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Ayahuasca Month

September 2021, Online


3 min

The Amsterdam Psychedelic Research Association presents: "Ayahuasca Month", a series of online academic lectures on Ayahuasca, presented by interdisciplinary researchers.
Exploring ayahuasca use and healing from the perspectives of experts in psychiatry, neuroscience, bioethics and anthropology and the potential collaborations and dialogues that may contribute to developing ethical research and high quality clinical practices with Ayahuasca. After providing insights and concerns from their respective fields, experts are invited to explore how their different perspectives may inform or complement each other’s work.

This event series is free for APRA Members. Not a member, yet? Check out:
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The event will take place online. Non-members can attend by purchasing a ticket through the webshop (, and will receive the link upon ticket purchase. APRA members will receive the link by email and via the members-area of the APRA website (http://

***Speakers and dates***
*****Luis Eduardo Luna (PhD): “Ayahuasca as a plant teacher. Epistemological considerations.” - Wednesday September 8th, 7pm CEST
**Abstract: "While doing fieldwork in the early 1980’s among mestizo vegetalistas of the Peruvian Amazon, Don Emilio Andrade Gómez, who lived about twelve kilometers from Iquitos, told me that ayahuasca is a doctor, and so are other plants, some used as ayahuasca additives, such as toé (Brugmansia suaveolens), tobacco, or bobinzana (Calliandra angustifolia), but also many other plants, which he said have strong dueños, o madres. These ideas were confirmed by other practitioners of the area. As a result, I made a film Don Emilio y sus Doctorcitos (1981), and wrote a paper “The Concept of Plants as Teachers Among Four Mestizo Shamans of Iquitos, Northeast Peru” (Journal of Ethnopharmacology 11:135-156, 1984). I encountered later similar ideas in the Sibundoy Valley in Colombia among the Ingano and Kamsá, and other researchers found confirmation among indigenous as well as mestizo practitioners all over the Upper Amazon. My intention here is dive into in what sense ayahuasca and these plants may be considered teachers, the radical epistemology implicit in the idea of identification or transformation into animals or other beings, and the assumptions of such ideas in terms of inter-subjectivity relationships between human and non-human persons."

*****Fernanda Palhano-Fontes (PhD): “Ayahuasca for treatment-resistant depression: insights from a randomized clinical trial.” - Thursday September 16th, 7pm CEST.
**Abstract: The use of ayahuasca, an indigenous brew from the Amazonian basin with psychedelic properties, has increased worldwide and its therapeutic value has been investigated. Recently, we conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial with ayahuasca in 35 patients with treatment-resistant depression. The results suggest a significant antidepressant effect of ayahuasca with rapid onset, already one day after a single session with ayahuasca. Compared to placebo, between-groups differences increased from one day to seven days after dosing. In addition to the antidepressant effects, in this trial we also explored the sub-acute effects of ayahuasca on a number of markers such as psychiatric scales, neuropsychological tests, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and, saliva and blood tests. All assessments occurred one day before and one day after the treatment session with ayahuasca or placebo, in all patients with depression as well as in a group of 50 healthy individuals. This presentation will focus on showing some of the new findings from these measurements, which should help informing on safety and on the mechanisms behind the observed antidepressant effect of ayahuasca.

*****Luis Felipe Sequeira Valêncio (PhD Cand.): "Ayahuasca and bioethics." - Tuesday September 21st, 7pm CEST.
*****Helle Kaasik (PhD), Luis Felipe Sequeira Valêncio (PhD), and Dr. Simon Ruffel: "The risks and challenges of Ayahuasca going global (panel discussion)." - Saturday September 25th, 7pm CEST.
**Abstract: Once thought to be circumscribed to Shamanic use in the Amazon, Ayahuasca has left the forest and expanded internationally into a wide range of new settings. Syncretic religions have been established around the collective ritual use of this sacred beverage. Neo-shamans in Western countries have tinkered with its composition and reinterpreted the meanings of the visionary experience through a New Age lens. More recently, scientific research has brought Ayahuasca into the laboratory with the hope of developing new treatments for depression or addiction. This expansion has led to cultural, legal and epistemological tensions around medicalization, cultural appropriation and intellectual property.
What are the ethical risks and the cultural and scientific challenges of this globalization of Ayahuasca? What are potential ways forward towards an ethical and intercultural use of Ayahuasca?

*****Alhena Caicedo (PhD): "La globalización del ayahuasca vista desde Colombia" / "The globalization of ayahuasca: Colombia’s perspective. (Prerecorded lecture, in Spanish with English subtitles. Lecturer and a translator will be present for questions.)" - Monday September 27th, 7pm CEST.