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Psychedelic Medicine

Association

Psychedelics’ Potential to Improve Health Habits with Pedro Teixeira, PhD

Summary

On this episode of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast, Dr. Pedro Teixeira joins to discuss the emerging research about the effects of psychedelics on health behavior change. Dr. Teixeira is a professor of physical activity and health at the University of Lisbon and the director of research for the Synthesis Institute in the Netherlands. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in exercise science and a PhD in nutritional sciences. As an academic, Pedro’s main research interest is health behavior change, a field which he is now trying to put into conversation with the latest psychedelic science.

In this conversation, Dr. Teixeira shares the basics of the field of health behavior change, which seeks to study how and why people end up developing positive-health-conscious behaviors. This is a field that is of particular interest to clinicians, as doctors are always looking to encourage healthful behaviors in their patients.

When it comes to research on the impact of psychedelics on health behavior change, Dr. Teixeira explains that much of the current data is secondary, though some evidence can be drawn from studies that primarily examined psychedelic therapy for tobacco and alcohol cessation. The data that does exist, however, paints a very promising picture, with many psychedelic users reporting positive changes in diet and exercise following experiences with these mind-altering substances—an effect which Dr. Teixeira notes is often observed even if there was no intent for health behavior change prior to the psychedelic experience.

However, more research is needed to substantiate these preliminary results. To that end, Pedro shares the idea of “behavioral psychedelics”—a new methodological paradigm in psychedelic research that will focus more on collecting data on concrete behaviors following psychedelic therapy as opposed to the primarily psychometric data which has dominated the field.

Dr. Teixeira also emphasizes that the field of health behavior change could be an important vehicle for emphasizing the role of psychedelics as tools for preventative health, taking the field beyond the current paradigm which sees psychedelics as primarily useful for their potential to address acute mental health conditions.

Dr. Teixeira can be reached at ​​[email protected]

In This Episode

• The emerging field of health behavior change
• Types of health-related behaviors that could be encouraged by psychedelic experiences
• The new paradigm of “behavioral psychedelics”
• Possible preventative health roles for psychedelics
• The evidence from tobacco and alcohol cessation trials for health behavior changes following psychedelic use

Quotes

“[Recent observational studies] seem to show that for some reason psychedelic users are not only healthier from a physical health perspective, but there’s also indications that that is caused by some of their behaviors.” [13:13]

“What better way to convince future politicians or policymakers than to show that people are actually improving the quality of their lives and their health habits and saving healthcare costs and eating more sustainable diets perhaps, if indeed the studies in Oregon and in the future in other places are showing that there is a preventative aspect, there is a lifestyle enhancement aspect to these experiences.” [21:57]

“When you behave from a self-determined perspective, or when you’re motivated more internally as opposed to being more externally motivated, your outcomes will be better. Your behavioral outcomes, but also your health outcomes.” [26:21]

Links

* 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.