Intercultural Medicine Research
The Nierika Intercultural Medicine Institute promotes scientific research on the therapeutic potential of the ritual use of sacred plants in therapeutic contexts and its interdisciplinary and intercultural integration. The Institute convenes research in psychology, medical anthropology, ethno-psychiatry, and pharmacology to collaborate in developing a multidisciplinary intercultural scientific approach for the study of sacred plants.
Recent studies carried out in a variety countries indicate that the participation in indigenous ceremonies with Peyote or Ayahuasca can have positive clinical effects on various conditions and psychological disorders in patients receiving treatment with these plants. The integration of ayahuasca rituals and ceremonies with different models of psychotherapeutic treatment have shown to be effective for patients with substance dependence disorders, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, complicated grief among other conditions.
Currently, the Nierika Intercultural Medicine Institute is collaborating in the Ayashuasca Treatment Outcome Project (ATOP), an international research project that evaluates the efficacy of Ayahuasca in the treatment of addiction, depression and anxiety; aiming, at implementing the first clinical trial study in this field together with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – School of Medicine. Nierika A. C. is also involved in an international study looking at the role of ceremonial Ayahuasca use in the healing of eating disorders with the Laurentian University, the University of British Colombia and the UNAM.
Clinical Investigation of Sacred Plants
Recent scientific studies about the effects of this plants in human beings show clearly their therapeutic potential when ingested in a ceremonial context guided by experts, respecting clinical indications and contraindications according to each subject, this plants are safe and do not represent a risk for public health.
Even more, the scientific data, both clinical and pharmaceutical, point to the fact that this psychoactive plants are very effective tools for the treatment of diverse problems of public health such as addictions, chronic depression, psychosomatic deceases, post-traumatic stress disorder, among other physical and mental illness. The scientific investigation in this field of mental health is being done by prestigious universities from different countries in the world, where the legal frameworks so allow it. Mexico, being one of the countries with more historical tradition of the use of sacred plants and indigenous traditional medicine, should hold the social, historical and anthropological interest of safeguarding this ancestral knowledges for their scientific exploitation at a global scale.
Nierika A. C. is looking to develop studies of scientific research about the therapeutic potential of this plants in their ceremonial context and about their possible applications in the benefit of public health. For that, Nierika A. C. has the purpose of realizing the corresponding management with the Mexican governmental institutes to comply with the framework of the General Law of Health, COFEPRIS, and international treaties in the matter (OMS, OIT-169, INCB) and promote national policies that allow the investigation and the regulated use of these plants with therapeutic and religious purposes in ceremonial contexts.
Promotion of the Intercultural and Multidisciplinary Dialogue Around Sacred Plants
Nierika A. C. strives to impulse and develop interdisciplinary dialogues between traditional medics, healers, man and women of the path from different indigenous people that still make use of these sacred medicines and scientific researchers from diverse academic disciplines such as: anthropologists, sociologist, philosophers, doctors and psychiatrists; promoting the investigation that derives in the generation of conceptual bridges and developing projects of therapeutic application of these plants in intercultural contexts, as well as contributing to the development of effective treatments for deceases like drug addiction, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression and anxiety linked to terminal deceases such as cancer and HIV, without excluding other clinical applications of these vegetable medicines.
To achieve this objective, the Association with collaborate with different national and international institutions of research and education, public and private, to develop scientific clinical multidisciplinary research projects.
Yaqui Intercultural Clinic
Nierika Institute of Intercultural Medicine was first invited by the Yaqui tribe in northern Sonora in order to assist with different mental health challenges in 2013, and returned consecutively in 2014 and 2015. The visits consisted of one week of applied intercultural entheogenic medicine experiences that included: Inipi sweat lodge prayer, NAC peyote ceremonies, indigenous based Ayahuasca ritual and Bufo applications under medical supervision. The team included medical doctors, psychologists and traditional healers; participants were all members of the Yaqui tribe, some with chronic addiction to crystal meth, others to alcohol and prescription drugs. Traditional authorities of the Yaqui tribe also participated in the experiences and considered these practices as sort of “vitamins for the Soul”, and some reported that they “had never felt so indigenous before”. These testimonies by the elders are a mere glimpse to the restorative potential these entheogenic natural medicines can have on indigenous peoples mental health.
Nierika Institute of Intercultural Medicine continued to work with a group of Yaqui youth that wanted to create their own intercultural clinic for their tribe and other indigenous tribes from the Sonoran desert (Comcaac Seri, Mayo, Yoeme etc). Nierika has supported this project with technical knowhow and training, and in 2020 elaborated a proposal for an intercultural entheogenic medicine clinic that was included in a Presidential Commission of Justice for the Yaqui tribe. Presidential instruction has been embraced by the Department of Health under direct supervision of the National Commission of Mental Health and Addictions (CONASAMA) to establish the intercultural clinic in Yaqui territory.
At the Clinic Site: Members of Nierika A.C., CONASAMA, Yaqui Tribe, and government officials.
Nierika is committed to the fruition of this vision and is now helping the team of Yaqui youth interested in holding the clinical space of this unique clinic to be trained as intercultural entheogenic mental health practitioners.
The intercultural entheogenic mental health training program is being developed together between the Yaqui Tribe (Vicky Anahi Ochoa), Nierika AC (Armando and Anya Loizaga), U of Wisconsin (Anny Ortiz) a local MD, plus the Yaqui team consisting of four psychologists (two female and two male), one nurse, and one traditional healer.
This intercultural entheogenic medicine project includes intertribal exchange including immersion in entheogenic medicine both theoretical and experiential with two Ayahuasca ceremonies, one syncretic Quechua Lama tradition and another in the Huni Kuin tradition. The Huni Huin are based in Acre Brazil, they carry the medicine of Kambo, Rape and Ayahuasca. The three Huni Kuin: Txana Busa Cosmo, Txana Sia Damiao and Txana Nawa are recognized leaders in their community mindful of the importance of preservation of their cultural knowledge and have a proper sustainable development project that includes a medicine school for Huni Kuin youth and a Healing House where they can receive visitors. The project also includes an Ayahuasca agroforestry program. The intercultural exchange was historical and spiritually productive in a very complete way.
Nierika Institute of Intercultural Medicine on behalf of the Yaqui Tribe wants to thank the following sponsors for supporting this initiative: Riverstyx, Femtheogen and Limina Foundations.