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Pioneering research

In the last decade, a number of research groups in Europe and the Americas have conducted studies into the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics for conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research is the first to gain this level of stature within a major academic institution.

When delivered safely and professionally, psychedelic therapy holds a great deal of promise for treating some very serious mental health conditions.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris

Head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research

Ours was the first Centre in the world to investigate the brain effects of LSD using modern brain imaging and the first to study psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – for treating severe depression. These studies have laid the groundwork for larger trials that are now taking place around the world. Other pioneering work from the group includes breakthrough neuroimaging research with psilocybin, MDMA and DMT (the psychoactive compounds found in ecstasy and ayahuasca respectively).

Earlier this year the group began a new trial directly comparing psilocybin therapy with a conventional antidepressant drug in patients with depression – a study for which they are still recruiting volunteers. Building on this, they also plan to begin another new trial next year to explore the safety and feasibility of psilocybin for treating patients with anorexia.

Dr Carhart-Harris adds: “It may take a few years for psychedelic therapy to be available for patients, but research so far has been very encouraging. Early stage clinical research has shown that when delivered safely and professionally, psychedelic therapy holds a great deal of promise for treating some very serious mental health conditions and may one day offer new hope to vulnerable people with limited treatment options.”


If you are a student interested in conducting research with our Centre, please see the page join our research team.

Research publications

Citation

BibTex format

@article{Timmermann:2018:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01424,
author = {Timmermann, C and Timmermann, Slater C and Roseman, L and Williams, L and Erritzoe, D and Martial, C and Cassol, H and Laureys, S and Nutt, D and Carhart-Harris, R},
doi = {10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01424},
journal = {Frontiers in Psychology},
title = {DMT models the near-death experience},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01424},
volume = {9},
year = {2018}
}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

TY  - JOUR
AB - Near-death experiences (NDEs) are complex subjective experiences, which have been previously associated with the psychedelic experience and more specifically with the experience induced by the potent serotonergic, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Potential similarities between both subjective states have been noted previously, including the subjective feeling of transcending one’s body and entering an alternative realm, perceiving and communicating with sentient ‘entities’ and themes related to death and dying. In this within-subjects placebo-controled study we aimed to test the similarities between the DMT state and NDEs, by administering DMT and placebo to 13 healthy participants, who then completed a validated and widely used measure of NDEs. Results revealed significant increases in phenomenological features associated with the NDE, following DMT administration compared to placebo. Also, we found significant relationships between the NDE scores and DMT-induced ego-dissolution and mystical-type experiences, as well as a significant association between NDE scores and baseline trait ‘absorption’ and delusional ideation measured at baseline. Furthermore, we found a significant overlap in nearly all of the NDE phenomenological features when comparing DMT-induced NDEs with a matched group of ‘actual’ NDE experiencers. These results reveal a striking similarity between these states that warrants further investigation.
AU - Timmermann,C
AU - Timmermann,Slater C
AU - Roseman,L
AU - Williams,L
AU - Erritzoe,D
AU - Martial,C
AU - Cassol,H
AU - Laureys,S
AU - Nutt,D
AU - Carhart-Harris,R
DO - 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01424
PY - 2018///
SN - 1664-1078
TI - DMT models the near-death experience
T2 - Frontiers in Psychology
UR - http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01424
UR - http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/62920
VL - 9
ER -