In the western world, Ayahuasca (also known as the “spirit vine”) is the combination of Banisteriopsis caapi (MAOI) and a DMT-containing plant. Ayahuasca became, by definition, “orally active DMT.” In this view, the only important psychoactive agent in the Ayahuasca brew is DMT. One wonders how the indigenous people figured out how to mix the two plants to make this concoction?
In the 16th century, Christian missionaries from Spain and Portugal first encountered indigenous South Americans using ayahuasca; their earliest reports described it as the work of the devil. In the 20th century, the active chemical constituent of B. caapi was named harmaline. Ayahuasca became more widely known when the McKenna brothers published their experience in the Amazon in True Hallucinations.
In Brazil, a number of modern religious movements based on the use of ayahuasca have emerged, the most famous of them being Santo Daime and the UDV. Both Santo Daime and UDV now have members and churches throughout the world. Similarly, the US and Europe have started to see new religious groups develop in relation to increased ayahuasca use. Some Westerners have teamed up with shamans in the Amazon rainforest regions, forming ayahuasca healing retreats that claim to be able to cure mental and physical illness and allow communication with the spirit world. Some reports and scientific studies affirm that ritualized use of ayahuasca may improve mental and physical health.
Ayahuasca is used largely as a religious sacrament. Users of ayahuasca in non-traditional contexts often align themselves with the philosophies and cosmologies associated with ayahuasca shamanism, as practiced among indigenous peoples like the Urarina of Peruvian Amazonia. While non-native users know of the spiritual applications of ayahuasca, a less well-known traditional usage focuses on the medicinal properties of ayahuasca. When used for its medicinal purposes ayahuasca affects the human consciousness for less than six hours, beginning half an hour after consumption, and peaking after two hours. Ayahuasca also has cardiovascular effects, moderately increasing both heart rate and diastolic blood pressure. In some cases, individuals experience significant psychological stress during the experience. It is for this reason that extreme caution should be taken with those who may be at risk of heart disease.
The psychedelic effects of ayahuasca include visual and auditory stimulation, the mixing of sensory modalities, and psychological introspection that may lead to great elation, fear, or illumination. Its purgative properties are important (known as la purga or “the purge”). The intense vomiting and occasional diarrhea it induces can clear the body of worms.
Dietary taboos are often associated with the use of ayahuasca. In the rainforest, these tend towards the purification of one’s self – abstaining from spicy and heavily-seasoned foods, excess fat, salt, caffeine, acidic foods (such as citrus) and sex before, after, or during a ceremony.
It is recommended that you consume this in the presence of a shaman, a well-trained guide. They will help you benefit as much from the trip as possible.
People who have consumed ayahuasca report having spiritual revelations regarding their purpose on earth, the true nature of the universe as well as deep insight into how to be the best person they possibly can. This is viewed by many as a spiritual awakening and what is often described as a rebirth. In addition, it is often reported that individuals feel they gain access to higher spiritual dimensions and make contact with various spiritual or extra dimensional beings who can act as guides or healers.
People may experience profound positive life changes subsequent to consuming ayahuasca and it is one of the most effective tools of enlightenment. Vomiting can follow ingestion which is considered by many shamans and experienced users to be an essential part of the experience as it represents the release of negative energy and emotions built up over the course of one’s life. Nausea, diarrhea and cold/hot flashes can also occur.
Long term effects are unknown.
Internationally, DMT is a Schedule I drug under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The Commentary on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances notes, however, that the plants containing it are not subject to international control. The legal status in the United States of DMT-containing plants is somewhat questionable. Ayahuasca plants and preparations are legal, as they contain no scheduled chemicals. However, brews made using DMT containing plants are illegal since DMT is a Schedule I drug.