach: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Proof-of-Concept Trial

Abstract

Background: Suicidal patients often present to the emergency department, where specific anti-suicidal treatment is lacking. Ketamine, a Glutamate modulator and a rapidly acting antidepressant with anti-suicidal properties, might offer relief.

Aims: Evaluation of single, fixed-dosed intranasal ketamine for acute suicidal ideation in the emergency department.

Methods: Between August 2016 and April 2018, 30 eligible suicidal subjects, scheduled for psychiatric hospitalization, independently of their psychiatric diagnosis, were randomized to intranasal ketamine 40 mg or saline placebo. Safety and efficacy evaluations were scheduled for 30, 60, 120 and 240 min post administration and on days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 21 and 28. Primary outcome was suicidal ideation.

Results: Fifteen subjects were randomized for each study group. All were analyzed for primary and secondary outcomes. Four hours post administration, the mean difference in suicidal symptoms between the groups, measured by the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) item of suicidal thoughts (MADRS-SI), was 1.267 (95% confident interval 0.1-2.43, p < 0.05) favoring treatment. Remission from suicidal ideation was evident in 80% for the ketamine group compared with 33% for the controls (p < 0.05). The mean difference in depressive symptoms, measured by MADRS, at the same time was 9.75 (95% confident interval 0.72-18.79, p < 0.05) favoring ketamine. Treatment was safe and well-tolerated. Conclusions: Single, fixed-dose, intranasal ketamine alleviated suicidal ideation and improved depressive symptoms four hours post administration. We present here an innovative paradigm for emergency department management of suicidal individuals. Future larger-scale studies are warranted. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02183272.

Domany, Y., & McCullumsmith, C. B. (2021). Single, Fixed-Dose Intranasal Ketamine for Alleviation of Acute Suicidal Ideation. An Emergency Department, Trans-Diagnostic Approach: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Proof-of-Concept Trial. Archives of suicide research : official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research, 1–16. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/13811118.2021.1878078

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Harmine inhibits the proliferation and migration of glioblastoma cells via the FAK/AKT pathway

Abstract

Aims: Glioblastoma is one of the most invasive tumors of the central nervous system, and has a high degree of malignancy and poor prognosis. Harmine, an active ingredient extracted from perennial herbs, has been reported to have obvious antitumor effects on various tumors. However, the effects of harmine on glioblastoma growth remain unknown. We here explored the effects of harmine on glioblastoma and its underlying molecular mechanisms related to tumorigenesis.

Materials and methods: CCK-8 and immunofluorescent assay were performed to measure anti-proliferative effect of harmine on U251-MG and U373-MG cells. Wound healing assay was performed to measure the effects of harmine on cell migration. qRT-PCR and western blot were performed to detect the protein/gene expression. BALB/c nude mice bearing U251-MG xenografts was used to measure the effects of harmine on the growth of glioblastoma in vivo.

Key findings: Harmine treatment significantly suppressed the proliferation of U251-MG and U373-MG cells in a dose and time-dependent way. Mechanistically, harmine reduced the basal and EGF-enhanced the phosphorylation level of FAK and AKT. Moreover, harmine inhibited the cell viability of U251-MG and U373-MG cells by downregulating the phosphorylation of the FAK/AKT pathway. Besides, harmine significantly suppressed the migration of U251-MG cells by suppressing the expression of MMP2, MMP9 and VEGF. Subsequently, orthotopic xenograft models revealed that harmine treatment dramatically inhibited the growth of glioblastoma in vivo.

Significance: In conclusion, these results suggest that harmine suppresses the proliferation and migration of U251-MG and U373-MG cells by inhibiting the FAK/AKT signaling pathway. Our findings elucidate harmine could be a promising drug for glioblastoma therapy.

Zhu, Y. G., Lv, Y. X., Guo, C. Y., Xiao, Z. M., Jiang, Q. G., Kuang, H., Zhang, W. H., & Hu, P. (2021). Harmine inhibits the proliferation and migration of glioblastoma cells via the FAK/AKT pathway. Life sciences, 270, 119112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2021.119112

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The ritual use of ayahuasca during treatment of severe physical illnesses: a qualitative study

Abstract

Diseases that threaten life raise existential questions that can be a source of psychological distress. Studies with psychedelics demonstrate therapeutic effects for anxiety and depression associated with life-threatening illnesses. Ayahuasca has been proposed as a possible therapeutic agent in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Preliminary studies suggest that ayahuasca could promote therapeutic effects for people with physical illnesses. The aim of this study was to explore how the ritual use of ayahuasca during the treatment of severe physical illnesses (SPI) may influence the way people understand and relate to their illness, using qualitative methods to assess the participants’ perspectives. Participants who consumed ayahuasca ritualistically during the period of treatment for SPI were purposely chosen. Data were obtained through semi-structured interviews. A thematic analysis was performed with 14 individuals. The ritual experience with ayahuasca acted on the participants’ illness understanding through multiple psychological mechanisms, including introspection, self-analysis, emotional processing and catharsis, recall of autobiographical memories subjectively related to illness origin, illness resignification, and perspective changes. This study suggests that the experience with ayahuasca may facilitate illness acceptance through an influence on the meanings of the illness, life, and death. These changes may favor a more balanced relationship with illness and treatment.

