We came to talk with Daniel Gustafsson, the man behind "Ayahuasca ALS treatment" and the person that develops the method of treating ALS patinates with Ayahuasca, and this is what we found.
The investigated topic in this article is still not part of well known established science, there is still a serious lack of research and studies to be done, all that is mentioned here is not an advice nor should encourage the usage of any illegal substances. This content should not be regarded as medical advice and should be regarded as an informative tool for harm reduction and educating on psychedelic substances.
What Is the Origin of the Idea to Use Ayahuasca to Treat ALS?
The concept of ayahuasca used for ALS treatment came after reading about research into related psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms where behavior changes were noticed in mice, suggesting neuroplasticity, which in theory could be beneficial in ALS cases seeing as there is a need to prevent the deterioration and death of neurons. Neuroplasticity forms new connections/patterns in the brain and promoting this process seemed logical to apply in cases where neurons are failing and need motivation/stimuli to survive and possibly even regenerate.
It also built upon theories connecting chronic stress to a multitude of degenerative diseases, including autoimmunity and neurological conditions, such as in dr. Gabor Mates's book "When the body says no". There were also case reports available where people had tremendous stress relief from psychedelic experiences, in ways that were simply not possible using only conventional therapeutic methods or pharmaceuticals. Chronic stress is a known factor (among others) in chronic inflammation, the latter being a long suspected co-factor in the process of nervous system dysfunction and cell damage. Ayahuasca has many purposes traditionally, inhibition of inflammation being one of them, but through unexplored pathways. Any given anti-inflammatory compound will not behave exactly like the next.
When and for How Long Have These Treatments Been Happening?
Since late 2015 / early 2016
How Many People Have Participated in Treatments and Research Related to ALS So Far?
While over 40 people have decided to join the study, most of which are too recent to make any conclusions or have not yet sent updates on their progression, 7 people have and with varied results reaching from positive and lasting improvements to no benefits experienced. More on that later.
How Does Ayahuasca Help With ALS?
Simply put, biochemicals in ayahuasca may theoretically normalize processes inside dysfunctional nervous system cells, restoring their function and thus preventing degeneration, while also activating neurogenesis (growth of nerve cells to replace lost ones).
What Is the Extent of Its Ability to Assist?
So far there is one Croatian female participant alive and making minor but steady progress 7 years past their ALS diagnosis and 5 years into study participation, progress meaning muscle mass increase, strength gains, and increased mobility perceived to be approximately 15%.
What Is the Success Rate of Ayahuasca Treatment For ALS?
Besides the above case, there was one Swedish female participant who had a similar level of symptom relief, particularly in her hands, fingers, and knees, as well as a noticeable decrease in fasciculations. The relief was in a much shorter time frame, months rather than years. However, she then suffered unrelated pneumonia, had to be hospitalized, and thus aborted her participation, after which she was too weakened to continue the study.
In another Swedish case, a male participant had substantial improvements in strength and walking ability, but only for 2-3 months before his ALS progressed despite continuing treatment.
There was also an elderly female American participant who had memory improvements and improved leg movements, according to her son/caretaker, over the course of several months before she died of old age (mid 80's) rather than ALS. All aforementioned cases were or are middle-aged.
In What Ways Can Ayahuasca’s Mechanism of Action Be Helpful in Treating ALS?
In theory, the biochemical constituents in ayahuasca may cause neurogenesis (generation of new and healthy nerve cells) while beneficially modulating calcium influx in existing affected cells, inhibiting excess glutamate, thereby preventing cell damage, considering dysfunctional neurotransmission processes being a major theoretical cause of ALS.
Ayahuasca constituents may further also affect certain glia cell receptors such as chaperone sigma 1 in potentially positive ways, where glia cells play an important role in maintaining homeostasis (balance) inside neurons (nerve cells). Glia cell receptors are compelling treatment targets, but the exact interaction between them and neurons in the context of modulating them in a goal-specific manner is a complicated and unexplored area in neurology.
There Are Two Common Types of DMT: N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (Found in Ayahuasca), and 5-Meo-DMT. What Can You Tell Us About the Gap Between the Two in Regards to Treating ALS Disease?
While 5-MeO-DMT obviously is molecularly similar to DMT often found in ayahuasca, I have no knowledge or even model theory on how that would apply to ALS. The DMT part is also not the main ayahuasca constituent and it is an addition or a complement to the main constituents that are the harmala alkaloids harmaline, harmine, and tetrahydroharmine from the Caapi plant that defines ayahuasca.
5-Meo-DMT is also not entirely proven to be present in typical ayahuasca, but may in some cases be present in minor amounts depending on exact composition and this is an ongoing scientific debate.
Is It Possible to Treat ALS using 5-MeO-DMT?
I would really like to find out, as I'm sure everyone else would too. I have not seen any such research personally, but all angles beg to be explored for the sake of all awaiting a possible cure or at the very least effective symptom treatment.
What Does an ALS Ayahuasca Treatment Look Like?
All participants obtain their own ayahuasca from various online vendors, local markets, or even harvest wild if possible, depending on where they are located. There is no particular treatment facility, rather the study is a project made possible simply by online networking and communication between me and participants, information being forwarded between them and I document their experience. They all prepare and consume it at home, supervised by their immediate family or caretakers.
Participants initially consume an ayahuasca dose deliberately set too low to have any effects at all, medicinal or otherwise, as a starting point from which they then slowly and moderately increase dosage each time
until they achieve any type of benefit without or with the least level of side effects possible. They then proceed to consume this amount once weekly, which seems to suffice for unknown reasons, possibly due to a lasting process of some sort taking place over the course of several days.
