Documents of Interest

The documentation available in the following list gathers texts that have not been produced inside the Takiwasi Center, but due to their thematic and content, they are very related to the research that is developed within the Center.

1.
A large-scale survey of Ayahuasca consumption in Europe: overview and perspectives

Author : Guillaume Krief, Laurent Fabre, Achraf Traboulsie

Presentation at the World Ayahuasca Conference, Ibiza, Spain, September 25-27, 2014.

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There are numerous reasons to conduct well-designed clinical studies on ayahuasca and human subject: possible therapeutic applications in addictive behavior, mental illness, loss of quality of life; possible public health concerns. The use of Ayahuasca and public literature about it are exponentially growing, along with the potential for adverse reactions.

2.
A Psychotherapeutic View on the Therapeutic Effects of Ritual Ayahuasca Use in the Treatment of Addiction

Author : Anja Loizaga-Velder

Published in MAPS Bulletin Special Edition, p. 36-40, Spring 2013.

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The use of ayahuasca has spread beyond the Amazon in the last few decades, reaching around the globe in contexts of religious, shamanic, psychotherapeutic, and hybrid ayahuasca rituals. Many participants report gaining benefits from ayahuasca rituals in ways such as acquiring deeper knowledge of oneself, personal and spiritual development, or healing for a variety of psychological and physiological afflictions, including substance dependencies.

3.
Assessment of Alcohol and Tobacco Use Disorders Among Religious Users of Ayahuasca

Author : Paulo Cesar Ribeiro Barbosa et al.

Published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2018; 9:136.

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The aims of this study were to assess the impact of ceremonial use of ayahuasca—a psychedelic brew containing N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and β-carboline —and attendance at União do Vegetal (UDV) meetings on substance abuse; here we report the findings related to alcohol and tobacco use disorder. A total of 1,947 members of UDV 18+ years old were evaluated in terms of years of membership and ceremonial attendance during the previous 12 months. Participants were recruited from 10 states from all major regions of Brazil. Alcohol and tobacco use was evaluated through questionnaires first developed by the World Health Organization and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Analyses compared levels of alcohol and tobacco use disorder between the UDV and a national normative sample (n = 7,939). Binomial tests for proportions indicated that lifetime use of alcohol and tobacco was higher in UDV sample compared to the Brazilian norms for age ranges of 25–34 and over 34 years old, but not for the age range of 18–24 years old. However, current use disorders for alcohol and tobacco were significantly lower in the UDV sample than the Brazilian norms. Regression analyses revealed a significant impact of attendance at ayahuasca ceremonies during the previous 12 months and years of UDV membership on the reduction of alcohol and tobacco use disorder.

4.
Ayahuasca and cancer treatment

Author : Eduardo E. Schenberg

SAGE Open Med. 2013; 1: 2050312113508389.

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At least nine case reports regarding the use of ayahuasca in the treatment of prostate, brain, ovarian, uterine, stomach, breast, and colon cancers were found. Several of these were considered improvements, one case was considered worse, and one case was rated as difficult to evaluate. A theoretical model is presented which explains these effects at the cellular, molecular, and psychosocial levels. Particular attention is given to ayahuasca’s pharmacological effects through the activity of N,N-dimethyltryptamine at intracellular sigma-1 receptors. The effects of other components of ayahuasca, such as harmine, tetrahydroharmine, and harmaline, are also considered.

5.
Ayahuasca: Psychological And Physiologic Effects, Pharmacology And Potential Uses In Addiction And Mental Illness

Author : Jonathan Hamill, Jaime Hallak, Serdar M Dursun, Glen Baker

Published in Current Neuropharmacology, 16, 1-19, 2018.

