Willingness to participate in entheogen use research in naturalistic settings

February 7, 2023
Helané Wahbeh, ND, MCR
Kirk, R. D., Uhley, O. M., Lehfeldt, P., Shields, C. M., Garretson, M., Collins, A., Wahbeh, H., & Dahmer, S. (2023). Willingness to participate in entheogen use research in naturalistic settings, Journal of Psychedelic Studies (published online ahead of print 2023). doi:


Background: Entheogen use is becoming increasingly popular and a potential option for treatment or adjuvant treatment for various medical conditions. Clinical studies are needed to determine the efficacy, safety, and possible role of these traditional medicines in the context of modern society and the Western medicine paradigm. The willingness of patients to participate in such studies is currently unknown.

Materials and Methods: In September 2021 we implemented an anonymous, observational pilot survey to determine the general public’s willingness to participate in future entheogen research. All participants were English-speaking adults and had participated in therapy or a retreat utilizing entheogens in a naturalistic setting in the last five (5) years. Participants were recruited through community outreach via email.

Results: The response rate for this data set was estimated to be 48.3% (n = 84/174). Nearly all (95.5%) participants believed this research should be done and 86.9% said they would participate in entheogen research that lasted longer than one year. A greater proportion of participants were willing to participate in remote interviews (73.5%) rather than in-person surveys (64.7%). A majority of participants (78%) also noted the importance of financial compensation for their time influencing the willingness to participate in future entheogen studies.

Conclusions: The willingness to participate in research involving traditional entheogens is not the limiting factor in facilitating further studies. Participants held overwhelmingly positive perceptions indicating that they believed this research should be done. Future longitudinal clinical studies with financial compensation and controlled set and settings will be necessary to expand the evidence base for naturalistic entheogen use.

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