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Psychedelics and potential benefits in “healthy normals”: A review of the literature

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Abstract

We are in the midst of a psychedelic research renaissance. With research examining the efficacy of psychedelics as a treatment for a range of mental health indications still in its early stages, there is an increasing body of research to show that careful use of psychedelics can yield a variety of benefits in “healthy normals” and so lead to “the betterment of well people.” Psychedelics have been found to modulate neuroplasticity, and usage in a supportive setting can result in enduring increases in traits such as well-being, life satisfaction, life meaning, mindfulness, and a variety of measures associated with prosocial behaviors and healthy psychological functioning. The effect of psychedelic experience on measures of personality trait openness and is potential implications is examined, and the potential role of awe as a mediator of the benefits of the psychedelic experience is discussed. Special attention is given to the capacity of psychedelics to increase measures of nature relatedness in an enduring sense, which is being correlated with a broad range of measures of psychological well-being as well as a key predictor of pro-environmental awareness and behavior. The effects of particular classical psychedelic compounds on healthy people are discussed, with special attention given to the mystical-type experiences occasioned by high doses of psychedelics, which appear to be an important mediator of long-term benefits and psychotherapeutic gains. Research looking at the potential benefits of psychedelic microdosing is discussed. Potential future research avenues are explored, focusing on the potential development of psychedelics as agents of ecotherapy.
Psychedelics and potential benets in healthy normals:
A review of the literature
SAM GANDY*
Independent Researcher, Leicestershire, UK
(Received: April 30, 2019; accepted: October 24, 2019)
We are in the midst of a psychedelic research renaissance. With research examining the efcacy of psychedelics as a
treatment for a range of mental health indications still in its early stages, there is an increasing body of research to
show that careful use of psychedelics can yield a variety of benets in healthy normalsand so lead to the
betterment of well people.Psychedelics have been found to modulate neuroplasticity, and usage in a supportive
setting can result in enduring increases in traits such as well-being, life satisfaction, life meaning, mindfulness, and a
variety of measures associated with prosocial behaviors and healthy psychological functioning. The effect of
psychedelic experience on measures of personality trait openness and is potential implications is examined, and the
potential role of awe as a mediator of the benets of the psychedelic experience is discussed. Special attention is given
to the capacity of psychedelics to increase measures of nature relatedness in an enduring sense, which is being
correlated with a broad range of measures of psychological well-being as well as a key predictor of pro-environmental
awareness and behavior. The effects of particular classical psychedelic compounds on healthy people are discussed,
with special attention given to the mystical-type experiences occasioned by high doses of psychedelics, which appear
to be an important mediator of long-term benets and psychotherapeutic gains. Research looking at the potential
benets of psychedelic microdosing is discussed. Potential future research avenues are explored, focusing on the
potential development of psychedelics as agents of ecotherapy.
Keywords: psychedelics, benets, nature, psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca
INTRODUCTION
Classical or serotonergic psychedelic compounds are a
subclass of psychedelic compounds whose method of action
is strongly tied to the neurotransmitter serotonin, with the
compounds acting as partial agonists at the serotonin
5-HT
2A
receptor, which is widely distributed across numer-
ous cortical areas of the brain (Carhart-Harris et al., 2014;
Glennon, Titeler, & McKenney, 1984). They are known for
their very low physiological toxicity, being non-addictive,
and exerting profound effects on human consciousness.
Examples of classical psychedelics include DMT, LSD,
psilocybin, mescaline, and compounds of the 2C family.
The tryptamine psychedelics such as DMT and psilocybin
structurally resemble serotonin itself, whereas mescaline
and compounds of the 2C family resemble the neurotrans-
mitter dopamine in structure. Psychedelics, such as
psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, and lysergic acid compounds,
have been employed for purposes of healing and divination
by some cultures for centuries if not millennia (Nichols,
2016). We are in the midst of a psychedelic renaissance,
with scientic research into the properties of these
compounds expanding rapidly (Sessa, 2018). Although
much of this current research has been focused on their
medical potential, there is an increasing body of evidence on
the effect of psychedelics on healthy normalpeople
without a specic mental health diagnosis (a good propor-
tion of which may be psychedelic naive), and this research
suggests a number of potential benets of controlled
psychedelic use among this population on cognition, aware-
ness, and well-being. A large-scale survey study found that
there were no signicant associations between lifetime use
of classical psychedelics and rate of poor mental health
outcomes, and psychedelic usage may in fact confer mental
health benets (Krebs & Johansen, 2013). A further popu-
lation study of 130,000 adults in the US failed to nd any
evidence for a link between usage of classical psychedelics
and mental health problems (Johansen & Krebs, 2015).
Lifetime use of classical psychedelics has been associated
with signicantly reduced odds of past-month psychological
distress, past-year suicidal planning, and past-year suicide
attempt likelihood, unlike lifetime illicit use of other drugs,
which was largely associated with increased likelihood of
these outcomes, suggesting psychedelics may hold promise
in the prevention of suicide (Hendricks, Thorne, & Clark,
2015). Lifetime use of classical psychedelics has also been
associated with reduced odds of antisocial criminal behavior
(Hendricks et al., 2018). Long-term regular ritualistic use of
peyote among Native Americans has not been associated
with any psychological or cognitive decits (Halpern,
Sherwood, Hudson, Yurgelun-Todd, & Pope, 2005).
