New Psychedelic Research Breakthroughs Find ‘Particularly Significant’ Benefits for Depression and Sexual Wellness

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New research from the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London shows promising results regarding the therapeutic potentials of psychedelics in treating depression and enhancing sexual function.

The psychedelic DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), a compound naturally occurring in certain plants and animals, is known for inducing some of the most powerful psychedelic experiences. New research conducted by the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London and published in the journal Scientific Reports, has delved into DMT’s potential to significantly reduce depression symptoms, offering a rapid solution with therapeutic effects on mood. Moreover, a separate study published in the journal also published Scientific Reports showed the impact of psychedelics on sexual function revealed enhancements in sexual satisfaction and communication among partners, persisting for up to six months post-experience.

Chris Timmermann, head of the DMT Research Group at the Centre, emphasized the significance of the findings on DMT’s effect on depression. “In a similar way to psilocybin and LSD, DMT was able to lower scores of depression symptoms in healthy volunteers,” Timmermann said.

Hands on a ledge.
Photo courtesy Ümit Bulut

“I have been doing research with the psychedelic compound DMT for quite some years now, and we were wondering whether DMT has the same therapeutic possibilities as psilocybin and LSD,” Timmermann said. “So we set out to start a preliminary investigation into this by measuring scores of depression, anxiety and wellbeing before and after administration of DMT and placebo to healthy volunteers participating in our studies.”

The study involved 30 participants with prior psychedelic experiences, conducted through a placebo-controlled trial and a prospective sample analysis incorporating EEG and fMRI imaging. Results demonstrated a significant reduction in depression symptoms following DMT administration, with less definitive impacts on other mental health conditions like anxiety and well-being. Despite these promising outcomes, Timmermann cautioned against broad generalizations due to the study’s limitations, including variability in dosing and participants’ previous experiences with psychedelics.

Timmermann said the team found that the scores of ‘peak’ experiences induced by DMT were correlated with reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety. “This means that DMT may have therapeutic potential and that the same experiential mechanism (the trip) is at play as with other psychedelics.”

Double exposure of a woman.
Photo courtesy Jakob Owens

Parallel to the exploration of DMT’s mental health benefits, researchers at the Centre for Psychedelic Research also investigated the effects of psychedelics on sexual function. Surveying 261 individuals, mostly from the U.S., before and after a psychedelic experience, the study revealed improvements in various aspects of sexual wellness.

“We believe this is the first scientific study to explore the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning,” said Tommaso Barba, the study’s first author. “Our findings suggest potential implications for conditions that negatively affect sexual health, including clinical depression and anxiety. This is particularly significant given that sexual dysfunction, often induced by antidepressants, frequently results in people stopping these medications and subsequently relapsing.”

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