- Ayahuasca may be linked to well-being.
- It is also related to lesser problematic alcohol use.
- Ayahuasca is a traditional Amazonian drug.
An Amazonian drug called Ayahuasca has been reported to improve people's general sense of wellbeing.
Association of ayahuasca with well-being
Ayahuasca users reported greater well-being than classic psychedelic users. Problematic alcohol drinking was also less among ayahuasca users. "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 Dr.Will Lawn, of University College London.
‘The findings of increased well-being and less problematic alcohol use amongst ayahuasca users, compared to their classic psychedelic using counterparts, lends limited support to the notion that ayahuasca may prove to be an important and powerful adjunct for the treatment of depression and alcohol use disorders.’
Recent research has demonstrated ayahuasca's potential as a psychiatric medicine, this study provides further evidence that it may be a safe and promising treatment.
Problematic alcohol use and ayahuasca
Problematic drinking is found among ayahuasca users as well as other psychedelic users. 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.
There was a higher incidence of lifetime mental illness diagnoses within the ayahuasca users, which subsequent analyses found to be confined to users from countries without a tradition of ayahuasca use.
Researching ayahuasca users
An online survey was conducted via social media and responses regarding well-being was measured with the Personal Wellbeing Index, a tool used by researchers around the world which asks about things such as personal relationships, connection with the community and a sense of achievement.
Of the respondents, 527 were ayahuasca users, 18,138 used LSD or magic mushrooms and 78,236 did not take psychedelic drugs.
Using Global Drug Survey data from more than 96,000 people worldwide, a research team at the University of Exeter and University College London found that ayahuasca users reported lower problematic alcohol use than people who took LSD or magic mushrooms.
However, the survey data showed a higher incidence of lifetime mental illness diagnoses within the ayahuasca users. Subsequent analyses found that these were confined to users from countries without a tradition of ayahuasca use.
Components of ayahuasca
Ayahuasca which means 'the vine of the soul' is a powerfully psychoactive brew which is thought to have been used for several hundred years by indigenous people in the Amazon. It is usually prepared by boiling the leaves of the Psychotria viridis bush, which contains N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and combining with the stems of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which contains the beta-carboline alkaloids harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine, to create a thick brown liquid.
- Will Lawn, Jaime E. Hallak et al. Well-Being, Problematic Alcohol Consumption and Acute Subjective Drug Effects in Past-Year Ayahuasca Users: a Large, International, Self-Selecting Online Survey, Scientific Reportsdoi:10.1038/s41598-017-14700-6