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Study Suggests Single Dose of Ayahuasca Changes Brain

According to a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, a single dose of the ancient brew known as Ayahuasca can result in permanent changes in important brain networks.

As some of you may know, Ayahuasca, which has been used ceremoniously for centuries in indigenous Amazonian tribes, contains the powerful psychedelic chemical dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The concoction is prepared using leaves and bark from particular trees native to places like Peru and Bolivia.

In the new research, it was found that Ayahuasca could produce lifelong changes to mood by altering the connectivity of certain networks in the brain. Because of the ban of psychedelic substances almost 70 years ago, it has been extremely difficult to legally study their effects. These days, laws in certain places have loosened, and due to the increase in technological capabilities we are able to learn more about how these substances interact with our minds and bodies.

After the study, postdoctoral fellow at the Memory and Aging Center at UCSF Lorenzo Pasquini observed “long-lasting effect on the functional organization of brain networks supporting higher order cognitive and affective functions.” Ayahuasca had an impact on two specific brain networks that support bodily sensations, motivational functions, while sensory networks were not affected after the session.

We are just beginning to understand the impact of psychedelic substances on cognitive function, but this is a promising start. Hopefully, studies like this will continue and we’ll be able to further our research into Ayahuasca and other “new age remedies.”

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