Ayahuasca Workshop: Ethnobotany, Safety, and Expansion - Part 2/5

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Watch the full workshop at http://psychedelicscience.org

Ayahuasca, Safety and Biomedical Research, by Luis Fernando Tófoli, MD, PhD

This section will offer a general overview of the biomedical research on ayahuasca with a special focus on the discourse about its safety. Some claim that the interpretation of biomedical data generally points to a considerable safety in the use of this decoction with psychedelic properties, provided that certain precautions are taken. On the other hand, the corpus of biomedical findings on ayahuasca is interpreted skeptically by those who stress that there is no absolute absence of risk to health in its consumption. Although there is no unconditional impartiality in the life sciences and the interpretation of scientific research is subject to diverse worldviews, some issues in ayahuasca research require more biomedical evidence. Based on the analysis of the scientific literature and the author's experience with ayahuasca, some dilemmas in the biomedical universe of ayahuasca will be discussed. These are: its general toxicity; the use by pregnant women, children and adolescents; drug interactions; and effects on mental disorders and substance misuse, among others. This section will also explore new paths for the potential development of biomedical research in the field of ayahuasca, and its contextualization within the broader disputes concerning psychoactive substances.

Luís Fernando Tófoli, MD, PhD, is a medical doctor with a residency and a Ph.D. degree in Psychiatry at the University of São Paulo (USP). He is a professor of Psychiatry at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and his production as a scholar is focused on community mental health policies, mental health in primary care, and ayahuasca and mental health. He has studied the onset of mental disorders in UDV members and is currently working on three projects concerning ayahuasca: a survey about quality of life and history of drug use in UDV members, the validation of the Brazilian Portuguese version of the Hallucinogen Rating Scale, and a preliminary study on the influence of drug, set, and setting in ayahuasca experiences.
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