Effects of Classic Psychedelics on Physical Health

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 2
Words: 691
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

Popular Media Critique

The article’s headline is based on the assumption that psychedelic drug users tend to have better overall physical health than non-users. Based on the article, I anticipate a quantitative study approach. The anticipated variables include the psychedelic drugs being studied and potential health outcomes. In summary, the article highlighted that studies suggest that people who have ever used psychedelic drugs reported having better physical health than those who have never used them (Dolan, 2021). These users were also found to have lower chances of being obese or overweight. As such, the article concluded that classic psychedelic drug use is associated with many beneficial physical health outcomes.

The independent variable is the use of psychedelic drugs, while the dependent variable is physical health outcomes. The dependent variable has several levels: overall health, body mass index, and heart condition or cancer. The journalist’s headline fits with the study the scientists conducted because, in the study, the scientists found that the classic use of psychedelic drugs was associated with positive physical health outcomes (Dolan, 2021). Therefore, the journalist was right to postulate that psychedelic drug users tend to have better overall physical health than non-users in the article’s heading. However, one can question this claim because the results were only obtained from the users but were not compared with those of non-users. After reading the article, the question that one would have is what causes psychedelic drug users to have better physical health? What is in the drugs that make them result in better health outcomes?

Primary Source Critique

Over the years, studies done on this particular topic focused primarily on classic psychedelic use’s impacts on patients’ mental health. However, there is minimal evidence regarding the effects of this drug category’s use on one’s physical health. The study’s primary objective was to analyze the relationship between the lifetime use of psychedelic drugs and physical health markers (Simonsson et al., 2021). The survey’s constructs or operationalizations include cancer or heart condition within the past twelve months, body mass index (BMI), and self-reported overall health (Simonsson et al., 2021). The researchers postulated that a positive correlation exists between the psychedelic medications’ lifetime use and improved physical health status.

The researchers used a cross-sectional study design whose primary advantages include

  • It allows researchers to disapprove or prove assumptions
  • It is inexpensive and non-time consuming.
  • They are convenient for developing preliminary evidence when planning for prospective advanced research.
  • They allow researchers to measure health outcomes’ prevalence, comprehend health determinants, and delineate a populace’s features.

Contrarily, a cross-sectional survey cannot be utilized to assess behavior or incidence over a specified period. They are ineffective in determining causal inferences, and relationships identified in these surveys may be difficult to interpret. Other drawbacks include its susceptibility to bias and the potential challenge in analyzing temporal correlations between risk factors and outcomes.

The study’s constructs were measured using NSDUH questionnaires: the description for the construct validity analysis of the aforementioned constructs was not provided. According to Patino and Ferreira (2018), internal validity comprises three conditions: cause must antecede the effect, there must be a correlation between cause and effect, and a third variable should not be involved. These conditions were not met in this particular research because, although the researchers attempted to control several potential confounding sources, there was an increased likelihood of response bias and the presence of uncontrolled latent variables (Simonsson et al., 2021). The study design also limited the investigators’ ability to establish causal inferences. This study’s outcomes cannot be generalized because it is difficult to ascertain whether a randomization approach was used to select participants.

The study’s findings support the researchers’ hypothesis: the outcomes revealed that psychedelic drug users had better overall physical health than non-users. Some of the limitations identified by Simonsson et al. (2021) include

  • Causal inference restraints due to the selected study design.
  • The lack of information related to classic psychedelic use frequency, the context of use, and dosage used within the data sets.
  • The impossibility of ruling out the potential harm caused by the drug at an individual level. Nonetheless, the results of the study matched with the popular media source.


Dolan, E. W. (2021). Psychedelic drug users tend to have better overall physical health than non-users, study finds. PsyPost. Web.

Patino, C. M., & Ferreira, J. C. (2018). Internal and external validity: can you apply research study results to your patients? Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia, 44(3), 183. Web.

Simonsson, O., Sexton, J. D., & Hendricks, P. S. (2021). Associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and markers of physical health. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 35(4), 447-452. Web.




In recent years, there has been significant research on the mental health effects of classic psychedelic use, but there is very little evidence on how classic psychedelics might influence physical health.


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and markers of physical health.


Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2015-2018) with 171,766 (unweighted) adults aged 18 or above in the United States, the current study examined the associations between lifetime classic psychedelic use and three markers of physical health (self-reported overall health, body mass index, and a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months) while controlling for a range of covariates.


Respondents who reported having tried a classic psychedelic at least once in their lifetime had significantly higher odds of greater self-reported overall health and significantly lower odds of being overweight or obese versus having a normal weight. The association between lifetime classic psychedelic use and having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months approached conventional levels of significance, with lower odds of having a heart condition and/or cancer in the past 12 months for respondents who had tried a classic psychedelic at least once.


The results of the present study suggest that classic psychedelics may be beneficial to physical health. Future research should investigate the causal effects of classic psychedelics on physical health and evaluate possible mechanisms.