I’m Mentally and Physically Healthy. Should I Take Psychedelics?

I’m Mentally and Physically Healthy. Should I Take Psychedelics?

It’s 2023, and psychedelics have shed their stigma. They’re for more than just hippie festival-goers looking to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Research into psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, ketamine, and MDMA show they can help treat various mental health disorders. But what if you don’t suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or addiction? What if you feel overall healthy, yet you’re still curious about what psychedelics may be able to add to your life?

Why Do Healthy People Take Psychedelics?

Healthy individuals have been exploring the benefits of psychedelic medicines for hundreds if not thousands of years. Indigenous communities across the world have used sacred psychedelic plants and fungi for reasons beyond healing illness, including connecting to the divine and even finding lost items.

In Western society, sub-cultures of psychonauts have been taking LSD and psilocybin mushrooms for recreational purposes since they were introduced to the culture in the 1950s and 60s.

“While people approach psychedelics from these different angles, what is interesting is that there is a huge amount of crossover between these categories. Someone might take mushrooms with a good time in mind, and then find themselves catapulted into a spiritual initiation that confronts them with the nature of life and death,” said Wesley Bellanca, Lead Supervisor at Fireside Project, a nonprofit psychedelic peer support line that helps people by phone or text during or after psychedelic experiences. 

“It’s not uncommon for a client to come to do this work with the goal of human flourishing or spiritual development to encounter deeply buried issues,” said Denise Rue, therapist and trainer at Fluence. “It’s not uncommon that a client remarks, ‘I thought I worked through that already.’” 

Let’s dive a little deeper into the reasons why healthy people are taking psychedelics.

Crowdsurfing at the 21st Woodstock Festival in Poland, one of the biggest open air festivals in Europe. Photo by Maciej Bledowski, via Shutterstock.

Personal Growth and Wellbeing

Even if you don’t have a diagnosis or chronic symptoms, most of us have areas in our lives that require healing in order for us to grow and experience well-being.

“Healing and personal evolution are pretty synonymous,” said Krystine “Kiki” Grace, a psychedelic facilitator and integration coach who uses a harm reduction lens. “Even if you’re just looking for personal growth, there’s an aspect of integrating your path that’s going to have to be part of that trajectory.”

So, how do psychedelics facilitate this?

Psychedelics’ potential to boost our well-being and support our personal growth has been shown in studies. A review of studies on found that “research highlights the potential of psychedelic drugs for the enhancement of well-being even in healthy individuals.”

Fundación Conciencia Viba is a non-profit organization providing education and conducting research on psychedelic use in Colombia. The organization conducted the country’s first study on microdosing. The study found that the most-reported positive effects of microdosing psilocybin were heightened mood, mental clarity, better problem-solving, and higher levels of productivity and creativity. Around half of the study’s participants were healthy individuals with no apparent mental health conditions.

The Fundación’s head of research and development, Camila Suárez, explained that the organization is also researching the effects of higher-dose journeys on participants. “We’ve seen a lot of people drink ayahuasca as part of their lifestyle. Just as you take care of your daily calorie intake or do exercise, people drink ayahuasca as a way to sustain their health.”

“[Ayahuasca helps them with] not only the absence of illness but also to pensar bonito, actuar bonito (think beautifully, act beautifully),” added Suárez.

“People drink yagé to prepare themselves for life.”

With respect to ayahuasca specifically, the idea that it can help healthy people grow and become more resilient was echoed by traditional healer Taita Henrri Muchavisoy, who comes from the Inga tribe of the Putumayo region of Colombia.

“The yagé (ayahuasca) plant is a symbol or synonym of wisdom and knowledge. Healthy people can drink yagé to help prepare themselves for life. To be able to confront different obstacles in life and also to be able to help others, using the knowledge received while drinking yagé,” he said.

Taita Henrri also explained that in his community, Resguardo de Yunguillo, it’s part of the culture for everyone to drink yagé (the name for ayahuasca in Colombia) from a very young age. The yage is a way to keep children focused on their studies and help improve their behavior. 

Spiritual Enlightenment

With the help of psychedelics, many healthy individuals have been able to develop a relationship with spirit or God–whatever that means to them.

A 2006 study gave healthy volunteers a dose of psilocybin, resulting in the majority of participants having a “complete mystical experience” which featured feelings of unity, transcendence of time and space, and positive mood. Fourteen months post-study, 67% of participants said that the study was one of the most spiritually meaningful in their lives. Many healthy people who take psychedelics are searching for connection with something larger than themselves. Maybe a connection to Nature, the Universe, their Body, or the people around them.

Having Fun

Perhaps one of the oldest and most common reasons for taking psychedelics–especially in Western society–is recreation. In the medical context, taking psychedelics with friends as a way to connect and enjoy the experience is often demonized. Yet in many cases, it can be beneficial for the individual in the long term.

