Everything You Need to Know About Ayahuasca

How Ayahuasca Can Heal Depression – A Resource of Articles and Studies

Ayahuasca has attracted lots of attention in recent years throughout the Western world. It’s known as a powerful psychoactive plant medicine and has a rich history of use among indigenous communities of the Amazon basin for deep, lasting powerful healing. It’s been known to heal a broad range of physical and emotional issues and help people to come back to a state of feeling whole.

We’ve collected some insightful articles from those conducting research into its effectiveness in treating depression for you here.

At Gaia Tree, we provide a space for deep personal transformation, supporting the process of inner growth and connection. We hope you enjoy this collection of research into the treatment of depression. Ayahuasca may be too radical for most health organisations, we see many people taking responsibility for their own healing and going on their own journey of healing with Ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca Psychedelic Tested for Depression


“A psychedelic drink used for centuries in healing ceremonies is now attracting the attention of biomedical scientists as a possible treatment for depression. Researchers from Brazil last month published results from the first clinical test of a potential therapeutic benefit for ayahuasca, a South American plant-based brew. Although the study included just six volunteers and no placebo group, the scientists say that the drink began to reduce depression in patients within hours, and the effect was still present after three weeks. They are now conducting larger studies that they hope will shore up their findings.”

Can Ayahuasca Relieve Depression? Ask Dr Weil


“…If these results hold up in further testing, ayahuasca would seem to be a remarkably fast-acting treatment for depression since many antidepressant drugs take weeks to kick in. Ayahuasca’s antidepressant effects seem to stem from its ability to boost concentrations of the neurotransmitter serotonin. The only side effect observed was vomiting in three participants, a common effect of ayahuasca. This first study didn’t have a control group, but a larger, double blind investigation launched by another group of Brazilian researchers is now underway. It is designed to include 80 patients.”[/fusion_content_box]

It’s Time for Cautious Excitement About Ayahuasca As Depression Treatment


‘A 2016 review of observational studies of regular users found reductions in dependence and substance use; a preliminary 2015 study for depression treatment found 82 percent reductions in depression scores; and another 2016 review found that short-term use was associated with “improved planning and inhibitory control,” with potential antidepressive and anti-addiction applications. Intriguingly, a 2012 longitudinal study of long-term users found that regular use does not seem “to induce the pattern of addiction-related problems that characterize drugs of abuse.”’

Depressed Patients Find Relief With Hallucinogenic Ayahuasca


A growing body of research is beginning to shed light on a promising new source of psychiatric treatment: psychedelic drugs. And now, a new study has found some evidence the sacramental brew ayahuasca may help patients with depression who’ve had no success with common antidepressants.

Psychedelic drug ayahuasca improves hard-to-treat depression


“…Tourists are increasingly trying ayahuasca during holidays to countries such as Brazil and Peru, where the psychedelic drug is legal. Now the world’s first randomised clinical trial of ayahuasca for treating depression has found that it can rapidly improve mood.

The trial, which took place in Brazil, involved administering a single dose to 14 people with treatment-resistant depression, while 15 people with the same condition received a placebo drink.

A week later, those given ayahuasca showed dramatic improvements, with their mood shifting from severe to mild on a standard scale of depression. “The main evidence is that the antidepressant effect of ayahuasca is superior to the placebo effect,” says Dráulio de Araújo of the Brain Institute at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, who led the trial.”

Ayahuasca psychedelic tested for depression


A psychedelic drink used for centuries in healing ceremonies is now attracting the attention of biomedical scientists as a possible treatment for depression. Researchers from Brazil last month published results from the first clinical test of a potential therapeutic benefit for ayahuasca, a South American plant-based brew1. Although the study included just six volunteers and no placebo group, the scientists say that the drink began to reduce depression in patients within hours, and the effect was still present after three weeks. They are now conducting larger studies that they hope will shore up their findings.

Test trial suggests hallucinogenic concoction ayahuasca provides relief from depression


“A team of researchers from several institutions in Spain and Brazil has conducted test trials of a South American concoction known as ayahuasca to learn more about its impact on people suffering from depression. In their paper uploaded to bioRxiv the team describes the trials they conducted and what they found.