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Objective: To review ayahuasca's behavioral effects, possible adverse effects, proposed mechanisms of action and potential clinical uses in mental illness. Method: We searched Medline, in English, using the terms ayahuasca, dimethytryptamine, Banisteriopsis caapi, and Psychotria viridis and reviewed the relevant publications. Results: The following aspects of ayahuasca are summarized: Political and legal factors; acute and chronic psychological effects; electrophysiological studies and imaging; physiological effects, safety and adverse effects; pharmacology; potential psychiatric uses. Conclusion: Many years of shamanic wisdom have indicated potential therapeutic uses for ayahuasca, and many present day studies suggest that it may be useful for treating various psychiatric disorders and addictions. The side effect profile appears to be relatively mild, but more detailed studies need to be done. Several prominent researchers feel that government regulations with regard to ayahuasca should be relaxed so that it could be provided more readily to recognized credible researchers to conduct comprehensive clinical trials.

6.
Ayahuasca’s entwined efficacy: An ethnographic study of ritual healing from ‘addiction’

Author : Piera Talin, Emilia Sanabria

Published in International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 44, Pages 23–30, June 2017.

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Ayahuasca’s efficacy in the treatment of addiction blends somatic, symbolic and collective dimensions. The layering of these effects, and the direction given to them through ritual, circumscribes the experience and provides tools to render it meaningful. Prevailing modes of evaluation are ill suited to account for the particular material and semiotic efficacy of complex interventions such as ayahuasca healing for addiction. The article argues that practices of care characteristic of the ritual spaces in which ayahuasca is collectively consumed, play a key therapeutic role.

7.
Classical hallucinogens as antidepressants? A review of pharmacodynamics and putative clinical roles

Author : David Baumeister, Georgina Barnes, Giovanni Giaroli and Derek Tracy

Published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology 2014, Vol. 4(4) pp. 156–169.

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Hallucinogens have been part of spiritual practice for millennia, but controversy surrounding their mind-manifesting effects led to their proscription by the mid-20th century, largely without evidence of harm or toxicity and despite nascent data suggesting therapeutic utility in treating depressive illnesses. This review explores their pharmacodynamic actions and the current limited data on their clinic effectiveness.

8.
DMT Models the Near-Death Experience

Author : Christopher Timmermann, et al.

Original research article published in Frontiers in Psychology 9:1424, 15 August 2018.

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Near-death experiences (NDEs) are complex subjective experiences, which have been previously associated with the psychedelic experience and more specifically with the experience induced by the potent serotonergic, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Potential similarities between both subjective states have been noted previously, including the subjective feeling of transcending one’s body and entering an alternative realm, perceiving and communicating with sentient ‘entities’ and themes related to death and dying. In this within-subjects placebo-controled study we aimed to test the similarities between the DMT state and NDEs, by administering DMT and placebo to 13 healthy participants, who then completed a validated and widely used measure of NDEs. Results revealed significant increases in phenomenological features associated with the NDE, following DMT administration compared to placebo. Also, we found significant relationships between the NDE scores and DMT-induced ego-dissolution and mystical-type experiences, as well as a significant association between NDE scores and baseline trait ‘absorption’ and delusional ideation measured at baseline. Furthermore, we found a significant overlap in nearly all of the NDE phenomenological features when comparing DMT-induced NDEs with a matched group of ‘actual’ NDE experiencers. These results reveal a striking similarity between these states that warrants further investigation.

9.
Effects of ayahuasca on the development of ethanol-induced behavioral sensitization and on a post-sensitization treatment in mice

Author : A.J. Oliveira-Lima, R. Santos A.W. Hollais, C.A. Gerardi-Junior, M.A.

Physiology & Behavior, Volume 142, 1 April 2015, Pages 28-36.

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Hallucinogenic drugs were used to treat alcoholic patients in the past, and recent developments in the study of hallucinogens led to a renewal of interest regarding the application of these drugs in the treatment of addiction. In this scenario, accumulating evidence suggests that the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca (Aya) may have therapeutic effects on substance abuse problems.

10.
Giving up the green bitch: reflections on cannabis, Ayahuasca and the mystery of plant teachers

Author : Graham Hancock

The experiences described in this article were also the subject of TEDx conference in London. january 2013.

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I have some personal stuff to share here and I intend to do so with complete openness in the hope that my experiences will prove helpful to some, thought-provoking to others, and might stir up discussion around issues of consciousness and cognitive liberty that are often neglected in our society.

