Taking psychedelics could increase the risk of seizures in certain people, particularly those with a personal or family history of epilepsy, a study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence has found.
Otto Simonsson, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and colleagues examined data from 613 U.S. adults who reported having ever used a classic psychedelic such as psilocybin; N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT); ayahuasca; lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); mescaline; peyote; and/or San Pedro. Participants also reported whether they currently had epilepsy or a history of epilepsy and whether they had any family history of epilepsy.
Nearly 75% of the people included in the study reported having ever used LSD, and just over 70% reported having ever used psilocybin. Among all participants, nine, or 1.5%, reported seizures while using a classic psychedelic. Among these nine, seven had a family history of epilepsy and five had a personal history of epilepsy. Only two participants who reported seizures had neither a family nor personal history of epilepsy.
“The significant association with family history of epilepsy remained when those who had a personal history of epilepsy were excluded from the analysis, which suggests that there could be a genetic component that predisposes people with a family history of epilepsy to have classic psychedelic-related seizures,” Simonsson and colleagues wrote.
While the incidence of classic psychedelic-related seizures in the general population may be low, the findings highlight factors associated with a higher likelihood of classic psychedelic-related seizures, the researchers noted.
“These findings could have real-world implications both for informing exclusion criteria in classic psychedelic trials and for educating individuals who use classic psychedelics outside of research settings,” the researchers concluded.
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Psychedelic Therapy Hits Another Milestone, But Caution Urged.”
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