Scientific interest in the traditional plant

Yagé (Ayahuasca), the next antidepressant?

Six patients diagnosed with depression received a dose of Ayahuasca in Brazil and showed an improvement of their state.

Brazilian scientists believe that Yagé could be useful in treatment for depression.

A few weeks ago, a group of scientists of the renowned Mount Sinai Medicine School, New York, revealed that after they had studied 100,000 molecules while searching a possible cure for diabetes, just one of them turned out to be promising. It was harmine, a compound hidden in Ayahuasca o Yagé (Banisteriopsis caapi).

Now the good news comes thanks to a Brazilian group of investigators led by the neuroscientist Jaime Hallak, who announced the positive effect of yagé on a small group of patients diagnosed with severe depression in The Brazilian Psychiatry Magazine.

Hallak and his partners recruited, through adverts and by getting in touch with doctors from private clinics, six patients: two men and four women. Two of them suffered mild episodes, three suffered moderate episodes and one suffered from a severe disorder.

The patients received all the necessary information about the use of Yagé and gave their consent for the experiment. The Yagé was prepared by members of the Santo Daime Community, Brazil, and was stored until the day of the session which took place at the University of São Paulo Faculty of Medicine.

Each patient took between 120 and 200 ml depending on their body weight. A general medical examination plus a range of lab tests to measure the depressive states took place before and after the experiment.

Although half of the patients vomited, a well known symptom in all the communities that use the hallucinogenic plant, the Brazilian neuroscientists were surprised with the results. On the one hand, the depressive symptoms began to diminish within hours and the improvement extended up to three weeks. Commercial antidepressants generally don’t show their effect until two or three weeks after treatment is started.

The neuroscientists noticed signs of improvement in more than the 47% of all patients in psychiatric evolution tests.

One of the weaknesses of the study, besides the small sample of patients, was that it didn’t include a control group to compare the results. Even so, its own authors believe that “these results suggest that Ayahuasca can be a powerful new substance for the treatment of depression and symptoms of anxiety.”

Related to that, the psychiatrist James Stone said to Nature Magazine that the study is very interesting, but due not having group for comparison, for now he can only conclude that depressive patients tolerate Yagé well and they don’t appear to have serious adverse effects after having a dose.


For more information from the Ayahuasca International Doctor for those who want to have treatments with Ayahuasca and Psycho-therapy.

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