The journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology has published an article examining the success of a hybrid approach of Western therapy and the Amazonian medicine ayahuasca in the treatment of addiction.
The documented study collected data from 36 participants from across the world between 2014 and 2015 during a treatment regime conducted at the Takiwasi Center. Founded by a French Medical doctor in 1992, the institution employs a holistic biopsychosocial-spiritual framework to recovery.
Staffed by a contrasting yet complementary combination of traditional healers, doctors, psychologists, and nurses, the center offers a flexible 9-month treatment period consisting of three primary stages: Initial isolation, main treatment, and reinsertion into post-treatment life.
After passing the admission protocol and ceasing psychiatric medication, patients undergo a blend of Western biomedical evaluation, occupational therapy and psychotherapy, and Amazonian medicinal plant administration, purges, dietas, and weekly ayahuasca ceremonies.
The researchers conducted a battery of tests throughout the study to measure addiction severity, perceived stress, craving experience, symptom inventory, spiritual well-being, perceived changes in general health, and neuropsychological functioning.
The initial intake analysis painted a picture of highly stressed individuals battling frequent cravings and mental illness symptoms.
Throughout the treatment, the research team documented clinically significant improvements in mental and emotional health and increased meaning and purpose in life. They also witnessed reductions in perceived stress, mental illness symptoms, and addictive cravings. Many of these positive changes occurred early on in the treatment program. Additionally, self-reported health transitions and cognitive functioning improved across most participants.
Overall, these results show great promise in the fusion of the two medical systems. Far from the reductionist receptor-based allopathic paradigm, this hybridized methodology employs Amazonian healing therapies and grounds them within Western approaches capable of monitoring health outcomes with unparalleled accuracy.
Luke Sumpter is a freelance journalist that specializes in health, wellness, and alternative therapies. Currently, he’s working on a dissertation exploring the emerging role of the endocannabinoid system in orthopaedic medicine.