No shade to Gwyneth Paltrow (okay, a little shade) but the actress’s wellness advice doesn’t always have the most solid science behind it (it was just last year her lifestyle brand, Goop, had to pay out $145,000 for false claims it made about vaginal eggs). So it was a little surprising when she said the “next big thing” in health will probably be psychedelics.
For someone who’s all about going au naturale (but like, in a super expensive way), suggesting hard drugs are the next big craze is a little off brand. However strange it seems, she explained to the New York Times in an interview published Wednesday that she’s fascinated by the research going on in that area.
“I think how psychedelics affect health and mental health and addiction will come more into the mainstream,” she said. “I’ve never done it. I’m terrified. I mean there’s undeniably some link between being in that state and being connected to some other universal cosmic something.”
She went on to talk about how she sees psychedelics as a way to alter the way people think and encourage openness.
“How do we [change the way we think] as a culture? How do we evolve?” she said. “What is the next iteration of the culture as it pertains to the way we think about things, the degree of openness to which we think about things and process things?”
She then brought up the naturally occurring psychoactive ibogaine which is most commonly known for its use in African spiritual traditions in Gabon. In the West, it’s mostly touted for its anti-addictive properties and though it is illegal in the United States, it’s legal in some capacities in Canada. The use of ibogaine as a way to treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal has been tested to a degree, but in 2017, one public health researcher told CBC News, “Ibogaine is too toxic. It has a chance of death, and we can’t take that risk.” Some patients, however, swear it saved their lives.
Gwyneth suggested that Goop is doing some work on ibogaine, telling the interviewer when asked, “You sure are [going to read about it on Goop].”
We don’t know about connecting to a “universal cosmic something,” but microdosing is definitely looking promising for dealing with other, more earthly, things.
There has been a trend toward researching the concept of microdosing small amounts of psychedelics (like LSD, mushrooms or other hallucinogens) to increase concentration and creativity or lessen anxiety and chronic pain. Most have been pretty informal (if you know what we mean) and we’re just in the beginning stages of figuring out the benefits and risks, but it’s certainly something to keep on your radar.
Just this week, scientists at the University of California published one of the first official studies suggesting that microdosing on psychedelic drugs might actually have the benefits people have been theorizing about. Researchers found that administering microdoses of DMT to rats “may alleviate symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders, though the potential hazards of this practice warrant further investigation.” The study acknowledges that all the information on microdosing before it is from anecdotal testimony, but the effects witnessed in the study are consistent with those described in individual reports.
Independently, researchers in the U.K. were looking at similar aspects of microdosing, with two studies on humans. These researchers found that the practice of taking small doses of LSD could lead to “decreased depression and stress; decreased mind wandering; increased absorption; and increased neuroticism.” They also suggest that more research is needed to draw any more conclusive results.
Is Gwyneth onto the next big thing? Maybe. But we’re going to wait around a bit and see what the science has to say.