People travel abroad to experience Ayahuasca, a psychoactive brew. The anecdotes focus on the immediate effects that occur during an Ayahuasca “trip,” some people experience enlightening, while others experience distressing.
There is no proper research on the long-term health benefits of taking Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca has positive and negative effects on health.
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is known as the vine, la purge, and tea. Ayahuasca is a brew prepared from the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis shrub with the combination of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. Other plants and ingredients are added with them.
The purpose of the drink was for the religious and spiritual purpose by ancients tribes of Amazon. The drink is still used as a sacred beverage by communities in North America and Brazil, also the Santo Daime.
An experienced healer known as a shaman or curandero leads the Ayahuasca ceremonies. A shaman traditionally is responsible for preparing the brew. The leaves of the Psychotria Viridis shrub in combination with Banisteriopsis caapi vine is boiled in water.
The Banisteriopsis caapi vine is filtered and smashed before boiling them to increase the extraction of the medicinal amalgam.
When the brew reduces to the shaman’s like, the water is separated and reserved, leaving the plant residue. The process gets repeated several times until a concentrated liquid is produced. The cooling gets done, and the brew is filtered to remove impurities.
How does the process work?
The ingredients of Ayahuasca are Psychotria Viridis, and Banisteriopsis caapi have hallucinogenic property.
Psychotria Viridis consists of N, N- dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is a psychedelic substance present naturally in the plant.
Dimethyltryptamine is a potent hallucinogenic chemical. It has low bioavailability. Enzymes called monoamine oxidases are present in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. It breaks down DMT rapidly. Hence, dimethyltryptamine should be combined with other ingredients that consist of monoamine oxidases inhibitors. Banisteriopsis caapi contains potent monoamine oxidases inhibitors known as B- carbolines. B-carbolines have psychoactive effects of their own.
When the plants are combined, they form a potent psychedelic brew. The brew formed affects the central nervous system that leads to an altered state of consciousness. An individual experiences hallucinations, euphoria and out-of-body experiences
Use of Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca was used for spiritual and religious purpose in ancient times by specific tribes. Nowadays, it has become popular across the globe.Especially among those who want to heal from past traumas, a way to open their minds or experience an Ayahuasca.
There is a strong recommendation that Ayahuasca should be taken in the presence of an experienced shaman. An individual who takes it should be monitored in shaman supervision because the Ayahuasca trip leads to consciousness for long hours.
People travel to different countries like Costa Rica, Brazil, and Peru, where the Ayahuasca retreats are rendered. Shamans prepare the brew and monitor people for safety purpose.
Before taking part in the ceremony of the Ayahuasca, it is strongly recommended that people should abstain from drugs, alcohol, sex, cigarettes, and caffeine to purify their bodies.
The vegan or vegetarianism diet should be followed for 1-4 weeks to experience Ayahuasca ceremony. Following a diet helps to free the toxins from the body.
Experience and ceremony of Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca ceremony takes place at night and lasts till the effects of Ayahuasca disappears. The shaman prepares the brew and blesses the participants in the service. Ayahuasca is given to participants. The brew is offered in several doses.
Participants feel the effect after consuming the brew in 20-60 minutes. The results depend on the doses consumed, and the trip lasts for 2-6 hours.
People who consume Ayahuasca experiences symptoms such as
- Auditory hallucinations
- Strong visual hallucinations
- Mind-altering the psychedelic effect
The vomiting and diarrhea are considered a normal part of the ceremony that removes toxins from the body and purifies it.
The reactions of Ayahuasca differ from person to person. Some participants may experience a feeling of enlightenment and euphoria, while others might panic and become anxious. People experience both positive and negative effects of the beverage.
Shaman offers spiritual teaching to participants in the ceremony of Ayahuasca. There is medical officer available in case of emergencies at retreats.
Every time a person gets a different experience of consuming Ayahuasca.
Benefits of Ayahuasca
Most of the people who took Ayahuasca to say that they got a positive experience, which was life-changing and for an extended period. The reason behind this might be the effects on the neurological system of Ayahuasca
Research shows that Ayahuasca offers several health benefits to the brain.
Brain health benefit
The main ingredients in Ayahuasca are B-carbolines and DMT. They both exhibit neurorestorative and neuroprotective qualities, as shown in studies.
