Benjamin Mudge, PhD candidate

Flinders University

The Therapeutic Potential of Ayahuasca for People with Bipolar Disorder


Although people with bipolar disorder have suicidal tendencies and limited treatment options, we are usually excluded from ayahuasca ceremonies – and Psychedelic Science studies too. Given the anecdotal and clinical evidence indicating ayahuasca’s efficacy for treating depression, my PhD questions whether ayahuasca is safe and effective for treating bipolar disorder?

There is valid concern that ayahuasca would worsen manic/depressive symptoms in people with bipolar disorder, because most antidepressants and psychedelics do so. Having collected qualitative data from 75 bipolar people who have drunk ayahuasca, I acknowledge numerous cases of bipolar people becoming manic after drinking ayahuasca. But detailed analysis indicates that many of these are false negative results, and that the real majority of bipolar people have therapeutically-positive experiences with ayahuasca. I explain these contradictory results by deconstructing the set and setting of ayahuasca ceremonies, as well as deconstructing the tea itself.

Having cross-referenced chromatographic and autoethnographic data from 100 samples of ayahuasca tea, I conclude that the crucial determining factor for people with bipolar disorder is the cooking technique, because cooking variations affect the ratios of ayahuasca’s 4 psychoactive ingredients.

I will also present my theories about the receptor binding times of 5-TH2AR agonists, Peganum harmala substitution, ayahuasca fermentation, the interaction between DMT and SSRIs, and tetrahydroharmine oxidization. These theories provide scientific feasibility for my dogma-refuting evidence that ayahuasca can be medicinal for people with bipolar disorder.

I am developing an ayahuasca ceremony protocol that is tailored for bipolar brains, and I invite bipolar people to be included in Psychedelic Science.


Benjamin Mudge has a background in music, art and political activism, and is now a PhD candidate in the Psychiatry Department at Flinders University, as well as Director of Bipolar Disorder Research & Education CIC. He taught himself the science of bipolar disorder, while working at Neuroscience laboratories and GlaxoSmithKline, to be able to manage his own personal experience of manic depression. He invented the “FM Compressor Analogy” of bipolar disorder, which inspired the scientific discovery of phosphoinositide turnover in cortical neurons as the locus of bipolar mood swings and lithium efficacy, as published by his mother in Nature and other journals. After psychiatrists prescribed him 17 different pharmaceuticals (all of which were problematic), he gave up on pharmaceutical psychiatry and decided to find his own solution to living with manic depression. He has been managing his bipolar disorder with ayahuasca for 12 years – without any need of pharmaceuticals – and was awarded a PhD scholarship to research whether his personal protocol could assist other bipolar people. Mudge has been studying Santo Daime, Huni Kuin, Yawanawá, Asháninka, Shipibo and other ayahuasca lineages, and sings their sacred songs under the name Santa Estrela. His future vision is to make ayahuasca ceremonies available to bipolar people as an alternative treatment to pharmaceutical drugs. He is also an advocate for the religious freedom of ayahuasca ceremonies, and led a team of ayahuasceros to the Parliament of the World’s Religions that succeeded in receiving the Parliament’s recognition of ayahuasca ceremonies as legitimate religious practices.



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