We are in the middle of a resurgence of research on psychedelic medicines and psychotherapy. Multiple federally approved clinical studies on psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA, and other entheogens are currently in progress. The FDA has declared psilocybin and MDMA to be breakthrough therapies and is expected to approve them both as credible therapeutic medicines within the next two years.
All of this is happening after years of prohibition and condemnation from the federal government. Yet now, preliminary research studies are proving that natural psychedelic medicines like ayahuasca, MDMA, ketamine, and psilocybin can help with a vast array of mental health problems. Although mental health is an important factor regardless of gender identity, it appears that women stand to benefit a great deal from gaining access to some of these psychotherapeutic substances.
Testimonies from Women About Psychedelics
Many women were recently interviewed in an article published in the MIT Technology Review, titled, Psychedelics are having a moment and women could be the ones to benefit. We recommend reading their full article for the most direct insight, but here are just a few of the mentioned testimonies.
“Jennifer Gural, a psychotherapist in California, spoke of how psychedelics helped her, and how she’s seen them help her female patients: “It shifted the focus of my life. It really helped me to tackle how my brain works and how I was thinking … It was such a profoundly life-changing experience. I have done ayahuasca and I’ve done psilocybin. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again, but I’m open to that if it’s needed—which I think is how we should use psychedelics.”
After Ayelet Waldman’s book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life came out in 2017, chronicling her monthlong experiment with microdosing LSD to treat severe “mood storms,” thousands of women from all over the world reached out to her. “I think it speaks to a desperation in women’s health,” she says. “And part of the reason for that is we all know that nobody bothers to study women, and nobody listens to women, especially when we report our specific mental-health issues.”
“SSRIs will only take you so far. There’s some emotional numbing, there’s some physical numbing; it’s harder to cry, it’s harder to climax. I think psychedelics for a lot of women are really more of a thorough solution to their problems instead of a Band-Aid.” – Julie Holland, a psychiatrist, author, and medical advisor to Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
“It was really emotionally and psychologically painful,” she says, recounting a particular ayahuasca trip she took with her parents. “I felt like I could see myself and I was in the middle of this storm of chaos where I felt comfortable and safe being sick because it was so entrenched for 20 years. I couldn’t ever imagine shifting my mindset, but now I’m in a place I would have never thought possible.” – Nikhita Singhal a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto.
“Not just Singhal but several other women interviewed for this story described how they had successfully experimented with psychedelics—not for recreational purposes, but to heal. One woman recounted how psychedelic-assisted therapy addressed her postpartum depression. Another described how microdosing psilocybin alleviated symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and an ayahuascatrip eliminated her condition altogether. Online, women on Reddit and in Facebook groups share how they’ve used psilocybin, LSD, ketamine, and MDMA to address PMS, menopause, low sexual desire, postpartum depression, and PTSD from sexual trauma.”
We highly recommend reading the full article, Psychedelics are having a moment and women could be the ones to benefit.
Science and Psychedelics for Women
In addition to the countless testimonies from women about how different psychedelic medicines can be positively life-changing, science is supporting those statements.
Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD, be prescribed SSRIs and other antidepressants, and be affected by critical mental health conditions like anorexia, OCD, and depression. All of these maladies are ones that psychedelics are showing may help, but it doesn’t stop there.
Even experiences that only women can understand, like having your first period, giving birth to your first child, having postpartum depression (PPD), going through menopause, or being diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder are all being shown to potentially benefit from psychedelics.
For example, ketamine-assisted therapy is currently legal in the U.S. A newly published study examined the effects of ketamine on women at a higher risk of PPD.
The study found that a single dose of ketamine may effectively prevent PPD when administered before anesthesia during C-sections. Researchers concluded that “ketamine intervention significantly lowers PPD incidence”.
Of course, this is only one of a wide range of available research studies supporting the use of psychedelics for women. As research on the benefits of psychedelics for mental health in all people continues to advance, it does appear women specifically may benefit greatly from these psychedelic substances. Though they have long been considered taboo, they are now being rediscovered as potentially life-changing therapeutic remedies.