News | 09.30.2022

Psychedelics Could Benefit Astronauts On Prolonged Space Missions

Magic mushrooms in outer space? It's not a crime in the cosmos.

Taking psychedelics in space might seem like a thrill, but one study noted how it could seriously benefit astronauts floating in the cosmos over long periods of time.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Space Technologies, the new study is titled “A long trip into the universe: Psychedelics and space travel,” authored by Dr. Leonard Lerer and Jeet Varia.

The researchers acknowledged how astronauts often experience a handful of negative side effects from prolonged space missions and coming back down to Earth. Below are just a few of the most common risks, according to NASA:

  • Psychological distress
  • Sleep disorders
  • Emotional lability (mood swings)
  • Psychosomatic symptoms
  • Irritability
  • Declined motivation
  • Increased risk of anxiety, depression, and psychosis
  • Post-mission personality changes

Psychedelics In Space: The Research

Dr. Lerer and Varia created a new study to discuss how these risks and occurrences could be treated with psychedelic substances. Dr. Lerer wrote that prolonged space missions have a severe effect on astronauts.

He said it’s “useful to consider the potential positive, adaptive effects of the psychedelic experience,” including:

  • Elevated consciousness
  • Heightened cognitive flexibility
  • Increased creativity
  • Enriched empathy
  • Insightfulness
  • Peak self-awareness

Even more interesting is how the researchers compared the psychedelic experience to the sensations some astronauts feel when coming back down to Earth, which include:

  • Transcendental experiences
  • Religious insights
  • A sense of unity with humankind, having viewed the Earth from above

The motivation behind the new study stems from what Dr. Lerer calls a psychedelic “renaissance” where these substances are being examined for therapeutic potential and other aspects like:

  • Neuroplasticity
  • Enhancing the immune system
  • Reducing inflammation

Finally, studies like these are needed now more than ever. Dr. Lerer and Varia explained how we are quickly approaching a time when traveling outside our solar system might be essential for resources and finding new habitats. Thus, it’s up to research like this to help astronauts maintain physical and mental health during these long space missions.

For now, the study acknowledges how there is no “empirical evidence to support the application of psychedelics in space exploration,” but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the relationship between psychedelics and humankind and how it may benefit us during our adventures into the universe.

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