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Ayahuasca's Role in Eating Disorder Healing

Article Title: “An exploratory study of experiences with conventional eating disorder treatment and ceremonial ayahuasca for the healing of eating disorders

Authors: Marika Renelli, Jenna Fletcher, Kenneth W. Tupper, Natasha Files, Anya Loizaga-Velder, Adele Lafrance

Publication Date: 2020

DOI: 10.1007/s40519-018-0619-6


Eating Disorders (EDs) present complex challenges to both individuals and healthcare professionals, with conventional treatments often leading to modest outcomes. Therefore, to explore innovative therapeutic avenues, this study delves into the use of ayahuasca, a traditional Amazonian brew, juxtaposed against traditional treatments for EDs.


Study Overview

The study embarked on qualitative research involving thirteen individuals with a history of EDs, aiming to contrast their experiences with conventional ED treatments against those derived from participating in ceremonial ayahuasca sessions.

Key Findings

Ayahuasca’s Potency:

Participants reported significant and rapid reductions in ED symptoms, attributing this to ayahuasca’s ability to address the root causes of their disorders.

Deep Healing:

Beyond symptom management, ayahuasca was seen as a gateway to profound internal healing, offering insights into the deeper psychological underpinnings of EDs.

Emotion and Memory Processing:

Ayahuasca facilitated the processing of intense emotions and memories, aiding in the emotional aspect of healing that conventional treatments often missed.

Promotion of Self-love: 

A notable transformation was the internalisation of self-love and self-care, critical components often overlooked in traditional therapies.

Spiritual Healing:

Participants highlighted the spiritual healing aspect of ayahuasca, which introduced a dimension of recovery absent in conventional treatment modalities.



This study illuminates the potential of ayahuasca as a complement to existing ED treatments, showcasing its ability to offer a more holistic healing experience by tapping into spiritual, emotional, and psychological facets of recovery.


Given the exploratory nature of this research, it opens the door for further scientific exploration into ayahuasca as an adjunctive treatment for EDs, advocating for a more integrative approach to ED therapy.

Potential Application

These findings suggest ayahuasca could enrich the therapeutic landscape for EDs, especially for those who have found conventional treatments lacking, by offering a multi-dimensional approach to healing.


Ayahuasca presents a promising therapeutic avenue for EDs, meriting deeper investigation into its efficacy and potential integration into treatment paradigms.



Renelli, M., Fletcher, J., Tupper, K. W., Files, N., Loizaga-Velder, A., & Lafrance, A. (2020). An exploratory study of experiences with conventional eating disorder treatment and ceremonial ayahuasca for the healing of eating disorders. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 25, 437-444.

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