Two years ago, the same team conducted some initial tests to find out if ayahuasca reduced symptoms of depression—they reported back then that the results were promising. Seeking to expand on their work, the researchers undertook another test trial, this time enlisting the assistance of 39 volunteers, 14 of whom actually consumed the concoction, while the other 15 were given a placebo.”

For me, ayahuasca was as good as therapy. Here’s what the science says.


“In a recent observational study, 18 participants traveled to Peru to undertake three ayahuasca ceremonies over the course of a week,” said Dr. Brad Adams, from the University of California, Los Angeles’ Psychology Department. “By the six-month mark, depression scores had dropped by an average of 52 percent.” The study, undertaken with Drs. Charles Grob and Dennis McKenna, may be repeated with new participants before being submitted for publication.

Could this be the next medicinal marijuana


Imagine discovering a plant that has the potential to help alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and paralyzing anxiety. That’s what some believe ayahuasca can do, and this psychedelic drink is attracting more and more tourists to the Amazon.

Ayahuasca, Neurogenesis and Depression


Banisteriopsis caapi, the Ayahuaca vine, is regarded by many that use it as an antidepressant. The mono-amine oxidase inhibiting beta-carbolines in the vine reduce the clearing of serotonin from the synaptic cleft : i.e MAOI is another angle from which serotonin can be boosted, which qualifies the use of MAOI in the treatment of depression back in the mid twentieth century.

It has been indicated that one of the constituents of the vine, THH, actually causes an increase in the density of platelet serotonin uptake sites in long-term users. It is likely that the increase of density of serotonin uptake sites in longterm users be an adaption to more monoamines in the system. . Increases in serotonin transporters could well be an adaptation to increased serotonin levels caused by MAO inhibition.”

Veterans using ayahuasca to cure depression and PTSD


Scientists say that ayahuasca—which is legal in Peru and neighboring countries—activates parts of the brain that make it possible to recall deep-rooted memories, increasing self-awareness and offering a chance to reassess past ordeals. Proponents say that it can provide users with spiritual and personal guidance. Others report that it has allowed them to overcome traumas that conventional therapy and antidepressants haven’t cured.

The Amazon’s Mysterious Cure-All


Lately, mainstream scientists have been inching toward a similar conclusion—by taking a closer look at the therapeutic potential of hallucinogenic drugs, they are discovering what shamans like Cairuna have known for generations. Though research of this kind was largely discontinued in the wake of Timothy Leary’s LSD experiments at Harvard in the 1960s, several major universities are now trying to unravel the mysteries of hallucinogens. Roland Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University—and one of the first to resume work on these drugs—published a study five years ago that demonstrated how effective they are at improving how a person feels. “That first study blew me away,” he says. “Nearly all the participants reported significant positive changes in attitude and behavior, and those changes were also observed by the participants’ friends, family, and colleagues. It was remarkable.”

Ancient Medicine in a Modern World: How Ayahuasca Can Heal the Plague of Depression and Anxiety


One can’t help but wonder—could the rise in people suffering from anxiety-related mental disorders be helped by the increased popularity of ayahuasca? While the industrialized world has delivered ever-increasing comfort, safety, and useful technology, it has also left a shadowy legacy of stress, isolation, and disconnection from nature and community. With more people than ever seeking treatment for moderate to debilitating anxiety, it is no wonder that ayahuasca, a traditional plant medicine renowned for psychospiritual healing, is become more and more popular in the Western world, causing leading scientists and mental health experts to begin taking serious notice. But can science fully understand this ancient psychedelic plant medicine and healing tradition?

How Ayahuasca Helps to Treat Addiction and Depression


During day-to-day life, you often may not experience a host of emotions all at once, but after taking Ayahuasca, it’s often easy to experience emotions that you are not even aware of. When you take Ayahuasca, you may feel a variety of emotions, both positive and negative. Because these feelings come all at once, it helps to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually cleanse the body. With its numerous benefits, Ayahuasca also helps to treat addiction and depression. An Ayahuasca retreat will prove to be useful when it comes to depression and addiction. Following are a few benefits.

