The main active ingredients in Ayahuasca — DMT and β-carbolines — have been shown to exhibit neuroprotective and neurorestorative qualities in some studies.
DMT activates the sigma-1 receptor (Sig-1R), a protein that blocks neurodegeneration and regulates the production of antioxidant compounds that help protect your brain cells.
A test-tube study indicated that DMT protected human brain cells from damage caused by lack of oxygen and increased cell survival.
Harimine, the main β-carboline in Ayahuasca, has been found to have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and memory-boosting effects in test-tube and animal studies.
It has also been observed to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that plays an important role in nerve cell growth and promotes nerve cell survival.
Additionally, a test-tube study demonstrated that exposure to harmine increased the growth of human neural progenitor cells by over 70% in 4 days. These cells generate the growth of new neural cells in your brain.