Ethnoracial health disparities and the ethnopsychopharmacology of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2021 Oct;29(5):539-554. doi: 10.1037/pha0000490. Epub 2021 Jun 7.


Emerging evidence from randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials suggests psychedelic compounds such as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), when administered as an adjunct to psychotherapy, that is, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP), may be beneficial for treating substance use disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions. Previous ethnopsychopharmacological research has identified ethnoracial differences in the metabolism, safety, and efficacy of psychotropic drugs, yet no studies have directly investigated the impact of ethnoracially based differences in psychedelic drug pharmacology. Although there is an extensive global history of psychedelic use among peoples of various cultures, ethnicities, and intersectional identities, psychedelic research has been conducted almost exclusively on White populations in North America and Western Europe. The failure to include Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in psychedelic research trials neglects the ethnic, racial, and cultural factors that may impact individual responses to PAP and thereby prevents generalizability of findings. This article investigates the impact of biological and social factors related to culture, ethnicity, and race on pharmacological responses to PAP, as well as clinical outcomes. The limitations of ethnopsychopharmacology are discussed, and the authors present expected cultural, clinical, and public health benefits of expanding funding for this area. This work will draw attention to the unique and individualized needs of ethnoracially diverse clients in therapeutic settings and is intended to inform future PAP trials. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Hallucinogens*
  • Humans
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine*
  • Psilocybin
  • Psychotherapy


  • Hallucinogens
  • Psilocybin
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine