The long term effects of drinking Ayahuasca (DMT): GOOD NEWS

Long Term Effects of (DMT) Ayahuasca
Long Term Effects of (DMT) Ayahuasca

According to one scientific study, ayahuasca helped reduce depression and stress significantly and that these changes persisted for 4 weeks after ceremony. The study goes on to mention other benefits in terms of how peoples’ thinking is changed and we also talk about some other related information like, how DMT is produced naturally in the body, historical use of ayahuasca, the danger of psychosis, ayahuasca’s LD50, long term psychological effects and the number of ceremonies people have.

Long term scientific studies of drinking Ayahuasca:

Note: I’ve been reading about how to interpret scientific studies and the consensus seems to be that you need to read more broadly than only a few studies so don’t take the fact that there are some studies out there to be fact but it is a good indication. More reading is necessary in order to know more about the long term effects.

Sub-acute and long-term effects of ayahuasca on affect and cognitive thinking style and their association with ego dissolution:

The study, from 2018, states its objective as being,

…to assess sub-acute and long-term effects of ayahuasca on well-being and cognitive thinking style. The second objective was to assess whether sub-acute and long-term effects of ayahuasca depend on the degree of ego dissolution that was experienced after consumption of ayahuasca.


and measured a group of 57 users in Colombia and The Netherlands the day before, the day after and 4 weeks afterward and found that,

Relative to baseline, ratings of depression and stress significantly decreased after the ayahuasca ceremony and these changes persisted for 4 weeks.


The study also finds evidence,

…that ayahuasca affects thinking style. For example, the acute intake of ayahuasca led to significant increase in two facets of the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire, i.e., non-judgment and non-reactivity (Soler et al. 2016). This suggests that ayahuasca may foster acceptance of thoughts and feelings experienced by the individual, which may be therapeutic for individuals who experience persistent negative thoughts. Increased acceptance of thoughts and feelings might have therapeutic benefits for patients with for example depression by allowing them to not judge or react to for example rumination. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that ayahuasca acutely increases creative, divergent thinking while decreasing convergent thinking (Kuypers et al. 2016). The former represents a style of thinking whereby new ideas can be generated in a context in which more than one solution is correct, whereas the latter refers to a style of thinking where there is only one optimal solution to a problem. Interestingly, changes in divergent thinking help to strengthen psychological flexibility and allow adaptive coping styles (Forgeard and Elstein 2014). Imaging studies have shown that enhanced mindfulness capabilities are associated with increased functional brain connectivity (Sampedro et al. 2017;Viol et al. 2017).


It was also found that,

Changes in affect, satisfaction with life, and mindfulness were significantly correlated to the level of ego dissolution experienced during the ayahuasca ceremony and were unrelated to previous experience with ayahuasca.


All in all, I thought this a very interesting study and it puts some nicely articulated words around anecdotal evidence that I had experienced myself but also heard from others. I really appreciate these kinds of studies.

In the future, I want to continue to read more of them in order to be more widely read on the subject but it is a process so at the moment I have only read the two I mention in this post.

Potential long term negatives effects:

On the negative side, Ayahuasca and other psychedelics have been known to cause psychosis. I speak more about this in this previous article I wrote, but in summary, if you have a history of psychosis in your family then, as far as I have read, you should probably not do psychedelics.

Unknown LD50:

On the neutral side. I also have not heard of an LD50 for Ayahuasca. An LD50 is a dose that would kill 50% of people.

I don’t think this means that there isn’t a possible lethal dose, I think this means that it hasn’t been studied and hence is neutral at this point.

Things that might point to it being safe in the long term:

Historical use:

On the more positive side of things. Consider that there has been a history of drinking Ayahuasca for hundreds (potentially thousands?) of years in the Amazon.

DMT production in the body:

The active visionary ingredient in the Ayahuasca Brew is Dimethyltriptamine (DMT), which is produced naturally in the human body. That is to say, it is not a stranger to human biology. One website says DMT,

…appears in trace amounts in human blood and urine, suggesting it must be produced within the body.

Beckley Foundation Article, 2017.

There is some debate over this topic though. I should note that it hasn’t been proven to be produced in the brains of humans yet but is found in other areas of the human body. This later locale of production is not disputed however the former is. Some say the pineal gland is the place whereby DMT can be produced under certain circumstances however, this has not been proven by scientists. Just to be clear.

The number of ceremonies that people have taken:

Also, anecdotally people seem to have taken many Ayahuasca Trips before, in the 10’s or even hundreds. Shaman themselves who, in my experience, have been doing it more than 15 years, multiple times per week for years on end.

Long term psychological effects:

I have mentioned already the possibility of psychosis if you or your family have a history of this.

On top of that it’s also possible to have psychological issues integrating the things, you have learned into your life from the ceremonies. This has even, anecdotally, led to depression in some cases. Why?

Because Ayahuasca is a very powerful visionary substance and it can lead to some revelatory concepts and ideas. Here are some examples from my own experiences,

Anxiety: Several weeks after one of my ceremonies I ate some ‘weed ice cream’ (bad idea). I became very anxious and had Ayahuasca like visions. I was rattled for days afterward by the anxiety. If I suffered from depression then this could have triggered a downward spiral.

World view changing: During an Ayahuasca Ceremony, you are in touch with spirits. Good ones and bad ones. If you weren’t a spiritual person or had experience with these things before it’s fair to say that this could be a little off putting, to say the least.

In my integration, I now have to integrate a whole new world view. This is great in some ways as it has led to me taking up Buddhist Meditation and generally being a nicer person, but also this can make it difficult.

If you are having difficulty integrating post-ayahuasca then I would suggest that you seek a psychologist to talk to. Preferably, one who has experience with psychedelics. If not perhaps you have a friend you can speak to.

Also, there is a great book by Dr. Rachel Harris, called Listening to Ayahuasca, that has a focus on integration post psychedelics. She is a practicing psychologist. It can help you to understand what is possible post integration and what you might want to do about it if you find yourself having trouble.

In summary, you decide how much risk you are willing to put up with and as always do your research!

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