Initial Trial of Ayahuasca for Depression Shows Promising Results

Ayahuasca found to be effective in treating moderate to severe depression in low-income population.

Hannah Emerson
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The first-ever randomized placebo-controlled trial to investigate the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic drug ayahuasca was conducted in Brazil and recently published in Psychological Medicine. The study examined psychedelic effects on people experiencing moderate to severe depression and who have not responded positively to psychotropic medication. The large research team made up of mostly Brazilian scientists, administered either ayahuasca, a psychedelic drink made from Amazonian plants, or a placebo that produced similar side effects known to be associated with ayahuasca. The results indicate antidepressant effects for those who were given ayahuasca compared to those given the placebo.

“Depression severity changed significantly but differently for the ayahuasca and placebo groups. Improvements in the psychiatric scales in the ayahuasca group were significantly higher than those of the placebo group at all time points after dosing, with increasing between-group effect size from day one to day seven,” they write.

Ayahuasca Inspired Painting. Flickr.

While research on the psychological healing effects of psychedelics, such as ayahuasca and psilocybin found in mushrooms, is scarce due to their illegal status in most countries. What research does exist suggests that the drugs may hold promise for treating severe mental distress. The authors of this study build on previous research exploring how psychedelics can affect the brain and alleviate suffering. In 2015, an open-label trial showed a significant reduction in depression severity in the first few hours after dosing and remained significant 21 days later upon reevaluation. Another study identified a potential explanation for the alleviating effect, observing “a single dose of ayahuasca enhanced mindfulness-related capacities,” and that meditation practices have previously been associated with alleviating depressive symptoms.

However, previous trials did not control for the placebo effect, a phenomenon particularly high in clinical trials for depression. This article is the first to explore the antidepressant effects of ayahuasca compared with placebo for individuals with moderate-severe depression.

The Onofre Lopes University Hospital in Brazil hosted the study. It began with a search for people between 18-60 years who met the criteria for major depressive disorder and had not previously responded to at least two antidepressant medications from different classes. Those who were pregnant, had a history of neurological disorder, were currently abusing substances, presented with suicide risk, or had history or family history of schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, or mania/hypomania (which ayahuasca may aggravate) were excluded from the study. Of the 218 assessed individuals, 29 met the criteria for the trial. All participants were Brazilian, 72% were female, from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Participants were assisted in tapering their current antidepressant medication and were allowed benzodiazepines only if needed.

Dosing sessions, which lasted approximately 8 hours, were held in the hospital in rooms set up to mimic a quiet and comfortable living room, including a bed, recliner, natural and dimmed light, as well as options for a predefined music playlist. They were routinely checked on by two investigators who were always available if needed.

Participants were randomly assigned ayahuasca or placebo, while investigators were blind to intervention assignment in accordance with the double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial standards. The MADRS and HAM-D assessments were used to assess depression severity at baseline (one day before dosing), and at one day, two days, and seven days after dosing. *See figures in the study for graphs illustrating participant scores on the MADRS and HAM-D spanning over the four points of assessment.

The results indicate evidence of a “rapid antidepressant effect after a single dosing session with ayahuasca when compared with placebo.”

The authors note a high placebo rate in their study – 46% on day 1 and 26% on day 7. They hypothesize that this high response was potentially be connected to the ‘care effect’ that can be experienced by low socioeconomic populations living in significant psychosocial stressors. The comfortable and supportive environment provided by the study could account for the higher placebo effects. Most participants identified with having a comorbid personality disorder, another population that may present with higher placebo responses.

The authors go on to illustrate the effects of psychedelics on the brain and discuss the mystical-type effects reported by the participants. Future qualitative research is warranted to explore what happens for individuals experiencing the effects of psychedelics to better recognize who, what, and how these medicines can help.

While the study delivers promising prospects, limitations, and room for future research are noteworthy. The study includes a small number of participants with similar demographics, e.g., living in Brazilian culture, having low socioeconomic status, and experiencing “treatment-resistant” moderate to severe depression. This lack of generalizability precludes any understanding of the therapeutic potential for others with disparate backgrounds and presentations. Additionally, the study assessed up to just seven days after the experience. Future research that evaluates therapeutic benefit long-term is essential in assessing the impact of psychedelics when treating depression.

Furthermore, ayahuasca often causes nausea and vomiting. While purging is described as necessary for the therapeutic process, people may not be receptive to the experience with uncomfortable side effects.