* Corresponding address: Dr. Sam Gandy; Independent Researcher,
Farndon Grange, Marston Lane, Market Harborough, Leicestershire
LE16 9SL, UK; Phone: +44 7971 894 662; E-mail: greensam2512@
hotmail.com
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and
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© 2019 The Author(s)
ORIGINAL ARTICLE Journal of Psychedelic Studies 3(3), pp. 280287 (2019)
DOI: 10.1556/2054.2019.029
Psychedelics have been implicated in promoting struc-
tural neural plasticity, by robustly increasing the formation
of new synapses and dendrites between neurons, facilitating
the formation of new synapses and dendrites between
neurons. These neuroplastic properties could at least partly
explain their long-term therapeutic potency, with the label
psychoplastogenbeing applied to them (Ly et al., 2018),
with neuroplasticity believed to be a key mechanism in
learning and adaptation, and the brains ability to modify
and change both structure and function throughout life in
response to experience (Voss, Thomas, Cisneros-Franco, &
de Villers-Sidani, 2017).
A correlative study assessing the values, beliefs, and
emotional empathy of psychedelic users found increased
values of spirituality and concern for others and lower
appreciation of nancial prosperity, although it is hard to
say whether these values preceded psychedelic usage or
resulted from it (Lerner & Lyvers, 2006). Other studies have
found psychedelic users to show greater creativity than
non-users (Sweat, Bates, & Hendricks, 2016), and lifetime
use of psychedelics to positively predicts liberal political
views, openness, and nature relatedness, while negatively
predicting authoritarian political views (Nour, Evans, &
Carhart-Harris, 2017).
Psychedelic usage may help facilitate creative pursuits
(Sessa, 2008) and both artists and scientists have reported
valuable insights as a result of psychedelic experiences
(Narby, 2002;Sessa, 2008). One study using mescaline
with scientists and engineers working on creative problems
found that the engineers reported an enduring positive
impact on their creative process (Harman, McKim, &
Mogar, 1966). One study reported that lifetime use of
classical psychedelics (but not that of other substances
examined) was found to predict pro-environmental behavior
through an increase in nature relatedness, or connectedness,
which can be viewed as ones self identication with nature
(Forstmann & Sagioglou, 2017).
There is a substantial body of literature reporting a
positive correlation between nature relatedness and a broad
range of measures of psychological well-being. Nature
relatedness has been found to correlate with lower levels
of anxiety (Capaldi, Dopko, & Zelenksi, 2014;Martyn &
Brymer, 2016); greater happiness and positive affect
(Capaldi et al., 2014;Nisbet, Zelenksi, & Murphy, 2011;
Pritchard, Richardson, Shefeld, & McEwan 2019;Zelenski
& Nisbet, 2014); life meaning and vitality (Cervinka,
Röderer, & Heer, 2012), and improved psychological
well-being at the state and trait level (Capaldi et al.,
2014;Capaldi, Passmore, Nisbet, Zelenksi, & Dopko,
2015;Cervinka et al., 2012;Dean et al., 2018;Howell,
Dopko, Passmore, & Buro, 2011;Kamitsis & Francis, 2013;
Mayer & Frantz, 2004;Mayer, Frantz, Bruehlman-Senecal,
& Dolliver 2008;Nisbet & Zelenski, 2014;Van Gordon,
Shonin, & Richardson, 2018;Zelenski & Nisbet, 2014).
Nature relatedness has also been found to mediate the effect
of nature exposure or immersion on affect, with more
positive outcomes of nature exposure observed in those
who rate high in nature relatedness (McMahan, Estes,
Murn, & Bryan, 2018) while also acting as a mediator of
the perceived restorativeness of natural settings (Berto,
Barbiero, Barbiero, & Senes, 2018). Measures of well-being
were also found to be partially mediated by degree of nature
relatedness in response to perceiving natural beauty (Zhang,
Howell, & Iyer, 2014), and nature relatedness may also elicit
higher valuating of intrinsic aspirations following exposure
to nature (Weinstein, Przybylski, & Ryan, 2009).
Nature relatedness has also been found to strongly
predict pro-environmental awareness (Dutcher, Finley,
Lulogg, & Johnson, 2007;Mackay & Schmitt, 2019;Mayer
& Frantz, 2004;Restall & Conrad, 2015;Whitburn,
Linklater, & Abrahamse, 2019) being perhaps the single
strongest psychological predictor of pro-environmental
behavior (Otto & Pensini, 2017). This is an important
nding given that it is widely considered we are experienc-
ing the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet due to
human actions on the biosphere (Barnosky et al., 2011;
Ceballos, Ehrlich, & Dirzo 2017;Dirzo et al., 2014;
McCallum, 2015). Pro-environmental behavior appears
strongly linked to prosocial behavior, sharing a mutually
enhancing relationship, with an increase in one fostering an
increase in the other (Neaman, Otto, & Vinokur, 2018).
