Psychedelic drug ayahuasca could help treat diabetes

Psychedelic drug ayahuasca could help treat diabetes

Ingredient in Amazonian brew shown to grow pancreas cells

CultureJanuary 15, 2019 By Reilly Capps

Amazonians in the deep jungle, when they drink ayahuasca, they trip balls, just like any westerner dosing a psychedelic at a concert. They feel a weird energy and see crazy shit.

But there's a difference between the cultures. Westerners usually do psychedelics looking to have fun, intensify music or treat a mental illness or a drug addiction. But Amazonians are often looking to cure a physical disease. Shamans sing songs asking for physical health; the Amazonians say it works.

Western science may be confirming that the Amazonians were onto something, that ayahuasca can actually help your body.

A new study shows that one of the key ingredients in ayahuasca — harmine — could help cure diabetes or prediabetes. Those diseases affects 100 million adults in this country — about a third of us — and are one of the top five most common causes of death in the world.

Published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the study suggests that harmine could jumpstart cells in the pancreas, called beta cells, into replicating at faster rates than scientists have ever seen.

Harmine is present in the ayahuasca vine in high numbers. The compound is what allows a psychedelic drug in the leaf, a psychedelic called DMT, to work its magic, and create visions and hallucinations.

The study was produced by researchers at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, following on similar studies by other teams. 

photo - Mount Sinai diabetes team

[A photo of the researchers: Andrew F. Stewart, MD, center, with team members Esra Karakose and Peng Wang. They are not, as far as we know, hallucinating.]

Recognizing that harmine is useful in promoting beta cells could be the beginning of a new treatment for diabetes. Since a person can just take the harmine, not the DMT, it might not be necessary for folks suffering from diabetes to trip their faces off. Although, if they did, dialysis clinics would get a lot more interesting.  

Rooster has reported many times on the physical healing powers of psychedelics, from headaches to nerve pain to fatigue. Ayahuasca is just the latest to get a look ... in the West, al least. 

[Cover photo: The ayahuasca vine, and the leaf used to make it psychoactive. From Shutterstock.]