Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative (PHRI)


The Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative (PHRI) at UC San Diego conducts novel basic and clinical research on the use of psychedelics for the treatment of pain and other health conditions.

Significant evidence has emerged in the last fifteen years that shows how classical psychedelics, such as psilocybin (the major psychoactive compound in “magic mushrooms”), can be used to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, and other psychological disorders. Pain has both physical and affective/cognitive components, and our promising preliminary findings indicate that psychedelics, alone or as part of multi-pronged treatment, can produce significant, meaningful, and lasting reductions of chronic pain conditions like cluster headache, complex regional pain disorder, phantom-limb pain, tinnitus, and others. As a non-addictive alternative to opioids, psychedelics represent a revolutionary and much-needed new approach to the treatment of pain.

The interdisciplinary PHRI team of leading researchers conducts pilot studies, clinical trials, and brain imaging research to better understand how psychedelics can be used to treat pain, the mechanisms of action by which they produce their effects, how this illuminates new aspects of the healthy functioning of the brain and mind, and how the healthcare system can adapt to best deliver these radically different modes of intervention, all in the context of UC San Diego’s world-class health and neuroscience research communities.

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