Participation in an indigenous Amazonian led ayahuasca retreat associated with increases in nature relatedness – a pilot study

This preprint (n=58) assessed the association between participation in an ayahuasca retreat in a traditional indigenous Amazonian context and how it is related to nature-relatedness. Retreat participation was associated with increases in nature-relatedness, mindfulness and improvements in depression and anxiety.

Abstract

“Indigenous Amazonian shamanic ayahuasca practice is deeply rooted in nature and it is employed as an ecological mediating agent and in collective environmental decision-making processes by some of the groups that use it. Phenomenologically, the ayahuasca experience is often rich in nature-based themes and content, and its usage has been associated with eliciting shifts in perspectives and attitudes towards nature. In this proof of concept study, participation in an ayahuasca retreat in a traditional indigenous Amazonian context (with a mean of 5.85 ceremonies attended) was associated with significant increases in nature relatedness (n = 24; Cohen’s d = .51) and mindfulness (n = 38; Cohen’s d = .75), and improvements in depression (n = 47; Cohen’s d = 1.18), state anxiety (n = 47; Cohen’s d = 1.02), and trait anxiety (n = 42; Cohen’s d = .88). Furthermore, significant negative correlations were found between changes in nature relatedness and depression (r = .623, p = .001), state anxiety (r = -.542, p = .008), and trait anxiety (r = -.485, p = .022), with a significant positive correlation between change in nature relatedness and mindfulness (r = .747, p = .001). It is currently unclear if the changes seen were due to consumption of the brew, participation in ceremony, or the retreat setting itself. Although this pilot study suggests a potential therapeutic role for Amazonian ayahuasca retreats as a multidimensional intervention, further work is required to assess the role of possible mediators underlying such shifts, while evaluating to what extent these are sustained long-term.”

Authors: Simon Ruffell, Sam Gandy, WaiFung Tsang, Nigel Netzband & Jack Hollingdale

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Study details

Compounds studied
Ayahuasca

Topics studied
Neuroscience Anxiety Depression

Study characteristics
Observational

Participants
58 Humans

Authors

Authors associated with this publication with profiles on Blossom

Sam Gandy
Sam Gandy has been working on psychedelics at Imperial College London and the Beckley Foundation, here he studies how psychedelics reconnect us to nature.

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