Psilocybin has been rapidly gaining traction as a safe, fast-acting, and effective treatment for many mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Now, psilocybin is showing promise for neuroregeneration and motor recovery in methods of treating phantom limb pain (PLP).
In May 2018, researchers published work the journal Neurocase demonstrating “Relief from intractable phantom pain by combining psilocybin and mirror visual feedback (MVF).” 1 The lead author of the paper was Dr. VS Ranachandran, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego.
Mirror Therapy and Motor Recovery
According to the authors, mirror therapy (MT) is a valuable method for enhancing motor recovery. The technique utilizes the mirror-illusion created by the movement of a sound limb that is perceived as the paretic limb. MT is a straightforward and economical technique that can stimulate the brain noninvasively. The intervention has a neural foundation but the underlying neural mechanisms inducing motor recovery are still unclear.
In 1995, mirror therapy was first shown to powerfully reduce chronic PLP.2 Since this pioneering research, dozens of studies have demonstrated the efficacy of MVF in treating PLP, complex regional pain syndrome, unilateral neglect, and paralysis resulting from stroke.
Adding Psilocybin to Mirror Therapy for Treating Phantom Pain
In the current study, researchers observed that MVF relieved an amputee’s phantom pain. However, combining psilocybin with MVF provided additional benefit to a patient. The authors stated,
Psilocybin-MVF pairing produced synergistic effects, complete elimination of PLP, and reduction in paroxysmal episodes.