Dr. Peter Addy, a licensed therapist who provides harm reduction and integration therapy, said that “a common reason people can take psychedelics or any substance is to have fun. Fun is not a bad thing! Laughing, playing, and connecting with others in a safe set and setting is perfectly OK.”

Healthy people often take psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms at lower doses as a way to feel joy and connect with people they trust. Grace, the psychedelic facilitator and integration coach, explained how she tries not to stigmatize any kind of psychedelic use unless it’s going to cause harm to individuals. “I think it all has a place. Knowing why you are doing it at any given time is key to me,” she said.

Connecting to Nature

A common theme present in many people’s psychedelic experiences is a feeling of connectedness to Mother Earth. In the study done by Fundación Conciencia Viba, increased time spent in nature while microdosing was correlated with more positive outcomes. Another study showed that psychedelics can increase nature relatedness.

Joel Schade, a mindset coach from Germany now based in Medellin, Colombia, uses psychedelics for this purpose exactly. “Here in Colombia, I love to do them [psychedelics] on a hike,” he said. “I search for a spot in nature and think about my intention. Lately, it’s been to feel gratitude for nature and other people. So I take them and then while hiking, I try to be very attentive to my inner world,” he added.


Psychedelics have also been found to help enhance people’s creative pursuits. One study found that psilocybin increased spontaneous creative insights during the experience, and novel ideas seven days after the session. Another study on healthy volunteers found that a dose of LSD “increased novelty and symbolic thinking” and shifted cognitive resources “away from normal” and “towards the new.”

Dr. Addy, the licensed therapist, said that “people choose to take psychedelics at spiritual or religious ceremonies to enhance creativity or problem-solving abilities (which was very popular when I lived in Silicon Valley.)”

Creating the Right Experience For You

If you’re curious about trying psychedelics for any of the reasons mentioned above, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you have a safe and fruitful experience.

Whether you’re using psychedelics for recreational, spiritual or therapeutic purposes, having an intention–getting clear on your why–is crucial. “Intentionality can bridge the gap between recreation and therapy,” said Grace, the psychedelic facilitator and integration coach. “Because you can be in a therapeutic setting and using it [the psychedelic] because you want to. You can be in a recreational setting where you’re home chilling with friends, but your intention is to connect deeper to yourself.”

It’s also vital to think about the container that you’re in before, during, and after the experience. This essentially refers to the set and setting. “Set” is the mindset you have going into the journey. “Setting” is and the physical setting. The container also refers to the practices and support you need for proper preparation and integration. Even if you do not intend to uncover aspects of yourself that are painful to be in touch with, psychedelics can work in unexpected ways, and we should be prepared for whatever comes up.

A cacao ceremony. Photo by Jozef Klopacka.

“Work with Mystery, Not Control”

“Psychedelics don’t care if you are using them for recreation, therapy, or ceremony–they will give you what they have to offer on their own terms,” said Bellanca of Fireside Project. “While intentions are important, it is good to be mindful of this and remain humble and open to the experience as it unfolds. When you work with psychedelics you are within the paradigm of Mystery, not of control.”

Suárez of Fundación Conciencia Viba recommends that anyone who is trying psychedelics be prepared for a period of destabilization, even if you’re generally healthy. “Even if you feel you don’t have anything to heal or work through, some things may emerge, and you may be more sensitive for a while afterwards,” she said. 

If this is the case, it’s a good idea to seek support. Find a therapist or coach who is trained in psychedelic integration. Or attend a psychedelic integration circle.

Legality and Risks Surrounding Psychedelics

The most pressing consideration for many people who are new to psychedelics is legality. Consensus is shifting around whether these medicines should be illegal. But the reality is that many of them still are in most places, so taking them runs this risk.

If you’re in the US, however, access is opening up somewhat. Oregon just introduced licensed psilocybin centers. Colorado recently passed a bill to legalize growing and gifting (but not selling) psilocybin mushrooms. Legal ketamine clinics are also in operation across the country.

If you’re located in–or willing to travel to–countries in South America such as Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador, that opens the door to legal access to traditional medicines such as ayahuasca and huachuma (San Pedro) cactus.

Consider drug contraindications with the medicine and family history of certain mental illnesses. Any psychedelic guide or practitioner should have a proper medical intake process which screens out individuals for whom psychedelics are too high of a risk.

“Find somebody you trust to talk to about it. Having a mentor of some kind with this work is really crucial,” advises Grace. “Start to acquaint yourself and feel into which medicine is speaking to you most. Trust whatever your heart or your Self is pulling you towards. Because no one external to you is going to have the answer.”

RELATED: Here is a list of the ketamine clinics closest to you as well as other psychedelic therapies in your area.

Magdalena Tanev

Magdalena Tanev

View all posts by Magdalena Tanev

Mags Tanev is a freelance writer and editor with a keen interest in sacred medicines, indigenous plant wisdom, and psychedelic science. She is based in Medellín, Colombia. You can find more of her work at magstanev.com.

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