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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2019 Feb 7:1-11. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2019.1567961. [Epub ahead of print]

Ayahuasca and Public Health: Health Status, Psychosocial Well-Being, Lifestyle, and Coping Strategies in a Large Sample of Ritual Ayahuasca Users.

Author information

1
a International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Services (ICEERS) , Barcelona , Spain.
2
b Department of Anthropology, Philosophy and Social Work , Universitat Rovira i Virgili , Tarragona , Spain.
3
c Department of Neuroscience and Behavior , Ribeirão Preto Medical School, University of São Paulo , São Paulo , Brazil.
4
d National Institute for Translational Medicine (INCT-TM) , CNPq , Riberão Preto (SP) , Brazil.
5
e Departamento de Psicología Biológica y de la Salud, Facultad de Psicología , Universidad Autónoma de Madrid , Madrid , Spain.

Abstract

Assessing the health status of ayahuasca users has been challenging due to the limitations involved in randomized clinical trials and psychometric approaches. The main objective of this study is the implementation of an approach based on public health indicators. We developed a self-administered questionnaire that was administered to long-term ayahuasca users around Spain. The questionnaire was administrated face-to-face to participants (n = 380) in places where ayahuasca ceremonies were occurring. Public health indicators were compared with Spanish normative data, and intergroup analyses were conducted. Long-term ayahuasca use was associated with higher positive perception of health or with a healthy lifestyle, among other outcomes. Fifty-six percent of the sample reported reducing their use of prescription drugs due to ayahuasca use. Participants who used ayahuasca more than 100 times scored higher in personal values measures. The main conclusion of this study is that a respectful and controlled use of hallucinogenic/psychedelic drugs taken in communitarian settings can be incorporated into modern society with benefits for public health. This new approach, based on the use of health indicators that were not used in previous ayahuasca studies, offers relevant information about the impact of long-term exposure to ayahuasca on public health.

KEYWORDS:

Ayahuasca; hallucinogens; lifestyle; psychedelics; psychological well-being; public health

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