Psilocybin has been found to result in increases in nature
relatedness in patients with treatment-resistant depression
up to 712 months post-experience (Lyons & Carhart-
Harris, 2018). A study pooling data from eight different
trials administering psilocybin to healthy volunteers found
that 38% of people reported enduring positive changes in
their relations to nature and the environment (Studerus,
Kometer, Hasler, & Vollenweider, 2011)816 months
post-experience. This occurred in spite of the clinical,
nature-deprived settings the trials were conducted in, which
included a PET scanner, suggesting that such enduring
changes to ones relationship with nature are not entirely
dependent on the setting in which the experience occurs. In a
classic study known as The Good Friday Experiment,
high-dose psilocybin was administered to divinity students,
with the majority reporting a complete mystical experience
(Pahnke, 1963). A follow-up interview survey conducted
between 24 and 27 years after the original study revealed
that study participants felt strongly that they had continued
to benet from their experience, reporting a deepened
appreciation of life and nature, as well as enhanced joy, a
deepened sense of spirituality, and appreciation for unusual
experiences and emotions (Doblin, 1991). Numerous mod-
ern research studies in both healthy (Grifths et al., 2011;
Grifths, Richards, McCann, & Jesse, 2006;MacLean,
Johnson, & Grifths, 2011) and patient (Carhart-Harris
et al., 2018;Garcia-Romeu, Grifths, & Johnson, 2016;
Grifths et al., 2016;Ross et al., 2016) populations have
found that the occurrence of a mystical-type experience
during a psychedelic session is a key mediator of long-term
therapeutic gains and benets post-session. Psychedelic
usage has been implicated to evoke experiences of God
or Ultimate Reality,with a study on psychedelic users and
people who have had such experiences while sober report-
ing that two thirds of both groups stated they no longer
identied as atheists following their experience. Such
experiences were associated with long-term increases in
life satisfaction, purpose and meaning, and a decreased fear
of death (Grifths, Hurwitz, Davis, Johnson, & Jesse, 2019).
The experience of ego dissolution, which can occur to
people under high dosages of psychedelics, appears to be
Journal of Psychedelic Studies 3(3), pp. 280287 (2019) |281
Psychedelics and potential benets in healthy normals
tied to the experience of awe, which may be a mediator of
their benecial effect (Hendricks, 2018), with the experi-
ence of awe being linked to both enhanced well-being
(Rudd, Vohs, & Aaker, 2012) and prosociality (Piff, Dietze,
Feinberg, Stancato, & Keltner, 2015), two aftereffects com-
monly noted following psychedelic experiences, and par-
ticularly the mystical-type experiences they can occasion
(Grifths et al., 2006,2011,2018;Hendricks, 2018).
PSILOCYBIN
The psychedelic research renaissance was largely reignited
by the publication of Roland Grifths and the Johns
Hopkins teams seminal paper on psilocybin and mystical
experiences in 2006. The study participants were well-
educated, healthy people with an interest in spiritual or
religious practices. The study used a rigorous double-blind
design and used community observer ratings to gain a more
objective measure of post-psilocybin changes. At 2 months
after the session, 67% of study participants rated the high-
dose psilocybin experience to be either the single most
meaningful experience of their lives, or among the top ve
most meaningful experiences, with 33% of people rating it
as the single most spiritually signicant event of their lives
(Grifths et al., 2006). In another study conducted on
healthy, psychedelic-naive subjects by the Johns Hopkins
team, high-dose psilocybin sessions evoked mystical-type
experiences in 72% of volunteers and resulted in sustained
positive changes in attitudes, mood, and behavior, with
ascending dosage correlated with greater positive effects.
At 14 months after dosing, ratings were undiminished and
were consistent with changes rated by community obser-
vers, with 94% of study volunteers stating that their well-
being or life satisfaction had been increased moderately or
very much by their psilocybin experiences, with 89%
reporting moderate or higher changes in positive behavior.
Persistent positive changes in attitude, mood, and life
satisfaction catalyzed by psilocybin-induced mystical
experiences appear similar to those following spontaneous
mystical experiences (Grifths et al., 2011).
The mystical-type experiences associated with psilocy-
bin have also been implicated with leading to long-term
increases in personality trait openness, and at 14 months
following dosing in the aforementioned study participant
group, openness remains signicantly elevated (MacLean
et al., 2011). This is signicant, as openness was believed to
be xed by the age of 30 years and to decline with age.
Openness is correlated with a number of cognitive abilities,
and appreciation for new experiences and aesthetics,
creativity, imagination, hunger for knowledge, broad-
minded tolerance of the viewpoints, and values of others
(MacLean et al., 2011) and increased cognitive reserve in
the older people (Franchow, Suchy, Thorgusen, & Williams,
2013). In addition, it correlates with nature connection
and pro-environmental behavior (Lee, Ashton, Choi, &
Zachariassen, 2015;Richardson & Shefeld, 2015;Tam,
2013). A recent double-blind study with healthy participants
explored the effect of a number of meditation or spiritual
practices in combination with psilocybin sessions (Grifths
et al., 2018). Participants embarked upon a given spiritual
practice 12 months prior to their psilocybin (or placebo)
sessions. High-dose psilocybin was found to produce great-
er persisting effects, and at 6-months follow-up of dosing,
high-dose groups showed signicant large positive changes
in prosocial attitudes and behaviors and healthy psycholog-
ical functioning, including in measures of interpersonal
closeness, gratitude, life meaning/purpose, forgiveness,
death transcendence, daily spiritual experiences, and reli-
gious faith and coping, with changes validated further by
external community observer ratings. Determinants of
enduring positive effects were the psilocybin-occasioned
mystical-type experience and rates of meditation/spiritual
practices. Other research has found a synergy between
psilocybin and meditation practice, with psilocybin
increasing meditation depth, incidence of positive
experienced ego-dissolution and enhancing mindfulness
and psychosocial functioning (Smigielski, Kometer, et al.,
2019), extent of ego dissolution and brain connectivity
predicting positive changes in psycho-social functioning
of participants 4 months post-session (Smigielski,
Scheiddegger, Kometer, & Vollenweider, 2019). Previous
research suggests that psychedelics can help foster psy-
chological growth when used in the context of an ongoing
discipline (Walsh, 1982).
