Un nuevo estudio de un centro colaborador de la Fundación Beckley confirma el potencial terapéutico de la ayahuasca, al demostrar que su ingesta incrementa la capacidad de atención. Más información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.

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Beckley Foundation collaborator Jordi Riba and his team at Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona have just published a study in the journal Psychopharmacology, co-authored by the Beckley’s Executive Director, Amanda Feilding, which shows that one of the ways ayahuasca achieves its reported therapeutic effects is by increasing people’s capacity for mindfulness – the same capacity that is cultivated through regular meditation practice.

Ayahuasca is the DMT-containing psychedelic plant brew from the Amazon that has been traditionally used for religious, magical, and healing purposes by indigenous peoples, but is now rapidly gaining popularity in the Western world. It can produce introspective and dream-like experiences, visions, and reliving of personal and emotional memories, and many people experience improved insight, personal growth, and emotional healing as a result of their ayahuasca experience. Not surprisingly, these features are beginning to be harnessed for therapeutic purposes (albeit not government-approved), including treatment of addiction and depression.

This newly published study, which is part of a larger research programme exploring the mechanisms of action behind ayahuasca and DMT, provides some insight into exactly which psychological mechanisms underlie the beneficial effects. It examined 25 experienced ayahuasca users before and after an ayahuasca session, using questionnaires to assess, among other traits, their mindfulness capacities. Following ayahuasca, participants rated themselves as being less judgmental about their inner experience and less emotionally reactive, and better able to ‘decentre’ themselves (i.e., observe thoughts and emotions as temporary events of the mind). Amazingly, the post-ayahuasca scores were comparable to those observed in experienced meditators, suggesting that similar benefits may be gained from a pharmacological intervention as from meditation. This probably doesn’t mean that one can replace the other, but it would be an immense benefit if they could work in combination.

While this is a relatively simple study showing a pre/post-ayahuasca effect in a non-controlled trial (i.e., there was no ‘placebo’ group to compare against), it is part of a nascent but persistent effort to build a scientific evidence base for the usefulness of ayahuasca in addressing mental health conditions, and it certainly lends legitimacy to the idea that there are meaningful therapeutic benefits that could, and should, be explored further.

Click here to read the publication (restricted access).

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