Psychedelic use has been shown to improve mental health, while depression has been linked to poor cardiovascular health. Scientists appear to have discovered a positive side effect of using psychedelic drugs: a lower risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
There has been an increase in the number of scientific studies on psychedelic drugs in recent years. As the stigma associated with recreational drug use dissipated as a result of the infamous and misguided “war on drugs,” new and exciting benefits of these drugs were discovered.
According to a study published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, a team of scientists discovered the unexpected trend after poring over ten years’ worth of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, respondents who said they’d tried psychedelics at least once in their lives had a lower risk of developing either condition in the previous year.
We discovered a positive side effect of using psychedelic drugs: a lower risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. The findings suggest that lifetime classic psychedelic use is associated with a lower risk of having had heart disease or diabetes in the previous year.Otto Simonsson
The researchers examined the records of 375,000 survey participants and discovered that only 2.3 percent of those who had ever taken DMT, ayahuasca, LSD, mescaline, peyote, or psilocybin had been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes in the previous year. This is significantly lower than the 4.5 percent diagnosis rate among people who had never used any of the drugs.
“The findings suggest that lifetime classic psychedelic use is associated with a lower risk of having had heart disease or diabetes in the previous year,” study lead author and Oxford sociologist Otto Simonsson told PsyPost.
One possibility is that, because moderate psychedelic use is associated with a long-term sense of increased peace and well-being, some people who have dabbled in it may experience less heart stress in the years and decades following.
None of this necessarily implies that you should go out and eat some shrooms for the sake of your cardio metabolic health, but it does point to an intriguing link between psychedelics and medicine that deserves further investigation.
Magic mushrooms, a naturally occurring psychedelic drug, have previously been found to have a positive impact on those who use them. While LSD and MDMA have been used to reduce pain perception and treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
“The causality direction remains unknown,” Simonsson told PsyPost. “Future trials with double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled designs are required to determine whether classic psychedelic use reduces the risk of cardiometabolic diseases and, if so, by what mechanisms.”
Nonetheless, it’s an encouraging finding that can be added to the growing list of therapeutic benefits associated with psychedelic use that scientists appear to have discovered. With this apparent correlation in hand, scientists may now be able to conduct additional clinical research to determine whether the drugs actually improve heart health.
The researchers used the same data set from the United States National Survey on Drug Use and Health as another study published earlier this year, which found that people who had used psychedelics at least once in their lives were less likely to be overweight and reported having better overall health.
Despite the correlation, the researchers claim that other confounding factors were not considered. They intend to conduct future trials with randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled designs in order to establish conclusively the positive link between psychedelic use and improved overall health.
“The regression models controlled for several potential confounders,” the authors wrote in the paper, “but the associations could have been influenced by latent variables that were not included in the dataset and could not be controlled for.”
Psychedelic use has been shown to improve mental health, while depression has been linked to poor cardiovascular health. According to Otto Simonsson, the paper’s lead author and an Oxford University researcher, psychedelics may have an indirect impact on cardiovascular health or may have a simultaneous effect with mental health.