LSD
A study on healthy people who had complained of a lack of
purpose or meaning in their lives found that a supervised
LSD session resulted in higher self-reported measures of
self-actualization and creativity, with participants reporting
a greater sense of meaning and purpose in their lives,
oneness with humanity, decreased valuation of supercial
pursuits such as material gains and social status, and an
increase in condence and assertiveness, with many of these
changes still apparent months later (Savage, Fadiman, &
Mogar, 1966).
Modern research has found that an LSD experience in a
controlled setting can result in elevated levels of optimism
and trait openness 2 weeks post-experience (Carhart-Harris
et al., 2016). The administration of a single large (200 μg)
dose of LSD in a supportive setting to 16 healthy partici-
pants was found to lead to increases in positive attitudes
about life and/or self, positive mood changes, altruistic/
positive social effects, positive behavioral changes, and
well-being/life satisfaction at 1 and 12 months following
dosing, with no negative effects on attitudes or behavior
attributed to the LSD experience. After 12 months, 10 of 14
participants rated their LSD experience as among the top 10
most meaningful experiences of their lives, with ve rating
the experience as among the most meaningful
experiences of their lives (Schmid & Liechti, 2018).
AYAHUASCA
Ayahuasca use in a ritual setting is considered safe and may
confer benets (Barbosa, Mizumoto, Bogenschutz, &
Strassman 2012), with lower rates of alcoholism and addic-
tion observed among ritualistic users (Fábregas et al., 2010).
282 |Journal of Psychedelic Studies 3(3), pp. 280287 (2019)
Gandy
Its use has been associated with long-term benecial
changes such as lower ratings on all psychopathology
measures, with higher ratings of life purpose, well-being,
and prosocial behavior as compared to non-ayahuasca-
using controls (Bouso et al., 2012). Additional research has
found long-term ayahuasca use to be associated with higher
positive perception of health and healthy life style, and
reduced intake of prescription drugs (Ona et al., 2019).
Ayahuasca usage has also been found to increase measures
of acceptance(associated with a more detached and less
judgmental stance toward potentially distressing thoughts
and emotions) as effectively as an 8-week mindfulness
course, a more lengthy and costly intervention (Soler
et al., 2016). Ayahuasca usage has been linked to reductions
in stress and improvements in convergent thinking 4 weeks
post experience (Uthuag et al., 2019). Repeated ingestion of
ayahuasca in a ritual setting has been found to increase
visual creativity (Frecska, M´oré, & Vargha, 2012). Ayahua-
sca users have been found to rate more highly in
self-transcendence (Bouso et al., 2012), which has been
found to be a signicant positive predictor for nature
relatedness and environmental concern (Dornhoff,
Sothmann, Fiebelkorn, & Menzel, 2019).
Anthropologist Jeremy Narby accompanied three molec-
ular biologists to the Amazon rainforest where they partook
of an ayahuasca ceremony. While all three found the
experience to be personally meaningful, two of the three
gained perspectives on their research they considered
valuable following the session (Grant, 2006).
5-MEO-DMT
An online survey study reported that the psychedelic
compound 5-MeO-DMT was commonly used infrequently
and primarily for spiritual exploration, and was well-
tolerated with very few problems associated with usage
(Davis, Barsuglia, Lancelotta, Grant, & Renn, 2018). The
use of 5-MeO-DMT (in the form of vaped Incilius alvarius
toad secretion) in a naturalistic setting has been implicated
in unintended but substantial reductions in measures of
depression (80%) and anxiety (79%). Its usage in naturalis-
tic settings has also been implicated in increasing measures
of well-being and mindfulness long term (with the latter
measure gaining statistical signicance a month after dos-
ing), with long-term benets correlating with a greater
intensity of mystical experiences and higher ratings of
spiritual signicance and personal meaning (Davis, So,
Lancelotta, Barsuglia, & Grifths, 2019). A single inhala-
tion of 5-MeO-DMT (again in the form of vaped I. alvarius
toad secretion) resulted in a signicant increase in ratings of
life satisfaction and convergent thinking immediately after
intake, and was sustained at follow-up 4 weeks later.
Ratings of mindfulness increased over time and attained
statistical signicance at 4 weeks. Ratings of depression,
anxiety, and stress decreased after the sessions and reached
signicance at 4 weeks. High levels of ego dissolution and
oceanic boundlessness during the experience were correlat-
ed with higher ratings for life satisfaction and lower ratings
of depression and stress (Uthaug et al., 2019). The short
lasting effects of 5-MeO-DMT and its consistency in
inducing mystical-type experiences, which have been im-
plicated in long-term benets and therapeutic gains, are
notable (Barsuglia et al., 2018).
