Classic psychedelics do not directly affect immune responses

There is growing evidence that so-called classic psychedelics can potentially have a positive effect in the treatment of various psychiatric disorders, like major depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Other effects have been suggested as well, among which modulation of the immune-system.

Because classic psychedelics may also form part of the treatment of anxiety in patients with life-threatening diseases, it is important to know if any potential adverse effects might occur, like a diminished immune function.

Therefore, this study investigated the effects of the classic psychedelics LSD, psilocin, DMT and mescaline in various different assays on several types of cultured immune cells. In none of these experiments, which consisted of assessing the proliferation rate, release of intermediate substances and the induction of a specific intracellular signalling pathway that organises cellular resistance in endangered cells, did these four psychedelics show any direct effect on immune cells.

The known cortisol-releasing capacity of these compounds, leading to anti-inflammatory effects in pre-clinical and clinical studies, thus are not elicited  by a direct effect on immune cells. Our findings support the future safe use of these classic psychedelics in patients with life-threatening diseases.

(Source: Front. Psychiatry 2023. Deborah Rudin, Alexander Areesanan, Matthias E. Liechti and Carsten GrĂ¼ndemann;


Classic Psychedelics