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Stability Evaluation of DMT and Harmala Alkaloids in Ayahuasca Tea Samples

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Abstract

Ayahuasca tea is a hallucinogenic beverage used for religious purposes in Brazil and many other countries that has therapeutic potential in the treatment of some mental health disorders. In the context of psychedelic research, quantification of the tea’s main alkaloids prior to its administration in animal or human studies is essential. For this reason, this study aims to provide information regarding the stability of the main ayahuasca alkaloids (dimethyltryptamine, DMT; harmine, HRM; tetrahydroharmine, THH; harmaline, HRL) in three different conditions: (1) A year stored in a refrigerator either in plastic or glass containers, (2) seven days at 37 °C to reproduce usual mail transportation, and (3) after three freeze-thaw cycles. Samples were quantified after a dilute-and-shoot procedure using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS). There was no significant degradation of DMT concentration over time in all tested conditions. Harmala alkaloids (THH, HRL, and HRM) showed important variations after long-term and high-temperature storages. Although DMT has proven to be stable in all studied conditions, the harmala alkaloids revealed intense degradation and even concentration increment. This may be caused by degradation, alkaloid inter-conversion, and leaching from tea precipitate material. Therefore, ayahuasca quantification before administration in controlled sets is mandatory.

de Oliveira Silveira, G., Guimarães Dos Santos, R., Rebello Lourenço, F., Novak Rossi, G., Hallak, J., & Yonamine, M. (2020). Stability Evaluation of DMT and Harmala Alkaloids in Ayahuasca Tea Samples. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(9), 2072. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25092072

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