Psychedelics in the Treatment of Eating Disorders

The research potential of psychedelic drugs has been opening up in the 21st century, and they are showing some promise for a variety of treatments. Psilocybin in particular has been found to be useful in helping longtime smokers quit the habit, and in the reduction of anxiety and depression. A newer possibility is that they can aid in the fight against eating disorders.

These disorders, such as anorexia, often arise from a state of rigid thinking, in which the victim continually falls back into dangerous behavior patterns. Eating disorders are often accompanied by anxiety and depression, and all too often lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Psychedelic drugs such as ketamine have been shown to allow patients to see their situation from a different angle, in which they are able to separate the self from the disorder. There is a broad tendency for psychedelics to increase neuroplasticity, or the ability to change one's thinking. Neuroplasticity gives us the ability to adapt to our environment.

Ketamine and the related esketamine are already in use to treat eating disorders, and researchers are looking into the possibility of studying MDMA and psilocybin for anorexia treatment. Read about the potential promise of such drugs in the treatment of eating disorders at Smithsonian. 

(Image credit: Doc James

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