Naturalistic Use of Mescaline Is Associated with Self-Reported Psychiatric Improvements and Enduring Positive Life Changes

Gabrielle Agin-Liebes*, Trevor F. Haas, Rafael Lancelotta, Malin V. Uthaug, Johannes G. Ramaekers, Alan K. Davis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Mescaline is a naturally occurring psychoactive alkaloid that has been used as a sacrament by Indigenous populations in spiritual ritual and healing ceremonies for millennia. Despite promising early preliminary research and favorable anecdotal reports, there is limited research investigating mescaline's psychotherapeutic potential. We administered an anonymous online questionnaire to adults (N = 452) reporting use of mescaline in naturalistic settings about mental health benefits attributed to mescaline. We assessed respondents' self-reported improvements in depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol and drug use disorders (AUD and DUD). Of the respondents reporting histories of these clinical conditions, most (68-86%) reported subjective improvement following their most memorable mescaline experience. Respondents who reported an improvement in their psychiatric conditions reported significantly higher ratings of acute psychological factors including mystical-type, psychological insight, and ego dissolution effects compared to those who did not report improvements (Cohen's d range 0.7 - 1.5). Many respondents (35-50%) rated the mescaline experience as the single or top five most spiritually significant or meaningful experience(s) of their lives. Acute experiences of psychological insight during their mescaline experience were associated with increased odds of reporting improvement in depression, anxiety, AUD and DUD. Additional research is needed to corroborate these preliminary findings and to rigorously examine the efficacy of mescaline for psychiatric treatment in controlled, longitudinal clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-552
Number of pages10
JournalACS Pharmacology & Translational Science
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • psychedelics
  • mescaline
  • mental health
  • psychological insight
  • mystical-type experience
  • MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE QUESTIONNAIRE
  • SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS
  • CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES
  • PSILOCYBIN TREATMENT
  • THREATENING CANCER
  • AGONIST PSILOCYBIN
  • DEPRESSION
  • ANXIETY
  • PSYCHEDELICS
  • VALIDATION

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