This is preceded by or done simultaneously with an approx 4-week diet consisting of fruit exclusively with the addition of herbal formulas intended to promote lymphatic flow and kidney filtration, as the study and treatment are based on the theory that the cell metabolite transport chain is dysfunctional in ALS patients and needs to be promoted by essentially removing all or most of its workload (resulting from digestion) while simultaneously promoting lymph circulation and kidney filtration to remove waste products that accumulate inside cells as they process nutritional fuel. If ayahuasca actually induces neurogenesis (regeneration of nervous system cells) as intended, the cells would need a healthy environment to survive long-term ie. a functional waste removal system and transport chain.
How Does an Ayahuasca ALS Treatment Different From a Regular Ayahuasca Trip/Ceremony?
The most obvious difference, in this case, is that, unlike a traditional ayahuasca ceremony, the amount of ayahuasca used in this study is intentionally low enough to not cause any of the typical effects ayahuasca is known for (visuals, dreamlike states of mind, etc.) yet enough to bring positive medicinal effects, as perceived by participants.
There is also no religious or cultural context unless applied by participants themselves for personal reasons, although they have all read about it and are thus familiar with the cultural and religious origins associated with ayahuasca.
How Do All Ayahuasca Treatments for ALS Differ From One Another?
A preparation equal to approx. 30-50 grams B. Caapi (depending on preparation technique) is what has been used with benefits noted by affected participants, along with approx. either 15-30 grams P. Viridis or 2-4 grams M. Tenuiflora.
Various dosages have been attempted but, with few exceptions, either with unwanted side effects or without benefits if adjusted above or below the described range. This is most likely highly individual and needs to be figured out and adjusted carefully by participants themselves as each person, their genetics, and biochemistry are unique. The starting point is less than the aforementioned amounts to be increased each time by a percentage discussed with participants based on their personal reaction and tolerance level.
There is no one exact schedule to be followed by all as there would be in a clinical study, considering the nature of this pilot study and its flexibility to allow participants to make adjustments according to their own perception of benefits or side effects.
Legality and Availability of Ayahuasca Treatments for ALS?
Many people might find this info very encouraging, that is why we need to do some sort of a reality check regarding the availability of this experimental form of treatment.
What Is the Current Legal Status of Ayahuasca Treatments for ALS?
All countries have their own laws regarding psychedelic plants and in some cases, the exact details are not even entirely clear. In many cases, the laws in this field are arbitrary, outdated, and based on pseudoscience and a poor understanding of psychology and chemistry. Some stigma regarding psychedelics remains to a varying degree, but research in the field has proceeded in the recent decade after the long and arguably failed and uneducated drug policies which were largely based on political mass hysteria and media sensationalism rather than legit science.
There is a worldwide shift taking place, taking into account the actual facts and moving towards acceptance, legalization, and focusing on the actual health of people as opposed to political correctness and spending endless resources on a dysfunctional system without even making proper distinguishments (i.e lumping plants together with hazardous synthetic opioids).
Education and harm reduction should be and will eventually be adopted globally instead of repeating 1950's drug mythology.
Where Can Someone Who Is Suffering From ALS Now Be Able to Try This Treatment?
There are many resorts worldwide providing ayahuasca sessions for medicinal reasons or personal/spiritual development, in countries where it's legal.
I am unfamiliar with the particular laws of each individual country so it's something people have to research themselves in case they desire to travel for this purpose.
Participants access their own plant material and apply the knowledge on how to use it in their own homes in whatever country they are located. A valid viewpoint is that it is a basic human right to grow, cook, consume, trade, or otherwise interact with any plants or fungi variants found in nature unless specified as an endangered species.
How Can Someone Become a Participant in a Research Study?
They may send an e-mail to ayahu[email protected] to discuss details more in-depth for each person and their circumstance, providing some background for documentation purposes.
Can an ALS Patient Participate in a Non-dedicated Ayahuasca Ceremony or Retreat?
There is always an element of risk involved with the consumption of any food item or herbal medicine that is unknown to the person prior to the occasion. That's why it's important that people educate themselves as much as possible beforehand and that they proceed using caution, moderation, and supervision.
Current physical or mental health conditions also need to be taken into consideration. That being said, most potential side effects can be avoided by taking the proper approaches to ensure a positive outcome, such as allergy reaction testing, gradual adaptation, and awareness of any possible interactions with pharmaceuticals or food sources.
About "Ayahuasca ALS Treatment" Author Daniel Gustafsson
I live in Sweden where I was born in 1983 and I have a life-long interest in ethnobotany, zoology, psychology, health, fitness, and science in general. I have no medical or psychedelic expertise and no higher formal education. I have simply spent half of my life reading books, research articles, and online material about everything that raised my interest related to human biology, consciousness, and health through any methods available or possible.
I have personally experienced most traditional psychedelics, including both natural and synthetic variants, as well as having used a multitude of herbal supplements over the years to improve my own life. The ALS Treatment study came about after good friends of mine told me about their mother passing away due to ALS. This happened to align with my recent interest in ayahuasca and some material related to neurology I was reading at the time. I started discussing the topic with people who would later be involved in the study and it led to creating the website, writing articles, and the still ongoing project today.
A Message From the Author
I would appreciate it if you could add to the article that anyone who wishes to support the project may donate using PayPal to recipient [email protected] or contact the same e-mail address to discuss any other methods of funding. At this point, the project is non-paid volunteer work, but I would like if possible in the future to commit to it full-time, seeing as increasing efforts are being put into it.