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Counter Culture / December 10, 2020

DMT is being trialled to treat depression

Image via Unsplash
Counter Culture / December 10, 2020

DMT is being trialled to treat depression

Words: Dylan Murphy

Regulators in the UK have given the go-ahead to trial the psychedelic drug in an attempt to treat depression.

Today, The Guardian revealed that The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trials of using DMT to treat depression.

DMT, or N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a substance found in plants and animals and its psychedelic properties mean it is one of the active ingredients in ayahuasca which has been used for centuries in spiritual rituals across north and south America.

The trials aim to administer the lowest dose of DMT that will induce a psychedelic experience. The first trial will see 32 healthy subjects who have no experiences with such drugs receive the hallucinogenic substance. It will be followed by a second round of trials where 36 people with depression take the substance and are also given psychotherapy.

These trials will be run by a pharmaceutical company from London called Small Pharma and will be undertaken in collaboration with Imperial College London.

Carol Routledge, Small Pharma’s chief scientific and medical officer, told The Guardian, “The psychedelic drug breaks up all of the ruminative thought processes in your brain – it literally undoes what has been done by either the stress you’ve been through or the depressive thoughts you have – and hugely increases the making of new connections.”

“Then the (psychotherapy) session afterwards is the letting-things-settle piece of things – it helps you to make sense of those thoughts and puts you back on the right track.” 

“We think this could be a treatment for a number of depressive disorders besides major depression, including PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and possibly some types of substance abuse.”

Currently, DMT is listed as a class A drug in the UK and Small Pharma is still awaiting approval from the home office, but it is hoped that trials can start in January 2021.