PSYCHEDELIC MICRODOSING
Research on psychedelic microdosing is still in its prelimi-
nary stages, but studies conducted to date warrant further
research. Surveys of psychedelic microdosers have yielded
reported benets of improved mood, cognition, and creativ-
ity, which in some cases help counteract symptoms of
depression and anxiety, although various challenges were
also associated with the practice (Anderson, Petranker,
Christopher, et al., 2019;Johnstad, 2018). One observation-
al study found that microdosing was associated with a
general increase in reported psychological functioning on
dosing days, but little evidence of residual effects on
following days. Analyses of pre- and post-study measures
showed reduced levels of depression and stress, lower levels
of distractibility, increased absorption, and increased neu-
roticism. Effects that were believed likely to manifest were
also unrelated to the observed patterns of reported effects
(Polito & Stevenson, 2019). In an additional observational
study, former and current microdosers scored lower on
measures of dysfunctional attitudes and negative emotion-
ality and higher on measures of wisdom, open-mindedness,
and creativity compared to non-microdosing controls
(Anderson, Petranker, Rosenbaum, et al., 2019). Microdos-
ing may lead to improvements in convergent and divergent
thinking, although further research is warranted using rig-
orous placebo-controlled study ndings to investigate this
further (Prochazkova et al., 2018).
FUTURE RESEARCH AVENUES
There are a number of interesting studies currently
underway exploring the effects of psychedelics (psilocybin
especially) in healthy people. At present, there is still a lack
of knowledge of the prospective, causative role of psyche-
delics and their effects on cognition, well-being and per-
sonality in healthy psychedelic naive people, particularly
their longer-term effects. Longer-term qualitative assess-
ments and MRI brain scans comparing psychedelic naive
people pre- and post-psychedelic experiences (both short-
term and long-term assessments) would help elucidate the
longer-term effects of psychedelics. At present, despite its
vast importance for individual well-being and in facilitating
pro-environmental awareness, the capacity of psychedelic to
enhance nature relatedness in the long term remains under
explored. Although there are a number of correlative studies
linking psychedelic use to increased nature relatedness,
there is only one small study (n=7) that shows a causative,
prospective role of psychedelics in increasing nature relat-
edness, and further prospective research is warranted to
explore this in greater detail. Such data could be obtained
via online prospective surveys, or via prospective clinical
trials, comparing measures of nature relatedness in psyche-
delic naive people, pre- and post-psychedelic experiences,
including longer-term measures. Due to strict regulations
Journal of Psychedelic Studies 3(3), pp. 280287 (2019) |283
Psychedelics and potential benets in healthy normals
governing clinical trials of psychedelics at the present time,
psychedelic trials are conducted in clinical nature-deprived
environments. In the future, it will be interesting to investi-
gate the inuence of nature-based settings, and how these
may inuence measures of nature relatedness and associated
well-being. It would also be interesting to conduct a com-
parative study to see whether ingestion of organic or
synthetic psychedelics inuences subsequent measures of
nature relatedness. Further research is warranted to explore
the potential of psychedelics to act as agents of ecotherapy.
Given promising past pioneering research ndings on
psychedelics and creativity among scientists and engineers
in the 1960s, modern rigorous research on the potential
effect of psychedelics on creativity and divergent thinking is
warranted. Research on psychedelic microdosing is still in
its preliminary stages, and it would be useful for future
clinical studies to investigate the effects of microdosing on
biological and cognitive parameters to better evaluate po-
tential benecial and negative effects, and assess the poten-
tial risks of repeated administrations of psychedelics in low
doses, using rigorous placebo-controlled study designs.
Conict of interest: The author declares no conict of interest.
Acknowledgements: The author has no nancial assistance
to acknowledge but would like to thank Dr. Rosalind Watts
for the inspiration to write the paper.
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Psychedelics and potential benets in healthy normals
... Considering there are relatively few (controlled) studies examining the long-term effects of psychedelics, it is less clear how long positive effects last from psychedelic use, though there is evidence of sustained positive subjective effects on adaptive aspects of personality (see Griffiths, Richards, McCann, & Jesse, 2006). Correlational studies also indicate that recreational use of psychedelics is associated with lower levels of aggression, recidivism, and higher levels of engagement with nature, potentially suggesting they may have long-term beneficial effects (Gandy, 2019;Hendricks, Clark, Johnson, Fontaine, & Cropsey, 2014;Tomlinson, Brown, & Hoaken, 2016). ...
... Reports of mystical experiences include the increased interconnectedness, connection with a sacred entity, sense of truth, and transcendence of usual state of mind, or concept of the self(Stace, 1960). Such alterations of conscious experience have been associated with enhancements in creativity, divergent thinking, and enhanced wellbeing(Topp et al., 1999; Jones et al., 2009;(Kuypers et al., 2016) Gandy, 2019Sampedro et al., 2017;Griffiths et al., 2006). It is noteworthy that despite having different pharmacokinetic action to classic psychedelic substances, 3,4-Methylene-dioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and ketamine both produce psychedelic-like effects, show high rates of recreational consumption, and demonstrate potential for therapeutic use(Kamboj et al., 2018;Mithoefer et al., 2018), they were not included in the current investigation. ...
