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Effects of ayahuasca on psychometric measures of anxiety, panic-like and hopelessness in Santo Daime members.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Jul 25;112(3):507-13. Epub 2007 Apr 25

Santos RG, Landeira-Fernandez J, Strassman RJ, Motta V, Cruz AP.

Departamento de Processos Psicológicos Básicos, Instituto de Psicologia, Universidade de Brasília, Asa Norte, Brasília-DF 70910-900, Brazil.

The use of the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca, obtained from infusing the shredded stalk of the malpighiaceous plant Banisteriopsis caapi with the leaves of other plants such as Psychotria viridis, is growing in urban centers of Europe, South and North America in the last several decades. Despite this diffusion, little is known about its effects on emotional states. The present study investigated the effects of ayahuasca on psychometric measures of anxiety, panic-like and hopelessness in members of the Santo Daime, an ayahuasca-using religion. Standard questionnaires were used to evaluate state-anxiety (STAI-state), trait-anxiety (STAI-trait), panic-like (ASI-R) and hopelessness (BHS) in participants that ingested ayahuasca for at least 10 consecutive years. The study was done in the Santo Daime church, where the questionnaires were administered 1h after the ingestion of the brew, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled procedure. While under the acute effects of ayahuasca, participants scored lower on the scales for panic and hopelessness related states. Ayahuasca ingestion did not modify state- or trait-anxiety. The results are discussed in terms of the possible use of ayahuasca in alleviating signs of hopelessness and panic-like related symptoms.

PMID: 17532158 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Beatriz Caiuby Labate or Bia Labate was born in São Paulo in 1971. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in 1996. In 2000 she obtained a master’s degree in social anthropology from the same university, receiving the Prize for Best Master’s Thesis from the National Association for Graduate Studies in Social Science (ANPOCS). Her doctoral research in social anthropology at UNICAMP focuses on the internationalization of Peruvian ayahuasca “vegetalismo.” She is co-editor of the books O uso ritual da ayahuasca (Mercado de Letras 2002) and O uso ritual das plantas de poder (Mercado de Letras, 2005) and author of the book A reinvenção do uso da ayahuasca nos centros urbanos (Mercado de Letras, 2004). She is a researcher with the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP). In February 2005 she founded Alto das Estrelas, a private institute which promotes political activism, anthropological research and public events, in addition to researching the cultivation and preparation of vegetal species.


  1. Rafael Guimaraes dos Santos says

    Dear Editors,

    I would like to thank you very much for posting my article in your website.

    Thank you,
    Rafael G. dos Santos

  2. Juan Moreno says

    yo! Bro the effects of Ayahuasca are messed up. 24 hours of pure halluciogen and it brings back old memories. I believe that this would change the world completely but since its illegal and the only way to find it is in South America it is going to be hard to make people found their ways out of missery.

  3. Mercedes Villegas says

    I would like to try Ayahuasca for my Depression from which I’ve suffered long years (<15) How could I take advantage of this natural remedy's properties? Who do I need to contact?

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