In a new study, researchers found that one of the main natural components of ayahuasca tea is dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which promotes neurogenesis —the formation of new neurons.
In addition to neurons, the infusion used for shamanic purposes also induces the formation of other neural cells such as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.
The findings suggest that this tea has great therapeutic potential for a wide range of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The research was conducted by a team at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and elsewhere.
Ayahuasca is produced by mixing two plants from the Amazon: the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the chacruna shrub (Psychotria viridis).
The team reports the results of four years of experiments on mice, demonstrating that these exhibit a greater cognitive capacity when treated with this substance.
The DMT in ayahuasca tea binds to a type-2A serotonergic brain receptor, which enhances its hallucinogenic effect.
In this study, the receptor was changed to a sigma type receptor that does not have this effect, thus greatly facilitating its future administration to patients.
In neurodegenerative diseases, it is the death of certain types of neurons that causes the symptoms of pathologies.
Although humans have the capacity to generate new neuronal cells, this depends on several factors and is not always possible.
This study shows that DMT is capable of activating neural stem cells and forming new neurons.
One author of the study is José Ángel Morales, a researcher in the UCM and CIBERNED Department of Cellular Biology.
The study is published in Translational Psychiatry.
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