With the rise of suicide rates in recent years, mental health professionals have been seriously examining the causes of depression and its most effective cure. With psychotherapy treatment options and a wide range of medicines available, seeking help for depression has never been easier. Adding to the sense of hope is a new treatment with ancient roots that may be the next big thing in suicide prevention.
Ayahuasca, an ancient hallucinogen, has been used in the past to support mental function. However, some scientists are claiming that it could have even more profound medicinal properties.
Ayahuasca may be the key to suicide prevention
Ayahuasca is made by boiling leaves from a vine known as Psychotria Viridis. The concoction turns into a bitter brown tea. The chacruna plant has high amounts of N-Dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT, a powerful psychoactive substance that can be consumed as a psychedelic drug.
During ancient years, ayahuasca formed an important part of shamanic practices, but it’s now being used by people searching for a psychedelic experience. Although DMT is naturally produced in the body, it is quickly absorbed by gut enzymes before it has a chance to pass into the brain. The ayahuasca vine restricts the enzymes, giving DMT a direct shot to the mind.
Suicide rates have soared in recent years
In the United States, suicide is killing people of all ages. As a matter of fact, it is now the tenth leading cause of death in America, accounting for nearly 50,000 deaths each year. Suicide attempts, meanwhile, have soared to more than a million each year.
Depression is considered the major cause of suicide, and the rates of depression in America have increased by almost four percent from 1991 to 2002. Today, eleven percent of Americans have been officially diagnosed with the condition, with females more affected than males.
The ayahuasca study offers hope
A recent study has revealed that ayahuasca was able to regulate suicidal ideation in participants. The research team used a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 29 subjects who were not responding to medication. Fifteen of the participants were given a placebo while 14 were given 1mg of ayahuasca.
After monitoring their symptoms and measuring their suicidal thoughts for one week, the researchers found that the suicidality rate decreased remarkably in the participants who were given ayahuasca compared to those who took the placebo. “Within the ayahuasca group, we found large effect sizes for decreases in suicidality at all time points,” the researchers explained.
Far more research is needed
The recent study had a relatively small number of participants and their suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms were self-reported. So, to confirm the hypothesis that ayahuasca promises ‘feel good’ effects, more research needs to be done.
Similar studies have been conducted in the past, each one showing similarly optimistic results. As such, extensive research into ayahuasca benefits and suicide prevention is being encouraged. There is hope that this will help combat depression and prevent suicide not just in the US but in other countries as well.