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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 Oct;235(10):2979-2989. doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-4988-3. Epub 2018 Aug 13.

Sub-acute and long-term effects of ayahuasca on affect and cognitive thinking style and their association with ego dissolution.

Author information

1
Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands. malin.uthaug@maastrichtuniversity.nl.
2
Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
5
Department of Methodology and Statistics, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
6
Institute of Legal Medicine, Goethe University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany.
7
Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands. j.ramaekers@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Ayahuasca is a psychotropic plant tea from South America used for religious purposes by indigenous people of the Amazon. Increasing evidence indicates that ayahuasca may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of mental health disorders and can enhance mindfulness-related capacities. Most research so far has focused on acute and sub-acute effects of ayahuasca on mental health-related parameters and less on long-term effects.

OBJECTIVES:

The present study aimed to assess sub-acute and long-term effects of ayahuasca on well-being and cognitive thinking style. The second objective was to assess whether sub-acute and long-term effects of ayahuasca depend on the degree of ego dissolution that was experienced after consumption of ayahuasca.

RESULTS:

Ayahuasca ceremony attendants (N = 57) in the Netherlands and Colombia were assessed before, the day after, and 4 weeks following the ritual. Relative to baseline, ratings of depression and stress significantly decreased after the ayahuasca ceremony and these changes persisted for 4 weeks. Likewise, convergent thinking improved post-ayahuasca ceremony up until the 4 weeks follow-up. Satisfaction with life and several aspects of mindfulness increased the day after the ceremony, but these changes failed to reach significance 4 weeks after. Changes in affect, satisfaction with life, and mindfulness were significantly correlated to the level of ego dissolution experienced during the ayahuasca ceremony and were unrelated to previous experience with ayahuasca.

CONCLUSION:

It is concluded that ayahuasca produces sub-acute and long-term improvements in affect and cognitive thinking style in non-pathological users. These data highlight the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca in the treatment of mental health disorders, such as depression.

KEYWORDS:

Affect; Ayahuasca; Creative thinking; Field study; Long-term effects; Mindfulness

PMID:
30105399
PMCID:
PMC6182612
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-018-4988-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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