Before the ban of psychedelics in the 1960s, they were at early-stage testing for many psychiatric conditions. More studies are currently underway and needed to continue understanding the potential of psychedelics, such as the Amazonian brew ayahuasca, in alleviating human distress.

Palhano-Fontes and colleagues conclude:

“To our knowledge, this is the first randomized placebo-controlled trial to investigate the antidepressant potential of a psychedelic in a population of patients with treatment-resistant depression. Overall, this study brings new evidence supporting the safety and therapeutic value of psychedelics, dosed within an appropriate setting, to help treat depression.”

 

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Palhano-Fontes, F. et al. (2019). Rapid antidepressant effects of the psychedelic ayahuasca in treatment-resistant depression: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 49, 655-663. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291718001356 (Link)

41 COMMENTS

  1. In the video link, Martha Sneyd is being interviewed. I really loved this interview. At the end what she says about “trauma”, how she and the interviewer look at it, rings true for me as well.
    One of my reservations about alternative ways of looking at experiences or suffering is that they often still victimize or blame, keeping people in this hole. broken. And yet somehow the therapists “expect” a “healing”, after identification.
    So for me, the problem, (and I think Martha drives that point home,) is that someone is in a sense controlling the beginning, middle and no end.
    There are directions, and expectations by many therapists, like shamans, psychiatrists, what have you.
    And like Martha realized and sees, it is about connections. Being there.
    Support and allowing for failure, yet not seen as failure.
    It’s a tall order.

  2. I wonder if these researchers paid any attention to whether their subjects had dysperceptions prior to their getting ayahuasca. Dysperceptions, particularly numerous ones, are a contradiction against psychedelic therapy, and the most efficient way to find them (HOD test and its relatives) are on the Big Time Psychiatric Black List, thanks to their frequent use by the dreaded orthomolecular practitioners.

  3. Mad in America is totally ambivalent about drugs. There is no clear editorial line.

    On the one hand “Mad in America” will require long-term studies on neuroleptics, antidepressants and anxyolitics, and conclude that they must be condemned. Some authors deny the existence of mental illness, and claim an exclusively social and / or cultural approach.

    On the other, it prostrates itself against illegal recreational drugs, based on short-term clinical trials, the scientific value of which is extremely low. There is then no longer any serious scientific requirement, and “mental illness” again becomes like a real disease, which must be treated with medication.

    I say that I have had enough of this ambivalence.

    I say that the editorial line must be clearer, that Mad in America must abandon its anti-scientific spirit when it comes to illegal and recreational drugs.

    • Sylvain, I have been watching this topic on MIA for years and, while I have hardly made a systematic study of it, my impression is different from yours. I’ve seen pieces that struck me as pro-psychedelic and others that seemed quite the opposite, and others that were more neutral. I think reader comments tend towards “anti,” but then there are exceptions–although the antis tend to be rather uncompromising and even virulent, I assume for reasons that are obvious, given the experience many of us have had with psychiatric drugs. Personally, my hope is that there will continue to be plenty of room for a range of perspectives and that MIA will resist taking a hard editorial stand, especially in an area where, as you point out, we have so much to learn and can benefit from lively discussion.

      I should say that I agree that we need better and longer-term research on psychedelics, just as we do on prescription drugs. (Although much of the work on MDMA and psilocybin of recent years does look at outcomes 6 months out and more, which is a huge improvement on most conventional pharma research, and the results are quite promising.) I think there’s actually a lot of potential with psychedelics, especially because they are so fundamentally different in that they are used rarely and for many people are helpful in understanding the mind and learning to work with difficulties, rather than numbing people out and shutting them down. But I’m also concerned about the current level of enthusiasm and “silver bulletism” that’s afoot and about potential problems, especially when they are not used carefully, as is often the case these days.

      So those are my thoughts, I hope of some interest.

      Daniel

      • I think the larger question, Daniel, is how do you feel about the use of psychedelics IN THE HANDS OF PSYCHIATRISTS as you know they currently practice their brand of “medicine?” Hell, we know that alcohol can be a great antianxiety agent, and has a better “side effect” profile than benzos. But it’s not a MEDICAL INTERVENTION, it’s a way of holding anxiety at bay. That’s the level psychiatry is working at right now: Anxiety BAD. Benzo make anxiety go away. GOOD. Benzo patentable. GOOD. Alcohol not patentable. BAD. WE USE BENZO! There is no sense of mission or analysis deeper than that going on at the practice level, and for those operating on the “theoretical” level, the situation is even worse! “This research disproves our theory. WE MUST BURY IT! This person speaks uncomfortable truths. WE MUST ATTACK THEM! This group opposes us. WE MUST DEMONIZE THEM!” Do you really want people in such positions promoting psychedelic drugs for traumatized people? A profession that systematically denies that traumatic events are even causal factors in their lists of “disorders?” And who can then force psychedelics against their will on anyone they decide is unable to make informed decisions for him/herself?

