New research shows that certain alkaloids present in Ayahuasca can grow new hippocampal brain cells at least in a petri dish. This opens up tons of new avenues for further research and underlines what Ayahuasca proponents have been saying for years: Ayahuasca genuinely helps people.
The hippocampus in humans is responsible for a lot of serious things including short-term memory and learning. In Alzheimer’s Disease, the hippocampus has obvious damage. Also, people that suffer from depression tend to have a shrunken hippocampus. So, if Ayahuasca can help regenerate a damaged hippocampus, the implications in modern medicine are, well, nothing short of fantastic.
Interestingly enough, psilocybin in Magic Mushrooms also appears to have a similar effect. Research in 2013 showed that psilocybin—the psychedelic ingredient of Magic Mushrooms–also stimulated the growth of new brain cells. This research was on mice, however, so we have to wait for further research to see if this also will apply to humans.
For many years, the scientific party line was that nothing could create new brain cells known as neurogenesis. Now we are starting to see some studies showing this old dogma to be false. While these studies with psychogenic drugs are preliminary, the results are changing the way we view the brain and its plasticity.
The Beckley Foundation in conjunction with Dr. Jordi Riba at the Sant Pau Institute of Biomedical Research in Spain is continuing its research with Ayahuasca and DMT on different live animals to replicate the results and show results in living creatures. With some further experimental success, scientists would be looking for ways to apply this neurogenesis with spinal cord injuries, nerve/muscle diseases such as ALS or MS, and disorders such as addiction, PTSD, and depression. The future looks very bright for Ayahuasca research.
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