A proof-of-concept, placebo-controlled study conducted at the University of Sāo Paulo’s Department of Neuroscience and Behavior, found that a single dose of ayahuasca can have a positive effect on speech performance of those who have social anxiety disorder.
The study, which was published in the esteemed Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, involved 17 participants who were each given a measured dose of ayahuasca, after which they were asked to remain ‘as quiet and introspective as possible’ while seated in a reclining chair. After about five hours the participants were asked to prepare and perform a four minute speech on camera. The participants’ anxiety levels were measured and recorded, then anxiety levels were checked at 7, 14 and 21 days after.
“Social anxiety disorder is a prevalent, under-diagnosed, anxiety disorder with limited treatment options.”
Dos Santos adds that those with social anxiety tend to have a negative perception “toward their social performance”.
“Ayahuasca, besides having antidepressant and anxiolytic potentials, could (maybe) change this negative cognitive bias, since its performance-enhancing properties have been described anecdotally.”
The researchers found that, compared to the placebo control group, ayahuasca significantly improved self-perception of speech performance. This means that the participants felt that they performed better in their four minute speech in front of the camera.
Ayahuasca is a sacred plant medicine containing the psychedelic drug N, N-DMT, a powerful hallucinogen with anti-depressive and anxiolytic properties. It is extracted into a drinkable solution from the banisteriopsis caapi vine along with the leaves of the psychotria viridis shrub, and is traditionally brewed by Shamans of Amazonian indigenous tribes. In recent years ayahuasca has become a popular attraction for Western students, backpackers and those seeking to heal or undertake a spiritual journey.