Selected Research Supporting Our Work:
Consideration of Ayahuasca for the treatment of Post traumatic stress disorder
Jessica L. Nielson, PhD., and Julie D. Megler, MSN, NP-BC
MAPS Bulletin, Winter 2012
Current research indicates that ayahuasca mimics mechanisms of accepted treatments to PTSD. Its use as an alternative treatment for other types of disorders are also being considered. In PTSD, the brain fails to appropriately consolidate and integrate episodic memories into the semantic memory system. The memory and its associated emotions become “trapped” in the hippocampus so that whenever the memory is triggered or recalled, it is as if the traumatic event is being re-experienced. The resulting hyperarousal leads many to develop maladaptive coping mechanisms such as substance abuse to avoid or prevent intense negative stimulation.
From the psychotherapy standpoint, ayahuasca is similar to exposure therapy (an American Psychology Association-accepted approach to overcoming PTSD). Utilizing intention setting, users with traumas have the opportunity to reprogram their memories and their physical responses to them.
PSYCHEDELICS and Unlocking the Unconscious, From Cancer to Addiction
Gabor Maté, MD
Alternate, May 30, 2013
The author posits that the “unconscious mind” can be the cause of medical afflictions including addiction and trauma. In his speech at the Psychedelic Science 2013 conference, he rejects the assumption that the human mind and body are separate entities and points to inherent connections between psychological/environmental experiences and medical afflictions. He discusses the potential ability of psychedelic substances, particularly ayahuasca, to reverse medical issues and addiction; especially when coupled with therapy.
Ayahuasca Stimulates the birth of new brain cells
Jose A. Morales, et al working for the Beckley Foundation
Journal Scientific Reports, July 13, 2017
Previous belief that no new neurons are born in the brains of adults is turned around when it is discovered that neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with memory. Unfortunately, the rate of neurogenesis is not always sufficient to replace damaged neurons as we age or undergo trauma. Fortunately, compounds present in the psychedelic Amazonian brew ayahuasca stimulate the birth of new neurons. This, in turn, has been shown to help sufferers of depression, anxiety, grief, and PTSD to overcome their conditions.
The psychedelic Ayahuasca heals traumatic memories
Frontiers in Pharmacology, April 5, 2018
Since traumatic memories in PTSD are often characterized by “repression” and PTSD patients ingesting ayahuasca report the retrieval of such memories, it is suggested that the ingestion of ayahuasca might mediate such “anti-amnesic” processes. Therefore ayahuasca, via hyper activation of trauma and emotional memory-related centers, enhances synaptic plasticity, increases neurogenesis and boosts dopamine transmission producing fear extinction; as in the fear response triggered by the memory can be reprogrammed and/or extinguished. Subsequently, the memory is stored with this updated significance. Although the mechanisms involved are still debated, they seem to require the involvement of cellular and molecular events leading to reorganization of synaptic plasticity, re-modulation of gene expression, and reorganization of the complexes at the synapse.
Ayahuasca: Psychological and Physiologic Effects, Pharmacology and Potential Uses in Addiction and Mental Illness
Jonathan Hamill, et al
Current Neuropharmacology, Volume 17, Issue 2, 2019
Ayahuasca, a traditional Amazonian tea with psychoactive properties, is made from bark of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (containing beta-carboline alkaloids) and leaves of the Psychotria viridis bush (supplying the hallucinogen N,N-dimethyltryptamine, DMT). Originally used by indigenous shamans for the purposes of spirit communication, magical experiences, healing, and religious rituals across several South American countries, ayahuasca has been incorporated into folk medicine and spiritual healing, and several Brazilian churches use it routinely to foster a spiritual experience.
The side effect profile appears to be relatively mild, but more detailed studies need to be done. Several prominent researchers believe that government regulations with regard to ayahuasca should be relaxed so that it could be provided more readily to recognized, credible researchers to conduct comprehensive clinical trials.
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