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The traditional use of psychoactive plants in the context of Global Mental Health

Dr. José Carlos Bouso and Genís Oña, ICEERS researchers and external members of MARC, in collaboration with Dr. Ali Berrada, from Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, ??have published an article in the journal Transcultural Psychiatry [Communalistic use of psychoactive plants as a bridge between traditional healing practices and Western medicine: A new path for the Global Mental Health movement] in which they propose a new path for the Global Mental Health (GMH) movement, or global mental health, that includes, protects and promote the traditional use of psychoactive plants.

The GMH is a movement that aims to guarantee access to mental health treatments for the entire world population. Its actions are focused on countries in the "global south", where such treatments are most scarce. Within the GMH there have been extensive debates about which treatments should be "exported" to these countries, often underestimating the local medical systems themselves, based on traditional medicine and which include very diverse approaches.

The article published in Transcultural Psychiatry proposes to open a new way in which, based on the valorization of local medical systems, the traditional uses of psychoactive plants, such as peyote or iboga, are promoted and protected. These uses can constitute authentic bridges between traditional medicine and modern medicine, since their "efficacy" can be understood from a community and cultural point of view, but also from a pharmacological point of view, based on recent advances in neuropharmacological research and clinic with these substances.

The traditional use of these plants constitutes authentic medical systems in which community rituals or ceremonies are performed, so that a large number of factors revolve around the plant itself that may be positively affecting both individual and collective health. Through these rituals, social ties are therefore reinforced and a series of symbolic elements and ethical and social values ??are provided that are transmitted to the entire community.

These uses can constitute health promotion practices from a much more holistic perspective, so they should be explored and protected from the GMH movement and even learned from them to incorporate some of these practices into health services mental health of the "global north" and, specifically, in hallucinogen-assisted psychotherapies that are being developed for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

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