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Health

Psychedelic Trials

The Psychoactive Trials Group at the Centre for Affective Disorders is undertaking controlled clinical trials with psychedelics & related compounds.

These trials are led by Dr James Rucker and Professor Allan Young.

If you wish to volunteer for one of our trials please consider your decision carefully. There are strict inclusion and exclusion criteria the team cannot deviate from. You will be usually asked to attend the research facility on numerous occasions, without much flexibility for variation in dates. Clinical trials are not the same as receiving treatment from your doctor or therapist. You may not get the treatment you want.

Finally, and most importantly, psychedelic therapy is an *experimental* treatment. We don’t yet know if it is safe and effective. If you receive a psychedelic there is a risk your condition will worsen. It’s important to have the right support around you if this happens and there are limits to the extent the study team can support you.

For one reason or another, most people who volunteer turn out not to be eligible for a clinical trial. It’s important to be realistic about the chances of inclusion and pursue other sources of help at the same time if you are feeling unwell.

The following list is updated periodically. 

An Exploratory Open-Label, Phase 1b, Ascending Dose Study to Evaluate the Effects of Oral 3 [2 (dimethylamino)ethyl]-1h-indol-4-yl Dihydrogen Phosphate (Psilocybin, BPL PSILO) on Cognition in Patients with Chronic Short-Lasting Unilateral Neuralgiform Headache Attacks (SUNHA)

Status

Open, recruiting

Participants

Adults

Clinical area

SUNHA

Intervention

3 doses of psilocybin

Recruitment period

Summer 2021 – Summer 2022

Contact

psilocybin@kcl.ac.uk

Funder

Beckley PsyTech

Sponsor

Beckley PsyTech

A Double-Blind, Randomized, Phase 1, First-in-Human, Single Ascending Dose Study to Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability and Pharmacokinetic Profile of Intranasal 5 Methoxy N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in Healthy Subjects

Status

Not currently recruiting

Participants

Adults

Clinical area

Healthy participants

Intervention

5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine

Recruitment period

Summer 2021 – 2022

Contact

5-MeO-DMT@kcl.ac.uk

Funder

Beckley PsyTech

Sponsor

Beckley PsyTech

The Safety And Tolerability Of Comp360 (Psilocybin) In Participants With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Status

Open, currently recruiting

Participants

Adults

Clinical area

Post traumatic stress disorder

Intervention

Psilocybin therapy

Recruitment period

2022-3

Contact

COMP201@kcl.ac.uk

Funder

Compass Pathways

Sponsor

Compass Pathways

Psilocybin in Depression Resistant to Standard Treatments (PsiDeR) Study

Status

Open, not currently recruiting due to high demand

Participants

Adults

Clinical area

Treatment resistant depression

Intervention

Psilocybin therapy

Recruitment period

2021-2023

Contact

psilocybin@kcl.ac.uk

Funder

National Institute for Health Research

Sponsor

King’s College London & The South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

An Open-Label, Phase 2, Multicenter Feasibility Study of Manualized MDMA- Assisted Psychotherapy with an Optional fMRI Sub-Study Assessing Changes in Brain Activity in Subjects with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder 

Status

Not yet recruiting

Participants

Adults

Clinical area

Post traumatic stress disorder

Intervention

MDMA therapy

Recruitment period

2022-2023

Contact

MDMA@kcl.ac.uk

Funder

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Sponsor

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

The Safety and Efficacy of Psilocybin in Participants with Treatment-Resistant Depression (P-TRD) Study

Status

Completed, not recruiting

Participants

Adults

Clinical area

Treatment resistant depression

Intervention

Psilocybin therapy

Recruitment period

2020-2021

Contact

psilocybin@kcl.ac.uk

Funder

Compass Pathways

Sponsor

Compass Pathways

The effects of psilocybin on cognitive function in healthy participants

Status

Completed, not recruiting

Participants

Adults

Clinical area

Healthy participants

Intervention

Psilocybin

Recruitment period

2019-2020

Contact

psilocybin@kcl.ac.uk

Funder

Compass Pathways

Sponsor

Compass Pathways

Future studies

You can register your interest for future studies by contacting us with your details and consenting to us storing your information. You can ask us to remove your details at any time, for any reason (or for no reason).

The history of human use of psychedelics

In the past, psychedelics like psilocybin, mescaline and ayahuasca have been used by different cultures around the world in ceremonial, spiritual and ‘healing’ rituals. Ayahuasca and mescaline continue to be used legally in South and North America in similar contexts today by the descendants of those indigenous cultures. Such rituals come with a rich and important history that inform about their role and use.

