For PTSD, psychedelics like ‘Ctrl+Alt+Delete for the brain’: Author

May 23, 2024

(NewsNation) — An author who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder credits ayahuasca for relieving his symptoms, which he said at times were debilitating.

“It’s definitely a Ctrl+Alt+Delete for the brain,” said author Greg Wrenn. “It (ayahuasca) creates a much more coachable, malleable brain.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Psychedelic and dissociative drugs can temporarily alter a person’s mood, thoughts, and perceptions … people who use these substances report feeling strong emotions ranging from bliss to fear and experiencing vast changes in how they perceive reality.”

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Before his ayahuasca therapy, Wrenn told NewsNation’s Elizabeth Vargas that he struggled to function on a daily basis.

“It was difficult for me to be in social situations,” he said. “It was difficult for me to sleep easily at night. And I really struggled to want to stay alive.”

Wrenn’s experience isn’t unique and its logic has support in the medical field.

A study published in 2023 in the journal Nature Medicine found that the psychedelic drug MDMA can reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

After treatment, 86% of the MDMA group improved on a standard PTSD assessment compared to 69% of the placebo group. The assessment measures symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks and insomnia.

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“I ended up finding an ayahuasca center, and I brought my research binder with me,” Wrenn said. “I put it next to me next to my puke bucket in the ayahuasca hut and it saved my life; it absolutely saved my life.”

Wrenn, however, said his ayahuasca experience wasn’t like something out of a stoner comedy. It was intense at times.

“It was very scary because PTSD involves traumatic trauma and traumatic memories that are just sort of cycling through you,” Wrenn said. “And so to heal, ayahuasca kind of creates this space in your mind in which you have this kind of exposure therapy journey and you get to experience these traumatic memories.”

From there, Wrenn said his brain began to process his trauma in a different way.

“The panic begins to dissipate from these traumatic memories. So you are letting go of the past, you’re letting go of what you’re holding on to. And it’s beautiful, and it’s at times very, very terrifying.”