Is ayahuasca safe? A new study analyzes traditional South American medicine

ayahuasca drink

Ayahuasca is a plant-based anesthetic historically utilized in indigenous Amazonian shamanic practices. It’s often brewed into tea and consumed throughout a ceremonial session led by an skilled facilitator or shaman.

In response to the International Ayahuasca Survey, 70% of respondents reported experiencing bodily antagonistic results and 55% reported experiencing antagonistic psychological well being results. Nonetheless, solely 2.3% of respondents who skilled bodily antagonistic occasions required medical consideration.

In response to a brand new examine printed in PLOS International Public Well beingUse of the psychoactive plant substance ayahuasca is related to a excessive fee of antagonistic bodily results and difficult psychological results. Nonetheless, these results should not typically extreme.

The examine was carried out by Daniel Perkins of Melbourne College and colleagues, he is without doubt one of the few to investigate the antagonistic results of ayahuasca, a standard south american medication and ceremonial drink that’s gaining recognition for its potential psychological well being advantages and properties for religious and private progress. Regardless of medical trials and observational research demonstrating the potential advantages of ayahuasca, there’s a lack of analysis on the detrimental results of ayahuasca.

Within the new examine, researchers used information from a worldwide on-line Ayahuasca survey carried out between 2017 and 2019, together with 10,836 individuals from greater than 50 international locations who had been at the very least 18 years previous and had used ayahuasca at the very least as soon as. Info was collected on the individuals’ age, bodily and psychological well being, and the historical past and context of ayahuasca use.

Prepare ayahuasca

Preparation of ayahuasca (from B. Cappy And the P. viridis). Credit score: Daniel Perkins, CC-BY 4.0

General, 69.9% of the pattern reported extreme bodily well being antagonistic results, with the commonest antagonistic results being vomiting, nausea (68.2% of individuals), headache (17.8%), and stomach ache (12.8%). Solely 2.3% of individuals reported bodily antagonistic occasions that required medical consideration for this downside. Of all of the individuals, 55% additionally reported detrimental psychological well being results, together with listening to or seeing issues (28.5%), feeling disconnected or remoted (21.0%), and nightmares or disturbing ideas (19.2%). Nonetheless, of all of the respondents who recognized these psychological well being results, 87.6% believed they had been wholly or considerably a part of a constructive developmental course of.

Researchers have additionally recognized a number of components that predispose individuals to antagonistic bodily occasions, together with superior age, having a bodily well being situation or substance use dysfunction, lifelong ayahuasca use, and taking ayahuasca in an unsupervised context.

The authors word that ayahuasca has notable antagonistic results, though not often extreme, in response to the factors used to guage prescription medicines. On this sense, they state that ayahuasca practices can’t be evaluated with the identical requirements as prescribed medicines as a result of lots of its results contain difficult experiences inherent within the expertise, a few of that are thought of a part of the therapeutic course of.

The authors add: “Many flip to ayahuasca out of disillusionment with conventional Western psychological well being remedies, nonetheless, the disruptive energy of this conventional medication shouldn’t be underestimated, usually leading to psychological well being or emotional challenges throughout the consumption. Whereas these are often short-term They’re seen as a part of a helpful progress course of, nonetheless the dangers are higher for weak people or when utilized in non-supportive contexts.”

Reference: “Hostile Results of Ayahuasca: Findings from the International Ayahuasca Survey” By Jose Carlos Boso, Oscar Andion, Jerome J. Sarris, Milan Scheidegger, Luis Fernando Tovoli, Emerita Satiro Upali, Violeta Schubert and Daniel Perkins, November 16, 2022, Accessible Right here. PLOS International Public Well being.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000438

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