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    ayahuasca alcohol use

    Effects of a Single Dose of Ayahuasca in Harmful Alcohol Use


    Effects of a Single Dose of Ayahuasca in College Students With Harmful Alcohol Use: A Single-blind, Feasibility, Proof-of-Concept Trial

    Lucas Silva Rodrigues, José Augusto Silva Reis, Giordano Novak Rossi, Lorena T. L. Guerra, Renan Massanobu Maekawa, Flávia de Lima Osório, José Carlos Bouso, Fabiana Pereira Santos, Beatriz Aparecida Passos Bismara Paranhos, Mauricio Yonamine, Jaime Eduardo Cecilio Hallak, and Rafael Guimarães dos Santos.

    Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology



    About the study

    This study aimed to evaluate the effects of a single dose of ayahuasca on college students with harmful alcohol use. The trial included 11 male college students, who were administered ayahuasca in a controlled environment with psychological support. The primary focus was on changes in drinking patterns, while secondary outcomes included safety, tolerability, craving, personality traits, anxiety, impulsivity, self-esteem, and social cognition. The study found a significant reduction in alcohol consumption between weeks 2 and 3, although this effect was not statistically significant after correction. Additionally, no serious adverse reactions were observed, confirming the feasibility and safety of the protocol for future research.

    Participants reported various mild to moderate side effects, such as nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, and drowsiness, but no severe adverse events were recorded. During the experimental session, transitory dissociative and psychotic-like effects were noted but returned to baseline levels by the end of the session. The study also highlighted the importance of controlling for other psychoactive substance use, as some participants used LSD and MDMA during the trial, which affected the results. The study found significant reductions in reaction time on an empathy task, suggesting potential improvements in social cognition.

    The study concluded that while ayahuasca may have a potential effect on reducing alcohol consumption, larger and more controlled studies are needed to confirm these findings. The small sample size, single-blind design, and lack of blinding integrity were noted as limitations. The researchers emphasized the need for future studies to explore the effects of multiple doses and the inclusion of psychotherapeutic support to better understand the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca for alcohol use disorders. Despite the mixed results, the study supports the feasibility of using ayahuasca in clinical settings and paves the way for further research in this area.



    Background: Ayahuasca is a South American plant hallucinogen rich in the psychedelic N,N-dimethyltryptamine and β-carbolines (mainly harmine). Preclinical and observational studies suggest that ayahuasca exerts beneficial effects in substance use disorders, but these potentials were never assessed in a clinical trial.

    Methods: Single-center, single-blind, feasibility, proof-of-concept study, assessing the effects of one dose of ayahuasca accompanied by psychological support (without psychotherapy) on the drinking patterns (primary variable) of 11 college students with harmful alcohol consumption. Secondary variables included safety and tolerability, craving, personality, anxiety, impulsivity, self-esteem, and social cognition.

    Findings: Ayahuasca was well tolerated (no serious adverse reactions were observed), while producing significant psychoactive effects. Significant reductions in days per week of alcohol consumption were found between weeks 2 and 3 (2.90 ± 0.28 vs 2.09 ± 0.41; P < 0.05, uncorrected), which were not statistically significant after Bonferroni correction. There were no statistically significant effects for other variables, except for a significant reduction in reaction time in an empathy task.

    Conclusions: A significant reduction in days of alcohol consumption was observed 2–3 weeks after ayahuasca intake, but this effect did not survive after Bonferroni correction. The lack of significant effects in alcohol use and other variables may be related to the small sample size and mild/moderate alcohol use at baseline. The present study shows the feasibility of our protocol, paving the way for future larger, controlled studies.


    Link to the study


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