Psychedelics have long been utilized in non-Western cultures as a sacrament in spiritual and religious ceremonies to deepen connection to spirit, and support and strengthen spirituality within and amongst individuals. Psychedelics are still in use across many indigenous cultures in physical and spiritual healing ceremonies, Christian churches spanning from Brazil to the United States, and underground church congregations across much of the Western world.
As scientific research into the benefits of psychedelic substances for mental health continues to advance and many participants characterize their experiences as "spiritual" and report encounters with "God", "universal consciousness", and "The Great Mother", scientists are beginning to explore the link between these mystical and spiritual experiences and the mental health benefits of psychedelics.
The results from a recent survey study published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology reveal proof of a link between psychedelic use and increased spirituality, leading to improved emotional management. The resulting enhanced emotional agency appears to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and disordered eating.
A group of Canadian researchers surveyed 159 individuals with a history of psychedelic use on self-reported ratings of spirituality based on the World Health Organization's Spirituality, Religiousness, and Personal Beliefs scale, difficulties in emotion regulation based on the DERS scale for evaluating patterns of emotion regulation, and symptoms of mental health challenges that measured anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory Scale), depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale - Revised), and eating disorder (Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaire).
96% of the participants reported previous psilocybin use while 33% said they had tried more than one type of psychedelic. The scientists discovered that individuals who used psychedelics more frequently scored higher on the spirituality scale, and those who had stronger spirituality had less difficulty with emotional management. They also found that people who demonstrated less emotional agency scored higher on the depression, anxiety, and eating disorder scales. In other words, people who had fewer problems with emotional management reported greater mental wellbeing.
These findings further demonstrate the link between the medical and religious use of psychedelics as highly effective approaches to support mental and emotional well-being.