OPEN Foundation

R. Lancelotta

A Meta-Analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

Abstract

After a two-decade hiatus in which research on psychedelics was essentially halted, placebo-controlled clinical trials of psychedelic-assisted therapy for mental health conditions have begun to be published. We identified nine randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials of psychedelic-assisted therapy published since 1994. Studies examined psilocybin, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), ayahuasca (which contains a combination of N,N-dimethyltryptamine and harmala monoamine oxidase inhibitor alkaloids), and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). We compared the standardized mean difference between the experimental and placebo control group at the primary endpoint. Results indicated a significant mean between-groups effect size of 1.21 (Hedges g), which is larger than the typical effect size found in trials of psychopharmacological or psychotherapy interventions. For the three studies that maintained a placebo control through a follow-up assessment, effects were generally maintained at follow-up. Overall, analyses support the efficacy of psychedelic-assisted therapy across four mental health conditions – post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety/depression associated with a life-threatening illness, unipolar depression, and social anxiety among autistic adults. While study quality was high, we identify several areas for improvement regarding the conduct and reporting of trials. Larger trials with more diverse samples are needed to examine possible moderators and mediators of effects, and to establish whether effects are maintained over time.
Luoma, J. B., Chwyl, C., Bathje, G. J., Davis, A. K., & Lancelotta, R. (2020). A Meta-analysis of Placebo-controlled Trials of Psychedelic-assisted Therapy. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1-11., https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2020.1769878
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Use of Benefit Enhancement Strategies among 5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) Users: Associations with Mystical, Challenging, and Enduring Effects.

Abstract

5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) is a potent, fast-acting psychedelic. Anecdotal reports from 5-MeO-DMT users suggest that they employ a variety of benefit enhancement (BE) strategies aimed to increase positive effects and decrease any potential challenging effects of the substance, but no empirical study has investigated this claim. We examined the prevalence of BE strategy use using secondary data from a survey of 5-MeO-DMT users (n = 515; Mage = 35.4, SD = 11.7; Male = 79%; White/Caucasian = 86%). Results indicated that BE strategy use was common in this sample. As a secondary aim, we assessed whether the use of BE strategies was associated with acute subjective (i.e., mystical-type, challenging) and persisting effects of 5-MeO-DMT among a subset of respondents who reported using 5-MeO-DMT once in their lifetime (n = 116). Results showed that the use of several BE strategies were associated with significantly more intense mystical-type effects and enduring beliefs about the personal meaning and spiritual significance of their experience, and some BE strategies were associated with less intense or challenging experiences. Data suggests that BE strategies are commonly used, and that the use of BE strategies may be associated with increases in positive mystical-type and enduring effects. The causal influence of BE strategies on acute/persisting effects of 5-MeO-DMT should be examined in longitudinal research.

Lancelotta, R. L., & Davis, A. K. (2020). Use of benefit enhancement strategies among 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) users: Associations with mystical, challenging, and enduring effects. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1-9.,10.1080/02791072.2020.1737763
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Prospective examination of synthetic 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine inhalation: effects on salivary IL-6, cortisol levels, affect, and non-judgment

Abstract

Rationale

5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine is a psychotropic substance found in various plant and animal species and is synthetically produced. 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine is used in naturalistic settings for spiritual exploration, recreation, or to address negative affect and mood problems. However, scientific knowledge on the effects of 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine in humans is scarce.

Objectives

The first objective was to assess the effects of inhalation of vaporized synthetic 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine on neuroendocrine markers. The second objective was to assess effects of the substance on affect and mindfulness. In addition, we assessed whether ratings of subjective measures were associated with changes in stress biomarkers (i.e., cortisol) and immune response (i.e., IL-6, CRP, IL-1β), as well as the acute psychedelic experience.

Methods

Assessments (baseline, immediately post-session, and 7-day follow-up) were made in 11 participants. Salivary samples were collected at baseline and post-session and analyzed by high-sensitivity enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

Results

5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine significantly increased cortisol levels and decreased IL-6 concentrations in saliva immediately post-session. These changes were not correlated to ratings of mental health or the psychedelic experience. Relative to baseline, ratings of non-judgment significantly increased, and ratings of depression decreased immediately post-session and at follow-up. Ratings of anxiety and stress decreased from baseline to 7-day follow-up. Participant ratings of the psychedelic experience correlated negatively with ratings of affect and positively with ratings of non-judgment.

