Ayahuasca, also known as yage, hoasca, or caapi, is a plant medicine used for thousands of years by the indigenous people of the Amazon. Its tea or brew is composed of two plants, boiled in water for several hours before the ceremony: the leaves from the Psychotria Viridis bush, which contains Itryptamie (DMIT), and hallucinogen; and the ayahuasca vine, Banisteriopsis Cappi, which has a monoaminoxidase (MAO) inhibitor. The presence of this inhibitor is what gives ayahuasca its psychoactive nature.
An Ayahuasca ceremony involves drinking the specially blended tea in a maloca for a whole night, under the guidance of a Shaman. It can take five to six hours, maybe more. The shamans clear all the energy of the maloca before the ceremony and make sure it is a safe space for people to drink the tea without dangerous consequences. During the ritual, Icaros are sung. They are healing songs, chanted to call on “allies and plant spirits to be present”. Some are believed to “calm the energy, leading the participants into beautiful visionary realms”. In other words, Icaros are the soundtrack of the whole experience, they guide the ceremony and each of the participants individually.
SIndeed, many Ayahuasca drinkers reported being cured of serious depression and anxiety states, as well as eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, addictions, and other mind-related issues. Many people have described feeling more accepting, loving, and compassionate towards themselves and others. Their relationships improved, and the unhealthy ones were left behind.
Even though miraculous cures or effects do not always happen, there are, indeed, a high number of people who have stated a significant improvement in their mental states, better emotional intelligence, and increased confidence after drinking the brew. Beyond the outstanding psychological effects, the experience of drinking Ayahuasca tea has proved to be an intense “spiritual” experience. Many participants confessed experiencing strong spiritual forces that gave them a continuing sense of a Divine Force and an all-pervading spiritual presence invisible to the eye that lifted them up. This sort of “spiritual awakening” was described as a remarkable, indescribable experience for those who were lucky to live it, one that increased their sense of belonging in the world and brought them closer to life in profound ways.
However, it is important to keep in mind that Ayahuasca brew is cooked in quite diverse ways. It heavily depends on the Shamans who control the ceremony, and there are terrible potential physical symptoms such as nausea, intense vomiting, and diarrhea.
Additionally, drinking Ayahuasca is not recommended for pregnant women, people with a history of psychosis or bipolar disorder, and people with cardiovascular diseases. Those who take antidepressants should not take the brew since the plant medicine increases serotonin levels and such mixture can be very dangerous to the brain. Ingesting the brew can originate intense psychic experiences related to personal childhood, emotional wounds, relived trauma, ego death and rebirth, visionary experiences, and even prophetic revelations. Some people have encountered nonhuman entities (such as aliens), experienced cosmic travel, and contacted spirits and dead people. Others have experienced long-term health problems, both physical and mental, after taking Ayahuasca.
In short, even though there are several people who had positive, inspiring, and joyful experiences with this plant medicine, it is not always safe or enjoyable, and there is not much one can do to predict or control the outcome.
Ayahuasca’s powers have been enriching the world, enlightening different traditions, and, in some way, bringing them together. Ayahuasca is, indeed, a fascinating plant medicine with the unbelievable power of liberating ourselves. If used with deep understanding and awareness, and if supervised by the right people, it can provide meaningful experiences and contribute beautifully to people’s lives.
Article written by Mariana Martins, Contributor