Ayahuasca: Benefits, Experience, and Side Effects.

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew also known as the vine, and the tea made from Banisteriopsis caapi vine’s stalk or Psychoatria virdis leaves with the additions of other ingredients. The drink can be used for brain health reasons, though it has severe side effects in some individuals experiencing other health complications. The brew was often used for spiritual purposes by tribes living in Amazon and is still considered a sacred drink by some tribes in North America and Brazil. The stalks of Banisteriopsis caapi vines are washed, smashed, and then mixed with the leaves of Psychotria virdis.  The mix is then boiled in water to produce a highly concentrated liquid. Once the liquid is cooled, it is decanted to remove all the impurities to form the Ayahuasca brew.

The ingredients used to make this brew have hallucinogenic properties meaning the drink is a powerful psychedelic brew capable of affecting one’s nervous system. Ayahuasca causes a distorted state of consciousness that could result in euphoria and hallucinations.

The Use and Benefits of Ayahuasca

In the past, this brew has been used for religious practices by certain communities in North America; today, the brew is widely used by those seeking to heal their minds from past traumas. It is advisable to take the drink under the guidance of a shaman- the person responsible for cooking the brew, because of its mind-altering properties. Many who desire to experience the Ayahuasca journey can benefit from the regular Ayahuasca retreat offered in Brazil, Peru, and Costa Rica, where experienced shamans will guide them. According to the custom in these areas, participants should desist from drugs, alcohol, sex, cigarettes, and caffeine drinks for body purification. Additionally, one will be required to practice veganism 2-4 weeks before the Ayahuasca experience.

Due to its effects on the neurological system, many people claim the ayahuasca experience changed their life forever. Research attributes several brain health benefits to drinking ayahuasca brew.

Improved brain health

According to studies, the active parts of the brew – β- carbolines and DMT have neurorestorative and neuroprotective functions. DMT activates the brain’s stigma-1 receptor, and the receptor can aid in producing antioxidant compounds for brain protection and aid in blocking brain neurodegeneration. A test-tube study showed that DMT could enhance brain cell survival when under low oxygen. Studies have found that β- carbolines, another component of ayahuasca, have anti-inflammatory, memory boosting, and neuroprotective effects. A component of β- carbolines called harmine has resulted in 70% growth of human neural progenitor cells within four days. The receptor cell stimulates the development of new neural cells.

Improved psychological well-being

Another study suggested that drinking ayahuasca can improve one’s mindfulness and general psychological well-being. The brew can also improve one’s emotional regulation and mood, meaning it can reduce stress and depression immediately upon consumption.

Aid in the treatment of anxiety, addiction, and PTSD

Ayahuasca can help those experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction, with some research showing that go for Ayahuasca journey mainly for these benefits. Research shows that when you compare placebo and Ayahuasca effects on individuals suffering from drug-resistant depression, the latter effectively reduces depression severity.  Some studies also associate ayahuasca with similar effects as an antidepressant. Additionally, ayahuasca has been found to relieve anxiety, drug dependence, and mood disorders. Some physicians recommend the brew in treating hard drug addiction such as nicotine, cocaine, tobacco, and alcohol.

Gratefulness and consciousness of life

Many individuals who have gone through the Ayahuasca journey have confessed that the brew made them more grateful for their lives. The drug is also believed to help one connect to life, nature, and the universe. Science confirms that the practice of gratitude often leaves people happy and healthier. Ayahuasca contributes to a higher level of awareness that can help in problem-solving and high morality. Conscious one knows the right way to live and contribute in a positive way to the community.

Ayahuasca Experience

The Ayahuasca journey often begins with preparation and a blessing of the space for the ceremony by the leading shaman. The journey is done at night with participants offered Ayahuasca drink once or in doses. Within 20-60 minutes, most people start to feel its effect and continue in the journey for 2-6 hours. The symptoms of taking this brew range from paranoia, euphoria, visual and audio hallucinations, and mind-altering effects. Symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting are regarded as the result of a cleansing process.

Different people respond to ayahuasca drink differently, with others experiencing enlightenment while other experience panic attacks and severe anxiety. The shaman will offer protection and spiritual guidance during the journey to ensure that all participants are safe. When the experience is over, the participants can still repeat the experience, and the results are often different.

Side Effects and The Risk of Taking Ayahuasca

One of the most serious risks is that one can die while on the journey or after. Other temporary side effects include panic, nausea, anxiety, diarrhea, vomiting, hallucinations, and paranoia. The brew can react to the medication for those taking drugs, herbs, or severe medical conditions, causing damaging effects. The drugs that are highly probable to react severely with Ayahuasca drink include lithium, antidepressants, weight loss pill, methadone, cough medication, and St. John’s wort. An individual with schizophrenia and some serious mental problems should also stay away from ayahuasca. Since the drug has the potential of increasing blood pressure signifying it could result in complications for those with heart problems. A qualified medical professional usually administers ayahuasca drink in treating mental problems and, as such, should not be administered by a shaman.

Conclusion

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive drug with powerful effects than alcohol on a person’s neuro system. This drink though originally used for spiritual and religious practices in North America and Amazonian tribes, it has found its way into the world market due to its potential health benefits. It is mainly used to cure or manage brain-related ailments such as depression, PTSD, addiction to hard drugs, and mental clarity. The journey experience usually conducted by an experienced shaman takes between 2-6 hours with several side effects such as paranoia, hallucination, vomit, and diarrhea. These experiences are considered part of the cleansing process.

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