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    ayahuasca rapid antidepressant

    Ayahuasca as a Potentially Rapid Acting Antidepressant


    Ayahuasca, a potentially rapid acting antidepressant: focus on safety and tolerability

    Giordano Novak Rossi, Isabella Caroline da Silva Dias, Glen Baker, José Carlos Bouso Saiz, Serdar M. Dursun, Jaime E. C. Hallak, and Rafael G. dos Santos.

    Expert Opinion on Drug Safety



    About the study

    Ayahuasca has shown preliminary potential as a rapid-acting antidepressant, and there were no reports of serious adverse events (AEs) in any randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials done with it in healthy and clinical populations to date.

    Most common AEs related to ayahuasca administration include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and transient above nominal cardiovascular variables. Less prevalent but more significant AEs include anxiety, dysphoric reactions, confusion, and dissociation/depersonalization.

    There were no reports of the need for medical or pharmacological interventions and all reported AEs were transient and subsided spontaneously.



    Introduction: Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew originally used by Amazonian indigenous groups and in religious rituals. Pre-clinical and observational studies have demonstrated its possible potential as an antidepressant, and open- and placebo-controlled clinical trials corroborated these results. For it to become an approved treatment for depression, its safety and tolerability need to be assessed and documented.

    Areas covered: We have gathered data regarding the occurrence of adverse events (AEs) in all reported randomized, placebo-controlled trials with healthy and clinical populations involving ayahuasca administration (n = 108 ayahuasca administrations). We systematically categorized these results, recorded their prevalence, and discussed the possible mechanisms related to their emergence.

    Expert opinion: There were no reports of serious AEs, indicating a relative safety of ayahuasca administration in controlled settings. Most common AEs included nausea, vomiting, headaches, and transient increases in cardiovascular measurements. Ayahuasca research is still in its infancy, especially concerning the absence of large and robust clinical trials to verify its antidepressant effects. Dose standardization, legal prohibition of the possession of its alkaloids and how traditional communities will be compensated if ayahuasca becomes an approved medicine are the biggest obstacles to overcome for its future use in the therapeutic context.


    Link to the study


    Contact ICEERS Research team

    Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash.



    Categories: Studies & papers , Ayahuasca
    Tags: ayahuasca , scientific research , study , adverse effects , safety , psychedelics , antidepressant