2012 – Long-Term and Regular Ayahuasca Use Associated with Better Mental Health
Researchers in Spain, including Carlos Bouso and Jordi Riba, conducted one of the few longitudinal studies of the mental health effects of regular ayahuasca use. This study resembled the 1996 Grob et al. study, but was better controlled and used a much larger sample of people.
Participants were recruited from Santo Daime and Barquinha religious groups in urban and rural communities in Brazil. These groups consume ayahuasca as part of their rituals six to eight times per month. The control group participants were also actively religious, but without ayahuasca use. The study looked into various measures of personality, psychopathology, life attitude, and neuropsychology in both groups at two intervals, one year apart.
Ayahuasca users scored consistently and significantly more favorably on psychopathology tests, scales of neuropsychological impairment, and perceptive and cognitive functioning tasks. Personality tests revealed higher measures of reward dependence (adaptation) and self-transcendence (egolessness), and lower measures of harm avoidance (avoiding negative thoughts and feelings) and self-directedness (importance of self over that of community). Also, regular religious ayahuasca users showed higher scores in “spiritual orientation,” “purpose in life,” and “psychosocial well-being.”
Importantly, most results showed enduring effects one year later. This high-quality study represents an important landmark in the history of the scientific exploration of ayahuasca. It illustrated significant results that suggest ayahuasca use, in certain contexts and circumstances, can promote better mental health.
The scientific study represents one of the most pioneering scientific projects on ayahuasca. Others on such a list would have to include how the MAIO molecules in the ayahuasca vine allow DMT access to the blood stream through the gut; the safety profile of ayahuasca on drinkers; how the brain on ayahuasca and meditation behave similar to each other; how ayahuasca visions activate the brain similar to normal vision; and a study on the anti-depressant effects of ayahuasca, just to name a few.
Bouso, J. C., González, D., Fondevila, S., Cutchet, M., Fernández, X., Barbosa, P. C. R., … & Riba, J. (2012). Personality, psychopathology, life attitudes and neuropsychological performance among ritual users of ayahuasca: a longitudinal study. PLoS One, 7(8), e42421.