OPEN Foundation

Day: 24 April 2018

Assessment of Alcohol and Tobacco Use Disorders Among Religious Users of Ayahuasca.


The aims of this study were to assess the impact of ceremonial use of ayahuasca-a psychedelic brew containing N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and β-carboline -and attendance at União do Vegetal (UDV) meetings on substance abuse; here we report the findings related to alcohol and tobacco use disorder. A total of 1,947 members of UDV 18+ years old were evaluated in terms of years of membership and ceremonial attendance during the previous 12 months. Participants were recruited from 10 states from all major regions of Brazil. Alcohol and tobacco use was evaluated through questionnaires first developed by the World Health Organization and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Analyses compared levels of alcohol and tobacco use disorder between the UDV and a national normative sample (n = 7,939). Binomial tests for proportions indicated that lifetime use of alcohol and tobacco was higher in UDV sample compared to the Brazilian norms for age ranges of 25-34 and over 34 years old, but not for the age range of 18-24 years old. However, current use disorders for alcohol and tobacco were significantly lower in the UDV sample than the Brazilian norms. Regression analyses revealed a significant impact of attendance at ayahuasca ceremonies during the previous 12 months and years of UDV membership on the reduction of alcohol and tobacco use disorder.
Ribeiro Barbosa, P. C., Tofoli, L. F., Bogenschutz, M. P., Hoy, R., Berro, L. F., Marinho, E. A., … & Winkelman, M. J. (2018). Assessment of alcohol and tobacco use disorders among religious users of ayahuasca. Frontiers in psychiatry9, 136., 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00136
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Ketamine Effects on EEG during Therapy of Treatment-Resistant Generalized Anxiety and Social Anxiety


Ketamine is swiftly effective in a range of neurotic disorders that are resistant to conventional antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs. The neural basis for its therapeutic action is unknown. Here we report the effects of ketamine on the EEG of patients with treatment-resistant generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorders.
Twelve patients with refractory DSM-IV generalized anxiety disorder and/or social anxiety disorder provided EEG during 10 minutes of relaxation before and 2 hours after receiving double-blind drug administration. Three ascending ketamine dose levels (0.25, 0.5, and 1 mg/kg) and midazolam (0.01 mg/kg) were given at 1-week intervals to each patient, with the midazolam counterbalanced in dosing position across patients. Anxiety was assessed pre- and postdose with the Fear Questionnaire and HAM-A.
Ketamine dose-dependently improved Fear Questionnaire but not HAM-A scores, decreased EEG power most at low (delta) frequency, and increased it most at high (gamma) frequency. Only the decrease in medium-low (theta) frequency at right frontal sites predicted the effect of ketamine on the Fear Questionnaire. Ketamine produced no improvement in Higuchi’s fractal dimension at any dose or systematic changes in frontal alpha asymmetry.
Ketamine may achieve its effects on treatment-resistant generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder through related mechanisms to the common reduction by conventional anxiolytic drugs in right frontal theta. However, in the current study midazolam did not have such an effect, and it remains to be determined whether, unlike conventional anxiolytics, ketamine changes right frontal theta when it is effective in treatment-resistant depression.
Shadli, S. M., Kawe, T., Martin, D., McNaughton, N., Neehoff, S., & Glue, P. (2018). Ketamine Effects on EEG during Therapy of Treatment-Resistant Generalized Anxiety and Social Anxiety. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 10.1093/ijnp/pyy032
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Effects of N, N-Dimethyltryptamine on Rat Behaviors Relevant to Anxiety and Depression


Depression and anxiety disorders are debilitating diseases resulting in substantial economic costs to society. Traditional antidepressants often take weeks to months to positively affect mood and are ineffective for about 30% of the population. Alternatives, such as ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic capable of producing hallucinations, and the psychoactive tisane ayahuasca, have shown great promise due to their fast-acting nature and effectiveness in treatment-resistant populations. Here, we investigate the effects of N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the principle hallucinogenic component of ayahuasca, in rodent behavioral assays relevant to anxiety and depression using adult, male, Sprague-Dawley rats. We find that while DMT elicits initial anxiogenic responses in several of these paradigms, its long-lasting effects tend to reduce anxiety by facilitating the extinction of cued fear memory. Furthermore, DMT reduces immobility in the forced swim test, which is a characteristic behavioral response induced by many antidepressants. Our results demonstrate that DMT produces antidepressant and anxiolytic behavioral effects in rodents, warranting further investigation of ayahuasca and classical psychedelics as treatments for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cameron, L. P., Benson, C. J., Dunlap, L. E., & Olson, D. E. (2018). Effects of N, N-dimethyltryptamine on rat behaviors relevant to anxiety and depression. ACS chemical neuroscience. 10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00134
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4 October - Online psychedelic Q&A with Rick Doblin (founder and president of MAPS)