OPEN Foundation

Day: 1 December 2018

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder After Ibogaine Treatment for Opioid Dependence


Abstract unavailable for this article.
Knuijver, T., Belgers, M., Markus, W., Verkes, R. J., van Oosteren, T., & Schellekens, A. (2018). Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder after ibogaine treatment for opioid dependence. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology38(6), 646-648., 10.1097/JCP.0000000000000966
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Possible Interactions Between 5-HT2A Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System in Humans: Preliminary Evidence of Interactive Effects of Ayahuasca and Endocannabinoids in a Healthy Human Subject


To the Editors

Ayahuasca is an ethnobotanical hallucinogenic preparation traditionally used for ritual and therapeutic purposes in the Northwestern Amazon Basin. It is prepared by the decoction of the bark of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi with the leaves of the shrub Psychotria viridisBanisteriopsis caapi contains the β-carbolines harmine, tetrahydroharmine, and harmaline, which are reversible inhibitors of monoamine oxidase type A (MAO-A), whereas P. viridis contains N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an agonist at 5-HT1A/2A/2C receptors. Pure DMT is not active orally because it is metabolized by MAO-A, but the β-carbolines in ayahuasca inhibit peripheral MAO-A and allow DMT to reach the brain. The β-carbolines also reach the systemic circulation in humans, but their effects are poorly characterized.

A recent randomized controlled trial (RCT) with 29 patients with treatment-resistant depression showed that, compared with placebo, a single ayahuasca dose induced significant antidepressant effects 7 days after drug intake. The mechanisms behind these effects are not clear but seem to involve agonism at cortical 5-HT2A receptors in brain areas related to emotional processing. 5-HT2A receptor activation also leads to the formation and release of endocannabinoids (ECs), and both the production and release of the EC 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are induced by 5-HT2A agonists. Considering that the 5-HT2Areceptor and the EC system (ECS) are coexpressed in brain regions related to emotional processing, they could be involved in the antidepressive effect of ayahuasca. To test the possible interaction between both systems, we administered in an open-label design a single oral ayahuasca dose (1 mL/kg) to a healthy 34-year-old man and assessed subjective effects (Visual Analog Mood Scale [VAMS], Bodily Symptoms Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory [BAI]), tolerability (blood pressure and heart rate, self-report), and EC plasma levels (anandamide [AEA], 2-AG) at several time points: VAMS, Bodily Symptoms Scale, blood pressure, and heart rate at baseline and 40, 90, 120, 150, and 240 minutes after drug intake; BAI–baseline, 240 minutes after drug intake; AEA, 2-AG (blood samples) at baseline and 90 and 240 minutes after drug intake. Analysis of the ayahuasca sample using gas chromatography with nitrogen-phosphorus detection showed the following alkaloid content (in mg/mL): 0.702 DMT, 1.748 harmine, 0.780 tetrahydroharmine, and 0.039 harmaline. Analysis of plasma ECs was performed using ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Detailed information on subjective measures and ayahuasca and EC analyses is described in the Supplemental Digital Content,

The volunteer was not taking any medication and was requested to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and caffeinated drinks 12 hours before ayahuasca intake. He arrived in the laboratory at 7:00 AM under fasting conditions, and urinalysis for illicit drug use was performed before ayahuasca intake (the test measured cannabis and cocaine and was negative for both drugs). Afterward, a cannula was introduced in his arm for collecting blood samples. Ayahuasca was administered at approximately 8:00 AM, and the experimental session lasted 5 hours. The experimental session consisted in the administration of the drug followed by application of the scales and assessment of tolerability measures at the aforementioned time points. During measurements, the volunteer remained seated in a comfortable reclining chair in a quiet dimly lit room. There was no psychological intervention before, during, or after the session.The volunteer remained in the laboratory under observation to see if the effects had subsided and was discharged around 6 hours after drug intake, which is the approximate duration of the psychoactive effects of ayahuasca.

dos Santos, R. G., Crippa, J. A., de Lima Osório, F., Rocha, J. M., Rossi, G. N., Marchioni, C., … & Hallak, J. E. C. (2018). Possible Interactions Between 5-HT2A Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System in Humans: Preliminary Evidence of Interactive Effects of Ayahuasca and Endocannabinoids in a Healthy Human Subject. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology38(6), 644-646., 10.1097/JCP.0000000000000973
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Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in Psychiatry: Pros, Cons, and Suggestions.


For a number of mental health disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD), there are not many available treatment options. Recently, there has been renewed interest in the potential of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) to restore function for patients with these disorders. The primary hypothesis is that MDMA, via prosocial effects, increases the ability of patients to address the underlying psychopathology of the disorder. However, the use of MDMA poses potential problems of neurotoxicity, in addition to its own potential for misuse.
In this article, the proposed potential of MDMA as an adjunct to psychotherapy for PTSD is evaluated. The rationale for the use of MDMA and the positive results of studies that have administered MDMA in the treatment of PTSD are provided (pros). A description of potential adverse effects of treatment is also presented (cons). An overview of MDMA pharmacology and pharmacokinetics and a description of potential adverse effects of treatments are also presented. Methylenedioxymethamphetamine-produced oxytocin release and decreased expression of fear conditioning as well as one of the MDMA enantiomers (the n R- entaniomer) are suggested as potential mechanisms for the beneficial effects of MDMA in PTSD (suggestions).
There is some evidence that MDMA facilitates recovery of PTSD. However, the significant adverse effects of MDMA raise concern for its adoption as a pharmacotherapy. Alternative potential treatments with less adverse effects and that are based on the ubiquitous pharmacology of MDMA are presented.
We suggest that additional research investigating the basis for the putative beneficial effects of MDMA might reveal an effective treatment with fewer adverse effects. Suggestions of alternative treatments based on the behavioral pharmacology and toxicology of MDMA and its enantiomers are presented.
Schenk, S., & Newcombe, D. (2018). Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in Psychiatry: Pros, Cons, and Suggestions. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology38(6), 632-638., 10.1097/JCP.0000000000000962
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27 March - Analytic Idealism & Live Q&A with Bernardo Kastrup