Conclusion

Inhalation of vaporized synthetic 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine produced significant changes in inflammatory markers, improved affect, and non-judgment in volunteers. Future research should examine the effect of 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamineamine with healthy volunteers in a controlled laboratory setting.

Uthaug, M. V., Lancelotta, R., Szabo, A., Davis, A. K., Riba, J., & Ramaekers, J. G. (2019). Prospective examination of synthetic 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine inhalation: effects on salivary IL-6, cortisol levels, affect, and non-judgment. Psychopharmacology, 1-13., 10.1007/s00213-019-05414-w
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A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in a naturalistic setting is related to sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms

Abstract

BACKGROUND: 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (hereinafter referred to as 5-MeO-DMT) is a psychedelic substance found in the secretion from the parotoid glands of the Bufo alvarius toad. Inhalation of vapor from toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT has become popular in naturalistic settings as a treatment of mental health problems or as a means for spiritual exploration. However, knowledge of the effects of 5-MeO-DMT in humans is limited.
AIMS: The first objective of this study was to assess sub-acute and long-term effects of inhaling vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT on affect and cognition. The second objective was to assess whether any changes were associated with the psychedelic experience.
METHODS: Assessments at baseline, within 24 h and 4 weeks following intake, were made in 42 individuals who inhaled vapor from dried toad secretion at several European locations.
RESULTS: Relative to baseline, ratings of satisfaction with life and convergent thinking significantly increased right after intake and were maintained at follow-up 4 weeks later. Ratings of mindfulness also increased over time and reached statistical significance at 4 weeks. Ratings of depression, anxiety, and stress decreased after the session, and reached significance at 4 weeks. Participants that experienced high levels of ego dissolution or oceanic boundlessness during the session displayed higher ratings of satisfaction with life and lower ratings of depression and stress.
CONCLUSION: A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT produces sub-acute and long-term changes in affect and cognition in volunteers. These results warrant exploratory research into therapeutic applications of 5-MeO-DMT.
Uthaug, M. V., Lancelotta, R., van Oorsouw, K., Kuypers, K. P. C., Mason, N., Rak, J., … & Ramaekers, J. G. (2019). A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in a naturalistic setting is related to sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms. Psychopharmacology236(9), 2653-2666., https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-019-05236-w
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A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in a naturalistic setting is related to sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:
5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (hereinafter referred to as 5-MeO-DMT) is a psychedelic substance found in the secretion from the parotoid glands of the Bufo alvarius toad. Inhalation of vapor from toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT has become popular in naturalistic settings as a treatment of mental health problems or as a means for spiritual exploration. However, knowledge of the effects of 5-MeO-DMT in humans is limited.
AIMS:
The first objective of this study was to assess sub-acute and long-term effects of inhaling vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT on affect and cognition. The second objective was to assess whether any changes were associated with the psychedelic experience.
METHODS:
Assessments at baseline, within 24 h and 4 weeks following intake, were made in 42 individuals who inhaled vapor from dried toad secretion at several European locations.
RESULTS:
Relative to baseline, ratings of satisfaction with life and convergent thinking significantly increased right after intake and were maintained at follow-up 4 weeks later. Ratings of mindfulness also increased over time and reached statistical significance at 4 weeks. Ratings of depression, anxiety, and stress decreased after the session, and reached significance at 4 weeks. Participants that experienced high levels of ego dissolution or oceanic boundlessness during the session displayed higher ratings of satisfaction with life and lower ratings of depression and stress.
CONCLUSION:
A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT produces sub-acute and long-term changes in affect and cognition in volunteers. These results warrant exploratory research into therapeutic applications of 5-MeO-DMT.

 
Uthaug, M. V., Lancelotta, R., van Oorsouw, K., Kuypers, K. P. C., Mason, N., Rak, J., … & Páleníček, T. (2019). A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in a naturalistic setting is related to sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms. Psychopharmacology, 1-14., https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-019-05236-w
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5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) used in a naturalistic group setting is associated with unintended improvements in depression and anxiety

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A recent epidemiological study suggested that 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) used for spiritual and recreational reasons is associated with subjective improvement in depression and anxiety. Further exploration of the potential psychotherapeutic effects of 5-MeO-DMT could inform future clinical trials.

