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Ayahuasca as a Candidate Therapy for PTSD

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Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a syndrome that affects a substantial portion of both the civilian and military populations, and is often underdiagnosed due to complications with delayed onset and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. The prevalence of this devastating disorder is growing as more people come forward with traumatic events in their past. It is crucial that we develop a more comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic framework for PTSD in order to reduce harm and aid in long-term functional recovery. Currently accepted therapeutic options for PTSD are proving to be insufficient as increasing numbers of people present with treatment-resistant PTSD, and alternative avenues for diagnosis and treatment are currently being investigated to improve standards of patient care. This chapter focuses on the rationale for why ayahuasca may be successful in treating certain kinds of PTSD, and reviews the previously reported pathophysiology of PTSD and its current treatments, and the new, experimental therapies being explored. This chapter also proposes a novel method known as “syndromics ,” which aims to characterize the full syndrome of PTSD using bioinformatics and multivariate pattern detection, in the hopes that by understanding the full complexity of this syndrome, we will be able to identify more efficient therapeutic targets, such as ayahuasca, to cure it.

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Nielson, J.L., Megler, J.D. (2014). Ayahuasca as a Candidate Therapy for PTSD. In: Labate, B.C., Cavnar, C. (eds) The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-40426-9_3

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