Not long ago, it was found that ayahuasca, a psychedelic, has the ability to improve one`s general wellbeing and serve as potential treatment for depression and alcoholism.
According to a study done by a team of researchers at Exeter University and University College London, Amazonian brew contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) — a psychedelic drug illegal in the U.S. and U.K. — improves the sense of wellbeing and treats depression.
It was also found that this powerful brew is able to fight off various addiction problems, including alcoholism. DMT is more effective in keeping drinking under control among severe alcoholics than other hallucinogens. This study is said to be the largest observational study to date to look into the effects of ayahuasca and DMT.
“Several observational studies have examined the long-term effects of regular ayahuasca use in the religious context. In this work, long-term ayahuasca use has not been found to impact on cognitive ability, produce addiction or worsen mental health problems,” said senior author professor Celia Morgan of the University of Exeter in the study.
“In fact, some of these observational studies suggest that ayahuasca use is associated with less problematic alcohol and drug use, and better mental health and cognitive functioning,” she added.
The researchers used data of more than 96,000 participants and measured wellbeing utilizing the Personal Wellbeing Index, an online survey which allows researchers to study things like connection with the community, sense of achievement, and personal relationship. Of the 96,000 participants, 527 were ayahuasca users, 18,138 used LSD or magic mushrooms and 78,236 did not take any psychedelic drugs.
As shown by the study, only few psychoactive effects can be experiences from consuming ayahuasca vine alone. DMT is digested in the stomach and stays inactive without the incorporation of monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). This was documented in a book titled “DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences” written by Rick Strassman.
In addition, the study shows that mixing both a MAOI-containing plant and DMT-containing substance is needed for hallucinogenic effect. The hallucinations lasted for up to 6 hours, and were the strongest right upon consumption. Ayahuasca users reported improved general wellbeing over the previous year than the other participants in the study.
“These findings lend some support to the notion that ayahuasca could be an important and powerful tool in treating depression and alcohol use disorders,” said lead author Dr Will Lawn of University College London in a press release.
“Recent research has demonstrated ayahuasca’s potential as a psychiatric medicine, and our current study provides further evidence that it may be a safe and promising treatment. It is important to note that these data are purely observational and do not demonstrate causality,” he added.
“Moreover, ayahuasca users in this survey still had an average drinking level which would be considered hazardous. Therefore, randomized controlled trials must be carried out to fully examine ayahuasca’s ability to help treat mood and addiction disorders. However, this study is notable because it is, to the best of our knowledge, the largest survey of ayahuasca users completed to date.”
The team of researchers working on the study noted that additional research on the topic has to be done to examine the link between ayahuasca use, mental health, wellbeing and problematic alcohol and substance.