In recent decades, ayahuasca has become popular in the West , a drink with hallucinogenic effects, which many Amazonian tribes have been using for several thousand years. Its consumption is closely related to the connection with the spirit world.
Throughout history, ayahuasca has been both prepared and used by shamans of Amazonian tribes in healing and religious ceremonies. Magical health benefits are attributed to it both physically and mentally.
What is ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a substance that is considered a drink to communicate with the spirit world . That is why it is also called “medicine of the soul” or “medicine of the dead.” It is a drink that is prepared based on different herbs that can induce altered states of consciousness that last between four and eight hours after consumption.
Its consumption has been occurring in South America for several thousand years, especially in the Peruvian jungle in healing ceremonies under the guidance of a shaman. The drink causes hallucinations and is believed to have therapeutic and spiritual benefits. It has a great impact on the state of consciousness, so that those who consume ayahuasca indicate that they feel totally renewed and believe they are reborn after having lived such an intense experience.
In the West, ayahuasca was little known until a few years ago. Since the beginning of the millennium it has been associated with different rituals and pseudotherapies thanks to its ability to generate a state of personal introspection. Many people who have consumed ayahuasca claim that it has helped them achieve a sense of spiritual transcendence, which is maintained for a long period of time after consumption.
In the case of Spain, the first references to the consumption of this substance in the country date back to 1996. In recent years its popularity has increased exponentially. However, unlike other drugs, ayahuasca is not related to recreational use .
Ayahuasca is typically prepared by boiling Banisteriopsis caapi, a plant that contains a series of alkaloids that inhibit the MAO enzyme, along with Psychotria viridis, a plant that contains DMT, a hallucinogenic compound .
Ayahuasca contains a series of alkaloids from the beta-carboline class, which inhibit the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO), as well as the reuptake of the hormone of happiness . The inhibition of MAO favors the transport through the bloodstream of N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the active principle of ayahuasca, which gives rise to the psychoactive effects of the substance.
DMT is a well-known hallucinogenic compound that is naturally present in a wide range of plants. It is also found in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of people.
Properties of ayahuasca
This drink has great sedative and narcotic qualities . That is why in some cases it is used to soothe the pain of menstruation in women.
In addition, thanks to its high alkaloid content , the bark of this plant is also used during the recovery process in addicts to different drugs such as cocaine or opium. And finally, highlight the aphrodisiac effect of ayahuasca.
What effect does ayahuasca have?
The consumption of ayahuasca gives rise to a wide range of effects both physically and mentally. Experts point out that, unlike other substances, it is not common to generate addiction .
The most widespread effect of ayahuasca is the feeling of euphoria and well-being that it generates in the short and medium term after its consumption. Hallucinations are also frequent, so that the person perceives the objects around him in a distorted way, even going so far as to observe elements that do not even exist in reality.
There are those who have used this substance on occasion and point out that it has allowed them to experience the most stimulating out-of-body experiences . Ayahuasca notably alters the emotional state of the person, modifying both the content and the speed of thought.
On a physical level, this substance has a sympathomimetic effect, thus increasing blood pressure and leading to tachycardia . It also produces a series of sensory alterations, such as tingling in the extremities, increased sensitivity to both cold and heat, nausea and vomiting.
Unlike what happens with other hallucinogenic substances, such as LSD for example, people who consume ayahuasca are fully aware that they are hallucinating, thus maintaining a certain state of alertness . Hallucinations can be visual, although audible ones are much more common.
Once the effect has worn off, many people say that they feel better about themselves. That is why some studies have indicated that this substance may have a certain effect in the treatment of some disorders such as depression or bipolarity.
Therapeutic effect of ayahuasca
In recent years, various studies have been carried out in order to determine the therapeutic effect of ayahuasca.
The research carried out by the Beckley Foundation is especially interesting, which establishes a direct relationship between the consumption of ayahuasca and the formation of neurons in the brain .
For several thousand years, the natives of the Amazon have used this substance to eliminate negative energies and cleanse both their body and their mind. Therefore, it is attributed a relaxing effect, although it is true that its continuous consumption can cause high levels of anxiety.
Side effects of ayahuasca
The consumption of ayahuasca causes a series of side effects that are interesting to know. The most common are the following: vomiting, diarrhea, increased blood pressure and dilated pupils .
Some studies have revealed that this substance can also increase the concentration of certain hormones that relieve pain, such as cortisol and prolactin, among others.
Contraindications of ayahuasca
Regarding the contraindications of this substance, its consumption is not recommended among those who have heart problems or mental disorders such as depression. In any case, ayahuasca should never be consumed without the presence of an expert in the field.
Risks of ayahuasca
Like any other psychoactive drug, whether or not it has hallucinogenic effects, it can lead to a mental disorder in the long term , especially if the person in question already suffers from some type of mental illness.
Consuming ayahuasca content can increase both blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to different disorders of the cardiovascular system . The stimulation of the central nervous system that this substance generates can also cause epileptic seizures.
Experiences with ayahuasca
The effect of this substance varies remarkably from one person to another, both physically and mentally. In the strictest sense, it is not a psychedelic drug. Its consumption enhances the sensitivity of all the senses and, in addition, causes hallucinations related to the unconscious realities that each person has. That is why there are those who live the experience as positive and rejuvenating, while there are others who point out that it is confusing, and even terrifying.
Experts agree that ayahuasca is not addictive . However, the substance is known to have great calming effects, thus helping to improve mood.
Today there are many ceremonies around ayahuasca around the world. Its operation is exactly the same as that which has been taking place in the Amazon for several thousand years.
Participants sit on the floor in a semicircle. It is the shaman who begins the ceremony by exhaling the smoke of a cigarette around the people to drive away negative energies. Then each one takes the drink. Around half an hour after its ingestion, the participants begin to notice its effects.
The main challenge for each of the people, as the shamans point out, is to understand what the real meaning of hallucinations is and use it to improve their daily life.
It is important to note that this drink should only be taken in a ritual guided by an expert person, the shaman . In no case should ayahuasca be ingested alone. To enhance its effects, it is best to fast on the day the ceremony is to be held. In addition, to have a calm mind, it is recommended to meditate before consumption.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.