Welcome to my blog Could Psychedelics Treat Autoimmune Conditions?
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Could Psychedelics Treat Autoimmune Conditions?
A handful of studies from a variety of fields suggest that psychedelics do indeed have effects in the body that may attenuate the outcome of autoimmune disease.
The incidence of autoimmune diseases has been steadily increasing in the last decades, as reported by The National Institute of Health (NIH) and other sources. There are currently over 100 defined autoimmune-related diseases.
While the causes of autoimmune diseases are controversial, they appear to be multifactorial with many facets that contribute to their development such as:
- Genetic predisposition
- Environmental triggers
- Psychosocial stress
There is strong evidence that traumatic experiences such as Adverse Childhood Events and prolonged stress may contribute to the development of an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases often encompass a variety of symptoms and features including:
- Increased vascular and intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
- Chronic inflammation
- The presence of chronic infections
- Dysregulated adrenal function
- Mitochondrial dysfunction
- Microbiome dysbiosis.
While the area of research is quite underdeveloped, there is some evidence that psychedelic compounds have anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects.
Trauma And Autoimmune Disease
We have already mentioned that a number of studies have suggested that significant or prolonged stress, especially in early childhood, contributes to the development of a number of diseases including autoimmune diseases. This prolonged stress:
- Increases inflammatory cytokines
- Increases oxidative stress
- Increases glutamate excitotoxicity
- Inhibits effective digestion and nutrient absorption
- Contributes to HPA axis dysfunction
Stress has been found to increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut) which can lead to food sensitivities and inflammation.
The psychedelic compounds psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, and ayahuasca are currently being explored for their promising potential to assist in treating trauma-derived illnesses such as PTSD, depression, and addiction
Given that trauma and chronic sympathetic activation are prevalent among those with AiD, the therapeutic outcome of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy could resolve or improve stressful psychological states that cause or contribute to physiological outcomes seen in the majority of AiD patients.
Psychedelics, Autoimmunity, And Infections
Chronic infections with bacteria, fungi and viruses are common in those with autoimmune disease.
Examples include the Epstein-Barr virus and other herpes family viruses as well as Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Many patients with AiD display evidence of increased gut permeability, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and other signs of gut dysbiosis, which can be classified as chronic low-grade infections.
Constituents in psychedelic plants such as the ayahuasca vine and Peyote cactus display specific antimicrobial effects.
The emotional and psychological benefits of psychedelics may indirectly alter microbial communities in the GI tract via induced changes in vagal nerve tone, stress response, and enteric environment
So could psychedelics treat autoimmune conditions? I feel they could absolutely be an important component of some peoples healing journey.
The authors provided this summary of their paper:
- Classic psychedelic compounds display immunomodulatory properties.
- Psychosocial stress may contribute to the development of Ads.
- The gut microbiota modulates physiological pathways involved in stress.
- Modulation of the gut microbiome by psychedelics may influence immune functions.
- Normalisation of physiological stress responses may be key in the application of psychedelics to treat Ads.