Could taking psychedelics actually improve your physical health, too?
People who use psychedelics may be healthier than those who don't. That's according to new findings from the University of Oxford. The findings are published in the recent issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
“There has recently been promising research on the mental health benefits of classic psychedelics, but very little remains known about how classic psychedelics may impact long-term physical health outcomes. I’m curious to find out,” said lead study author Otto Simonsson.
The researchers reviewed data from more than 170,000 adults participating in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2015 and 2018. It collects data on lifestyle and health habits. Nearly 14 percent of survey participants during the review period said they had used psychedelics at least once. These included a range of substances such as LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, mescaline, and DMT.
The data revealed better overall health in the group that reported psychedelic substance use versus the group that had never used psychedelics. The psychedelic users were less likely to be overweight or obese as well. The study authors only analyzed data; there were no physical exams or analyses.
But the correlation could mirror findings about the benefits of psychedelics for depression. In some studies, clinically depressed subjects who've had psychedelic experiences can often report “mystical” or “transcendent” experiences that change their relationships with reality. This, the researchers explain, may also result in “long-term changes in health behavior that contribute to better physical health.” But the researchers also point out that the opposite could be true — that people who use psychedelics may be healthier in the first place.
“The main question is still whether classic psychedelics positively impacts long-term physical health outcomes,” Simonsson said, “which needs to be tested in double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials.”