chronic pain

Episode 64: LSD And Psilocybin For Physical Pain? with Greg McKee and Dr. Johannes Ramaekers

These days, there isn’t an ailment some Silicon Valley-esque startup is trying to treat with psychedelics. Of course you have depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD and fear of death for the terminally ill—there’s some good data for treating all of that—but some of the more obscure treatments include anorexia and eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, dementia, and even rare conditions like fragile X syndrome.

Psychedelics are amazing drugs, but they’re not a panacea. It’s not that this research isn’t worth investigating, but how do you determine what’s just hype and what the actual potential of psilocybin, LSD, DMT, etc. really is?

It may be wise to be skeptical of psychedelics being used to treat physical pain. Yet while the research is very young, there is some fascinating evidence that psychedelics may help with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, cluster headaches and even phantom limb pain. And what’s interesting is so many different research institutions and corporations are exploring this question. It’s not exactly a fringe topic and Narcotica co-host Troy Farah dives in with two conversations.

The first is an interview with Greg McKee, CEO of Tryp Therapeutics, a California-based startup that is exploring chronic pain relief using psilocybin and another, psilocybin-based drug with an undisclosed formulation that is obliquely called TRP-8803. The company has partnered with the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study how these drugs might treat fibromyalgia and Tryp has added leading psychedelic researcher Robin Carhart-Harris to its scientific advisory board, where he will play a “critical role” in clinical trial design.

The second interview is with Dr. Johannes Ramaekers of Maastricht University, who says he is developing another pain study to look at psychedelics and fibromyalgia. He was the lead author of a very interesting study published in 2020 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology that found that quote “low doses of LSD might constitute a novel pharmacological therapy.”

Read Troy’s article in Scientific American here:

Read Dr. Ramaekers’ pain and LSD study here:

Learn more about Tryp Therapeutics at

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 41: What Does It All Ketamine? with Dr. Erica Zelfand
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 25: Banning Kratom Will Escalate the Opioid Overdose Crisis with Walter Prozialeck

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Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: PXFuel // The Noun Project // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 39: Pain Patients Are Still Fighting For Their Lives with Kate Nicholson

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out guidelines for primary care doctors prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain. Essentially, these guidelines stated that opioids should not be the first line treatment for pain, and that other methods should be tried first. Which is perfectly sensible.

But when it came to dosing and duration, these guidelines — not laws — guidelines, started to become widely misinterpreted. We don’t need to get in the weeds of morphine milligram equivalents here, but what wound up happening across the country is that doctors, medical boards, and even legislators took the guidelines as black letter law. And clearly mistook the intended audience for the guidelines: primary care providers. Not pain management specialists, primary care providers. The one you might go see for a wellness check up or if you have strep throat.

Why is all this important? Aren’t prescription opioids, after all, the very substance that ignited a massive wave of overdose deaths across the country? It’s not so simple. Well intended efforts to reduce everyday people’s exposure to high doses and long durations of opioids started to hit the wrong target: patients with chronic, intractable, debilitating pain.

And we have an excellent guest, civil rights attorney, writer, and advocate, Kate Nicholson. Kate has been a critical asset for the pain community, who has been speaking up about how policy intended to help is actually causing more harm. She has consulted on several Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro and even Joe Biden.

Follow Kate Nicholson on Twitter @speakingabtpain

Follow Narcotica on Facebook, Twitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel 
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Garrett Farah / A A Aalto
Photo: U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner // Edit Troy Farah

Episode 8: Collateral Damage—Patients Fight Back

With the midterms just days away, Zach, Chris and Troy explore America’s newest marginalized political constituency—millions of people with chronic pain or illness that have been ground under the wheel of American opioid policy. We speak with Lauren DeLuca, President of Chronic Illness Advocacy & Awareness Group about how we got here and how the sickest Americans can we come one of the strongest political forces in coming years.

Listen HERE

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Photo credit: K-State Research and Extension, edit by Troy Farah.