Between 2015 and 2019, a prospective, observational, non-controlled study took place at the Temple, conducted by ICEERS and the Beckley Foundation. They examined the long-term effects of ayahuasca healing on quality of life, well-being, and health, with sub-sections in anxiety, depression, grief, and PTSD.

Over the last two years, they have been analyzing the data and have now begun to publish articles to share the outcomes. After the study was complete, the first results were published in an article on the significant therapeutic potential of ayahuasca for grief.

The research has now been published in a second article, The Shipibo Ceremonial Use of Ayahuasca to Promote Well-Being: An Observational Study, providing evidence of the significant value that the sophisticated ethnomedical practices of Shipibo healers have in improving long term well-being and quality of life.

The results are unsurprising (to us!), and groundbreaking in the field of health and healing.

Participants in the program showed a significant increase in psychological, subjective, and spiritual well-being, while reporting an improvement in their quality of life after the retreat.

During the initial diagnostic session, the Onanyabo (Shipibo healers) aim to detect energetic blockages in the participants, ‘scanning’ their bodies with the help of the icaros. The following ceremonies, according to the Onanyabo, aim to cleanse and clear ‘dense energies’ that participants may carry. Western facilitators often understand these dense energetic knots to correlate with psychosomatic and emotional imprints leftover from individual and trans-generational traumas, repressed emotions, or self-sabotaging unconscious views that are rooted in past difficult life episodes, particularly childhood experiences.

“However, diagnosis is also a continuous process throughout the cleansing and clearing process, reaching into and revealing deeper layers of energetic and spiritual ways of being. When ‘heavy energies’ are uncovered, the Onanyabo claim to use icaros to disconnect and dispel them within the individual’s body, sending the ‘energies’ back into the earth. By clearing dense energies from the past, participants become ‘unstuck’ and often significantly transform their relationship with themselves, others, and the world in general.

The Importance and Benefit of Amazonian Healing Traditions

One of the most significant aspects of this landmark study is that it shows that Shipibo ayahuasca healing provides long-lasting healing benefits, with sustained improvements in health and well-being still measured one year after a retreat at the Temple. Read the full article here.

Data analysis also showed that the significant difference in outcomes were due specifically to the healing received from the Shipibo Onanyabo and the participant’s healing experience on retreat at the Temple and not the passing of time.

Given that well-being is directly linked to the prevention of mental disorders, and improving it is the best way to promote mental health, this study represents a giant step forward towards the recognition of Shipibo ayahuasca practices as a therapeutic treatment in the greater field of health and healing.

“Ayahuasca allows users to relive the raw emotions behind their trauma, such as fear and helplessness. In doing so, it facilitates reconnection with one’s former unvictimized self and provides an opportunity to heal by nourishing one’s self with love and compassion, finally meeting emotional needs that for so long have been unfulfilled.”

– Débora González, PhD, lead researcher

Help to publish more landmark findings

In the world of science, it takes financial resources to publish open-access papers, meaning that findings are accessible openly and not behind paywalls. Otherwise, research remains accessible only to the academic community. We believe knowledge should be accessible to everyone who might benefit from it.

The ICEERS team is hard at work writing and analyzing data that will provide insight into how indigenous ayahuasca healing practices help individuals with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. The findings are also providing data that shows that the insights gained from these experiences catalyze significant personal growth and can have a highly positive impact on personality characteristics.

Current publications

Research soon to be published

  • Long-term effects on people with anxiety, depression, and PTSD
  • Personality profiles in relation to ayahuasca’s effects and safety

Please donate here to help ICEERS share their research with the world!

It has been an incredible journey of many years of collaborating and learning, enabled by quantitative and qualitative research that will allow ICEERS and the Beckley Foundation to continue their momentum in this important field.

Thank you for your support!