Alexander Shulgin once said, "There is a wealth of information built into us … tucked away in the genetic material in every one of our cells … without some means of access, there is no way even to begin to guess at the extent and quality of what is there. The psychedelic drugs allow exploration of this inner world and insights into its nature."
The usage of Ayahuasca for holistic and alternative treatment has gained massive popularity in several places around the world. As knowledge of its psychedelic properties spread in the 20th century, tourists travel in droves to South American countries.
Every year, thousands of people travel to South America to experience the therapeutic effect of Ayahuasca. Originated from the amazon, Ayahuasca is now used worldwide. Many profess that Ayahuasca possesses the power to probe in the body, spirit and soul.
Why do people find Ayahuasca captivating?
Ayahuasca translates to English as "vine of the soul. "It is a holistic medicine with therapeutic effects in psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual conditions. As a result of its healing properties, it is used to treat a broad range of conditions that cannot be effectively treated by modern medicine. Holistic treatment involves healing on every aspect of one's being, and Ayahuasca delivers this on all levels.
Research has demonstrated that psychedelic compounds like Ayahuasca can significantly benefit people with mental disorders and substance abuse. People who have used it claimed that this treatment changed their lives. It tackles different medical conditions on a biochemical, physiological and psychological level. Patients with depression, anxiety, phobia, stress, traumatic disorders, Parkinson's disease, neurological diseases and fears were completely cured. There are many accounts of remission of cancer after Ayahuasca treatment.
What makes it so potent? When Richard Spruce, a British botanist, came across Ayahuasca in the 18th century, he was awed by the botanical composition of this herbal mixture. As a result, he studied it and wrote a book about the effects of this concoction.
Ayahuasca is a potent mix prepared from the stalk and the bark of the woody liana (Banisteriopsis caapi, simply called Caapi) and other plant material. The concoction is made by soaking and boiling the Ayahuasca and Chacruna plant (Psychotria Viridis). Apart from these major ingredients, there are some other less-known ingredients. The ingredients vary based on who is making it, who is consuming it, and its intended purposes.
Caapi serves as a medium to allow other plants with psychotropic properties to become active. It contains a monoamine oxidase inhibitor( MAO), which permits dimethyltryptamine (DMT) to pass through your stomach into the bloodstream and, ultimately, the brain. This causes neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine to stay in your brain for a more extended period.
Chacruna contains DMT. Typically, the presence of MAO in humans prevents DMT from having any noticeable effect on the mental state. However, Caapi removes this restriction and allows DMT to bond with serotonin receptors and other neurotransmitters in the brain. Therefore inducing a state of hallucination.
How is Ayahuasca used?
As practiced in the Amazon, Ayahuasca is prepared and administered by a healer called Curandero (male) or a Curandera (female). It is a delicate mixture; therefore, it requires a shaman with experience and expertise to brew a mix that will be safe and effective. It is common practice to organize a preparatory ceremony before administering it.
When one comes to work with Ayahuasca, an appropriate amount of training, guidance, preparation is beneficial for people for them to be adequately prepared for the experience.
Before taking Ayahuasca, proper care must be given to diet. MAOI interacts poorly with a long list of medicine, foods and supplements. Hence, it is recommended to work with your shaman to discuss the possible effects it might have on medication and your health.
People have different reactions to Ayahuasca. Some experience purging, diarrhea, hallucinations and nausea. Many shamans describe the purging as a cleansing or purification process to eliminate negativity, toxicity, and harmful energy lodged in their being. It might also come as crying, euphoria, anxiety, mind-altering psychedelic effects or emotional release. These effects may be perceived as part of a spiritual journey.
Shamans are tasked with taking care of participants during the treatment.
The nature of this divine plant is to bring up things that people would avoid dealing with. These issues are then addressed and resolved in the conscious mind. People usually experience a sort of spiritual epiphany, whether they were spiritually inclined or not. If nurtured, the result is a positive transformation which results in better things in people's life.
Is Ayahuasca for everybody?
Ayahuasca has major uses for medical and spiritual purposes. However, since its recent surge in popularity, it is not uncommon to find people who seek the experience to enlighten their minds, heal their trauma or just try it out.
Just like any other drug, Ayahuasca has different effects on everybody. It might be based on various factors, such as:
- person's size and weight,
- whether the person is using it for the first time
- what quantity is taken
- strength of mixture
- underlying medical conditions
Ayahuasca might seem appealing; however, this psychoactive brew can have severe reactions. Since people react differently to this brew, there is no assurance that you will respond favorably to this concoction. It can react with your medications such as antidepressants, cough medicines, psychiatric medication, to mention a few. For instance, someone who uses an antidepressant alongside it might suffer Serotonin syndrome-a condition where your body builds up too much serotonin, which can be fatal.
It heightens the pulse and blood pressure. Hence it is unsafe for people with cardiac conditions. People with psychiatric issues (like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) should stay away as it could exacerbate their condition. It can be harmful to pregnant women and nursing mothers
In addition to this, some people may have negative experiences such as scary deliriums, confusion, intense fear and paranoia. Although these effects may be seen as part of the spiritual or healing process.
The curative properties of Ayahuasca have been confirmed through countless medical trials. So you can be guaranteed of its therapeutic effects. However, the presence of untrained professionals in holistic medicine can make this experience dangerous. Few deaths as a result of Ayahuasca consumption have been recorded.
People must realize that abuse of Ayahuasca can wreak havoc on the human body. Asides that, people should understand that although it has numerous health effects, it has some pretty nasty side effects.
Moreover, there is a wrong misconception that natural means safe. The use of any drug comes with some risk, so great care must be taken to ensure that you keep yourself safe during the whole experience.
Popularization of Ayahuasca
No one can place a definite time on when people started drinking Ayahuasca; however, it is slowly gaining widespread popularity around the world. Ayahuasca treatment started as fringe science, but it is becoming accepted as an alternative method of treatment. Until recently, it used to be only available in South America, but now, Ayahuasca retreat centers are opening up in different locations around the world.
Celebrities talking about Ayahuasca have boosted its reputation. For example, Lindsay Lohan told the world that Ayahuasca was instrumental in her fight against drug addictions, among other things. Penn Badgley, the Gossip girl actor said in an interview that he used Ayahuasca during his trip to South America. According to him, it was the most profound moment of his life.
Social media is talking about it. It was written about in an article by National Geographic in 2010. The internet has created a perfect platform where users of Ayahuasca can share their stories about the brew. This has increased awareness and prompted more research into its medicinal properties.
As a result of the widespread popularity of Ayahuasca, many retreats and holistic treatment centers have been established to satisfy the increasing demand of the brew. It has become easy to come across shamans who travel around the world to spread the gospel of Ayahuasca.
It can now be ordered online, and each year countless people travel to the Amazon to experience the holistic healing that Ayahuasca brings.
Furthermore, the popularization of Ayahuasca has brought exposure to the healing properties to a different part of the way. However, the speed at which it is gathering attention comes with both pros and cons. On the positive side, popularization makes it more probable that more medical research would be conducted on it. Conversely, there is also an increased tendency that this medicine would be abused.
In conclusion, the world is generally experiencing a psychedelic renaissance where the healing effects of holistic and alternative medicines are becoming more recognized. Ayahuasca is a classic example of this. Also, more is yet to come, a lot more about it would be discovered as more research is conducted on it.