Maia, L. O., Daldegan-Bueno, D., & Tófoli, L. F. (2021). The ritual use of ayahuasca during treatment of severe physical illnesses: a qualitative study. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 53(3), 272–282. https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2020.1854399

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Does body mass index predict response to intravenous ketamine treatment in adults with major depressive and bipolar disorder? Results from the Canadian Rapid Treatment Center of Excellence

Abstract

Background: Higher body mass index (BMI) has been found to predict greater antidepressant response to intravenous (IV) ketamine treatment. We evaluated the association between BMI and response to repeat-dose IV ketamine in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).

Methods: Adults (N = 230) with TRD received four infusions of IV ketamine at a community-based clinic. Changes in symptoms of depression (ie, Quick Inventory for Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Report 16; QIDS-SR16), suicidal ideation (SI; ie, QIDS-SR16 SI item), anxiety (ie, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale), anhedonic severity (ie, Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale), and functioning (ie, Sheehan Disability Scale) following infusions were evaluated. Participants were stratified by BMI as normal (18.0-24.9 kg/m2; n = 72), overweight (25-29.9 kg/m2; n = 76), obese I (30-34.9 kg/m2; n = 47), or obese II (≥35.0 kg/m2; n = 35).

Results: Similar antidepressant effects with repeat-dose ketamine were reported between BMI groups (P = .261). In addition, categorical partial response (P = .149), response (P = .526), and remission (P = .232) rates were similar between the four BMI groups.

Conclusions: The findings are limited by the observational, open-label design of this retrospective analysis. Pretreatment BMI did not predict response to IV ketamine, which was effective regardless of BMI.

Lipsitz, O., McIntyre, R. S., Rodrigues, N. B., Lee, Y., Gill, H., Subramaniapillai, M., Kratiuk, K., Nasri, F., Mansur, R. B., & Rosenblat, J. D. (2020). Does body mass index predict response to intravenous ketamine treatment in adults with major depressive and bipolar disorder? Results from the Canadian Rapid Treatment Center of Excellence. CNS spectrums, 1–9. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852920002102

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Post-Marketing Safety Concerns with Esketamine: A Disproportionality Analysis of Spontaneous Reports Submitted to the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System

Abstract

Introduction: Esketamine nasal spray received approval for treatment-resistant depression in March 2019.

Objective: Using the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) database (March 2019-March 2020), we analysed esketamine-related adverse events (AEs) to detect and characterize relevant safety signals.

Methods: We used the consolidated case/non-case approach to estimate the reporting odds ratio (ROR) and information component (IC) with relevant confidence intervals (95% CI) for esketamine-related AEs with ≥4 counts. Comparisons between serious and non-serious AEs were performed using non-parametric tests.

Results: The FAERS database contained 962 cases of esketamine-related AEs, with signals detected for several AEs, such as dissociation (ROR = 1,612.64, 95% CI = 1,354.63, 1,919.79; IC = 8.19, 95% CI = 7.96, 8.35), sedation (ROR = 238.46, 95% CI = 202.98, 280.15; IC = 7, 95% CI = 6.75, 7.18), feeling drunk (ROR = 96.17, 95% CI = 61.42, 150.57; IC = 4.84, 95% CI = 4.09, 5.36), suicidal ideation (ROR = 24.03, 95% CI = 18.72, 30.84; IC = 4.31, 95% CI = 3.9, 4.61), and completed suicide (ROR = 5.75, 95% CI = 3.18, 10.41; IC = 2.25, 95% CI = 1.23, 2.94). Signals for suicidal and self-injurious ideation, but not suicide attempt and completed suicide, remained when comparing esketamine to venlafaxine. Females and patients receiving antidepressant polypharmacy, co-medication with mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, or somatic medications were more likely to suffer from serious versus non-serious AEs (χ2 = 125.29, p < 0.001, χ2 = 9.08, p = 0.003, χ2 = 8.14, p = 0.004, χ2 = 19.48, p < 0.001, χ2 = 25.62, p < 0.001, and χ2 = 16.79, p < 0.001, respectively).

Conclusions: Esketamine may carry a clear potential for serious AEs, which deserves urgent clarification by means of further prospective studies.

Gastaldon, C., Raschi, E., Kane, J. M., Barbui, C., & Schoretsanitis, G. (2021). Post-marketing safety concerns with esketamine: a disproportionality analysis of spontaneous reports submitted to the FDA adverse event reporting system. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics90(1), 41-48; 10.1159/000510703
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The cost-effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD

Abstract

Background: Chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disabling condition that generates considerable morbidity, mortality, and both medical and indirect social costs. Treatment options are limited. A novel therapy using 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) has shown efficacy in six phase 2 trials. Its cost-effectiveness is unknown.