DMT activates a receptor known as sigma-1. Sigma-1 is a protein that blocks the neurodegeneration. It regulates the production of antioxidants that protect the brain cells.
A study conducted with the test-tube that DMT protects the human brain from damage. The damage is caused due to lack of oxygen and increased cell survival.
The primary B- carboline is Harimine in Ayahuasca. Harmine has shown neuroprotective, memory –booster, and anti-inflammatory properties in animal studies.
It results in increasing the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF. BDNF is a protein that is essential for nerve cell growth. It also promotes nerve cell survival
When a test-tube study was conducted, the results were harmine increases the growth of human neural progenitor cells by 70%. Cells generate new neural cell growth in the brain.
Improves psychological well-being
Ayahuasca increases the mindfulness capacity of the brain and improves the mental well-being of an individual.
Research conducted on 20 people showed that taking Ayahuasca once in a week for consecutive four weeks was as effective as an eight-week mindfulness program. The mindfulness acts as a fundamental component in psychological health.
There are various studies conducted on Ayahuasca that show similar results. Ayahuasca improves mood, emotional regulation, and mindfulness.
A study conducted on 60 people demonstrated that taking Ayahuasca reduces stress and also depression.
The results were observed for four weeks. They are accredited to the B-carbolines, and DMT found in Ayahuasca
Helps in the treatment of Addiction, PTSD and Anxiety
Research suggests that Ayahuasca benefits to those who have post-traumatic stress disorder called PTSD, depression, and addiction disorders.
Research in 29 people was conducted with treatment-resistant depression demonstrated that a single dose of Ayahuasca leads improvements in depression severity compared with a placebo.
Other studies demonstrate that rapid antidepressant effects of Ayahuasca.
Review of six studies concludes that Ayahuasca demonstrates beneficial effects in treating people from mood disorders, anxiety, treating depression, and drug dependence.
Many studies focus on the effects of Ayahuasca on addiction disorders that includes the addictions to crack alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine with excellent results.
In research, 12 people with extreme psychological and behavioral problems that relate to substance abuse participated. The treatment program for four days also included the Ayahuasca ceremony.
After six months, they showed improvements in empowerment, hopefulness, mindfulness, and overall quality of life. There was also a decrease in the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and cocaine by participants.
Research demonstrates that Ayahuasca helps people in treating PTSD and addiction disorders.
Side effects of Ayahuasca
While taking part in an Ayahuasca ceremony is attractive, but consuming the brew leads to severe side-effects.
People first experience unpleasant side-effects such as vomiting, panic, paranoia, diarrhea that is considered normal and temporary, but they are incredibly distressing.
People also report bad experiences of Ayahuasca ceremony. A participant may not have a positive effect on Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca can interact with medications such as antidepressants, drugs that control Parkinson disease, cough medicines, weight loss, and can have severe and deadly side-effect.
People who have a history of disorders such as schizophrenia must avoid Ayahuansa as it will worsen the psychiatric symptoms and can lead to mania
Ayahuasca increases heart rate and blood pressure that results in a dangerous heart condition.
There are death reports about consuming Ayahuasca, but this may be due to higher doses or addition of ingredients.
Also, when you participate in the Ayahuasca ceremony, you put your life in the hands of the shaman as they are in charge of the ingredients that are added to the brew.
The research demonstrated that the Ayahuasca retreat was conducted by an untrained individual who was not well-versed in dosing and preparation. They were not aware of the side –effects putting the participant life in danger.
Some reports demonstrate the health benefits of Ayahuasca. The benefits are related to clinical trials in which the procedure and dosing are monitored carefully.
The treatment for a psychological disorder like PTSD and depression should be offered by Healthcare professionals, and people should not participate in the Ayahuasca ceremonies.
There is a need to research more on Ayahuasca whether it should be used for the treatment of diseases by healthcare professionals in the future.
Ayahuasca is a combination of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and Psychotria Viridis
It has hallucinogenic properties and has positive and adverse health effects.
Research is needed to know whether it can be used as an alternative method for health conditions
If you have consumed Ayahuansa and suffering from severe problems, then you must visit a rehab center without making a delay.