        It is much more than a question of whether there are positive research results. It’s a question of putting trust into an utterly corrupt system of decision making and control.

        Steve

        • Do you really want people in such positions promoting psychedelic drugs for traumatized people? A profession that systematically denies that traumatic events are even causal factors in their lists of “disorders?” And who can then force psychedelics against their will on anyone they decide is unable to make informed decisions for him/herself?

          Steve, I wonder if these types of studies are really a way of bringing back Project MK-Ultra (if it truly was ended).

        • Steve: Yes, of course, these are crucial questions, if different from the one I was responding to. I agree that psychiatry is generally not the place for this work to happen, and think the way they are dealing with ketamine is a prime example. I do know a few psychiatrists who work with psychedelics in very thoughtful ways, totally outside of the medical framework you so rightly criticize–and many of the researchers involved in this work, even if they are MDs or psychiatrists, also tend to be outside of the mainstream–I don’t think many people can hold onto that (nutso) paradigm once they’ve worked with these substances. But surely those psychiatrists are in the small minority.

          One of the things I find hopeful is that much of the research on these substances is grounding the psychedelic experience within a series of therapy sessions to help prepare people for the experience and integrate it into daily life afterwards–and focusing on internal family systems, which is both a really good fit for the experiences people tend to have and also moves even further from the authoritarian tendencies of psychiatry and mainstream psychotherapy, putting the client much more fully in the driver’s seat.

        • To Mr. McCrea:
          Maybe there is a “larger” question (though it’s anyone’s call what’s larger or smaller) but what about addressing Sylvain’s and Daniel’s question rather than trying to reeducate them in what is “truly important”?
          I understand from your writing that you have most likely suffered unfortunate experiences at the hands of psychiatrist(s) but is that a reason to demonize them (your word) and tar them all with the same brush? Personally I have met caring and responsibly psychiatrists as well as those who were “less caring,” shall we say. So I would suggest that the “larger” question is why can MIA not be an unbiased source of information? Why the psychiatrist bashing that persists through the over a decade I have been following MIA?

          • I would suggest that there are, in fact, many caring individual psychiatrists out there, and I have certainly met some of them. I think there is a distinction to be made between psychiatrists (who vary widely as individuals) and “psychiatry,” which is an institution that has its own objectives and strategies and fears and blind spots. It is the institution that I am criticizing, the APA and its group objectives to promote a biologically-centered viewpoint and a drug-centered approach and the DSM strategy of de-contextualizing people’s suffering and blaming them for their “wrong” reactions to trauma and stress in their lives, and the constant hostility and dismissiveness toward even their own research when it conflicts with their agenda. I also feel it is very appropriate to criticize the corruption coming from the pharmaceutical industry that has informed the above goals and strategies.

            I also would never criticize an individual for doing whatever works for them or their families. I have stood by and watched while a friend’s husband got ECT (which didn’t work) and eventually came up with moving to another part of the country as a solution. I’ve known domestic abuse victims who used antidepressants as a means of becoming less worried about their abusers’ feelings and it helped them get away. I know people who feel that they can’t live without Prozac or who feel they’ve benefited from stimulants helping them concentrate better. I have no problem with people doing what works for them. And I have no problem with individuals, professional or not, helping other people. But I do have a big, big problem with an entire profession intentionally lying and manipulating data so that they and their drug company counterparts can increase their income and power, and I make no apologies for doing so.

            I hope that makes things more clear.

          • It does make things clear – but you’re still not addressing Sylvain’s point – instead, you’re trying to indoctrinate him into what you see as “the real problems.” I think anyone even vaguely familiar with MIA already knows your opinions on psychiatry and bigpharma, but that wasn’t what this comment or article was supposed to be about.

          • I’ve known domestic abuse victims who used antidepressants as a means of becoming less worried about their abusers’ feelings and it helped them get away. I know people who feel that they can’t live without Prozac or who feel they’ve benefited from stimulants helping them concentrate better.

            Steve, your post above is brilliant in the “individual” psychiatrist versus the “institution” of psychiatry analysis. It’s important to center blame on systems, not people.

            But I’m troubled by the lines that I quoted above. Seems like a “one point in time” take on it.

