OPEN Foundation

Day: 1 June 2016

The potential use of ayahuasca in psychiatry

Abstract

Ayahuasca is a decoctum made of admixture plants containing dimethyltryptamine and harmine. For millennia it has been used as a central element of spiritual, religious, initiation, and other – foremost healing – rituals, originally by the indigenous groups of the Amazon basin and later by the mestizo populations of the region. During the last two decades the brew has raised increased scientific and lay interest about its healing potentials within the framework of Western therapeutic settings. The typical ayahuasca effects consist of strong somatic reactions, vivid visions, relived personal memories, cathartic emotions, and insightful, introspective experiences when the emerging mental contents take different context and get deeper perspectives. The ayahuasca-experience can be exhausting necessitating the presence of an experienced leader for helping participants to pass difficult phases and for maximizing therapeutic benefits. No health damaging adverse effect has been confirmed thus far as result of its well-structured, institutionalized use. The scientific investigation of ayahuasca is hindered by legal issues, methodical problems, and sociocultural preconceptions. The present review outlines the therapeutic potentials of ayahuasca use in psychiatry with its psychobiological and spiritual background.

Frecska, E., Bokor, P., Andrassy, G., & Kovacs, A. (2016). The potential use of ayahuasca in psychiatry. Neuropsychopharmacologia Hungarica: a Magyar Pszichofarmakologiai Egyesulet lapja= official journal of the Hungarian Association of Psychopharmacology, 18(2), 79.
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Efficacy and safety of oral ketamine versus diclofenac to alleviate mild to moderate depression in chronic pain patients: A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial

Abstract

Background: Ketamine is a glutamate N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist capable of exerting antidepressive effects in single or repeated intravenous infusions. The objective of this study was to investigate the safety and the efficacy of oral ketamine vs. diclofenac monotherapy in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate depression among patients with chronic pain.

Methods: This study is a 6-week, randomized, double-blind, controlled, parallel-group trial with two intervention arms (ketamine, fixed daily dosage of 150 mg vs. diclofenac, fixed daily dosage of 150 mg). Twenty participants in each arm completed the trial program all of whom had two post-baseline measurements at week 3 and week 6. Reduction in depression symptoms was assessed using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and the hospital anxiety and depression subscale for depression (HADSDepression) scores at baseline and week 3 and week 6 post-intervention.

Results: Significantly lower HDRS scores were observed in the ketamine treatment group as early as 6 weeks post-intervention (P=0.008). By comparison, mean (±standard deviation) HADS depression subscale scores were significantly lower for individuals receiving ketamine compared to diclofenac for both post-baseline measures at week 3 (6.95±1.47 vs. 8.40±1.6, P=0.005) and week 6 (6.20±1.15 vs. 7.35±1.18, p=0.003).

Limitations: The limitations of the present study were its small sample size and the short-term follow-up period.

Conclusions: Oral ketamine appears to be a safe and effective option in improving depressive symptoms of patients with chronic pain with mild-to-moderate depression.

Jafarinia, M., Afarideh, M., Tafakhori, A., Arbabi, M., Ghajar, A., Noorbala, A. A., … & Akhondzadeh, S. (2016). Efficacy and Safety of Oral Ketamine versus Diclofenac to Alleviate Mild to Moderate Depression in Chronic Pain Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. Journal of Affective Disorders. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2016.05.076

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Using the Theory of Planned Behavior to predict implementation of harm reduction strategies among MDMA/ecstasy users

Abstract

This prospective study was designed to test whether the variables proposed by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) were associated with baseline intention to implement and subsequent use of 2 MDMA/ecstasy-specific harm reduction interventions: preloading/postloading and pill testing/pill checking. Using targeted Facebook advertisements, an international sample of 391 recreational ecstasy users were recruited to complete questionnaires assessing their ecstasy consumption history, and their attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, habit strength (past strategy use), and intention to use these two strategies. Attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control were significantly associated with baseline intention to preload/postload and pill test/pill check. Out of the 391 baseline participants, 100 completed the two-month follow-up assessment. Baseline habit strength and frequency of ecstasy consumption during the three months prior to baseline were the only significant predictors of how often participants used the preloading/postloading strategy during the follow-up. Baseline intention to pill test/pill check was the only significant predictor of how often participants used this strategy during the follow-up. These findings provide partial support for TPB variables as both correlates of baseline intention to implement and predictors of subsequent use of these two strategies. Future investigations could assess whether factors related to ecstasy consumption (e.g., subjective level of intoxication, craving, negative consequences following consumption), and environmental factors (e.g., accessibility and availability of harm reduction resources) improve the prediction of how often ecstasy users employ these and other harm reduction strategies.

Davis, A. K., & Rosenberg, H. (2016). Using the Theory of Planned Behavior to predict implementation of harm reduction strategies among MDMA/ecstasy users. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(4), 500.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/adb0000167
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LSD Acutely Impairs Fear Recognition and Enhances Emotional Empathy and Sociality

Abstract

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is used recreationally and has been evaluated as an adjunct to psychotherapy to treat anxiety in patients with life-threatening illness. LSD is well-known to induce perceptual alterations, but unknown is whether LSD alters emotional processing in ways that can support psychotherapy. We investigated the acute effects of LSD on emotional processing using the Face Emotion Recognition Task (FERT) and Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET). The effects of LSD on social behavior were tested using the Social Value Orientation (SVO) test. Two similar placebo-controlled, double-blind, random-order, cross-over studies were conducted using 100 μg LSD in 24 subjects and 200 μg LSD in 16 subjects. All of the subjects were healthy and mostly hallucinogen-naive 25- to 65-year-old volunteers (20 men, 20 women). LSD produced feelings of happiness, trust, closeness to others, enhanced explicit and implicit emotional empathy on the MET, and impaired the recognition of sad and fearful faces on the FERT. LSD enhanced the participants’ desire to be with other people and increased their prosocial behavior on the SVO test. These effects of LSD on emotion processing and sociality may be useful for LSD-assisted psychotherapy.

Dolder, P. C., Schmid, Y., Müller, F., Borgwardt, S., & Liechti, M. E. (2016). Lsd acutely impairs fear recognition and enhances emotional empathy and sociality. Neuropsychopharmacology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/npp.2016.82
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