Perhaps its time for the general public to rethink the prevalent attitude toward the ‘entheogens’ used by shamans for thousands of years: New research studying the effects of psychedelic use in more than 20,000 respondents has shown no significant associations between the use of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and peyote and an increased rate of any of the mental health problems. In fact, the study found that in several cases “psychedelic use was associated with lower rate of mental health problems”.
The study notes that links between psychedelic use and mental health problems can arise for several spurious reasons. For instance: both mental illness and psychedelic use are prevalent in the population, likely leading to many chance associations; the typical onset period of both mental illness and psychedelic use occurs in late adolescence and early adulthood, again possibly leading to mistaken causal inferences; because of the striking subjective effects of psychedelics, some people attribute psychiatric symptoms to the use of psychedelics even if the symptoms started months or years later; some health professionals may have a biased view since they meet people with mental health problems and have little or no contact with the majority of psychedelic users.
In short, the researchers “found no relation between lifetime use of psychedelics and any undesirable past year mental health outcomes, including serious psychological distress, mental health treatment (inpatient, outpatient, medication, felt a need but did not receive), or symptoms of panic disorder, major depressive episode, mania, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, or non-affective psychosis”. Instead, case reports of mental health problems following psychedelics “are often comparable to case reports of mental health problems linked to intensive meditation, visiting holy sites, or viewing beautiful artwork and sublime natural scenes”.