            A lot of people on the withdrawal forums state they benefited from the drugs for awhile, but now they’re completely disabled, bankrupt, and contemplating suicide.

            If only we knew who would get slammed by withdrawal ahead of time. Not to mention adverse reactions, which can get someone in a locked ward very quickly.

            And even when the drugs do “work,” isn’t what you’re describing social control?

            Using drugs to numb psychic pain is a form of emotional suicide. While it can be beneficial to not feel an abuser’s feelings in order to escape, won’t this impact the person’s ability to have feelings in other areas? When the drug’s beneficial effect is no longer needed and the person decides they want off the drug, they may not be able to come off. Not everyone can finish a taper and then they end up trapped on the drug and lost to the world.

            And for your other example, using stimulants to keep the capitalist overlords happy comes at the expense of the worker’s health.

            While I’m all for people being able to do what works for them, shouldn’t we at least call this social control? It’s about adjusting the individual to fit in a toxic environment.

            If we don’t name it, we can’t fix it. At some point, our environment is going to be so toxic, no one can live in it.

          • I don’t disagree with anything you said. I was making the point that I do support individual people in making their own decisions and try not to make generalizations about “psychiatrists” as individual practitioners. There are many subtle points on “effectiveness” of drugs – as I’ve often pointed out, alcohol is a great “antianxiety” agent, but no one would prescribe it as a MEDICAL TREATMENT. It’s just something that makes you feel better temporarily. There are always dangers of ANY psychoactive drug, and I would certainly not recommend Ritalin as a way to make oneself fit into the capitalist mold. My point is only that individual decision making is one issue, but group-wide intentional corruption is something completely different. The first is complex, the second is not really all that complex at all. People do things that bring them money, unless they are motivated by caring first. It’s clear that psychiatry as a profession is motivated by greed and power over individual results.

          • Hey Vanilla – I’m not McCrea – but nearly all of my psychiatrists have been well educated, compassionate people, who thought they were doing the best for me with the knowledge that they had.

            And yet – I was prescribed lithium – by a very compassionate, zen, earth-mama psychiatrist – when I had a visible goitre. Subsequently, within 5 years lost my thyroid.

            And yet, this same psychiatrist became very sad when I said I wanted to go off. She said, “I’ve seen others do this, and there’s not a good success rate.” I had to give her an ultimatum: If you won’t help me, I’ll find someone else who will. So – she supported my taper (sort of).

            It’s the education of these caring people which is at fault. They are told lies, and so they tell lies. Some of them know they are lies, and keep telling them – but most of them really believe in what they are doing.

            My other “good psychiatrist” whom I got 12 minute “med check” visits with – just cut a friend’s dose of neuroleptic by 25%. She is having Tardive Dyskinesia, and so the cut is warranted – however – it really shows that they don’t understand how these drugs work.

            Psychiatrists-in-training, since they are primarily prescribers, should do more than just study the drugs on paper. They should put them in their bodies for 6 weeks, and then Cold Turkey to see what that does. After all, most psychiatrists think nothing of a “cold switch” (Oh, this drug isn’t working, let’s take that out and put this one in).

            It’s the education of them that is lacking, and as Steve says, it goes all the way to the source – the Journals are corrupt, the drug trials are corrupt.

            Have a read of Whitaker’s excellent, “Psychiatry Under The Influence: Institutional Corruption, Social Injury, and Prescriptions for Reform”

            To better understand what’s happening in psychiatry.

            Also – Peter Gotzsche’s superb, “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime.”

            It’s like with any mob – the individuals might be awesome, beautiful people, but the overall effect of them in concert can be devastating.

          • “You’ve been following MIA for over a decade [on and off] and you don’t know why most members are anti-psychiatry?”

            Of course I know why most members are anti-psychiatry. But that’s not what this article was ostensibly about.

            And – one big reason why my engagement with MIA is very sporadic is that over the past decade or so, nothing much changes here. Same vitriol (much of it justified) and very little in the realm of good ideas re: what to do about the problems identified here. Still the cries for “down with psychiatry” and not a single article that I can recall that outlines a realistic vision for a society where there will be no felt need to turn to “the meds” for the relief of very real problems, however labeled and defined.

            Sure, there’s no such thing as mental illness. But there is pain, distress, grief, anxiety aplenty. What are all the hotheads on MIA going to do about it? A few peer-run organizations and warmlines and such aren’t really going to cut it with the millions on psych meds. What will?

          • My point is only that individual decision making is one issue, but group-wide intentional corruption is something completely different.

            Thanks for your explanation, Steve. Makes perfect sense.

