Assessing Psychedelics for Therapeutic Potential in Cluster Headache: Bryan Roth, MD, PhD

The Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor and director of the NIMH psychoactive drug screening program at University of North Carolina School of Medicine shared his insight into his keynote address at the American Headache Society Annual Scientific Meeting. [WATCH TIME: 8 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 8 minutes

“One of the things that has intrigued me recently is whether the psychedelic experience is essential for the action of psychedelic drugs. There is currently a huge debate about this, about whether you could ‘microdose’ psychedelics and might that, ultimately, be as effective as taking a large dose at once; or, you could potentially create drugs that are not psychedelic that interact with the same serotonin receptors in the brain and outside the brain in such a way that they don’t create a psychedelic experience.”

At this year’s American Headache Society (AHS) Annual Scientific Meeting, June 9-11, in Denver, Colorado, the keynote address on the first day of the meeting covered the topic of the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in the treatment of headache disorders. Specifically, Bryan Roth, MD, PhD, covered their clinical history and the possibility of their use for the treatment of cluster headache.

Roth, the Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor and director of the NIMH psychoactive drug screening program at University of North Carolina School of Medicine, sat down with NeurologyLive® while at the meeting to share his insight on the topic. Roth currently runs one of the few labs, and perhaps the among only working with federal funding—an NIH grant—evaluating psychedelics and the receptors they act on, which he’s done since the 1980s. He detailed his background of research into these compounds and the historical evaluations that have been done to this point.

Additionally, he spoke about the possibility of psychedelic-type therapies to treat migraine and headache disorders—namely cluster headache. He touched on what limited research has been done in this area, offering insight into data from a small trial in cluster headache, and shared his perspective on the possible future of this approach.

To read more of Roth’s work on psychedelics, he and Tristan D. McClure-Begley, PhD, recently published on the topic in Nature Reviews: Drug Discovery, which you can read here: The promises and perils of psychedelic pharmacology for psychiatry.

Click here for more coverage of AHS 2022.