21 February 2022 – Schalk van Zyl
Few herbal brews can aspire to the legendary status that belongs to Ayahuasca. It has left a trail of minds as long as enlightened reaching back at least a few hundred years. Potentially reaching back thousands of years, although those secrets are probably lost to time.
What isn’t lost to time is what effect this hallucinogenic drink and the ceremony surrounding it can have on the human psyche. New research has recently made a point of looking into the long-term impact using the brew could have on people. The results have been encouraging.
The work has shown that participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony, or even simply taking Ayahuasca under the right circumstances, can help to reduce certain kinds of negative personality traits. These traits can commonly be the cause of a lot of the negative feelings and anguishes people experience during their lives. Primary among them are neuroticism and negative emotionality.
“We found substantial changes in personality traits, particularly neuroticism, following ayahuasca use,” says Brandon Weiss, a psychologist at Imperial College London and the lead author of the paper. “These changes persisted over three months and were corroborated by reports from participants’ close significant others.”
“The implications [of ayahuasca use] are fairly broad,” comments Weiss. “In addition to suggesting ayahuasca’s efficacy in treating mood and anxiety disorders, many other disorders may also be amenable to change including personality disorders with a strong negative emotional core such as Borderline Personality Disorder. Other disorder spectra such as Antagonistic Externalizing (involving aggression, rule-breaking, abuse, and criminality) and Disinhibiting Externalizing (involving impulsivity and substance misuse) frequently have an emotional component and, in many cases, an emotional origin. As such, I believe there is a good empirical basis for utilizing ayahuasca transdiagnostically in the future.”
The research demonstrated they neurotic behaviour subsided remarkably within a week of the ceremony, and remained suppressed even three months after the ceremony – long after any actual Ayahuasca substances remained in the body, thus demonstrating a deep and lasting change. This change is so profound that a single intense Ayahuasca ceremony could potentially be the equivalent of many weeks of therapy in terms of the benefits it holds.
It stands to reason that other Ayahuasca-like blends such as Changa or Yopo hold the very same healing potential, although research into these is still ongoing at the moment.