Ayahuasca in Adolescence: A Preliminary Psychiatric Assessment

Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil.
Journal of psychoactive drugs (Impact Factor: 1.1). 07/2005; 37(2):129-33. DOI: 10.1080/02791072.2005.10399792
Source: PubMed


Ayahuasca is believed to be harmless for those (including adolescents) drinking it within a religious setting. Nevertheless controlled studies on the mental/ psychiatric status of ritual hallucinogenic ayahuasca concoction consumers are still lacking. In this study, 40 adolescents from a Brazilian ayahuasca sect were compared with 40 controls matched on sex, age, and educational background for psychiatric symptomatology. Screening scales for depression, anxiety, alcohol consumption patterns (abuse), attentional problems, and body dysmorphic disorders were used. It was found that, compared to controls, considerable lower frequencies of positive scoring for anxiety, body dismorphism, and attentional problems were detected among ayahuasca-using adolescents despite overall similar psychopathological profiles displayed by both study groups. Low frequencies of psychiatric symptoms detected among adolescents consuming ayahuasca within a religious context may reflect a protective effect due to their religious affiliation. However further studies on the possible interference of other variables in the outcome are necessary.

Download full-text


Available from: Dartiu X Silveira
  • Source
    • "While this study was not quantitative, nor did it follow up on the subjects participating in this treatment program, it introduced the theory that peyote-assisted psychotherapy and potentially other psychedelics as well, could have beneficial effects on alcoholism and other addictions. Previous studies have also found that consumption of ayahuasca in a religious setting showed no evidence of harmful effects on mental or physical health, but people that suffered from addiction or other severe psychiatric disorders experienced remission (Grob et al. 1996, as cited in Da Silveira et al. 2005). "
    [Show description] [Hide description]
    DESCRIPTION: In the past years, more and more studies focused on the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, as well as numerous studies looking at the potential harmful effects of such substances emerged. The focus of this review essay is a study by Halpern, Sherwood, Hudson, Yurgelun-Todd and Pope-Jr.(2005) on the effects of mescaline, a psychedelic contained in peyote cactus, on mental health. Studies that led up to it and future research it determined are discussed, as well as the impact on psychology, medicine and society. The main question this review essay focuses on is whether psychedelics are safe to be researched on humans, and what their potential therapeutic benefits are.
    Full-text · Research · Dec 2015
  • Source
    • "Brazil UDV/ Brazil/ AM/ Manaus Density of platelet serotonin uptake sites No Church members ≥ 10 years (use ≥ twice a month) 10 matched subjects with no history of ayahuasca use 1 [2] 15(15,0) 38,5 (28-48) N.I. Brazil UDV/ Brazil/ AM/ Manaus Psychiatric Dx Drug Use Personality Memory Perceived effects Idem 15 matched subjects with no history of ayahuasca use 1 [31] 40 (22,18) Adolescents 16,5 (15-19) 1st year high school to 1st year college Brazil UDV/ Brazil/ SP e DF/ São Paulo e Brasília Memory and attention processes No ≥24 ayahuasca ritual attendance throughout the previous 2 yrs 40 matched subjects with no history of ayahuasca use 1 [29] Idem Idem Idem Brazil Idem Psychiatric morbidity No Idem Idem 1 [25] 41 (N.I) Idem Idem Brazil Idem Drug use No Idem 43 machted subjects with no history of ayahuasca use 1 [36] "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew originally used for magico-religious purposes by Amerindian populations of the western Amazon Basin. Throughout the last four decades, the use of ayahuasca spread towards major cities in all regions of Brazil and abroad. This trend has raised concerns that regular use of this N,N-dimethyltryptamine- and harmala-alkaloid-containing tea may lead to mental and physical health problems associated typically with drug abuse. To further elucidate the mental and physical health of ayahuasca users, we conducted a literature search in the international medical PubMed database. Inclusion criteria were evaluation of any related effect of ayahuasca use that occurred after the resolution of acute effects of the brew. Fifteen publications were related to emotional, cognitive, and physical health of ayahuasca users. The accumulated data suggest that ayahuasca use is safe and may even be, under certain conditions, beneficial. However, methodological bias of the reviewed studies might have contributed to the preponderance of beneficial effects and to the few adverse effects reported. The data up to now do not appear to allow for definitive conclusions to be drawn on the effects of ayahuasca use on mental and physical health, but some studies point in the direction of beneficial effects. Additional studies are suggested to provide further clarification.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Drug Testing and Analysis
  • Source
    • "Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi (Spruce ex Griseb.) C.V. Morton) however is more widely used for spiritual experiences, and its central nervous system activity is well documented (McKenna et al., 1984; Riba et al., 2002, 2003; Carlini, 2003; Da Silveira, 2005; O'Connor and Roth, 2005; Santos et al., 2007; Frison et al., 2008). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mal aire (bad air), mal viento (bad wind), susto and espanto (fright), mal ojo (evil eye) and envidia (envy) are seen as very common illnesses in Andean society. The Western concept of "psychosomatic disorders" comes closest to characterizing these illnesses. Treatment in many cases involves the participation of the patient in a cleansing ceremony. In addition, patients frequently receive herbal amulets for protection against further evil influences and for good luck. A total of 222 plant species belonging to 172 genera and 78 families were documented and identified as herbal remedies used to treat nervous system problems in Northern Peru. Most species used were Asteraceae, followed by Solanaceae and Lamiaceae. The majority of herbal preparations were prepared from the whole plant. In over 60% of the cases fresh plant material was used to prepare remedies, which differs slightly from the average herbal preparation mode in Northern Peru. Interestingly, only about 36% of the remedies were applied orally, while the majority was applied topically. Over 79% of all remedies were prepared as mixtures with multiple ingredients by boiling plant material either in water or in sugarcane spirit. Little scientific evidence exists to date to prove the efficacy of the species employed as nervous system remedies in Northern Peru. Only 24% of the plants found or related species in the same genus have been studied at all. The information gained on frequently used traditional remedies against nervous system disorders might give some leads for future targets for further analysis in order to develop new drugs addressing nervous system disorders.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · African journal of pharmacy and pharmacology
Show more