• Steven Huang

Ayahuasca in Amazonian Retreats

Mental Health and Epigenetic Outcomes From a Six Month Naturalistic Study



SUMMARY

What if psychedelics could actually change your gene expression; genetically increasing neuroplasticity in a way that reduces depression while increasing self-compassion and altering our perception of traumatic memories in a less negative way? Well… we’re starting to do the research and the results are in!


Researchers took saliva samples from a group before and after an ayahuasca journey and found a statistically significant change in the expression of the gene SIGMAR1, which is involved in how traumatic memories are stored. The sample size was too small to generalize the results, but this is the first-ever study exploring psychedelics and epigenetics (the study of how cells control gene activity without changing the DNA sequence).


IMPLICATIONS

People familiar with pharmaceutical studies are accustomed to the fact that when treatment stops, symptoms return. But the impact that psychedelics have on depression and anxiety is often lasting without continued treatment.

As a DEI practitioner, I often get stumped on how to heal GENERATIONS worth of racial trauma. Unconscious bias training might make people feel good in the moment, but it doesn’t address the fact that our bodies keep the score; racial trauma is passed down generation after generation. I am even more convinced that psychedelics offer the potential to heal in a way that no other treatment can; I look forward to seeing more studies at the intersection of psychedelics and epigenetics.