Study suggests psychedelics beneficial to physical health

Researchers from the U.K. and U.S. find association between use of psychedelics and better odds of physical outcomes.

Pyschedelics may provide not only mental but physical benefits as well. frantic studio/Getty Images

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A study has found an association between psychedelics and good physical health.

Specifically, researchers suggest that people who have used psychedelics will likely have better health.

The study’s subjects cover all individuals who have consumed psychedelics, including one-time-only users.

“We hypothesize that the association might be explained by multiple factors,” lead author Otto Simonsson told CannCentral.

Simonsson does research at the University of Oxford.

James D Sexton and Peter Hendricks with the  Imperial College London and University of Alabama at Birmingham, respectively, co-authored the paper.

By correspondence, Simonsson cited some factors that could explain the link between psychedelics and physical health.

The researcher cited “long-term” health behavioural changes as one potential reason.

Simonsson said that such changes may have been induced by what the study refers to as “classic” psychedelics.

To explain, classic psychedelics include substances associated with the ayahuasca brew. The list covers psilocybin from so-called magic mushrooms, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). The term also includes mescaline found in peyote cactus.

Additionally, Simonsson stated that better physical health may be explained through improved mental states. This in turn leads to “decreases in chronic stress”.

Moreover, pyschedelics may have “anti-inflammatory effects”.

“The findings from this study will hopefully inspire more psychedelic research on potential physical health outcomes,” Simonsson.

The study carries the title ‘Associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and markers of physical health’.

The Journal of Psychopharmacology published the paper earlier in March this year.

The study notes significant research on the mental-health benefits of psychedelics.

However, little evidence exists about the link between psychedelics and physical health.

Study says psychedelics could save lives

In August 2020, CannCentral reported about a new research showing the potential of LSD in easing physical pain.

Specifically, that study provides evidence that a low dose produces an analgesic effect.

As well, physical relief comes without a psychedelic experience or going into a “trip”.

The investigators noted that their findings might lead to a “novel pharmacological therapy” using LSD.

Going back to the study led by Simonsson, the work used data from the 2015-2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the U.S.

It used three markers of physical health. Specifically, self-reported overall health, body mass index, and heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months.

The study found that respondents used a psychedelic substance reported “significantly higher odds of greater self-reported overall health”.

They also cited “significantly lower odds of being overweight or obese as compared to having a normal weight”.

Moreover, they got “lower odds of having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months for respondents”.

“Taken together, these results suggest that classic psychedelics may have long-term beneficial effects beyond improved mental health,” the paper notes.

The study acknowledged “modest” associations in some instances.

“However, even modest effects can have substantial impacts at the population level,” the paper points out.

For example, around 1.2 million people die from heart disease or cancer every year in the U.S.

Hence, “even a small decrease…in the prevalence of these illnesses could translate to thousands of lives saved annually”.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

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