The World Heath Organization reports that worldwide, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. According to the WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability around the globe and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
Ayahuasca, a psychotropic brew of two plants, the vine Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of the shrubPsychotria viridis, has been used for centuries in healing ceremonies in the Amazon. In the last few years ayahuasca has gained prominence on a global scale, with thousands traveling across the world to participate in indigenous ceremonies in South America, most notably in Peru. Concomitant with the growing popularity of ayahuasca as a tool for spiritual and physical healing is an increased scientific interest in understanding the biomedical underpinnings and treatment ramifications of this powerful medicine.
Recently, one of the most prestigious scientific journals, Nature, highlighted research conducted by a team of Brazilian from the University of São Paulo on the antidepressant effects of a single dose of ayahuasca on a group of six individuals suffering from major depression. In that study, researchers demonstrated that ayahuasca was able to alleviate symptoms of depression within hours of intake and that the antidepressant effects persisted for weeks afterward.