This drink is use for spiritual and religious purposes by ancient Amazonian tribes
and is still use as a sacred beverage by some religious communities in Brazil and North America, including the Santo Daime.
a pharmaceutical monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), such as isocarboxazid. B. caapi contains several alkaloids that act as MAOIs, which are required for DMT to be orally active.
When the brew has reduced to the shaman’s liking, the water is removed and reserved, leaving behind the plant material.
This process is repeated until a highly concentrated liquid is produced.
Once cooled, the brew is strained to remove impurities.
DMT is a powerful hallucinogenic chemical. However, it has low bioavailability, as it gets rapidly broken down by enzymes called monoamine oxidases (MAOs) in your liver and gastrointestinal tract,
For this reason, DMT must be combined with something containing MAO inhibitors (MAOIs), which allow DMT to take effect.
When combined, these two plants form a powerful psychedelic brew that affects the central nervous system,
leading to an altered state of consciousness that can include hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and euphoria.
How is Ayahuasca used?
Though Ayahuasca was traditionally used for religious and spiritual purposes by specific populations,
it has become popular worldwide among those who seek a way to open their minds, heal from past traumas, or simply experience an Ayahuasca journey.
It’s strongly advise that Ayahuasca only be consume when supervise by an experience shaman,
as those who take it need to be looked after carefully, as an Ayahuasca trip leads to an altered state of consciousness that lasts for many hours.
Many people travel to countries like Peru, Costa Rica, and Brazil, where multi-day Ayahuasca retreats are offered.
They’re led by experienced shamans, who prepare the brew and monitor participants for safety.
Before partaking in an Ayahuasca ceremony, it’s recommended that participants abstain from cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, sex, and caffeine to purify their bodies.
It’s also often suggested to follow various diets, such as vegetarianism or veganism,
for 2–4 weeks prior to the experience. This is claimed to free the body of toxins.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS OF AYAHUASCA
People who have consumed ayahuasca report having mystical experiences and spiritual revelations regarding their purpose on earth,
the true nature of the universe, and deep insight into how to be the best person they possibly can.
This is viewed by many as a spiritual awakening and what is often described as a near death experience or rebirth.
It is often reported that individuals feel they gain access to higher spiritual dimensions and make contact with various spiritual or extra-dimensional beings who can act as guides or healers.
The experiences that people have while under the influence of ayahuasca are also culturally influenced.
Westerners typically describe experiences with psychological terms like “ego death” and understand the hallucinations as repressed memories or metaphors of mental states.
However, at least in Iquitos, Peru (a center of ayahuasca ceremonies), those from the area describe the experiences more in terms of the actions in the body,
and understand the visions as reflections of their environment sometimes including the person who they believe caused their illness as well as interactions with spirits.
While taking part in an Ayahuasca ceremony may seem alluring, consuming this psychedelic brew can lead to serious, even deadly, side effects.
POSITIVE SIDE EFFECTS
First, even though many of the unpleasant side effects that are usually experienced during an Ayahuasca trip,
such as vomiting, diarrhea, paranoia, and panic, are considered normal and only temporary, they can be extremely distressing.
Some people report having miserable Ayahuasca experiences, and there is no guarantee that you will react favorably to the concoction.
What’s more, ayahuasca can interact dangerously with many medications, including antidepressants,
psychiatric medications, drugs used to control Parkinson’s disease, cough medicines, weight loss medications, and more.
Those with a history of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, should avoid Ayahuasca, as taking it could worsen their psychiatric symptoms and result in mania.
Additionally, taking Ayahuasca can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which may result in dangerous side effects if you have a heart condition.
There have been several reported deaths due to Ayahuasca consumption, but they may be due to the addition of other ingredients or dosing issues.
Death has never been reported in a clinical trial on Ayahuasca.
Aside from these dangers, participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony means putting your life in the shaman’s hands,
as they’re in charge of the ingredients added to the brew, as well as determining proper dosing and monitoring you for potentially life-threatening side effects.
There have been reports of Ayahuasca retreats being offered by untrained individuals,
who are not well-verse in the preparation, dosing, or side effects of Ayahuasca, putting participants in danger.
Moreover, though there have been promising findings related to the health benefits of Ayahuasca,
these benefits were mostly related to clinical studies in which the preparation and dosing of the concoction were carefully controlled.
Treatment for psychological disorders, such as depression and PTSD, should only be offered by medical professionals, and those living with these conditions
should not seek symptom relief by participating in Ayahuasca ceremonies.
Overall, more research is needed to determine whether Ayahuasca can be used as a potential treatment for certain medical conditions by doctors in the future.
Potential benefits of Ayahuasca
Many people who have taken Ayahuasca claim that the experience led to positive, long-term, life-altering changes.
This may be due to the effects of Ayahuasca on the neurological system.
Recent research has shown that Ayahuasca may benefit health particularly brain health in a number of ways.
May benefit brain health
The main active ingredients in Ayahuasca DMT and β-carbolines 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, do have anti-inflammatory,
neuroprotective, and memory-boosting effects in test-tube and animal studies .
It has also been observe to increase levels of brain-derive 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.
May improve psychological well-being
Research has shown that taking Ayahuasca may increase the mindfulness capacity of your brain and improve your overall psychological well-being.
A study in 20 people indicated that consuming Ayahuasca once weekly for 4 weeks was as effective as an 8-week mindfulness program at
increasing acceptance a component of mindfulness that plays a fundamental role in psychological health.
Other studies have found similar results, noting that Ayahuasca may improve mindfulness, mood, and emotional regulation.
A study in 57 people shows that ratings of depression and stress were significantly decrease immediately after the participants consume Ayahuasca.
These effects were still significant 4 weeks following the Ayahuasca consumption.
They’re mostly link to the DMT and β-carbolines in Ayahuasca.
May help treat addiction, anxiety, treatment-resistant depression, and PTSD
Some research suggests that Ayahuasca may benefit those with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction disorders.
A study in 29 people with treatment-resistant depression showed that a single dose of Ayahuasca
led to significant improvements in depression severity compared with a placebo.
Other studies report rapid antidepressant effects of Ayahuasca as well .
Additionally, a review of six studies concluded that Ayahuasca showed beneficial effects in treating
depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and drug dependence.
Several studies have focused on the effects of Ayahuasca on addiction disorders,
including addictions to crack cocaine, alcohol, and nicotine with promising results.
In one study, 12 people with severe psychological and behavioral issues related to substance abuse
participated in a 4-day treatment program that included 2 Ayahuasca ceremonies.
At a 6-month follow up, they demonstrated significant improvements in mindfulness, hopefulness, empowerment, and
overall quality of life. Plus, self-reported use of tobacco, cocaine, and alcohol significantly declined.
Researchers hypothesize that Ayahuasca may help those with PTSD as well, though more research in this area is neccesaary.