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Can Ayahuasca Heal Anxiety and Depression?

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Can Ayahuasca Heal Anxiety and Depression?

Can ayahuasca use, a plant medicine native to the Amazon rainforest, help to heal anxiety and depression? The science points to a yes – that the powerful plant medicine can alleviate symptoms of mental illness.

In this article, we look at the scientific evidence for the use of ayahuasca to improve mental health.

What The Science Says

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests the psychedelic medicine ayahuasca can be an effective treatment for anxiety and depression. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that ayahuasca significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in a participant.

The study's lead author, Dr. Jordi Riba, said that psychedelics like ayahuasca "seems to be working through a different mechanism than traditional antidepressants."

Other studies have also shown promise. A comprehensive study of 11,912 published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shown that of the participants reporting depression (n = 1,571) or anxiety (n = 1,125) at the time of consuming Ayahuasca:

78% reported that their depression was either ‘very much’ improved (46%), or ‘completely resolved’ (32%);

70% of those with anxiety symptoms were ‘very much’ improved (54%), or ‘completely resolved’ (16%).

A range of factors were associated with greater reported affective symptoms improvement, including subjective mystical experience, number of Ayahuasca sessions, and number of personal psychological insights experienced around the ceremony.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all good news. The research showed worsened symptoms for:

2.7% of drinkers with depression 

4.5% of drinkers with anxiety 

Here's how the research stacked up:

Ayahuasca helps with anxiety and depression

So, the results show Ayahuasca is highly effective for both anxiety and depression, and more effective for depression.

Other studies performed have been smaller in scale, but shown similar promising results. studies have also shown promise across a range of disorders.

In Peru, this study showed that 24 of the 31 clinically depressed patients no longer met the criteria for depression following ayahuasca.

Another study available in PubMed shows Ayahuasca to be effective in healing traumatic memories and post traumatic stress disorder.

How to Avoid Worsening Symptoms

If you're like most people, you're probably wondering how to maximize the chances of receiving benefits from Ayahuasca consumption, and to minimize the risks associated.

In essence, what you get from the retreat comes down to your level of readiness, preparation, and your ability to choose a high quality retreat. 1. To help you gauge your mental and spiritual readiness for a retreat, take this short quiz.

2. To learn more about ayahuasca tea and to help you prepare for a retreat, check out our guide. Mental and emotional work pre and post-retreat are fundamental to improving quality of life over the long term.

3. Choosing a high quality retreat is more nuanced than one might hope for. For some guidance on choosing a safe and transformative experience, watch the video

How to Choose a Great Retreat:

Diving deeper

Psychedelic studies and clinical trial for psychedelics like ayahuasca and psilocybin are ongoing around the world; led by organizations such as Maastricht University, the Global Ayahuasca Project, and even in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

To go deeper on the subject, you may be interested in reading the book by psychologist Rachel Harris titled Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Anxiety.


The psychedelic drug Ayahuasca has been shown to have therapeutic potential in healing anxiety disorder and treatment resistant depression, although the world would certainly benefit from more research. If you are struggling with these conditions, the psychedelic ayahuasca may be worth considering as a treatment option.

If you are suffering from severe depression / depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder, or another serious depressive symptom, we strongly suggest you approach Ayahuasca with caution and in collaboration with your psychiatrist and/or therapist.

However, it's worth remembering that Ayahuasca is not just for its therapeutic effect, healing is just the beginning. "Healthy volunteers" are alsowelcomed  ayahuasca ceremony participants, seeking ego dissolution, to expand their consciousness, and deepen their spirituality.

Ultimately, following your own intuition is key: you will have to decide for yourself whether or not an ayahuasca retreat is right for you.

If you're ready for a life-changing experience, click on Begin Your Journey

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