The ayahuasca ceremony is going under the scientific-method microscope


Before neuroscientist Leanna Standish drank the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca for the first time, she was a steadfast scientific materialist. She was trained to believe—and she did—that everything could be explained by science. Then, much like the pioneering psychedelic researchers who came before her, she had a humbling ayahuasca experience while spending time in Brazil in 2000.”

3) Healing Depression & Anxiety

One of the most common conditions that ayahuasca is very effective at healing is depression and anxiety. I’ve personally spoken to several people who had suffered from severe depression (often for many years) until they experienced Ayahuasca. It’s not uncommon for people to have their depression lift (and never return), after just two or three ayahuasca ceremonies.

In my opinion, the root cause of most depression is a lack of spiritual connection or meaning in peoples lives, a problem that is sadly so prevalent in consumerist western society. By reconnecting us with the spirit world, and our true self, Ayahuasca helps to heal us of the sadness and despair that afflict so many of our lives.

There have a been several scientific studies done over the years that show that ayahuasca has strong antidepressive effects.

 4) Recovery from Addictions

Addiction is an illness that affects many people and there are many forms of addiction. Healing from addiction is a very common reason why people seek out ayahuasca.

It’s not uncommon for people to recover from all kinds of different addictions after experiencing Ayahuasca. Drug and alcohol addictions have been very effectively treated with Ayahuasca and there are even some centers such as Taki Wasi that specialize in helping people heal their addictions using Ayahuasca and other Amazonian plant medicines. From personal experience the nervous system goes through significant changes during an ayahuasca retreat and ceremony.

 5) Gratitude and a Deeper Appreciation of Life

I believe that one of the greatest gifts from Ayahuasca is a deeper appreciation of life. I’ve heard countless people state that ayahuasca made them feel more gratitude for their lives.

The connection that ayahuasca often helps you to feel makes you far more deeply appreciative of nature, life, the universe and how it’s all interconnected. I nearly always finish each ayahuasca ceremony with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my life, and for all the people who are in my life.

Several scientific studies have also concluded that people who regularly feel gratitude are generally much happier and healthier than most other people. This has been written about in books such as “Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier

6) Deeper Understanding of Yourself

The imperative “Know thyself” has been impressed on to spiritual adepts since at least the time of Socrates in ancient Greece. It is the foundation of any kind of meaningful and lasting personal development work.

A good place to start is to keep asking the question  “Who Am I?”. However, you can spend an entire lifetime trying to answer that question and still feel like you’re not getting any answers.

I can’t say that Ayahuasca will answer the question for you, but it can be great at helping you to get deeper into the nooks and crannies of your own mind and will often reveal many things about you that you may not have been consciously aware of. Ayahuasca often helps to strip away all the many layers of bullshit that often cloud our judgement and prevent us from knowing our true selves.

 7) Experience Higher Levels of Consciousness

One of the great benefits of drinking ayahuasca is the expanded awareness you’ll almost certainly experience during a ceremony and sometimes you may experience much higher levels of consciousness.

As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”I believe that ultimately all the problems of our world are created by a lack of consciousness. When you’re operating from higher levels of consciousness then you don’t need to be told the right way to live. You don’t need to be told not to pollute, not to steal, not to be selfish or arrogant, and not to be a complete asshole etc. Those things become naturally abhorrent to you. Once you experience higher levels of awareness and consciousness then you will unlikely ever be quite the same person again.

8) Enhanced Creativity

Many creative people (or even people who didn’t previously consider themselves creative) have found their creativity to be greatly enhanced after experiencing ayahuasca. Often musicians write better music, artists paint better, and writers write better.

If you feel that somewhere deep inside you there’s a creative spark that needs igniting you will probably find that ayahuasca will help with that.

If you Google “ayahuasca artwork” you can find many examples of amazing paintings that have been inspired by ayahuasca.

 9) Finding Your Life Purpose

A common reason for people to attend ayahuasca retreats is to find their purpose or a new direction in life. As people begin the process of awakening they often start to feel very unfilled with their current jobs and careers, yet still feel they don’t know what they actually want to do with their lives. Most spiritually aware people feel it’s very important to have purpose and meaning in their lives.

