There is an old hippy expression that runs something like this: LSD will set you free. Well, that expression may hold new significance for diabetics. Researchers have recently discovered more and more therapeutic uses for psychedelics is it any surprise that a psychoactive plant from South America known as ayahuasca may promote the growth of insulin-producing cells in people with diabetes.
Ayahuasca, a psychedelic compound made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine that grows in the Amazon, has long been used by local shamans to inspire a spiritual awakening. Now, a new study suggests the vine also contains a chemical that may cure diabetes.
Type 1 diabetics lose about 99 percent of their beta cells, which are located in the pancreas and are responsible for the production of insulin, which, in turn, allows the human body to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Without active beta cells, blood sugar levels spike and dive causing difficulties for the body. Regarding type 2 diabetes, people with the ailment usually lose about 50 to 60 percent of their beta cells
The chemical that causes people who take ayahuasca to get high is dimethyltryptamine, more commonly known as DMT. But researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City are hoping to determine a way out to bypass the psychedelic nature of the plant and tap into the effects of another chemical in the ayahuasca plant called harmine. The research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, noted that harmine was the only one of the 100,000 they explored with the ability to reproduce insulin-producing beta cells in diabetic mice, and consequently normalize their glycemic control.
But before you go marching the streets in search of a drug dealer who can provide you with Ayahuasca, you need to heed this warning. Ayahuasca is a powerful psychoactive used to treat PTSD alcoholism, and chronic anxiety, in places in the world where it is permitted. However, it’s an extremely powerful drug that not only induces an intense psychedelic experience, it can also trigger severe vomiting, and increase heart rate and blood pressure. So, it is probably prudent to wait until scientists have isolated the harmine for human consumption.