A recent study shows that ayahuasca helps to alleviate the severity of grief. While many recent studies have sought to measure the impact of psychedelic therapy on those with depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief is a new field of research.
Dealing with Grief
Though grief may be new to psychedelic research, it isn’t new to any of us. We all know loss. We’ve all experienced it to varying degrees. As C.S. Lewis expressed in his book about the loss of his wife, A Grief Observed, “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” Learning how to cope with grief is rarely a straightforward path.
New Study Finds that Ayahuasca is Therapeutic for Grief
Last month, a study published in the journal, Psychopharmacology, detailed the therapeutical potential of ayahuasca for those suffering from the loss of a loved one. Researchers gathered a group of individuals that had attended an ayahuasca retreat center in Peru. They found about 50 people who qualified as being bereaved. Thus, they were most likely experimenting with ayahuasca to deal with their loss. A year later, the researchers followed up with each participant. They discovered that ayahuasca helped improve their wellbeing and quality of life.
This isn’t surprising considering the recent literature being published on psychedelic therapy. Psychedelics appear to help people process their emotional experiences. It makes sense that the weight of grief would be alleviated and their relationship to loss would evolve. People have been using psychedelics for emotional processing for a long time.
Prolonged Grief Disorder
In order to provide a scope of the issue, researchers coined a new disorder that has now joined an ever-growing list. “Prolonged Grief Disorder” has officially become a disease, earning a spot on the International Classification of Disease. 9.8% of bereaved individuals develop PGD, a malady that debilitates the person until they cannot function—as can be the case with depression and anxiety.
Turning grief into a disorder is disconcerting. Does everything have to become a disease? This isn’t to downplay grief nor claim that extreme cases do not require intervention. Yet we don’t want to turn grief into another problem for us to solve. You don’t just “get over” losing someone you love. It takes time–up to years–and one’s relationship to that person continues to evolve.
For those suffering from loss, this study presents strong evidence that ayahuasca can help with the healing process. We just don’t like sandwiching grief between prolonged and disorder. We have to be able to differentiate between disease and simply being human.