Latest news from the medical community

Stay up to date with the latest clinical research about Psychedelic Medicine

January 2022

Dose-related effects of ketamine for antidepressant-resistant symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans and active duty military: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled multi-center clinical trial

This study tested the efficacy of repeated intravenous ketamine doses to reduce symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans and service members with PTSD (n = 158) who failed previous antidepressant treatment were randomized to 8 infusions administered twice weekly of intravenous placebo (n = 54), low dose (0.2 mg/kg; n = 53) or standard dose (0.5 mg/kg; n = 51) ketamine. Participants were assessed at baseline, during treatment, and for 4 weeks after their last infusion. Primary analyses used mixed effects models. The primary outcome measure was the self-report PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), and secondary outcome measures were the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5) and the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). There were no significant group-by-time interactions for PTSD symptoms measured by the PCL-5 or CAPS-5. The standard ketamine dose ameliorated depression measured by the MADRS significantly more than placebo. Ketamine produced dose-related dissociative and psychotomimetic effects, which returned to baseline within 2 h and were less pronounced with repeated administration. There was no evidence of differential treatment discontinuation by ketamine dose, consistent with good tolerability. This clinical trial failed to find a significant dose-related effect of ketamine on PTSD symptoms. Secondary analyses suggested that the standard dose exerted rapid antidepressant effects. Further studies are needed to determine the role of ketamine in PTSD treatment.

January 2022

Depression, Estrogens, and Neuroinflammation: A Preclinical Review of Ketamine Treatment for Mood Disorders in Women

Ketamine has been shown to acutely and rapidly ameliorate depression symptoms and suicidality. Given that women suffer from major depression at twice the rate of men, it is important to understand how ketamine works in the female brain. This review explores three themes. First, it examines our current understanding of the etiology of depression in women. Second, it examines preclinical research on ketamine’s antidepressant effects at a neurobiological level as well as how ovarian hormones present a unique challenge in interpreting these findings. Lastly, the neuroinflammatory hypothesis of depression is highlighted to help better understand how ovarian hormones might interact with ketamine in the female brain.

January 2022

Adjunctive Ketamine With Relapse Prevention–Based Psychological Therapy in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder

Early evidence suggests that ketamine may be an effective treatment to sustain abstinence from alcohol. The authors investigated the safety and efficacy of ketamine compared with placebo in increasing abstinence in patients with alcohol use disorder. An additional aim was to pilot ketamine combined with mindfulness-based relapse prevention therapy compared with ketamine and alcohol education as a therapy control.

January 2022

Validation of the Psychological Insight Scale: A new scale to assess psychological insight following a psychedelic experience

As their name suggests, ‘psychedelic’ (mind-revealing) compounds are thought to catalyse processes of psychological insight; however, few satisfactory scales exist to sample this. This study sought to develop a new scale to measure psychological insight after a psychedelic experience: the Psychological Insight Scale (PIS).

November 2021

Acute Effects of Psilocybin After Escitalopram or Placebo Pretreatment in a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study in Healthy Subjects

The psychedelic psilocybin is being investigated for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Unclear is whether antidepressant treatments interact with psilocybin. The present study used a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design with two experimental test sessions to investigate the response to psilocybin (25 mg) in healthy subjects after pretreatment with escitalopram or placebo. The treatment order was random and counterbalanced. Pretreatment consisted of 10 mg escitalopram daily for 7 days, followed by 20 mg daily for 7 days, including the day of psilocybin administration, or 14 days of placebo pretreatment before psilocybin administration. Psilocybin treatments were separated by at least 16 days. The outcome measures included self-rating scales that evaluated subjective effects, autonomic effects, adverse effects, plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, electrocardiogram QTc time, whole-blood HTR2A and SCL6A4 gene expression, and pharmacokinetics. Escitalopram pretreatment had no relevant effect on positive mood effects of psilocybin but significantly reduced bad drug effects, anxiety, adverse cardiovascular effects, and other adverse effects of psilocybin compared with placebo pretreatment. Escitalopram did not alter the pharmacokinetics of psilocin. The half-life of psychoactive free (unconjugated) psilocin was 1.8 hours (range 1.1-2.2 hours), consistent with the short duration of action of psilocybin. Escitalopram did not alter HTR2A or SCL6A4 gene expression before psilocybin administration, QTc intervals, or circulating BDNF levels before or after psilocybin administration. Further studies are needed with a longer antidepressant pretreatment time and patients with psychiatric disorders to further define interactions between antidepressants and psilocybin.

November 2021

Psychedelic experience dose-dependently modulated by cannabis: results of a prospective online survey

The current study aimed to explore the subjective effects of psychedelics when used alongside cannabis.