Potential Use of Ayahuasca in Grief Therapy

Omega (Westport). 2019 Aug;79(3):260-285. doi: 10.1177/0030222817710879. Epub 2017 May 30.


The death of a loved one is ultimately a universal experience. However, conventional interventions employed for people suffering with uncomplicated grief have gathered little empirical support. The present study aimed to explore the potential effects of ayahuasca on grief. We compared 30 people who had taken ayahuasca with 30 people who had attended peer-support groups, measuring level of grief and experiential avoidance. We also examined themes in participant responses to an open-ended question regarding their experiences with ayahuasca. The ayahuasca group presented a lower level of grief in the Present Feelings Scale of Texas Revised Inventory of Grief, showing benefits in some psychological and interpersonal dimensions. Qualitative responses described experiences of emotional release, biographical memories, and experiences of contact with the deceased. Additionally, some benefits were identified regarding the ayahuasca experiences. These results provide preliminary data about the potential of ayahuasca as a therapeutic tool in treatments for grief.

Keywords: ayahuasca; continuing bonds; grief; peer-support group; therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Banisteriopsis*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Plant Preparations