Malin Vedøy Uthaug
Track: Psychedelics – Science, Spirituality and Therapeutic Potential; Shamanism and Its Potential for Modern Man
Poster: Acute and Long-term Effects of Ayahuasca on affect and cognitive thinking style.
Ayahuasca is a South American plant tea traditionally used in Amazonian shamanism (McKenna, 2004). The psychotropic effects of ayahuasca are due to the cocktail of its chemicals N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and β-carboline alkaloids with monoamine oxidase-inhibiting properties: harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine.
Increasing evidence from anecdotal reports and open-label studies indicates that ayahuasca may have therapeutic effects in treatment of for example substance use disorders and depression. Clinical studies demonstrating the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca however are scarce, thus more research is warranted.
Previous research on ayahauasca demonstrated that single doses increase divergent thinking while decreasing convergent thinking (Kuypers et al., 2016) and reduce judgemental processing and inner reactivity (Soler et al., 2016). Its alkaloids produced anxiolytic and antidepressive effects in rodents, healthy volunteers and depressed patients (Santos et al., 2016). Research on healthy individuals using ayahuasca, suggests that spiritual insights, changed worldviews, and a new more positive orientation towards life are common outcomes (Bouso et al., 2012; Grob et al., 1996; Halpern, et al., 2008).
Little research has focused on long-term effects of ayahuasca on mental health, however there are indications that relief of depressive symptoms lasts beyond the acute phase (Osório et al., 2015). Three females with depression who received a single oral dose of ayahuasca showed an instant reduction of depressive symptoms as measured by the Hamilton Depression Scale. A sustained reduction was still found tat 1 (79%) and 14 days (66%) after intake.
In the current study it was predicted that
- mindfulness, creativity, and satisfaction with life of participants will acutely increase post the ayahuasca ceremony as compared to baseline. Moreover, we expected that depression, anxiety, and stress related symptoms would decrease post the ayahuasca ceremony as compared to baseline.
- ayahuasca induced changes will still be present 4 weeks after the ceremony as compared to baseline.
- positive changes in the dependent variables will be positively correlated with subjective ratings of ego-dissolution.
This study aimed to assess whether a single administration of ayahuasca produces long-lasting changes on affect and creativity. The second objective was to assess whether the acute and long term effects of ayahuasca depend on the degree of ego dissolution that was experienced during the ceremony.
This was a quantitative within subject design. The researcher sampled volunteers attending Ayahuasca ceremonies held in Colombia with the responsible shaman. After obtaining consent subjective assessment was scheduled prior to the start of the ceremony, 24 hours post-ayahuasca and 4 weeks after the ceremony.
Malin Vedøy Uthaug is a PhD student at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. She received a B.A degree in Psychology from University of New York in Prague and Empire State College June 2016. She then pursued her master in Health and Social Psychology at Maastricht University in The Netherlands 2016/2017 and graduated August 2017. During her last semester of her Masters, Malin was on a research internship in Colombia whereby she did field research on Ayahuasca under the supervision of Dr. Jan Ramaekers from Maastricht University, and Dr. Jordi Riba from Sant Pau hospital in Barcelona. The research internship was part of her master thesis. On the side of being a student and researcher, she is a life coach and public speaker. She started her coaching project titled Love & Gratitude in September 2016 which serves as a platform to spread information related to positive psychology and transpersonal psychology. Love & Gratitude has also become a way to bring about information about psychedelics and help destigmatizing them. She has since September 2016 delivered talks and workshops in Belgium, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Norway and Colombia.