Psilocybin for Treating Phantom Pain

Treating intractable phantom pain by combining psilocybin and mirror visual-feedback

Psilocybin has been rapidly gaining traction as a safe, fast-acting, and effective treatment for many mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.  Now, psilocybin is showing promise for neuroregeneration and motor recovery — for example in methods of treating phantom pain.

On May 15, 2018, Zeve Marcus of the University of California, San Diego Center for Brain and Cognition (“CBC”) published work demonstrating “Relief from intractable phantom pain by combining psilocybin and mirror visual-feedback (MVF).

Mirror Therapy and Motor Recovery

Mirror therapy (MT) is a valuable method for enhancing motor recovery. The technique utilizes the mirror-illusion created by the movement of sound limb that is perceived as the paretic limb. MT is a straightforward and economical technique that can stimulate the brain noninvasively. The intervention has neural foundation. But the underlying neural mechanisms inducing motor recovery are still unclear.

In 1995, researchers at the CBC were the first to show that mirror therapy can powerfully reduce chronic phantom limb pain. See “Touching the phantom limb,”Nature 377, 489–490 (12 October 1995). Since this pioneering research, dozens of studies have demonstrated the efficacy  of MVF in treating phantom limb pain, complex regional pain syndrome, unilateral neglect, and paralysis resulting from stroke.  See 2017 Review of MVF.

New: Adding PSilocybin to Mirror Therapy for Treating Phantom Pain

Now, researchers at the CBC have shown that combining psilocybin with mirror therapy can provide additional benefit to some patients with intractable phantom pain.  See citation below.

References

Vilayanur Ramachandran, Chaipat Chunharas, Zeve Marcus, Timothy Furnish & Albert Lin (2018) Relief from intractable phantom pain by combining psilocybin and mirror visual-feedback (MVF), Neurocase.