Thesis
Background: Mindfulness protocols, though beneficial for a range of indications, often involve long-term commitment and may not be accessible for those naturally low in trait mindfulness (e.g. attention-/ anxiety-related disorders). It remains unclear which ‘dose’ of mindfulness is necessary to produce beneficial effects, and broadly, how drugs such as nootropics and psychedelics may interact with mindfulness meditation. / Aims: The aims of this thesis are (1) to explore what dose of mindfulness is necessary to enhance state mindfulness (among other outcomes) and whether a drug can modulate, or add to the effects of a mindfulness strategy, (2) to explore how psychedelics may affect a meditation experience, and (3) to examine what role changes in mindfulness play in regards to beneficial psychological health outcomes shown after ceremonial psychedelic use. / Methods: A mixture of methodologies were applied to answer the above questions. Specifically, single-session mindfulness literature was systematically reviewed, and a double-placebo controlled study was designed and conducted to explore the potential for pharmacological enhancement of a single mindfulness strategy. A thematic analysis was conducted to explore user accounts of combined psychedelic and meditation experiences. Finally, linear multilevel models and longitudinal mediation models were used to explore the associations between changes in mindfulness capacity and psychological health over the course of a naturalistic ayahuasca study. / Results: Single-session mindfulness studies are capable of producing a variety of beneficial effects, and adjunctive modafinil appears to enhance some effects of behavioural strategies as well as participant engagement in subsequent practice. Psychedelics may also prove to be useful counterparts to meditations, and conversely, while psychedelics appear to enhance mindfulness, meditation practice can assist also in the navigation of, and potentially enhance effects of the psychedelic process.
... The 2020 report on the state of drug addiction in Poland indicated that the illicit drug market did not show a decrease in the availability of those chemicals in the first months of the pandemic; there were local restrictions, e.g., in Krakow, but drug prices did not change. Furthermore, the authors indicated that the role of the internet as a source of psychoactive drug supply may have increased [15,16]. ...
... Further, based on Ward's method (criterion), we implemented hierarchical clustering analysis concerning the geographic mapping of online behavior within Poland. We ran the statistical analysis using JMP Pro v. 16 (time series analysis) and Statistica v.13.3 (spatial mapping and clustering analysis). All tests were considered significant at a p-value < 0.05. ...
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Background: Psychedelics represent a unique subset of psychoactive substances that can induce an aberrant state of consciousness principally via the neuronal 5-HT2A receptor. There is limited knowledge concerning the interest in these chemicals in Poland and how they changed during the pandemic. Nonetheless, these interests can be surveyed indirectly via the web. Objectives: We aim to conduct a spatial-temporal mapping of online information-seeking behavior concerning cannabis and the most popular psychedelics before and during the pandemic. Methods: We retrieved online information search data via Google Trends concerning twenty of the most popular psychedelics from 1 January 2017 to 1 January 2022 in Poland. We conducted Holt-Winters exponential smoothing for time series analysis to infer potential seasonality. We utilized hierarchical clustering analysis based on Ward's method to find similarities of psychedelics' interest within Poland's voivodships before and during the pandemic. Results: Twelve (60%) psychedelics had significant seasonality; we proved that psilocybin and ayahuasca had annual seasonality (p-value = 0.0120 and p = 0.0003, respectively), and four substances-LSD, AL-LAD, DXM, and DOB-exhibited a half-yearly seasonality, while six psychedelics had a quarterly seasonal pattern, including cannabis, dronabinol, ergine, NBOMe, phencyclidine, and salvinorin A. Further, the pandemic influenced a significant positive change in the trends for three substances, including psilocybin, ergine, and DXM. Conclusions: Different seasonal patterns exist for psychedelics, and some might correlate with school breaks or holidays in Poland. The pandemic induced some changes in the temporal and spatial trends. The spatial-temporal trends could be valuable information to health authorities and policymakers responsible for monitoring and preventing addictions.
... In addition to research on their potential clinical use (see Muttoni et al., 2019, andRomeo et al., 2021 for overviews), over the last two decades, researchers have begun investigating chronic and acute effects of psychedelic substances on healthy individuals (see Aday et al., 2020;Gandy, 2019;Forstmann and Sagioglou, 2021a, for overviews). For example, psychedelics were found to be able to reliably induce dose-dependent mystical-type experiences with substantial personal meaning in a sample of healthy adults , that had both short and long-term positive effects on their mental well-being and quality of life (Griffiths et al., 2006;. ...
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Abstract Background: Past research reports a positive relationship between experience with classic serotonergic psychedelics and nature relatedness (NR). However, these studies typically do not distinguish between different psychedelic compounds, which have a unique psychopharmacology and may be used in specific contexts and with different intentions. Likewise, it is not clear whether these findings can be attributed to substance use per se or unrelated variables that differentiate psychedelic users from nonusers. Aims: The present study was designed to determine the relative degree to which lifetime experience with different psychedelic substances is predictive of self-reported NR among psychedelic-experienced users. Methods: We conducted a combined reanalysis of five independent datasets (N = 3817). Using standard and regularized regression analyses, we tested the relationship between degree of experience with various psychedelic substances (binary and continuous) and NR, both within a subsample of psychedelic-experienced participants as well as the complete sample including psychedelic-naïve participants. Results/Outcomes: Among people experienced with psychedelics, only past use of psilocybin (versus LSD, mescaline, Salvia divinorum, ketamine, and ibogaine) was a reliable predictor of NR and its subdimensions. Weaker, less reliable results were obtained for the pharmacologically similar N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Results replicate when including psychedelic-naïve participants. In addition, among people exclusively experience with psilocybin, use frequency positively predicted NR. Conclusions/Interpretation: Results suggest that experience with psilocybin is the only reliable (and strongest) predictor of NR. Future research should focus on psilocybin when investigating effects of psychedelic on NR and determine whether pharmacological attributes or differences in user expectations/use settings are responsible for this observation.
... In addition to research on their potential clinical use (see Muttoni et al., 2019, andRomeo et al., 2021 for overviews), over the last two decades, researchers have begun investigating chronic and acute effects of psychedelic substances on healthy individuals (see Aday et al., 2020;Gandy, 2019;Forstmann and Sagioglou, 2021a, for overviews). For example, psychedelics were found to be able to reliably induce dose-dependent mystical-type experiences with substantial personal meaning in a sample of healthy adults , that had both short and long-term positive effects on their mental well-being and quality of life (Griffiths et al., 2006;. ...
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Background: Past research reports a positive relationship between experience with classic serotonergic psychedelics and nature relatedness (NR). However, these studies typically do not distinguish between different psychedelic compounds, which have a unique psychopharmacology and may be used in specific contexts and with different intentions. Likewise, it is not clear whether these findings can be attributed to substance use per se or unrelated variables that differentiate psychedelic users from nonusers. Aims: The present study was designed to determine the relative degree to which lifetime experience with different psychedelic substances is predictive of self-reported NR among psychedelic-experienced users. Methods: We conducted a combined reanalysis of five independent datasets (N = 3817). Using standard and regularized regression analyses, we tested the relationship between degree of experience with various psychedelic substances (binary and continuous) and NR, both within a subsample of psychedelic-experienced participants as well as the complete sample including psychedelic-naïve participants. Results/outcomes: Among people experienced with psychedelics, only past use of psilocybin (versus LSD, mescaline, Salvia divinorum, ketamine, and ibogaine) was a reliable predictor of NR and its subdimensions. Weaker, less reliable results were obtained for the pharmacologically similar N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Results replicate when including psychedelic-naïve participants. In addition, among people exclusively experience with psilocybin, use frequency positively predicted NR. Conclusions/interpretation: Results suggest that experience with psilocybin is the only reliable (and strongest) predictor of NR. Future research should focus on psilocybin when investigating effects of psychedelic on NR and determine whether pharmacological attributes or differences in user expectations/use settings are responsible for this observation.
... 18 Gouveia et al. 24 ): This is a onedimensional Likert-type scale, with higher scores corresponding to higher levels of satisfaction with life. There is evidence that use of psychedelics increases levels of life satisfaction, 25 and it appears that ego dissolution is significantly related to this specific improvement. 7,13,26 The scale has solid psychometric properties (α = .87 ...
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... Healthcare professionals also work with the participants for preparation before the psychedelic sessions and integration after the session (Griffiths et al., 2006). However, preliminary studies claim that psychedelics' remarkable therapeutic effects correlate with positive psychological phenomena as possible mediators, such as a sense of self-transcendence, meaning, spiritual significance, connectedness, etc. (Gandy, 2019;Millière et al., 2018;. In this regard, psychedelic therapy might even be considered a positive psychology intervention in a clinical setting. ...
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Public and scientific interest in the effect of psychedelic drugs on wellbeing has risen significantly. Preliminary data show that psychedelic drugs, specifically classic psychedelics (DMT, psilocybin, mescaline, and LSD), may have the potential to treat mood disorders and increase wellbeing through their acute subjective effects. The acute subjective effects and enduring effects of psychedelics on wellbeing seem to relate to positive psychological frameworks (e.g., resilience factors and PERMA) considerably. Moreover, optimizing acute subjective effects indicates the importance of set (individual’s internal (mental) factors) and setting (individual’s external factors) in psychedelics administration as moderating factors. A new subfield in positive psychology, positive humanities, has the potential to inform set and setting studies significantly. This literature review investigates the potential for positive psychology and positive humanities in enhancing psychedelic studies, specifically the research areas of acute subjective effects and set and setting. Due to the seeming alignment between the operation of psychedelic drugs and both positive psychology and the positive humanities, there appear to be opportunities for research and scholarship at the intersection of these fields.
... Although the classic psychedelics have clear relevance for psychiatry (Hendricks, 2018), their potential to enhance wellness is believed to be at least as substantial as their effectiveness as therapeutic tools (Gandy, 2019;Jungaberle et al., 2018). In the initial era of psychedelic research, it was noted that beneficial outcomes could occur when psychedelics were used under non-medical conditions, and it was argued that they held legitimate uses beyond the therapeutic context (Masters & Houston, 1966). ...
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Recent studies implicate the use of psychedelic substances in the treatment of psychiatric conditions. However, this literature also suggests that the psychedelics may have utility in the promotion of positive adult development. Accordingly, this paper outlines a study exploring this premise. An online sample (n = 684) of psychedelic users and non-users (age range: 18–24 to 75–84; median = 25–34) was recruited. Conditional process analysis was used to assess whether the relationship between psychedelic use and two facets of adult development, adjustment and growth, would be mediated by openness to experience, awe-proneness, and mystical experiences, and whether these relationships would be moderated by drug-use reflection/integration. Results show that the direct relationship between psychedelic use and growth was moderated by drug-use reflection/integration. In addition, the indirect relationship between psychedelic use and adjustment was mediated through awe-proneness, while the indirect relationships between psychedelic use and growth were mediated via awe-proneness and openness to experience; drug-use reflection/integration moderated these mediated relationships. In addition, drug-use reflection/integration directly predicted openness, awe-proneness, and growth. These findings suggest that, when used with self-expansive intentions and actively reflected upon and integrated post use, psychedelics may augment positive adult development.
