Psychedelics & Chronic Pain with James Close, Prof Mick Thacker, Dr Robert Drake & Yossi Burland

  • Thu 8th Apr 2021, 7pm – 9pm UK time (UTC +01:00)
  • Online
psychedelics psychedelic therapy medical psychedelic science pain chronic pain
Hosted by The Psychedelic Society
Activity Psychedelic Science & Mental Health
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Pain is a useful tool, a warning signal which prevents injuries. But when pain is long-lasting and no longer useful, this can have dramatic and detrimental effects on somebody’s quality of life. It is estimated almost half of adults in the UK live with chronic pain and although many treatments are available, there is a low rate of people who respond to prescribed drugs and a worrying number of people finding themselves addicted to such medications. 

Psychedelics have shown an ability to treat a variety of psychological disorders, but what about treating chronic pain, where the psychological and physical intertwine? Psychedelics have been said to offer a “reset button”, clearing the canvas of nerve-cell connection pathways in the brain. Is it possible psychedelics could refigure the pathways which carry ongoing pain signals in such conditions? Researchers are beginning to examine whether compounds like LSD and psilocybin could offer a safer and longer-lasting treatment for chronic pain management - could these compounds stop the pain entirely?

Do we know what causes pain to persist? Could psychedelics offer the solution to treat the cause and not the symptoms? We will be joined by a panel of expert scientists to explore psychedelics and chronic pain and hear first-hand from a multiple-sclerosis patient how psychedelics have helped soothe his ongoing pain and transform his relationship with his disorder.


James Close

James Close is a UK based clinical academic working on the frontier between physical and mental healthcare. His current research focuses on the potential role for psychedelic drugs in pain management, specifically, the action of psilocybin in people living with chronic pain. James’ foundation in physiotherapy, and later an MSc focusing on pain science, laid the ground for him to extend into research and psychologically informed pain rehabilitation. He currently practices as part of a multidisciplinary team in the Pain Management Center at Charing Cross Hospital. 

In 2018, he joined Imperial College London’s Center for Psychedelic Research as an honorary clinical research fellow and has since collaborated on several projects including the wide-reaching Psychedelic Survey and ‘Psilodep II’ clinical trial on psilocybin for depression. Underpinning his work is a commitment to diversifying and integrating underrepresented voices in the running of both clinical pain services and psychedelic research.  

Prof Mick Thacker 

Mick is Professor of Physiotherapy, Pain and Rehabilitation at London South Bank University and has previously held posts at Brunel University, St George’s Medical School and King’s College London. He has extensive and varied translational expertise in pain science and the management of pain that spans clinical practice, neuroscience and philosophy. Mick has performed Doctoral level studies within the fields of neuro-immunology and philosophy of pain, and Post-Doctoral research in neuroimaging. 

Mick is recognised as a leading authority in how pain mechanisms manifest. He is a keen explorer of, and advocate for a new and better understanding of pain and the need to develop new pain management strategies. This has led Mick to develop a particular interest in Predictive Processing (PP) and its application in facilitating a better understanding of pain affecting individuals and wider society.

Dr Robbie Drake

Robbie is a senior research assistant and lecturer in the School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience at the University of Bristol. After gaining a masters in Neuroscience from University College London, he has since been researching chronic pain in both pre-clinical and human imaging studies.

His research focuses on the neurophysiological mechanism that could lead to vulnerability of developing chronic pain conditions and he is currently investigating the link between injury-induced brain network organisation and the development of chronic pain. 

Yossi Burland

Yossi grew up in Manchester and is a landscape gardener by profession. He is currently a permaculture student living in a small village in north Wales recently completing his Permaculture Design Course and volunteering in local ecological and food growing projects. 

In 2018, he was diagnosed with MS, an autoimmune condition with no known cause which attacks the brain, spinal cord and nervous system. The main symptoms are fatigue, severe pain and mental health issues. After discovering psychedelics several years ago they have become a vital part of his healing journey in which his severe chronic nerve pain, agitation and other MS symptoms have eased. He considers psychedelics to be an essential part of his approach in treating his condition. 

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