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Safety and Side Effects of Ayahuasca in Humans—An Overview Focusing on Developmental Toxicology

Journal of Psychoactive Drugs

Informa UK Limited

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      The serotonin syndrome.

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        Subjective effects and tolerability of the South American psychoactive beverage Ayahuasca in healthy volunteers.

        Ayahuasca is a South American psychoactive beverage that contains the naturally occurring psychedelic agent N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). This "tea" has been used for centuries in religious and medicinal contexts in the rain forest areas of South America and is presently gaining the attention of psychedelic users in North America and Europe. In the present study, the psychological effects and tolerability of ayvahuasca were assessed. Three increasing doses of encapsulated freeze-dried ayahuasca (0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 mg DMT/kg body weight) were administered to six healthy male volunteers with prior experience in the use of this tea, in a single-blind crossover placebo-controlled clinical trial. Ayahuasca produced significant dose-dependent increases in five of the six subscales of the Hallucinogen Rating Scale, in the LSD, MBG, and A scales of the Addiction Research Center Inventory, and in the "liking", "good effects" and "high" visual analogue scales. Psychological effects were first noted after 30-60 min, peaked between 60-120 min, and were resolved by 240 min. The tea was well tolerated from a cardiovascular point of view, with a trend toward increase for systolic blood pressure. Modified physical sensations and nausea were the most frequently reported somatic-dysphoric effects. The overall experience was regarded as pleasant and satisfactory by five of the six volunteers, while one volunteer experienced an intensely dysphoric reaction with transient disorientation and anxiety at the medium dose and voluntarily withdrew from the study. Ayahuasca can be described as inducing changes in the perceptual, affective, cognitive, and somatic spheres, with a combination of stimulatory and visual psychoactive effects of longer duration and milder intensity than those previously reported for intravenously administered DMT.
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          Human psychopharmacology of hoasca, a plant hallucinogen used in ritual context in Brazil.

          A multinational, collaborative, biomedical investigation of the effects of hoasca (ayahuasca), a potent concoction of plant hallucinogens, was conducted in the Brazilian Amazon during the summer of 1993. This report describes the psychological assessment of 15 long-term members of a syncretic church that utilizes hoasca as a legal, psychoactive sacrament as well as 15 matched controls with no prior history of hoasca ingestion. Measures administered to both groups included structured psychiatric diagnostic interviews, personality testing, and neuropsychological evaluation. Phenomenological assessment of the altered state experience as well as semistructured and open-ended life story interviews were conducted with the long-term use hoasca group, but not the hoasca-naive control group. Salient findings included the remission of psychopathology following the initiation of hoasca use along with no evidence of personality or cognitive deterioration. Overall assessment revealed high functional status. Implications of this unusual phenomenon and need for further investigation are discussed.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Journal of Psychoactive Drugs
            Journal of Psychoactive Drugs
            Informa UK Limited
            0279-1072
            2159-9777
            January 2013
            January 2013
            : 45
            : 1
            : 68-78
            10.1080/02791072.2013.763564
            © 2013

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