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    Shipibo ayahuasca well-being ICEERS study Beckley

    Shipibo Ceremonial Use of Ayahuasca for Well-Being


    The shipibo ceremonial use of ayahuasca to promote well-being: an observational study

    Débora González, Jordi Cantillo, Irene Pérez, Maria Carvalho, Adam Aronovich, Magí Farré, Amanda Feilding, Jordi E. Obiols and José Carlos Bouso.



    About the study

    Over the course of four years, this prospective, observational non-controlled study, supported by ICEERS and the Beckley Foundation, examined the well-being and quality of life of 200 participants within a Shipibo healing program with ayahuasca, conducted by traditional healers. The results suggest that Indigenous Shipibo ayahuasca healing work has value in improving longterm well-being and quality of life for Westerners.

    Participants in the program showed a significant increase in psychological, subjective and spiritual well-being, while reporting an improvement in their quality of life after the retreat.

    Given that well-being is directly linked to the prevention of mental disorders and enhancing it is the best way to promote mental health, this study means a step forward towards the recognition of ayahuasca as a herbal medicine when used in the traditional context.



    Rationale: Promoting well-being is one of the main goals linked to improving health worldwide. We examined the well-being and quality of life over the course of one year in a sample that participated in an Indigenous Shipibo healing program where traditional healers work in a series of ayahuasca ceremonies. We also explored the role of decentering as a mediator of psychological well-being.

    Methods: Participants who attended the program responded to an online survey that included a Psychological Well-Being Scale; Oxford Happiness Questionnaire; The World Health Organization Quality of Life Spirituality, Religiousness, and Personal Beliefs scale; the WHO Quality of Life-BREF scale; and Decentering scale. Baseline (T0) and postassessment (T1) were completed by 200 individuals. Of these, 101 completed the follow-up assessment at three months (T2), 91 at 6 months (T3), and 94 at 12 months follow-up (T4) after leaving the center. ANOVA test was performed in a representative subsample to control the passing of time two months before attending the program (T-1). Pearson’s test was performed to examine the relationship between psychological well-being and decentering during the period of T0 and T1. A significant increase was observed in all the scales at all time points (p ≤ 0.01). The subgroup analysis performed in a representative subsample allowed us to infer that the significant differences in outcomes are due to the effect of their stay at the center and not the passing of time.

    Results: We found a relationship between decentering and the improvement of psychological well-being (r = 0.57; p < 0.01). Our results suggest that the Indigenous Shipibo healing work with ayahuasca has value to improve long-term well-being and quality of life for Westerners.


    Link to the article


    Contact ICEERS Research team

    Acknowledgements: We want to thank Matthew Watherston and the Temple of the Way of Light for opening the doors to our independent research. Gratitude to Aubrey Marcus for his generous donation that made this study possible.

    Categories: Studies & papers , Ayahuasca
    Tags: quality of life , shipibo , well-being , ayahuasca , scientific research , study , indigenous