Ayahuasca Heals PTSD


“In a recent observational study, 18 participants traveled to Peru to undertake three ayahuasca ceremonies over the course of a week,” said Dr. Brad Adams, from the University of California, Los Angeles’ Psychology Department. “By the six-month mark, depression scores had dropped by an average of 52 percent.” The study, undertaken with Drs. Charles Grob and Dennis McKenna, may be repeated with new participants before being submitted for publication.

“It put me back into a balanced place, and it was beautiful,” says Ryan LeCompte, a retired US Marine lance corporal, in a video testimonial about a separate ayahuasca experience. “This understanding came over me, and the plant, or whoever it was, said ‘get up and enjoy the moment.’”

So powerful was LeCompte’s experience that he set up Veterans for Entheogenic Therapy in order to help other veterans, including those returning from the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, gain access to the medicine. (The term “entheogenic” means something that induces a spiritually enlightening, mystical or consciousness-altering experience, and is used instead of “psychedelic” in some circles.)

Because so little is known about how ayahuasca works, there is little scientific debate. In addition to Adams’ yet-to-be released study, another study with 12 participants is being planned by the veterans’ group and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a Santa Cruz, California nonprofit research group that promotes psychedelic drugs as medicine.

“Ayahuasca is much better than any medicine I can prescribe,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist, formerly of the University of Arizona, who has treated PTSD for 20 years. “Patients actually go into remission which never happens with other treatments.”

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