11.
Hypotheses regarding the mechanisms of ayahuasca in the treatment of addictions

Author : Mitchell B. Liester, James I. Prickett

Published in Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 44:3, 200-208, 2012.

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Ayahuasca is a medicinal plant mixture utilized by indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon River basin for healing purposes. The "vine of the soul" or "vine of death," as it is known in South America, contains a combination of monoamine oxidase inhibitors and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). When ingested together, these medicines produce profound alterations in consciousness. Increasingly, ayahuasca is being utilized to treat addictions. However, the mechanism of action by which ayahuasca treats addictions remains unclear. We offer four hypotheses to explain possible biochemical, physiological, psychological, and transcendent mechanisms by which ayahuasca may exert its anti-addiction effects.

12.
In Brazil, some inmates get therapy with hallucinogenic tea

Author : Simon Romero

Article published in the New York Times, March 28, 2015.

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As the night sky enveloped this outpost in Brazil’s Amazon basin, the ceremony at the open-air temple began simply enough. Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. They gulped it down; some vomited. Hymns were sung. More ayahuasca was consumed. By midnight, the congregants seemed strangely energized. Then the dancing began.

13.
Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice

Author : Antoine Lutz, Lawrence L. Greischar, Nancy B. Rawlings, Matthieu Ricar

PNAS 2004 November, 101 (46) 16369-16373.

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Practitioners understand “meditation,” or mental training, to be a process of familiarization with one's own mental life leading to long-lasting changes in cognition and emotion. Little is known about this process and its impact on the brain. Here we find that long-term Buddhist practitioners self-induce sustained electroencephalographic high-amplitude gamma-band oscillations and phase-synchrony during meditation. These electroencephalogram patterns differ from those of controls, in particular over lateral frontoparietal electrodes. In addition, the ratio of gamma-band activity (25-42 Hz) to slow oscillatory activity (4-13 Hz) is initially higher in the resting baseline before meditation for the practitioners than the controls over medial frontoparietal electrodes. This difference increases sharply during meditation over most of the scalp electrodes and remains higher than the initial baseline in the postmeditation baseline. These data suggest that mental training involves temporal integrative mechanisms and may induce short-term and long-term neural changes.

14.
Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science

Author : Gary E. Schwartz, Mario Beauregard, Lisa Miller

International Summit On Post-Materialist Science, Spirituality, And Society. Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, February 7-9, 2014.

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A group of internationally known scientists, from a variety of scientific fields (biology, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, psychiatry), participated in an international summit on post-materialist science, spirituality and society. The purpose was to discuss the impact of the materialist ideology on science and the emergence of a post-materialist paradigm for science, spirituality, and society. This Manifesto summarizes the conclusions of the meeting.

15.
Methadone fails 97% of drug addicts

Author : The Scotsman

Published on 29/10/2006.

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A key government drugs policy has been exposed as a shocking failure after it emerged that giving methadone to heroin addicts has a 97% failure rate. In a damning indictment of the Scottish Executive's 'softly softly' approach to managing the heroin problem, research found that three years after receiving methadone only 3% of addicts remained totally drug-free. The same study, by Scotland's leading drugs expert, found that there was a 29% success rate among addicts who went 'cold turkey' in a rehabilitation centre.

16.
Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms

Author : Robin L Carhart-Harris, Leor Roseman, Mark Bolstridge, Lysia Demetriou

Published in Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 13187, October 2017.

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Psilocybin with psychological support is showing promise as a treatment model in psychiatry but its therapeutic mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, cerebral blood flow (CBF) and blood oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) were measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after treatment with psilocybin (serotonin agonist) for treatment resistant depression (TRD). Quality pre and post treatment fMRI data were collected from 16 of 19 patients. Decreased depressive symptoms were observed in all 19 patients at 1-week post-treatment and 47% met criteria for response at 5 weeks. Whole-brain analyses revealed post-treatment decreases in CBF in the temporal cortex, including the amygdala. Decreased amygdala CBF correlated with reduced depressive symptoms.

