The Therapeutic Potential of Ayahuasca

  • Michael A. Coe
  • Dennis J. McKenna


Ayahuasca is a plant-based psychoactive decoction traditionally utilized by cultural groups throughout parts of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador during rites of passage, divination, warfare, magico-religious practices, and for healing in ethnomedical contexts. Over the last 150 years, ayahuasca has entered the global sphere and become a focus of scientific inquiry due to its reported use as an effective medicine to diagnose and treat illness. As a result, the use of ayahuasca within a healing context has become widespread and prompted researchers to investigate its putative therapeutic potential. In this chapter, the authors discuss current therapeutic applications of ayahuasca to treat addiction, depression, and anxiety. In this context, we highlight several studies to help facilitate a greater understanding of the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca.


Therapeutic potential Ayahuasca Ethnopharmacology Serotonin reuptake transporters Addiction Depression Anxiety 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of Hawai`i at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Center for Spirituality & HealingUniversity of Minnesota, Academic Health CenterMinneapolisUSA

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