Confronting Our Biases About Ayahuasca Research

Ayahuasca has been gaining a lot of attention over the past decade. In its native Amazonian regions, it is known as a herbal concoction consumed during religious ceremonies. In the West, the term has become associated with a kind of spiritual retreat, where the psychoactive component of the drink is believed to promote mental clarity and spiritual enlightenment.  Naturally, the scientific community has taken an interest as well, delving into the mechanics of monoamine oxidase inhibitor harmala alkaloids, chemical components of the Banisteriopsis caapi plant which is believed to help overcome addiction, depression, and other self-destructive behavior.  

However, some scientists are calling on their colleagues to reexamine their prejudices against the ancient Amazonian practice. Because ayahuasca contains DMT it is often considered a drug alongside other controlled substances such as LSD and cocaine instead of focusing on its medicinal values. As a result of such negative perception along with its illegal status can have adverse effects on research funding. 

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