Though it may be far off from being available to the public, there is great therapeutic potential in using psilocybin mushrooms for phantom limb pain.
Let us be clear right out the gate. I am neither a doctor nor a physical therapist specializing in amputee pain. I am just a psychedelic guide with a keen interest in psilocybin and pain management, and this is where my path crosses with the amputee community. While I do not know personally what it is like to lose a limb, I do know what it is like to use psychedelics to wrestle pain into submission.
If you are waiting for a doctor or a physical therapist to risk their license to mention psilocybin to you, you will likely be waiting a long time. If you are curious, ask them about it. Ask them about the research that is currently in progress at UCSD. If they are not aware, graciously allow them to look it up, because it is all new and cutting edge. The neuroscientist credited with inventing mirror therapy, Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, is at the helm.
Current Research- UC San Diego
The Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative at UC San Diego recently received a $1.3 million grant in early 2021 to fund a clinical trial investigating the therapeutic potential of psilocybin in treating phantom limb pain. The inventor of mirror therapy, Dr. Ramachandran, is leading the project. One of his most well-known patients, a National Geographic Explorer named Albert Lin, is very vocal about supporting his work. Albert Lin was part of a case study that cured his intractable phantom pain, so without a doubt, there is something worth investigating here.
How Does It Work?
Psychedelics put us in a very flexible state of mind. Certain physical therapy exercises like desensitization or mirror therapy can be more effective with this extra flexibility. We do not recommend engaging in these activities while directly under the influence. The best time to benefit is during the “afterglow” period, after the “trip” has passed.
Do I Need To Be Tripping All The Time?
The advantage of using psilocybin for phantom limb pain is that the results last long after the psychedelic effects have passed. If taking psilocybin can help your brain honestly believe that the second limb in the mirror is really the missing one, then it will aid in providing lasting results. Mirror therapy alone often works better for some than others, maybe because some brains are easier to “trick” than others. Adding psilocybin to the mix can make anyone’s brain believe all sorts of things about reality.
When Will It Be Available Mainstream?
Just the fact that the research is currently happening at UCSD is promising. But it is unlikely that this kind of treatment will be available mainstream anytime soon. With psilocybin being decriminalized or legalized in so many places, it is likely that some will take advantage of it on their own. One thing to keep in mind is that this is not the passive pain relief medical marijuana or other pain medications provide. The physical therapy combination requires active participation and specific timing, so there is likely to be a learning curve. Should you wait for it to become mainstream? I guess that depends on how much it hurts and how much time you have.