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Jordi Riba: Psychedelics to Heal Your Brain
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Courtesy of Jordi Riba10/25

Jordi Riba: Psychedelics to Heal Your Brain

In Barcelona, a soft-spoken pharmacologist named Jordi Riba is at the forefront of a scientific vanguard exploring the medical applications of psychoactive substances. From his lab at the Sant Pau Institute of Biomedical Research, Riba has spent two decades investigating the neurochemical processes behind ayahuasca, a plant-based hallucinogen from the Amazon famous for elaborate visions and heightened emotional states. He's identified possible structural changes in the brains of long-term ayahuasca drinkers, specifically a measurable thinning of the posterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain associated with the ego. Even more remarkably, last year, Riba discovered that ayahuasca, rich with compounds known as "harmala alkaloids," can promote the creation of new brain cells. If the potency of these alkaloids can be scaled up, he believes, they could provide breakthroughs on a range of currently untreatable neurological conditions, like Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. "I'm convinced that in 50 years we'll know a lot more than we do now about the brain," Riba says. "I don't think it will be long before we see psychedelics incorporated into the therapeutic arsenal." AZ

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