            It’s like with any mob – the individuals might be awesome, beautiful people, but the overall effect of them in concert can be devastating.

            And this ties in with what JanCarol just wrote.

            As institutions get larger and more complex, they become more sociopathic as people assert power climbing the ladder within the hierarchy.

            Those of us without power will be grasping for whatever works just to survive as long as possible.

      • Daniel, vanilla
        I am anti-psychiatry not only because of drugs. In fact for me it starts with the DSM which in itself is completely harmful and dehumanizing, not just within the person’s sensibilities, but the fact that it leads to affecting one in every aspect of social constructs, from medical care to laws and jobs.

        And yes I include ALL psychiatrists, until you find me one that does not feel you need a tag, which follows you around like a ball and chain.

        I’m not even going to get into what they do the innocent children. In fact, we are all innocent until we see the outcomes.

        I am not on MIA to have them “sort of believe in psychiatry”, or just a little bit.

        Psychiatry is not supporting my view, are they? People that get into psychedelic studies are already identified and they have the tag to prove it.
        There are enough psychedelic counselors around that actually know what they are doing.

        And it seems to me that looking at psychedelics is a sign that other drugs are not working and never did.
        It has been proven over and over.

    • I think that the difference is in the complexity and differences of the drugs themselves, their[]… and use within a culture and the purposes for which they are used.

      On one hand, their are drugs that come from nature and have been used for some time with no biological understanding of their[]… and are only now in recent times being studied scientifically from that perspective.

      On the other, there are drugs that are “engineered” by chemists and biologists/neurochemists/etc that work by interfering with the brains natural mechanisms involving the affected neurotransmitter systems.

      Two completely different “realm” of drugs, so to speak, thus there’s bound to be confusions regarding their usage and disposition within an intellectual community.

          • Ah, the “Whole Plant” Medicine thing.

            it’s true. While it’s legal all around the USA (and now in Australia) to have CBD only extracts – if you want the REAL healing, it involves the whole plant. Marinol, a pharma extract of THC, is really hard to use – the people I’ve spoken with about it, use it only in the direst of circumstances – and now that CBD is legal – they supplement it with CBD so that they can feel better, not worse. Marinol alone “feels horrible.”

            LSD is an example of this – I was reading how Albert Hoffman tried playing with the molecule, adding, subtracting (it is an ergotomine) – but NO OTHER related molecules produced the effects of LSD.

            Something ghastly happened with MDMA, which was, by itself, a useful drug (and I call it a drug, there is no natural equivalent). When the US Gov’t (and I assume Aussie too) made it illegal – then chemists started tweaking it to get similar effects, so that “Molly” is not exactly the same, maybe never exactly the same. Hence the popularity of MDMA test kits – one molecule off can be a brain disaster.

            Another example of whole plant medicine is the coca leaf, which is nutritious, containing vitamins, minerals, and even proteins, which make it an excellent Medicine Plant.

            But when Europeans extracted the cocaine from it – different animal entirely.

            But here’s the thing – when pharmaceuticals are “engineered” they may not be as specific as you’d like to think. Take SSRI’s for example, which are supposed to work on the brain – but they also work on the digestive system (which is where 90% of the body’s serotonin is found). Many of these psychotropics – like Ayahuasca – flood the body with serotonin, which can cause muscle tremors, definitely digestive disturbances (called “purging” by afficionados) –

            Our body’s systems do not work in isolation. And it is a myth that pharmaceutical drugs (of any kind, psychotropic or not) are specific to one system.

            The myth is pervasive, as the ads tell us that diabetes drugs soothe your pancreas, or heart drugs affect only your heart…but statins also starve your brain of cholesterol. They don’t tell you that.

            But the “specific action” is a myth. So – I don’t really have high hopes for the “engineered” psychotropics (evidenced by the failure of Marinol to actually HELP people).

            And the Frankenstein drugs that might happen in the exploration process are frankly, quite frightening.

          • yes I understand Jeffrey,
            I was simply pointing out our lack of “science”, in fact pseudoscience and also how we buy parts of it.
            I remain suspicious of attempts at “fixing”. I remain suspicious of what we are buying.
            The whole MI paradigm. And it’s pathetic injurious scientific endeavours on the most complex world, of the individual, where the individual becomes the experiment, and has been so for ever.
            There are no targets, no “neurotransmitter drugs”. It is guesswork, and the drug enters the body and floods everything. It has no logic or reason, just an attempt.
            That includes so called street drugs and even herbs. Even calcium will change someone’s brain, it might even make someone agitated.
            I have seen a person in the prime of their life with a severe lung disease being treated with gabapentin in high doses, I have seen how their chronic symptoms were bombarded from every direction, only to die from their lung disease in a MAYO ICU, but also left with the brain so affected, by a system who refuses to have an ounce of reason left. And this person was from my city in Canada, and had to spend thousands to go to the MAYO as last resort.

