New Study: Ayahuasca Helps Fight Depression

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New Study: Ayahuasca Helps Fight Depression

New research has been published exploring the link between ayahuasca and depression. So far, the results are very promising.

In recent news, Ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic Amazonian brew, has been reported to be an effective treatment for both breaking addiction and relieving PTSD. The most recent reports are now also suggesting that this rainforest remedy could hold the key to treating depression – an area that pharmaceuticals often fail in.


Ayahuasca is a traditional Amazonian infusion made from a cocktail of two rainforest plants: Banisteriopsis caapi and psychotria viridis. The result is a concoction that contains decent amounts of both DMT and an MAO inhibitor, which renders the DMT orally active. You can find out more details about what it is, its history, and how it is used here on our ayahuasca information page.


This new research comes courtesy of a team of Brazilian scientists, investigating the potential applications for ayahuasca. Although there is much more work to be done, preliminary results published in the journal Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria have turned up positive results.

The experimenters gave a dose of ayahuasca to 6 participants, each suffering from diagnosed depression that commercially available antidepressants had failed to treat. Participants were then sat in a dimly lit room, and asked a variety of symptom tracking questions over the course of the trip. It was found that the symptoms of depression started to alleviate after 3 hours into the trip, with the average trip lasting 5 hours. And most importantly: This positive reduction in symptoms was reported to have lasted for up to 3 weeks after taking the dose.

The study concludes: “These results suggest that AYA has fast-acting anxiolytic and antidepressant effects in patients with a depressive disorder.”


When talking about the study, Brian Anderson, a psychiatrist from the University of California said “It is a proof of concept of what so many ritual ayahuasca users already know: ayahuasca can help one feel extra well, not just during the experience, but for up to days or weeks after. The relationship between ayahuasca’s psychedelic effects and its therapeutic effects needs to be empirically studied.”

It is a clear sign, that whilst not conclusive, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that ayahuasca can in fact treat psychological disorders where commercial drugs tend to fail. But why is this?

One theory is that it is the result in the stark fundamental differences between the nature of antidepressants and hallucinogens. Antidepressants tend to focus on addressing the symptoms of depression in a direct manner, adjusting chemical balances in an attempt to alleviate the problem. Hallucinogens on the other had don’t actually address these in the same sort of way. Instead, they tend to change the way we look at ourselves and the world around us, allowing us to break negative though cycles and see things from a different perspective for a period of time. When combined with constructive situations, it can result in a more positive outlook due to a fundamental shift in thinking. Of course, this is difficult to scientifically prove, but for those who have experienced hallucinogens first hand, it is an often accepted view.

The science behind ayahuasca is continuing to flourish and find positive results. It may not be long before we start seeing the more concrete groundwork being laid for clinical trials.