By Gabriel García April 18, 2023
Yesterday, April 17, 2023, Time magazine published an article entitled “Could Psychedelics Help Treat Long COVID?”. This article explores the possibility that hallucinogenic substances such as LSD, psilocybin or ketamine may alleviate the lingering symptoms suffered by some patients who have recovered from coronavirus. What do we know about this?
Can psychedelic drugs help treat long COVID?
The article begins with the story of a woman named Sarah, who contracted COVID-19 in March 2020 and has since experienced chronic fatigue, muscle pain, memory loss, and depression. After trying several conventional treatments without success, she decided to try psychedelic therapy under the supervision of a physician. According to her, this experience helped her regain energy, mental clarity and hope.
Long COVID is a chronic condition that affects many people who have been infected with the coronavirus. Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive problems, depression, and pain. So far, there is no proven cure for long COVID, but some researchers and patients are exploring the potential of psychedelic drugs as a treatment option.
Psychedelic drugs are substances that alter perception, mood and thought. Some of the best known are LSD, psilocybin (the active component of magic mushrooms), DMT and MDMA. These drugs have been used for centuries by various cultures for ritual, spiritual and therapeutic purposes. In recent decades, they have also attracted the interest of medical science for their potential benefits in treating mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and addiction to what, potentially, appears to be persistent COVID. But what do psychedelic drugs have to do with long COVID?
Image source: nyulangone.org
What do psychedelic drugs have to do with COVID?
Some experts believe that these substances may act on the biological and psychological mechanisms underlying the disease. On the one hand, some psychedelic drugs have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, which could help eliminate the remnants of the virus that could cause lingering symptoms. On the other hand, it has been observed that psychedelic drugs can induce transformative experiences that could improve emotional well-being, resilience, and acceptance of illness.
This information is based on a review of the scientific evidence on the use of psychedelics to treat long COVID. The author notes that there is still little research on the subject, but that some preliminary studies indicate that these substances may help improve the physical and psychological symptoms associated with the disease. For example, a study in Brazil found that ayahuasca, a traditional hallucinogenic drink, improved the quality of life and well-being of patients with long COVID. Another ongoing study in the UK is evaluating the effect of psilocybin, the active component of magic mushrooms, on chronic fatigue.
An example of this is the case of Ruth, a 31-year-old woman who suffered from long COVID for over a year. After trying several treatments without success, she decided to take a high dose of psilocybin in December 2021. The next day, she woke up with a normal heart rate, breathing more freely than she had in a long time. After that, his period stabilized and his mental fog and motor dysfunction cleared. She regained her energy. Although she still has some mild symptoms, Ruth attributes her improvement to the psilocybin. “That’s probably hard for a lot of people to process or believe,” she says. “But it really worked.”.
Image source: counseling.org
Ruth’s case is not unique. Dr. Joel Castellanos, associate medical director of the Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative at the University of California, San Diego, says he hears from many patients with long COVID who have tried or are interested in trying psychedelic drugs. One of them saw such a dramatic improvement in his fatigue, headaches, depression and mental fog after using a combination of psilocybin and MDMA that Castellanos is working to publish a case study about his experience.
Although case studies do not prove causality, Castellanos says he is “excited about psychedelics. It’s a new way to look at a lot of different symptoms that people experience.” Dr. Sue Sisley, who researches psilocybin at the Scottsdale Research Institute in Phoenix and also works at a community clinic for long COVID, became interested in using psychedelic drugs as remedies for long COVID after patients told her they were trying them on their own and seeing improvements in their energy, cognitive function and memory .
However, the scientific evidence and studies needed to substantiate all of the claims in this article have yet to be proven, and will take time and investment to do so. Psychedelic drugs can be a powerful tool for therapeutic purposes. You can discover more about these potential therapeutic effects in Essential Guide to the Psychedelic Renaissance by Antón Gómez-Escolar, we recommend Psychedelics and Mental Health, by Irene de Caso and Your Brain on Psychedelics, by Genís Oña, where you will learn the keys to the effects of psychedelics, capable of producing significant changes in the processes of perception, thought and consciousness. The book also includes a prologue written by one of the greatest eminences in this field, José Carlos Bouso, scientific director of ICEERS.
These books are now available on Amazon in physical and eBook format, as well as Apple Books. In addition, all titles are available in Spanish version on GuiasdelPsiconauta.com
Sources used in this article: