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    Ayahuasca and Mental Health Professionals


    Ayahuasca: what mental health professionals need to know

    Rafael Guimarães dos Santos, José Carlos Bouso, and Jaime Eduardo Cecilio Hallak.

    Archives of Clinical Psychiatry



    About the study

    This article, intended for mental health professionals, reviews the most recent human studies about the effects of ayahuasca, a natural psychoactive concoction used for centuries by indigenous groups from Northwestern Amazonian countries.

    In terms of its subjective effects, studies show that these include increases in introspection, serenity, and in experiencing memories with autobiographical content, positive mood, affect, and wellbeing, altered perception of colors and sounds often accompanied by synesthesia, and also mystical-like and religious experience.

    Over the last 30 years, an increasing number of reports suggest that ayahuasca may have therapeutic potentials in the treatment of difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders such as drug dependence and anxiety and mood disorders.



    Background: Ayahuasca is a psychoactive ethnobotanical concoction that has been used for decades by indigenous groups of the Northwestern Amazon and by syncretic religious organizations for ritual and therapeutic purposes. In the last two decades, it is being used worldwide in evolving practices. Ayahuasca seems to have therapeutic effects, but controlled studies are lacking. Moreover, its safety and toxicity are not completely understood.

    Objectives: To present an overview of the effects of ayahuasca based on the most recent human studies.

    Methods: Narrative review.

    Results: Ayahuasca administration in controlled settings appears to be safe from a subjective and physiological perspective, with few adverse reactions being reported. More frequent adverse reactions occur in non-controlled settings. Prolonged psychotic reactions are rare and seem to occur especially in susceptible individuals. Ayahuasca showed antidepressive, anxiolytic, and antiaddictive effects in animal models, observational studies, and in open-label and controlled studies.

    Discussion: Ayahuasca administration in controlled settings appear to be safe. Moreover, ayahuasca seem to have therapeutic effects for treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders that should be further investigated in randomized controlled clinical trials. However, medical complications and cases of prolonged psychotic reactions have been reported, and people with personal or family history of psychotic disorders should avoid ayahuasca intake.

    Link to the article


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    Categories: Studies & papers , Ayahuasca
    Tags: mental health , psychopharmacology , ayahuasca , scientific research , study , DMT