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Psychedelic Therapy to Improve Mental Health

Psychedelic Therapy to Improve Mental Health

Emerging research suggest a growing interest in the use of psychedelic drugs for anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction.

As reported in an analysis published in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), researchers report some success in management of the conditions with psychedelic drugs.

Psychedelic drugs are substances that have a strong effect on one’s “conscious experience,” such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin, found in “magic mushrooms,” dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, or “ecstasy”).

“The re-emerging paradigm of psychedelic medicine may open clinical doors and therapeutic doors long closed,” writes Dr. Evan Wood, professor of medicine and Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., and coauthors.

In one small randomized controlled trial, researchers found that LSD-assisted psychotherapy might help reduce anxiety from terminal illness.

Another study, in which psilocybin was used as part of therapy for alcohol addiction, found a significant reduction in the number of days alcohol was used as well as in the amount.

Finally, a small U.S. study of the drug MDMA shows a reduction in PTSD symptoms in people with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD.

“Continued medical research and scientific inquiry into psychedelic drugs may offer new ways to treat mental illness and addiction in patients who do not benefit from currently available treatments,” write the authors.

A new wave of investigation is revisiting research conducted in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of these studies were originally disregarded because of study methodologies and ethical breaches.

“Although methodological and political challenges remain to some degree, recent clinical studies have shown that studies on psychedelics as therapeutic agents can conform to the rigorous scientific, ethical, and safety standards expected of contemporary medical research,” the authors write.

Canadian researchers are leading studies that are looking at psychedelic drugs as treatment for addiction and PTSD.

The authors emphasize that the studies included in their analysis are small and the results preliminary; further research is needed to determine if there is widespread clinical application.

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal/EurekAlert

Psychedelic Therapy to Improve Mental Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Psychedelic Therapy to Improve Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 9 Sep 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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