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Ayahuasca: what it is, what it is for and its effects

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The ayahuasca is a botanical preparation infusion type (tea) with high hallucinogenic effects. Hallucinogens can cause a person to see, hear, smell, feel or like things that do not really exist or cause the person to experience things differently than they really are.

It is prepared by infusing the seeds or crushed stems of Banisteriopsis caapi (Caapi) in combination with the leaves of Psychotria viridis . The infusion has a reddish brown color, with a very strong smell and an extremely bitter taste. In this FastlyHealarticle, we will explain in detail what ayahuasca is, what it is for, what it is used for and what its effects are.

What is ayahuasca and how does it work

Ayahuasca acts through the chemical compounds that are present in the plants that are used for its preparation.

In the case of Banisteriopsis caapi , we are talking about compounds called harmines (β-carboline and tetrahydroharmine). It also has, although to a lesser extent, harmaline, harmol and harmalol, among other substances. All these substances have a similar pharmacological effect, inhibiting the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO).

In the case of Psychotria viridis , the active pharmacological principle is known as tryptamine (dimethyltryptamine or simply DMT). This tryptamine would be responsible for generating the hallucinogenic effects of ayahuasca, which would be similar to those produced by LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs. The tryptamine would allow the action of the Caapi compounds, thus enhancing the total hallucinogenic effect of the infusion.

Ayahuasca: traditional and medicinal uses

Its main use has been in shamanic ceremonial rituals of certain Amazonian tribes. Ayahuasca can produce intense feelings of euphoria. It is often connected to the “spiritual journey” aspect of the experience and has been likened to a “spiritual birth” or a “spiritual rebirth.”

From a pharmacological point of view , it has been used to:

  • Overcoming past trauma, often from childhood, early adolescence, or pain experienced in close relationships as children or adults.
  • Achieve epiphanies or greater understanding of personal habits, behaviors, and patterns.
  • Overcome other substance abuse problems.

Some studies have reported its use as an antidepressant and even apparent effectiveness in controlling the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs (cocaine and amphetamines).

Likewise, its apparent usefulness in controlling violent behavior, anxiety and phobias has been reported.

Effects of ayahuasca

Various effects of ayahuasca are described that we will try to include in the following items:

  • Disturbances and changes in the visual environment (visual hallucinations).
  • Intensification of colors and details and natural environment (psychedelia).
  • Changes in the normal experience of time: where it speeds up or slows down.
  • Hallucinations tend to have a theme, often that of ancient civilizations (for example, Aztec, Mayan, or Olmec), futuristic (including technology and strange beings), or where nature itself is personified (such as Gaya, or “mother nature “in Western terms).
  • Hallucinations with the open eye, where ghost images appear spontaneously.
  • They report that closed-eye hallucinations are deeper. This is where the drug transports the person to a different configuration of time and space.
  • Many people have out-of-body experiences.
  • Intense vibrations of the physical environment that are felt in the body.
  • Auditory hallucinations (with eyes open or closed) that resemble a “wrinkled sound, like cellophane,” “chatter,” or a “high-pitched hiss or buzzing”.

Depersonalization can occur (an experience in its most acute form, this is “ego death”).

Ayahuasca: side effects

Various adverse effects are recorded after the consumption of ayahuasca , all related to the amount (dose) ingested:

  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (when taken in a ceremonial setting, the shamans or ayahuasqueros provide instructions to mitigate or avoid this effect).
  • Persistent pupillary dilation.
  • Rarely, double vision (where the eyes have trouble focusing).
  • Uncontrolled rapid eye movement.
  • Disturbances in deep perception.
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate, or even chest pain (at very high doses).
  • Fever-like symptoms (in very high doses).
  • Decreased motor skills and coordination.
  • Dizziness

Many people report a “trip” to past traumatic events, viewed as a bystander. The intense nature of the experience can evoke feelings of fear, paranoia, and emotional pain.

Persistent psychosis and persistent perceptual (hallucinogenic) disorder have been reported after drug use by some people.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Ayahuasca: what it is, what it is for and its effects , we recommend that you enter our category of Mental disorders .

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