Sci Rep. 2020 Mar 5 ;10(1):4075. Epub 2020 Mar 5. PMID: 32139811
Effects of ayahuasca on mental health and quality of life in naïve users: A longitudinal and cross-sectional study combination.
Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic decoction used as a traditional medicine in several Amazonian regions. The ritualistic use of ayahuasca has spread throughout many countries, making it necessary to study its risks and benefits. Two sub-studies were designed for this investigation. In sub-study 1, a psychiatric interview and a battery of questionnaires were administered to subjects (n = 40) before their first ayahuasca use. Two follow-ups were conducted at 1 and 6 months. In sub-study 2, the same interview and battery of questionnaires were administered to long-term ayahuasca users (n = 23) and their scores were compared with those of the ayahuasca-naïve group. In the first assessment, nearly half (45%) of the naïve users were found to meet the diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder. After the ayahuasca use, more than 80% of those subjects showed clinical improvements that persisted at 6 months. The questionnaires showed significant reductions in depression and psychopathology. Regarding sub-study 2, long-term users showed lower depression scores, and higher scores for self-transcendence and quality of life, as compared to their peers in sub-study 1. Further controlled and observational naturalistic studies assessing the eventual risks and potentialbenefits of ayahuasca are warranted.