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The potential use of ayahuasca in psychiatry

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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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