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    Ayahuasca and Speech Performance in Social Anxiety

    01.10.2021

    Ayahuasca improves self-perception of speech performance in subjects with social anxiety disorder: a pilot, proof-of-concept, randomized, placebo-controlled trial

    Authors:
    Rafael G. dos Santos, Flávia de Lima Osório, Juliana Mendes Rocha, Giordano Novak Rossi, José Carlos Bouso, Lucas S. Rodrigues, Gabriela de Oliveira Silveira, Mauricio Yonamine & Jaime E. Cecílio Hallak.

    Journal:
    Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology

    Year:
    2021

    About the study

    This study investigates the effects of ayahuasca in volunteers with social anxiety disorder in a randomized, single-dose, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group clinical trial. Volunteers participated in an experimental session that included a simulated public-speaking test.

    This was the first randomized, placebo-controlled trial that assessed the effects of ayahuasca or any other classic hallucinogen in social anxiety disorder. Compared with placebo, ayahuasca ingestion was associated with significant improvements in self-perception of speech performance.

    Ayahuasca significantly improved self-perception of speech performance, showing a specific procognitive potential for social anxious subjects. Considering that a negative cognitive bias in self-perception is a core aspect of this disorder and that the efficacy of available treatments is limited, the results show a promising therapeutic potential for ayahuasca.

     

    Abstract

    Background: Ayahuasca is a classic hallucinogen with anxiolytic and antidepressive properties. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that it improves performance (eg, singing, speech). This controlled trial assessed the effects of ayahuasca on speech performance and anxiety in individuals with social anxiety disorder.

    Methods: Seventeen volunteers with social anxiety disorder participated in a pilot, proof-of-concept, randomized, parallel-group trial. Self-perception of performance during a public-speaking test was assessed with the Self-statements During Public Speaking Scale primary outcome). Secondary outcomes included anxiety/subjective effects (Visual Analog Mood Scale; Bodily Symptoms Scale), recognition of emotions in facial expressions (REFE), tolerability measures (cardiovascular measures, self-reports), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor plasma levels. Effects on anxiety and REFE were assessed again 7, 14, and 21 days postdrug.

    Findings: Compared with placebo, ayahuasca significantly improved self-perception of speech performance (Self-statements During Public Speaking Scale) and increased somatic symptoms (Bodily Symptoms Scale). There was also a significant time Ă— group interaction in the cognitive deterioration Visual Analog Mood Scale factor and a significant effect of time in the REFE task, especially in reaction time. Other measures were not significantly modified. Ayahuasca was well tolerated, producing mainly nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, and vomiting.

    Conclusions: Ayahuasca improved self-perception of speech performance in socially anxious individuals. These effects occurred independent of task-related anxiety and REFE, suggesting that ayahuasca could specifically improve the cognitive aspect of speech performance. Further studies should try to unveil the mechanisms involved in the effects of ayahuasca and to better understand its effects on anxiety.

     

    Link to the article

     
    Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash.

    Categories: Studies & papers , Ayahuasca
    Tags: ayahuasca , scientific research , study , DMT , psychedelics , hallucinogens , social anxiety