Ayahuasca Gives Birth To New Brain Cells
Ayahuasca, pronounced eye-uh-WAH-skuh, is a potent hallucinogenic drink made out of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the Psychotria viridis leaf found in the Amazon and other rain forests around the world. For centuries Shamans used the brew for spiritual and medical purposes. Ayahuasca's popularity with connecting one's self to a more spiritual side of life has increased dramatically in the modern world recently.
There is now another reason to get excited about ayahuasca - the sacrament could initiate neurogenesis, or the development of new brain cells. Working with the Beckley/Sant Pau Research Programme and in collaboration with the Spanish National Research Council, Dr. Riba, who has been studying ayahuasca for twenty years, presented the new found research at the Interdisciplinary Conference on Psychedelics Research in Amsterdam.
HARMALA ALKALOIDS FOUND TO TRIGGER GROWTH OF NEURONS
It used to be believed that the brain did not create new neurons in adulthood, this all changed with new research in the 1990's, and it is now clear that the opposite is true.
In the recent study neural stem cells were isolated from the hippo-campus of adult mice. The stem cells were grown in the lab and substances that are present in ayahuasca, harmine and tetrahydroharmine, were added in, which aggressively stimulated the transformation of stem cells into new neurons.
Compared with saline (placebo control), the results were impressive. Executive Director of the UK based Beckley Foundation, Amanda Feilding said “The images from the Beckley/Sant Pau collaboration showing the birth of new neurons are very interesting and suggest that ayahuasca could lead to a new approach in the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, among others.”
Scientists are excited that this new knowledge gives them the potential to develop new drugs to treat major mental disorders.
A STEP TOWARDS THE MEDICAL USE OF PSYCHEDELICS
Even without the new studies, many people in the past have used and been healed from major problems like addiction and depression with Ayahuasca. Some war veterans that suffer from PTSD are seeking it out to cure them of their mental disorder and stress. Ayahuasca is not alone though, there are other known psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms that are thought to help in similar ways.
A study in 2013 by the University of South Florida in the United States, has found that low doses of the active ingredient psilocybin in magic mushrooms also repairs damage to the brain caused by "extreme" trauma, this is great news for millions of sufferers of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) around the world. Psilocybin seems to repair the brain of "fear conditioning". "Mice conditioned to fear electric shock when hearing a noise associated with the shock simply lost their fear, says Dr. Juan Sanchez-Ramos, who co-authored the study". So Psilocybin like the Ayahuasca drink also seems to have the ability to repair the brain and be used as a treatment for mental issues.
Psilocybin and Ayahuasca are not thought to be dangerous or addictive in any way. With Ayahuasca tea many drinkers go through a purge in the beginning of the trip. The purge is vomiting, sweating and or diarrhea phase, which is thought to “purge” through physical effect and after that stage it “purifies the mind” through visions and psychological experience.
Ayahuasca is a sacrament that has been used for thousands of years and it looks like modern science is finally acknowledging it's benefits. This new study could also open the door for other psychedelics like Psilocybin to be used as medicine and pave the way to new understandings of the brain and psychedelics.
Written by: Guest Writer
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