U.S. Conference on Psychedelic Science Highlights Use of Ayahuasca

Originally appearing here. This article has been translated. Ecstasy against post-traumatic stress, LSD for headache, psilocybin in the treatment of smoking. An old utopia of hippies and alternative sessentões became reality. After decades of persecution, hallucinogens are in the crosshairs of scientists from around the world interested in the possible potential of these substances for various treatments. This new scenario is the theme of the second edition of the conference Psychedelic Science , which began on Thursday (18), in Oakland, Calif., and ends on Monday (22). The conference brings together more than 100 leading researchers from 13 countries, who will present the latest findings on the benefits and risks of different psychoactive substances such as ibogaine (which makes you daydream), ketamine (a veterinary anesthetic) and marijuana. The lectures and workshops gave prominence to studies on the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca brew from the Amazon used in indigenous rituals and religious cults Brazilians as Santo Daime and União do Vegetal. Never researched this topic much, says anthropologist Brazilian Bia Labate, a visiting professor of the Drug Policy Program of the Center for Economic Research and Teaching – Cide in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She is a consultant to the Maps (the acronym for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and says the event is “the largest international gathering of history among scholars in the field of ayahuasca.” According to her, there was an explosion of interest in the nature and the effects and uses of psychoactive tea. “After a long journey of persecution and banishment by the colonizers, followed by prohibitionist drug policies, observe the spread of ayahuasca rituals across Europe and North America, and a huge expansion in the scientific study of this substance,” he says. The axis of the event focused on the psychedelic tea, coordinated by anthropologist gathers 30 research presentations, a day of workshops, film screenings and debates around issues such as safety, ethics and marketing the use of ayahuasca in the so called ‘spiritual tourism’ . With clipping multidisciplinary perspectives include neuroscience, neurobiology, psychiatry, pharmacology, ethnopharmacology, ethnobotany, psychology, public health, epidemiology, anthropology, law and education. “They are researchers from Brazil, USA, Canada, Germany, Spain, Peru and Mexico,” adds the anthropologist. “Most of presentations addressing the ritual and clinical uses of this substance in the treatment of various diseases and illnesses, such as depression, and especially its role in psychological well-being, quality of life and identity formation,” continues Labate. Another relevant approach is the investigation of the effects of ayahuasca as an adjunct to psychotherapy in cases of addiction. That is indeed the field for Brazilian Dartiu Xavier, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo, where he is also director of the Program Guidance and Treatment of Addiction (PROAD). The psychiatrist, who is one of the speakers at the conference the U.S., is currently involved in several studies on the topic, including a neurophysiological evaluation of the acute effects of ayahuasca (dosages of hormones in blood and electroencephalogram), and another that treats the symptoms depressive and anxiety in users Tea Amazon. “This conference covers all hallucinogens, but has a particular focus on ayahuasca, because an apparently safe use of the substance, and not addictive, besides the fact that this use is increasing worldwide in recent years,” argues Xavier . He is optimistic about the growth of scientific interest in psychedelics in general. “Several groups of scientists in the world are eyeing this issue, we are to get one of these studies here in Brazil,” says the psychiatrist. “We are preparing a research that aims to investigate the therapeutic use of hallucinogens in cocaine addicts and crack, being one with another with ayahuasca and ibogaine.” The psychiatrist, however, explains that lack even the approval of the ethics committees. Depression Another highlight of the congress are studies investigating the use of ayahuasca as an antidepressant, the brazilian Dráulio de Araújo, expert in neuroimaging, and Siddhartha Ribeiro, neuroscientist, both from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. “We investigated two cognitive processes modulated by ayahuasca: changing the focus of attention to internal processes and the increase in the creation of visual mental images. Both studies were performed using functional magnetic resonance image,” explains Xavier. Part of the results, he said, contains indications of the potential use of ayahuasca as an antidepressant. There is a pilot study being conducted in Brazil (final stage), with the participation of researchers from UFRN, under the coordination of the psychiatrist Jaime Hallak, USP (University of São Paulo) in Ribeirão Preto. “The findings are very encouraging,” said Araujo. The second phase of the research will be coordinated by staff UFRN. “We intend to use various biological markers (biochemical, electroencephalography, magnetic resonance imaging, neuropsychological and psychiatric ratings) to make a more comprehensive assessment of this supposed potential in treating patients with depression,” explains neuroscientist. Fear But researchers to more orthodox still missing a few steps to the therapeutic use of hallucinogens becomes a fact. It argues that Arthur Guerra, director of the Alcohol and Drug Program of the Institute of Psychiatry, Hospital das Clinicas, University of São Paulo (Universidade de São Paulo). “I see these experiences with great reserve,” he says. “Any conduct that is not sufficiently proven risk involved.” War recognizes the quality and progress of research in this field, but if the other team says. “I’m more classic wing”. After the diagnostic phase of the addict, he said, are generally identified other problems, such as phobias, depression, and others, so your choice is still by conventional treatments. “It’s safer,” he says. While on the other side, the neuroscientist Draúlio Araujo agrees with caution suggested by War. For him, any new medicine goes through several stages of testing for re-examining its benefits and risks. “The process is, and must be exactly the same in the case of any psychoactive substance.” Also participate in presentations on ayahuasca researchers Gabor Maté, Hungarian-born Canadian physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction, the Frenchman Jacques Mabit, director of the Center Takiwasi in Tarapoto, Peru, dedicated to the rehabilitation of drug addicts with ayahuasca and practices traditional healing, and José Carlos Bouso, Clinical Psychologist Neuroscience Research Program at Hospital del Mar Research Institute. UOL provides coverage of Psychedelic Science 2013 by highlighting the event’s diversity in subject matter and attendees. The article also provides an overview of the large ayahuasca presence, sharing information about the psychedelic’s popularity in research and culture.