Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ayahuasca goes mainstream

An excellent article from National Geographic.

An excerpt:

At the vanguard of this research is Charles Grob, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UCLA's School of Medicine. In 1993 Dr. Grob launched the Hoasca Project, the first in-depth study of the physical and psychological effects of ayahuasca on humans. His team went to Brazil, where the plant mixture can be taken legally, to study members of a native church, the União do Vegetal (UDV), who use ayahuasca as a sacrament, and compared them to a control group that had never ingested the substance. The studies found that all the ayahuasca-using UDV members had experienced remission without recurrence of their addictions, depression, or anxiety disorders. In addition, blood samples revealed a startling discovery: Ayahuasca seems to give users a greater sensitivity to serotonin—one of the mood-regulating chemicals produced by the body—by increasing the number of serotonin receptors on nerve cells.

Unlike most common antidepressants, which Grob says can create such high levels of serotonin that cells may actually compensate by losing many of their serotonin receptors, the Hoasca Project showed that ayahuasca strongly enhances the body's ability to absorb the serotonin that's naturally there.

"Ayahuasca is perhaps a far more sophisticated and effective way to treat depression than SSRIs [antidepressant drugs]," Grob concludes, adding that the use of SSRIs is "a rather crude way" of doing it. And ayahuasca, he insists, has great potential as a long-term solution.

5 Comments:

Blogger AJ said...

Great! Where can I get some?

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Will Burnham said...

I just want to know how to pronounce it!

8:59 PM  
Blogger Professor Pan said...

Eye - uh - wah - skah.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ayuhuasca contains harmaline, an MAO inhibitor, so these results aren't really that surprising.

Yage, by itself, is deactivated by the digestive system, thus the need for the additive.

I wonder how the Amazonian people discovered this particular combination.

Must be one of them coincidences.

2:11 AM  
Blogger Dalet said...

The 'coincidence' was discovered in a vision or dream (can't remember) where a great spririt revealed the secret combonation.

2:29 PM  

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