  4. “Those who […] were currently abusing substances […] were excluded from the study. […] Participants were assisted in tapering their current antidepressant medication and were allowed benzodiazepines only if needed.”

    But antidepressants and benzodiazepines consumption IS substances abuse!

    Since when is the consumption of antidepressants or benzodiazepines no longer a drug addiction? Because a psychiatrist said it was good for your health? Because the state says it’s legal?

    Addiction to psychiatric drugs is almost always more serious than addiction to illegal drugs, because psychiatric drugs are practically free, while illegal drugs are relatively expensive. Thus there is an economic limit to the consumption of illegal drugs, while for legal drugs, the pockets of social security and insurance are wide open!

    The severe consumption of psychiatric drugs, the concomitant withdrawal from antidepressants, and the “at will” consumption of benzodiazepines make the “results” of this pseudo-study completely random.

    Besides, we don’t need “scientific” studies to find out if recreational drugs are … recreational. Obviously, certain drugs are “pleasant”, and they temporarily decrease the suffering of some. People are ready to risk prison, and even life, to consume them! Not only do these studies teach us nothing, but in addition their methods are fraudulent, dishonest and criminal: why not give good doses of heroin to depressed people? I am sure that such a study would give “promising” results according to the kind of analysis that Mad in America give us for hallucinogens.

    Why this double standard? Why then a rigorous critical analysis for neuroleptics, and a disgusting complacency for hallucinogens? It is however the same kind of pseudo-science at the basis of their promotion!

    There are reasons to believe that this selective complacency is not innocent. Just as scientists must declare their conflicts of interest, journalists who promote the use of illegal drugs should declare whether they are former users, occasional users or regular users.

    For me, it is extremely doubtful that this sudden collapse of the critical mind, when hallucinogens comes to discussion, is pure chance.

    When you talk about recreational drugs, honesty requires that you make a declaration of consumption or non-consumption, whether in the past or in the present.

    • I noticed the “shuffling of the cards” when I was ‘verballed’ by a Community Nurse
      Chemicals
      Substances
      Drugs
      Medications
      When he wanted to slander me I “refused to answer re substance abuse” and yet this guy knew I had been ‘spiked’ with benzodiazepines without my knowledge? In that case I had been covertly provided with medication (someone elses drugs) which would be criminal if he had reported it to police, but he instead decided to conceal evidence of a criminal offence and pervert the course of justice. (The ‘spiking’ was documented in his own handwriting, so he knew) The “chemical restraint” that he arranged for me in the locked ward of the hospital consisted of Benzos, and two anti psychotics (Olanazapine and Qetiapine) in volumes that would lay an elephant out for a week. A ‘friendly’ doctor authorised this for him on a Form and all he needed to do from that point was ‘bait’ me and have me restrained and injected. This would of course ensure no one found out about me being ‘spiked’ to make the interrogation of me a little easier. The term drugs was used also as a slander of my character rather than the correct term for the drugs I was spiked with.

      This Community Nurse was also aware that I had already refused to speak to one of his fellow mental health workers. How was he to get me to talk? My State is allowing him to covertly administer benzos to citizens (despite the fact he has no prescribing rights) and then lie to police and tell them citizens are his “mental patients” so they can brutalize them ready for interrogation by him. That usually gets them talking.

      Imagine the power of being able to damage and harm folk who are the victims of crimes? And let me testify to the fact that they will stop at nothing to ensure no one finds out, including killing folk.

      I’ve even asked staff at pharmacies about the distinction between drugs and medications and even they can not usually provide an accurate answer. Why is this?

      One of my questions regarding the “spiking’ with benzodiazepines was why is it classed as a “stupefying/Intoxicating drug” under our Criminal Code and yet distributed as a “medication” by doctors/Community Nurses. What causes that change to occur? This is a particularly significant point to people who do not wish to consume stupefying intoxicating substances for religious reasons (eg they are Haram) Though it may not matter if they are being administered covertly by State public officers to make interrogations a little easier to obtain information (along with some dubious ‘coercive methods’ eg mock executions). Will Muslims who are being restrained and having bottles of alcohol and pork shoved down their throats and calling it medicine be held to account by Allah for breaching the prohibition? I think not.

