Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) is a plant containing the main ingredients of a hallucinogenic, medicinal drink used for healing in the South America jungle. It has been shown to improve the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinsonism. Functions of ayahuasca’s components include antioxidant activity and inhibition of monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzyme activity.
The strongest ayahuasca activity was found in the dried bark of a large branch of the plant. The medicinal tea is made by boiling the ayahuasca with another plant, chacruna (Psychotria viridis.)
Chemicals found in ayahuasca which have the MAO inhibitor activity include harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine. The MAO inhibitor activity of ayahuasca prevents the dimethyltryptamine (DMT) of chacruna from breaking down too rapidly. MAO is responsible for the breakdown of the DMT when it is consumed orally. The MAO inhibitor activity is what is needed for treating Parkinsonism. MAO inhibitors prevent the breakdown of the dopamine released from the brain cells.
The proanthocyanidines, epicatechin and procyanidine, have antioxidant activity. This antioxidant activity is what is needed for treating the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer’s disease.
CONCLUSION: Ayahuasa as prepared with chacruna in the Amazon jungle is a potential treatment for Parkinsonism and other forms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
NOTE: Dopamine is deficient in the substantia nigra of the brains of people with Parkinsonism. Read another article about the use of Ayahuasca in neurodegenerative disease. Read about homocysteine blood levels as a biomarker of neurodegenerative disease. Read about iron metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral disease.
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