Ayahuasca is an herbal drink. It contains chemicals that affect the brain. It is used during certain religious rituals. It is also used as a medicine.
Ayahuasca is used for suicide prevention, depression, severe and disabling grief lasting for at least 6 months (prolonged grief disorder, PGD), and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Using ayahuasca may also be unsafe.
How does it work?
Ayahuasca contains chemicals that affect the brain. These chemicals might help reduce symptoms of depression and improve mood.
- Depression. Early research shows that taking ayahuasca once might improve depression symptoms within 80 minutes of treatment. The effect might last for up to 3 weeks.
- Severe and disabling grief lasting for at least 6 months (prolonged grief disorder, PGD). Early research shows that attending a retreat involving multiple uses of ceremonial ayahuasca might help to reduce grief in people with this condition. But it isn’t clear if this is due to ayahuasca or to other parts of the retreat.
- Drug and alcohol addiction.
- Suicide prevention.
- Anxiety, panic, and trauma symptoms.
- Impulse control.
- Sleep problems.
- Other conditions.
When taken by mouth: Ayahuasca is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Ayahuasca contains chemicals that can cause hallucinations, tremors, dilated pupils, increased blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting. Life-threatening side effects and death have also been linked with ayahuasca use.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Ayahuasca is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. Along with causing hallucinations and other serious side effects, there is concern that ayahuasca might be toxic to the fetus if used during pregnancy. Avoid using.
Bipolar disorder: Ayahuasca might increase the risk of having a manic episode in people with bipolar disorder. Do not use ayahuasca if you have bipolar disorder.
The appropriate dose of ayahuasca depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for ayahuasca. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.