      And further, why can a Community Nurse act in the same manner as a night club rapist and yet he receives support from the State (Police and other authorities)? A lawyer says “proof” police say “insufficient evidence” after refusing to take the documents?

    • I agree with both of your comments Sylvian. I am so confused by this seemingly support of drug trials, whether a psych drug or illegal drug. It makes no sense to give credence to this study. Some people are more relaxed when they drink alcohol, does that mean when sober they are just walking around with a too low blood alcohol?
      In the name of full disclosure, I do use cannabis. I acknowledge that it is not fixing the trauma I endured but is a way for me to escape the reality of what I endured. Adults should have the ability to choose whatever helps them get through life, but calling mind altering drugs medicine, is taking it too far.
      And mascarading a psychedelic as an actual “treatment ” is incredibly harmful and dangerous.

      • I don’t see it as “credence” on the drug, nor the study.
        I see it as an opportunity to comment on the article itself, not the imagined why’s of it’s presence.
        In fact on MIA I can say exactly how I feel about another “study”, or trial, the reasons of why I feel that way.
        Obviously psychiatry leaves me no venue to air my voice, except within an office. Ever notice how psychiatry itself has no website related to the X client’s thoughts?

        The best scenario happened in that a journalist became involved in giving voice and I fully support that effort.

    • Sylvain,
      I see nothing complacent, nothing of double standards, nothing ambivalent.
      I see reporting as to what is happening in the world, in the world of psychiatry. There is no promotion going on and it leaves the commenters to make their own conclusions about what is in the report, not so much about why the report is there in the first place. Although anyone is free to interpret the reporting however it applies to their thinking.

      I see every article as a report and my chance to comment on that report. I also understand that with every report I read, that MIA and all of the people who work there, have their own unique views on the report they are releasing.

      For instance, I see articles on EMDR, and I had a bad response to EMDR. I don’t see the postings of authors on EMDR on MIA as a promotion of “MI”, nor that the use of EMDR is valuable.
      I simply see it as to what other theories are out there.

      MIA is not masquerading this as treatment, for me, MIA exposes the failure of other psych drugs, and the continuing proof that other psych drugs are harmful, as is evidenced by the trial and also that within the trial “patients who were tapering were “allowed” to use benzos to deal with their taper” (which proves the difficulty of coming of AD’s, and the trouble with benzo use)
      For me this article only exposes the ongoing “experimenting” on humans, experimenting in a very primitive manner, disguised as science, to further the belief in MI.
      For me, it is accurate reporting and in no way reflects a belief in MI or treatments, nor any ambivalence.

  5. The Onofre Lopes University Hospital in Brazil hosted the study. It began with a search for people between 18-60 years who met the criteria for major depressive disorder and had not previously responded to at least two antidepressant medications from different classes.

    Since most researchers don’t understand withdrawal symptoms that come from psychiatric drugs, I went and looked at the research study this article is based on. And I noted this:

    After screening, patients underwent a washout period of 2 weeks on average and adjusted to the half-life time of the antidepressant medication.

    This isn’t how withdrawal works – it’s not based on being on the drug, but rather, how the drug changes the brain/body. It can take several years to fully recover from exposure to antidepressants. This is being chronicled on websites like Surviving Antidepressants and on Facebook groups.

    Also, antidepressants are notorious for a delayed withdrawal, meaning many people don’t even feel antidepressant withdrawal for several months after coming off the drug. And since benzos were used, it’s clear some of these people were tapered far too quickly. And if they went into PAWS months later, you wouldn’t know if it was due to the ayahuasca or from delayed withdrawal from the antidepressant drug.

    This study makes no sense.

    The study includes a small number of participants with similar demographics, e.g., living in Brazilian culture, having low socioeconomic status, and experiencing “treatment-resistant” moderate to severe depression.

    “Treatment resistant” is code for being harmed by the drug, as Dr. Giovanni Fava already pointed out. It’s iatrogenic damage. https://www.madinamerica.com/2011/06/%EF%BB%BFnow-antidepressant-induced-chronic-depression-has-a-name-tardive-dysphoria/

    If someone comes from a low socioeconomic status, they may have very good reason for feeling hopeless and tired. No drug is going to fix that. Fix the low socioeconomic status and that will help fix the feelings of being hopeless and tired.

    The authors go on to illustrate the effects of psychedelics on the brain and discuss the mystical-type effects reported by the participants.

    Drugging poor people isn’t new, but calling it a “mystical experience” is a nice marketing technique.

