Is ayahuasca safe? A new study clarifies the effects of this natural medicine

The Ayahuasca is a plant-based psychedelic that has been used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador for therapeutic purposes and religious rituals.

Its consumption medicine of coursewhich is obtained from the decoction made by heating or boiling the vine for a long time Banisteriopsis caapi with the leaves of the bush Psychotria viridishas spread around the world and many celebrities claim to have “traveled” under the effects of the active chemical in ayahuasca, DMT (dimethyltryptamine). While clinical trials and observational studies have explored the potential benefits of ayahuasca, few have explored its adverse effects.

Now, a new study published this week in the journal PLOS Global public health by means of Daniel Perkins and colleagues from the University of Melbourne, Australia, argue that this reddish brown drink The use of plant-based psychoactive ayahuasca has a high rate of adverse physical effects and challenging psychological effects, although these are generally not serious.

The benefits of carrot

The researchers used data from a global study of ayahuasca conducted between 2017 and 2019, in which participants 10,836 people from more than 50 countries that they were at least 18 years old and had used ayahuasca at least once. Information was collected on participants’ age, physical and mental health, and history and context of ayahuasca use.

Generally the 69.9% of the sample reported acute adverse events for physical health, although only 2.3% of participants required medical attention for this problem.

The most common side effects

  • Vomiting and nausea (68.2% of participants)
  • Headache (17.8%)
  • Abdominal pain (12.8%)

Of all participants, the 55% also reported adverse mental health effects, with none However, of all respondents who identified these effects, 87.6% believed they were part or all part of a positive growth process.

Adverse effects on mental health

  • hearing or seeing things (28.5%)
  • Feeling disconnected or alone (21.0%)
  • Having nightmares or disturbing thoughts (19.2%)

The researchers also identified several factors that predispose people to adverse physical events, including advanced agehave a condition Physical health or a substance use disorder, lifetime ayahuasca use, and unsupervised use of ayahuasca.

Notable adverse effects

However, the authors note that ayahuasca has notable adverse effects rarely serious, according to the standards used to evaluate prescription drugs. In this sense, they confirm that ayahuasca practices can hardly be evaluated with the same parameters used for prescription drugs, as its multitude of effects include challenging and intrinsic experiences for the experience, some of which are considered part of your life. healing process.

The disruptive power of this traditional medicine should not be underestimated.

The authors add: “Many turn to ayahuasca due to disenchantment with conventional Western mental health treatments, but the disruptive power of this traditional medicine should not be underestimated, often resulting in emotional or mental health problems during assimilation. While these are usually transient and seen as part of a favorable growth process, the risks are greater for companies. vulnerable people or when used in unsupportive contexts.

The benefits of apples

in legal limbo

Ayahuasca is not subject to international control, nor is it banned in Spain. However, experts warn that Psychotria viridis, one of the plants traditionally used in its preparation, contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a substance included (in its synthetic form) in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which means that, when detected by the analytical instruments of the National Institute of Toxicology (INT), the whole infusion is often considered equivalent to DMT and therefore banned.

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