Ayahuasca: An Effective Cancer Treatment?
The psychedelic brew from the Amazon is well known for its soul healing effects. Now research from Brazil suggests that the entheogen could potentially be used to fight cancer.
According to Eduardo Schenberg of the University of Sao Paulo, there is evidence to suggest that Ayahuasca, respectively the DMT and harmala alkaloids contained within it, could be used to help fight cancer. According to Schenberg, both DMT and harmine have shown to have positive effects in cell cultures used to study cancer, as well as in the biochemical processes used to treat cancer – both in vivo and in vitro.
Ayahuasca, an elaborate plant mixture that contains DMT and harmala alkaloids, is a psychedelic brew that has been used by the shaman and native peoples of the Amazonian rainforest for millennia. It is made up of various plants and herbs found within the rainforest, with the two main ingredients being the vine of Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of the Psychotria viridis. It is the combination of the beta carbolines contained within the vine, and the DMT in the leaves that causes it to be such a powerful psychedelic.
Schenberg believes that anecdotal reports of people with cancer benefiting from the use of Ayahuasca should be taken seriously, since DMT and harmine have been shown to be active on the biological process involved in the treatment of cancer. He says “the hypothesis presented here, fully testable by rigorous scientific experimentation, helps to understand the available cases and pave the way for new experiments.”
Anecdotal reports of ayahuasca helping those with cancer are not unusual. Schenberg describes nine cases of ayahuasca being used during cancer treatments, and of those nine, three appeared to benefit from it.
Why does ayahuasca help?
DMT, one of the strongest psychedelic substance known to man, is a drug that binds to sigma 1 receptors throughout the body, which has been shown to be involved in many cellular functions – including the death signalling of cancer cells. There is also scientific evidence to suggest that the harmine within the brew can cause the death of some cancer cells, and inhibit cell proliferation.
In Schenberg’s words “It is hypothesized that the combined actions of β-carbolines and DMT present in ayahuasca may diminish tumor blood supply, activate apoptotic pathways, diminish cell proliferation, and change the energetic metabolic imbalance of cancer cells, which is known as the Warburg effect. Therefore, ayahuasca may act on cancer hallmarks such as angiogenesis, apoptosis, and cell metabolism.”
It is worth noting, this is ground work level stuff, with much more research required into the matter. This is not medical advice, and anyone who may be interested in using ayahuasca should consult a medical professional first.
As things currently stand, DMT, and ayahuasca by extension are highly restricted, and are classed in the most severe bracket of drugs in most countries. Conducting research is difficult, since research project are only rarely approved. If it can be scientifically proven that ayahuasca indeed possess the healing powers that psychedelic explorers, ethnobotanists and anthropologists have long reported, then according to Schenberg, the restriction of ayahuasca for medical use is a travesty, and an affront to basic human rights – we couldn‘t agree more.