Possibly the queen of entheogens, Ayahuasca is one of the most potent psychedelics, hallucinogenic, entheogenic, psychoactive, psychotropic and psychiatric medicinal plant mixtures ever discovered, however done properly and in Shamanic Ceremony psychedelic or psilocybin mushrooms can be just as powerful.
It’s not quite sure when it was discovered or by whom exactly. When Spanish conquistadores colonized South America, their missionaries found that indigenous tribes were already using it.
The Christians first called it “the work of the devil”, but some of them later enrolled for prophetic visions of their own.
Some 1000 years old bundles with the residues of ingredients for Ayahuasca were found in caves of southwestern Bolivia in 2010.
Since then hippie and New age culture exploited what was long considered to be an indigenous medicine of South American tribes.
Nowadays there are Shamanic healing retreats where shamans cure mental and other sorts of physical illnesses and provide communication with the spirit world by employing Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca The Queen of Entheogens
It’s up to the shaman to decide on other ingredients to include many other ingredients that go into the mixture.
Depending on the shaman, individually, the potion may or may not contain the powerful drug DMT which is extracted from Chacruna.
The thing with DMT is that it can’t be orally ingested as it gets broken down and neutralized by enzymes in our Gastro-intestinal tract (GIT).
MAO inhibitors neutralize enzymes in our gastrointestinal tract and disable them from breaking down the molecules of DMT which then travel to our central nervous system.
DMT molecules for Change
Since DMT is structurally similar to melatonin, it produces similar effects to this dream-inducing hormone.
The result of that are vivid visions (or hallucinations as scientists would call them) and feelings of self-realization, enlightenment and expanding consciousness, but more on that later.
The traditional way to make ayahuasca implies a ritual where the user picks the Chacruna’s flower leaves at sunrise which is followed by saying a prayer.
The vine is thoroughly “cleansed” and pounded with wooden spoons and mallets until it gets ready for consumption.
Ayahuasca brews can are also often made with plants that don’t contain DMT. Chacruna can be replaced by Justicia pectoralis, Brugmansia, or in some cases even sacred tobacco or mapacho (Nicotiana rustica).
Sometimes it happens that plants containing DMT are completely left out of the potion. It depends on the shaman.
Brews containing DMT are more frequently in use to treat psychological problems as western people find it easier to interpret colorful visions than rely on cathartic properties of Ayahuasca alone.
Potency and psychoactive power of brews vary from one to the next and depend on the recipe and the skill of the shaman.
There are many ingredients that some shamans may add and others won’t. The recipe itself also depends on the person for which the brew is prepared.
As far as chemistry is concerned, the alkaloid compounds in the plants vary in concentration from one plant to the next. The intensity of the potion also depends on the time it takes for shamans to cook it.
The actual preparation of the potion takes a couple of hours and often happens over the course of several days.
After adding the specific plants (each at its own stage) in a pot of water, the ingredients are boiled until the amount of the fluid in the pot is reduced by half.
Individual brews later get added together and cooked until their volume reduces significantly. The resulting mixture is what is drunk by participants in the actual Ayahuasca ceremonies.
However, it’s not just cooking and chemistry that makes the Ayahuasca. It’s also the shaman’s chanting that invokes the spirits of nature to bless the vine and provide enlightenment.
There are, however, those who work with ayahuasca outside of its traditional context, but the resulting experiences of ingestion can’t be compared to those that come from an actual ceremony.
Ayahuasca is sacred
Ayahuasca was a sacred plant all through indigenous cultures and its cultivation was not allowed. It was up to shaman to go into the wilderness and find it if need be.
In terms of its medicinal purposes, ayahuasca impacts the consciousness for approximately six hours.
The effects begin after 30 minutes after consumption or so and they peak after a couple of hours.
In some cases, mentally and spiritually unprepared individuals experience psychological stress and even traumas during the ceremony.
A mind has to be prepared for the messages that spirits of ayahuasca may bestow upon it, and preparation of the mind is a task of both shaman and the individual.
The psychedelic experience of Ayahuasca may imply visual and auditory perceptions, introspection, heightened intuition or emotional elation or illumination.
It’s important to note that it has purgative properties and that consumers often experience intense vomiting or diarrhea.
It’s traditionally welcomed for cleansing the body and the spirit of all the negative energy, toxins and emotional baggage that accumulated over time.
Harmala alkaloids have been proven to be anthelmintic.
Dietary restrictions are always practiced before the ceremony. They imply abstaining from spicy and seasoned food, fats, salt, sugar, meat, caffeine, acidic foods as well as sex.
The ceremony usually takes place over night and lasts for about 8 hours. After practitioners enter deep tance, shamans will often stay by their side to chant their way into the dream-world.
Nowadays there are retreats all over Europe and North America where ayahuasca analogs are being prepared with substitutes for the traditional plants.
The substitutes such as Syrian rue contain the same alkaloids as the ayahuasca vine.
Mimosa hostilis or Acacia rich in DMT often replace chacruna.
The harmala alkaloid tetrahydroharmine is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SRI which basically extends the serotoninergic reaction in your CNS and literally makes you happier.
SRI’s are the latest generation of psychiatric drugs developed to combat depression an mood disorders. YOU CANNOT TAKE THESE AND TAKE AYAHUASCA. It can kill you!
While the western world mainly praises the DMT, the Amazonian tribes considered the Caapi to be the spirit of Ayahuasca.
Nevertheless, all of the potions substances work together to lead to mystical experiences and spiritual revelations in relation to the individual’s purpose on earth, nature of existence and such.
Many practitioners describe Ayahuasca ceremonies as utterly life-changing.
It’s often reported that the consumer may feel that he/she gained access to higher spiritual dimensions or that they experienced the death of Ego.
Contacts with various spiritual or ethereal beings who act as healers have been reported as well as contacts with ancestral ghosts who may act as guides and advisors during the ceremony.
The negative side-effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, nausea, sweating, vertigo, and muscle spasms are completely trivial when compared to the gifts that the Shamanic Healing ceremony brings.
DMT and β-carbolines have been proven to induce neuroprotective as well as neurorestorative qualities.
Harmine has anti-inflammatory and memory-boosting effects as well.
People with a history of heart disease and schizophrenia should consult with medical experts before opting for an ayahuasca ceremony, just in case, although the chances are Ayahuasca will only help.
Parkinsons’ disease, psychiatric drugs (especially mood regulators), weight loss medications and cough medications CANNOT be taken with Ayahuasca
It’s also mentioned that it’s not your party accessory so don’t mix ayahuasca with alcohol, weed, drugs or even other entheogens.
Some Shamanic Healing retreats may even employ medical staff to monitor participants for safety in case of emergencies.
Ceremonies sometimes split the potion into several doses that you take through the course of several days so certain spiritual stamina has to be built with meditation and discipline before you drink it.
Every time you take Ayahuasca, it results in a totally different experience. You learn something new about yourself, the world and the universal divinity every time you take the brew.
It’s likely to be in the top 5 experiences of your life and it will certainly be enlightening although some people who stick to their prejudice and expectations have it rough.
Even heavy and unpleasant experiences are valuable because they give you an opportunity to realize what your shortcomings are and what you need to work on.