ayahuasca research center at the mishana community in Peru

Current Research

The UK-based research team have a number of projects currently underway at the Riosbo research centre.

Following on from their government supported study, the team will begin data collection for the next stage of this experiment. The former study revealed some unprecedented findings – showing drastic reductions in anxiety and depression as well as a potential marker for epigenetic changes, furthermore extensive psychometric data on a range of measures suggested positive therapeutic potential. The team aims to scale this project up looking further at the effects of ayahuasca on trauma. This project is due to begin as soon as travel to Peru is reinstated following COVID-19 restrictions, and will be investigating factors like anxiety, depression, mindfulness, chronic pain and more.  

See below for further information on projects.

Further information to be announced in coming months – Latest update 30.09.2020

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Projects at Riosbo: 

The impact of ayahuasca on mental health outcomes and associated epigenetic changes 

In progress: A study looking at the impact of traditional ayahuasa on trauma-related conditions. In a sample group of 63, preliminary analysis showed significant improvements in anxiety, depression, self-compassion and wellbeing, also sustained at 6 month follow up. Results have been shown to be holistic in nature and highly correlated with each other. Improvements in positive autobiographical memory also observed. Pilot data from epigenetic analyses indicate changes to the sigma-1 receptor, as related to PTSD treatment. In regards to epigenetics, this study must be scaled up in order to draw more definitive conclusions.

Modulatory effects of ayahuasca on personality structure in a traditional framework

Results: In a sample of 24 participants, this study found that a retreat including 6 ayahuasca ceremonies caused significant long-term changes in human personality. These changes were deemed to be positive shifts, with decreases in Neuroticism (high levels associated with anxiety, depression OCD etc), significant increases in levels of Agreeableness and a trend level increase in how open people are to new experiences.  

A phenomenology of subjectively relevant experiences induced by ayahuasca 

Results: Using interviews that were carried out the following morning after an ayahuasca ceremony, this project describes the subjective effects of ayahuasca. The study looked at trends and differences in experience between participants and found significant references of reprocessing traumatic events or gaining fresh insight into life dilemmas.  

Synergistic pharmacological interaction of compounds present in ayahuasca – A systematic review

Results: Using a systematic review format (an assessment of the existing literature), this paper investigated how the primary chemicals within the ayahuasca brew interact in the human body. It was determined that further research is required but that the preliminary data suggests additive effect is going on, as well as potential synergy. It is hypothesised that ayahuasca has an antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect in the brain. A number of studies implied that ayahuasca may trigger growth of neural tissue, as well as up-regulating aspects of the serotonin system. 

Ayahuasca, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms and socio-emotional experiences – A six month follow up pilot study

Results: Data from this pilot study showed that six months following participation in ayahuasca retreats, significant improvements in ADHD symptomatology and socio-emotional difficulties were found. The findings were not affected by length of retreat or number of ceremonies attended. Gender differences in outcomes were also identified. This study suggests possible positive effects of ayahuasca use for ADHD, where further controlled trials are recommended.

 

Currently it is very difficult to raise funds for scientific research into plant medicines. To date, most of the projects listed above have been self-funded by our collaborative research team in the UK. In 2019 the team was awarded a grant from the Medical Research Council UK, which we are delighted about. However, due to us being a not for profit more data means we require more support.

If you think you can contribute, however great or small, please click here.

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