From my experience of talking to countless people after ceremonies, I’ve seen that Ayahuasca seems to help many people get a lot clearer about their life purpose. It is extremely common to see people make some very radical changes in their lives after they’ve experienced ayahuasca. Quite often people finally leave careers or jobs they’ve always disliked because suddenly they become crystal clear about what they need to do to create more joy and meaning in their lives.

10) Deeper Connection to Nature

If you’ve seen the movie Avatar and were moved by the way the N’avi people were deeply connected to their natural environment then you may be interested to know that this kind of connection does not only exist in the movies. While under the influence of Ayahuasca many people report experiencing a profound connection with nature that often changes their lives and the way they see the world. And this connection does not necessarily disappear when the effects of the medicine wear off.

It’s also one of the reasons why I encourage people to do an ayahuasca retreat in the jungle if they are able. Spending 1 or 2 weeks deep in the jungle really helps people to disconnect from a hectic world full of distractions around every corner. Even without drinking ayahuasca many people report that being in the jungle helps them feel a much deeper and closer connection to the natural world.

11) Freedom From Conditioning

We are all products of our conditioning to some extent. Some of the many things that condition us to varying degrees include our family, friends, education, religion, news media and even entertainment. These can all have a powerful influence on the type of people we grow up to be, and in many ways, our conditioning is what molds our entire perception of reality. Some forms of conditioning can be positive but others can have deeply negative effects on our life.

Overcoming negative conditioning is a huge challenge for many people, who often aren’t even aware it’s a problem. Ayahuasca often allows us to see how we’ve been conditioned, particularly the aspects of our conditioning that are harmful to our spiritual growth. Only through greater self-knowledge and awareness can we then start to break the chains of conditioning that are holding us back from being all we can truly be.

12) Overcoming Fear

Virtually everybody is plagued by fear to some extent. Some forms of fear can be healthy but other types are hugely detrimental to our lives and the process of becoming all that we can be. I’m sure I could list dozens of common fears but a few that immediately come to mind include:

  • Fear of intimacy
  • Fear of failure (or success)
  • Fear of what others think about us
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of loneliness
  • Fear of death.

The list is almost endless, plus of course, you have various phobias that many people experience such as spiders, heights, public speaking, closed spaces etc. I’ve heard it said that humans are basically monkeys with anxiety!

Whether we like it or not, fear plays a huge, and usually very controlling, role in our lives.

Ayahuasca is not a magic pill for overcoming all our fears but it can certainly help to ease them and make them seem less of an obstacle. People who suffer from anxiety often see huge reductions in the amount of anxiety they feel after drinking ayahuasca.

At its root, virtually all fear is ultimately fear of the unknown. We never fear what we know and understand intimately. Drinking ayahuasca is basically plunging deep into the unknown and it helps you befriend and feel comfortable with the unknown.

Is Ayahuasca Miracle Medicine?

While there’s no doubt that Ayahuasca can have seemingly miraculous effects on some people, it’s important to stress that Ayahuasca is definitely not a panacea or miracle cure-all. Not everybody gets healed by Ayahuasca, and not everybody gets exactly what they want.

If you decide to work with ayahuasca then it’s essential that you keep your wants and your expectations to an absolute minimum. People with high expectations often do not find what they are looking for.

Sometimes our challenges and illnesses are there to serve a powerful lesson in our lives and in order to cure the illness we have to understand the lesson first. I believe that ayahuasca will not get in the way of our most important lessons, or allow us to cheat! She may provide hints and clues, but sometimes it’s necessary to figure out the lesson for ourselves.

Experience Ayahuasca For Yourself

If you’re feeling the call to experience then it might be time to book yourself on to an Ayahuasca retreat.

In my opinion, a retreat is the best way to experience Ayahuasca for the first time in a traditional ayahuasca ceremony. This is because you’ll get to do several ceremonies over the course of the retreat. I always recommend that people do a minimum of three ceremonies within a short period of time when they first drink ayahuasca. Also, you’ll get better care on a retreat because there will usually be experienced facilitators you can talk with if you’re having a difficult time, as well as plenty of other people who are likely also drinking for the first time as well.