The Ayahuasca medicine made from the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis shrub, the stalks of the Banisteriopsis Caapi vine, and other plants and ingredients was used for spiritual and religious purposes. When the brew has reduced to the healer’s approval, the water is removed, leaving behind all of the plant-based materials. The Banisteriopsis Caapi vine is cleaned and smashed prior to boiling to improve and increase the extraction of medicinal compounds in the brew. The brew has a psychedelic substance that occurs naturally in the plant, Psychotria Viridis, NN-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Banisteriopsis Caapi also has hallucinogenic properties, as does Psychotria Viridis. DMT is a very potent hallucinogenic chemical that needs the enzymes called monoamine oxidases (MAOs) to break down in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. MAOIs or MAO inhibitors allow the DMT to take effect. Banisteriopsis Caapi contains potent MAOIs called B-carbolines which have psychoactive of their own.
Ceremonies are Led by a Shaman or Curandero
This powerful psychoactive brew affects the central nervous system which leads to altered states of consciousness, hallucinations, euphoria, and an out-of-body experience. Ayahuasca ceremonies are traditionally led by a curandero or shaman, an experienced healer who prepares the brew by boiling the ingredients in water. Ayahuasca which is also known as the vine, the tea, and la purge has been used by ancient Amazonian tribes and some religious communities in Brazil and North America. Today, Ayahuasca has become popular all over the globe by individuals who seek healing from past traumas, a way to open their minds, to experience the journey and to deal with addiction problems. Ayahuasca ceremonies usually take place as groups who are led by and supervised by an experienced shaman. The Ayahuasca journey lasts for many hours in an altered state of consciousness. These retreats usually last for a few days. It is suggested that individuals abstain from drugs, sex, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco to purify their bodies prior to ceremonies. A vegetarian diet is also suggested for two to four weeks prior to the experience to free the body of toxins. The shaman and other experienced journeyers usually offer spiritual guidance and safety throughout the experience. Some retreats have medical staff on hand in case of any emergency situations. These ceremonies are often conducted over a few nights where Ayahuasca is consumed several times. Every time someone consumes the brew, the result will be a different experience.
Ayahuasca ceremonies are most often started at night and last until the effects of the brew have worn off. The brew is usually offered in several doses and can be made up of different potency levels. The effects are dose-dependent and can last for four to six hours. The experience can have symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, visual and auditory hallucinations, euphoric feelings, mind-altering psychedelic effects, paranoia, and fear. Everyone reacts to the brew differently, some individuals experience spiritual enlightenment and euphoria, while others experience anxiety and panic. It is common for those on the Ayahuasca journey to experience both the positive and the negative effects from the brew.
Not Everyone Can or Should Take Ayahuasca!
Even though taking part in an Ayahuasca ceremony seems alluring, the consumption of this psychedelic brew can lead to very serious and possibly deadly side effects. Some people have reported terrible experiences, and there is not any guarantee for a positive, life-changing experience. Ayahuasca can interact dangerously with several types of medications including psychiatric medications, antidepressants, cough medicines, weight-loss medications, Parkinson’s medications, addiction, alcoholism and several more. Anyone with a history of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia should avoid the brew. The heart rate and blood pressure can be raised dramatically from consumption of Ayahuasca. Death has never been reported as the result of a clinical trial of Ayahuasca. Many people who have experienced an Ayahuasca journey claim that the experience led to positive, long-term, life-altering changes. Research has shown that the brew may lead to the benefit of improved psychological well-being, help treating addiction, anxiety, depression, PTSD, protects brain cells, stimulates neutral cell growth, boosts mood, improves mindfulness, brain health and overall health in many ways.
Every individual needs to weigh out the potential risk and reward to see if an Ayahuasca ceremony and journey is in their future. It is key that if you are going to put your trust in a shaman’s hands, that you know that the person is very experienced and has administered the brew safely many times prior to your ceremony. They must also be experienced in preparation of the brew and dosing, as well as safety and potential side effects.