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    effects ayahuasca substance use disorders drugs ICEERS study

    Effects of Ayahuasca on Substance Use Disorders


    Effects of ayahuasca and its alkaloids on substance use disorders: an updated (2016-2020) systematic review of preclinical and human studies

    Lucas Silva Rodrigues, Giordano Novak Rossi, Juliana Mendes Rocha, Flávia L Osório, José Carlos Bouso, Jaime E. Cecílio Hallak, and Rafael Guimarães dos Santos.

    European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience


    About the study

    This study updated the previous systematic review evaluating quantitative preclinical and human studies assessing the efects of ayahuasca and its alkaloids on drug use and other psychological and cognitive measures related to substance use disorders.

    Electronic searches were performed for studies published in the period from the 1st of January 2016  to the 8th of November 2020 on the Pubmed, Psycinfo, Scielo, and LILACS databases. After removing duplicates and reading the titles and abstracts of the articles found, eight references were selected for full reading.

    Preclinical and observational studies suggest that ayahuasca may have therapeutic efects in the treatment of substance use disorders. Although the majority of the volunteers who composed the samples of the studies had a higher consumption of substances relative to the control groups, this consumption was lower in the last year prior to their participation in the studies.



    Background: Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic/psychedelic traditionally used for ritual and therapeutic purposes. One such therapeutic use is related to Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). A previous systematic review of preclinical and human studies published until 2016 suggested that ayahuasca and its alkaloids have therapeutic effects in the treatment of SUDs.

    Methods: To conduct an update of this previous review, a systematic review of quantitative studies which analyzed the effects of ayahuasca and its alkaloids on drug use (primary outcome) and other measures (secondary outcomes) related to SUDs was conducted, including articles from 2016 to 2020. Nine studies (four preclinical, five observational) were included in the review. Preclinical studies in rodents reported reductions in amphetamine self-administration and anxiety, and in alcohol- and methylphenidate-induced conditioned place preference. Observational studies among healthy ritual ayahuasca users and patients with SUDs reported reductions in drug use, anxiety, and depression, and increases in quality of life and well-being. 

    Results: We replicated the findings of the previous review suggesting that ayahuasca and its alkaloids have therapeutic effects in the treatment of SUDs. However, translation of preclinical data to humans is limited, observational studies do not allow us to infer causality, and there is a lack of standardization on ayahuasca doses.

    Conclusions: Although promising, randomized, controlled trials are needed to better elucidate these results.


    Link to the article


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    Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash.

    Categories: Ayahuasca , Studies & papers
    Tags: scientific research , study , DMT , psychedelics , hallucinogens , drug dependence , harmine , substance use disorders , ayahuasca