... As research with psychedelics is expanding worldwide in clinical and nonclinical samples (for reviews, see Aday et al. 2020;Berkovitch et al. 2021;Gandy 2019;Goldberg et al. 2020;Luoma et al. 2020;Muttoni, Ardissino, and John 2019;Romeo et al. 2021Romeo et al. , 2020Sueur 2017;Wheeler and Dyer 2020), there is a need to translate and validate the instruments used for measuring the phenomenology of the psychedelic experience. An adapted version of the MEQ30 has already been validated in Finnish (Kangaslampi, Hausen, and Rauteenmaa 2020), but no version exists in French yet. ...
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Mystical experiences triggered by psychedelic drugs predict symptom reduction in various psychiatric disorders, and increased well-being in healthy individuals. This work aimed at validating a French version of a tool used to measure mystical experiences: the Revised Mystical Experience Questionnaire-30 items (MEQ30). Construct validity, internal consistencies, concurrent, discriminant, and predictive validities of the French MEQ30 were examined using data about the most significant psychedelic experience of 320 French individuals. Results showed that the original four-factor (i.e., mystical, positive mood, transcendence, and ineffability) structure fit the data best, with good to excellent statistical indices. Total French MEQ30 score was strongly associated with subjective ratings of the mystical (i.e., mystical, spiritual, or religious, and personally significant) and drug intensity-related qualities of the experience, but not with non-mystical (i.e., fun, inebriating, and easy) qualities. Moreover, French MEQ30 score was a significant predictor of subjective positive changes in psychological well-being, relations with self and others, feeling of proximity or connection with nature, and creativity, whereas drug intensity-related and non-mystical qualities of the experience were not, or were only weakly associated with such changes. This French version of the MEQ30 seems to be an appropriate tool for measuring mystical experiences among French speaking individuals.
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Understanding what drives environmentally protective or destructive behavior is important to the design and implementation of effective public policies to encourage people's engagement in proenvironmental behavior (PEB). Research shows that a connection to nature is associated with greater engagement in PEB. However, the variety of instruments and methods used in these studies poses a major barrier to integrating research findings. We conducted a meta-analysis of the relationship between connection to nature and PEB. We identified studies through a systematic review of the literature and used Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software to analyze the results from 37 samples (n = 13,237) and to test for moderators. A random-effects model demonstrated a positive and significant association between connection to nature and PEB (r = 0.42, 95% CI 0.36, 0.47, p < 0.001). People who are more connected to nature reported greater engagement in PEB. Standard tests indicated little effect of publication bias in the sample. There was significant heterogeneity among the samples. Univariate categorical analyses showed that the scales used to measure connection to nature and PEB were significant moderators and explained the majority of the between-study variance. The geographic location of a study, age of participants, and the percentage of females in a study were not significant moderators. We found that a deeper connection to nature may partially explain why some people behave more proenvironmentally than others and that the relationship is ubiquitous. Facilitating a stronger connection to nature may result in greater engagement in PEB and conservation, although more longitudinal studies with randomized experiments are required to demonstrate causation. © 2019 The Authors. Conservation Biology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology.
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Nature connectedness relates to an individual’s subjective sense of their relationship with the natural world. A recent meta-analysis has found that people who are more connected to nature also tend to have higher levels of self-reported hedonic well-being; however, no reviews have focussed on nature connection and eudaimonic well-being. This meta-analysis was undertaken to explore the relationship of nature connection with eudaimonic well-being and to test the hypothesis that this relationship is stronger than that of nature connection and hedonic well-being. From 20 samples (n = 4758), a small significant effect size was found for the relationship of nature connection and eudaimonic well-being (r = 0.24); there was no significant difference between this and the effect size (from 30 samples n = 11,638) for hedonic well-being (r = 0.20). Of the eudaimonic well-being subscales, personal growth had a moderate effect size which was significantly larger than the effect sizes for autonomy, purpose in life/meaning, self-acceptance, positive relations with others and environmental mastery, but not vitality. Thus, individuals who are more connected to nature tend to have greater eudaimonic well-being, and in particular have higher levels of self-reported personal growth.
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Assessing the health status of ayahuasca users has been challenging due to the limitations involved in randomized clinical trials and psychometric approaches. The main objective of this study is the implementation of an approach based on public health indicators. We developed a self-administered questionnaire that was administered to long-term ayahuasca users around Spain. The questionnaire was administrated face-to-face to participants (n = 380) in places where ayahuasca ceremonies were occurring. Public health indicators were compared with Spanish normative data, and intergroup analyses were conducted. Long-term ayahuasca use was associated with higher positive perception of health or with a healthy lifestyle, among other outcomes. Fifty-six percent of the sample reported reducing their use of prescription drugs due to ayahuasca use. Participants who used ayahuasca more than 100 times scored higher in personal values measures. The main conclusion of this study is that a respectful and controlled use of hallucinogenic/psychedelic drugs taken in communitarian settings can be incorporated into modern society with benefits for public health. This new approach, based on the use of health indicators that were not used in previous ayahuasca studies, offers relevant information about the impact of long-term exposure to ayahuasca on public health.