A recent survey by the Department of Neuroscience and Behavioral Sciences at the Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine (FMRP) at USP found that a dose of the famous Santo Daime tea can relieve symptoms of depression .
Extracted from the Amazonian plants Mariri and Chacrona, ayahuasca seems to act on regions of the brain sensitive to serotonin (substance responsible for regulating mood).
When ingested, the drink usually changes the perception of reality and emotions, causing a feeling of well-being.
The plant is used in religious rituals in several cities in Brazil. And now it is also present in research laboratories, since its initial evaluations have shown promise.
The effects of tea on depression
In the survey, carried out at Hospital Universitário Onofre Lopes, in Natal, the effects of a single dose of tea on 29 patients with depression were evaluated. The results were published in the journal Psychological Medicine .
Clinical tests included several psychological and physiological assessments in the participants, in addition to analysis on nuclear magnetic resonance to observe possible brain changes.
Two types of doses were distributed: one of ayahuasca and the other of a non-pharmacological drink (placebo), with a flavor similar to that of tea. At random, the patients received one of the two drinks, without knowing which one it was. 14 of them took ayahuasca and 15 took placebo.
After a week of monitoring by the scientists, the most important results appeared.
About 60% of the group that took the dose of tea showed a reduction of more than 50% in the symptoms of depression, against 27% of the group that ingested the placebo. Half of those who ingested ayahuasca are still free of symptoms after seven days of treatment.
Caution is still needed
The improvement in the depressive condition of patients revealed that through ayahuasca it may be possible to discover alternative treatments to improve the quality of life of people with the disease.
But even with the promising results, its use in the treatment of depression is still experimental and not recommended , as the consumption of ayahuasca causes effects that last for about 4 hours and can include hallucinations, diarrhea and vomiting.
Thus, more consistent studies are needed to more safely evaluate the effectiveness of the drink.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability, behind only heart disease.
Studies in the scientific community are important to discover new forms of treatment in order to improve the mental health of the population.