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Article Publish Status: FREE
Abstract Title:

Ceremonial Ayahuasca in Amazonian Retreats-Mental Health and Epigenetic Outcomes From a Six-Month Naturalistic Study.

Abstract Source:

Front Psychiatry. 2021 ;12:687615. Epub 2021 Jun 9. PMID: 34177670

Abstract Author(s):

Simon G D Ruffell, Nige Netzband, WaiFung Tsang, Merlin Davies, Matthew Butler, James J H Rucker, Luís Fernando Tófoli, Emma Louise Dempster, Allan H Young, Celia J A Morgan

Article Affiliation:

Simon G D Ruffell

Abstract:

Ayahuasca is a natural psychoactive brew, used in traditional ceremonies in the Amazon basin. Recent research has indicated that ayahuasca is pharmacologically safe and its use may be positively associated with improvements in psychiatric symptoms. The mechanistic effects of ayahuasca are yet to be fully established. In this prospective naturalistic study, 63 self-selected participants took part in ayahuasca ceremonies at a retreat centre in the Peruvian Amazon. Participants undertook the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Self-compassion Scale (SCS), Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation-Outcome Measure (CORE-OM), as well as secondary measures, pre- and post-retreat and at 6-months. Participants also provided saliva samples for pre/post epigenetic analysis. Overall, a statistically significant decrease in BDI-II (13.9 vs. 6.1,<0.001), STAI (44.4 vs. 34.3<0.001) scores, and CORE-OM scores were observed (37.3 vs. 22.3<0.001) at post-retreat, as well as a concurrent increase in SCS (3.1 vs. 3.6,<0.001). Psychometric improvements were sustained, and on some measures values further decreased at 6-month follow-up, suggesting a potential for lasting therapeutic effects. Changes in memory valence were linked to the observed psychometric improvements. Epigenetic findings were equivocal, but indicated that further research in candidate genes, such as sigma non-opioid intracellular receptor 1 (SIGMAR1), is warranted. This data adds to the literature supporting ayahuasca's possible positive impact on mental health when conducted in a ceremonial context. Further investigation into clinical samples, as well as greater analyses into the mechanistic action of ayahuasca is advised.

Study Type : Human Study

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