Do Psychedelics Have Healing Properties?

NOTE: This article features some sensitive topics that may not be suitable for younger readers. Please use discretion.

A couple of months ago, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience, and he discussed with Rogan the use of psychedelic substances. Rogan, who has admittedly used Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) on several occasions is a proponent of the use of psychedelics and believes that they can provide life-changing experiences of healing and spiritual awakening. Rodgers, who used Ayahuasca while he was in Peru, agreed by saying that he went through such a personal awakening while under its influence.

Where does the Church stand on the use of psychedelics? What dangers await on this new frontier? Can psychedelics really provide healing, or is the chemical distortion of our brain doing more damage than it’s worth? Recently on The Drew Mariani Show, Drew welcomed Dr. Sean O’Mara onto the show to talk about this issue, and help us understand what place these therapeutic drugs occupy in the moral and medical spheres.

While the majority of psychedelic users participate in drug use for recreational purposes, there are more than a handful of corner cases of people who have tried DMT or hallucinogens for the purpose of finding healing when therapy or traditional pharmaceuticals have failed them. And for some, they’ve seen favorable results. While the efficacy and efficiency of such cases are still under scrutiny from the medical world, Dr. O’Mara said it would be unwise to discount the idea that medical solutions found in nature should be distinguished from recreational drugs.

“Many, if not most, of our pharmacological targets that we have developed for modern-day pharmaceuticals came from the plant world. And so, they represent natural molecules that have been synthesized, and in many ways, patented, to allow pharmaceutical medications to be developed. So, to dismiss them as not being different from drugs is to dismiss the origins of these molecules.”

But Dr. O’Mara followed up with a cautionary warning that this is all very new and unknown. The molecules that are introduced through substances like DMT and psilocybin have just not been tested enough to accurately analyze their effects. He said that in the V.A. specifically, they’re doing several studies on things like MDMA and ketamine and their ability to treat PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

Of the results so far, Dr. O’Mara said that things are mixed. Some patients have shown very good results to hallucinogenics, while others have responded poorly. He pointed to the fact that everybody’s body responds to new substances differently.

When a person is diagnosed with a bacterial infection, you prescribe antibiotics. With a virus, you prescribe antivirals. When you’re dealing with neurological trauma, healing that wound can sometimes be a process of trial and error. And while some have seen psychedelics help, others have only suffered more. Dr. O’Mara said that while these substances are natural, that doesn’t mean they are safe and effective. The media has covered the success stories of DMT thoroughly, but very few horror stories have surfaced even though they happen just as often.

As far as where the Church stands on the use of drugs, we can turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.” (CCC, #2291)

The distinguishing factors between recreational and therapeutic use are determined on a case-by-case basis, but in general, the use of narcotics is wrong unless it directly relates to the treatment or management of some medical issue or injury. In the case of psychedelics, they rest in a decidedly gray area because of the unknown variables involved. As it stands, they are not strictly safe nor legal in most areas, and Dr. O’Mara cautions anybody considering their use. Their effect on each individual cannot be predicted, and it would be safer to consider traditional medication and treatment until more about psychedelics has been discovered.

“In some cases, some people have [taken psychedelics] and died. I think it’s really important that people not rush to this. I think it needs to be embraced by adequate studies and research in the medical community. And anybody who’s going to be considering using these kinds of substances, like we do it through the V.A. with Veterans, should be guided by experienced medical professionals who can monitor the situation and not by shamans.”

Tune in to The Drew Mariani Show weekdays 2-5pm CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.