We know next to nothing, scientifically speaking, about the side-effects of psychedelic drugs. Their classification as schedule I substances in the US has, by in large, really prevented researchers from taking a thorough scientific dive into them and exploring their vast effects and potential uses as medicines.
Of course, anecdotally, we know a lot: we know they can produce spiritual experiences, and have lasting effects on a person’s personality; we know they make you feel funny, act funny, and, in high enough doses, they make you lose touch with reality itself.
Sometimes people say they meet “God.”
There are also more physical accounts of deaf people tripping balls and hearing for the first time in decades. There are accounts of people who were cured of speech impediments after intense psychedelic experiences. There are even stories about people taking psychedelics and being cured of certain allergies…
These are mysterious substances, indeed. And now, real scientific research from Eleusis, a clinical stage life sciences company, suggests that certain psychedelics might also have anti-inflammatory effects. Which means, they could be used to treat a variety of physical ailments and diseases — like asthma.
Eleusis tested 21 different psychedelics in this experiment, all of which targeted the same serotonin receptor: 5-HT2A. This particular serotonin receptor is often targeted by asthma medications for its anti-inflammatory properties. The scientists hypothesized that by targeting that receptor, they might be able to treat asthma in rats (and hopefully someday humans), using psychedelic drugs.
“Seratonin actually activates inflammation, but we found that in contrary to that, these psychedelics are potent anti-inflammatories,” Charles D. Nichols, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at Louisiana State University and chair of Eleusis’ scientific advisory board, told Fierce Biotech in an interview.
The researchers discovered that one particular class of psychedelic known as 2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (2C-H), actually showed significant promise in controlling inflammation in rats’ 5-HT2A receptor. It allowed the scientists to control inflammation in that serotonin receptor, thus indicating a real potential for 2C-H drugs as an asthma treatment.
2C-H drugs are related to mescaline and amphetamines, but have almost no behavioral effects on users. Unlike LSD (which is a heavily psychedelic substance and has dramatic effects on user’s behavior), 2C-H drugs will only induce mild hallucinations, and have little-to-no effect on a person’s behavior.
Which, the scientists noted, is an important observation. It suggests that the usefulness of a drug as an anti-inflammatory isn’t determined by its “psychedelic-ness.” In fact, the two effects seem to be largely unrelated.
“One main takeaway was that the potency of a given psychedelic wasn’t predicted by its psychoactive properties,” Nichols explains. “LSD, which is a super-potent psychedelic that produces behavioral effects at very low doses, is a relatively weak anti-inflammatory. So the cellular effects that mediate anti-inflammatory responses are very different from those that are underlying the behavioral effects … It’s really the core structure of these mescaline-type analog drugs that can produce a full anti-inflammatory response.”
Based on the success of this study and several others, Eleusis is now developing ocular anti-inflammatory psychedelic drugs. Which is to say, they’re making a 2C-H eye-dropper, which may someday be prescribed for asthma or even rheumatoid arthritis.
The future is sure starting to look like a cool place, if we can make it there.
This research is an exciting prospect for asthma patients everywhere (no more will they have to suck on those geeky albuterol inhalers!). And it only demonstrates how little we truely know about the effects of these drugs, their potential uses, and all we stand to gain from doing real scientific research on them.
Which, is only going to happen in the US if they're federally legalized.