The UK is conducting the world’s first clinical trial of DMT for treating depression

UK regulators have given the green-light for the first clinical trial of the psychedelic drug DMT to treat depression.

Researchers intend to first give the drug to healthy individuals, followed by a second trial in patients with depression, where dimethyltryptamine (DMT) will be given alongside psychotherapy. This treatment pattern is based on studies of psilocybin – the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms – on patients with depression.

The clinical trial is being run by the UK pharmaceutical company Small Pharma in collaboration with Imperial College London.

ayahuasca dmt
Ayahuasca, South-American brew in which the primary psychoactive is DMT. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

DMT is found in several plants and is one of the active ingredients in ayahuasca, a bitter drink consumed during shamanistic rituals in South America. However, according to Peter Rands, Small Pharma’s CEO, DMT is unlike psilocybin, which can “take all day…a DMT session, all in, will probably take under two hours.”

“The psychedelic drug breaks up all of the ruminative thought processes in your brain – it literally undoes what has been done by either the stress you’ve been through or the depressive thoughts you have – and hugely increases the making of new connections,” says Carol Routledge, Small Pharma’s chief scientific and medical officer.

Routledge goes on to explain that, due to these psychological qualities, researchers believe that DMT can aid sufferers of “PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and possibly some types of substance abuse.”

With the UK doing a significant amount of research into the impact of psychedelics on mental health, the hope is that the initial trial for DMT could begin in January 2021.