Psychedelic Medicine


Psilocybin for Anorexia Nervosa with Stephanie Knatz Peck, PhD


In this episode of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast, Stephanie Knatz Peck, PhD joins to discuss the research on psilocybin for anorexia nervosa. Dr. Stephanie Knatz Peck is a clinical psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Diego with an expertise in eating disorders. She conducts clinical research on novel treatments for eating disorders and has been involved with clinical research evaluating psychedelics across a variety of mental health indications in the capacity of researcher and therapist. She also published the first ever report on a clinical study evaluating psilocybin for anorexia nervosa.

In this conversation, Dr. Peck discusses the difficulties of treating eating disorders and the emerging evidence around the safety and efficacy of psychedelic-assisted therapies for these conditions. She discusses the results from a study she conducted on the safety and tolerability of psilocybin therapy for females with anorexia nervosa, finding that the treatment was safe and generally well tolerated amongst the trial group. The study additionally found positive treatment outcomes following the psilocybin therapy in a number of participants. In closing, Dr. Peck discusses how psychedelics are able to open a “behavior change window” following dosing sessions—something which may be crucial to their efficacy in treating eating disorders.

In This Episode

• Dr. Peck’s work treating patients with eating disorders
• The lesser known diagnostic categories orthorexia and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS)
• Genetic predisposition for eating disorders
• Why the participants in Dr. Peck’s study thought they could benefit from additional psilocybin dosing sessions
• How transformative psychedelic experiences can help shift values and identities to promote eating disorder recovery


“We think that there are specific personality features that predispose someone to engage in dietary restrictive processes or behaviors or actions or modify their lifestyle around exercise and food—and then they fall into anorexia. And the thing that distinguishes those people is that sometimes they have these predisposing factors like a lot of anxiety or preoccupation, an ability to be highly self disciplined… There’s a lot of processes in place that can cause a diet to go awry and turn into anorexia.” [12:29]

“Something that distinguishes anorexia from other psychiatric illnesses is that it is an illness that really results in a lot of physiological vulnerability—across all body systems. And so while it might be fine to just assume that with some other psychiatric illnesses we can reliably assume safety, with this particular population there’s cardiac issues, there’s serotonergic things that affect cardiac issues that we really needed some safety data on.” [19:13]

“We really need better treatments [for eating disorders] that treat from the inside out, meaning like what is happening on an underlying psychological level, neuropharmacological level, that’s causing someone to want to engage in these behaviors and I think that is the value of these [psychedelic] treatments is that we are treating from a different direction.” [27:25]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.