17.
Psychedelic experience as a catalyst of psychotherapeutic process in the treatment of addiction

Author : Mina Paš

Article published in the web page of the Rabbit Hole Institute for psychotherapy and research of healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness.

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The use of psychedelic experience in the treatment of addictions is far from new. In the late sixties the benefits of LSD psychotherapy for alcoholism was well known and thanks to Stanislav Grof, also very well documented. Stanislav Grof was a Czech psychiatrist who conducted and wrote about several thousand LSD psychotherapies on psychiatric patients, including LSD therapies as a treatment of alcoholism. His excellent book LSD psychotherapy (The healing potential of psychedelic medicine) offers a comprehensive and systematic review of the practical applications of LSD psychotherapy and Grof dedicated a whole chapter about the potential of LSD psychotherapy in the treatment of alcoholism (Grof, 2001).

18.
Psychedelics Promote Structural and Functional Neural Plasticity

Author : Calvin Ly et al.

Published in Cell Reports 23, 3170–3182, June 12, 2018.

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Ly et al. demonstrate that psychedelic compounds such as LSD, DMT, and DOI increase dendritic arbor complexity, promote dendritic spine growth, and stimulate synapse formation. These cellular effects are similar to those produced by the fast-acting antidepressant ketamine and highlight the potential of psychedelics for treating depression and related disorders.

19.
Revisiting LSD as a treatment for alcoholism

Author : SAGE Publications

Article published March 8, 2012.

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Several decades ago, a number of clinics used LSD to treat alcoholism with some success. But until now, no research has pulled together the results of these trials to document exactly how effective LSD was. Now a new meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of the drug provides evidence for a clear and consistent beneficial effect of LSD for treating alcohol dependency.

20.
The ayahuasca ceremony is going under the scientific-method microscope

Author : Shelby Hartman

Published in Quartz, April 20, 2017.

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Standish, a professor at the Bastyr University Research Institute in Seattle, is one of several scientists hoping more governments around the world will begin approving research into the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca in the next year. Neuroscientist Jessica Nielson at the University of California-San Francisco plans to submit protocol this month to the FDA for a study on ayahuasca as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. In the next three months, Jordi Riba, a researcher at the Sant Pau Institute of Biomedical Research in Barcelona, plans to seek approval from the Spanish government for his own study into ayahuasca as a PTSD treatment. If he succeeds, it will be the first trial in Europe looking at the brew’s therapeutic potential.

21.
Traditional pharmaceutical recipes from a metabolomics perspective: Interviews with traditional healers in Mali and comparison with modern herbal medicines

Author : Matteo Politi, Lelia Pisani

Advancement in Medicinal Plant Research Vol. 2(1), pp. 1-6, January 2014.

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Scientific data on traditional pharmaceutical recipes are largely missing in the literature, despite the relevance of this information within the process of herbal medicine preparation; the chemistry of the finished product in fact, can be dramatically affected by the recipes adopted. A fieldwork on the topic of traditional pharmaceutical recipes was performed in Mali; traditional and modern practices to prepare herbal medicines were compared. The nascent scientific discipline named metabolomics identify a new paradigm in natural product chemistry. Under the umbrella of metabolomics, the traditional practices recorded during the field survey in Mali were interpreted from a biochemical perspective and presented in this paper.

22.
Well-being, problematic alcohol consumption and acute subjective drug effects in past-year ayahuasca users: a large, international, self-selecting online survey

Author : Will Lawn, Jaime E. Hallak, Jose A. Crippa, Rafael Dos Santos, Lilla P

Published in Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 15201, November 2017.

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Ayahuasca is a natural psychedelic brew, which contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Its potential as a psychiatric medicine has recently been demonstrated and its non-medical use around the world appears to be growing. We aimed to investigate well-being and problematic alcohol use in ayahuasca users, and ayahuasca’s subjective effects. An online, self-selecting, global survey examining patterns of drug use was conducted in 2015 and 2016 (n=96,901).

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