The history of psychedelics in psychiatry

Prior to 1970 the classical psychedelics psilocybin, mescaline and d-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) were used in psychiatry as part of an ongoing process of psychotherapy for resistant forms of depression, anxiety and addictions. Research at that time, which was suboptimal by modern standards, suggested that they were helpful for some people when given within a medically controlled and psychologically supportive context. Whilst the risk of serious adverse events was observed to be low when used in this setting, the classical psychedelics were thought not to be safe for people with illnesses such as schizophrenia or for use outside of a medically controlled setting. After 1970, LSD, psilocybin and mescaline were legally designated ‘Schedule 1’ substances, meaning that they could not be prescribed by medical doctors outside of authorised research. Funding for research dried up in the wake of hardening socio-political attitudes towards psychoactive drugs in general. Consequently, this area of clinical research stopped without a clear view about whether psychedelic therapy was safe and effective. Since 2000, there has been a slow but steady resurgence of clinical research interest into psychedelics and related compounds such as MDMA and ketamine. A growing number of clinical trials have been published. Here at KCL, we are part of this research.

After 1970, LSD, psilocybin and mescaline were legally designated ‘Schedule 1’ substances, meaning that they could not be prescribed by medical doctors outside of authorised research. Funding for research dried up in the wake of hardening socio-political attitudes towards psychoactive drugs in general. Consequently, this area of clinical research stopped without a clear view about whether psychedelic therapy was safe and effective.

Since 2000, there has been a slow but steady resurgence of clinical research interest into psychedelics and related compounds such as MDMA and ketamine. A growing number of clinical trials have been published. Here at KCL, we are part of this research.

The need for new paradigms of treatment in psychiatry

Whilst many patients with mental health problems get better with available treatments, a subgroup of people do not even though they try many different forms of treatment. This is sometimes called ‘treatment resistance’. This can lead to a variety of other problems that seriously impact on patients and the people around them. Treatment options are often limited and come with troublesome side effects or stigma. Therefore, new paradigms of treatment are needed and clinical research of new treatments is important. Psychedelic therapy may be a new paradigm of treatment, but this needs to be tested in clinical trials.

How psychedelics work and how we use them

Psychedelics work by stimulating the serotonin system in the brain in an unusual way. The serotonin system is partly responsible for regulating our mood and levels of anxiety. The way psychedelics affect the brain is similar in some respects to established treatments for depression. This is why we think psychedelic therapy may be effective. But there are also important differences. This means that we need to test psychedelic therapy in clinical trials.

We give psychedelic therapy in a safe and supportive hospital environment with a therapist. This allows many people to feel relaxed and more able to explore their own minds.


Depending on the drug, psychedelic therapy lasts from about 2 to 8 hours. We usually give psychedelic therapy in the morning, which usually means you can go home the same day, unless the study requires you to stay overnight.
We only give people psychedelics in a dedicated hospital facility with support from doctors, nurses, psychotherapists and study coordinators. We don’t give people psychedelics to take home. The psychedelics used in our trials are manufactured to the same standard as any medicine prescribed by your doctor.

What do people experience on psychedelics?

Patients receiving psychedelics describe it as like a ‘waking dream’. The key difference to a dream is that people tend to remember the experiences they have with psychedelics. Like a dream, unusual experiences can occur; these can be both pleasant or unpleasant. These experiences are not physically harmful to you, but may give you pause for thought.

Some people report that their experiences with psychedelic therapy have been very helpful. Some people have reported negative and distressing experiences with psychedelic therapy that have nonetheless allowed them to understand why they are suffering, which has then been helpful. Some people have reported negative and distressing experiences with psychedelic therapy that have not been helpful, or made them feel worse. We don’t know how psychedelic therapy does this and not everyone reports these experiences.

Will psychedelic therapy make me feel better?

It isn’t possible to predict how psychedelics will affect an individual person and the reason why clinical trials with psychedelic therapy are being done is that we do not yet know if it is a safe and effective form of treatment. Therefore, your participation in a trial comes with some risks. It is important to understand that, if it is helpful, psychedelic therapy is not a ‘quick fix’. Contrary to media reports, psychedelic therapy does not ‘reset’ or ‘reboot’ your brain. Some people have said it can make problems in your life (that you may have been unaware of) painfully clear. Sustained recovery from mental ill-health often requires shifts in perspective and practical alterations to life that are difficult, challenging and require ongoing work to achieve. Psychedelic therapy may make the need for this process plain, but it will not ‘do the work for you’. It’s important to be realistic about what psychedelic therapy can and can’t achieve.

Funding for our trials

The funding for our trials comes from a mixture of commercial and non-commercial funders. 

Oversight of our trials

All of our trials are authorised by the National Research Ethics Committee, who are a group of professionals and members of the public whose job is to scrutinise and ensure the rights and wellbeing of participants in clinical trials. All of our trials are registered with the Medicine’s and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, who are a government funded body whose job is to ensure that treatment development and research is being conducted according to internationally agreed standards with interventions manufactured to proper standards. All of our trials are regularly reviewed by the Sponsors and the Ethics Committees, who are able to halt a trial if they think it is no longer appropriate for it to continue.