What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is an Amazonian plant mixture that is capable of inducing altered states of consciousness, usually lasting between 4 to 8 hours after ingestion. Ranging from mildly stimulating to extremely visionary, ayahuasca is used primarily as a medicine and as a shamanic means of communication, typically in a ceremonial session under the guidance of an experienced drinker.
The term Ayahuasca is derived from the Quechua words “aya ” meaning soul or spirit and “huasca” meaning rope or vine. This is translated as the cord of the dead or the vine of the soul and is considered to be a drink used by the initiated ones to communicate with the world of the spirits. This brew is considered to be the foundation of the magical-spiritual connection of more than 75 ethnic groups of the Upper and Lower Amazonia.
The main ingredient of this jungle tea is a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, which like the tea itself is also called ayahuasca (which means ‘vine of the soul’ or ‘vine with a soul’). The secondary ingredient is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana), plants that contain a relatively high amount of the psychedelic substance DMT.
The psychoactive effects of Ayahuasca can be attributed to Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a substance that is produced by our own body and is responsible for our nocturnal dreams. According to the healers Chacruna is in charge of “painting the visions” whereas the cap vine plant is the one teaching beyond those visions.
A series of scientific investigations have been carried out in the last years, which have contributed some important conclusions. Based on these diverse investigations we can affirm the following about the physiological effect of Ayahuasca on the human body: the lack of any hepato-toxicity of this vegetable compound.
The consumption of Ayahuasca within a controlled context shows no side-effects, it is not addictive and it does not produce any withdrawal syndrome, that is to say that people do not show any symptom of abstinence when they stop consuming it.
Concerning the healing process, Ayahuasca is not a miracle cure in the sense that you drink the brew and all your troubles have vanished within a couple of hours. It is a miracle cure though, in the sense that it brings unconscious and seemingly other-worldly processes to surface, which enables you to work with it while the effects last.
Although it contains a psychoactive component, Ayahuasca cannot be considered and condemned as a classic drug of addictive and negative effects. On the contrary, we must ensure that its consumption never happens within a recreational or playful context. The norm of its use places it within a ritual controlled context of sacred, spiritual and therapeutic characteristics that lead us to a process of deep introspection revealing both agreeable and suppressed experiences, for which the use within a recreational, playful or compulsive context is inadmissible.
The vast majority of persons who consume it, indigenous settlers, shamans, healers, psychologists, therapists, drug-addicted patients, spiritual searchers, religious people and interested ones in general, do not consider this plant to be a drug, but a tool for introspection, meditation, therapy, inner cleansing, auto-exploration or a sacrament.
This brew has been used for more than 5,000 years by the shamans of the Amazon as a way to reach amplified states of consciousness.