New Study Emphasizes Ayahuasca’s Public Health Benefits

A cross section of the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi). Via: Nicole Powers.


by Michelle Lyon

on April 17, 2019

Researchers from ICEERS found that ritualistic use of ayahuasca can be incorporated into western society with impressive benefits for public health.

The study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, measured the health of ayahuasca drinkers using similar methodology governments use to measure the overall public health of a community.

380 participants were surveyed face-to-face at locations in Spain where ritualistic ayahuasca ceremonies take place. Participants had engaged in anywhere from one to over 100 ceremonies prior to being questioned. They provided health indicators for factors such as positive perception of health, Body Mass Index, healthy lifestyle, and mental health. Results were then compared with the general Spanish population.

The study concluded that long-term ayahuasca use is connected to a healthier lifestyle and more health awareness.

The researchers found:

  • 96.6% of ayahuasca drinkers stated that they had a positive perception of health
  • Participants who drank in 100 or more ceremonies scored highest in personal values measures
  • Ayahuasca drinkers had a lower BMI and less cases of high cholesterol and hypertension than the general population
  • Participants reported healthier lifestyles such as less sleep problems and better reading and eating habits
  • 56% of the participants reported that ayahuasca allowed them to reduce their prescription drug use

The researchers wrote, “The main conclusion of this study is that a respectful and controlled use of hallucinogenic/psychedelic drugs taken in communitarian settings can be incorporated into modern society with benefits for public health. This new approach, based on the use of health indicators that were not used in previous ayahuasca studies, offers relevant information about the impact of long-term exposure to ayahuasca on public health.”