Long-term negative body image often leads to depression and anxiety, and unfortunately for many, can lead to body dysmorphia or eating disorders. Can psychedelics help reformulate the relationship with the body?
Psychedelics hold promise for those struggling with eating disorders – 9% of the world’s population according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
These states primarily affect women, and now more and more of them are revealing how psychedelics help them get out of the constant cycle of dissatisfaction, body dysmorphia and accompanying anxiety, depression and stress. They explain how using psychedelics helped them develop a new relationship with their eating disorder and improve their self-image.
Although large-scale studies are (currently) scarce, anecdotal evidence of these changes is strong.
For many women, talking about their insecurities is still seen as taboo, a weakness or a shame. But finding a supportive space to talk about one’s challenges, plus engaging in embodied experiences – including psychedelic sessions – can offer a gateway to healing. The work also includes conducting embodiment practices through yoga and conscious dance. By helping women talk about their struggles and get in touch with their bodies, she is trying to break down the stigma.
Understanding negative body image
To better understand these conditions, we must first understand body image. For most women, it’s not as simple as liking or disliking their own bodies. Body image is complex and can include a combination of our feelings, beliefs and perceptions of how our body looks to us and others, an understanding of what it can do, and its estimated size.
Body image problems can begin as early as age 5 . Changes in our figure initiated by puberty can deepen our dissatisfaction. Culture also has a huge impact on the way we see ourselves. The way society perceives gender, skin and hair color and countless other things can also affect the way a person thinks and feels about his or her physical appearance.
Potential of psychedelics in building positive body image
Eating disorders are notoriously difficult to treat compared to other mental health disorders. Traditional treatments , such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) , have a remission rate of about 45%, a relapse rate of about 30% at one year and can be difficult to follow. Now some experts and researchers are considering psychedelic therapy as an alternative and analyzing the potential benefits of this therapy.
Research to date
Ketamine, ayahuasca, MDMA and psilocybin are the four psychedelics that have been the focus of much of the recent research on potential treatments for eating disorders. Let’s take a look at how each can help with eating disorders:
Ketamine is a non-classical psychedelic that can alter consciousness for a short period of time. The antidepressant properties of this synthetic compound have been studied for the treatment of major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and OCD.
Ayahuasca is a fermented herbal drink that contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT), one of the most potent psychedelic drugs known for its role in shamanic or religious ceremonies. The brew has been used as a sacred ritual by various indigenous tribes of South America for at least 1000 years . Travelers often claim mystical and transcendent visions that lead to self-discovery.
Experiencing ayahuasca can have a beneficial effect on behavior, stimulating self-reflection and heightened awareness. Studies suggest that drinking it can help treat anxiety, addiction and depression, as well as eating disorders by changing body perceptions.
MDMA, another compound made in the lab, has physiological effects that alter people’s behavior, such as openness. MDMA increases serotonin levels while increasing oxytocin, dopamine and other chemical mediators, causing feelings of empathy, trust and compassion. The substance also affects the way people process trauma and emotions over a period of several hours.
Psilocybin is a substance produced by more than 100 different species of fungi around the world such as in the Growkit Golden Teacher. Psilocybin is said to have the best safety profile of any psychedelic substance. These mushrooms may be useful in treating eating disorders by targeting serotonin imbalances in the brain and therapeutically moving a person away from symptom-focused treatment. This can cause changes in self-esteem and self-compassion.
Reclaiming ownership of your body with psychedelics
Psychedelics can help women see their eating disorder as a coping mechanism rather than as part of their identity. After realizing this insight, they can also slowly begin to replace bad habits with healthier and nicer new habits. They can rewrite the internal narrative of lies and self-limiting beliefs about their bodies.
Once again, it is important to emphasize the importance of integration, relationships and a holistic approach along with other therapeutic methods and modalities. Change comes with time, effort and consistency, especially when it de-escalates behaviors that have been a big part of our lives for many years.
We do not encourage the cultivation and consumption of psychoactive substances, the text is educational and is the private opinion of the author.
The content on psychodelicroom.co.uk is educational, research, and is an expression of many opinions, to which one should reserve. We do not encourage or even discourage the use of any means of influencing consciousness, all of which can both cure and do great harm. In particular, we advise against growing mushrooms from growkits in countries where it is illegal – min. in Poland – because it involves criminal liability. We recommend that growkits purchased from us be disposed of 72 hours after receipt.