    Not only does “mental illness” not exist, neither does common sense when it comes to these kinds of studies.

  6. Anomie, you covered the antidepressant washout, thank you. I tell my friends to expect symptoms (often of the autonomic dysregulation or mood-based variety) for up to ***TWO YEARS*** after ceasing the drug.

    I have tried to convey this information to American practitioners of Ayahuasca Medicine, but like the psychiatrists, they dismiss my concerns as irrelevant. “The Medicine will heal that.” they say. Uh yah.

    So – as someone who has experienced ayahuasca, there are a couple of things to address:
    1. Placebo ayahuasca? REALLY? No vomiting, no visions, what a boring 8 hours sitting on the couch listening to music. Just because it “looks and tastes” like the brew, doesn’t mean that the trial is effectively blinded. Even the psilocybin trials got a placebo drug with some effects, and even then, it was clear who got the psilocybin, early on.

    2. Fiddling neurotransmitters. Since my ayahuasca experience, I have wondered whether I have destabilised my neurotransmitters after psych drug withdrawal. My experience was over 2 years after discontinuation of psych drugs, and I thought I’d stabilised. This past 2 years of “integration” have been exceptionally challenging on mood, which gets to . . .

    3. LONG TERM EFFECTS. It might be awesome the month after, or even 3 months after – but what about 2 years, 5 years? What about repetition of the Medicine? The Ayahuasca culture seems to demand return to the Medicine, which makes me question whether the practice of losing your mind in this way is addicting. I admit to craving that feeling – even though I have no desire to go through what I went through before (days of Medicine, purging, before that release was felt).

    Effectively, ayahuasca serves as a massive flooding of the brain with serotonin. The Medicine People say that it is adaptogenic, that after the experience has passed, your brain “resets” to what it should be.

    However, if your brain has been altered by antidepressants, does that “switch” get “sticky?”

    I’m all for the freedom to alter consciousness at will. I do not like these “Medicines” falling into the hands of psych practitioners. There are dozens, if not hundreds of stories of “bad practitioners” of this Medicine and abuse and neglect during and following the experience. So – how would Psych people be any different from the Shamans for whom this is native practice?

    I advocate great caution and respect. Like “mindfulness” being removed from the Spiritual Practice of Buddhism – use of this as a “drug” and not as a Spiritual Based Medicine – is dangerous.

  7. If we’re talking about psychedelics we’re not talking “medicine.” These compounds are keys to areas of the brain which are largely inaccessible (at this point in history) without engaging in one of the various meditative disciplines. And yes, the use of such substances under the “direction” of a psychiatrist is one of the worst things anyone could do.

    • That’s what I was thinking. What psychiatrist would possibly be remotely qualified to engage in guiding someone through this kind of experience? It seems beyond ludicrous, having known some folks rather intimately who have used this drug. It is shocking that even psychiatry would be so arrogant as to think just giving someone a dose of this and “objectively” watching what happens would be anything but an invitation to disaster.

  8. After sleeping on it, I feel compelled to add: if you are going to do ayahuasca, seek out an American centre which offers aftercare to help with integration. You may not have any issues with integration, but it is always nice to have a community “in the know” to talk to as you rejoin society after such a venture.

    There are several reasons for this. First – there is no language barrier for English speaking peoples. I don’t say this to be a snob, but because – with my hearing impairment, it was good to get my questions answered in a language I understand.

    Second, South American Shamanism doesn’t play by the same rules as Fluffy Bunny New Age Shamanism. There are battles between shamans, and wars, and shamanic weapons. Having gringos caught up as fodder isn’t really a moral issue under these conditions.

    There are many beautiful Central & South American centres for “aya tourism” like Rhythmia, in Costa Rica. There are other authentic experiences which are deep in the jungle (Three, unless you are an adventurer – this form of travel may not be for most). The hard part is seeking out the practitioners who care what happens to you, who want to facilitate your healing (and aren’t just interested in your money).

    And Four – once you leave the Central or South American Centre, and go home, they are done with you. You don’t have anyone to talk to as you try an navigate the changes and shifts that have been made in your brain.

    Find testimonies, and read all the articles about the deaths (tobacco juice ceremonies seem to be involved in many fatalities) the nightmares (adding toe, or datura, to the brew ENSURES visions, but they are not pleasant, and someone having nightmares might give the shaman more weapons for battle with other shamans).

    There are reputable places in Central and South America. But IF (and only if) you are called, I recommend finding an American centre which offers aftercare – you can call on the phone and talk to someone after your experience.

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