Finally something wholistic. Is it?
Ayahuasca is a foul tasting, nauseating brown Amazonian psychoactive brew.
The name comes from the Quechua language where aya means soul, ancestors or dead persons and wasca (huasca) means vine or rope. One interpretation of the name is “vine of the soul” and another is “rope of death”. Of late more arguments are being made in favour of the former than the latter.
This Shamanic concoction has been the core of many religious, magical, curative, initiation, and other tribal rituals for millennia in the indigenous and mestizo populations of South America. They respect the brew as a sacrament and value it as a powerful medicine for physical and mental problems, social issues and spiritual crises. It is traditional medicine and cultural psychiatry.
During the last two decades Ayahuasca has become increasingly known to both scientists and laymen. Its popularity is spreading all over the Western world. People seeking improved insight, personal growth; emotional healing and contact with a sacred nature, deities, spirits and natural energies have given rise to the phenomenon of ‘drug tourism’.
In the correct therapeutic/ritualistic setting, with proper preparation of the user and subsequent integration of the experience, Ayahuasca has proven effective in the treatment of substance dependence and depression. The therapeutic effects of Ayahuasca are best understood from a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual model.
The first Randomised Clinical trial, led by Draulio Barros de Araujo at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil has been published. 2 similar groups of 14 and 15 patients with resistant depression were randomised to receiving either placebo or the active drug. They filled out standard questionnaires the day before receiving their dose and 2 and 7 days later.
64% of patients who took Ayahuasca felt the severity of their depression fall to half. This was true for only a quarter of those who took placebo. The inference drawn is that Ayahuasca is better than placebo at least for the short term. More studies are required to see if the effects are sustained over longer periods.
Roughly 350 million people experience depression globally. Between one-third and half of them do not respond well to medications. In addition to psychedelics such as Ketamine and Psilocybin, Ayahuasca is being investigated further as potential treatment for resistant major depression.
1. Therapeutic Potentials of Ayahuasca https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773875/
2. Rapid Antidepressant effects of Ayahuasca: http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/01/27/103531
Presentation by Draulio Barros de Araujo: https://vimeo.com/143399447