Long-Term Effects of the Ritual Use of Ayahuasca on Mental Health

José Carlos Bouso, PhD

Abstract: Over the last decades, ayahuasca use has expanded throughout the world. An uncountable number of people are being exposed to this potent hallucinogenic beverage. At the same time, little is known regarding the long-term effects of ayahuasca use. The few studies published until now conclude that ayahuasca seems not to be deleterious at the long term. In this presentation, data will be presented from a longitudinal study where different areas of mental health have been assessed in a large sample of regular ayahuasca users (N = 127) and controls (N = 115). The assessment included potential drug abuse-related problems, personality, psychopathology, life attitudes, and neuropsychological performance. Results are in line with previous studies. Potential biases shared by all the published studies will also be discussed.

José Carlos Bouso, PhD, is conducting research to collect preliminary data on the safety and efficacy of varying doses of MDMA administered in a psychotherapeutic setting to women with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a sexual assault. He also has been conducting neuropsychological research into the long-term effects of drugs such as cocaine and cannabis. He has done transcultural research, extensively studying the long-term effects of ayahuasca use in different cultures and ecosystems, both in Spanish and in Brazilian communities. José Carlos Bouso is co-author of several scientific papers and book chapters. He currently combines his activity as a clinical researcher at the IMIM (Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques) with his work as Scientific Projects Manager at the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service (ICEERS; iceers.org).

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