New research unveils how Ayahuasca induces profound insights & positive life transformations in users, reshaping mental health & lifestyles
— Associate Professor Daniel Perkins
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA, November 14, 2023 /EINPresswire.com/ — In a pioneering new study a global team of researchers have delved deep into the realm of the ancient Amazonian brew ayahuasca to shed light on the personal insights and life changes associated with its consumption.
Ayahuasca, containing the powerful psychedelic DMT, has garnered increasing scientific attention for its purported benefits for mental health, addiction treatment, and overall wellbeing, and has long been revered in Indigenous cultures for its visionary and transformative effects. This study, involving 8,907 ayahuasca drinkers in more than 50 countries, provides the first assessment of the nature and frequency of such effects in a global sample of users.
Insights as a Cornerstone
The research findings, published today in the journal Psychoactives, indicate that personal insights are a fundamental part of the ayahuasca experience, with an average of 9 insights per respondent and 98% reporting at least one insight. The most common insights were:
• new understanding of their own personality (reported by 82% of respondents)
• an enhanced sense of sacredness, higher power, or divine in the world (77%)
• new understandings of family and personal relationships (71%)
Insights relating to childhood events or situations; ethics, morals and their own conduct; life purpose and life direction; death and dying; and intimate relationship dynamics, were all reported by over 60% of respondents; while insights relating to social and environmental concerns, intellectual or philosophical topics, and body function and care, were reported by over 50% of respondents.
Life and Lifestyle Changes
Nearly 90% of respondents reported experiencing at least one significant life change attributed to their ayahuasca consumption, with an average of three. These included:
• A change in religious or spiritual identification (57% of respondents) (overwhelmingly toward the “Spiritual” category, including 69% of prior atheists and 73% of prior religious respondents now identifying as spiritual)
• Healing a longstanding personal conflict (43%)
• Increased involvement in social or environmental causes (40%)
• Abstaining from alcohol/drugs (33%)
• Changing career direction or employment (32%)
• Commencing study in a new area (30%)
• Reducing/ending problematic alcohol and drug use (27%)
• Having/wanting a/another child (24%)
• Starting a new relationship (23%)
Various lifestyle changes were also commonly reported, including improvements in physical health care (83% of respondents), diet (81%), and exercise (58%), alongside increased participation in spiritual practices (80%), time in nature (78%), and feelings of creativity (73%) and comfort or confidence with sexuality (62%).
Effects on Wellbeing and Mental Health
The study’s lead author, Associate Professor Daniel Perkins, Co-CEO Psychae Therapeutics and Senior Research Fellow, Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, said, “The frequent insights reported align with ayahuasca’s reputation as an accelerated self-therapy, offering individuals valuable new perspectives and self-awareness that catalyze meaningful life changes.”
Insights, life and lifestyle changes were overwhelmingly perceived as positive, however, there were rare occurrences of negative effects including worsening alcohol or drug problems (0.6% of respondents).
Insights predicted subsequent life and lifestyle changes, with three in particular (life purpose or life direction; personal ethics morals and conduct; and body function and care) being most commonly associated with changes. Several insights and life changes were then associated with improvements in psychological wellbeing, and better current mental health (on the Kessler 10 and SF12- Mental Health Component Score).
Study author Professor Jerome Sarris, Co-CEO Psychae Therapeutics said: “ayahuasca’s capacity to profoundly influence one’s spirituality or religiosity suggests this may offer a unique approach to enriching people’s lives.”
Implications for research and policy
“Although preliminary, the findings suggest a central role of insights and subsequent life changes in the therapeutic and wellbeing effects reported by individuals consuming ayahuasca, and are encouraging of further controlled studies to evaluate its potential use as a unique and transformative clinical therapy”, said Perkins. “However, further understanding of potential adverse mental health effects, including during integration, and risks for vulnerable individuals, is required.”
Psychae Therapeutics is a Biotechnology company based in Melbourne Australia that is developing innovative pharmaceutical grade DMT-based medicines and therapies intended to transform the lives of people facing a range of mental illnesses. Psychae is commencing the world’s first Phase 2 patient study using an ayahuasca inspired drug product in 2024.
Full study link: https://doi.org/10.3390/psychoactives2040017