OBJECTIVES:

We examined self-reported improvement in depression and anxiety among people who use 5-MeO-DMT in a group setting with structured procedures guiding dose and administration of 5-MeO-DMT. Such procedures also include activities for the preparation of, and support during/following sessions, which are similar to procedures used in clinical trials of hallucinogen administration. Next, we examined whether depression or anxiety were improved following use, and whether the acute subjective effects (mystical/challenging) or beliefs about the 5-MeO-DMT experience were associated with improvements in these conditions.

METHODS:

Respondents (n = 362; Mage = 47.7; Male = 55%; White/Caucasian = 84%) completed an anonymous web-based survey.

RESULTS:

Of those reporting having been diagnosed with depression (41%) or anxiety (48%), most reported these conditions were improved (depression = 80%; anxiety = 79%) following 5-MeO-DMT use, and fewer reported they were unchanged (depression = 17%; anxiety = 19%) or worsened (depression = 3%; anxiety = 2%). Improvement in depression/anxiety conditions were associated with greater intensity of mystical experiences and higher ratings of the spiritual significance and personal meaning of the 5-MeO-DMT experience. There were no associations between depression or anxiety improvement and the intensity of acute challenging physical/psychological effects during the 5-MeO-DMT experience.

CONCLUSIONS:

Future prospective controlled clinical pharmacology studies should examine the safety and efficacy of 5-MeO-DMT administration for relieving depression and anxiety.

Davis, A. K., So, S., Lancelotta, R., Barsuglia, J. P., & Griffiths, R. R. (2018). 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) used in a naturalistic group setting is associated with unintended improvements in depression and anxiety. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 1-9., 10.1080/00952990.2018.1545024
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Intensity of Mystical Experiences Occasioned by 5-MeO-DMT and Comparison With a Prior Psilocybin Study

Abstract

5-MeO-DMT is a psychoactive substance found in high concentrations in the bufotoxin of the Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius). Emerging evidence suggests that vaporized 5-MeO-DMT may occasion mystical experiences of comparable intensity to those occasioned by more widely studied psychedelics such as psilocybin, but no empirical study has tested this hypothesis. Data was obtained from 20 individuals (Mage = 38.9, ± 10.7; male = 55%, Caucasian = 85%) who were administered 5-MeO-DMT as part of a psychospiritual retreat program in Mexico. All participants received 50 mg of inhaled vaporized toad bufotoxin which contains 5-MeO-DMT and completed the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ30) approximately 4–6 h after their session. Administration of 5-MeO-DMT occasioned strong mystical experiences (MEQ30 Overall Mintensity = 4.17, ± 0.64, range 0–5) and the majority (n = 15, 75%) had “a complete mystical experience” (≥60% on all MEQ30 subscales). Compared to a prior laboratory-based psilocybin study, there were no differences in the intensity of mystical effects between 5-MeO-DMT and a high dose (30 mg/70 kg) of psilocybin, but the intensity of mystical effects was significantly higher in the 5-MeO-DMT sample compared to moderate/high dose (20 mg/70 kg) of psilocybin (MEQ30 Total Score: p = 0.02, d = 0.81). Administration of vaporized 5-MeO-DMT reliably occasioned complete mystical experiences in 75% of individuals and was similar in intensity to high dose psilocybin administered in a laboratory setting. The short duration of action may be advantageous for clinical interventions and for studying mystical-type experiences.
Barsuglia, J. P., Davis, A. K., Palmer, R., Lancelotta, R., Windham-Herman, A. M., Peterson, K., … & Griffiths, R. R. (2018). Intensity of Mystical Experiences Occasioned by 5-MeO-DMT and Comparison With a Prior Psilocybin Study. Frontiers in psychology9, 2459., 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02459
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The epidemiology of 5-methoxy- N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) use: Benefits, consequences, patterns of use, subjective effects, and reasons for consumption

Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIM:
5-Methoxy- N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) is a psychoactive compound found in several plants and in high concentrations in Bufo alvarius toad venom. Synthetic, toad, and plant-sourced 5-MeO-DMT are used for spiritual and recreational purposes and may have psychotherapeutic effects. However, the use of 5-MeO-DMT is not well understood. Therefore, we examined patterns of use, motivations for consumption, subjective effects, and potential benefits and consequences associated with 5-MeO-DMT use.
METHODS:
Using internet-based advertisements, 515 respondents ( Mage=35.4. SD=11.7; male=79%; White/Caucasian=86%; United States resident=42%) completed a web-based survey.
RESULTS:
Most respondents consumed 5-MeO-DMT infrequently (<once/year), for spiritual exploration, and had used less than four times in their lifetime. The majority (average of 90%) reported moderate-to-strong mystical-type experiences ( Mintensity=3.64, SD=1.11; range 0-5; e.g., ineffability, timelessness, awe/amazement, experience of pure being/awareness), and relatively fewer (average of 37%) experienced very slight challenging experiences ( Mintensity=0.95, SD=0.91; range 0-5; e.g., anxiousness, fear). Less than half (39%) reported repeated consumption during the same session, and very few reported drug craving/desire (8%), or legal (1%), medical (1%), or psychiatric (1%) problems related to use. Furthermore, of those who reported being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, the majority reported improvements in symptoms following 5-MeO-DMT use, including improvements related to post-traumatic stress disorder (79%), depression (77%), anxiety (69%), and alcoholism (66%) or drug use disorder (60%).
CONCLUSION:
Findings suggest that 5-MeO-DMT is used infrequently, predominantly for spiritual exploration, has low potential for addiction, and might have psychotherapeutic effects. Future research should examine the safety and pharmacokinetics of 5-MeO-DMT administration in humans using rigorous experimental designs.
Davis, A. K., Barsuglia, J. P., Lancelotta, R., Grant, R. M., & Renn, E. (2018). The epidemiology of 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) use: Benefits, consequences, patterns of use, subjective effects, and reasons for consumption. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881118769063. 10.1177/0269881118769063
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The epidemiology of 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) use: Benefits, consequences, patterns of use, subjective effects, and reasons for consumption

Abstract

Background/aim:

5-Methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) is a psychoactive compound found in several plants and in high concentrations in Bufo alvarius toad venom. Synthetic, toad, and plant-sourced 5-MeO-DMT are used for spiritual and recreational purposes and may have psychotherapeutic effects. However, the use of 5-MeO-DMT is not well understood. Therefore, we examined patterns of use, motivations for consumption, subjective effects, and potential benefits and consequences associated with 5-MeO-DMT use.

Methods:

Using internet-based advertisements, 515 respondents (Mage=35.4. SD=11.7; male=79%; White/Caucasian=86%; United States resident=42%) completed a web-based survey.

Results:

Most respondents consumed 5-MeO-DMT infrequently (<once/year), for spiritual exploration, and had used less than four times in their lifetime. The majority (average of 90%) reported moderate-to-strong mystical-type experiences (Mintensity=3.64, SD=1.11; range 0–5; e.g., ineffability, timelessness, awe/amazement, experience of pure being/awareness), and relatively fewer (average of 37%) experienced very slight challenging experiences (Mintensity=0.95, SD=0.91; range 0–5; e.g., anxiousness, fear). Less than half (39%) reported repeated consumption during the same session, and very few reported drug craving/desire (8%), or legal (1%), medical (1%), or psychiatric (1%) problems related to use. Furthermore, of those who reported being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, the majority reported improvements in symptoms following 5-MeO-DMT use, including improvements related to post-traumatic stress disorder (79%), depression (77%), anxiety (69%), and alcoholism (66%) or drug use disorder (60%).

Conclusion:

Findings suggest that 5-MeO-DMT is used infrequently, predominantly for spiritual exploration, has low potential for addiction, and might have psychotherapeutic effects. Future research should examine the safety and pharmacokinetics of 5-MeO-DMT administration in humans using rigorous experimental designs.

Davis, A. K., Barsuglia, J. P., Lancelotta, R., Grant, R. M., & Renn, E. (2018). The epidemiology of 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) use: Benefits, consequences, patterns of use, subjective effects, and reasons for consumption. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881118769063.
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