Dr. Charles Grob, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and his team are investigating the pharmaceutical potential of ayahuasca. It is the first time in history such extensive research is being conducted on the ‘jungle brew’.
The active ingredients in the brew are DMT, a naturally occurring brain chemical similar to serotonin, and a natural antidepressant. Ayahuasca becomes active when a DMT containing plant (such as Psychotria viridis) is combined with a vine that acts as a MAO-inhibitor (Bansteriopsis Caapi).
Grob says one of ayahuasca's most promising uses is in treating drug and alcohol addiction. "Number one, it does not appear to be addictive and the individuals do not develop a tolerance, they do not go through withdrawals, and generally speaking, it is very unusual for people to take it on consecutive days over an extended period of time."
The potion also has anti-parasitic properties, which can help prevent malaria. There is also some evidence that it diminishes the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Because many Shamans claim ayahuasca cures a variety of cancers, tumors, and other diseases, the Peruvian jungle has become a popular destination for the medical tourism industry.
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