Methods and findings: To assess the cost-effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy (MAP) from the health care payer’s perspective, we constructed a decision-analytic Markov model to portray the costs and health benefits of treating patients with chronic, severe, or extreme, treatment-resistant PTSD with MAP. In six double-blind phase 2 trials, MAP consisted of a mean of 2.5 90-minute trauma-focused psychotherapy sessions before two 8-hour sessions with MDMA (mean dose of 125 mg), followed by a mean of 3.5 integration sessions for each active session. The control group received an inactive placebo or 25-40 mg. of MDMA, and otherwise followed the same regimen. Our model calculates net medical costs, mortality, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. Efficacy was based on the pooled results of six randomized controlled phase 2 trials with 105 subjects; and a four-year follow-up of 19 subjects. Other inputs were based on published literature and on assumptions when data were unavailable. We modeled results over a 30-year analytic horizon and conducted extensive sensitivity analyses. Our model calculates expected medical costs, mortality, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratio. Future costs and QALYs were discounted at 3% per year. For 1,000 individuals, MAP generates discounted net savings of $103.2 million over 30 years while accruing 5,553 discounted QALYs, compared to continued standard of care. MAP breaks even on cost at 3.1 years while delivering 918 QALYs. Making the conservative assumption that benefits cease after one year, MAP would accrue net costs of $7.6 million while generating 288 QALYS, or $26,427 per QALY gained.

Conclusion: MAP provided to patients with severe or extreme, chronic PTSD appears to be cost-saving while delivering substantial clinical benefit. Third-party payers are likely to save money within three years by covering this form of therapy.

Marseille, E., Kahn, J. G., Yazar-Klosinski, B., & Doblin, R. (2020). The cost-effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. PloS one, 15(10), e0239997. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239997

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Phytochemical, Cytotoxicity, Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Psilocybe Natalensis Magic Mushroom

Abstract

Psilocybin-containing mushrooms, commonly known as magic mushrooms, have been used since ancient and recent times for depression and to improve quality of life. However, their anti-inflammatory properties are not known. The study aims at investing cytotoxicity; antioxidant; and, for the first time, anti-inflammatory effects of Psilocybe natalensis, a psilocybin-containing mushroom that grows in South Africa, on lipopolysaccharide-induced RAW 264.7 macrophages. Macrophage cells were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide and treated with different concentrations of Psilocybe natalensis mushroom extracted with boiling hot water, cold water and ethanol over 24 h. Quercetin and N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester were used as positive controls. Effects of extracts on the lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2, and cytokine activities were investigated. Phytochemical analysis, and the antioxidant and cytotoxicity of extracts, were determined. Results showed that the three extracts inhibited the lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2, and interleukin 1β cytokine production significantly in a dose-dependent manner close to that of the positive controls. A study proposed that ethanol and water extracts of Psilocybe natalensis mushroom were safe at concentrations used, and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Phytochemical analysis confirmed the presence of natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in the mushroom extracts.

Nkadimeng, S. M., Nabatanzi, A., Steinmann, C. M., & Eloff, J. N. (2020). Phytochemical, Cytotoxicity, Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Psilocybe Natalensis Magic Mushroom. Plants9(9), 1127; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091127

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Plasma psilocin critically determines behavioral and neurobiological effects of psilocybin

Madsen, M. K., & Knudsen, G. M. (2021). Plasma psilocin critically determines behavioral and neurobiological effects of psilocybin. Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology46(1), 257-258; 10.1038/s41386-020-00823-4
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A low dose of lysergic acid diethylamide decreases pain perception in healthy volunteers

Abstract

Background: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is an ergot alkaloid derivative with psychedelic properties that has been implicated in the management of persistent pain. Clinical studies in the 1960s and 1970s have demonstrated profound analgesic effects of full doses of LSD in terminally ill patients, but this line of research evaporated after LSD was scheduled worldwide.

Aim: The present clinical study is the first to revisit the potential of LSD as an analgesic, and at dose levels which are not expected to produce profound mind-altering effects.

Methods: Twenty-four healthy volunteers received single doses of 5, 10 and 20 µg LSD as well as placebo on separate occasions. A Cold Pressor Test was administered at 1.5 and 5 h after treatment administration to assess pain tolerance to experimentally evoked pain. Ratings of dissociation and psychiatric symptoms as well as assessments of vital signs were included to monitor mental status as well as safety during treatments.

Results: LSD 20 µg significantly increased the time that participants were able to tolerate exposure to cold (3°C) water and decreased their subjective levels of experienced pain and unpleasantness. LSD elevated mean blood pressure within the normal range and slightly increased ratings of dissociation, anxiety and somatization.

Conclusion: The present study provides evidence of a protracted analgesic effect of LSD at a dose that is low enough to avoid a psychedelic experience. The present data warrant further research into the analgesic effects of low doses of LSD in patient populations.

Ramaekers, J. G., Hutten, N., Mason, N. L., Dolder, P., Theunissen, E. L., Holze, F., … & Kuypers, K. P. (2020). A low dose of lysergic acid diethylamide decreases pain perception in healthy volunteers. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881120940937; 10.1177/0269881120940937
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