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Ayahuasca may be the next big thing in suicide prevention.

Quick Notes:

  • Ayahuasca opens up the brain to receive a rush of DMT

  • The suicide rate around the world is exponentially high

  • Studies show promise but more need to be done

Mental health professionals have been hard at work trying to decode why depression happens and the best way to treat it. With a wide array of available medications and psychotherapy treatment options available, it’s never been easier to seek help for depression. However, a new treatment with ancient roots may be on the horizon.

Ayahuasca has been long used to enhance the mind and take a journey into the psychedelic, but some researchers are suggesting that it could have medicinal properties.

What is ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a tea, of sorts. It is made by boiling leaves from the chacruna plant, also known as Psychotria Viridis, with an ayahuasca vine. Once brewed the concoction turns into a drinkable bitter brown tea. The chacruna plant has high amounts of N, N-Dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT, a high level psychoactive.

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In ancient years Ayahuasca was used in shamanic rituals, but today it’s being used by people looking for a psychedelic journey through their own mind. Although it’s naturally produced in the body, DMT is destroyed by gut enzymes before it has a chance to travel to the mind. The ayahuasca vine blocks those enzymes, giving DMT a straight shot to the brain.

Suicide rates have increased in recent years

In the United States alone, suicide has been a huge killer of people of all ages. The rates are so high that it is now the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. and is said to contribute to close to 50,000 deaths per year, with suicide attempts being at over a million per year.

It is widely accepted that depression is the leading cause of suicide and suicidal thoughts, and the rates of depression rose by close to four percent from 1991 to 2002 in the U.S. Today, the percentage of American adults that have documented a battle with depression is closer to eleven percent, with more females being affected than males.

The study shows promise

The research study showed that the use of ayahuasca may just help curb suicide in participants. The researchers utilized a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on 29 participants who were typically resistant to their previous medications. Fourteen of the participants were given 1mg of ayahuasca and the other 15 were given a placebo.

Researchers then kept track of the symptoms and measured their suicidality rate from day one to day seven of the study. The suicidality rate dropped significantly in the participants using the ayahuasca, much lower than those who had been given the placebo. The researchers went on to say that, “Within the ayahuasca group, we found large effect sizes for decreases in suicidality at all time points,” which goes to show that they may just be on to something.

More research needs to be done

Due to the very small size of the study and the fact that their symptoms and suicidality rates were self-reported, more extensive research would need to be done to confirm the hypothesis.

The lasting ‘feel good’ effects could also be contributed to the tail end of the ayahuasca trip, and do not necessarily confirm that it would help in the long run.

Other studies have been done over the last few years that show the same promising results, so the best bet for the future of ayahuasca use and suicide prevention is to continue with the trend of exploration when it comes to how ayahuasca can help treat major depressive disorder (MDD) in the many adults that suffer with it daily.

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