Countless studies have found substantial evidence of psilocybin’s potential to treat a variety of health conditions, primarily related to mental health. Yet, the substance has also demonstrated remarkable potential for treating patients with chronic pain, a symptom commonly associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus.
Because lupus causes the immune system to attack its own tissues, it can lead to major cases of inflammation, which causes persistent and debilitating pain. Unfortunately, this musculoskeletal pain can be resistant to traditional treatment options like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and other analgesic agents.
However, a recent case study published by three doctors from USC’s Department of Rheumatology has uncovered that psilocybin treatment may offer significant benefits to those suffering from lupus pain, offering a promising alternative treatment for those who have found little relief through conventional methods.
The case study highlights a report of a lupus patient who faced significant pain relief after just one dose of psilocybin. The 67-year-old experienced chronic polyarticular joint pain and treated it with typical anti-inflammatory drugs, facing no symptom reduction.
Although he initially took the 6-gram microdose of magic mushrooms for a sense of enlightenment, the psychedelic trip proved to have unexpected results on his pain.
A year after taking the dose, the man reported a continued absence of the debilitating joint pain that had previously taken over his daily life (1). The sustained relief suggests that psilocybin may have long-term benefits in managing the chronic pain associated with lupus and other autoimmune diseases.
Though this case obviously does not demonstrate definitive evidence of psilocybin’s efficacy for all lupus patients, the anecdotal report is one of the first direct connections between psilocybin and lupus pain. This new information opens up possibilities for future studies that may not have been previously considered.
Further research would require controlled trials that examine a broader population of lupus patients to determine both the immediate effects and long-term outcomes while also looking into the biological mechanisms that cause these results.
A survey study published in August 2023 revealed that psychedelics such as psilocybin have potential analgesic effects on chronic pain conditions. Though the survey relied on self-reported data, many of the respondents found similar results in achieving lasting pain relief following administration.
While all current evidence connecting psilocybin to chronic pain is preliminary, the prospect of achieving long-term pain management is a development that researchers might consider exploring further.