Long-lasting analgesic effect of the psychedelic drug changa : A case report, Genis ONA and Sebastian TRONCOSO, 2019

Long-lasting analgesic effect of the psychedelic drug changa : A case report

Genis ONA and Sebastian TRONCOSO

Journal of Psychedelic Studies, 2019, 3, (1), 7–13.

DOI: 10.1556/2054.2019.001


Background and aims : Pain is the most prevalent symptom of a health condition, and it is inappropriately treated in many cases. Here, we present a case report in which we observe a long-lasting analgesic effect produced by changa, a psychedelic drug that contains the psychoactive N,N-dimethyltryptamine and ground seeds of Peganum harmala, which are rich in β-carbolines.

Methods : We describe the case and offer a brief review of supportive findings.

Results : A long-lasting analgesic effect after the use of changa was reported. Possible analgesic mechanisms are discussed. We suggest that both pharmacological and non-pharmacological factors could be involved.

Conclusion : These findings offer preliminary evidence of the analgesic effect of changa, but due to its complex pharmacological actions, involving many neurotransmitter systems, further research is needed in order to establish the specific mechanisms at work.

Keywords : analgesic, pain, psychedelic, psychoactive, DMT, β-carboline alkaloids



The treatment of pain is one of the most significant challenges in the history of medicine. At present, there are still many challenges that hamper pain’s appropriate treatment, as recently stated by American Pain Society (Gereau et al., 2014). Paradoxically, while we are presented with analgesic undertreatment (Deandrea, Montanari, Moja, & Apolone, 2008; Greco et al., 2014), the abuse of opioid medications
has led to the current opioid crisis that many countries are facing (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018).

Pain has several psychological and physical consequences. It is the most prevalent symptom of an underlying health problem, affecting 100 million people in the United States (Institute of Medicine, 2011) and 95 million people in Europe (Boston Scientific, 2013). It is also the most underrecognized
and undertreated medical problem of the 21st century (European Pain Federation, 2018).

Changa is a smoking mixture that contains N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT; generally extracted from Mimosa hostilis) and β-carbolines (extracted from Banisteriopsis caapi or Peganum harmala). The mechanisms of action for these compounds are quite similar to those found in the ayahuasca beverage (McKenna & Riba, 2015), with possible differences in constituents if P. harmala is used instead of B. caapi. In the case of P. harmala, as mentioned below, ground seeds were used in the case reported. The compounds found in seeds of this plant are β-carbolines (harmaline, harmine, harmalol, tetrahydro-harmine, and harmol; Herraiz, González, Ancín-Azpilicueta, Arán, & Guillén, 2010) and quinazolines (mainly vasicine; Herraiz, Guillén, Arán, & Salgado, 2017). The psychoactive effects of ayahuasca usually last between 3 and 5 hr (McKenna & Riba, 2015), but the effects of smoked changa last about 15–30 min (Ott, 1994).