Have you heard of the medicinal drink known as ayahuasca? The psychedelic substance is traditionally brewed in South America, where it is consumed during ceremonies to contribute to healing and self-realization. Now, new research confirms that the brew — which contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) — can help cure people of depression and alcoholism.
The study was published in Nature and suggests that the psychedelic drug — which is illegal in the U.S. and the UK — has the potential to improve people’s mental, physical and emotional well-being. The research was conducted by a team from Exeter University and the University College London reports Business Insider.
Wrote senior author professor Celia Morgan of the University of Exeter: “Several observational studies have examined the long-term effects of regular ayahuasca use in the religious context. In this work, long-term ayahuasca use has not been found to impact on cognitive ability, produce addiction or worsen mental health problems.”
“In fact, some of these observational studies suggest that ayahuasca use is associated with less problematic alcohol and drug use, and better mental health and cognitive functioning,” she added.
A notable finding of the study is that DMT is more effective in controlling drinking among severe alcoholics, in comparison to other hallucinogens, like LSD or magic mushrooms.
For the research, the team used data from the Global Drug Survey (over 96,000 participants) to measure wellbeing using the Personal Wellbeing Index. This tool is popular among scientists who study personal relationships, connection to one’s community, and sense of achievement. It was learned that of the 96,000 participants, 527 had tried ayahuasca, 18,128 had used LSD or magic mushrooms, and 78,236 did not take any psychedelic drug.
The study notes that an MAOI-containing plant and DMT-containing substance are necessary for a full hallucinogenic effect — something shamans of the Amazon have known for decades, despite not having access to “advanced” technologies. The researchers said DMT alone would not produce the desired effects.
The effects of ayahuasca usually last between six and eight hours. They are usually felt most strongly after one hour of consumption. Those who used Ayahuasca reported higher levels of wellbeing over the previous 12 months than other respondents in the survey. This led the team to conclude that Ayahuasca may benefit depression and alcoholism.
“These findings lend some support to the notion that ayahuasca could be an important and powerful tool in treating depression and alcohol use disorders,” said lead author Dr Will Lawn of University College London in a press release. “Recent research has demonstrated ayahuasca’s potential as a psychiatric medicine, and our current study provides further evidence that it may be a safe and promising treatment. It is important to note that these data are purely observational and do not demonstrate causality.”
“Moreover, ayahuasca users in this survey still had an average drinking level which would be considered hazardous. Therefore, randomized controlled trials must be carried out to fully examine ayahuasca’s ability to help treat mood and addiction disorders. However, this study is notable because it is, to the best of our knowledge, the largest survey of ayahuasca users completed to date.”
The team hopes future studies will be conducted to discern the relationship between the brew, mental health, well-being, and alcoholism.
Every week, it seems, new research is published confirming that psychedelic substances contribute to psychological and physical well-being more efficiently than pharmaceutical prescription drugs. As humans remember that they are nature and, therefore, will benefit from natural therapies the most, the use of substances such as magic mushrooms, LSD and ayahuasca will likely become less taboo.
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Source: Business Insider