For inquiries regarding the utilization of ethnobotanicals, or in case you are experiencing an adverse situation or difficulty integrating and experience, please read this page. For inquiries regarding legal support , please read this page.

  • We don’t offer sessions of ayahuasca or iboga.
  • We don’t recommend centers or people who perform/do sessions.

    map mapa marcador ICEERS


    Carrer de Sepúlveda, 65 , Oficina 2, 08015 Barcelona España +34 931 88 20 99
    ritual users ayahuasca ICEERS study

    Psychopathology and Life Attitude Among Ritual Users of Ayahuasca


    Personality, psychopathology, life attitudes and neuropsychological performance among ritual users of ayahuasca: a longitudinal study

    José Carlos Bouso, Débora González, Sabela Fondevila, Marta Cutchet, Xavier Fernández, Paulo César Ribeiro-Barbosa, Miguel Ángel Alcázar-Córcoles, Wladimyr Sena-Araújo, Manel J. Barbanoj, Josep Maria Fábregas, and Jordi Riba.

    PLoS ONE



    About the study

    This study was specifically designed to evaluate personality, life attitudes, mental health and neuropsychological performance in a relatively large number of ritual ayahuasca users and their matched controls. The investigation involved one initial assessment and a follow-up one year later.

    Participants were recruited after a meeting between the research team and members of several Brazilian ayahuasca churches. There was a jungle sample — with 56 ayahuasca users from a community within the Amazon rainforest and 56 controls recruited from Boca do Acre — and an urban sample — with 71 members of another ayahuasca religious group called Barquinha and 59 controls recruited in the city of Rio Branco.

    The assessment of the impact of long-term ayahuasca use on mental health  did not find evidence of pathological alterations in any of the spheres studied. Besides, ayahuasca users showed a lower presence of psychopathological symptoms compared to controls.



    Rationale: Ayahuasca is an Amazonian psychoactive plant beverage containing the serotonergic 5-HT2A agonist N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and monoamine oxidase-inhibiting alkaloids (harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine) that render it orally active. Ayahuasca ingestion is a central feature in several Brazilian syncretic churches that have expanded their activities to urban Brazil, Europe and North America. Members of these groups typically ingest ayahuasca at least twice per month. Prior research has shown that acute ayahuasca increases blood flow in prefrontal and temporal brain regions and that it elicits intense modifications in thought processes, perception and emotion. However, regular ayahuasca use does not seem to induce the pattern of addiction-related problems that characterize drugs of abuse. 

    Methods: To study the impact of repeated ayahuasca use on general psychological well-being, mental health and cognition, here we assessed personality, psychopathology, life attitudes and neuropsychological performance in regular ayahuasca users (n = 127) and controls (n = 115) at baseline and 1 year later. Controls were actively participating in non-ayahuasca religions. 

    Results: Users showed higher Reward Dependence and Self-Transcendence and lower Harm Avoidance and Self-Directedness. They scored significantly lower on all psychopathology measures, showed better performance on the Stroop test, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the Letter-Number Sequencing task from the WAIS-III, and better scores on the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale. Analysis of life attitudes showed higher scores on the Spiritual Orientation Inventory, the Purpose in Life Test and the Psychosocial Well-Being test. Despite the lower number of participants available at follow-up, overall differences with controls were maintained one year later. 

    Conclusions: In conclusion, we found no evidence of psychological maladjustment, mental health deterioration or cognitive impairment in the ayahuasca-using group.


    Link to the article


    Contact ICEERS Research team

    Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash.

    Categories: Studies & papers , Ayahuasca
    Tags: ayahuasca , scientific research , study , psychoactive , psychedelics , hallucinogens , personality , neuropsychology , ritual